Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall 2013 Television Premieres

Image from 123RF Stock Photos

There may be a slight nip in the air, and perhaps a few leaves are beginning to turn, but it's not fall until the new TV shows premiere! We will be trying 3 new shows this fall.
  • The Blacklist (James Spader) - Mondays on NBC: A master international criminal turns himself in to the FBI and offers to help them catch some of the world's worst bad guys, on the condition that he speaks only to a rookie profiler with no known connections to him. Y'all know I'm a sucker for cop shows, and holy cow, they certainly have my attention after the pilot episode! James Spader is deliciously over the top (yet still in control), and I loved every minute of it. Everyone who is saying "Silence of the Lambs clone" is largely correct, minus the cannibalism of course, but aren't there much worse things to be compared to in this world? I will be interested to see if they can sustain it going forward, but we were quite impressed with Episode 1.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Tuesdays on CBS: In a post-Avengers world, where everyone now knows that there are real-life gods and monsters, S.H.I.E.L.D. works to keep things running smoothly for both mere mortals and "others." First, let me start by saying that we really enjoyed the premiere! Oh Joss, how we've missed you. I could "hear" him in so many of the great one-liners of the premiere, but neither quips (even great ones from Joss Whedon) nor cameos from other Whedon projects can make a successful show on their own. Expectations were impossibly high, and I don't think they quite made it. Very close, but not quite.  Clark Gregg is amazing, as always, and you never for a moment doubt that he is doing what we are to believe that he does for a living. Then again, he's had several films-worth of practice. The rest of the cast needs to step up their game a bit (you could tell some of them felt a little silly at times), but I think they have great potential, and I hope the show will fully gel in the next few episodes. Looking forward to more! #CoulsonLives
  • Almost Human (Karl Urban) - on FOX in November: New television offering from J.J. Abrams, starring Karl Urban. 35 years in the future, a human cop is unhappily assigned an android partner. You will hear "I, Robot" thrown around a lot with this one, which is not a bad thing in my book. I suspect we will get to see Karl Urban put on his best "grumpy McCoy" persona and go to town, which is part of what we love about him. Why hire him if not to glower? LOL Toss in Lili Taylor and Michael Ealy, and I will definitely be watching when it premieres in November. (I think it is slated for Mondays, which will kill us! I hope it doesn't come on at 10, or we really will have a problem.)
It remains to be seen if they will survive. We have a history of being able to kill most any show, though we've actually managed a few winners in recent years, most recently Elementary and Person of Interest. What are you watching this fall?
Currently feeling: tuned in

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - September 25, 2013

Currently feeling: amazed at the creativity of spinning Easter candy into Halloween versions

Monday, September 23, 2013

Read the Good News!

Image from 123RF Stock Photos

How about some good Luke reading news for a change? For those who missed it, he was struggling to read Stuart Little, which we didn't realize was a 6th grade level book when he started it. Go here for the full story. We have switched to 3rd grade level books, and things are going SO much better!! He's already taken and passed one AR test, and he should be ready for a second one by the end of the week. Everyone is so much happier!! It is truly almost like a miracle. We were all despairing. He still has to work at it, but it *is* working, which is more than we could say before. And with a little luck and some good decision making on which books to choose, we might even make the target of 12 books by mid-December. Wish us luck!

Currently feeling: hopeful

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - September 18, 2013

Currently feeling: such pretty colors and textures

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weight Loss Goals

Image from 123RF Stock Photos

A couple of people have asked me about how my weight loss is going. To be honest, I fell off the wagon a bit. Things have been so busy and so stressful; August alone was soul-suckingly awful. I haven't been as vigilant as I should be, and I turned to comfort food much too often, thus I haven't lost as much weight as I could have. But overall, I haven't gained (had a couple of brief periods of gaining back a pound or two (or three), but lost them again), and I have lost a little bit more for a total of 34 pounds (15.4 kg) to date, so it's still a victory in my book.

