Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hip Bursitis

I was diagnosed with bursitis a couple of weeks ago when I was experiencing pain in both hips.  Now my moderately-active lifestyle has been reduced to almost sedentary.  No stairs. No walks.


I miss my long walks.  They help clear my head, perk up my mood, and keep depression at bay.  My mom has a new in-chair-aerobics exercise dvd for us to try.  That should help.


The good news:  the medication, an anti-inflammatory called diclofenac, seems to be kicking in.  I was more active yesterday. The goal is to do more strength training for hips and core.  And, of course, get the joint-damaging poundage off.


I've been tracking my calories and had reduced them during my sedentary days.  I had lost 7 pounds but am since up 2.  More adjustments.


Here's a quote from Angela's blog, Isla de Angela:  What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?


I hope you have a great day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Woman Can Change Her Mind, Can't She?


Remember how I said I would never count calories, again?  Well, technically, I’m not, but I’m letting a computer program do it for me.  The history of my anti-calorie-counting came from going on a very restrictive diet about 13 years ago.  I had to have a certain number of servings of this and that and the other.  I had my measuring cups, spoons, pencil, paper, charts, and calculator.  I went crazy.  And I began on a binge-and-purge path.  No more calorie-counting for me.  (Ironically, I wish I was at the weight I was when I started that stupid diet.)

Recently, I began a program about intuitive eating (Eating for Your Soul).  I liked that the program was also anti-calorie-counting, saying restricting and counting calories could be disrespectful to the body, which is perfectly capable to teach you what to feed it.  I need help, though, while learning to be taught (huh?).  About two days ago, a thought floated through my mind as I was reading the EFYS workbook, “Gina, isn’t it possible that it’s disrespectful to your body right now to not count calories?  Your body hurts and is having weight-related issues.  You have a better understanding about being more respectful to yourself.  Maybe watching calories can be blended with that knowledge.”  EFYS is good for maintaining, but it isn’t a weight loss program. 

I researched how many calories I needed to lose weight at a rate of 1.5 pounds per week with my current activity level, age, and weight.  I also came across a site that helps you count the calories.  I played around with it and am actually pleased with it.  One of the things I like about it is the analysis feature letting me know what nutritional requirements I've met and what I am in need of. If you're interested, the site is  http://caloriecount.about.com

I don’t know how long this will last.  It's only been a couple of days.  Maybe the novelty will wear off or I’ll start going crazy, again.  Or, maybe none of those things will happen, and I may have begun something that will last.  It’s worth the try.


There are differences this time compared to 13 years ago:

I have more nutritional info and an appreciation for a variety of real foods.

There is NO specified diet this time.  The suggested calorie intake is a reference point.  If I’m not hungry, I’m not going to force myself to eat.  If I've met the calorie limit but feel very hungry, I’m going to eat.

I have an arsenal of vegetables.  I’ve been learning new veggie recipes, and I actually like them.  This makes eating more possible while still staying under the calorie reference point.

I've learned from Eating for Your Soul.  There’s more to learn and practice, and I may adjust some of it for my life, but it is a valuable tool.

I have a computer.  No more pencils, notebooks, thick calorie book, nor calculator.  Yay, technology!

My fear is dealing with emotional eating.  No perfect eating plan will keep me from destructive behavior.  What I need is a perfect coping plan.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

June Gone So Soon


Source
This is NOT my summer so far.

June has kicked me in the butt.  I have absolutely nothing to complain about -- it's been great, actually -- but just so busy.  It's like every moment is spoken for.  No lazy days of summer here.

But now, I have an empty house (even the dog has gone to Grandma's), so I thought I'd check in.

I've maintained my weight, which pretty much means I'm still fat.  I've really been lacking the meal-planning department and have not been cooking much.  The amount of restaurant and fast food we've consumed astounds even me (not to mention the cost).  Ugh.  I feel hypocritical because my beliefs have been "I shouldn't be too busy to eat right."  Then, when demands on my time increase, I'm in the frame of mind, "Okay, I'm needed here.  Let me get this done then it's back on the straight and narrow."  Or "There's only so much I can do in a day, you want me to cook, too?"

