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Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination (and so is weight loss)

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I joined Weight Watchers in February of this year. Well, actually, I joined Weight Watchers in 2003 after I had my second child. I was successful at weight loss, so I’ve gone back several times.

Some of my saved materials from 2003-ish.

Some of my saved materials from 2003-ish.

The LAST time I joined, I was TERRIBLE about tracking and going to meetings, so I finally quit. I was bummed about failing, and didn’t know if I’d be able to be successful again.

My 2013 materials.

My 2013 materials.

I tried losing weight by myself, but that didn’t go well. I tried writing down what I was eating, but I didn’t stick with it, and I was tired of looking up calories and whatnot. I tried blogging on a popular weight loss sight, but most people were so supportive of me, even if I was gaining weight, that it was easy for me to tell myself that I wasn’t doing too bad. So, I sucked up my pride and went to Weight Watchers to admit I couldn’t do it alone.

Current materials.

Current materials.

I did well for the first 3 weeks – I lost .4 lb and then lost 1.2 and then maintained…and then things went to hell. I gained .4 lb. Not too bad, I can take it off. Then I skipped 2 months and when I went back I had gained 3 lbs! I took another few weeks off and went back and said gained another 2.4 lbs. So at this point I’m up 2.4 lbs from when I started. I cried when I got home from that meeting.

2 months ago I was on an overnight field trip with my son’s 8th grade class. There was a lot of “down” time where the parents got to just hang out and chat. As we were all comparing our various fitness trackers, one of the dads revealed that he’d lost around 50 lbs several years ago using Weight Watchers. He emphasized that it wasn’t for everyone, and to be truly successful with it, you have to be vigilant about tracking – basically WRITING DOWN WHAT YOU EAT.

I know this. My head knows it. I’m a smart adult. Yet, somehow, despite knowing this, I wasn’t doing it. And I was getting upset that weight wasn’t just coming off in spite of the fact that I wasn’t keeping good track and I was still eating some pretty crappy foods.

When I was in my 20s, I could eat almost anything without much repercussion.

When I was in my 20s, I could eat almost anything without much repercussion.

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I don’t think I fully appreciated how lucky I was at the time.

I did gain 10-15 lbs when I was first married. I don’t know if we ate out too much, if I was “too comfortable” or if I was eating because of some other reason (I did have some stress at work – the woman I partner-taught with made things challenging). Whatever the reason, I remember sitting in our living room eating cake in the middle of the afternoon and just breaking down. I started Jenny Craig that same day and in just a few months, I looked like this again:

Down to fighting weight

Down to fighting weight

I was 28 at the time, and by the time I was getting closer to my goal weight, I was “cheating” with junk food and not following the plan as closely as I could have. So, I quit while I was ahead. I managed to stay close to that weight until I got pregnant with my first child.

When I was young, I was thin. Really thin. I could eat double scoops of ice cream every day and not gain weight. I could eat at restaurants and junk food and not gain weight. The older I get, I find that to be the opposite of true. In fact, ONE salty restaurant meal and I gain a pound (or 5) of water weight. Several meals in a row gets me real extra pounds.

Getting older sucks.

So, now I am 45 and 30 lbs heavier than the conga dress and the gorgeous blue dress. 20 lbs more than this picture of me below when I lost several pounds and was RELIGIOUS about eating and working out (7 years ago).

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I tried on this same outfit today for inspiration and could barely fit the shorts over my hips and could definitely not zip them up. I’m not prepared to post it today, but perhaps as I lose more weight, I’ll post it as a “goodbye” photo.

I will say that the older I am the harder this is. I’m thankful I’ve managed to not gain more. Walking and going to the gym and eating mostly well has kept me from gaining 50  pounds, I think, and I’m hoping that if I really develop good habits NOW (finally, at ate 45 for goodness’ sake), I can keep it up throughout the rest of my life. (Eating ice cream at 11pm is NOT a good habit.)

I hope so anyway.

I don’t expect to ever look like I did in that blue dress, but if I can keep this up, I just might be able to zip up those shorts in the photo above.

More than anything, I want to be good to my body and myself. I also want to show my kids that we can ALL eat healthier – like eat strawberries for dessert every now and then instead of cookies or ice cream. I know my family eats too much sugar and I’m making it my mission to cut back their sugar by at least 1/2 by the time we go back to school.

