Okay, I am kidding. I am really not going to write about politics, specifically. I am going to talk about kindness, consideration, responsibility.

First of all, I have not watched any debates and have never planned on watching anything like that. And, believe it or not, I am very politically minded. I don’t watch them because I know how I am going to vote and I know that watching the debates would just get me frustrated and stressed. I hate how comments are twisted and something that seems common sense to me is interpreted by another party and it takes a whole other personality and then causes confusion. I hate how people stereotype and how polarizing politics has become.

So let me write about what I believe. I hope that you do not put me in a category or stereotype me. I am sure by the end of describing who I am, you can guess my party. But let me tell you that I do not agree 100% with my party. What I believe is what I believe. I just so happens that what I do believe fits primarily in one party.

Maybe you haven’t read anything of mine before so let me tell you a few things. I am a stay-at-home mom who has a couple of minimal paying jobs. I am a church handchime director for youth 7-10 years old. I also direct a youth vocal choir. The members are from 11-18. I receive less than $1500.00 a year for these two choirs. I am a substitute teacher but am limited to 40 days a year as I do not have a teaching certificate. I have taken classes to be able to sub and I can sub K-12. I do like subbing. I volunteer for the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, my church, the school, a church camp, My children started out in public school but because my husband traveled with his job, we decided to homeschool so we could travel. The children were homeschooled for six years. This is their second year back in school. We have a son who is a Junior (who was just accepted in the National Honor Society) and a daughter who is a Freshman.

I have a degree in mass communications and met my husband two years after I graduated from college. We have been married 23 1/2 years. We lived in Spain for a short time, almost a year, when our children were 3 & 5.

That is a little about me. Now about what I believe.

I BELIEVE…you have to believe in something bigger than yourself. For me, it is God.
I BELIEVE…My husband and I are responsible for raising our children. It is our job to teach them morals, responsibility, and to guide them in a way that they can be independent, self-sufficient, Christian minded adults.
I BELIEVE…that we pay way too much in health insurance and taxes. With my husband being self-employed, people don’t realize how much we have to pay out.
I BELIEVE…that unless it is physically impossible, you should do some kind of work. If you are on assistance, get off your tail and volunteer if you can’t find a job.
I BELIEVE…that welfare was not meant to be a program that was long-term.
I BELIEVE…I should do everything possible to help our Earth. We recycle, live in an energy-efficient home, have a solar panel, are conscious about using our yard to filter out any chemicals that might run into the lake from the residents uphill.
I BELIEVE…that too many children today feel entitled and do not show enough respect to authority figures.
I BELIEVE…that if schools can teach about Kwanza, Hanukkah, they should be able to talk about Christmas and Easter.
I BELIEVE…that the Ten Commandments are good rules to follow, regardless of your belief. I mean don’t we want to people to not steal, cheat, kill, covet, etc…
I BELIEVE…You should teach your children that they should get married before they live together or have sex. (what they do is their business but I would not teach my children anything different)
I BELIEVE…if I have to pay for your children, I should be able to tell you how many to have.
I BELIEVE…that we live in the greatest country in the world. Having lived in Europe, I have seen how others live and the freedoms that we have are phenomenal. Many Americans do not appreciate what they have.

If you cannot guess my political party, I am not going to tell you. But I believe that you have a right to disagree with me. And I will not call you names. I can tell you that people from another party have called me clueless, a f***ing idiot, racist, and I could go on. I would never talk that way to anyone.

I also can’t believe that this country would not want people to work hard, to make all the money they can, so they can put it back into the economy, or save it for their retirement, or give it to not for profit organizations to be able to help those that are unable to help themselves. I can’t believe that we, as a society, want people to be dependent on government for their survival. How sad is it that we are teaching people to be complacent and not be engaged in their own life.

