Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A lesson in priorities

My daughter won’t go to sleep. She tosses and turns. She sits up and reaches for a stuffed animal on the floor. She stretches her leg perpendicular to the bed and counts her toes. She sighs deeply.

This is all very annoying to me, because this is Loaf, my sleep-challenged child. She has asked me to sit here with her tonight until she drifts off, and while I don’t always indulge her, I want to just sit and read my book anyway, so I might as well sit in her room.

But still.

It’s after 9 p.m. and at some point I have to get up and start pulling together things for work tomorrow. I need her to go to sleep.

I am at the foot of her bed, propped up with my feet directed toward her pillows.

She flops over, sings the alphabet, then flops back to the other side.

She is looking at me. I pretend not to notice thinking, foolishly I know, that ignoring her will make her settle down.

She sits up, pitches forward and grabs my arm.

“I want to kiss you, Mom.”

I lean forward and she plants a soft kiss on my forehead. She is thrilled with herself. She hurls herself back onto her pillow.

“That was very nice, Loaf, but now its bedtime. Please go to sleep.”


I read less than two pages when she rolls onto her side, embraces my lower legs and kisses one of my shins.

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, Loaf. Now please go to bed.”


Instead of reading, I eyeball her over the top of my book. She is looking at the ceiling. She lifts her arm and makes delicate fluttery motions with her fingers, fascinated with the long shadows they make on the wall. She sees me watching her and smiles.

Not just any smile, but one of those ear-to-ear, filled-with-love, glowing from within smiles that makes my breath catch in my lungs.

I can’t help it. I smile back.

I sit forward and lean over her. She wraps her little arms tightly around my neck and I kiss her. She kisses back with a loud, wet smacking sound.

We repeat the kissing a couple more times. She smiles even more widely than before.

“OK, I’m ready to go to sleep now.” She lays back, closes her eyes and within minutes is sleeping.

I sat there, on her bed, for a while longer reading my book at times, but also just watching her – the gentle rise and fall of her chest. The rosebud mouth. The wild tangle of curls. A look of utter peace on her face.

These quiet moments are so rare.

I didn't get everything pulled together for work as I'd hoped and ended up running around pulling things together at the last minute. But I wouldn't trade that time in her room for anything. I believe I spent my time doing something much more worthwhile.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No pictures, please!

Loaf often does not like her picture taken.

When the camera comes out, she has been known to hide, run, cover her face or turn her head away.

In most cases, I respect that and simply walk away. It's not worth it to me to torture her, and you don't end up getting a good picture in those situations any way.

Peanut, however, lives by her own rules. And one of those rules appears to be: Torture sister whenever possible:

No pictures, please!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When is zero not really zero? When it describes your food.

I’m going to just say this: I’m a bit anal when it comes to my food.

I’m not perfect, but I make a real effort to eat healthy. My husband does too. We do it for ourselves but more importantly, we do it for our children.

Mark has a relatively blemish-free family medical history (you may recall that his grandfather lived to be 103.)

Mine however, reads like the warning label on a pack of cigarettes (unfiltered ones at that):
• Cancer
• Diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Heart attack

As a result of my wonderful genetics, I have high cholesterol.

How high is it?

High. 'Nuff said.

It is why I don’t’ “just “ exercise: I do triathlons. It is why I watch what I eat. It is why, most especially, I avoid trans fat like the plague.

You see, trans fat is the worst kind of fat to eat because it:
• Increases “bad” LDL cholesterol
• Decreases “good” HDL cholesterol
• Causes heart disease and stroke
• Contributes to diabetes and obesity

It negatively impacts your health even when eaten in small amounts. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, adding just 4 grams of trans fat to your diet each day—which represents just 2% of your daily calories in a 2,000-calorie diet—increases your risk of heart disease by 23%!

As a result, the American Heart Association recommends that the average person eat less than 2 grams of trans fat each day. However, it goes on to note that there is enough naturally occurring trans fat in some meat and dairy products that most people reach the maximum 2 grams without the additional consumption of the man-made trans fat found in many popular foods.

There’s no question about it: Trans fats are horrible for you. Even if your cholesterol is 78, like my husbands (OK, maybe it isn’t that low, but it is LOW), you still shouldn’t be eating them.

Avoiding trans fat should be easy, right? Just look at the handy-dandy nutrition panel on the packaging of any food product and find the row devoted to trans fats. If it reads “0g” then you’re good to go, right?


A few years ago the FDA, that fantastic government agency put in place to cater to food industry lobbyists protect consumers, established some guidelines for food companies to follow when listing the trans fat content of their food on the nutrition panel.

Are you ready for this?

So long as a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it can list the trans fat content as ZERO on the nutrition panel.


The problem with this is clear:

First, companies identify unreasonably small serving sizes for their products. The serving size for Fruit Loops is one cup, but the average bowl easily holds more than that.

Second, there are tons and tons of foods on the market with ‘trace amounts’ (under 0.5 grams per serving) of trans fats. Just look at these pictures. The nutrition panel on ALL of these foods claim zero trans fat, but they all have trans fat in them*:






So, let’s say you have a bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast. At lunch, maybe you have a handful of Baked Doritos. Later in the day, you’re hungry, so you grab a Quaker granola bar. After dinner, you have a couple of Whole Wheat Fig Newtons (because hey! Whole wheat is healthy, right?) Later watching TV, you have a couple of crackers (Ritz, Saltines, or maybe even Wheatsworth) with a little Skippy peanut butter slathered on them.

