Sunday, January 31, 2010

France: January 8, 2002

I have never felt so alone in my life as I did today! It was wonderful meeting new people but it's not the same as having your closest friends and your family around. Now I know how Andrea feels living in Cleveland or how Grandma & Janice feel when no one calls them! I forget who exactly said it from IV but they were right...I do have the Lord with me no matter what. That's definitely a comfort! :) I responded to many e-mails from friends & family today. I even got to chat on-line with Justin! I was extremely happy about that! Today I met Monsieur Sicard who showed me (introduced me) to a couple of his classes. I felt like a specimen under a microscope. I had to give them some info about myself...of course in French. I was awful. I got a few chuckles from my new audience when I told them I am majoring in French. Apparently the miscommunication between ISEP and this university is larger than I first thought because it seems that Therese asked Monsieur Sicard to ask his students if they know of anyone I could room with next semester!! I thought all of this was supposed to be taken care of...but I have to remain calm and flexible. Speaking of calm and flexible, it seems like my apartment mate is becoming just the opposite and I don't know why. I asked her how to work my telecarte I bought at a tabac today for $7.50 Euros and she told me (rather harshly) that it wouldn't work on this phone here. When she showed me her card that she says works, I tried to look at it while she was holding it. I swear she almost got into a tug-of-war with me over it! All I wanted to do was look at it for goodness sake! And, I'm angry at the guy who "helped" me buy that thing at the tabac because he told me it would work on a home phone (telephone fixe)! I can't believe I'm writing this but I don't want to be here anymore! I want to go home. Wow. I'm actually crying now! DeeAnn told me she cried for the first 2 - 3 weeks in Spain because of all the problems she had with the administration; now I really and truly understand why. But, don't get me wrong...other than that strange interaction with my apartment mate, everyone here has been extremely patient and kind to me. I now know the name of that French girl who has been to "the States" and likes speaking English. Her name is Miriam and she's an English major. I met an extremely good-looking professor too but unfortunately I cannot remember his name. He looks rather young to be a professor. I'd say he's in his mid-thirties at the oldest. Very nice man, too. He asked me if I lilked the cafeteria food...I was like "Eh," and he said "Yeah." because the cafeteria food was just as bad as any. I wonder if cafeterias compete to see which can have the worst food? Ha! Although I did enjoy "les fruits"...a type of yogurt fruit cup...I had the Strawberries of course. I also had French Fries (les frites) and a salad. The french fries sucked big time. I ate the whole salad but it could've been better. Anyway, I'm seriously concerned about when I receive a stipend because I can't keep using my own money here...that's why I went through ISEP, duh! I wonder if I rubbed Eva the wrong way when I met her. I hope not. :( According to one of the staff members (whose name I can't remember at the moment) she was very nice. And, when I was asked about her today I said she was. But, I didn't mention how she's barely around for me to interact with her and when she is around it seems like she avoids me! I mean she was in the kitchen and shut the door after I walked by!! Isn't that pretty blatant?! Oh well. Might as well not get myself all worked up about it. I'm meeting someone, a French girl named Stephanie, (who was nice enough to try to help me out today...very patient with my speaking) tomorrow at noon on campus. I better buy a student bus pass soon because taking the bus this much is definitely adding up. Anyway, she's going to go with me to the International Office to ask Therese what the whole scoop is on my housing. Therese and Monsieur Sicard spoke privately before they met with me today. I think that's when she told him everything she should've told me first...like that they need to find me housing for next semester still. Apparently I'm not the only one in this boat though, because Monsieur Sicard mentioned that the other International students will need housing as well. We'll see what pans out for me. I talked to a couple of Chinese girls in the International Office today who told me to contact them for anything. They pay rent on a room out of a French family's house, perhaps I could do the same. Stephanie asked me a good question today that needs answering...Why can't I just stay in this apartment? I understand more people will be returning and it's for med students but who cares? Oh well...maybe I'll be better off if I can get a place on campus...at least I could probably walk to class instead of taking the bus. I also met a guy in the International Office from an island in the Indian Ocean called Maritius. His name is Nash; he's really nice. I also spoke with a French girl named Latifa...also extremely nice and patient with my French-speaking skills. Heck I know now how Moses felt when God told him he would be His spokesperson for the people of Israel...inadequate, inept and cowardly. But, I will trust in the Lord to get me through these difficult times of adjustment.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have you ever tried yoga?

