Monday, April 30, 2007

I Didn't Need an Online Quiz to Tell Me This...

Your Mind is 66% Cluttered

Your mind is quite cluttered. And like most clutter, it's a bunch of crap you don't need.
Try writing down your worst problems and fears. And then put them out of your mind for a while.

Actually, the reason I didn't score higher is because I'm not completely unforgiving, nor do I look back on my life with disappointment and regret (you'll have to take the quiz to see what I mean). So, that being the case, it's not too bad.

My mind has been a little too scattered to come up with a coherent post. It happens sometimes. Nothing bad going on, just busy, busy, busy. As much as I'd like to slow down and live in the moment, it's often easier said than done. Cheers, all!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Se Habla Espanol?

Son #1 came home from school with a paper regarding choosing an elective next year. He'll be in 7th grade and will be moving to Junior High. Our local area does things a bit differently than the rest of the state. Here, elementary school is kindergarten - 3rd grade, middle school is 4th - 6th grades, junior high is 7th & 8th grades, and high school is 9th - 12th grades. This is why for the 2007-08 school year, I'll have three kids at three different schools (a kindergartner, 5th grader, and 7th grader). But I digress...

About this form. Listed are several elective courses. He's supposed to pick his first and second favorites and the parent signs the form. Together Son #1 and I read through the course descriptions. Agricultural Science sounded interesting. I thought he'd jump at Art. I knew he wouldn't go at all for chorus, band or speech/drama. Personally, I think the Study Skills course would benefit him, but let's face it: Who wants to study how to study? (Son #1 has an amazing memory which serves him well in school thus far, but eventually he'll have to expand his study habits.)

His first choice? Spanish I. Um. Okay. I hated to point out the obvious to him: that he's been in speech therapy for 8.5 years and still has trouble with articulation in English. He still struggles with producing certain sounds. Most notably the "R" sound, which is highly unfortunate that both his first and last names contain Rs.

But I love that he doesn't think in terms of limitations - he only sees possibilities. In his defense, he speaks very quickly which is an asset in conversational Spanish. And although he doesn't technically do it correctly, he can produce something that resembles the trilled R better than I ever could after 6 semesters of college level Spanish.

So we're compromising. I'll let him select Spanish as his first choice, Study Skills as his second. If he gets into the Spanish class then he will allow me to homeschool him over the summer to improve his study skills (I've already spoken to someone at the office at the junior high and they let me know which books and resources they use for the Study Skills class).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weight Watchers Wednesdays

week 1 (Wed. 3.9.07) ~~~~~~ Just getting started!
week 2 (Wed. 3.14.07) ~~~~~ - 3.4 lbs
week 3 (Wed. 3.21.07) ~~~~~ - 1.6 lbs
week 4 (Wed. 3.28.07) ~~~~~ - 2.4 lbs
week 5 (Wed. 4.4.07) ~~~~~~~ + 0.6 lbs
week 6 (Wed. 4-11-07) ~~~~~~ -0
week 7 (Wed. 4-18-07) ~~~~~~ -3.2 lbs
week 8 (Wed. 4-25-07) ~~~~~~ -1.2 lbs

total weight loss: -11.2 lbs

I'm down 1.2 pounds since last week. I can't say I did anything differently, other than drinking more water and choosing my desserts wisely at the charity tea I attended on Sunday. I did indulge in what they called a "pinkie" (champagne and cranberry juice, which is high in antioxidants).

I had a couple of cucumber sandwiches which I figured, despite the cream cheese, would be a better choice than the chicken salad sandwiches. When I came for the desserts, I selected the chocolate covered strawberries. More antioxidants (the chocolate)! I must've looked 10 years younger by the end of the tea. Plus fruit! When the tray of other little must-tries passed by - like the cheesecake bites - I shared them with my sister-in-law.

So this is what I'm reduced to: splitting a cheesecake bite with another person. The pain is dulled by 1) the fact that I'm reduced 11.2 pounds to date, and 2) the pinkie. :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kindergarten Registration

I did it. I registered "The Baby" (Son #3) for kindergarten today. The transition from baby to toddler is sort of gradual, but the transition from pre-schooler to kindergartner is much more abrupt. Is he ready for kindergarten? Oh yeah. Am I ready for him to be ready for kindergarten? Um, no.

