Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scruff Monsters

I don't know about you, but I let my boys go way too long in between hair cuts. Actually, Nathan can really pull the long hair thing off. When his hair gets longer, it gets really wavy. He and Nicole must have gotten that from Rick, who used to have really curly hair. Neil, on the other hand, just looks like a Beatle wanna-be. Poor thing. But for now, I can see their EYES, which makes me happy. I guess they're good for a couple more months. Ha!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My new book ...

Some of you may have noticed this picture on the right side of my blog. This is my newest picture book and it's now available through Lulu Enterprises. MOUNTAIN GOATS are KIDS like YOU! is a nonfiction picture book for kids ages 4-8 years. There are many ways mountain goats are like little children, including the fact that they're both called KIDS. In this book, kids will discover just how similar they are to baby mountain goats. The book features over 20 full-color photographs of mountain goats that I have taken inside Glacier National Park.

I decided to put this book out myself, as I already have several other books on a waiting list with my publisher. I designed and formatted this book myself and was really pleased when  received a copy of it. It's very well put together, beautifully bound, and the color and images turned out extremely well. If you have a little one in your life, this would be a fun book to share with them. From what I've witnessed when visiting Glacier, children love seeing the mountain goats, especially the babies. 

To watch the trailer for the book, please click on the link below ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flax Cookies


1-1/2 cups flaxmeal (I used golden flaxmeal)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup sweetener (I used Splenda with Fiber)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flaxmeal, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat margarine and sweetener until blended. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and blend well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet. (I use parchment paper). Press down with tines of a fork. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Makes 24 one-inch cookies.

These cookies are really good. They're about 80 calories for two cookies and pretty much 0 carbs. If you like yours a little sweeter, you might add 3/4 cup sweetener instead. To me, flax is already pretty sweet. These remind me a lot of oatmeal cookies without the high carbohydrates. Raisins would make them really good, but those are way too high carb for me right now.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Long Wiggly Drama

Unless you're from Australia or have little kids, you probably don't know about the uproar regarding The Wiggles. Several days ago they announced that Sam Moran, the yellow Wiggle, would be leaving. They were replacing him with the original yellow Wiggle, Greg Page. Greg became ill five years ago and had to give up the position. Sam's contract was coming to an end, and when they found out Greg was doing better and managing his condition, they asked him to come back. We were thrilled to hear this, to say the least.

Well, this has caused a major uproar in their fan base. For one, the guys gave an interview explaining the situation and many people felt the blue Wiggle, Anthony Field came off as sounding uncaring and insensitive about Sam leaving. The fans are upset that Sam didn't get a better farewell. Actually, they seem to be upset over just about everything you can imagine -- from Sam not being given a better farewell, to how much money they're giving him, to who is better -- Sam or Greg. The fans are ticked off, to say the least, and it's gotten to a point where they're insulting the entire cast. I've seen insults about their ages, them being creepy, their talents, their appearances (hair, teeth, you name it), even attacks on their little children.

It's been absolutely mind-boggling how these people are so upset over this. Many are saying The Wiggles are banned in their homes, how they won't spend anymore money on concerts, DVDs, or merchandise. Others have said they've destroyed all their kid's Wiggles stuff and threw it in the trash. One comment today said they were burning theirs. Other parents have been callous to their children saying things like, "The Wiggles sacked Sam!" or "Anthony doesn't like Sam, so he kicked Sam out." Then they have the gall to say their kid cried for an hour. It's crazy! They keep saying how "un-Australian" it was the way they've treated Sam, and yet, it appears to me that they're doing it themselves. Just the fact that they're punishing their children is appalling. I mean, seriously -- who are these people?

