Thursday, June 30, 2011

6 year blogger-versary

Six years ago I started a little blog.  Honestly I did it because all my online friends were starting them.  We had a great group online but as folks began blogging (like Emilie and Missy) the group started to move in that direction so I jumped on board with the blogging thing.

I didn't know what to expect.  I wasn't a writer (I thought), I didn't know what I had to say, all I knew was that I and already learned that online communities could be precious and that my current job made me keep parts of who made me me hidden.  I needed a place to be me.

But I had no idea what would become of this little corner of space on the internet I called my own.

I didn't know I would meet a vast network of people who would become very dear to me.

I didn't know that I would learn that I can be a writer and that I enjoy it.

I didn't know that I would keep my sanity through very difficult times because of this place and people's support.

I didn't know that I could stick with a hobby for 6 years.

I didn't know that I would be able to share and process a very rocky pregnancy/birth experience so safely and supported on the internet.

I didn't know that I could be honest about my weight and my struggles.

I didn't know that I would be troll free on the blog 6 years later.

I didn't know I would have online friends become IRL friends...friends who would run 5ks with me, and meet me for coffee, or even take professional pictures of me and little goat just because I needed one.

What I didn't know could fill a book but suffice to say this blog has been a blessing to me (you'll have to ask Mr. Goat if it is for him too! LOL)
 I could get very sappy about this tiny unimportant-to-anyone-but-me blog but I won't.  Instead I just want to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for reading and commenting and not judging.  Thank you for getting to know the real me, and letting me be unabashedly me - geeky, anxiety-prone, fat, introverted me.  You have no idea how you've all shaped my life during the past 6 years.

I almost gave up the blog a week ago.  I was frustrated and blogging felt like one more thing that I HAD to do.  But it really isn't, that was the frustration talking.  Blogging is something I get to do, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

So Happy Blogger-versary to me.  To celebrate I finally bought my first real domain name.   It is my present to myself! The blog will now go their automatically but you may want to update your feeds.  And I have a few other cosmetic changes in the works too.  I hope you'll come visit and see when they go live.

Thank you everyone, I think I'm going to stick around for a while!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bullet Point Post

So much to share, so little time, but I want to get some thoughts out right now so you guys have an update about my life right now.
  • I am still soda free.  It has been 8 days.  The headaches seem to have gone away but I am still craving diet coke.  I'm learning to like iced tea and still really don't like too much coffee.  Or rather I like coffee very very sweet which is not that helpful.  But I can do the iced coffee with nonfat milk and a raw sugar for a passable compromise.  I find I've been drinking more juice along with more water and that could be trouble as I don't need that much sugar, but I am still avoiding the artifical sweeteners (with some great success).
  • We had some truly AWFUL big bed experiences at Grandma's and Grandpa's this weekend, to the point where we got out the port-a-crib just to get a bit of sleep before the wee hours.  (seriously one night I was up until 5am more or less, until he finally got up.  Thank goodness for Grandma who tagged me out then so I could get some sleep)  But being home again we are getting there.  Last night was 2 hrs, tonight was 45 minutes.  It helps that he's exhausted but I'm also learning how to respond to him too.  Hopefully we keep on improving.  That evening time is important for my well-being.
  • The world's greatest popcorn comes from Dairy Queen in Neenah, Wisconsin.  Yes, Dairy Queen.  Seriously, I'm willing to provide evidence!
  • Little goat got to go on his first two boat rides this weekend.  The first was a speed boat, the second was a pontoon.  On the second ride he kept saying "BOAT GO"   Apparently he didn't like the cruising speed of a pontoon and wanted to go faster again!  
  • He also went to the pool with us and his Godparent's family.  He was fearless and willing to jump in the pool over and over again.  He's well on the way to being a little fish as well as a little goat.
  • We went to our music class tonight and little goat doesn't seem too enthralled with the singing yet, but the moment those instruments come out he's in heaven.  Hitting things on purpose to make cool sounds = love.  It is fun to see him starting to learn about music too and he did much better this day than the first class.  (Although the doors need baby gates because he is perpetually curious and a master escape artist)
  • I'm sort of off the healthy lifestyle wagon.  I need to get my butt in gear but I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the things that need doing.  Still the soda thing is big so that is a good start.
  • The main purpose of this trip was my cousin's graduation party.  It was so nice to see the whole family.  Little goat saw many of his great aunts and uncles he'd only met once before.  He also got to see his great grandfather  (guess who forgot to take pictures!).  It was so nice to be with family.  I love MN but sometimes it is hard to be so far away from people I love.
  • One more, I'm featured over on Peace Garden Writer today!  Hop on over if you want to read how I started thinking of myself as a writer!  And welcome to anyone who came over from Roxane's page!