Part of the issue is the realization that I'll never hold another baby of my own in my arms. That feels like a kick in the gut. The other part of it is the wondering, now what? I never knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. (Okay, so maybe I'm not growing up, but I'm growing older, that's for sure.) I was able to defer those thoughts for five years, through pregnancy, and mothering an infant (then toddler, then get the idea). But come August, what am I going to do with my days? I plan to spend some time with my boys' schools - parties, chaperoning field trips, etc. But part of me also feels like perhaps I should start contributing to our household income. Because sitting back watching soap operas and eating bon bons won't pay the bills.

I'm kidding. I don't watch daytime TV unless it's one of Zack's shows (thank goodness he never liked Teletubbies!). And I don't know how to calculate the Weight Watchers points of bon bons so those are out.

Heaven knows I don't spend too much time cleaning the house. So why start now? My house is "clean enough" to look presentable, but not immaculate. Hello....3 boys, 4 if you count their dad. My female blog friends are nodding in agreement. I hope I haven't offended my male blog friends.

So what's in store for this next phase of my life? How do I get a clue?

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Questions Than Answers

Today Son #1 and I had our first visit with the pediatric endocrinologist. This step one in determining whether Son #1 actually has a growth deficiency. His growth rate has been slow for several years - sometimes dipping below the growth chart, which in itself, is not necessarily a problem as long as the child is following the same curve. However, Son #1 seems to have fallen flat.

Endocrinologists often use a slightly different growth chart than pediatricians (one that ranges 3-97%, instead of the usual 5-95%). According the the endrocrinologist's chart, Son #1 is in the bottom 1-2 percentile. He also looked at Son #1's bone age xray that my pediatrician had ordered. I like the endo doc. He really took the time to explain things. It appears that Son #1's bone-age is 11.0 years, which isn't too far off from his chronological age (he's 11 years 10 months old).

Next step is a complete blood work up, then we go back in 7 weeks to discuss the test results and to monitor Son #1's weight (he's not really expected to gain much, if any, height between now and then). I got the impression that at this point, we're collecting info to plot on charts to get a better picture of what's going on. The growth rate over time is a more important clue than his short stature/low weight. It should be an interesting journey. Wish us well...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech

My thoughts and prayers are certainly with the victims of the horrible shooting at Virginia Tech, their family and friends, the witnesses, the police and administration of Virginia Tech.

It's very easy to sit back and second guess a law-enforcement or administrative decision after the fact. At first I was going to write that I prefer to reserve judgment until after I have all the facts. But who am I to judge at all? If there was gross negligence then that needs to be addressed, certainly. However, every one of us makes judgment calls every single day. Sometimes we make the right call. Sometimes we do not. I understand that the results are rarely as monumental as in this case, but this is why I'm not a police officer, an emergency room physician, a surgeon, a soldier. I don't have what it takes to make those type of split-second monumental decisions on a daily basis.

My prayers are also with the shooter's parents. I'm in no way justifying their son's actions, but nor am I going to play the "didn't they see the signs? what went wrong game?" As a parent, I cannot fathom my kid ever doing anything like this. I'm not alone. We know our kids. We recognize their eccentricities. We're so accustomed to their quirks that we might miss it when the quirk develops into a crack in one's psyche. I do believe that it's *sometimes* possible for people to be too close to the situation to recognize the 'signs'. (Ask any parent that lost a child to suicide.) So my thoughts and prayers are also with his parents. Certainly they must be horrified by what happened, sickened that their own child was responsible, and mourning the death of their son.

One thing I do wish: that the media would stop showing the photos and video that he mailed to NBC Studios in between the two shootings. It's not telling us WHY? We'll never really know why - and even if he coherently, specifically stated the reasons - we still wouldn't understand it. That's why we're here. That's why we're shocked, appalled, outraged. It's beyond our comprehension. As it should be.