What healthier choices have you made for yourself? What weight loss lessons have you learned along the way?

~Genevieve

Local Color – Around Downtown Los Angeles

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(I used to post entries like this about local-ish things to do with kids. It’s been awhile, so I thought I’d bring it back for the summer.)

Usually at this time in the summer, we’re already gone – on vacation to some great national park or something equally fantastic. This summer we’re in the middle of looking for a house and a few things are up in the air, so we’re here and the kids are already bored after a week. So, I thought it would be fun to head to Downtown L.A. today.

I’ve been wanting to see the Bradbury building for quite awhile now, and good friends of ours inspired us by posting photos of Grand Central Market last week. We’ve wanted to check out Angels Flight forEVER as well, so we headed to the Metro station and went off on a local adventure.

Our nearest Metro station is very close to us - and right now is the last stop (or the starting point, depending on where you're going).

Our nearest Metro station is very close to us – and right now is the last stop (or the starting point, depending on where you’re going).

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To get to the train, you walk on a bridge over the freeway.

From the train, my daughter noticed a statue of Spock out the window.

From the train, my daughter noticed a statue of Spock out the window.

The train rides weren’t too bad. We took the Gold Line to Union Station, then took the Red Line to Pershing Square.

The landscape here is very different than our neighborhood.

The landscape here is very different than our neighborhood.

The first stop was Angels Flight, as seen in many movies, including “City of Angels.” Apparently, it’s “closed pending resolution of a regulatory issue.” Sad face. Good thing there was food right across the street!

Angels Flight, closed.

Angels Flight, closed.

The Grand Central Market has a lot of different little food joints inside, along with an actual fruit and vegetable market and spice shop, inside.

Heading into the market.

Heading into the market.

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The place was pretty crazy and crowded, so we went to a little bbq place right outside – it was really good!

Silly kids enjoying their lunch.

Silly kids enjoying their lunch.

After lunch, we headed to the Bradbury building. I’d seen it in “Pushing Daisies” and have been intrigued with it ever since then.

Outside, it's a pretty plain looking building.

Outside, it’s a pretty plain looking building.

But inside…

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Wayne showing the kids certain details of the structure.

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I’m not 100% sure, but I think these might be actual Coke bottles in the floor.

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Detail of the ironwork, which overlaps on itself. So pretty!

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Amiright?

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You step out of the Bradbury building and see this cool old theater, playing a cool old movie.

You step out of the Bradbury building and see this cool old theater, playing a cool old movie.

We decided to head to the Central Library, just because.

On our way, we saw a ton of pigeons being fed by a lady in a red dress. Bert would have been in heaven.

On our way, we saw a ton of pigeons being fed by a lady in a red dress. Bert would have been in heaven.

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On the side of the library, there’s a beautiful iron fence with quotes on it.

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Inside the library – such unique sculptures hanging from the ceiling.

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I decided to check the knitting section, just for fun.

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My little models.

We then headed back to the station, and along the way got to see this pretty part of Bunker Hill.

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We had a little treat at Union Station.

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I love the inside of this building. And that it has a Ben & Jerry’s is icing on the cake!

Heading home.

Heading home.

It was an interesting lesson for the kids, seeing a very urban part of the city… only minutes from our little Suburbia. I have to admit I was a little nervous at times. I wanted the kids to stay right by us. There was a distinct smell of urine (human? feline? canine? all 3?) several places, including (sadly) the elevator of the library. And several people muttering to themselves.

My husband humored me with this outing, but was very glad to be heading home. I told him it really made me thankful for what we have. He agreed. I hope the kids feel the same way.

We have a jar full of other local-ish ideas of things to do this summer, including find some “Man Finds Food” restaurants, go to the beach, make popcorn and watch a movie at home, and go to Citywalk, among other things. I’m sure I’ll post about it if it’s interesting. :)

Public School as a Consolation Prize?

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I grew up in Orange County, California. My brothers and I went to public schools in our area. My mother was going to try to get us into Catholic school, but I was ready for kindergarten at 4 and they wouldn’t take me at such a young age, so we went to the neighborhood school. I liked my kindergarten teacher enough. She let me read to the class, because I was the only one who could (or who asked). I loved most of my teachers and feel like I got a pretty good education (minus the cranky old man I had in second grade before being switched to another class. Boy did he not have a sense of humor).