Have you ever tried yoga?

For a long time I always thought yoga was some easy (read-->boring) exercise that doesn't really help you lose weight but was only good for "breathing and relaxing".

Boy was I wrong!

My first experience with yoga -- "fat-burning" yoga -- to be precise, was this past Wednesday. And, WOW...I'm sore! The funny thing is that I thought that my arms and legs were going to be the most sore the next day. I was very surprised when I woke up with sore abs. My mid-section was sore in muscles that I didn't even know existed until now!

One of my co-workers (the one who got me started on Weight Watchers) started "Winter Workout Wednesdays" at work. Fat-burning yoga was the first in the series. She broke out the DVD by Bob the trainer from the Biggest Loser. That should've been my first sign of the pain to come! But, I thought, it was Bob...It's not like it's Jillian Michaels...Oh, I underestimated Bob alright! He may seem like Mr. Nice Guy on Biggest Loser. But that he AIN'T. He talks a good game like he's being all nice while telling you to "hold...hold" this position or that position while my muscles scream at me to "let go!", "let go!".

You know the funny part of all this is that I actually ENJOYED it. I felt stronger. I felt like I wanted to be able to do all the moves if given the chance. Unfortunately, we're not continuing this workout every Wednesday during "Winter Workout Wednesdays". So, instead I'm considering either a) purchasing the Biggest Loser DVD for myself to use at home and/or b) taking a yoga class at the YMCA (where I'm already a member and workout regularly).

My co-worker said that she would take suggestions for future classes. So, I plan to bring the 30-Day Shred DVD by Jillian Michaels that I'd gotten for Christmas. I'll let you know how that goes...

Next Wednesday is walking. Now THAT I can handle...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

11 Books I Wanna Read (And Other Adventures in late night Wal-Mart shopping)

In an effort to "spice up" my handmade greeting cards, I convinced my hubby that I absolutely MUST make an emergency trip to Wal-Mart, of all places, for, of all things - CRAFTS - ribbons, in particular. As you can see from the photo, I bought a little more than ribbons (but...I digress...).

Why Wal-Mart (you may ask in disbelief and/or craftionista {<--saw that kool word on a craft blog somewhere...can't take credit for it myself...wish I could, though...} disgust)?!

Because of their low, low prices (and mainly because I'm a busy Mom who couldn't make it to the more expensive {see--> overly tempting} craft stores in my area before their 9:00 p.m. closing time (a.k.a. Michael's, Pat Catan's, JoAnn's)...any of those havens of all things crafty that end in 's. Plus, this Wal-Mart in particular is open 24 hours! What a great selling point in and of itself. Need ribbon at 10:00 at night? 24-hours Wal-Mart. Absolutely MUST HAVE cute, little flowery embellishments to put on cute, little crafty boxes, bags and cards made by the Ultimate Crafter's Companion (coming to your local {see-->ECSTATIC} crafty Mom in a FedEx truck near YOU! ~ Thank you, Mandy...you know who you are!)? 24-hours Wal-Mart. Want those glittery, gel pens that make adorable designs on your papercrafts? 24-hours Wal-Mart. 'Nuf said.

While perusing Wal-Mart for crafty stuff, I just happened to stumble upon the BOOK department (Oops...how'd I end up here...I guess I MUST look since I just ended up here...*wink, wink*). Yeah...right! Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a good book, especially if it's a self-help book! (Yes, I'm a self-help book junkie...admitting you have a problem is the first step...lol.)

Anyway, I digress...