The front page of my local newspaper ran one photo of Cho Seung-Hui pointing a gun directly at the camera. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes it's just crap. And the media loves crap. They'll show the rambling video stream of a deranged killer on TV, make one of his quotes the top headline on the front page of the newspaper, and yet bury the story of how communities around the nation joining together in support and prayer a whopping 14 pages later. Reports of the heroic actions of other individuals during this horrific ordeal are buried on page A-16. Here's a novel idea: why not honor those who deserve to be honored with the spot on Page 1?

[Update: I just read on that the public backlash has led to curtailing of the use of the video images that the shooter sent to NBC. NBC says it will limit it to no more than 10% of its airtime (6 minutes per hour). Six minutes too much, in my opinion, but it's a start. Apparently victims' families were pulling out of their Today show appearances in protest. Other news organizations are following suit, it seems. Class may be dying, folks, but let's not pull the plug on it yet.

Here's another link to an Associated Press article that was published in the Houston Chronicle. In it, Peter Read asks that we focus our efforts on remembering the victims, one of whom was his daughter, Mary.]

My prayers are also with the Korean-American community. I realize that Cho Seung-Hui does not represent who you are or your beliefs. I hope some idiot doesn't try to create a backlash against you. But if one does, please know that he will not represent who I am or my beliefs.

My thoughts and prayers are also with my fellow blogger, Deena. Her own community is facing similar threats (click here to read her April 19th post).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Weight Watchers Wednesdays

week 1 (Wed. 3.9.07) ~~~~~~ Just getting started!
week 2 (Wed. 3.14.07) ~~~~~ - 3.4 lbs
week 3 (Wed. 3.21.07) ~~~~~ - 1.6 lbs
week 4 (Wed. 3.28.07) ~~~~~ - 2.4 lbs
week 5 (Wed. 4.4.07) ~~~~~ + 0.6
week 6 (Wed. 4-11-07) ~~~~~~ -0
week 7 (Wed. 4-18-07) ~~~~~~~ -3.2 lbs

total weight loss: -10 lbs

Woo Hoo! Go Me! Much of this week's weigh loss has been due to my drinking more water (a goal I set last week). But still... When I first started WeightWatchers, I received a little book mark. When I lost my first 5 lbs (by week 3), I received a little gold start for my bookmark. My first thought was, okay, this is really stupid. What is this - Kindergarten?

Today's gold star (for losing an additional 5 lbs) was different. You would've thought I'd won a damn Academy Award.

I still have a long way to go - and I'm sure there'll be times when the scale won't budge (or worse, when it'll creep up a bit) - but I'm encouraged.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I've Been Doing It Wrong!

I should point out that they did NOT teach me this in Weight Watchers:

How To Weigh Yourself:

I can't believe I was doing it wrong all these years.
We must get the word out.
(Thanks, Mom for sending this in an email. I think I may have seen in on one of the other blogs I read. Great minds...)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

56 is the Magic Number

Son #1 and Son #2 had their physical exams today so the pediatrician can sign their summer camp medical forms. Son #2 will be 10 in June. He weighs 65 lbs, and is 56.75 inches tall. This puts him in the 25th percentile for height and weight, but in my observations, he seems to be just about average sized compared to his peers.

Son #1, however, is a different story. He'll be 12 in June and he is 56.25 inches - just a smidge shorter than his younger brother. He weighs 56 pounds. Can you imagine being as tall as you are heavy? Let's just say that if that was my ratio, I'd be 11 feet tall (and shrinking, because of the Weight Watchers).

Son #1 has always been on the small side. 50th percentile for height/weight as an infant, but by preschool he was in the 10th percentile - or worse. For quite a while, he completely dropped off the growth chart but was still following the same curve so no one (doctors) was particularly worried. The doctor he went to last year suggested that if his growth was still slow at this year's check up, further testing might be needed. We've since switched doctors - no complaints about the other doc, but I wasn't wild about his office staff. Dear Hubby has a friend who a pediatrician and we switched to the friend's practice. I warned Dr. B. that I was a tough customer and he still wanted our business anyway. Gotta give him props for that.