My 5th grade class – public school. I’m the one in front whose bangs are in her face.

When we moved to a rural town in North San Diego County, our options were slim. We went to a small k-8 school outside of town and we all went to the one high school in town. I don’t think there were talks of any other options or private schools. We went to public school and that was fine. (I wasn’t overly happy about moving in general, so I don’t have great memories about junior high – although in 8th grade I had some wonderful teachers, especially Mr. Gudgeon.)

Nowadays it is an entirely different ballgame. I don’t know if it’s because if where we live specifically, or if it’s everywhere, but so many people I know are opting for private schools. Private schools that cost anywhere from $15,000 to $32,000. (Yes, that’s per year.) People are leaving public schools and heading to private schools in droves, it feels. We are seeing it more and more – especially now that our oldest is off to high school.

Luckily, my son’s closest friends are heading to our home school with him. They’re all in the same program together, which makes me happy. He’ll be in a good program with good kids. Hopefully he’ll be less likely to get in a bullying situation or around drugs (though I suppose that’s going to happen in any school, public or private). We have friends with older kids who are at the public high school who are very happy, which also makes me feel better.

My question is, why do I have to feel better about sending him to the local school? And when I talk to other parents who are sending their kids to private schools and they ask me where my son is going, why do I feel like I have to justify us sending him to the public high school? When did that become a thing?

There are 59 private schools in our city and 27 public schools. This seems insane to me. Compare it to where my best friend lives, where there are 14 private schools and 34 public schools. That’s a huge difference! There are TWICE as many private schools here as public. I don’t think that’s the norm in most places.

I’ve taught at both a Catholic school and a public school, so I know firsthand there are benefits to both options.

Me, with my kindergarteners on Halloween. Catholic school.

Me, my partner teacher, principal, and vice principal with some of our kindergarten citizenship winners. Public.

Ultimately, everyone has the right to choose the best education for their child. Who knows what is the best educational experience? Is it being at a school where all the families are wealthy? Is it being at a school where they learn religion? Is it at a school that offers certain programs that aren’t at other schools? Is it being with their friends? Is it being in a diverse population? Is it being taught by one gender only? Is it being taught by Mom or Dad at home?

My son, at a robotics competition.

My son, at a robotics competition.

I don’t know the answer to this. What I do know is that we are choosing to save money for college and hopefully send them to a good public school that gives them a good education and a good experience overall. I hope that our choice is the right one for our kids, and I hope that my own kids don’t feel like public school is some kind of consolation prize.

An Open Letter to Realtors

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Dear realtors,

Thank you for doing what you do. You have knowledge that helps people like us when buying and selling homes. You know the area and what things are worth. However, after being on the hunt for a house for a few months now, I have a few tips that might be helpful for you to know.

– Don’t fudge the number of bedrooms. If a house has 3 USABLE bedrooms, say that in the listing. Don’t say that a house is 5 bedrooms when it’s really a 3 bedroom house with a tiny little den and a back house that could be lived in. We have 3 kids. We can’t put the 14-year-old in a back house and a small den is a small den. That big fireplace that takes up 5 feet of corner says it isn’t a bedroom.

Sorry, Charlie. It's not a bedroom.

Sorry, Charlie. Not a bedroom.

This fireplace is fine, just not if you want to put a bed in there.

This fireplace is fine, just not if you want to put a bed in there.

– Be more specific. If a lot is 20,000 square feet but the house is on a slope and it’s not useable as an actual yard, then say how big the yard is in the description somewhere.

– Someone needs to tell me what a chef’s kitchen is. Or a chef’s DREAM kitchen. Because I have yet to see what I would consider a kitchen worthy of Bobby Flay or Julia Child.

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(These are listed as chef’s kitchens…)

– Tell us about wildlife. If there are coyotes or bears or mountain lions, and we ask, tell us the truth.

– Be honest about numbers. How many years have they lived here? How many square feet is the house, really? How long ago was it renovated?

-If there’s a “studio” in the back that could possibly become a guest house if you completely renovated it, insulated it, replaced the flooring and added a bathroom and a kitchenette, don’t say that it simply needs a bathroom.

– Try to stay away from vague words that don’t really say anything. How can a house be “gracious”? What exactly makes a house a “retreat” or an “estate”? How can a house be both big AND cozy?