    Is this new?

    I am terribly behind on blogging and just about everything else in my life too. So forgive me. I'm still here just stalled. We spent a fun weekend in WI though so I'll be sharing stuff throughout the week. But first I went to lunch today to grab a sandwich and tried someplace new. This is what I saw on the bill. Is this new?  (Being that it is a new place I also spent way more than I wanted on lunch...but alas I digress.)

    Now I have never seen a "suggested gratuity amounts" on a bill before.  I know on large parties they sometimes have an automatic addition for gratuity but this was just a helpful note on my bill.  First of all, this isn't hard math people, nor does it have to be so specific.  You want 15%?  Move the decimal point one over...$15.00 becomes $1.50 for 10% and then add an additional half that (.75) for a total of $2.25.  And if you can figure out 10%, 15% and 20% than it is easy to pick some number in between roughly where you want to tip.

    But beyond that, shouldn't they start at 15% at least?  I know that 18% is customary but what happens when you have bad service.  And it isn't it a tad presumptuous to have the 25% on there?  I mean, I think I can count on one hand the times I've tipped over say 20%.  And believe me an overpriced sandwich and iced tea is not it.

    Have you seen this?  Am I the only one who is annoyed by it?

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    The Frenemy

    It all started on Monday.  Monday was an awful day.  I was crabby and unfocused.  I didn't feel great and I was in a bad mood all around.  As my mood worsened I turned to my own standby soda to get my through, specifically diet soda, even more specifically diet coke.  I love diet coke.  A morning never fully started without a diet coke.

    So my mood was bad and I was self-medicating with soda.  Around 3pm I started to feel really awful.  Headachy and just off.  I wondered if I was getting sick and headed to get a glass of water.  After I drank some and started to feel better I did some quick math.  It turns out I had over 60 oz of soda already that day and that was my first glass of water.  Um, that's not so good.

    In fact it was really bad.  (not to mention expensive).

    Then and there I decided that it was time to give up soda.  My ability to drink it in moderation seemed long gone and it just wasn't helping.  So on Tuesday I began my first official soda-free day.  It was hard.  I am am doing two things in conjunction with this new soda-free lifestyle.  1.  I am making sure NOT to give up caffeine right now so I don't withdraw on both the soda and the caffeine at once.  I've been allowing myself a iced cafe latte a day so far.  I'll also explore teas (and chocolate as needed). 2.  I am trying to avoid artifical sweeteners in general so I don't re-trigger my addiction.  That means that flavored waters and stuff are already out.  Tomorrow I'm going to explore some sparkling unflavored water with some juice to give me a little placebo soda, but all the real stuff - regular and diet is off limits.

    I've only had two days of soda-free living but already I am noticing changes and I'm going to document them so that I can remind myself that this is a good thing in case things get harder before they get easier.

    • I am more focused.  I've been more productive at work the last two days than I have been in a while.  This is good because VBS is coming fast!
    • My mind seems clearer too.
    • I have more energy - even being sleepy from getting baby goat adjusted to his "big boy bed" crib.
    • I am more cheerful.
    • I've slept better
    • I am drinking a TON more water.  Like 80-100 oz more water.  
    • The more water I drink the better I start to feel.
    • I seem to be eating less.
    • I also am more in tune to when I am hungry and when I am not.
    • I think I'll save money in the long run, especially if I can find a caffeine source that's not Starbucks or Caribou.
    Now this is not to say it is easy.  I've had a low grade headache for the last two days.  I am still craving it, particularly in the morning and at lunch, which is why I need to experiment with some sparkling water tomorrow.  And there is still soda around here - at work and at home, so I have to be vigilant on my own.  Towards the end of the day I also am feeling a bit short tempered.  This might also be a symptom of trying to get little goat to sleep in his bed without escaping.  I do not recommend bed transfers and giving up addictions in the same week but I didn't have much forethought for this.

    So the diet coke, and other sodas are out.  Maybe someday I'll be able to have a soda in a drink without getting addicted, but I think diet coke and I need to be done for good.  It is just too addicting to me, but I'm washing my hands of it.  It's time.

    Wordless Wednesday: Signs of Summer

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Facing Freedom

    Today little goat has fallen asleep in his big boy bed.  Well, it actually isn't a big boy bed yet, but his crib with one side taken off.  It went *knock on wood* well.  Even though he crawled into bed himself he didn't seem to quite get that he could get out, instead he just cried for me when he didn't want to be sleeping yet.  I'm sure that is temporary and we have his room gated off now in an attempt to keep him safe during the night (he knows how to open locks and doors, not to mention having all sorts of other mechanical skills).