I've gotten into a few heated discussions on The Wiggles' Facebook page recently. I'm trying to understand where they're coming from. One lady last night told me, "We're upset because it should have been handled differently." I replied, "Maybe it should have been, but it wasn't. Isn't it water under the bridge?" I swear, there is no compassion, no forgiveness, or any understanding with these irate people. Perhaps it wasn't handled correctly. People make mistakes. People should be forgiven. And, I'm not even saying they made a mistake. I'm just blown away by this. If these irate people's children make a mistake, do they get this upset? Do they burn all their kid's toys because they're ticked off? Again -- who are these people?

Some of you might know my boys and I are Wiggles fans. We went to our first concert around 2003. Neil wasn't even a year old yet. My girls are a lot older and went through the Barney phase. By the time the boys came around, The Wiggles were just hitting it big in America. Nathan and Neil loved their clips in between shows on the Disney Channel. This was way before they even had a television show. Well, we got involved by going to concerts. I started hanging out on The Wiggles Message Board, which we refer to as WMB. So, over the past 9+ years, a lot of friendships have been made. I've met many of these people in person. Our kids have seen concerts together and played together. Some of them I chat online with nearly every day. It's all because of a kid's group. I have over 100 friends online because of The Wiggles. And yes, I've spent a lot of money on The Wiggles, but there is absolutely NO PRICE I can put on those friendships -- none.

So, when I see these so-called fans acting all lunatic-like, I'm blown away. The Wiggles have given up so much to entertain people's children. They tour 8 months of the year and are away from their families. They leave their homes every Christmas morning to visit sick kids in the hospital. They do meet & greets before every show and meet with terminally ill children. They're ambassadors and spokespeople for more organizations I can even list. Anthony just became a spokesperson for an organization that deals with childhood food allergies. These people do so much and give up a lot. And now, they make what some people think is a terrible mistake, and everyone dumps on them. Burn all the toys! Cut up all the DVDs! The Wiggles are banned in this house! Shame on you, Wiggles! And trust me -- I'm not even saying all the bad stuff they've said, including some pretty nasty names.

Real fans don't do this. A few years back they were switching to a new website and planned on charging a fee because it would feature high-tech games, videos, etc. Well, they said the message board would be part of that. Some of us, myself included, got pretty upset over this. How dare they? All they think about is money! Blah, blah, blah ... and yeah, I was a part of that. I never, however, bashed them as individuals. I simply couldn't afford to pay for a message board, so I moved on. Sure, I was upset because it was the WMB that kept me in contact with other adults. It was an outlet for me, and it just happened to be related to something that my boys loved. So, to have that taken away was disappointing. I finally joined Facebook. I remember one of the first comments I got on my wall. It was my good friend Julie who said, "Yay! Rena's here!" So, all of us loony Wiggles fans moved to Facebook and all was good again. I don't think it was but a few weeks later The Wiggles followed suit. If you can't beat them, join them! About time guys!

Thinking back and remembering the frustration, I do understand how some of these newer fans feel. But, it's NO excuse to be so hateful and vindictive. I can't help but view them as some angry mob running around with pitchforks and torches. It's one thing to be upset. It's another to take it to such a disgusting extreme to where you're insulting them on a personal level. And to take it out on their kids is just cruel. Now they've resorted to attacking the boardies, which is what we refer to those of us who were on the WMB. They've ran out of insults for The Wiggles, so now they're attacking us. I saw one comment last night from some man saying The Wiggles didn't care about their fans. Then this morning another left a snarky comment about The Wiggles taking credit for all the nursery rhyme songs they've recorded.

Little do they know -- Anthony came to us on the WMB and asked what we thought our kids would like. This was about the time Greg left and Sam was taking over. Anthony asked us for suggestions on what to do next. Not because they ran out of ideas, but because he cared about what the kids liked. I think I suggested camping and the circus -- go figure. Wiggles fans will understand that one {snort}. However, it was a boardie in the UK named Louise, who went by the user name of Henrysmum, who suggested nursery rhymes. Anthony came back to the board and asked us what we thought, and we all agreed it was a great idea. So, the nursery rhymes DVD came out, right about the time Sam was just getting involved. And they say The Wiggles don't care about their fans? These are the same people who rave how Sam saved The Wiggles and how great it is to see their kids dancing and singing to the nursery rhymes. Ummm ... yeah ... you're welcome.