Anyway, Son #1 is no longer following the growth curve at all so Dr. B. referred us to a pediatric endocrinologist (our appointment is April 23). He also sent us today for a bone-age x-ray which will help the endocrinologist assess Son #1's physical age versus his chronological age. Dr. B. suggests that Son #1 might have a growth hormone deficiency. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Weight Watchers Wednesdays (& Other Stuff)

Okay, this isn't so good. I woke this morning, saw that it was rainy and gloomy, considered what it'd be like to attend a Weight Watchers weigh-in/meeting with three boys in tow (no school this week)...and decided to skip WW this week. Shame on me!

I did weigh myself on my bathroom scale, which is not as finely calibrated as WW's scale, and I seem to be at a plateau. Nothing lost, but nothing gain (I'm trying to be a "glass half full" gal). So here's my progress to date:

week 1 (Wed. 3.9.07) ~~~~~~ Just getting started!
week 2 (Wed. 3.14.07) ~~~~~ - 3.4 lbs
week 3 (Wed. 3.21.07) ~~~~~ - 1.6 lbs
week 4 (Wed. 3.28.07) ~~~~~ - 2.4 lbs
week 5 (Wed. 4.4.07) ~~~~~ + 0.6

week 6 (Wed. 4-11-07) ~~~~~~ -0

total weightloss: -6.8 lbs

This week I'm going to continue tracking my food intake, calculating my "points" and focusing on water, water, water. I've not been doing a good job with water lately. I personally would rather drink anything but. However, I think it's time I start to wean myself from the Diet Coke and replace it with something better for me.


Thanks, everyone, for indulging me in my Cat Eulogy yesterday. Can you stand one more Sebastian story? BehavenPapa mentioned in a comment on yesterday's post that he had a cat that was toilet-trained. How cool is that? I've heard of it before, and Sebastian might have been a good candidate had he not been so stubborn. After all, he has proven that he can perch in unusual places and do his business with hardly anyone knowing. So it really wouldn't be a stretch to switch to a toilet from ... a toaster!

Yes, he peed in my toaster. This was years ago, shortly after Dear Hubby and I were married. Perhaps Sebastian was acting out. You wouldn't know from looking at the outside of the toaster that anything was amiss, but pop a slice of bread in there and push the lever....

My smoking toaster became something along the lines of a weapon of mass destruction. Trust me when I tell you that there are few things worse-smelling in this world that the scent of cat urine being toasted to 250 degrees. Ask my neighbors - both next door and across the courtyard. The smell pretty much permeated the entire city block.

If you ever need to get rid of the smell of skunk, have I got a cure for you. Needless to say, Smoking Toaster of Death met an immediate demise in the dumpster - wrapped in 5 plastic bags. And speaking of demise, that was when Sebastian almost lost one of his nine lives.

Ah, the memories.


And since this post has already descended into the realm of poor taste, let me tell you how the rest of our evening went yesterday. An hour after our cat funeral (burial, eulogy, prayer), we washed up and went out to eat dinner in honor of my eldest brother-in-law's 50th birthday. He chose his favorite Italian restaurant and we were seated in a small, private dining room. Eight adults, four kids (three were mine). The room was pretty dimly lit, nice paintings. The kids were finished eating, the adults were about halfway finished their meals. I was cheating on my diet with a pretty decent Chicken Marsala, when all of a sudden, Son #1 calmly announces "there's a dead mouse under the table."

I thought he was either kidding or mistaken (most likely the latter, because he's a terrible kidder - he laughs too easily and gives the joke away). I was seated two spaces away from Son #1 so I walked to where he was, asked him to get up and I pulled his chair out from under the table. I still expected it to be a mistake. Perhaps a piece of black paper that was used to wrap the napkins or something like that (it was, as I mentioned, dimly lit).

I pull Son #1's chair away from the table. I'll spare the gory details, but yes, it was indeed a dead mouse and it looked to be there at least a day or two by my best estimation (I'm not a Rodent CSI, but I do know mice). ICK. Just ICK. I signalled for the waitress, she walks into our private dining room and said, "What can I get for you?" I suggested she step closer - I was trying to avoid saying it so loudly for the diners just outside our room to hear.