If someone disagrees with my statements, I am sorry. I like to think that I have it right. If you do not agree that people should want to be independent, that we should be concerned about our environment, that my husband should be allowed to provide for our family by hunting deer, antelope, etc…, that we should be allowed to make money so we can help others, then you must not be a member of the party for which I am a member. BUT I do not like controversy, so I will not tell you which party it is.

That is the beauty of this country, we have the chance to be a part of different political parties. That is not the case in other countries.

I guess you can decide if my statement that I was not going to write about politics was accurate or not. Maybe tomorrow I will write about bread pudding!

Oh and BTW, my coffee was a take off of the Magic Bar, chocolate, butterscotch and coconut. It was Nummy!

Twin Bing old-fashioned candy bar for an old-fashioned wife

Twin Bing, the name of my coffee today. It is made with Black Cherry, Chocolate and Macadamia Nut flavoring. I added a little coconut for added flavoring. The original Twin Bing is made with Cherry nougat, chocolate and ground peanuts. I did the best I could to match the flavor but there is no peanut flavoring that I can find.

Today was just one of those days. Not a bad day, but a day that went by quickly. My intention was to have it be a day of running errands. Go to the bank, the store, check on the cat that we are cat sitting. I wanted to get those things done today so I could spend the day home tomorrow and clean, organize, etc…

The day started late. I mean I was up before 6:30 but when I thought I would be out of the house before 8:00, it was well after 9:00 before I walked out the door. And instead of going to one bank, I went to two banks, one for my daughter and one for the GIrl Scout troop. I then had to go to the church because there was some Girl Scout items there that were dropped there for me, so an additional stop. Next was the post office. I dropped off a letter and a package and then headed south to Omaha. I thought I would be home by noon and it was 10:30 before I was even in the city. I guess my day was going to be longer than I had expected.

I stopped at the BP gas station where I had a coupon to get 5 cents off a gallon. Needed to use that with the price of gasoline these days. I had this brainy idea that I should call my girlfriend who works in Omaha and have her meet me at Nobbies to pick up items for the Girl Scout overnight. Nobbies (nobbies.com) is a local party store that is better known nationwide for their catalog/internet business, Oriental Trading (orientaltrading.com). It is the best place to purchase items for holidays and parties. Joan and I met and got the cute little Halloween craft items for the upcoming overnight. After we went our separate ways, I decided I was close so I would visit the cat that we are watching. While spending time in the home, my husband calls and asks how close I am to being able to go home. I told him I was just finishing up with the cat and I still needed to do the grocery shopping. He said that he needed me to go home and check to see if he really had purchased his deer tags for this season. He had heard a rumor that the deer tags were going to stop being sold as of tomorrow (ended up being not true) so I headed home to check. I told Kent that I would go shopping tomorrow.

That is what I like about my life. I am a wife. I do not have a full-time job so I can be around and take care of the family. I know that there are women out there that think I am so old-fashioned and I should “get a life”. But I like being able to be around and be the errand runner, the person that people can count on at any time of the day or night.

If I had a full-time job in an office, I never would have been able to take off time to run home and see that Kent had the deer tags purchased for the season. He was worried and being in Colorado, he would not have felt as ease until he knew that he really had taken care of the tags. Because I don’t have a full-time paying job outside the home, I was able to be a comforter for a friend who needed to get to UNMC in Omaha for her husband. She didn’t know her way around Omaha and she knew that I could get her there in a timely manner. I was there when my girlfriend had to make the decision to take her husband off of life support. I took care of her daughter when she just couldn’t handle it anymore. I was able to homeschool our children for 6 years, which has helped mold them to who they are today. If being available for the people I love, having the ability to drop things to help out, to volunteer for causes that are important to me makes me an old-fashioned woman, then that is what I am.

BUT… I am an independent person. While I do not make money that I could support myself, I have the personality of a business woman. I expect things to be run properly. I expect respect from anyone I work with in my volunteering, substitute teaching, my music work at church or all of the committees of which I am involved. I dress neatly and when necessary, professionally. I am polished in all I do.