Instead of purchasing a ton of self-help books on my Wal-Mart craft-purchasing trip, I thought of a novel idea - write down all of the titles on the shelf that I would like to read, instead. This way I could either a) get the books out of the library {yay for *free*} or b) put them on my not-so-secret wishlist {hello BLOG!}

So here goes everything:

11 {Mostly} Self-Help Books I Wanna Read (Thank you, Wal-Mart...you know who YOU are!)

  1. Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk by Robyn Okrant
  2. You Were Born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles by Bruce Wilkinson
  3. Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman
  4. It's Your Time by Joel Osteen
  5. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (I want to see the movie, too, but not before I read the book.)
  6. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow
  7. Dream Big: O's Guide to Discovering Your Best Life by the Editors of The Oprah Magazine
  8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  9. ...and her follow-up memoir...Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage 
  10. The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit & Transforming Your Life by Chris "SparkGuy" Downie (CEO of Sparkpeople.com)
  11. Become A Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen
Have you read any of these books? If so, please give the "down-low" by responding to this post in the comments section.

What's on your book list?





Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grandma's Valentine's Day card


Here's a Valentine's Day card I just made for my grandma. Unfortunately the "I Love You" stamp smudged a little. Hey...the smudging shows it's homemade, right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

France: January 7, 2002


This morning I woke up to my travel alarm clock (aha...it works) at 7 a.m., turned it off and went back to sleep until about 9:30. Then, I took a shower. Afterwards, I ate breakfast downstairs (in the reception/restaurant area). The people here have been very helpful towards me...none of that stereotypical French rudeness I always heard of at home...maybe it's because I try to use my French first...I don't know. Or, maybe, just maybe, the stereotype is wrong. :) After asking the hotel concierge how to call the phone number for Therese Courtois, the International Director for l'Universite de Picardie Jules Verne, I spoke with Therese about what time she would meet me at my hotel. We agreed upon 11 or 11:30. Well, I received a phone call from the hotel concierge telling me that she was here. I gathered my things and when I shut the door it didn't work! I tried different ways to shut it, but it didn't work! So, I took my suitcases and bags downstairs and told the concierge that the door to my room wouldn't close. And, I felt dumb for not being able to shut my door. Oh, one thing I didn't mention in my last entry was that I went for a little walk in Amiens...yes, by myself. But, I'm alright, obviously cause I'm writing this now, right? I ran into (or actually was walking near) a young Frenchman. I knew he knew I was from out of town. Eventually he asked me what time it was and I told him in broken French...and giggled like a little schoolgirl. It's not like he was overly handsome or anything but it was the whole setting that made me laugh. He asked me for my age and name (reverse the order). I asked for his name; it was Adrien. He is 20-years-old. I knew I shouldn't have been so trusting of him because of my warnings from my French Guidebooks, but I asked him where the McDonalds was. Yes, I gave in...I ate at the most American restaurant in Amiens! Oh well, I was hungry and not many other places were open on a Sunday night. It was like all my French-speaking skills disappeared when I stood in front of that McDonald's counter. The poor cashier, realizing I really could not speak French or at least not that well, had to pull out and brush off her little knowledge of English. I ordered a Big Mac meal which was called a "Best Of" meal. There were these guys there who sat across from me and a couple behind me. They made me feel uncomfortable, but I didn't acknowledge them, although I think the guys sitting behind me were calling me fat because I hard the word "gros". They knew I am an American because I mentioned it to the cashier while they were ordering as well. God was watching over me, though, because nothing happened. I did think at first that I was being followed back to the hotel by one guy but eventually he crossed over to the other sidewalk on the other side of the road/street.