{grrr, empty house not empty anymore  -- sigh}

I have been walking, though, which is a God-send.  It has really perked up my energy and mood, AND I've been staying off the caffeine, which helps me sleep better at night.  High activity -  good; not caring what I eat - bad.

So, what happened with the Eating for Your Soul program?  I still believe in most of it, but I have not been applying myself or given much thought to intuitive eating.  It's a program that teaches about having a good relationship with food and your body, but it's not a weight-loss program.  When I told the leader, Jarah, at the last meeting I've really enjoyed the program and felt I learned and applied a lot BUT that I have to lose the weight -- it's not an option, my body and especially my feet hurt -- and how do I go about it, she pretty much said that when I work the program, I'll eventually start eating less and less.  She added I won't lose the weight until I stop thinking about losing the weight.

That was so discouraging.  Maybe she's right, but she hasn't lived it.  How does she know? Food (overeating/binges/obesity) has not been an issue for her.  That's irrelevant, I suppose, because I'm the one that has to take the time to focus on what I'm putting in my mouth and why.  Like any program, I have to do my part.  In all honesty, I haven't (except for the exercise).

Jarah recommended one-on-one work, and I agreed, but I haven't heard from her since.  I also wanted to purchase two more workbooks (one for my mom and I to work on together and one for a friend).  I was supposed to get those over a month ago, but I haven't even received a phone call nor an email.

...not sure why...  maybe her summer has been as busy as mine... 

I hope you have a great Independence Day

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Exercise with Immediate Results!

"Don't you just love it when exercise feels like it has a purpose?!"

That was a comment from Jill under my "5K Pioneer Style"  post. And it is so true.  For a person that likes to see immediate results for effort, it's hard to walk on a treadmill that goes nowhere or lift a bunch of weights and then look in the mirror to see nothing has changed.

Well, here's some exercise with purpose.  (I should have taken a before picture).  Recently, I've been putting in a garden.  My yard is on a slope, and I wanted a place to grow vegetables, so I put in a couple of retaining walls and soil.

When I said "I put in," I literally meant I put it in and didn't hire someone.
-Dug in and removed sod and hauled it
-Loosened dirt underneath, removed rocks and chunks of cement
-Picked up retaining wall bricks brick-by-brick from d.i.y. center and put them on hand cart.
-Put the bricks brick-by-brick into vehicle, then out of vehicle, then eventually into position, carrying many uphill.
-Did this also with soil.


This is the top level.
The almost-finish product.
I started off with two short walls that just
ended bluntly .  I added the top level and
extended the bottom levels, curving them around.

There, I planted white onions, garlic, collard greens, Swiss chard, lettuce, lots of spinach, summer squash, jalapeño peppers, carrots, parsnips, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, basil, cilantro, radishes, and tomatoes.  The Brussels sprouts will go in later, and I need to find a spot for the spaghetti squash.  I may plant them in front of my house with some pumpkins.

Hopefully something grows.
 
After I finished the garden, neighbors came over and offered their unused garden plots for our use.  They are elderly and don't keep them up.  My kids were thrilled!  We've been weeding and hand-tilling (okay, they weren't thrilled about that part).  My 11 y.o. son planted his corn "field."  My 5 y.o. son planted his watermelon patch.  And my 10 y.o. daughter is surrounding the garden with giant sunflowers.  I'm putting in cantaloupe.

We're dirty.  We're tired.  I'm sore.  But it's great to accomplish something.

I may see that I don't look much different in the mirror, but the yard sure is different, and that is so satisfying.  I tried to use good form while lifting each brick or shovel.  It seemed like every muscle was being used.

And I was tired each day.  A good tired.

I'm not trading my weights or kettlebell for a landscaping business, but it was nice to exercise the original way for a while.  

I have a friend who's exercise routine is vigorously cleaning her house.  She really puts herself into it and works up a sweat.

Do you have a non-gym activity that gives you a good work-out?
Blogging has not been on the forefront.  I hope to catch up with y'all in between summer activities (including weeding).