I tell her, "there seems to be a dead..." (insert waitress' bloodcurdling shriek here) I hadn't even told her what we found. "Dead" was all she needed to hear. Way to be subtle, lady! The manager comes over, handles the news a bit better, hurries off to get a broom and dust pan. Meanwhile, Dear Hubby's family continues chowing down. Nothing can kill an appetite with his clan.

First the manager offers cocktails, dessert (at which point my 5-year old was ready to sell us out for a piece of cake) - no thank you. Ultimately the manager ended up not charging for the meal, which in my opinion, was the appropriate thing to do.

I have three boys. I'm not easily fazed. But still, ICK.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


August 1989 - April 10, 2007

You've probably heard the expression that cats have nine lives. Well, Sebastian had one very long life. Seventeen years is a long time for a cat, although when it comes to our furry family members, it's never long enough.

I met Sebastian's mother in autumn of 1988 when we moved into a townhouse in Kenner, La. She would dart in our door every time we opened it and she really seemed to know her way around. I theorized that the previous tenant left her when they moved out. My parents, with whom I lived at the time, were pretty insistent that we were not adopting another pet. My poodle and mixed breed dogs weren't amenable to the idea either. She was a very sweet, very affectionate cat, though.

Soon it became apparent that she was pregnant. I managed to leave open the door to the storage unit on the back porch. Inside I placed a box with shredded newspaper and a towel. Mama Kitty bypassed the little feline maternity ward that I set up for her and decided to have her kittens in my dad's tool box. Not pretty. I eventually found homes for all of the kittens.

As short time later, or so it seemed, Mama Kitty was pregnant again. If memory serves me, my dad locked the storage unit door and hid the key so Mama Kitty had her kittens elsewhere. My dad thought that was the end of it. Not to be outdone by a mere human, Mama Kitty brought all seven of her kittens back over the fence into our backyard and set up camp under the barbecue grill. The kittens were about two weeks old at the time and their eyes were just opening. Most of the kittens were gray tabby like their ma, one was black and white, another was orange striped, and Sebastian was part-Siamese! No kidding. As a kitten, he had the darker face, paws, and tail and the beautiful blue eyes. As he grew older, his paws and tail would take on the grey tabby stripes, but this body would be mostly pale beige.

It was agreed that I could keep Sebastian if I found homes for all the other kittens and their mother. We were finally down to one kitten and one mother cat. Now, I don't advocate dumping pets, but my cousin lived down the street from a nutty cat lady. She took very good care of them (fed them well, provided shelter for inclement weather). She'd never notice two more, my cousin said. What's more, if she did notice, she'd never turn her back on them. True to his word, Mama Kitten and Last Kitten lived down the street from my cousin for many years.

Sebastian was accepted by my poodle and mutt (and later, Dear Hubby's labrador retriever). He moved with us to our apartment in Virginia, to the first home we ever purchased (also in Virginia), back to Louisiana to an apartment, then into our final home. He was strictly an indoor cat for the first 14 or so years of his life. He had no interest in the great outdoors and would hide under the bed if he suspected we were trying to get him into his crate for the dreaded car ride to the vet.

He outlived his three canine companions, and barely tolerated the two canine family members that came later. For a long time, he'd sleep on our bed. I'm a side sleeper, so he'd curl up on my hip. I also toss and turn and he'd scratch the dickens out of me when I'd try to roll over. Long before being diagnosed with coronary artery disease, Dear Hubby and Sebastian would eat Spam and watch late night television.

Something odd happened in May 2004, though. I remember it clearly as it was the day we brought home the rescued greyhound that we adopted. The dog didn't even glance in Sebastian's direction, but Sebastian might have thought enough was enough. He walked out the door, never to come (willingly) back inside. In truth I don't know that I can really blame it on the dog's arrival. Sebastian had been acting peculiarly for the few months prior. He stopped using his litter box in the garage. I switched litter brands (several times), bought a brand new litter box, you name it. Instead he would go to the bathroom in inappropriate places. Like on my garden tools (what is it with felines and tools, anyway?). Although he seemed to recognize me, there were times that he didn't seem to know the kids. Perhaps it's the equivalent of kitty-alzheimers?

