Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Unwrapped

It has been an emotional end to our year.  After losing our baby, there came a point when I didn't want to do the weight-loss/fitness thing.  I didn't want to deny myself treats of the season, I didn't want to force myself to workout when what I really wanted was to stay in bed and cry. Bottom line, adding more stress and self-condemnation to my plate was not going to help me get through this time. So I let myself off the hook. 

There was a brief period when I thought I was rebounding, but as Christmas approached the harder our loss hit me.  When we found out I was pregnant I immediately started thinking about how different these holidays would be.  They would be our last as a family of two.  They would be filled with celebrating our news with friends and family.  There might even be a present or two under the tree for our little one.  Instead, the holidays were filled with a sadness I didn't know I could feel. Everything seemed to make me dissolve into tears.

I did my best to "suck it up"and do the things we normally do for the holidays.  One of my favorite traditions is our annual Cookie Frenzy. We host our families for a day silliness and serious cookie production. This year we had 8 or 9 treats on the agenda. will say being super busy in the kitchen surrounded by those you love helps.

The bounty
The elves
New recipe - Hot Chocolate Cookies.  Yum!

Mini Gingerbread Houses - Loved my niece's Christmas tree house. 

Cranberry Pistachio Stars.

My husband building houses - Millie supervising (or waiting for something to drop).

Mischief always breaks out...especially with these two...
and these two.

Everyone went home with a box of goodies.
Sometimes the anticipation of something is much worse than the actual thing. I dreaded Christmas this year. I ended up making it through without any major meltdowns and enjoyed time with family.  On Christmas Eve we have dinner at my sister's house.  Then we come home and open our presents to each other.  This year we added taking Millie for a car ride to see the Christmas lights. She wasn't impressed, but I love looking at lights. Then Christmas morning we go back to my sister's for breakfast and present opening with my side of the family.  Christmas afternoon is spent at the farm with my in-laws.

Of course there were some fun presents...

As much as I had been dreading Christmas, I could not have anticipated the worst moment. While we were at my in-laws farm a raccoon wandered to the edge of the timber near their house. It made its way into the yard and seemed completely oblivious to the dogs', cat's and people's efforts to scoot it back into the woods.  Of course, it was adorable and I took a bunch of pictures. Then as we watched it, it sat up on its back legs and appeared to start to seize, then it tipped over on its side in full seizure. It was horrible. It became clear the raccoon was suffering and the best option seemed to put it out of its misery. The girls went back inside and the guys handled the situation. I felt bad for my brother-in-law having to be the one to do it. No matter the circumstances the end of a life is never easy.
R.I.P. Mr. Raccoon
Thankfully, my husband's aunt brought a fun project that got our minds off the incident.  Gingerbread houses:)

My husband and I built this house.  Looks good from this angle, but the wall on the far side fell down.

Since we couldn't fix it I decided we need to have something inside the house to make it look intentional. I had limited resources so here we are all snug in our bed :)

There were definitely good moments during an especially difficult holiday season.  I am thankful for my family and friends...and ready for a new year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Naughty or Nice?

Week one of my "hidden scale" seems to be a success - at least from an emotional point of view.  My husband weighed himself Monday morning and I considered begging for a turn on the scale. But I could tell he wasn't going to relent so saved my energy for another battle :) I don't think I have lost any of my gain, but I am hopeful that the gaining has stopped or at least slowed. I can still wear my "skinny" jeans comfortably.

Morning walks have felt really good.  However, due to our schedules we haven't made it out the last couple days. Which I am okay with since it has been super windy. I can bundle up against the cold, but the wind goes right through me.  Although maybe the extra resistance would make for a better workout :).

I did some Christmas shopping over the weekend and found the perfect ornament for Millie and her sister.  I am completely obsessed with Christmas ornaments and my husband didn't think the dogs needed one, but how could I resist? Now my husband and I are constantly updating their status. This picture was taken before Millie was moved to naughty side after getting my sweater out of the laundry basket and chewing the sleeve last night!!