Back to today...Therese, at my first impression, seems very, very nice. She seems like a mother-type. She was very patient with my poor spoken French. I could understand most of what she said if not the first time around then at least the second! :) Anyway, the first thing we did was drop off my baggage and bags at my temporary apartment. I have a rather large room. There is one other student...a med student living in the apartment right now, but I haven't seen her all day. However, she did get a call from a friend, Juliette. I had to take her name and number for her. Honestly, I'm not even sure of my apartment-mate's name...I didn't understand who Juliette asked for when she called and was too embarrassed to ask her for it, again. Anyway, I'm here for the month of January only. There was miscommunication between l'Universite de Picardie Jules Verne and ISEP (the program I am here in France through). Anyway, ISEP told me I had to be here at the beginning of January - the 7th specifically, for orientation. But, according to the University, this semester doesn't begin until the beginning of February! Also, ISEP was wrong about my ending date as well. They said I would be finished (to be confirmed) on April 21st. That's not true. The semester ends at the end of May. I think they are placing me in a dorm room at the beginning of February. I hope not because Therese told me that they're very small. The apartment I'm in right now is nice and large. It has a kitchen, toilet, bathroom, shower, dining area and living room with a television. As I've already mentioned, there is a phone. I originally thought that I couldn't use the pre-paid phone cards Janice got me. But, I was told by a fellow American student that I can use my AT&T card but I needed their access code first. She (Jacqueline) gave it to me. However, I have yet for it to work on the phone here at the apartment. But, that's alright at least I got to e-mail everyone today from Therese's office. I was so very happy to use e-mail, again. I swear I was having withdrawal! Before e-mailing everyone from Therese's office and after dropping off my things at the apartment I had free time. Therese told me she would pick me back up at 2:45 p.m. That gave me a good couple of hours. So, I made my bed...Thank God they provided bedding (sheets, covers, pillow...the whole bit)! I hung up some clothes in my closet. Then, I made some lunch. I am very glad I took Tiffani's advice to take some kind of food because I did not feel like going shopping or to a restaurant for lunch. To tell you the truth I felt too inadequate to go shopping. Too inadequate with my French-speaking skills. I mean I knew I could do it...but I didn't feel like going through the hassle. I also made myself some tea. There isn't much food in the fridge...some yogurt...some cheese...I'm not going to eat someone else's stuff, although I did use one packet of sucre (sugar) for my tea. :) Once I was settled with my Ramen noodles and tea, I watched French T.V....everything is in French. I feel like I'm in a dream...I still can't believe I'm here. But, I know I am...my body testifies to it; my shoulders hurt from carrying my bags and luggage (Missy lent me her luggage but she said the pull handles are no good becuase the suitcases tip over anyway). I'm still tired from jet lag. And, I'm really homesick. I don't think I've ever been this homesick, not even as a freshman in college! I just want to be around my friends and family, again. I realize it's a natural feeling. I also realize it's a familiarity thing. I just want to talk to someone who really knows me. It's going to be hard to make some French friends or at least that's how it feels. However, I did meet a French girl (don't know her name, yet...but I'll see her tomorrow) who loves the States and speaking English. She seems very nice; she's from Amiens. She's been to North & South Carolina, Michigan and Los Angeles, California! Perhaps we'll become friends. Who knows? When Therese picked me up at 2:45, we had small talk along the way. She asked me what state I'm from. I told h er Pennsylvania (duh! hehehe). She told me what we'd be doing when we got the campus. Frances celebrates "Le Gagne du Roi," a type of religious celebration honoring Jesus and when the Magi visited him as a baby. They eat things (pastry) called "la galette des rois". "La Galette" contains "une fere" (sp?) in the middle for the lucky king (roi). I got to take part in the celebration. "La Galette" is a delicious flaky pastry. We had small glasses of champagne with a piece. I also got a crown (couronne) which tells the story (l'histoire) of the celebration. The celebration was for the faculty (staff) and administration of the university. The President of the university kicked off the celebration with a short speech. I understood some of it...talking about the tradition of the celebration. But, he talked very quickly. I've been assured by Therese that my French will catch up. I sure hope so! I met everyone in the International Office. I don't mean to be guy crazy but there was this very good-looking man in that office named Olivier. :) He had long, black (well, shoulder-length) hair and a beard. He was about medium build. I don't know whether he was taken or married or anything but he was certainly charming from first impression. I hope I can see him more (although I'll most certainly have butterflies in my stomach when I do!). I met a professor who is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I've been invited to join her and her 4 Tulsa exchange students to visit Paris around January 17th or 18th!! Yay!! Apparently there are three other ISEP students coming to l'Universite de Picardie Jules Verne. Jacqueline (the American) gave me her address & phone number to stay in contact with her. She asked me if I think the other ISEP students will have problems like I did with my dates of arrival and departure. I said I didn't know. Therese told me there is a two-day type of celebration on Thursday & Friday at the Megacite and that I should go with Valery (one of the other women from the International Office). Tomorrow I'm meeting a professor (Monsieur Secard??) to begin setting up courses. Jacqueline said I'm lucky if they set up my classes for me because they really didn't help her much. We'll see. I'm taking Bus #6 directly to campus alone. Therese kept joking about that. I have to be there by 12:45 p.m. I might go earlier than that to check my e-mail. When Therese was dropping me off at my apartment tonight she said she was buying bread. She invited me along. She recommended me to buy something for breakfast in the morning. I bought an eclair (chocolate of course) and a bottled water. I don't know if coming abroad has made me dumber but I almost tried to take something out of the case. The cashier immediately stopped me from touching anything. Therese explained to her that I'm American. C'est la vie! You live, you learn. Ha! I didn't have anything for dinner besides that galette & champagne. Now, I'm hungry and it's 10 p.m.! I'ts 4 p.m. at home right now. That's really weird for me to think about. I wonder if they're (my family, friends) wondering what I'm doing over here in France because I'm sure curious what they're up to. Of course, it's probably the usual. But, my experiences over here are not the usual. I can't wait to share them with them!

