Top 10 Ways To Trim Fat

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The kids and I in Atlantis

The kids and I in Atlantis


I’m deviating a little today from my normal blog content.
Everyone always asks me my secret to staying thin. Here it is……There Is No Secret! Look, it takes work. It takes a conscious effort. It is a lifestyle choice; I cannot stress that enough. There are no shortcuts. But, I put together a top ten list to at least motivate you and get you moving in the right direction.
1. Sleep at least 8 hours per night
I’m telling you, the more your body is deprived of sleep, the more it tricks your brain into thinking it is hungry.
2. Move your body
You HAVE to do some form of serious physical exercise–preferably cardio and strength training. Go to the gym or do it at home, but do it. You need to exercise at least 30 minutes five days a week. Shoot for more if you are able.
3.Cut out white bread and soda….even diet soda
Too much sugar, too many carbs, too many empty calories—no good for your teeth either.
4.Limit eating out in restaurants
Try to eat at home as much as you can. Bring your lunch to work. You’ll save money and calories. There are so many hidden calories in restaurant food because they cook everything in butter and oil.
5. Salads aren’t always the lighter choice
You need to pay attention to what is in and on the salad. A crispy (a.k.a. fried) piece of chicken and bacon does not suddenly become healthy because it is placed on lettuce. Watch the dressing, too. Sometimes, you ruin a perfectly healthy salad by saturating it with fattening dressing.
6.Eat smaller meals throughout the day
Instead of cramming three squares in, try spreading it out over the course of a day. My eating schedule is like a baby’s: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. I find this eating schedule keeps me from eating everything that isn’t nailed down. I feel fuller longer this way.
7.Eat healthy snacks
Don’t sabotage your healthy meals with Doritos and Oreos! Choose healthy snacks. Fruits, nuts, and Greek yogurt are all healthy and filling. Trust me, once you are off the sweet stuff, you will not miss it.
8. Eat lean protein
Chicken and turkey are great examples of lean protein–just take off the skin. They give you energy, help you feel fuller for longer, and they taste delicious when prepared properly–and believe me, I am no Julia Child. Oh, yeah, and watch the condiments. Again, don’t take a perfectly healthy turkey on rye and destroy it with mayo!!!
9. Read Labels and serving size portions
First, you would not eat half of what you eat if you simply read not only ingredients you couldn’t pronounce, but the fat and sugar content in it. You would also be stunned if you actually portioned out a “serving size” that those fats and calories are based on. It is a good idea, though, to start to pay attention to portion sizes and what they really look like on a plate.
10.There is no such thing as “fat free”
Please don’t fall for that silly slogan. Something has to fill the void where the fat was. Want to know what it usually is? Sugar. Want to know what sugar turns into? Yup, you guessed it. FAT.
So, there is no magic secret, I don’t care what they say. One of my favorite books(I carry it with me, I kid you not) is “Eat This, Not That”. Any one of those in the series will help you immensely, I promise. And, that old saying “everything in moderation” is true. Have a 1/2 cup of ice cream every now and then….not every day. Have a glass of wine with dinner on a Saturday night…not 2 or 3 every night. Most importantly, move your body…work out at your level, but make it a serious workout and not an, “I’ll take the stairs instead of the elevator” workout. That won’t be enough and you are worth the effort. It takes work, but the benefits of healthy living are so worth it.

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Sneaky Little Leprechaun

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He Got Away!!!

He Got Away, Again!!!


My children have been trying to catch a leprechaun for years now. Every year they devise a trap to tempt the little guy with gold and trap him. They feel it is especially important because their dad’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day and they would be the coolest kids ever if they could catch him a leprechaun. Last year, the came very close.
Leprechaun Trap 2012

Leprechaun Trap 2012


The little bugger opened up all of drawers and re-arranged all the forks and spoons before taking the gold coin and leaving. But, he was almost caught. He was so small that he fit through a crack in the back door, but not before leaving some of his coat behind.
Some Of His Coat Got Stuck!!

Some Of His Coat Got Stuck!!