Hopefully, I will finish the shopping this weekend. And Monday is our 4th Annual Cookie Frenzy - baking event with Aunt Anna.  What is left on your Christmas preparation list?

Weigh In Wednesday

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tree Trimming

It is not the Tree Trimming you normally think of this time of year, but the trimmers are out in full force today.  I counted 9 trucks in a 3-4 block stretch, including a crew in my sister's back yard.  

Passed all those trucks this morning - twice - and not a single catcall. I don't know whether to have my feelings hurt a little or be proud of workers with their minds on the job.

Hmmm...what do we have here?

Husband deserves a prize today for getting me out of bed.  I was desperate for a good night's sleep last night so I decided to take some Nyquil.  This morning I was quite groggy and had no interest in getting out of my cozy bed.  There might have been some grumpiness and a little pillow flinging. Fortunately, my husband won the battle and got me out there.

This is the prize I am considering...  Which one do you think he will like better??

My husband got a little St. Nicholas present from my sister. How fun is thist??  Love the Stormtroopers waving to him in the background. He wore it to work the other day.  One of the fourth grade girl boarded the bus and exclaimed, "You're a nerd too??!?!?!?"  

My eating can be summed up in one simple sign I saw at the store.  Well, the cookies and a bunch of other stuff....

My exercise has been much more successful than my eating this week.  On Monday I challenged myself to walk up and down a flight of stairs at work 25 times during the day.  Did I mention I hate stairs?  More accurately, I hate doing down stairs. I did them in 5 flight increments.  And I drank both bottles of water I set out for myself.  

I have walked three miles 5 out of the past 7 mornings.  I feel pretty good about that.  In the midst of all the craziness that is my emotions, I think those walks have kept me from completely losing it. There was a half-hearted attempt to get my husband to let me have my scale back this morning. Needless, to say my husband is much stronger than me and the scale has not returned from hiding. 

Tomorrow I am home alone for the day.  My to-do list is long and growing.  Among other things, I am hoping to get packages ready to send to the West Coast family, clean the house, make my final baking list and finish shopping,  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good

I am borrowing a little something from Meg at Running Just As Fast As She Can  She titles all her blog posts with song lyrics.  So clever.  I will be honest I don't know most of them.  However, my success rate has gone up a little because she is using Christmas songs this month.

I have made a big decision.  My husband has hidden our scale from me until January.  The past few weeks have been miserable with the scale. I am not sure exactly what is going on, but my weight is going crazy. I know I am not working out and tracking like I should be, but I don't find the gains I am experiencing credible.  I don't know if my hormones are out of whack and it is making my weight bounce around.  All I do know is that it is making my crazy.  I can't be starting every morning standing on the scale crying. It is a horrible way to start the day and I have had enough. I am struggling more than enough emotionally this holiday season without torturing myself on the scale. 

I know some will think I am making a huge mistake and that I am giving myself permission to go hogwild. I have some concerns myself.  However, I know that what I am doing now is NOT working.  Therefore, I am willing to give up what I know is not working and try something that might work. As you all know, the biggest part of our weight loss/fitness battle is mental and at the moment my mental state feels more fragile than my physical state.

I am not giving up! For the next few weeks, I have decided to focus on walking. Out of bed and out the door for three mile walks before the excuses of the day can derail me. I feel both physically and mentally stronger when I start the day with a good walk. I get a greater boost in my self-confidence from a good walk than I do from saying no to a piece of candy or a Christmas cookie.  With flagging self-confidence, I am looking for the avenue that will get me back to "normal" the quickest.

Back to the title of this post. Bustin' my hiney with some morning walking makes me feel good. I would like to springboard into enjoying simple holiday pleasures. The other day when I took the slow walk I took a ton of pictures of various neighborhood Christmas decorations. So to lighten this post I am sharing what I would see everyday if I weren't speed walking in the dark.

I thought this flag was odd, until I realized I was just looking at it from the wrong side :)

I have noticed these people change out their porch decor every season.  I especially like the little round pillows.  So festive.