Deep down I thought then - in 2004 - that his end was near and perhaps this was his way of sparing us the difficulty of having us die inside the house. Probably I'm reading too much into it. In any event, he spent the past three years happily rolling in the mulch in my garden, completely disregarding his own personal hygiene. A couple times a year, I'd sit with him on the porch and pretty much shave him bald from the back to the butt because he'd let the fur get so matted. He tolerated the shave and a haircut, but he absolutely hated being brushed (always did). Have you ever seen a cat with dreadlocks? Yep, that's pretty much him.

Most mornings, I'd open the door to peek outside and expected to find him dead on our mat or behind my hibiscus plant in my garden. The sort of thing you'd rather your kids not discover first. But no, I'd occasionally find a dead lizard on the mat (a little 'love' gift from Sebastian), but the old codger of a cat was hanging in there.

Until this morning. Dear Hubby put out the trash and noticed Sebastian lying under the van. He was meowing but didn't sound normal. He put a towel in Sebastian's crate and fetch the cat from under the van. The fact that he didn't rip Dear Hubby to tatters when he put him in the crate told us something was seriously wrong. We woke Son #1, told him that the end was near for Sebastian and we sat our on the porch and said our goodbyes. Son #1 is my most sentimental child and he's taking it the hardest. We then woke Son #2, who although he loves Sebastian, is much more pragmatic. Finally Son #3 awoke. We explained what was going on, he shed a couple of tears and asked for .... a hamster. Oy!

We spent time petting Sebastian who mostly seemed to be unaware of what was going on. Since, he did not once indicate that he was in any pain when we touched him, and it was clear that nature was taking its course, we felt no need to involved the vet.

It was odd, because the weather this morning started off nice, but quickly turned gloomy and rainy (as did our mood). We had lunch plans with a friend of mine so we went out for a few hours. When we came home, it was still dreary and raining. Sebastian was still breathing but was mostly non-responsive. Every now and then he'd let out a little murmur but mostly he'd lie on his side looking helpless.

About an hour ago, I was checking my email on the computer in the kitchen and I noticed that although it was still raining, the sun was also shining. I've always loved the phenomenon of rain on a sunny day (or is it sunshine on rainy day? - drat, that song just popped into my mind. I bet it will overstay its welcome). I felt compelled to check on Sebastian, as we had been doing every 15 minutes or so, and there he was still lying in his crate. But instead of lying helplessly on his side, he mustered the strength to lean up against the side of the crate, still technically on his side, but his head was up and his paws outstretched, just like he did when he slept. It was almost as if he positioned himself how he would prefer to be remembered. It was kind of nice to see the sun shining and Sebastian finally at peace. And I'm sure there's a rainbow out there somewhere.

Vaya con Dios, Sebastian, you were a good friend indeed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sandra Boynton

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the name, but you've probably seen Sandra Boynton's work on a coffee mug, stationery item, greeting card, etc. However, I had no idea she was a songwriter too.

My mother sent each of my boys a book, including music CD plus a plush animal for an Easter gift. I think I'm enjoying the CD's more than the kids. Most of the songs are completely goofy, but she gets very interesting people to record the songs. For example, Son #3 received "Dog Train." Artists include the Blues Travelers, The Bacon Bros. (yes, that's Kevin & his brother), Hootie & the Blowfish, a duet by - get this - actress Kate Winslet and Weird Al Yankovich (it's called "I Need A Nap"). Allison Krauss' song "Evermore" is beautiful.

My favorite track, however, is called "Tantrum" by the Spin Doctors. It will make its way onto my MP3 player as a workout song. Starts out pretty mellow (good for a warm up) but ends up totally rock 'n roll. A sampling of the lyrics includes:

I'm a wild child,
and I'm gonna make a scene.
Let me show you what I mean:
Now I'm down on the ground.
And I'm shaking my head.
And I'm kicking my feet.
And I'm pounding the floor.
Leave me alone.
Leave me alone.
Leave me alone....