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blurry and Out of Focus

It's 4 in the morning and my head is spinning with my to-do lists.  Items continue to be added to it, and the line between what is important and what is urgent is blurred.  Everything is good, but it's so easy to slip back into old, familiar eating and nonexercise patterns when there is a lot demanded from me.


I noticed lately that I'm not taking the time to truly taste my food nor eat slowly.  I'm busting over my stop signals and eating things that I don't even like much.


Source

I am by habit a "chaotic eater"* as defined by Jarah Christensen's  Eating For Your Soul.  When I multi-task and am being pulled in many directions, I don't take the time to feed myself.  Then I become famished and make poor food choices and overeat or binge on those poor choices.  Starve - binge - starve - binge.  When I'm in this chaotic mode, I hate dealing with food (especially when I'm the only one that cooks).  I don't hate cooking, but there's only so much of me and my time, and I don't want to deal with it.


So, yes, I'm slipping back into that way of  eating.  "Chaos is not conducive to listening to my body."  No kidding.


I've also traditionally been an "emotional eater."  I don't think I've slipped back into this.  If I have, then not by much.  But, I don't emotionally binge the way I used to:  buying packages/trays/bakery boxes of pastry-type stuff and digging in, sometimes crying, sometimes numbly staring off into space.


*{Other types of eaters are:  Control Eaters, Professional Dieter, Waste-Not Eater, Offend-Not Eater, Emotional Eater, and Closet Eater}.
Source

So, what am I going to do about this?  I can't be cloned.  The list isn't going away.


I am important; my well-being is good for everybody and the list.


Be still, then move
First, renew my focus.  I will take quiet time for myself -- no kids, no computer, no list  -- and meditate/ponder/pray about what I want to do for my body that day.  I'll write it down, say it out loud, come up with a mantra - something - to reinforce listening to my body.


Second, move.  I will take at least a 5 minute walk or turn on music and dance.  This is separate from regular exercise.  This is just to pump up some energy and my mood.  If I can take a quiet walk, that will help clear my head about priorities.


My plan of action doesn't seem like much, but it's a foundation.  It's so easy for me to just roll out of bed and get into auto-mommy mode and not even think about the day ahead or to let the day go by without focus nor quiet time.


What do you do to get your vision back?



Friday, May 13, 2011

5K Pioneer Style

I don't remember having such fun school field trips when I was a kid in Phoenix, AZ.  Today I helped chaparone a 20-handcart trek for my daughter's 4th grade field trip -- it was literally a trip through a field.


Each handcart had a "pioneer family" of about 8 people.  We took the handcarts from her school, through the neighborhood and turned into a field and then crossed a creek (mud and all) into a wetland reserve that I never would have known was there from driving by.  There we had a chuck-wagon lunch and learned different skills at several stations.


What's a Handcart?
During the 1800's, memebers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka "Mormons") were driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois.  They were forced to leave during winter, crossing the frozen Mississippi river.  In an extremely over-simplified nutshell, when they were able to regroup, they headed West to find a place they could worship without persecution.  Some had covered wagons and horses, but supplies and money dwindled, and many resorted to handcarts.


Here in Utah, especially Utah County, having pioneer ancesestors is common, even if one isn't an active LDS member.  Students are taught to appreciate what the pioneers went through for they are such a strong part of Utah history and it's settlement.


I had a great time, and was super hot and tired when finished.  I'm treating a headache now -- so worth it.  I'm thankful for a cool home to go to and clean water from the faucet. 

I hope you enjoy the pictures.


Beginning our trek from the school and through
the neighborhood.

"Fun" hills.
Going down and down and down.
The kids had to do all the work.
The front steers.  Those holding the back of the
cart keep it from going too fast.  Those with the
ropes are the "brakes."
Teamwork.  Trust.

Muddy creek.
Marie and me.
(That dress is so comfortable and forgiving.)

Marie catching a bug.

Row of 20 handcarts.

Stew by the stream.
(And cornbread with honey butter and the best
apple I've ever had).

I get to call this part of my home.
Marie and me.

My girl.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Trekkin' On

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately nor visited your blogs.  Anybody else feeling the end-of-the-school-year crunch?  Reports are due.  Costumes need to be made.  Field trips attended.  It's all good but just busy.  I'll be going with my daughter on her 4th grade field trip:  a pioneer handcart trek this Friday to aid in Utah history studies.  I'm getting our "pioneer" clothing and supplies ready.