So, to sum this horribly long rant up, I guess that's why I'm upset about how these people are treating this band. They've done so much, not only for me, but for thousands of people around the world. After following someone for almost 10 years, you start to think of them as friends, or even family. To see them attacked like this is heartbreaking. It makes you want to defend or protect them, just as you would your children. As for Sam, we've always loved him. We've been around long enough to see he's an extremely talented young man who is capable of wearing many hats. We've seen him as a Wiggly Red Coat Dancer, as Captain Feathersword, as Greg's understudy, as a singer of the Manzillas, and as the Yellow Wiggle. And now, he can move forward and concentrate on his solo CD, his musical talents (he's trained in opera), as well as spend more time with his lovely family. And at the same time, we're excited to see Greg is back and wiggling. Even though my boys are past the wiggling age, they're thrilled Greg is coming back.

And finally, what is going on The Wiggles' Facebook page right now is appalling. That's not what The Wiggles are about. It's about the picture below. It's about children having fun. As you can see, Neil and his little girl friends are dancing. They could care less Murray is on stage right behind them playing his guitar. They don't care if Sam is wearing the yellow skivvy, or if Greg is. They're kids. They're having fun. That's what it's about. That's what it has ALWAYS been about.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Hey, I know what you're thinking ... "Good grief, Rena, you are so weird!" If anyone knows how true that is, it would be me. Some people hate squirrels and see them as pests who destroy their homes or gardens. I happen to adore them. I see them as adorable, little furry creatures who are a constant source of entertainment -- not to mention my cat. All I have to do is say, "Squirrey!" and Denny gets all buggy-eyed and starts looking out the window. And no, that's not a typo. I do say it more like, "SQUIRR-REEE!" So yeah, the whole Rena, you are so weird thing fits -- like a glove.

Squirrel Appreciation Day is always January 21st. Check out the link if you don't believe me. I posted a picture on Facebook yesterday of my poor birdfeeder. I'd forgotten to take it inside and we got nearly a foot of snow in a 24-hour period. I just asked Rick to dump it off and add new seed to it. He was already outside in the snow, whereas I'm sitting here in my Las Vegas jammies. So, Squirrey has fresh seeds out there today, providing he can tromp over all the snow to get to the feeder.

So, how about you -- love squirrels, or hate them?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fat To Skinny ... Fast and Easy!

I finally got this book earlier in the week. I've been wanting to get it since it came out last month, but with it being Christmastime, it got put on the backburner. For those who don't know, this is the book that introduced me to low-carb eating. One day Rick came home with the first edition of the book (same cover, but yellow background) and asked if I would read it. Of course, I stomped my foot and whined because I was trying to lose weight by eating less. That obviously wasn't working for me, so I reluctantly read the book. Rick and I both agreed to try low-carb eating for one month -- just ONE month. If it didn't work, we'd go back to what we were doing before, which basically, was being unsuccessful.

I kind of had a feeling it would work. After all, most diets I've ever tried in the past worked for me. The problem was that they were diets and I never stuck with them to keep up the results. Little did I know how quickly Fat To Skinny would work. In that one month, Rick lost over 30 pounds. I think I lost 20 that first month. By six months, I had lost 52 pounds. There was no question about it -- Fat To Skinny worked -- and it was Fast and Easy. I've continued to lose 68 pounds. I still have a few more to lose to be at my goal, but even if I don't, I'm very comfortable at where I am. I deliberately set my goal weight 5 pounds less than where I wanted to be, just to give me some leeway.