The books/CDs are available through and I think through Sandra Boynton's website. However, my mother found the books and plush animals for $5 each at her local's Kohl's department store as part of their Kohl's Cares for Kids program.

If you click on the link to Boynton's site, you'll be able to see the playlists and listen to a brief snippet of each song. Funny, silly stuff for the young and young at heart.


On an unrelated note, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We certainly did. Holy Week kept us pretty busy with church activities, but not so busy that we didn't have time to reflect on the true meaning of Easter. Dear Hubby and I attended Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening (in Catholic speak, it's called "the looooonnnnnnnngggggg mass"). Dear Hubby did the incense at Mass while I helped the folks in our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program prepare to be received fully into the church. Those baptized in other faiths received the sacraments of communion and confirmation, and those previously unbaptized received all three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and communion. It's really a beautiful sight to behold.

Of course, we attended Mass again on Easter Sunday with the boys. It's too bad the church isn't always as crowded as it is at Easter. Not trying to be judgmental, mind you. We attended Easter dinner at my sister-in-law's house. Her husband barbecued the juiciest steaks. We each brought a side dish, appetizer or dessert. The sign of a good meal for this Italian clan? The number of folks dozing in front of the TV afterward!

The boys are off of school this week for spring break so I put them to work. They're helping with my spring cleaning. We'll squeeze in some fun, though, too.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Blogland Versus The Real World

Recently someone asked me whether blogging is a poor substitute for making "real" friends. Of course not. It's actually a very good substitute. I'm kidding, of course, but it's difficult to explain the appeal of blogging to a non-blogger. Here's what I came up with.

Blogs are not like internet chat rooms - thank goodness!
Chat rooms - when done correctly - can have their value, too. But in a chat room you often run into three (maybe more) types of people: First, there are those who are who they are. They say online what they'd say in person. They're the "to thine own self be true" folks. Sure, some of them can be obnoxious at times, but hey...

Next, there are the "pretenders." These are the ones who are practicing their fictional writing skills online. They will invent a completely different persona, make up life experiences, etc. Why? Maybe to get people to like or respect them, maybe to escape their regular life, maybe for more sinister reasons...we've all heard the horror stories. One thing's for certain, it's takes a lot of energy and an excellent memory to be a Pretender (I have neither, thank you).

Finally, there are the "trolls." These are the folks who like to pick an argument just for argument's sake, who like to stir up controversy, and in general are plain rude. There's a big difference between presenting different sides of a controversial issue, and spouting off just to start trouble. Trolls are icky people.

Certainly, these three types can exist in blogland, but in my opinion, the longer-term, more established blogs are indeed real. And, yes, there are 'fictional' blogs - created by real people who assume a persona and post as that persona - but they're usually straightforward about it and do it to be entertaining - not to deceive.

Blog buddies aren't like real friends. Or are they?
It's hard for me to make and sustain new friendships. Life is pretty busy. Oh, I make all sorts of acquaintances - especially the "oh, we'll have to get together for lunch" type (however, we never do). I have my 5 year old 'shadow' (Son #3) with me almost all the time. Perhaps not many people have the patience for this package deal. More than likely, though, they're just as busy as I am.

The beauty of blog buddies is that they don't call me just as I'm getting ready to step into the shower for my only 10 minutes of "me" time. They never notice when I'm having a bad hair day (thank you, photo-from-2005). They don't send me chain emails telling me that something bad will happen if I don't forward it to 12 people (hellooooo? Re-read the first sentence of the paragraph above this one: I probably don't know 12 people!)

They do, however, encourage me when I need it. They let me vent (after all what good is having a blog if you can't occasionally whine?) - and if they don't like it, they can just click to another blog without my ever knowing. And I know some of them pray for me when different things are going on in my life. I've actually met one of my blog buddies in person - she wasn't at all a psychopath (waving to Jules!).