Since all of those products have trans fat, you’ve just EASILY exceeded the 2 daily grams that the AHA recommends. In fact, you’ve probably consumed at least six, and maybe more, grams of trans fat.

And you didn’t even know it.

So how can you tell if a product has trans fat? You have to look beyond the nutrition panel and study the list of ingredients.

If anywhere in the ingredient list you see the words “partially hydrogenated,” “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” and/or “shortening,” then the product has trans fat.


The thing that particularly galls me about this is that many foods print “0g Trans Fat!” right on the front of their packaging in big, bold letters:



And we wonder why American's are 1. so confused about food and 2. so unhealthy.

These labels are there to deceive you by saying, “WOW! Aren’t we just the best? We are so healthy and responsible,” when in reality, they’ve probably tweaked their serving size just enough so it contains under 0.5 grams. It’s sneaky. And it sucks. And our government allows it, probably because enough food industry lobbyists greased the pockets of enough people in the FDA.

But you know who pays the ultimate price? People who eat this garbage, thinking they’re doing the right thing when in reality they are seriously damaging their health.

*This food is not from our pantry. Rather, Mark purchased it to use as a prop for a Toastmasters speech he recently delivered on this very topic. All of it was returned, unopened, to the supermarket following the speech.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lazy, hazy days

My favorite season is fall, but summer runs a close second. Summer arrives and seems to say, “Hey, pull up a chair. Put your feet up. Thirsty? Have some lemonade. Eat an ice cream cone. Take a swim. Chill.”

And now that we’re past June, which was the most dismal, dreary, rainy June I can ever remember, we’ve been doing just that.

Summer seems to have a more leisurely pace than other seasons, and I say that even though I know nearly every weekend between now and mid-September is booked with some event or another.

Aside from that, we’re soaking up the summer as much as possible. We sit by the pond and watch the frogs sun themselves. We eat our lunch on a blanket in the backyard. We swim. In a matter of days, we’ll be filling buckets with wild raspberries.

Last night, we ventured into the yard to marvel at and chase fireflies. The girls ran through the nearly dark yard, arms outstretched until they closed around a firefly. They’d cup the tiny insect in their hands and peek in, watching the neon flash-flash-flash for a few seconds until they had their fill, then they’d release it into the dark.

Sometimes the bug would slip through their fingers and escape before they could steal a peek at it.

My baby, Peanut, is on the cusp of turning six. She’s lost a tooth and is entering kindergarten in a matter of weeks.

Loaf is becoming more independent by the day. She pushes my hands away repeatedly, declaring, “I can do it myself.”

There are probably only a few summers left of backyard picnics, chalk drawings on the front walkway, bubble-blowing contests and chasing fireflies through the yard.

And after that? Who knows? They will have new activities and interests that don’t involve me.

So excuse me if my blog is a bit neglected these days. I’m running, hands outstretched to see what I can catch. And hoping to get my fill of it before it slips away.

Main Street USA


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A new day

Today had some rough spots, or more accurately, one really big rough spot.

Peanut is in camp from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and while she LOVES it, it tires her out. Despite that, I promised Loaf we'd go to the playground this afternoon so around 4 p.m., I packed them up and off we went.

Big. Mistake. Kimberly.

Things got off on the wrong foot immediately when Peanut learned we were going to the "small" rather than the "big" park. She grumbled and complained, so I told her we'd go to the "big" park tomorrow, but that I'd already promised Loaf a visit to the "small" park today.

She whined all the way there - which was all of five minutes, but might as well have been five HOURS from my perspective. Whining is one of those things that drives me completely insane.

Things did not improve much when we got the park. She continued to whine. She refused to come to me. She stomped her foot and crossed her arms over her chest when I spoke to her. And worse of all, she was being mean to Loaf - chasing her and threatening to push her down. Now, I need to say, this is highly uncharacteristic of Peanut. She and Loaf usually play beautifully together, so I know she was acting out of pure exhaustion.

But regardless, we had to leave after only half an hour.

When we got home, I sent her straight to her room telling her to stay there until she was feeling more in control. She lay on her bed staring at the ceiling. I started dinner and about 20 minutes later, she peeked her head out of her room - smiling. My usual good-natured Peanut was back.

After dinner, we sat on her bed reading from a vintage Sesame Street book. She leaned against me, hand resting lightly on my arm. I kissed the top of her head and watched as her eyelids drooped, then finally closed for good.

I lay her back gently on her pillow and brushed the hair off of her forehead. Her cheeks were pink and there was just a hint of a smile on her lips. She looked like an angel.

"Good night," I cooed to her. "Tomorrow we start fresh."

She sighed deeply-peacefully-in her sleep, as if to agree.

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Always a thriller

Last week, hundreds of people gathered at Discovery Green in Houston to learn the dance moves to Thriller. I would have loved to have been there.

There is no debating that Michael Jackson was troubled. However, there's also no debate that he was insanely talented and that he will continue to inspire and motivate generations to come.

R.I.P., Michael.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Feeling the void

One of our cats, Janey, was killed by a car yesterday. It hit hard for a number of reasons, but most of all because I never saw her go near the road. She usually just sat on the front step or in the garden, soaking up rays or rolling in the driveway.

We didn't have her very long - only 15 months - but she had become an important part of our family.

She was a sweet, gentle, calm cat. She liked to play with elastic hair bands, drink from the bathroom faucet and while she wasn't much of a lap cat, she was very social. She would follow you from rooom to room, run up to meowing when she saw you, and sit close by.

She will be missed.

Janey Girl

Janey profile

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