Archive for March, 2009

Weight Management Carnival…

Posted on March 28, 2009. Filed under: Weight loss |

has a new edition out at Weight Master.  Go check it out!

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Another Adventure in Karate

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Karate | Tags: , , , |

After much debate over whether he would be allowed to or not (his behavior has been pretty rough the past 2 weeks), my little guy successfully tested for his next belt in karate last night!  He is now a neon orange belt (he is a Dragon right now – all their belts are neon to distinguish them from the full belts the older kids get in Eagles and the adult belts – we’re not sure how Sensei is going to manage neon brown when we get to that level).  He had a great time, and most of his friends tested also, so they all got to sport new belts together.  We didn’t get any good pics of the test itself, but here is the little guy proudly posing after the test:


I decided to wait until next testing cycle to test for my orange belt, since I still need to work on double roundhouse kicks and shoulder rolls (where you throw yourself into a roll along your shoulder and back, then jump back up – I think I’ve finally got the roll, but the jumping back up is not as easy as it looks 😉 ).

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Healthy Italian Food

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Recipes | Tags: , , , , |

If you’re like I used to be, you probably think there is no such thing as healthy Italian food – that it all comes laden with melted cheese over mounds of pasta, with rich sauces and meats in between.  Well, that certainly is Italian food that most Americans are familiar with, but there are many regions in Italy that favor vastly different food.  Sauteed seafood and vegetables in olive oil with a few fresh spices is every bit as Italian as a plate of lasagna.    And if you keep that in mind, eating healthy Italian food becomes a lot easier.  As my mother says ‘If you can’t change something, change the way you look at it.’  I can’t change the calorie content of that lasagna, but I can change my view of a good Italian dinner.

I have a few recipes that are healthier than lasagna or chicken parmigiana, but don’t quite make the cut for my current extreme diet.  The best is Sweet Italian sausage with Tortellini.  Basically, I just prepare tortellini (fresh, frozen, or dried is fine, whatever I have on hand).  While it is cooking, I par cook the sausage until it is firm enough to slice, then finish cooking the slices.  Once the fat starts to render I add diced fresh tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms and cook until just tender.  I sometimes add extra vegetables such as bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, or asparagus if I have some leftover from a previous meal.  Then I add basil and parsley, and toss with the tortellini.  Sometimes it needs just a little extra olive oil to toss properly – it just depends on how much fat renders out from the sausage.  It is delicious, and is only about 450 calories for a 1 cup serving that’s heavy on the veggies!

Now, on my current diet I have had to cut back a lot, and sausage and pasta aren’t in the mix.  Luckily I found a recipe in a magazine for a quick, Americanized skillet dinner that is very similar.  I just use boneless, skinless chicken instead of sausage (cooked in 1/4 cup fat free Italian dressing) and skip the pasta.  (This one is particularly good with asparagus added to the sauteed veggies.)  That cuts the calories down to 190 for a 1 cup serving!  For those of you who are eating more than 200 calories per meal, you can even still have a slice of garlic bread or top your entree with cheese – in moderation.

It may take a little getting used to, but changing the way you think of Italian food will help your waistline (and the rest of you too) in the long run.

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Adventures at the Fair

Posted on March 19, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I must be getting old.  That is the only explanation I can find for my experience at the county fair this year.  I remember the fair being great fun, with lots of exciting rides and games, tons of greasy food you can’t get anywhere else, and the opportunity to run amuck with friends.

Well, this year I went with my hubby and son, and it was not the way I remembered it.  For one thing, I didn’t eat any fair food.  I’m on a diet, but even if I wasn’t, everything I looked at just screamed indigestion.  Also, I was too big for most of the kid rides (even if I didn’t get motion sick), and the adult rides were way too crazy for me.  I have never wanted to be strapped in to a contraption that would flip me upside down 40 feet from the ground (and the motion sickness thing doesn’t help, of course).  And instead of running amuck, I was trying to heard kids and keep them from running amuck.  My overall impression of the fair this year was that it was too loud and too bright, and it gave me a bit of a headache.