France: January 6, 2002

At this very moment I am watching a movie starring Meg Ryan in French. Earlier I was channel surfing when I came upon "What Dreams May Come" in German! I am in my hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express in Amiens. Jet lag is hitting me hard now, too. I called Mommy & Daddy (actually left a message with Brian), Missy and Janice. It took me a while to figure out how to make an international call.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

France: January 5, 2002

During Christmas 2001, I got to meet my biological Mom...heretofore referred to as "Cali-Mom" for the first time since I was approximately 1 1/2 years of age. During my trip to California, I told Cali-Mom that I was going to study abroad in the upcoming semester of college. So, she gave me a black, leatherbound journal as a Christmas gift to record my experiences studying abroad "en France". The inscription on the inside cover reads "2001, Rachael, Enjoy France and do as the locals say, 'Eat, drink, and be merry!' Love from your Mom".

Here is the first of many posts from that journal:

January 5, 2002:

Bonjour! Well, this is my first entry on my journey to study abroad in France. I am writing this as I wait to board my first plane for the first leg of my journey...from Pittsburgh, PA to Detroit, MI. Once I get to Detroit, I have a 3-hour layover. Then, I depart Detroit at 9:15 p.m. for Paris, France, where I am to arrive at 11:10 a.m., Sunday, January 6th, 2002!! I will be attending l'Universite de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France. All I need are these final 12 credits to graduate from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. I already got $70 in Euros for my arrival in France. The currency is pretty...That's funny, huh? I'll probably keep some to bring home to show Mommy, Daddy, Missy and the kids. :) Oops, I forgot to get Marta & Van's address from Missy before I left. Oh well, I can call or e-mail Marta for it. Hmm, I am excited, anxious, scared all rolled into one happy smiling package right now. This is a dream come true for me to go to France. I plan (<-- see "plan") on writing in this journal religiously while I'm there. I just wish I knew bigger, more flowery words! The Lord has truly blessed me! Talk to ya later! - Rachael :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Latest happenings...




Well...where to start? Last Wednesday, January 13th, we took the boys to get their haircuts before going to visit their new cousin, Dean Jacob, born that very day. This was Tyler's first haircut; so, of course, we took copious amounts of pictures! My husband has gone to Andy, our local barber, since before he and I met. He's cut Evan's hair. And, now he got to cut Tyler's hair, too. Andy has a really good system when it comes to cutting the boys' hair...bribery. He gives them lollipops (and lots of them). As you see from this picture, Tyler could care less that there is a shaver coming his way. The only concern he has is whether any hair gets on the lollipop (it did...we did several lollipop swap-outs). After Tyler finished his lollipops, Andy offered a chocolate-covered pretzel to Tyler to finish off the sugar high!