This year, my kids decided to make two traps. Olivia made an elaborate contraption in her room. She set it up beautifully to entice the leprechaun to take the various gold coins. In case he was too quick, Grayson decided to leave a trap on the counter. His trap consisted of a shoe box with a trap door. We cut a big rectangle in the shoe box and covered it with gold coins from Chuck. E. Cheese’s and other cool gold jewelry.
Olivia's Fancy Shmancy Trap

Olivia’s Fancy Shmancy Trap


Grayson's No Fail Trap Door  Contraption

Grayson’s No Fail Trap Door Contraption


They worked so long and thought so feverishly about a no fail way to trap this little leprechaun. They wanted to do it for Dad, but they also thought it would make the best show and tell ever! But, alas, the feisty little leprechaun was able to steal Olivia’s gold. He got greedy, though. He saw Grayson’s trap and tried to get those coins, too. He fell through the trap door. Those tiny creatures must be really strong, though, because the little stinker was able to free himself and escape. But, he wasn’t able to carry any of Grayson’s loot and he must have run out of time to be mischievous because all my drawers were exactly the way I left them last night. He tore part of his coat again, though. You can see it peeking through the trap door of Grayson’s invention at the top of the page. Oh, well, there’s always next year. Until then, Olivia and Grayson will be plotting new ways to finally capture that elusive little leprechaun for Daddy πŸ™‚

Obstacle Overcome…..Finally

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Olivia 1st Place

Olivia 1st Place


So, the Rhode Island State Gymnastics competition was held yesterday at Rhode Island College. My daughter was not really feeling well. As a matter of fact, she missed practice Friday night because she wasn’t feeling well. Plus, she hurt her ankle the other night at practice, and it was throbbing. So, I made a decision to let her rest overnight and skip practice. I felt like if Olivia didn’t learn her routine by now, then there was nothing she could be able to do the night before to make her learn a routine.
Well, as it turns out, i was right (gasp)!! She did very well at the State Competition. After a shaky start on vault (only 7.7), I was expecting Olivia to get down on herself and have it affect the rest of the competition. But, she surprised me. Remember the other day when I said our kids really do listen to us? Well, she listened. She shook it off and did not carry the bad score to her other events. Olivia adopted and put into action our family motto, which is, “I will.” I am happy to say that she had a great day and her beam performance was outstanding. She received a 9.47 on beam. It turns out, she won first place on beam. Good for Olivia!!!!
Olivia And Her Trophies

Olivia And Her Trophies


After the awards, the announcer said that the awards were concluded. Then, two seconds later, she said, “No, wait! There is one more award!” You can imagine after four hours sitting in uncomfortable chairs with bad lighting over them, people were making a mad dash for the door. The award was for the highest individual score on any event, regardless of age group. The award went to someone who scored a 9.47 on Balance Beam……Olivia Stephenson from Ocean State!!!! We were and are sooo proud. Of course, no one else heard the announcement….including Olivia–I had to find her and tell her that she won an award. I think the way they handled the award was piss poor. However, I could not be more proud of Olivia. And, you know what? Even if Olivia had not won anything, I would still be incredibly proud of her. Why? Because even though she started off shaky, she was able to put it behind her and excel on the rest of the events. She was able to focus and achieve her personal best. It’s great that she won, but, even more importantly, she achieved her personal best and you really can’t ask for more than that.
So, if you stumble, just get up. Put one foot in front of the other and plug on. You will get there. You may not get there in the manner you had expected or at the time you had planned, but you WILL get there. Just don’t give up. Aim for your personal best and block out everything else. You will achieve. Just remember my family mantra….”I will.”