– Untouched = needs work

– Completely remodeled/updated = flip

– Can a house be famous if I’ve never heard of it? I can’t tell you how many listings have noted that something’s famous that is absolutely not famous. At all.

– Starting a listing with “Pride of Ownership” is odd. It can be added to any listing, but means nothing.

– I think sometimes a good warning should open the listing. “Look past the green hi-lo carpeting and the gold lame wallpaper and see the potential in this home.”

Interestingly enough, most realtors are very helpful with staging your home for selling. I know that we were told to clear out the “extra” furniture and things that would seem “clutter” in our house when we sold it. Most homes we visit were surely told the same thing. Then every now and then there’s the rare occasion when you see a home with furniture like this:

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I really have no words. Is it the bottom of an old calliope? Circus wagon?

Ultimately, I know you want to sell a home, but when a family looking for a 4 bedroom house trek miles and drag three unwilling kids to come see a house that is really NOT a 4 bedroom house, it’s frustrating and disappointing and makes me question looking at homes listed by this realty company in the future.

Sincerely,

Still looking for that 4 bedroom house

I’m Invisible and I Feel Fine

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It’s official. I have gotten to an age and weight where I’m invisible most places. I’ve recently noticed it when I joined a gym.

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When I would work out in my 20s, I was noticed. It made me uncomfortable. I was suddenly worried about what I looked like and what I was wearing and who was looking at me. Was I cuter than that girl? Was I in as good a shape as this girl?

Now I’m a mom. I’m in my 40s. I’ve gained weight. And I don’t give a crap if I look cute at the gym. I’m not going to the gym to be noticed. I’m going to workout. In fact, I HOPE no one is looking at me just in case I’m doing something wrong.

Am I using less weight than anyone else?

Am I using less weight than anyone else?

I do people watch when I’m there, however. I’ve noticed that there’s a guy and girl who are always flirting with each other and I wonder if he’s ever going to ask her out. I notice the guys trying to seem cool and the women who work out with friends and spot each other. I notice the way people work out and when they just sit on the machine looking at their phone instead of exercising.

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I suppose there might be a few people watchers out there like me, but I think most people at the gym are either looking for attractive people, looking for what they should be doing, or just focused on their own workout and how they look to everyone else in the gym.

At first, I was a little sad that no one looked at me. But then I realized that it was freedom. Freedom from worrying about judgment. Freedom from worrying about how I measure up. Freedom to just workout and do what I need to do.

As long as I’m not invisible to the people who matter in my life, I’m happy to go to the gym in my suit of invisibility.

I Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life

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Another school year has come to a close, and the biggest milestone yet was reached by my oldest. My son graduated (or as they call it now “promoted”) from middle school. He’s on to bigger things, like the big giant high school down the street with big giant kids. *deep breath*

It seems like yesterday he started kindergarten and looked like this

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That was 9 years ago. Unbelievable.

I find each end-of-the-year to be ridiculously packed and crazy – filled with last minute field trips, celebrations, teacher gifts, and events. For the last several years I feel like a crazy person during the last few weeks of school. This year was no exception.

Honestly, I feel like the entire last month was insane.

First, the girls had their musical theater performances the first weekend in May.

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I chaperoned the 8th grade field trip to Catalina for 3 days.

At a beautiful spot on our first hike in Catalina.

At a beautiful spot on our first hike in Catalina.

I subbed a few times, though not too much to be crazy.

I went on a field trip with the 6th graders and then the 4th graders the following day.

6th grade trip to the Science Center

6th grade trip to the Science Center

4th grade trip to the Huntington Gardens

4th grade trip to the Huntington Gardens

The 8th graders had their Cardboard boat Regatta and the Family Picnic the same night. This is when I needed to have the 8th grade slideshow finished – at least one version – to show the kids.

My son and his group - The Gentlemen. They won first place for best use of cardboard.

My son and his group – The Gentlemen. They won first place for best use of cardboard.

I had a dentist appointment, a hair appointment, and a dermatologist appointment. I am still coordinating the big 5th grade trip for this September.

I had a walk-through for our 8th grade promotion to see what we needed and make sure the slideshow would work and the decorations and the configuration of the stage.

We saw some art made by some friends of ours.

We went to a local art gallery to see some friends' art pieces.

We went to a local art gallery to see some friends’ art pieces.