People who know me, know one of my favorite sayings, “I wish I could live the Amish life.” And it is true, I love the sense of community that the Amish have. I like that they share their resources. I would love to have the ability to grow all of my own food, trade my goods for things that I cannot grow or make.

I have a garden, I make quilts (not as many as I would like). I can sew. I do not knit or crochet or have a garden the size I would like. I do have the ability to grow some vegetables in the winter as we have a greenhouse. I have actually made cheese and I regularly make bread for the family. I am an awesome cook (if I say so myself) and love to do those things for my family. I sing, cross stitch, am a pretty good organizer and have leadership skills. I can speak in front of 300 people and not bat an eye and I can teach young people how to develop their music talents with their voices and musical instruments. So with all of the domestic talents I have, I have just as many business-like talents.

Which do I like better? I have no favorite because, for me, they each compliment each other and when they work together, it enhances everything. I am who I am; Independent, dependent, interdependent. I love my life and the irony of everything I am and do.I am such a mixed bag and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Having a blog named “a little caffeine”, I figure I should probably talk about my coffee. Every morning I make my stovetop espresso, heat and froth the milk and add my flavoring choice of the day. Today, my choice was Gingerbread. Since my home is not in town, it just made sense to me that I have enough flavorings (sugar-free) that I can have a variety of latte’s available. I use a fabulous website, lollicupstore.com that has reasonably priced coffee flavorings. They have a good choice of sugar-free flavorings that really allows me to have flavored coffee that matches my mood for the day.

I had my flavoring figured out before I woke this morning because today was going to be a busy day. One of the many things I do is direct our church youth choir. We had taken a break last year only to come back this year revitalized. We got excited about singing. We decorated our music folders with multi-colored and patterned duct tape. We were laughing and having fun. WELL, this was our Sunday to introduce our congregation to the new look. We celebrated with a song, “Two Hands, One Heart” by Claire Cloninger and Don Moen. When we finished, the pastor grabbed my upper arm and told me how great they were, how totally awesome we were. I could feel the energy from the congregation. I had two teens that wanted to join our choir after hearing us praise God!  What a great way to start our Sunday! We sang again at the second service and it was the same feeling. The year we took off was worth it. We are a much better choir. We now have the power and energy to serve God the way we should.

After that miraculous service, I got ready for my second stint for the day; volunteering at the Camp Fontanelle corn maze. This corn maze is sponsored by Camp Fontanelle (campfontanelle.com) and helps support the United Methodist Church Camp in Nebraska. Our family is heavily involved in this camp. My husband, per the by-laws, must take a year off from being on the board of directors. Prior to this year, he was the chairman of the board. Our children have gone to this church camp since they were 3 years old.(They are now almost 17 and almost 15) I am the writer for the newsletter and am the grant writer for the camp. My husband also runs a youth hunt camp on opening rifle season for deer. This camp teaches safe hunting and is an opportunity for a youth and parent to work together and bond in this manner.

Besides what we give financially and time-wise, I felt I needed to do more in the fall. Last year, I began volunteering every Sunday during the corn maze season, about 7 weeks. I work the ticket booth and have a chance to talk up the camp and everything that the camp offers during all seasons. We have been open since September 16. Like last year, this weekend was the weekend that saw our numbers greatly increase. Today, there were over 500 paying patrons to the camp. Yesterday there was over 450 paying. If you take into consideration the people who come to the camp and take advantage of the free things going on at the camp, it is estimated that there were as many as 1100 that visited Camp Fontanelle this weekend. Not bad for being open 12 hours over the weekend. Next weekend is the big weekend. On Saturday, there is the haunted corn maze and on Sunday there is Search for Treats in the maze. It is estimated that as many as 1,000, will be there on Sunday alone.