    Honestly I put off this transition.  I wasn't ready for the freedom of him getting up in the night without my knowledge.  I often find that I am the one who's not ready.  Freedom is a tricky thing.  Little goat grows fast, and even his language has been expanding at a rapid pace lately.  He is learning things each day.  He's learning to swim.  Tomorrow he goes to his first music class.  He is just blossoming.

    It is beautiful to watch, but it is also challenging for me.  He is so energetic, constantly going.  He is so persistent, trying to get around your instructions over and over again.  He is so strong, he will fight to get what he wants and often you are in the way.

    Sometimes he is just so hard for me and it feels embarrassing to admit that.  But even in his worst obstinance he is very precious to me.  Each night after meds and books and prayers, we cuddle together he and I and I smell his hair as he nuzzles into my neck and everything is fine again.  The difficulties of the day fade away.  I'm glad for that, it keeps me sane.  The challenge is to find a way to parent this toddler.  This toddler who wants his way and doesn't like to listen but still needs protecting and guiding and loving.  Independence and freedom within safe boundaries.  And that is a challenge.

    He's asleep in his big boy bed tonight, facing his freedom wonderfully.  And I am here blogging wondering how I learn to be a big boy mom when sometimes I just wish he were that tiny infant that I had finally figured out.  Little Goat, I want you to learn to be independent and confident, but can we slow down a little bit so mama can catch up?

    EDITED TO ADD:  He only fell out of bed twice (um, I wonder if I should put a pad down, we'll see how tonight goes), but he slept in the "bed" all night long!

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Halfway there

    If I am keeping pace with my 50 book challenge each year I should hit 25 books sometime before July 1st.  Sometimes I've done it quickly and other times slowly but that is my mid-year goal.  This year I am right about on pace, having finished my 25th book today.  I'm glad I caught up from the month of the move where I didn't read hardly anything.  So here is my list of books halfway through.  I'm happy to share insights on any of them!

    50 Book Challenge 2011

    1. The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
    2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    3. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
    4. Walking the Bible: A Photographic Journey

    6. The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
    7. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
    8. Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
    9.  A View from the Back Pew: God, Religion & Our Personal Quest for Truth by Tim O'Donnell
    10. The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
    11. Leaping Beauty: And Other Animal Fairy Tales by Gregory Maguire
    12. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
    13. The Unquiet Bones: The first chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon by Melvin Starr
    14. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
    15. Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps by Dave Isay
    16. A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel: The Second Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon by Mel Starr
    17. The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel by Kathleen Kent
    18. The Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson
    19. The Fiddler's Green by A. S. Peterson
    20. Stories: All-New Tales

    My Name Is Child of God...Not "Those People": A First Person Look at Poverty

    Thursday, June 16, 2011


    Music speaks to most of us and like many of us I have diverse musical tastes. I can be (and regularly am) swept away by beautiful choral, band and orchestra music. I enjoy a good musical, but I also like popular music, jazz, and all sorts of random things.

    Mostly I listen to NPR or KS95 which is a local pop station.  And over the last years a few songs have stuck out at different points in my life.  The first was Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Calliat.  I liked both artists but this song became powerful when I went on bed rest in the hospital with little goat.  Mr. Goat would go home each night and I would play this on repeat trying to sleep and cling to the fact that I was lucky and that I would go home someday (as the lyrics say).  This then became my continued theme song as I waited those 46 agonizing days for baby goat to come home from the NICU too.

    The second song that has been a theme for me recently is Sara Bareilles' King of Anything.  When the situation at my last church was really bad for me and I wanted so badly to find a way out this became a song that I sang loudly in my car to reclaim my own independence.  While it isn't exactly what the song was about it was a reminder that I am the only who needs to speak for me and I should not hide behind what other's always expected of me.

    Lately a song has been becoming a theme for my weight loss journey.  Like the last song I have to reimagine it a bit.  For example this song is sung to a love interest, but in my mind I am singing it to myself and for myself.  This song is Adam Lambert's Whataya Want From Me.  It's refrain in particular speaks to me.