The Things We Do For Dogs

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Lola After Surgery:(

Lola After Surgery:(


“….like walkin’ in the rain and the snow when there’s nowhere to go….”
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My love of reading and writing is second only to my love of music of all genres. Anyway, we were talking about the things we do for our dogs. Really, it’s ever so slightly below the things we do for our kids. I’ll give you a few quick examples:
First, as sweet as she is, Lola is a tad rambunctious. So, we decided to take her to puppy class. Unfortunately, there were no classes close to my house, so every Thursday for seven weeks we drove across the state to take her to class. I would pack up my daughter and her “stuff” and ship her off to gymnastics(in the total opposite direction, mind you). Then, my son and I would rush home, scarf down supper, pack up Lola and her “stuff” and drive to class. The car ride with a rambunctious puppy is always an adventure itself–especially in the middle of winter in New England. We would stay for one hour and the trainer would patiently try to teach four dogs the most basic of basic training skills. Lola mostly just sniffed around and lay down underneath my chair the whole time. After class, we would pack up the dog and drive home in the dark–yay–so much fun. At the end of the training, after all the time, effort, and money, Lola learned “watch me” and “sit”. The trainer put a graduation cap on her and she was done. Personally, I would have failed her, but I think the trainer didn’t want us to feel bad.
Lola at graduation

Lola at graduation


Next, we got the dog spayed. It is the responsible thing to do as a pet owner. They only do operations on Tuesdays and you have to drop off the dog at 7:30 am. Since I have two munchkins to get up, fed, dressed, and on the bus for school, my husband had to go into work late and take Lola to the vet. She came home later with the cone around her head. I wished there were a cone for my head when I saw the bill! I was supposed to keep the cone on for two weeks. We took it off after one week, though, and she was fine. However, the first couple of days, she wasn’t able to climb stairs. We live in an up & down house and we sleep upstairs. Lola sleeps in our room. She weighs 36 pounds. So, for two days and nights, I carried this puppy with stitches up and down the stairs. The first night, she had to go out at 2am. My husband was dead asleep(or pretending to be) so there I was with no lenses, a wounded animal and 14 stairs to descend. I picked her up and carried her down and outside. Turns out, she didn’t have to go after all. So, back up the stairs we went, the dog awkwardly dangling in my arms and me praying to God I would make it up the stairs without falling backwards with her in my arms. Thankfully, she healed and had no complications from the surgery.
Lola Playing Twister

Lola Playing Twister


Finally, since Golden Doodles need lots of exercise and we have a big backyard, we need an Invisible Fence. More cones please for my head–you cannot believe how expensive it is once you add up installation, collars, batteries and, of course, training lessons. Yesterday morning we had our first lesson inside. They start inside because they don’t want your dog running off into oblivion never to be seen again on the first day of training. After the trainer assembled all the gadgets and flags, she placed the collar around Lola. I have to admit, she caught on very quickly at a very low “zap” level. She mostly responded to the sound. I am very glad she learned in this class. We have homework for our next class, though, and I feel like I do when my kids have a test!
So, even though she is a handful….and she IS a handful, we love her and we treat her almost, almost, almost the same as we treat each other! Oh, who am I kidding, it’s my husband’s birthday tomorrow and he is getting a card from me, from the kids, and from Lola πŸ™‚

50 Shades Of Abuse

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ugh....makes me shudder

ugh….makes me shudder


So, it is the end of Reading Week at my children’s school. I participated in this blog by writing my own poem for “Poem In Your Pocket” day and I read a novel. Normally, I don’t go for romance novels. I’m more of a Stephen King kind of gal. 11/22/63 is one of my favorite books of all time. But, I didn’t have the time to read another thousand page book. I have been hearing about this “Fifty Shades of Grey” for a year now and everyone is always raving about it. So many of my friends and people I know have read all of the books in the series. So, I broke down and decided to read a romance novel.
Well, first, I was reminded why I don’t read romance novels! But, let’s put that aside. I think I am the only female I know that did NOT like this book. In fact, I was repulsed by it. I was disturbed at the slapping and when it got to the point of him hitting her with the belt, I felt physically sick. I cannot see how anyone would think this was a love story. To me, it was a story about a jackass who took advantage of a girl and physically and emotionally abused her. I would not read the other books if someone paid me–that’s how bad I thought it was.
Now, before people start getting crazy, I was never physically abused by anyone. I was never raped, molested or abused in any way by any person. So, my perspective coming into this is solely as a reader. I guess you could argue that the author is a good writer because she made the reader feel strong emotion. However, I think the content is demeaning to women in general(unless that’s what you’re into) and I cannot wrap my head around the women who wish there were a real Christian Grey. When I was on Facebook, they would always do polls as to which actor would play him in the movie. Are you kidding? I am about empowering women not demeaning and diminishing them and turing them into objects for sexual gratification. I don’t know, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m a prude. Maybe I should lighten up. I just don’t think beating someone up is the way to get their love. Now that reading week is over, I will go back to my mystery novels and non-fiction material. I am glad that I read the book, though, because it gave me an insight as to just how far we’ve come……baby.