I know that we are to take time off and rest. It is commanded by God. And while I do not want to go against God, today was a day of praising Him. It was done through music at my church and it was done through the beauty of His land in the afternoon and evening out at camp. I can’t believe that He would be angry and thinking that I was going against Him by Praising Him ALL DAY!

I am really trying to be a better person, a better Christian. I know that I don’t always think with a Christian head or a Christian heart. I am trying to be better. I think that being in a Christian community is important. Just like those of other faiths are in their own communities, I feel it is important to be around people who share a general belief. We have a mission at our church and there is a mission at Camp Fontanelle. I hope that we can do our best to meet that mission. And I guess what I like is that both missions talk about being good to all people and making people feel safe. It is important to be good to people, to all people. And if we can make someone feel safe, at least in the church or out at camp, when they can’t feel safe at home, then we have achieved a great thing.

I look forward to our choir starting new music next week to get ready for Christmas and I look forward to dressing like Tinkerbell for the corn maze next weekend. My soul is at rest because I know that what I am doing is taking me on the right path. AMEN!

Sunday, a day of rest?

We All lead Busy, interesting lives.

Today, I was up before 6:00 a.m. to take my daughter to school to load a bus for a volleyball tournament. I headed back home to shower, iron some dress shirts for my husband as he was leaving for 4 days to a conference in Denver. I then made my latte (It was black cherry chocolate today ) and put it in my 24 oz. mug, toasted some bread, added a tomato and then walked out the door to get to the volleyball tournament. I spent 5 hours at the tournament and watched my daughter play the best I have seen her play. Her serving was almost flawless which means a lot since at the beginning of the season, she could barely get the ball over the net. While I don’t know her stats, I would say her serving was better than 90%. While we were in the “big city” we hit a few stores on our way home to get things that we can’t find in our town of 8000 people.

When I got home, I relaxed a little, then grabbed a bite to eat, read the newspaper, checked FB and then got to work again. I am the product sales coordinator for the fall Girl Scout product sales for our county. The sales ended on Thursday so I needed to get online, input my troop’s order (My troop is my Senior Girl Scout daughter. After 10 years of having a busy troop, it was decided that they were too busy in other things to continue), check all of the other troop’s orders as part of my job. I then sent out an email to the troops doing a follow-up to make sure their order inputs were correct. Then I needed to work on the Girl Scout overnight that is set for next week-end that I am organizing with a friend. I sent out confirmations and weekend details.

And here I am now, blogging, something that I need to be committed to doing every day. I need to work at this and make it happen. What a Saturday!!!!

I guess my point is, we are all busy in our own way. Even if being busy is just staying at home. I can’t believe the days that go by when I am home, I am kept busy all day, and at the end of the day, I feel that I have gotten nothing done. I actually haven’t felt that way this week. I have been busy and productive.

There will never be enough time in the day to get things done that should get done. But God only gives us 24 hours and day and hopefully we have made sound decisions and get the important things done. I have a laundry basket full of clean clothes sitting right next to me. They have been sitting in the basket for a couple of days. Should they be folded, Absolutely, YES. But have there been more important things to do this week? Again, Absolutely YES! Do I have clothes that need to be ironed, YES. Does my husband ever go without an ironed shirt, NO. I do it when it needs to get done. Should I really get through the ironing pile and also do the touch up ironing? Yes! But as the saying goes, the laundry will wait. I only have one chance to see my daughter play volleyball at today’s tournament.

I seem to find all kinds of things to do. I marvel at the women that have a full-time paying job and then come home and need to do the things that are my job. But I have always said that all of my volunteering is to help those that can’t volunteer because they have paying jobs outside the home.I volunteer at my church, volunteer out at the church camp which we are involved, do a lot of running around for my husband since he is very busy with his software consulting business.

I would not change anything in my life even though I am constantly busy. It helps now that my son has his driver’s license and my daughter has her school permit for driving. She actually took my car to school three days last week. It is so nice not to have to add all of those miles to my vehicle by needing to make multiple trips to take her and pick her up from school. Not needing my car is very freeing and if I don’t have a car, I have to stay at home.