I've been able to maintain my weight this past year. Fat To Skinny is a lifestyle change. When people think of eat low-carb, they usually think of giving up bread, cereal, fruit, chocolate, and everything else that makes life worth living for. You don't have to. There's a replacement for just about everything. I eat bread nearly everyday. The only difference is that I make it out of flaxmeal or almond flour. I eat just as much chocolate as I did before, except now I eat sugar-free. Yesterday I had French toast for breakfast. This afternoon I had a chocolate brownie, drenched in chocolate syrup, and topped with a big pile of freshly whipped cream. Doesn't sound like a diet to me. It might not be your thing, but it works for me, and I plan to stick with it.

The book is available at most bookstores and online. If you're interested in losing weight and willing to make a change in your eating lifestyle, then I'm sure this will work for you. And even if you don't want to make those changes, check out the book anyway because I'm featured in the front section. Well, me and a whole bunch of other great people who have had success with the Fat To Skinny program.

Thanks, Doug!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My short-lived gymnast days ...

I was going through some old albums and scanning pictures today when I came across these. Back in my early teens, I used to take gymnastics. I was pretty serious about it. My mom would drive me a half hour away from home two times a week for a two hour lesson, and then again on weekends for a longer lesson. As much as I loved the sport, I wasn't all that good at it. Some things I loved, like floor and balance beam. As you can see, I was long and skinny, so those suited me well. When it came to vault and bars, I sucked because I never had much upper body strength. I also suffered from extremely painful bunions on both feet, which really messed me up with the sport. It was fun while it lasted. I only wish I could have stuck with it longer.

What sport, if any, did you enjoy when you were younger?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Penguin Week!

Well, it is at our house, anyway. Friday is National Penguin Awareness Day, so I thought it would be fun for the boys to do penguin crafts this week. They made these simple construction paper ones yesterday. You might notice that their bellies are made of notebook paper. That's because every Thursday I have the boys write a simple poem relating to the theme of the week. Tomorrow they'll do their poems and then add them onto the bellies of the penguins. Today they're making penguins from paper plates. The paint is still drying, so they're not finished yet.

Nathan said he wanted to read some Tacky the Penguin books, so he'll do that tomorrow. Those are hilarious. We only have a few of them (maybe four), but I'd love to get the others someday. We might also watch Surf's Up and Happy Feet in honor of the little black and white birds. We have that other documentary film about penguins -- March of the Penguins -- so maybe we can fit that in as well, although it is a little slow. It's been snowing here all day, so the penguin theme fits in well. I think my favorite penguin is that little one from Looney Tunes. Do you remember him? He's the one that follows Bugs Bunny around, always crying ice cubes. He's so adorable.

How about you -- do you have a favorite penguin character?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dilly and his Friends ...

Photographs like this really make my day. A friend of mine posted this picture on my Facebook page the other day. It just made me grin from ear to ear. Little Kaitlyn recently went through oral surgery and had something like six teeth extracted. As she was recovering, she decided to read A New Job for Dilly to some of her baby dolls. How totally cute is that!

If you have any of my books, I would love to see a photograph of your child reading them. Please let me know if it would be okay to post it on my blog, website, or Facebook page. I love seeing these pictures so much. 

Also, there is a sequel to this book. A New Friend for Dilly came out last year and is just as cute as the first. In this one, Dilly searches from A to Z looking for a friend that's perfect for him. There are twenty-six different animals features in the book, so he's bound to find someone. Who will it be?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Silly kitty ...

The other morning Rick picked Denny up and sat him on the bed. I was barely awake at the time. He meowed twice and it sounded just like he said, "MaMa!" Of course, Rick can't let that go. He just had to go downstairs for something and told Denny, "Stay here with MaMa!" Seriously, it brings a tear to my eye. My little boy is growing up and learning to talk. SNIFF!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A brownie kind of day ...

Some days you just need something chocolate. I guess for me, that's most days, if not everyday. I made these brownies this afternoon. The hard part was waiting until after dinner to have one. I survived -- barely. These are low-sugar, low-carb brownies, so they're okay for me to eat. If you'd like the recipe, you can find them on the Fat To Skinny message board, listed as Tyler's Low-Sugar Brownies. Tomorrow I might have one with whipped cream and sugar-free chocolate sauce drizzled on top. And to think -- I'm back on a losing streak as far as my weight-loss goes. Imagine that. Mmm ...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How do you see yourself?