    Just don’t give up
    I’m workin’ it out
    Please don’t give in
    I won’t let you down
    It messed me up, need a second to breathe
    Just keep coming around
    Hey, what do you want from me
    What do you want from me

    This is the question and phrase I keep coming back to - "what do I want from me?" and "just don't give up!"  It is so easy to want to throw up my hands and give up.  It is so hard and has been hard for a long time, but I can't afford to give up.  So I sing at the top of my lungs and insist that I am worth not giving up on.  Because I'm not.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    8 years

    8 years.
    3 cats.
    2 apartments.
    1 house.
    2 advanced degrees.
    4 cars.
    6 jobs.
    1 kid.
    2920 days and counting...
    All by his side.
    And I wouldn't trade a single one.
    Instead I look forward to the next 8.
    And 18.
    And 80.
    Happy Anniversary Mr. Goat.
    I love you!

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Prayer of a Fat Woman

    Dear God,
    Give me the courage not to eat everything in front of me.
    Give me the patience and wisdom to savor my food, one bite at a time.
    Remind me that "food" does not need to be candy-coated,
    or partially-hydrogenated,
    or processed.
    Help me taste the full bounty of your creation.
    In moderation.
    Keep me on the path to real health.
    Give me strength to move more today than the day before: longer, faster or stronger
    But in all things remind me that you give me each day to start anew.
    Give me the perspective to give myself grace when I fall, as you do.
    You know that weight does not equal worth.
    Help me to know it too.
    You have given me all the tools I need to succeed.
    It is in me because of you.
    Show me where it is hidden
    and help me become the me that you know I can be.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Sunday night again

    Boy, time seems to be flying lately.  The Goat family has been GO GO GO since Memorial day.  First there was the 5k, then a crazy week or work, then my 10 year college reunion (with second 5k in two weeks), then a week with 4 full days of continuing ed and a funeral to boot.  Finally there was this weekend.  It was unscheduled, which is practically unheard of lately, but wouldn't you know, we managed to fill it up!

    Friday we wanted to be social but the baby still needed to sleep.  So we tested the monitors range and took our neighbor up on his invitation to hang out and chat in the garage.  We must be homeowners now because that is exactly what we did.  And the monitor worked because I knew right away when baby goat woke up because he took his diaper off and peed everywhere (again).  It was fun to get to know the neighbors more and it was fun to just sit and chat for a while.

    Saturday we all slept in (even the toddler - until 8:30!!!!)  Then we got up and headed to the zoo for some fun.  We rode the monorail and visited the playground and fountain and had lunch outside.  Naturally I got sunburned but it was fun.  We saw surprisingly few animals but that was just what little goat preferred.  He was very insistent on keeping up with the bigger kids on the high playground structure so Mr. Goat and I got a workout keeping him safe from the larger falls.  Saturday ended with a fundraiser Mr. Goat had to go to for his choir...I stayed home and played with the toddler.  After the fundraiser a friend and fellow choir guy came over to play games.  Two late night social gatherings in one weekend!

    Today was a planned date day.  Sister Goat came up to babysit in the afternoon. So we had church in the morning, then Mr. Goat and I went to see the movie Bridesmaids - hilarious BTW.  Finally we went up to the Sea Salt Eatery for dinner.  It is a seasonal restaurant in Minnehaha Falls Park and is all seafood.  It was outstanding and could easily get addicting.  We split some calamari tacos, and each had a po-boy.  Mr. Goat had crawfish, I had catfish.  So SO SO good.  It was a great date for Mr. Goat and I and a way to get away in celebration of our anniversary this week.

    We got home to discover that Toddler goat took and almost 5 hr nap!  So he was up much later than normal, but he doesn't seem sick.  I suspect growth spurt myself but I guess time will tell. I really need a germ free week though as I have a ton of stuff to do, but that's pretty typical.  And I have to find a way back into the gym now that the summer is here.

    In Summary, busy busy good good happy happy

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    This and That

    I'm in Continuing Ed for three days to learn about Faith Formation.  It is one of those instances where I am glad for the reminder that there are people as quirky, passionate and church-geeky as I am.  And the topics are great, I'm having so much fun thinking deep thoughts and figuring out how to translate it to real ministry and vocation.  But I'm jumping online during break to share two things with you!

    1.  I wrote a guest post about Kids and Spirituality for my friend Missy the Marketing Mama which is up today.  I'd love it if you hop on over to read it and share any of your own thoughts on helping to teach kids about faith.

    2.  We watched this video this morning in my class and while I typically don't demand that you go watch a 20 min video I really must insist that you watch this immediately.  It is amazing and while it talks about classical music it is transferable to whatever job or vocation you have, or being a parent, spouse or person in the community.  Seriously watch it and please share your thoughts about what you took away from it here. 