Despite all that, I did have fun watching my little guy – he was having a great time with some of his friends.  And hubby had a good time, too, going on some of the rides with them.  They seemed to especially enjoy bumper cars (not surprising to anyone who knows either of them!).  So here are some pics from the county fair:

pic-0045Hubby and son going down a giant slide.

pic-0053pic-0050Hubby and son at the bumper cars.

BTW, the garden is in fact finished and planted.  It isn’t pretty, but it should keep the rabbits that roam our property out.  We had our first shoots come up yesterday – I think they are radishes.  (In retrospect, I should have put little signs or something so I could remember what we put where.)  I will try to post some pics of it soon.

As a random side note, hubby and I were discussing whether to use amok or amuck above.  We concluded that while both are found in the dictionary with the same definition, in my head at least amok has the connotation of an actual murderous frenzy, whereas amuck has the connotation of young people or children getting into stuff and in general not being very smart.  If anyone has any thoughts on the matter, feel free to weigh in.  (Yes, we’re nerds.  We’re ok with that.)

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Adventures in Budgeting

Posted on March 17, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Money, Weight loss | Tags: , , , , , , |

Everyone is  trying to cut back these days.  Everywhere we turn we hear more gloom and doom about the economy, especially the stock market.  We’re all tightening our belts, and my house is no exception.  We started this process by cutting down or out miscellaneous spending and trips, staying with family for the trips we do take, and skipping the restaurants in favor of home cooked meals.  When our budget remained a bit tight, we added scheduling drives into town (we live about 15 miles out) so we could get things done with minimal use of gas, and we started a garden (yes, it is done now – I’ll post more on that later), and I turned into the electricity nazi (“TURN OFF the light when you leave the room!”).  We’re doing fine at this point, but I have sort of gotten into the spirit of things, so we are trying an experiment based on the 30 Days, $30 experiment by the author of the blog Less Is Enough.

After discussion with dear hubby, we decided $1 per day per person was not practical for our family.  For one thing, my husband eats more than $1 worth of food every day no matter how cheap the food is.  For another we have a 5 year old who needs balanced nutrition.  So we have decided to plan as low budget meals as humanly possible and to use what we already have in the pantry as often as humanly possible (our natural tendency is to keep an overstocked pantry, most of which never gets used) and to keep track of every single food purchase to come up with a realistic weekly budget.  We just started this past weekend, so we don’t have a lot of data yet, but by the end of the month we should have a rough idea of how much it will take to feed us.  This is, unfortunately, going to impact my weight loss efforts.  I have been eating meal replacements from my doctor’s office, but in the budget cuts those went away.  I am going to continue my diet preparing my own foods in the appropriate proportions, so hopefully I will still reach my goal by then end of April as planned.  I’ll post more on that later too.

Anyway, in my efforts to be both frugal and healthy I have been searching the net for tips and articles, and this is one of the best I found.  It is from the blog Divine Caroline, which I had never heard of before today, but I will certainly be visiting again.

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Carnival of All Things Weight Loss

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: Weight loss |

It’s a carnival about (obviously) health and weight loss.  It links to one of my posts, and a few others as well. Check it out at Body and Fitness Blog.

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Butterfly Adventures

Posted on March 15, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, Karate | Tags: , , , , , |

We went on a field trip with the local homeschool group yesterday to see a local butterfly exhibit.  The kids had a great time and learned a few new things about caterpillars and butterflies.  Actually, I learned a few things too – did you know that caterpillars actually shed their skins as any as six times in the few weeks before they form chrysalises?  Well, now you do.  Anyway, here are some pics (try to be understanding…I’m a terrible photographer AND I was using my cell phone to take the pics):


Sadly, those were the best of the bunch.  On the bright side, I took pictures at sparring class this week too:


My little guy is the one in the red helmet.