I recently read an article about the modeling industry saying a size 6 is now considered plus-size. I was blown away by that. I've always considered a size 18 and up more in the range of plus-size. Boy, was I way off or what! I posted about this on my Facebook page and some of my friends had pretty good responses. I even put up a picture of myself when I was a size 7/8 and quite thin. By the modeling industry standards, I guess I'd be considered obese.

It was pretty depressing to read that some people think a size 6 is plus-size. I've worked my tail off to lose 68 pounds this past year. I'm no where near a size 6 either. In fact, I can't even remember when I was a size 6. Perhaps when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I'm 5'8" tall, by the way. My goal isn't to be a super model or a size 6, but I am working on getting closer to a 9/10. I guess my chances of becoming a super model are shot to hell ... HA! Part of me -- the sick, demented part of me -- would love to get down to a size 6 just so I could take a picture of how sickly I'd look, and then send it to someone in the industry. I think if I got down to that size I'd look like I was dead.

Then yesterday I went to register on the Atkins website because they're offering 3 free snack bars if you sign up for their starter's kit. I follow Fat To Skinny, not so much Atkins, but free bars are free bars! In order to do that, I had to fill in some information, including weight and height. I was pleasantly surprised to see my BMI listed in the NORMAL range. The modeling industry might think I'm fat and plus-sized, but the Atkins site made me remember there are a few sane people left on this planet.

I've always loved this image with the cat looking in the mirror and seeing himself as a lion. It's been a favorite of mine for years. What we see in the mirror isn't always what other people see. How I see myself in the mirror is not how I see myself in photos. I had Neil take a full body shot of me yesterday, just to see where I was at, and I was mortified. I looked much heavier in the picture than what I see in the mirror. That's just doesn't seem right, but I guess if anything, it makes this cat/lion image even more true.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Millions of Cats

Twice a week I have the boys pick out a book from our home library to read aloud. Sometimes they pick easy books, like picture books, and other times they pick something longer and more complex. Today Nathan read us Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. The story was written in 1928 and won a Newbery Honor award the following year.

It's a cute story about an elderly couple who are very lonely. The wife sends her husband out to get her a cat. He travels to a hillside that is covered in "hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats". He has a hard time choosing just one because they're all so pretty, so he eventually comes home with "hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats". Things get ugly, as you can imagine, because they can't afford to keep them all. After asking the cats which is the prettiest, a fight breaks out until there is only one cat left.

Did you know Millions of Cats is the oldest picture book still in print? According to Wikipedia, it is, which I think is pretty darn cool. How I would LOVE for one of my picture books to still be in print some 84+ years from now. What an awesome accomplishment for Wanda Gag. We enjoyed listening to Nathan read this story today. After all, I can kind of relate ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I received a copy of my book, ENCROACHED today. Before anyone freaks out and asks, "What? When? How? Where?" -- this is just one copy I had printed up using Lulu Enterprises. It's a print-on-demand company. I was really pleased with the quality of how the book was printed. I did all the layout and design myself, as well as the cover design.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with this story yet. I've submitted it to some agents, but not extensively. The publisher of my other books, 4RV Publishing, LLC already has two of my middle grade novels coming out, as well as two more picture books. I haven't decided if I'm going to offer this one on my own, or wait and see if someone will publish it. For now, I simply wanted a print copy to read myself and to have my family read.

When two girls decide to camp alone in the Montana wilderness --
they risk becoming breakfast for a family of hungry grizzlies.
Middle grade novel for kids ages 9-12 years

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy, low-carb cookies ...