Rachel’s Challenge-UPDATE

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My Little Guy

My Little Guy


Well, I’ll be darned. Sometimes, our kids listen to us. It’s an amazingly rewarding feeling when that happens because it happens so infrequently!! You’ll remember yesterday I told you my son was having issues with another student who was tripping him and calling him names. I told him to confront the student and tell her to stop. He did. She did not stop. I told him the next step was to tell his teacher. Remember I also said I did not want to intervene if I didn’t have to intervene. I want my children to learn the necessary skills to defend themselves without violence. I want them to learn this on their own with my guidance so when they are older they will be able to handle themselves without “running to mama” every time something happens. The older you are when you do that, the worse the bullying usually becomes. So, I asked my son if he told his teacher yesterday. He said that he had and that the teacher spoke to him and to the student. I was hoping he really did speak to her and he wasn’t just saying it to avoid conflict. I received an email from his teacher later that night. She basically told me exactly what my son said to her and how she handled the situation. She had my son repeat the scenario in front of the girl. The girl admitted to doing it. The teacher told the girl that she was a witness to the situation now. After she sent my son back to his seat, she spoke to the girl. She told her that when someone tells you to stop teasing them and you don’t that is considered bullying and it is not tolerated at the school. She also told the student that she would be checking in frequently with my son to make sure the behavior stopped. Additionally, the teacher said, she sat with the class at lunch because that is when the incidents usually happen.
I am satisfied with the response and swift action by the teacher. I already said yesterday that this isn’t a humungous issue, but it wouldn’t have been wise to let it go in today’s society. And, no one wants to feel uncomfortable at school.
I am most proud, though, that my son actually listened to my direction and told the teacher. I know I’ve said this before but it continues to amaze me and it is worth repeating: Our kids really are listening to us. Let’s really try to give them our best. They didn’t ask to be here. We owe it to them to raise them right. We owe it to them to be their first and best teachers.
Just as an aside, I tried to add the link to yesterday’s blog but it didn’t work. I followed the instructions but it did not add the link. I should have gone to computer school πŸ™‚ Yesterday’s blog title is “Rachel’s Challenge At Lincoln Central” if you want to read it.