Then we'll be getting up the next morning at 5:30 to get ready for her Irish dance competition that day.
Next in line is making a sea-creature type costume for her 4th grade "opera" which she is dreading.  "It's so embarrassing," she says.  She's looking forward to making the costume, though.

I'm feeling bloated and bleh.  Last week I was roaming for chocolate.  I stopped paused myself and wondered why I wasn't listening to my stop signals.  I checked my calendar and sure enough, I was two days away from "lady time" (as a blogging friend calls it), and the urge to overeat was strong.  I became extra busy and didn't plan very well and my choices were not good.  My body has been complaining about it, too.

How was your Mother's Day?  I have a funny story.  Last Sunday, my youngest needed my help cleaning him after his BM.  So there I am, toilet paper in hand and helping him when he sweetly and sincerely said, "Happy Mother's day, Mommy."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Decoffeenated

photographyblogger.net
Oh, the aroma! Sweet heaven. I love the smell of coffee. It brings back great childhood memories of waking up every day to the familiar and comforting scent of my father's coffee.

When Danny and I were first married in '95, we used to enjoy our morning coffee together. We had our own bean grinder and would explore different flavors. At night, we enjoyed our beer and brandy. We fell in love over Malibu rum and Bob Marley. In the morning, we'd start another day with some java.

This went on until 1999 when we both vowed to forgo any addictive and/or harmful substances; this included coffee, certain teas, alcohol, and tobacco. We were following council from the Word of Wisdom, a law of health adopted by the church we converted to.

Source
We were fortunate enough to be able to give up those items without too much trouble. Maybe being excited about our new life made it easier. We were abstinent for many, many years.

But, I became a coffee-drinker, again. It didn’t happen overnight. It began with caffeine tablets once per month to help me through PMS. Then it became ½ tsp instant coffee once per month. The coffee use joe-balled to more and more – stronger doses, more days per month, more times per day. I would stay up later, telling myself I’d make up for it with a cup of coffee in the morning. The longer my to-do lists became, the more I would drink. I had many excuses to justify my use.

Source
I wasn’t getting the same effect as I once did. It used to make me happier, brighten my day, reduce my anxiety, ward off depression, and give me enough energy for the demands of motherhood. Towards the end, I was more tired with uneven moods. I felt I had to have it and was dependent on it. It certainly didn’t help control my appetite; if anything, it stimulated it.

Source
I’ve been studying intuitive eating and exercising the past several months. Those things emphasize listening to the body. It dawned on me that I was not listening to my body’s cues and was instead trying to manipulate them with coffee. I began pondering again the wisdom behind the Word of Wisdom.

Source
About that time, I became ill. I thought this was a perfect time to completely detox from caffeine. I felt horrible anyway, what were a few more caffeine headaches/migraines?

That was a few weeks ago, and I see and feel a huge difference now that I vowed to not drink coffee anymore. I wake easily in the morning. I fall asleep faster at night. I do get tired in the afternoon, but instead of ignoring my body’s signal for rest, I honor it and sit or lie down for 5-10 minutes with my eyes closed. I’m not groggy afterwards. To perk up (and if I have time), I take a 10-20 minute walk. Sometimes dancing around the kitchen is a good substitute. And, without the stimulating caffeine, I can also listen to my body’s true hunger cues. My next goal is to simplify my life so I don’t have a marathon of activities tempting me to bring on the brew, again.

I still love the smell and have a coffee-scented candle. Gotta say, though, it feels good to be decoffeenated.
Source
Has anyone else given up coffee (or sodas)?





Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Parsnip Pancakes

I tried a new veggie on my family:  parsnips.  Here is the link for the recipe:  Parsnip Pancakes (they actually look like hash browns) at What Am I Supposed To Do With That?