I make these cookies a lot because they are low-carb. Normally, they're called Beanit Butter Cookies because they use Dixie Diner's Beanit Butter instead of peanut butter. It's made with soybeans instead of peanuts, so not only is it zero carb, but it's also allergy safe. The only way to get Beanit Butter is to order it online though, and that's a pain for me sometimes. There's another brand called I.M. Healthy 1-Carb Soynut Butter, which is what I used for this batch. I altered the original recipe and added unsweetened cocoa powder. These cookies are super easy to make, and a great low-carb snack or dessert.

1 egg
1/2 cup Splenda with fiber (or Xylitol or your favorite sweetener)
1 cup I.M. Healthy 1-Carb Soynut Butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat egg. Add Splenda (or your favorite sweetener) and mix well. Add soynut butter, baking powder, and unsweetened cocoa. Mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet. Press down with tines of a fork. Bake for 8 minutes. Makes 24 cookies. Refrigerate for best results.

NOTE: This is a recipe from the Fat To Skinny program I follow. I've cut this recipe in half here, so if you want a larger batch of cookies, just double what I've posted. Also, the original doesn't call for unsweetened cocoa powder, so you can make plain ones if you prefer. I also bake mine on parchment paper and they slide perfectly on the rack to cool. You can also make them with regular peanut butter, but the idea here is for a low-carb cookie. I make mine pretty small, about an inch in size, and they're less than a half carb each.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The King's Tea

I came across this old book at a thrift store yesterday. It's a hardcover and it reminded me of the books I got in a summer book club as a kid. This one however, was first published in 1979, so it couldn't have been part of the club I was in, which had to been a few years earlier. I looked this book up on Amazon and found mostly later publications available. One 1979 edition is going for $44, but it's also signed by the author. Mine is from the same year, but it's not signed. The Salvation Army would have had this book for a quarter, but I paid 50-cents for it at the other thrift store. 

The King's Tea was originally published the The Dial Press for the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club in 1979. It was written and illustrated by Trinka Hakes Noble. Basically, it's a story about a king who sits down to find his tea isn't perfect, so he blames his steward for the sour milk, before storming away. The steward blames the cook, who then blames the kitchen girl. The blame game goes on and on and on -- all the way down to the cow who gave the milk. Then surprisingly, even the cow gets in the game, blaming the flowers, who then blame the weather. It's obviously a blame game story where no one wants to take the responsibility for ruining the King's tea.

It's a cute picture book. The illustrations remind me a lot of The Sheep of the Lal Bagh, which I've blogged about before. As soon as I saw the cover of The King's Tea, I immediately thought of that other book. Anyway, for some reason, I'm drawn to these older picture books.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Got cookies?

For the past few years, I've really wanted to get one of those three tiered stands that put cookies and candies on. The ones I'm talking about are sort of like this. I often see them in movies around Christmas. I've seen them in stores too, but it's just not something I've ever bought for myself. So, I thought I'd keep my eye out for one at the local thrift stores. I figured I probably wouldn't find one right now with Christmas having just passed, but I still decided to look for one anyway.

Today I came across this three tiered plate stand. I could use this one all year long. The picture up top shows it with my everyday dishes. Yes, they are Winnie-The-Pooh, in case you're wondering. The picture below shows it with my Christmas plates. So, I thought this would be more versatile than getting the other style with the plates already attached.

It did cost me $6 at the Salvation Army, which I thought was on the high side. Considering it still had its original price tag, I figured it had never been used. Target sells them for around $10, so I guess I still saved some money. Now all I need are three plates filled with cookies and candies. HA!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy Three Kings Day!

Or, if you prefer ... Happy Epiphany. January 6th is the day when Western Christians celebrate the Magi, or three kings, visited Jesus. Eastern Christians use the day to celebrate Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. I'm neither Catholic nor Greek Orthodox, so I don't want to butcher the day saying anything more because I really don't know much else about it.

I do know the boys and I made this cool Three Kings banner last year during school. As I hung it up again this Christmas, I still kicked myself for gluing that middle king up higher. Looking at it now, I should have done it the opposite way and had him lower so I could have included a star above him. Duh. I think next year I'll get a big felt or foam yellow star and glue it at the top of the rope. That should do the trick.