Whatever you do and however you do it, I hope you can be like me and know what is a priority and work to do what is right for you, for your loved ones, for your community, for the world. My laundry can wait. It is clean. It is not wrinkled in the basket. It is just not put in the drawers. My home is clean and I don’t need to be embarrassed if someones stops by but it is not spotless. Once again, my family is more important.

Tomorrow, after church, my son and I head to the Camp Fontanelle Corn Maze. He has a paid position running the laser tag area. I am a volunteer and work the ticket booth. Is it worth it, YES because it supports a fabulous church camp. Will my laundry take priority, NO. Who knows, maybe I will get it put away after I publish this. Let’s hope. Maybe I will get a glass of wine and relax while getting the laundry put away! That is a great incentive.

DIET (Do It Every TIme)

Today I subbed at the high school. I went in having limited knowledge as to what Math Analysis or Discrete Math entailed. After looking at the worksheets for Math Analysis, I knew it was more complex than any math I had ever taken. Let’s see, Advanced Algebra, my sophomore year in high school, that was over 34 years ago!

I fessed up to the class and told them they were further along than I ever went in math. I originally was going to sub for a teacher that always uses a Podcast. That sub job was cancelled last night and I got this sub job after the cancellation. I hate to say that for the first class, I truly was worthless. Luckily the day was planned for a sub so the work was sub-worthy.

The rest of the day was interesting. Normally I would teach 3 blocks but today I taught 4. There was a teacher that did not have a sub so the subs filled in during their planning time. So on top of 3 math classes, I also had a Physical Science Class. I earned my money today!

NOW ON TO MY TOPIC OF THE DAY, my weight loss.                                                .

Like many American women, I struggle with my weight. I have never been bulimic or anorexic, but every day I look in the mirror and think, “Ugh, you could be thinner. Why do I look so fat?” Even when I was a size 4-6 in my 20’s, I always had too much cellulite or tummy rolls in my eyes.

I probably have done almost every weight loss program around. Except for Weight Watchers or paying hundreds of dollars for a Jenny Craig-type program, I am sure I have tried it. The Grapefruit Diet, Slim-Fast, doctor (maybe a Quack) prescribed medication, the Soup Diet, Atkins (That actually worked when I was younger), I think I dieted away 3-4 ME’s and then gained it all back.

A little over a year ago, on September 19, 2011, I thought I would try something ingenious…calories in…calories out. AND I would look at long term, not short term, results. I wasn’t going to eat anything special. I wasn’t going to deprive myself. I was just going to track calories. I was going to exercise! Usually I would have a 900-1000 calorie intake.. I was going to be a rebel and figure out how many calories, for a person my sex, my age, my size, burns daily. Then I would go from there.

My Google search found a website, Calorie Counts. I know there are a lot of sites like this one, but Calorie Counts called to me. The site calculated that I burn about 1600 calories a day. I double checked with other websites and they were all consistent in what they calculated. WOW, I had a plan!

Calorie Counts computed that I burned 1600 calories a day. In my research, I also found out that a person should consume a minimum of 1200 calories a day so your body does not go into starvation mode and stop burning calories. So…if I took in 1200 calories, I would have a 400 calorie deficit before I even exercised. My research also found that 3500 calories is the equivalent to one pound. Without even trying, I could use .8 pounds a week. The calculations are always a guide (do we really have exact calculations for that piece of cake or how much you walk?) My treadmill, at the best of its ability, can determine calories burned. If I walked one hour at a 15% grade, I could burn between 750-800 calories at my beginning weight. It was kicking in. I could do this! And if I walked twice a day, I could take in more calories.

I was given a food scale as a gift, so in the beginning, I religiously weighed food so I could figure out calories in real food. I ate what my family ate, only less. I drank wine and figured in those calories; 6 ozs, of red wine = 150 calories. It was amazing! I didn’t have to hide diet pills or gorge myself on proteins. I could be a normal person!