Vitamins

Parsnips are rich in several vitamins. A serving provides 38 percent DV for vitamin C, which helps form collagen; maintain capillaries, bone and teeth; metabolize protein; and absorb iron. Vitamin K, which acts a coenzyme during the synthesis of proteins involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism, is present at 37 percent DV. Parsnips contain 22 percent DV for folate, which aids in protein metabolism, prevents megaloblastic anemia, helps lower blood homocysteine levels and prevents neural tube birth defects. They also provide 13 percent DV for vitamin E which, along with vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant. Parsnips have 8 percent DV for thiamine and pantothenic acid, and 4 to 6 percent DV for riboflavin, niacin and B-6.

Parsnips also provides 6.5 g fiber, or 26 percent of the Daily Value (DV). 


Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/389317-parsnip-nutrition-information/#ixzz1KjXvgNuZ

Friday, April 22, 2011

Snack Attack Report 5 and Quality

A month has passed since I began the experiment, and it's time to reevaluate. Neither DH nor I were comfortable with how much sugar was being consumed, and DH was not happy with the eat-when-you-want-to practice. We did like how certain foods weren't as big of a deal anymore and how competitive eating stopped.


Observations:
5 y.o. - He: shared his stash often,went through it slowly, chose to snack on a variety of real and play foods


10 y.o. - She: went through her stash slowly, shared with her friends, chose to snack on a variety of real and play foods, ate a lot more candy than usual (Before the experiment, her holiday candy would sit on a shelf, forgotten. When it became part of her stash, she began eating it more and more).


11 y.o. - He: went through stash quickly (nearly empty by Fri's restocking day), prefers the extra-sugary stuff, does enjoy and requests fresh fruit


Me: I had no desire to dip into their stash; I had my own: a large bag of peanut M&M's that I'm still working on (In all fairness, I was sick for two weeks and had no desire for them. Otherwise, they'd be gone, I'm sure). I keep a zip-bag of them in my purse along with some pecans.


What's Next:
We are continuing the snack stash boxes with modifications. Each box will have (typically): favorite nuts, dried fruit, real granola bars (not candy bars disguised as granola bars), and ONE play food -- all customized to their tastes. Additionally, I'm buying different types of beef jerky for them to try -- a higher quality*, less greasy variety -- and ad to their boxes.


5 y.o.'s choices: pistachios and cashews, raisins, rolled wafer cookies (plus the granola bars and beef jerkey I'm having them try)


10 y.o.'s choices: pistachios, dates, Lindt dark chocolate truffles* (plus granola bars)


11 y.o.'s choices: cashews, apricots, pop tarts (3 of the 4 packages in the box), (plus granola bars and beef jerkey I'm having them try).


Guidelines:
-They can eat when they are hungry, BUT they must ask first when the next meal is ready (if it's within 20-30 minutes, they'll need to wait).
-They can snack on veggies and fruit almost any time (supplied in fridge and counter).
-They have to make their play food last at least a week. (We'll restock once per week).
-I will provide additional real-food after-school snacks; then they can dip into their stash if still hungry.
-Future holiday candy: they can choose their ultimate favorites and donate the remainder to the Bishop's office (he has a candy jar).


Source
*Quality
Lindt truffles can be expensive but are a better quality chocolate. I want to encourage them to get a taste for quality in a variety of foods. Then they'll learn that cheap versions are not "worth their taste buds**." We may not purchase a lot, but the quality will be savored. That's also why I'm trying better quality beef jerky for the boys.


I've noticed this for myself: when I choose better quality, I lose a taste for cheap stuff (which is usually less healthy). I've been working to learn to cook and bring in flavorful veggies and better quality meats, etc. In the process, I have lost the taste for most fast-food. (This is a work in progress, one I haven't mastered, yet, but do see changes in).


For example, I used to buy steaks for everyone in the family for dinner. I'd buy the cheaper cuts that didn't turn out very good (I know, my skills may have a lot to do with that). Now, I buy the expensive cuts of meat, but because they are expensive, I buy one cut, and we all (5 of us) share the one. Although less quantity, it's so much better. It's enjoyable. With that joy comes a feeling of being satisfied and fed.