Rachel’s Challenge At Lincoln Central

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Rachel Scott

Rachel Scott


As you may remember, Rachel Scott was the first student killed at Columbine High School. Her parents began a program in her memory based on her writings and pictures. The challenge has grown into a very powerful anti-bullying campaign across the country. My children’s school participates in this challenge. One of the ways they participate is that they have the kids do good deeds and document them on a continuing piece of poster paper. The idea is to have so many good deeds that they are able to have all of the students in the school hold up the paper and have the paper actually go around the entire outside of the building. A wonderful idea, indeed. But, what happens when something is going on with your child? Now, granted the story I am about to tell is in no way severe. BUT, left alone, it predicts future behavior and indicators to bullying as the grade levels increase.
My son is a little on the small side. He is eight years old and in second grade. He is 48 and a half inches tall. I worry about that in general because sometimes bullies pick on kids who are smaller than they are. But, he holds his own. He is also a man of VERY few words which troubles me. He holds a lot in because he doesn’t like conflict. Again, this could make him a prime target for bullying later on. I try to encourage him to tell me anything–even if I won’t like it. He has gotten in trouble a couple of times at school and I have found out through other parents. He said he didn’t tell me because he thought I would yell and he would get punished. I re-inforced that he could come to me with anything and I would reserve my emotions and listen to his side.
Well, it must have sunk in because he came to me the other day. He told me that there is a girl in his class who always trips him. Not only does she trip him, she kicks him and pushes him. Oh, yeah, and she constantly calls him a “midget.” Now, the problem is complicated for several reasons. First, she is a girl. He knows he can never put his hands on someone—especially a girl. He also doesn’t want to be labeled a sissy because he is being bothered by a girl. I don’t want to get involved….yet. I want to teach my kids to stand up for themselves. The first thing is to tell the person to stop. He said he has told her several times to stop tripping him and that he doesn’t like when she calls him a “midget.” Ok, I am glad he started there. It did not work. The next thing is that he speak to his teacher directly and tell her what is going on in class. We teachers don’t have eyes everywhere and sometimes we miss things. There are strict rules about keeping hands and feet to yourselves at the school, so the girl is in violation of that rule. There are also rules about name calling and bullying at the school. So, this morning, Grayson will meet with his teacher and try to handle the matter on his own. If he tells his teacher, I am sure the matter will be handled appropriately. My fear is that he will not tell her. Then, he will come home and tell me he spoke with her and that everything is settled. So, I am in a bit of a situation. I want to teach him a skill set of handling his own issues, but I know the type of kid he is. I also do not want to be the parent who runs to the school every time someone says “boo” to their child. As they get older, it becomes harder for parents to really get involved. If kids can learn to go through the proper channels in the elementary grades then there is a good chance they will co-exist peacefully with their classmates throughout their school career.
I can only hope my son listens to what I have tried to teach him and handles the situation with his teacher today. When we were little we used to say this type of behavior meant “she likes you.” Unfortunately, in today’s society we can’t adopt that philosophy anymore. Like I said, it isn’t of huge magnitude, but it bothered him enough to tell me. Plus, tripping people can be dangerous. I bet her parents don’t even know this is happening. Parenting is so hard now, it seems like I need a nap an hour after I’ve woken up for the day! I’ll keep you posted on this saga. Any advice others have regarding situations like this would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to comment.

Poem In Your Pocket

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Olivia & Grayson Reading At The Airport

Olivia & Grayson Reading At The Airport


It’s Reading Week at my children’s school. They are doing all sorts of fun activities and reading all kinds of interesting books. There is even a “shut off the tv and read” challenge in which my son is very interested. Of course, there is a prize to be won. The most interesting of all events, however, is taking place today. It’s called “poem in your pocket” day. The children choose a favorite poem they have read and they write it on a small piece of paper. Then, they fold the paper and keep the poem in their pocket for the day. At different times, they take the poem out and read it–either out loud or to themselves. I love this activity….except when I realize after I’ve washed their clothes that we forgot to take the poem out of the pocket. This has happened three years in a row. I’ll have to make a note to myself to take the paper out of the clothes before they go into the washing machine. Anyway, I thought I would write a poem today. I may even write it on paper and put it in my pocket for the day.

The House On Coggeshall Street

“What?”, you say.”I’ve never heard,”
“Of a poem about a house, that’s absurd.”
It was more than a house, it was a home,
Where happiness lived inside the dome.
There lived a happy family of seven,
Inside those walls lived a slice of Heaven.
Their life was peaceful and safe and sound,
But once they left, trouble would abound.
The patriarch would die a semi-sudden death,
Downward spirals left them catching their breath.
The children would marry and then divorce,
It seemed they could not keep their lives on course.
Some had children of their own
And some taught school–children on “loan”.
Pieces of a puzzle the six who are left
Feeling like the seventh was a victim of theft.
But when they think about Coggeshall, these six who remain,
There are such happy memories that they form a chain.
A chain of happiness, a chain from the past,
A chain of protection around that house that will last.
The chain will last until each link is laid to rest
And their puzzle is complete with the one who taught them best.