I know a lot of people leave up their Christmas decorations until today. We took ours down last weekend. I do, however, keep two of my Nativities out year round. One is a banner and the other is a plate I found at a thrift store. I like the Nativity plate because it's in the living room. Right across the way in the dining area is a similar plaque of The Last Supper. So, I keep both up to represent Jesus' first day on earth and His last day on earth. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy National Bird Day!

Today is National Bird Day. I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this before. Click on the link if you want to go to their website. You'll find a lot of interesting things, including how the day got started, what you can do to help birds, events, and other fun activities. There's even a photo contest where you can win a pair of binoculars, a new bird feeder, or copies of the film, The Big Year. I've been wanting to see that. It stars Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, so you know it has to be funny. The deadline for the photo contest is January 31st, so I better dig through my pictures and see if I took anything worth entering. You can enter up to three pictures.

For school this week, the boys are doing crafts that relate to New Years. Yesterday it was a project we found online called New Year's Peace Doves. Well, as you can see, our doves look anything but peaceful. We started off with good intentions of making pretty, white doves, but then we got a little crazy with the feathers. They were super easy to make though, which is always a plus for my boys. They love crafting, but seem to enjoy it even more when it's simple. So anyway, if you have a little one who wants to celebrate National Bird Day, you might want to make a dove. Of course, you don't have to make a Funky Dove like we did with wild and crazy feathers. I'll probably add string to ours today and hang them in the classroom.

Speaking of birds ... our weather certainly has been for the birds lately. I mean, literally! We've gotten snow here and there, but for the most part, it's been a really unusual winter. I looked at the forecast and it looks like we're due for another week and a half of partially sunny weather with temps in the high 30s and low 40s. I've never seen a winter like this since moving to Montana. It's so strange not to have a least a foot and a half of snow by now. Normally, it starts snowing around November and we don't see the ground until around April. That hasn't been the case this year. Right now it's windy, which explains my headache. It's still dark outside, but as soon as it's light, I'll put out some fresh birdseed for the birds. We still have a lot of birds that don't migrate south like black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, and dark-eyed juncos. I've been seeing a lot of downy woodpeckers and northern flickers hanging around the house, too. They're regulars even when we have the nastiest of winters. 

So anyway, I hope everyone enjoys National Bird Day. If you can, leave a little snack out for your local birds, or try to snap a photograph or two of some that you see. I'm so blessed to live in an area with so many amazing birds. I've lived here over five years and it still blows me away to see bald eagles flying over me when I'm just on a trip to the grocery store. I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing them ... I certainly hope not.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The One Day Way

I came across this book the other day at the Salvation Army. As soon as I saw it, I snatched it up like a kid in the candy store. I've been wanting to read it for almost two years. It's a hard cover and I paid 50 cents for the book. You can't beat a bargain like that, although I was totally willing to dish out the $20 for a new copy once I had some extra money. This one just happened to come along first, so I couldn't resist not getting it.

There are several cool things about this. One, Chantel Hobbs is an amazing woman. I don't know her well other than from her books and posts on Facebook. She seems like a fun person. Two, since this book is used, the previous owner highlighted some major factors. She also filled the borders with notes. Now normally, I wouldn't want a book that was written in. I have to admit, I didn't look at it enough to see the notes before I bought it. I was just tickled to find it after wanting it for so long. Once I got it home and looked through the notes, it became even more interesting. Not only did I get Chantel's story, but I also got a little insight of what was important to the previous owner. So, in a weird sort of way, that was kind of interesting.