The weight started coming off after I got serious in October. By December, I was losing 2-3 pounds a week and had lost 20 pounds. By February, I had lost 10 more. I had survived Thanksgiving and Christmas without gaining weight and still enjoying the holiday food. In February, I was going to Spain with my husband and one of my children. I needed new clothes!

I will tell you that one of the best things that I did was get rid of all of my baggy clothes. It was costly but I thought if I got rid of my “fat” clothes, I wouldn’t have anything to fall back on; I couldn’t backslide. I had to be conscious of my food intake and exercise regime. I would not have clothes that I could go to if I started gaining back the pounds. It was, by far, the best weight loss incentive I have. I can’t gain back the weight because I don’t have any clothes to wear. So I have to keep the weight off. I have no other option.

The ultimate compliment was when I had my annual exam in march. My gynecologist came in and gave me a big hug and told me how proud he was of me. This is a doctor that I have had for 22 years and the most we have ever done was a handshake, even when my children were born. I told him that I figured if I wanted to live a full life, I needed to get more healthy and start taking care of myself.

I fell off the diet wagon and exercise routine about 6 months ago. I probably have gained 2 pounds back but because I have no fat clothes to go to, I have control. My size 6 clothes still fit. I still have about 10 pounds to lose. I have started walking again, not 7 days a week but 3 or 4 days a week. The plan is to get back to 7 days walking and to throw in weights to speed up my toning. I just need to make it a priority again.

About a month ago, I went to a dietitian at our local Hy-Vee Grocery Store. She tested my RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). It was calculated that to lose weight, in a healthy way, I should take in 1389 calories. If I exercise, I should consume 1600-1700 calories. This RMR is the calories I burn if I were to lay in bed all day and not do a blessed thing.

I think my new FLA (Four-Letter-Acronym) is DIET…Do It Every Time, meaning that dieting shouldn’t be limiting, It should be freeing; allowing you to feed your body, celebrate good food and drink, without destroying your health or limiting your life.

I feel better and look better than I have in 18 years. At age 50, I have more energy and stamina than I have had in years. I look forward to my next 50 years and take on the challenge with gratitude.

Image before        Image after (and ongoing)

Life Just Never Slows Down

It has been over a year and a half since I last posted. I wish that I had a good excuse. My only excuse is that “Life Just Never Slows Down”. I honestly don’t know that I would want it any other way. While my grand parent’s photos are still sitting unscanned (He has been gone for over 6 years) and my grandmother’s cookbooks are still in the attic, not reviewed (She has been gone 20 years this December), I have had a full year and a half. I took a college course so I could get certified to substitute teach. Now I am what is called a “local sub”, which means I need to register with a school district and then I can sub 40 days a year.
I have really enjoyed subbing. My favorite school is the high school and if I had to choose, I would rather sub “the Specials”. That means music, P.E., Special Ed. I have only subbed two elementary classrooms, and while they are ok, I like having different students throughout the day. I have subbed numerous times in the elementary level but most of the time they are the specials.
The reason I am subbing now is that both of my children decided to attend public school full time last school year. So after 6 years of homeschooling, I found myself with an empty classroom. Both of my children are excelling in high school. I am so proud that they are such a shining example of what a positive influence homeschooling can be. They are respected by their teachers because they are kind, respectful and helpful.
Also in the last year and a half my son has completed his Eagle project, my daughter completed her Silver Award, my kitchen was gutted and remodeled. Oh, and add to that, I lost 30 pounds! I have so many topics to cover that will be many future posts.
I just wanted to say, I’m back and I hope that I will be able to be productive and write every day because, I have a plan for my life. And I need to be productive to see it come true.
I will work on covering the past year and a half in the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow I will talk about my 365 day journeyto weight loss.