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Thinking about next year’s Adventures in Homeschooling

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool | Tags: , , , |

We are rapidly approaching the end of the school year (for us that depends on when we finish everything I wanted to get done this year – could be May or June).  As I look ahead toward next year, I have been thinking about things that worked well this year, and things that did not.  I have already talked about my concerns with Saxon math moving so slowly that my little guy got bored and frustrated with it, and my decision to try Singapore math next year instead.  I also had some issues with record keeping – mainly that I got bored with writing lesson plans down every day.  I wound up giving up after a few months and just noting what book we were working in and keeping all worksheets, narrations, projects, and other evidence that school is actually taking place.  That should be fine for 1st grade, and maybe even all of elementary school, but if we are still homeschooling at higher grades, that just won’t cut it.  So I’m going to try a new record for the rest of this year, and maybe another one after that, until I find one that works for me.

For the rest of this year, we will keep a monthly calendar on the fridge.  I found blank calendar pages in many places on the internet, easy to print out and fill in as needed.  We will fill in known activities at the beginning of the month, and add what we work on in school as we do it, since it does not follow a set schedule.  I’m hoping to get my little guy involved in this so he will help me remember to write things down in a timely fashion.

Also, I think we are going to do more workbook-based learning next year.  My son has gotten used to the format, and he works fairly well on his own in workbooks.  Also, it is easy to set up a reward system for work completed, such as 5 minutes computer or tv time for each page completed, or 1 minute for each problem completed, or something along those lines.  I have been surfing various homeschooling sites, and have seen many suggestions – even one for points based on how much work is completed.  The points can be accumulated to earn a weekend trip or other treat (I’m currently working on getting some camping equipment, so we could do weekend camping trips as a reward — BTW, to any friends or family who have camping equipment you don’t use anymore, we’d love to have it!).  I’m leaning toward the point system, because we already have established limits on tv and computer time.  Plus it gives us more flexibility to reward him with something he is interested in at that time.  And I just like traveling and camping. 😉

Anyway, I’m adding some of the homeschool sites I’ve been looking through to my list of links at the bottom of the page.

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Another Weigh In

Posted on March 11, 2009. Filed under: Weight loss | Tags: , , , |

And lost 3 more pounds this week!  That brings me to a total of 18 lbs so far, with 15 to go to reach my goal weight.  And I had my second weight management group meeting, this time about setting goals.  The high points were to set realistic goals, so that you don’t set yourself up for failure, to have a plan to deal with obstacles or temptations, and to reward yourself for meeting or exceeding your goals with something other than food.  These all seem like comon sense things, now that I see them all written out, but they can be surprisingly tricky to accomplish in the real world.  Especially the part about setting realistic goals – I mean, 10 lbs in a month seems realistic to me, but it is actually a stretch unless you are working much harder than I am willing to work.  Apparently 1-2 lbs a week is more realistic, but it depends on your individual metabolic rate and activity level (all the hard work on the garden probably knocked off the extra pound this week).  This is why I am glad I went with a doctor supervised program, where I had a test done to see what my metabolic rate really is and therefore know what to expect of myself.

Anyway, for anyone else out there who is struggling with weight issues, keep the faith.  If I can do it, so can you.  Just maybe not all on your own.  🙂

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Adventures in Karate

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Karate | Tags: , , , |

Well, my little guy started sparring class in karate last week. I forgot to take my camera, but I will take pictures at the next class on Friday. It was very cute, seeing all the little kids wearing their pads and helmets, like a miniature version of American Gladiators! (I know, not everyone remembers that show, but those that do will know exactly what I mean!)

He did pretty well, but I think he is shy about actually making contact when throwing a punch, especially since his first match was with one of his best friends, who also happens to be a girl! We have talked about the importance of not hitting, and only using karate in class or to defend himself from bullies or bad guys, so it was hard for him to go from that to punching someone. I do want him to learn though, because he has already been picked on at the playground by an older boy, and he didn’t know what to do.

Testing for new belts will be in the next 2-3 weeks, and he is testing for his orange belt! (I may be testing for my orange belt too. I think I’m ready, but I just tested last time, and usually students only test every other time, so I may have to wait another 2 months!)

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