Something people have been frequently asking me in person is "how far do you plan to go?" Um, as far as I feel like? I know that sounds like a flippant answer, but I mean it quite seriously. There will come a point that I am not willing to eat fewer calories and/or work out any harder (which I am not doing yet, BTW, but I really should be; baby steps). Whatever that point is, that's where I'll stop, whether I've "reached goal" or not. Anything lower than where I am now (or was in January) is a good thing, and I need to get to a point that I know I can maintain without killing myself. Do I have a number in mind? Sure, and I'll talk about that a little bit below, but if I never get there, that's okay! This is about improving and taking better care of my body, not reaching some theoretical number on a scale.

I belong to an online group where we share our weight loss triumphs and struggles. Recently, someone asked about rewards to stay motivated, and yes, I do have a few in mind. But I've actually found something that is much more motivating for me personally. A couple of years ago when I thought I was going to try to lose weight again (yeah, that didn't really work), I made the basic workings of the list you see below. It chronicles various weight milestones for me over my life. Being able to look at a number and say "this is the first time I have weighed this since..." has been incredibly inspiring! Yes, I'm about to reveal my actual weight, and yes, it is a shockingly scary and embarrassingly high number. But it is what it is, and there is no use hiding it. Not like you all didn't know I was/am super overweight from the photos I've posted, right? So, here we go:

Sheer Numbers (italics are goals I have already reached):
  • 282 (127.9 kg) - highest ever weight recorded on my home scale, circa 2008; I've kept it below 280 since then
  • 278 (126.1 kg) - official starting weight - January 2, 2013
  • 261 (118.4 kg) - lowest weight in the last 3 years (from August 2011) - April 1, 2013
  • 253 (114.8 kg) - 25 pounds lost! - May 16, 2013
  • 250 (113.4 kg) - 10% of starting body weight lost, plus nice round numbers are pleasing to engineer types - June 26, 2013
  • 243 (110.2 kg) - lowest post-baby weight I can remember (son was born in 2004, probably weighed this sometime in 2006) - September 12, 2013
  • 235 (106.6 kg) - official pre-baby weight
  • 228 (103.4 kg) - 50 pounds lost!!
  • 222 (100.7 kg) - 20% of starting body weight lost; in metric fun, 25 kg lost
  • 218 (98.9 kg) - no longer being morbidly obese (BMI less than 40 = "just" obese); in metric fun, I will be under 100 kg
  • 209 (94.8 kg) - don't remember anything on the scale reading lower than 210+ since I got married (didn't own a scale for years)
  • 203 (92.1 kg) - 75 pounds lost!
  • 199 (90.3 kg) - no longer being over 200 pounds!!
  • 194 (88 kg) - 30% of starting body weight lost
  • 178 (80.7 kg) - 100 pounds lost!!!; also, what I weighed when I graduated from college/got married
  • 170 (77.1 kg) - what my driver's license says I weigh (oops!)
  • 167 (75.7 kg) - 40% of starting body weight lost; in metric fun, 50 kg lost
  • 164 (74.4 kg) - no longer being obese (BMI less than 30 = overweight)
  • 153 (69.4 kg) - 125 lbs lost!!
  • 149 (67.6 kg) - my doctor's suggestion of an okay weight for me (less than 150)
  • 139 (63.5 kg) - 50% of my starting body weight lost; theoretical "goal weight"
  • 135 (61.2 kg) - my "stretch goal" of my typical high school weight; also a "normal" BMI of 24.7 (BMI less than 25 = "normal")
  • 125 (58 kg) - my "yeah right" goal of 150 pounds lost! also represents my lowest ever full-height weight (junior year/grade 11, 1992-1993)

Remember, though, there is always more to losing weight than just the numbers on the scale. There are other kinds of milestones and accomplishments that can mark and/or demonstrate weight loss progress. These are referred to as "non-scale victories." I have no idea at what weight (number on a scale) any of these things will happen, so they may happen out of order from what is listed. Here are some of my other goals for this journey!