    Monday, June 06, 2011

    OVO by Cirque Du Soleil

    Brother Goat, my BIL, works for the theater behind the scenes and for as long as I've known him he's loved Cirque Du Soleil.  He would go see them whenever it was possible.  But I have never been to a show before.  I went to the Shriner Circus a few times and possibly some carnival/fair type circus acts but nothing on the scale or breadth of Cirque.

    So you can imagine that when I was given an opportunity to attend a show on my own I had to jump on it.  Despite this I wasn't sure how it would all translate, sometimes it seemed a little high brow and artsy for me, and I'm even sort of a high brow, artsy type!  But I was WRONG.

    First of all, it was hilarious!  There was a loose plot structure that kept the acts moving.  There was a commitment to character, even when interacting with the audience.  And the "clown" bugs (because the show takes place with insects as characters) were full of great timing and comedy, even with mostly using few words and lots of bug "chatter"

    two of the "clown" bugs

    The second thing that amazed me were the acts themselves.  I've seen Cirque acts on Late Night shows occasionally and they are neat but to see them up close was a whole different thing.  Then you appreciate the physical feats they are accomplishing and the grace with which they are doing so.  It was enough to make me want to pack up Little Goat to Circus school in Thailand (but not quite, I do like him around after all!)

    synchronized kiwi foot juggling by the ants

    All in all, it was a wonderful date night for Mr. Goat and I, and if my toddler had an attention span of more than 30 seconds I know that he would have loved it.  Every detail was taken care of.  The sets were stunning, the costumes remarkable.  They even pumped in some sort of earth/flower scent (but not perfume!) to give you a sense of being among the dirt and the bugs.

    these were some of Mr. Goat's favorites. 

    The other cool thing I was able to participate in was a backstage tour that the Mall of America set up.  They invited us over for Toddler Tuesday with the Cirque folks and then brought some of us back to see the behind the scenes.

    Their tents are amazing little cities.  People get apartments during their show run, but everything else is on site in their tents and trucks.  There is a school for those performers (the youngest performer is 16) and children of performers and workers.  There is a kitchen that provides over 300 meals daily.  There is a tent for them to warm up and rehearse each day.
    so can YOU do that?

    Each day the performers practice but they are also responsible for their own makeup each day.  The red spider for example has a 1.5 hr makeup routine before each show to prepare.  While we were there we got to witness one of the red spider's training her replacement (who will start in July) with the artistic directors help.  It was fascinating to watch the preparation and practice of them.  The performers rehearse for 2 years before a show goes on the road, the new red spider gets 3 months!

    It was so neat to see behind the scenes and ask all sorts of questions about the tricks and running of the show, but after knowing the magic of having seen the show wasn't diminished.  If anything it was enhanced by knowing just how much goes into it.  Ovo by Cirque Du Soleil runs until June 19th in a tent across from the Mall of America.  If you can afford to go I certainly would.  Information about tickets can be found here

    Disclaimer:  I was provided with a pair of tickets to Ovo and given the opportunity to go behind the scenes, but all opinions provided are my own.  It really was awesome!  Also, all the photos used come from the professional photos provided on the Mall of America Website here

    Friday, June 03, 2011

    10 years

    Here I am back on campus.  Back on the "Hill."  It is a place deep in my soul.  I remember coming here with my parents for alumni events and I didn't understand it then, but I do now.  Now I have my own child to drag to campus (although for my sanity and Mr. Goat's he's with Grandma and Grandpa).

    It feels different and yet, the same.  There are similar faces around me, most of the students are gone and it can be easy to pretend that we are all back.  But there are differences too.  I am older yes, but some of the naivity that I held back then is also gone.  I know what this place meant and means to me, but I also know that life outside the Hill can be joyful and maddening, sorrowful and enlightening.  And I feel different too, and yet the same. 

    Mr. Goat is beside me.  We met here, and fell in love.  We've walked these paths hand in hand before, but we didn't know then all the things we'd face.  I suppose we still don't know all the things we'll face, but we continue to be committed to facing them together.  I wonder if that is one of the things this Hill has taught me, that love and loyalty don't always mean easy roads, but that they do mean choosing to grow together.

    The Hill has grown and changed and we do too.  But after 10 years I still pause, rapt at the end of Beautiful Savior.  After 10 years I still count this place among my homes.   All thing change, as they should, but for a weekend I dwell in the past and present combined into something new altogther.

    I'm me there but an ever gowing me, and the me I am now leaves early tomorrow to run a 5k on campus, something the old me never would have done.   Change is good after all.  Um ya ya!

    Wednesday, June 01, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday: Proud anyway

    This picture is the most special because it shows the #priorfatpack cheering me on.  And THAT is truly heart-warming to me.