Last Thursday was craft night with my good friend Melanie. See my "Craft Nights" blog for pictures of our latest Valentine's Day card creations!

Friday, we attended a birthday party for our neighbor's one-year-old son at Murrysville Community Church. It was a great time. Evan quickly took interest in the drum set at the front of the sanctuary and started playing. I came over to see what he was doing (John was already standing there). John said that Evan pointed to one of the drums and told him "This is the bass drum." He learns a lot from one of his favorite shows on the Sprout channel called "Caillou". One of the episodes of "Caillou" specifically deals with Caillou playing on his friend's brother's drum set. So, it didn't surprise us that Evan knew what he was talking about when he saw that drum set.

On Saturday, we planned on doing some family shopping. But, Evan fell asleep in the car. Since the weather was nice (and John didn't mind), I took Tyler inside Kohl's with me to do a little bit of shopping with my Kohl's gift card. I bought some much-needed tennis shoes (Avia Women's cross-training). Apparently, they're the brand used by the U.S. Triathlon. I don't plan on doing a triathlon anytime soon (or a marathon for that matter!), but the shoes sure are comfy. They're rather streamlined looking, too...if that makes any sense. I guess what I'm trying to say is that they're not your big, clunky tennis shoes like you usually see out in the market. That's why I like them, besides the comfort factor. I also bought "Plum Passion" liquid lipcolor by American Beauty. Love the color on me. Finally I'm getting lip color right! I can't stand it when I buy a lip color that doesn't look right (a.k.a. "trampy red"). I think I've found a winner!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Customize Your Blog

In trying to design my blog to reflect my creativity, I came across some helpful resources. The first of which is http://www.thecutestblogontheblock.com/ (TCBOTB). That’s where I found my *free* background and banner templates. To customize the banner, I just followed the instructions provided by TCBOTB. Just be careful. Their site is addictive!

I had so much fun perusing their cute templates it almost made me want to try a new one each day! To customize my particular banner I saved the template to my computer as a .jpg file. Then, I opened it in my Paint program (but Photoshop or any other image editing software should work fine). Then, I deleted the original text on the banner and used the text tool to enter my own text using the same color scheme as the banner template. You can set the color palette to the specific color from the banner by using the dropper tool to click on the color on the banner. The primary color on the color palette will change to that color. If you need to fill the color in behind the text, just click on the small paint can and click where you want to fill in the color.

A couple of other great resources for free blog templates are http://www.ipietoon.com/ and http://www.bietemplates.com/.
If you have any questions on how to customize your own banner/blog, please feel free to leave comments on this article. I’ll be happy to help or point you in the right direction. Please feel free to share any resources you know of for better blogging, as well.

Have a great day and happy blogging! Thanks!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Loveys



Evan requests to call and talk to me every weekday while I'm at work. Today when his call came in I was away from my desk and missed the call. When I came back to my desk, the red light was lit up on my phone indicating I had a voicemail. Upon listening to it, my heart melted. Evan left a message and half way through it Puppy interrupted because Puppy wanted to talk. But, then Evan realized that I wasn't there (saying "she's not there") and subsequently hung up. Puppy has his own voice now.

With the voicemail, I could just envision Evan scrunching up his face like he does when he talks in Puppy's voice. His eyes become like little horizontal slits as he uses his highest pitched voice to speak for Puppy.

Puppy has been Evan's constant companion. He was a gift from my older sister when Evan was first born. They became inseparable ever since. The neat thing about that little piece of trivia is that when my nephew was born (he's 14-years-old now...so hard to believe!) I gave him a plush kitten doll which became his lovey "Kitty"! They, too, were inseparable. So, it's been neat to see the loveys come full circle between me and my sister.