Thought of Des at Finding the Skinny Geek Within when I saw this little Mickey hiding in the courtyard.  She just got back from a fantastic vacation at Disney.

This fun guy is my current favorite.

With a little styling this truck could be the most adorable Christmas decoration in the whole neighborhood.

We have never done lights or decorations at our house...maybe next year we could start.  In the meantime, I will enjoy those around me.

Weigh In Wednesday

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Spirit

Friday night my in-laws invited us to share in a Christmas adventure.  The first weekend in December a little town about 45 minutes away hosts a Christmas Market.  Although we didn't actually go to the market part. We started with dinner in this little red barn. Dinner was followed by a tour of the Anderson Mansion.

The inside of the barn wasn't exactly what I expected.  Apparently, they have a couple festivals each year and the barn is equipped for serving meals. There were only 4 or 5 tables, so it was pretty cozy.
The cutest in-laws ever

I invited my friend Amy to be my date since my husband was working -- and probably wouldn't have enjoyed the evening as much as we did :)

Dinner was very casual.  When you walked in the barn there was a table with crock pots and roasters.  You could choose from a couple of entrees.  I picked the chicken and noodles. It was a tasty choice for a cool rainy night. Not pictured is the raisin pie I shared with my father-in-law.

After we ate we toured the Anderson Mansion that was completely decked out for Christmas.  I took the description from the Chamber of Commerce website.

In 1883, the original residence, built by John Anderson, was a one-story structure, but as the Anderson family grew, so did the house. The second story, the attic and tower were added in 1892. Several special features set the 13-room house apart from other homes of that time period: two large double-columned porches, two elaborate bay windows, eight fireplaces, a large stained glass window purchased at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and unique folding window shutters. Throughout the house, beautifully restored solid oak staircases, woodwork and pocket doors illustrate the craftsmanship of that era.

I loved the arched doorways and all the decorative wood work.

There were several Christmas trees throughout the house.  I particularly liked this tree decorated with white and silver.

The kitchen was decorated with cinnamon ornaments and gingerbread cookies. We enjoyed checking out all the old kitchen accessories. The pantry was full of vintage (antique) food packages.
The house was full of donated items from the time period the house had been occupied. We could have spent significantly more time exploring all the treasures. I wish I knew in which year these appliances were considered modern :)

I picked Her Lord and Master off the shelf and turned to a random page. It is interesting how much the meaning of words can change over time. I would be curious to read the whole book to see if it was intended to be as spicy as the modern use of words may have indicated.
There was quite a bit of armed services memorabilia - uniforms, medals, etc. I was a little creeped out by this war propaganda poster.
There was a mini Christmas tree decorated in poppies.  Every time I see poppies I think of the poem "In Flanders Fields."  Our class memorized it in 7th or 8th grade for Remembrance Day. I still know most of it and it always chokes me up a little.

This Christmas tree brought out a whole different emotion.  One I still can't quite identify :) There is a small part of me that thinks I might need it.

After we toured the mansion we headed over to a new building where they had handmade items for sale. I wanted to call them crafts, but they are more works of art. I thought these lights were very clever.

I am obsessed with Christmas ornaments.  This little birds are made from gourds. I found their gigantic beaks a little comical.
Speaking of comical birds... I love the eyes on the pottery chicken to the left.
The evening was a simple and relaxing. I will be honest, it is hard for me to get in the Christmas mood this year.  I am trying to put on my happy face, but inside my heart is still overwhelmed. I especially appreciated this event because it was so simple and relaxed.

Our family is of Dutch decent and we have celebrated St. Nicholas day since we were kids. We have carried the tradition on as adults with our own families. "St. Nick" must have done a little last minute shopping at the mansion because I got a perfect little crocheted Christmas mouse ornament that I remember seeing the night before :)  My husband will be adding to his Star Wars ornament collecting with a sparkly Yoda.

What small traditions do you have that calm you in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season?