Non-Scale Goals (italics are goals I have already reached):
  • To be able to wear most size 24 pants (the max of many plus-size departments); currently at a 26/28 depending on style and cut - June 2013
  • To be able to wear size 24/3X at JCPenney - July 4, 2013
  • To wear my 18-inch necklace and not feel like it is too tight - September 12, 2013
  • To actually have knuckles on my hand below my fingers when I make a fist (I have one tiny one; I would like to have 4 on each hand)
  • To no longer have dimples where my knuckles should be when my hand is out flat
  • To buy something that fits at Old Navy, even if it is from the plus department
  • To be able to wear my college class ring - September 1, 2013
  • To be able to wear my original wedding rings
  • To be able to wear my wedding dress
  • To buy something from the petite department instead of the plus/women's department (even if it is a size 16P, as long as it's not a size 16WP)
  • To feel (relatively) comfortable when sitting in an airplane seat
  • To buy something that fits at Old Navy from the regular department
  • To be comfortable wearing a "babydoll" style t-shirt (I have one in mind)
  • To be able to wear and feel comfortable in the blue silk dress I wore to my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary party
  • To weigh less than my husband for the first time ever (when we met, I weighed 130 and he weighed 125 (scrawny non-butt teenager! LOL; he does weigh more than that now))
  • To feel comfortable wearing a sleeveless shirt in public
  • To not be completely mortified to wear a bathing suit in public
I imagine many women have trouble with those last couple, so I won't fret too much if I never achieve those. I never wore sleeveless shirts when I was thin because the acne on my arms was *so* bad. Now that I don't have that problem, I think they're too fat. If I lose the weight, I'll likely think they're too flabby! Not sure I'll ever win that battle, but I'll surely give it a try.

Currently feeling: slowly but surely getting there

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - September 11, 2013

Currently feeling: not sure I want to open that (have you seen SE7EN?!!)

Monday, September 09, 2013

What Happens When You Assume....

Image from 123RF Stock Photos

Part of the requirement for Luke's gifted class this year is to read 25 books in a school year, 12 by winter break, and the other 13 by mid-May. But they can't just be any books; they must be on grade level. [Brief explanation of book ratings: Books are rated with number in the format of X.Y, where X represents the grade, and Y represents the month of that grade; thus, a book rated 5.4 is of a reading level appropriate to a student in 5th grade during the 4th month of school. Got it?] So all of his books must be rated a 3.0 or higher, even though his recent assessment puts him currently reading on a 2.5 level. So already, this request is a stretch for his abilities, but I do understand the requirement. It seems reasonable to expect gifted students to read on grade level, even if they are not gifted in reading. It will be challenging, but we will do our best. But wait, there's more! The books must also come from certain predefined categories and/or authors "to make sure they read a broad range of books." People, they are in 3rd grade! Personally, I think you should just be happy they are reading, period! I really could not care less if he reads "a broad range" of anything. As long as he is reading, I'm happy! He has all of high school and most of middle school to be forced to read stuff, you know, after he has actually *learned* to read. For right now, let them read whatever they want and enjoy it while they can. All this does is beat out of them the desire to read! ::snort:: /end rant

Ahem! Anyway, as soon as school began, we had him start reading his first book towards his 25 goal. I reviewed the list and saw a book that A) we already owned, and B) I remember enjoying when I was about his age: Stuart Little. However, watching him read it these last 3 weeks has been agony! He has been severely struggling, only managing to read one page every 3-5 minutes. That's 5-6 pages a day, and the book is about 100 pages. If it takes him 3-ish weeks to read every book, he's never going to make the deadline of 12 books by winter break, which is only about 15 weeks away. It has been incredibly frustrating for all of us, so much so that we have been seriously considering pulling him from gifted. I mean, if this book from the 3rd grade reading list is such a struggle, maybe he shouldn't be there? We know that he qualified for gifted almost exclusively on his math scores; perhaps that is finally coming back to bite us.

I've been gathering my data to prepare for a conference with his teachers to get their take on the situation: his current class levels, his current grades, his latest assessment showing the 2.5 reading level, etc. I wanted to start the conversation by saying, "see how much trouble he is having reading Stuart Little, which is only rated ___." The problem is that I didn't know exactly what level the book was actually rated. So today, I finally decided to look it up. It is a 6.0, meaning on a 6th grade level! No wonder he's been struggling!!! I feel like the worst mom ever. I just assumed that all recommended books on the list were rated somewhere in the 3-4 range, but you know what happens when you assume. If I had just bothered to check when he was having so much trouble, we could have saved ourselves weeks of tears and anger and heartache. All future books will be chosen with much greater care while staring at the website that shows their levels. And, I owe him a HUGE apology!! I feel so guilty for putting him through that.