I Need To Get Off The Merry-Go-Round Now

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My Life

My Life


I try to be positive every day. I try to inspire, to motivate, to project happiness. But, what happens when that isn’t what I’m feeling? I’m reminded of an old childhood game I used to play. When I’m feeling like I am not in control and nothing is right then I need to take three GIANT steps back.
The online store did not work. While I had well over one thousand likes on the Facebook page, none of those likes ever converted to sales. I think maybe people need to see, touch and try on merchandise before they buy it. So, since it was costing more money to keep it open, I closed it. Then, there was infighting in terms of the physical store and the location. So, the best thing to do is shelve it for now. Facebook, Pinterest, and all that other stuff—too stressful right now. So, I disconnected from all of them. My personal life is in a bit of shambles right now. That is a bigger problem to fix. Sometimes, sadly, it can’t be fixed. We’ll have to just see. But, I need to get off the merry-go-round of trying to spin plates. I need to go back to center and start again. It is the only choice I have other than becoming some kind of alcoholic, or drug addict. Those are just temporary fixes which are a zillion times worse to get out of than if you just dealt with your problems to begin with. So, I will prioritize. Is my personal situation worth saving? Hard to tell right now. Sometimes what’s best for the kids and everyone involved is to go your own way. Too soon to say just yet. What about my professional life? Hard to say. The online store did not work. Trying to start a new venture with little support is never a good idea–especially when there is family turmoil. There are two times I feel peace in my life. The first is when I am writing. My thoughts free my mind of its stress and I always feel better after I’ve written something. But, it is very difficult to make a living from writing. The other time I feel peace is on a Monday morning for an hour and a half when I volunteer at my son’s school. I feel nice there. I can’t go back to teaching because high school is on a completely different schedule than elementary and I won’t have strangers in my house while my children are still sleeping. I won’t entrust the morning routine to someone who is not my blood relative and all my relatives work.
So, what to do with this life that has somehow spun out of control. Disconnect from social media. The haters are going to talk about me no matter what I do or what happens in my life so let them talk. Figure out how to exit the current marital situation if that is the last option and do what’s best for the kids. Step off the merry-go-round and have a little time out. Figure out “me” for a change and not “me” with kids, or “me” with husband. No. Me. Just me. If I can center myself then maybe I can figure out an answer. It might not be the most comfortable answer or the answer everyone wants to hear, but if it brings me peace then it’s the right answer. In the interim, I’ll keep the name and tagline of the blog as it is. Have a nice day.

Sand Art….Therapeutic?

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Sand Art By Olivia & Grayson

Sand Art By Olivia & Grayson


There are so many ways to keep the kids entertained during stormy weather. The problem is that they fly through most activities fairly quickly and then parents are left with, “I’m bored.” My kids love sand art for some reason. I have huge tubs of different colored sand and plenty of plastic bottles, necklaces, and containers to use. This is one activity that holds their attention. They really concentrate and focus to make their artwork as nice as they can. I have representations literally all over the house from snowmen to ducks to pumpkins and everything in between.
I wondered why this activity kept my kids so engaged for so long so I decided to do a couple of my own the last time they worked with sand art. We were using different geometric shaped containers and I realized right away that this process might be therapeutic. Different colors represent different emotions. Before I started, I looked at the colors. When I looked at the black sand, I saw depression and confusion. When my eyes caught the bright yellow, it was uplifting. I wondered what colors the kids would go for in their work. As you can see, they filled their jars with all light, bright colors. They did this project a few months ago during the hurricane. I asked them why they chose those colors and they both said because it made them feel good and they both said it reminded them of summer. I filled one jar with navy blue and white sand. Those colors made me think of boats, nautical elements, and stripes and being on vacation. I filled another one with red and green sand. I thought of Christmas and family and home. I’m sure that using crayons or painting with these colors would evoke the same feelings. But, there is something about lining up the colors and switching them, interchanging them, watching them take shape in the bottle that is calming. It is calming for me and it must be for the kids too because they literally spent two hours on this project. They were not fighting, yelling, kicking or screaming. They didn’t even argue over the sand colors. If one was using a color, the other just waited their turn. I also noticed the care each child took to use the sand neatly. They picked up as much as they could if any spilled. They closed the lids after they were done with a color because they didn’t want to take a chance on the sand falling on the ground. Who knew such a simple concept could accomplish more than just keeping the kids busy during a storm? Who knew that concept could actually change your mood? I do now, and, who knows, I may break out their stuff and use it the next time I feel stressed and depressed.