They also share - via their own blogs - what's going on in their lives. I know one blogger whose husband was let go of his job so they had to move to a new town so he could work again. She's expecting a baby now. Yay! Then there's the blogger who moved across the country, and who is know returning to workforce because her husband became ill and cannot work. There's another blogger who is a 'real' writer. As bloggers, we're all writers, but this one wrote an actual book! I hope someone publishes it soon. I know she and her husband have struggled with his cancer.
There's the other blogger, herself a cancer survivor. There's also the working mom who's daughter is just a tad older than my youngest son - gender aside, there are parallels in the things they come up with. Oy vey!

So I say to the non-blogger, Silly Rabbit, of course these people are real. I know more about them than I know about my in-laws and I've been married 17 years.

Don't blogs waste a lot of time? They could, if you get carried away. Then again, so can "Girls' Night Out." (And I'm less likely to get arrested with my blog buddies - hee hee!).

So to my non-blogging friend, I conclude with the following:
  1. Don't knock it until you try it.
  2. The "real world," in my opinion, is highly overrated.

So bloggers, do you have anything to add?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Weight Watchers Wednesdays

Several bloggers do "Wordless Wednesdays" and post a lovely photo. Since I'm seldom at a loss for words, I thought I'd do something different. My goal is to lose about 32 lbs. and being the glutton for humiliation that I am, I'm going to post about my weightloss adventures on Wednesdays. Perhaps this will spare you from having to hear my whine about it every other day of the week, but I digress.

I haven't had much luck dieting on my own lately so I joined Weight Watchers (click here for link) in March. They have two plans: The Core Plan and The Flex Plan. On the Core Plan, you can eat as much as you want from a preapproved list of foods. Since I'm pretty sure chocolate is not a core food (at least not according to Weight Watchers), I decided to track "points" using the Flex Plan. Yes, I'm that anal-retentive that I can track every morsel I put in my mouth, plus it's point value. It's very telling....

What do I like about it?
  1. It makes me accountable for every bite I eat. Since I've never had an eating disorder (other than eating too much), this increased emphasis on food doesn't bother me.
  2. It does actually seem to be working for me.
  3. I'm actually enjoying the meetings more now than I did years ago when I tried Weight Watchers.

What don't I like about it?

  1. It doesn't seem to address the carb/protein issue that other diets do (Atkins is an extreme example. Sugar Busters, SouthBeach are other less-radical lower carb diets). I'm to an age where my body doesn't process carbs as well as it used to. While I do try to increase my protein intake for at least two meals, technically, I can eat all carbohydrates and still be not exceed my target "points." (I actually did well with the South Beach Diet a few years back but it involves a lot of planning and cooking. I'm not that into cooking.)
  2. My measly 19 points per day leave me feeling pretty hungry at night. Perhaps if I went to bed at a decent hour, this might not be an issue, but.... (On the Flex Plan, I also get 35 bonus points for the week to use as I want. I can spread them out over the week, or I can binge on a whole chocolate devil's food cake. Okay, so maybe not, but you get the point.)

So here is my progress so far (this is what I'll be posting on Wednesdays):

  • week 1 (Wed. 3.9.07) ~~~~~~ Just getting started!
  • week 2 (Wed. 3.14.07) ~~~~~ - 3.4 lbs
  • week 3 (Wed. 3.21.07) ~~~~~ - 1.6 lbs
  • week 4 (Wed. 3.28.07) ~~~~~ - 2.4 lbs
  • week 5 (Wed. 4.4.07) ~~~~~ + 0.6

Total Weight Loss -6.8

I'm not happy about that 0.6 weight gain, but I can certainly understand it. I ate way too much boiled crawfish this past weekend. Although not high in points, when boiled right, they are very high in salt. My own bathroom scale - which does not calculates tenths of a pound - had initially indicated a weight gain of 2 pounds! I knew most, if not all of it, was water retention due to the excess salt. This morning my scale showed a loss of 1 pound since Monday so all today, only showing a gain of .6 of a pound is not so bad. Lesson learned: drink plenty of water with my crawfish. Diet coke just doesn't purge the salt as well.