The book is called The One Day Way and it was first published in 2009. Chantel Hobbs lost over 200 pounds and has kept the weight off for over ten or eleven years now. She looks amazing. Her first book was Never Say Diet, which is basically where she tells her own personal story. I read that book a couple of years ago and it was one of those life changing moments for me. I knew I had to do something to get serious about losing weight and getting myself back in shape. Her book did that for me. It totally motivated me to get serious about doing something. Although I lost my weight going low-carb, which is not something Hobbs pushes, her first book still had a huge impact. This one did also. While many others were out celebrating the dawn of 2012, I sat in bed reading this book. I couldn't put it down.

Basically, in a nutshell, the focus of the book is dealing with today. It's not about setting long-term goals, which are often too hard to reach. It's about focusing on today. It's not about stressing over what you did yesterday. Yesterday is over and done with. It's not about worrying what tomorrow might bring. Chantel encourages people to break big goals into bite-sized pieces. She wants you to celebrate little successes everyday, whether it's not eating those cookies, or just taking the time to go for a walk. Instead of giving up your favorite treat -- let's say ice cream -- Chantel encourages you change gradually. Instead of eating it every night like you usually do, just give it up one night a week. Little changes ... bite-sized changes = success. 

If you get a chance to read any of Chantel's books, I'd highly recommend you do. I'd also recommend you read Never Say Diet first, simply because her story is in there. She goes into it a little in The One Day Way, but not as much. I think the first chapter of Never Say Diet is online, probably on Amazon. That's what got me to order the book in the first place. There are so many fantastic lines in The One Day Way that I can't possibly include them all, but I do want to leave you with this ...

"Most people refuse to live in the present. They're either stuck in regrets about their past or consumed with worry about the future -- or both! As a result they don't live for the moment. Their emotions are tied up elsewhere. They have nothing left to give to living their life today! Tomorrow is a new day, but worrying about it can steal today's potential for celebration. Likewise, you need to let go of yesterday. Worrying about what happened a week ago (and continuing to beat yourself up over it) does nothing to help you build the life you desire. You don't have to live that way. You can change your life!"
Chantel Hobbs (The One Day Way)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year's holiday weekend. I spent the night just like any other night. It's never been a big holiday for me to celebrate. Rick worked in law enforcement so many years, and it was usually one of the nights he would always end up working. I'm not much of a party animal anyway. I rang 2012 in bed reading a book on health and weight-loss. Actually, I read the whole book in just about two hours. I couldn't put it down -- New Year's Eve or not. I'll post about the book tomorrow.

Rick and I spent today taking down our Christmas decorations. That took over six hours. I guess that's not too bad, considering it usually takes us two days to set everything up. The boys spent the day playing. They've been in serious-play-mode ever since Christmas. Isn't it funny how kids are all over you when it's time to get the Christmas decorations set up, but then they're no where to be found when it's time to take them down? All the same, Rick and I managed and everything is packed up and put away.

Denny seemed a little sad to see his Christmas tree go. He loved it when we first set it up, but then couldn't spend much time under it once the presents started appearing. This past week he's enjoyed napping under it again. Now it's all gone. Poor baby. I guess he'll survive. He's been sleeping on Nicole's bed all day. I know a lot of people love getting their Christmas stuff put away after the holidays -- not me. I think the house looks so bare right now. It feels like the month of December goes by so quickly and that I barely have time to really enjoy having everything out. I have like a million Nativities, and if I had my way, I'd leave them out all year. Oh well, there's always next year.

I decided my resolution for 2012 would be to finally reach my goal weight. I'm at a comfortable weight now and I feel pretty good where I am, but I would like to hit that goal. When I started the low-carb program, I deliberately set my goal weight at five pounds less than where I thought I should be. I've been hovering a little over that, so I would like to get to the goal and see how well I can maintain it there. So, that's my biggest resolution for the New Year. I would also like to really get myself fit. I haven't been super fit since my early teens when I was in gymnastics. Early parenthood kind of drains a lot from a person, so I really let myself go for a long time. So, this year I'd like to get myself in really good shape -- like turn myself into one of those exercise freaks I used to roll my eyes at. Now all I have to do is make it happen ...