Evan is teaching me how to interact with him by interacting with Puppy. For example, one night while getting Evan to sit down for dinner, "Puppy" wanted to play hoops with Evan's new basketball hoop he'd received for Christmas. Instead of addressing Evan directly and telling him to sit down and eat, I played along. I said "Puppy, you have to eat first before you play." Then, Evan mimicked me, telling Puppy the same thing. And, he actually sat down to eat! It's so interesting to see Evan interact with his world through the eyes of "Puppy". And, it's been an eye-opening experience for me, as well. I think Puppy's new voice has been a blessing in disguise in that he has actually given Evan his voice...his way to interact in the world without feeling pressure (how much pressure can a 2 1/2-year-old have, really? Ah, to be young, again.).

Seeing Evan interact with and "talk" for Puppy reminds me so much of myself when I was young. I also had a lovey. His name was Beary...and, yes, he was a bear. He wore a green nightgown with a pink cat on it and a pair of underwear (yes...underwear!) that says on them "I'm a little tax exemption!" Beary was pink when I received him at the tender age of 2-years-old from one of my Dad's girlfriends at the time.

Now, Tyler is the triple threat when it comes to loveys. We call him our little Linus. Not only does he suck his thumb, but, he also requires a blanket to go to sleep. However, he too has converted to a Puppy of his own courtesy of Papa and Grandma (hubby's parents). We took the Linus theme into Tyler's first birthday by getting him a Linus cake. Grandma, of course, got him a Linus shirt just for the occasion, as well!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weigh-in Thursday

It was not a very big surprise to me to discover during my weigh-in today that I've gained a little weight. Since after Christmas I have not been as diligent with Weight Watchers as I have at the beginning. So, the only thing I need to do is get back on track. In a way, it feels empowering that I know I can lose weight and I know what exact steps it takes to get me there.


Pictured are my adorable boys. Tyler is in the toy bucket. And, Evan is wearing his monkey jammies.


I remind myself that they are one of the best reasons why I need to lose weight and get healthy. I need to be there for them for many years to come! This same focus was how I kept motivated while I was on a diabetic diet while pregnant with each of my boys. I had gestational diabetes with both of them. I know I need to get healthy for myself. But, for some reason, that has never been enough to keep me on track. But, keeping them in mind has always seemed to keep me on track.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Synchronicity

On Sunday, I wrote on my blog about the "Grapefruit" incident. Yesterday, just after I boarded the bus home from work while I was talking to one of my fellow bus "buddies", a man on the bus addresses my bus buddy in a conversation about...you guessed it...grapefruit, of all things! The first thought that came to my mind was how weird it was that this man decided to just start talking to this lady that I was just talking to and he wanted to talk about this great grapefruit they had. That random conversation made me consider serendipity and coincidences. Obviously, that would be considered a coincidence.

But, what is serendipity?

Serendipity is defined in Wikipedia as the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated. Some scientific examples of "serendipity" include Isaac Newton's famed apple falling from a tree, led to his musings about the nature of gravitation. The German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz dreamed about Ourobouros, a snake running around and forming a circle, leading to his solution of the closed chemical structure of cyclic compounds, such as benzene. Archimedes' prototypical cry of Eureka when he realised that his body displacing water in the bathtub allowed him to measure the weight:volume (ratio) of any irregular body, such as a gold crown etc.

I think that when people label occurences as serendipity what they are really referring to is synchronicity.

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. To count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance. This could also be called "meaningful coincidences". See the following Wikipedia link for some famous, documented examples of synchronicity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity#Film.

In my life, I can pinpoint certain circumstances that have "fallen into place" due to synchronicity. For example, in my previous job, I was looking around for a job change. And, while I was perusing online jobs, I came across my current position posted for the company that my sister-in-law works for. I remembered everything she had said about how much she enjoyed working there over the years. So, I called her up immediately and told her about the posting I found. She inquired within and said she'd have to get back to me when she finds out. It was about a month after that when she contacted me to say that the opening had been available. I applied...et voila!

But, it isn't just with my career where I've seen synchronicity in action. I've also seen it in my personal life with relationships.