Last Sunday was a party for the cast of the musical, and then I went to a PTA party.

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My youngest doing a “routine” with her friend while the rest of the girls looked on.

I never get awards, so I am proud of this one. I got it for all the work I do up at the schools. :)

I never get awards, so I am proud of this one. I got it for all the work I do up at the schools. :)

Then, starting with Monday, I had to make cupcakes for my middle child’s birthday on Tuesday. I frosted them Tuesday morning and brought them to the 6th grade picnic. She came home that day feeling bad, so her birthday was a bummer. She stayed home from school the next day even though she had parties, because she had a fever — this is the same day as my son’s promotion from 8th grade. That same day was the 4th grader’s party (thankfully I didn’t sign up for anything!)

Poor birthday girl feeling awful on her 12th birthday.

Poor birthday girl feeling awful on her 12th birthday.

Wednesday night was the promotion/graduation. I had to get there early to help set up and make sure the slideshow projector and sound worked. Luckily my parents were able to get my daughter feeling well enough to make the first half of the ceremony. Oh yeah, bees attacked the 8th graders while they waited to process into the auditorium.

The slideshow was successful, I think. It’s hard to tell. I don’t think people watching it realize how many hours I put into it making sure every. single. kid. gets into it (even the ones who apparently didn’t graduate?)… but oh well. I felt good about it and now it’s over. Hurray!

The boy, ready to graduate

The boy, ready to graduate

My son, hugging his science teacher.

My son, hugging his science teacher.

Thursday was the last day of school for everyone where I finally had time to grab teacher gifts (and fudgsicles for the 4th grade Field Day which was cancelled due to – are you ready for this – rain). Then I ran around to all the teachers at the middle school and the secretaries at the elementary school and got called out on the loudspeaker for being parked in the pick-up zone. :P

Thursday afternoon we all collapsed.

Add to that, we’ve been looking for a house.

I’m hoping that this summer is a lot of fun and relaxation for everyone.

~Genevieve

ps -The first song I used in the slideshow was “Good Riddance” by Green Day, where they say “I hope you had the time of your life.” My junior high years weren’t my favorite, but I sure hope that my son had a blast. All the kids. I hope they all had the time of their lives from kindergarten through middle school and as they head to high school and beyond, I hope they remember it fondly.

Life’s Like A Shakespeare Play…

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Or at least it was last week.

My daughters are part of a musical theater ensemble here in town. They love it! They first joined after seeing a friend in one of the shows. They were enchanted immediately and wanted to try it.

They have had a ton of fun doing these shows. As the mom, I would honestly not mind if they took a semester off. There are a LOT of rehearsals and long hours and missed plans because of the rehearsals. The week before the show is BRUTAL, with rehearsals every night for 3+ hours, in the midst of homework, projects, Open Houses at school, and even state testing. Mom’s exhausted.

But Mom also loves to see her girls on stage, and the girls LOVE doing it – so we continue, as frustrating as it can be.

Their first show was a take on Cinderella.

My older daughter was a page,

Poor girl gets to wear a heavy coat all during the show.

Poor girl gets to wear a heavy coat all during the show.

My younger daughter was a “Calypso Cleaner” (you’d have to see the show to understand).IMG_3643

Once they got the bug – that was it! They took the summer off and in the fall they had a new holiday show to learn.

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After “North Pole Radio” was “Toad,” where one daughter is a weasel and the other is a stoat and a hedgehog.

Oh yeah... and a tree and a bush. :P

Oh yeah… and a tree and a bush. :P

That show was when my older daughter really broke out of her shell and brought the comedy. That lead to her getting a bigger part in the next show, “It’s a Dickens.”

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She was a mean lady who ran an orphanage (where my younger daughter was an orphan).

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My older daughter was also George Bernard Shaw. (so she’s been a boy in 3 plays now – counting the weasel)

This spring brought another boy part for the older, and a go-go for the younger. “Summer Dreamin'” was a musical, 60s style version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was tons of fun.

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My mother once said I was living out my own dreams in my children. I don’t agree. While I always loved to act and dance, I’ve never been comfortable at singing. And I don’t know if I would have been as patient and as adapting as my girls have been. They long for the bigger parts, and I’m hoping they’re coming up in the future for them.

Though, no matter what happens, what’s the saying? There are no small parts, only small actors.

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