Currently feeling: like a complete failure

Sunday, September 08, 2013

First Quilting Fabric Purchase

Am I officially a quilter now? I just made my first purchase of fabric for a quilt. Well, I take that back. Eons and ages ago, when Luke was less than a year old, I bought some fabric, thinking I would teach myself to sew. I was going to start with a quilt made of large squares. Easy, right? That never happend, and I'm sure I still have the fabric, though I'm not sure where off the top of my head.

But, now that I am actually doing some piecing, I have purchased fabric for a new project. Isn't it pretty? Yes, all of the reds and all of the greens should be of similar value (ignore those lighter greens at the end; they just came in the bundle).


I need to get a few more reds, I think, to keep the variety interesting, but I'm very happy with my choices. Now, I just need to find time to wash and iron and cut, so I can start piecing.

Currently feeling: having so much fun with this!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

First U-10 Soccer Game

After an absence of nearly 16 months (from the end of the Spring 2012 season to the start of the Fall 2013 season), we are finally back at our old soccer rec league. We're really missed everyone.

(I think this is my favorite shot of the day!)

We're even back with our "old" team, though with a different coach. Luke, J, and D have played together since we started back in Kindergarten, and C was added to our team starting in U8, I think. Our former coach had to start coaching his younger son's team (H is special needs), and his older son S made it into the academy, so D's father, Coach A, took over responsibility for the team. One of the new members of our team is a boy we actually know from scouts, so that was a nice surprise.

The other 5 boys are new to me, though at least three of them played on Coach A's team last year while we were out. It is a very nice mix of boys, as usual. We did lose the first game, but it is our first season in U10, we have a fairly young team, and we've moved up to a bigger field, which is just eating them up by the second half. They will get their legs under them eventually, but it might be a little bumpy, especially when the first team you play has three all-stars on it!

Currently feeling: happy to be back!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Non-Linear Blogging

Image from

I apologize for the out-of-sequence blogging. I'm trying to finish things as I get the pieces ready (like pictures or links), or as the mood strikes, whichever comes first. I'm just so far behind. So hang with me, and I'll eventually get caught up, but until then, things will be a little confusing. So sorry!

Currently feeling: crazy busy

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Resting: A Conversation With Luke

Original image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos, modified by me

Around 8:30 this evening, Luke came into the den.

Me: It's bedtime. Why are you up?
Luke: I'm not sleepy.
DH: You need to get back in bed and try to sleep.
Luke: But I'm not sleepy!
DH: You still need to be in bed resting.
Luke: But I'm not rest-y either.
Currently feeling: ready for a snooze myself

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - September 4, 2013

Currently feeling: admiring my pretty stitches

Monday, September 02, 2013

Flashing My (Quilt) Backside

Per the request of a few folks, I am showing the back of my English paper pieced hexagons (that I hope will eventually be a pot holder). Each side of an individual hexagon is 1 inch (2.54 cm), making each hexagon 2 inches (5.1 cm) across at its widest point. I included a US quarter for scale (about 1 inch/2.4 cm in diameter), which is within a millimeter or two of being the same size as a 1 euro coin, a Canadian loonie, and an Australian one dollar coin.

And here are two macro shots of the hexagon corner joins. (The long stitches on each side are the basting stitches that keep the fabric on the paper hexagons.) As you can see, my stitches are far from even and/or pretty, but they get the job done, and none of it will show on the front!

I did find the more tightly-woven fabrics to be easier to work with. Some of the looser ones had a bit of give/stretch to them and didn't lie quite as flat/pretty when stitched together. It's been quite a learning experience! I've already picked my next project. Now I just need to find the time to go select and purchase some fabric. You know, sometime between work and errands and homework and soccer practice/games and Cub Scouts. ::sigh::

Currently feeling: a little embarrassed at my ugly stitches, but they work!