Now if you want to get really deep and philosophical, you could look at synchronicity as divine providence or "divine interaction". Coming from a Protestant background myself (Presbyterian, Calvin, etc.), synchronicity falls perfectly into that category of divine providence. How do you interpret it, though? How do you know if something is divine providence or just your own mind trying to make something of nothing or attaching meaning in an effort to create your own meaning?

Have you experienced synchronicity in your life and how? Please feel free to leave your comments on this blog. I'd really like to hear your stories!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What are you reading?

A new year calls for a new book, right? What are you currently reading? If you're not reading anything, what are you interested in reading?

Those of you who know me well know that I am an avid reader (yes...an understatement - just ask my husband if he can find my bedside table!). My specific reading interests as of late includes e-business books, online marketing, and generally making money online. A long-held of dream of mine has been to start a craft business. So, I figured why not look into a low-cost way to do so? On that note, I've stumbled upon a very insightful book at the library titled e-Riches 2.0: Next-Generation Marketing Strategies for Making Millions Online by Scott Fox (author of Internet Riches). Rarely do I find a book so enamoring that I actually want to purchase it after borrowing it from the library. However, THIS is one of those books! Don't let the title fool you into thinking this is just some "get-rich-quick guru" who sells a lot of fluff but doesn't give you substance. Scott Fox doesn't make any "get-rich-quick" claims. He is a true authority on the subject of how to use online tools to market your product or service online. He jams so many internet marketing resources into this one book that I plan to purchase it as a regular go-to reference for my bookshelf!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grapefruit?

So, I did do a little light grocery shopping at Giant Eagle tonight. Evan went with me (to give Daddy a break...lol). I went to the 12 items or less cashier's line. As the cashier picked up the cantaloupe, shook it up and down in her hand a couple of times as if contemplating the weight and asked "Grapefruit?" First, I eyed her up just to be sure she wasn't joking. Then, trying to mask my disbelief that she did not know what it was, I said "cantaloupe". She kind of shook her head as if she already knew that but her eyes gave her away that she still wasn't sure! Seriously?! How can you work in a grocery store and not know what a cantaloupe looks like? Wow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's resolutions in action!

Back in November I joined Weight Watchers. So far I've lost 8.8 pounds (and counting). I've found that as long as I stick to the points --continue tracking-- and work out on a regular basis that's when I see the most success. The holidays have been a challenge. But, I haven't seen a dramatic gain from them. I do feel that the term "Momentum" is truly applicable in this case! My hubby asks why I decided to join WW before the holidays. I say it's better than if I didn't because during my meetings they announced that the AVERAGE weight gained during the holidays is 12 pounds. And, that's just the AVERAGE! If I hadn't joined Weight Watchers when I did, I would have tipped the scales at over 200 pounds. Now, you can ask my friends and co-workers if I look "that heavy" and they would so "no way". I have the curvy body type that hides the pounds well. It's a blessing and a curse all in one! It's been a curse mainly because it perpetuated my denial of my weight because no one thought I "looked" overweight when the scales were telling me otherwise.

This all brings me to New Year's resolutions. I've been using my gym membership on a regular basis. So, it was interesting to see all the extra people at the gym today no doubt working on their resolutions. I vow not to be one of those people who go gung-ho the first couple months of the year only to drop off in February and give up. Like I said, I've built up enough momentum to get into a good routine. My weightloss goal for 2010 is to lose 36 pounds to get to my BMI weight for my height (5'3"). This is definitely doable. 36 pounds divided by 12 months is only 3 pounds a month loss. If I were truly ambitious, I could try to cut that time in half to lose 6 pounds per month for 6 months! We shall see...

I'm planning on working some strength training into my workout. Cardio is my favorite. I always feel like I have to push myself to try any strength training. We had a family gift exchange for this past Christmas. I asked for Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred. I haven't started it, yet. I do have two of her books. I'm impressed with her go-getting style on The Biggest Loser. I'll let you know how I like the DVD after I try it!

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