**"Worth my taste buds" is a quote from Jarah and Eating for Your Soul -- That quote resonates in my head as I make choices and gives me much to ponder upon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Exfoliate the Scale



I used to weigh myself everyday, and every month I would do several measurements and report them on the side bar:  BMI, belly fat, fat %, etc.  The scale messed with my mind.  I'd lose weight, see the number go down and think, "That was easy," then not be diligent.  Or, I'd feel like I should have lost weight, (worked hard, felt good in my skin, happy), then I'd see the number higher than expected and feel like giving up.


I stopped weighing myself several months ago as a challenge from Jarah (Eating for Your Soul - a program about intuitive eating/exercising and spiritual growth).  This is an action about being more kind and respectful to myself.


Here's a quote from Jarah, "Getting on the scale is all about judgment, and it brings you back to the diet perspective you learned about in Step Two.  You are letting the numbers determine your day and once you get on the scale, the thoughts of calorie counting, good vs. bad food, and exercise for the sake of weight loss return and there you go!  To stop the cycle and the diet perspective, you need stop weighing yourself.  It's about giving up the need to control the body so that you can start to listen to it."


It's been an empowering experience after packing away the scale.  I pay more attention to how tight or loose my clothing are instead, and  I take other cue's from my body.  If I have been exercising and eating quality foods, I feel great.  I don't need a scale to throw me off track.


This step also included getting rid of clothes that didn't fit (posted about it here).  That was really tough for me, and I didn't do it the first time I went through the program/steps.  I felt like I was some how giving up ever being size I want to be, again, by getting rid of the clothes.  This time I compromised and instead packed my favorite too-small clothes away in the garage.  Now, every item in my closet fits me, and it's no longer depressing to go in there.


Do you have any non-scale victories (NSV)?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Snack Attack Report 3 and 4

You would think being sick in bed would be the perfect time to blog.  Strangely, I haven't felt like blogging or being on the computer at all for over a week.  I barely watched television.  I slept when I could and read quite a bit (as well as exercising my brain with several Sudoku puzzles).  Reading and rest are  luxuries I'm not afforded very often.  Maybe that will be "my thing" to be passionate about (referring to a previous post about passions and hobbies).


I haven't been diligent about keeping track and restocking the snack boxes during my sick time.  I notice my 5 yo shares with everybody without even being asked which is so different than my oldest (see photo below).  My daughter is eating more of her Halloween candy than before (she used to forget about it).


Before getting sick I restocked with:


5 yo
Slim Jims
Fruit snacks­­­­
Fig Bars
Fruit leather


10 yo
Dark Choc M&Ms
Better quality fruit leather than last week
Raspberries


11 yo
8 Pop Tarts (UGH!  I KNOW!!!)
BBQ Kettle baked potato chips (I don't know if baked is that much better than fried)
Fruit leather
Raspberries


This week, they all asked for pop tarts and granola bars (I did introduce organic alternatives).


It's been about a month.  I'd like to continue a version of the snack boxes similar to what I did for the second week:  have one of their favorite play foods mixed in with real-food snacks like a favorite nut, dried fruit, granola bar, beef jerky.  I will continue to serve fruit and/or veggies after-school-snacks.


"Thomas's Pepsi Not everybody's!
Do NOT touch !!!!"
Yeah, a little possessive.

I haven't spoken to DH about continuing the snack box idea.  He was against it but said he'd give me a month.  Ironically, though, he brought home a six-pack of Pepsi (short cans) for our 11 yo.  DH bought himself a liter of Squirt.  I.don't.buy.soda.  He'll say our son only had 3 and was made to share the rest with his play dates and brother and sister.  I'm not comfortable with a soda stash in the house.  Maybe it should be included in the true sense of the experiment, but I can't bring myself to include it.


It's a gorgeous spring day today.  Time to walk amongst the living.  (whiff)  Are those pop-tarts I smell?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Bit of This and That (Ahhchooo!)

I guess it's my turn to get sick.  I'm so wiped out.  I haven't felt like being on the computer at all the past few days.  I hope all is good in your neck of the woods.

Snack attack reports -- I have a rough draft of the 3rd report I did over a week ago, and I've been too uninterested to even think about it.  I think they are doing okay.  There's still stuff in there, and I haven't wanted any of it.  My own bag of M&M's is still there.

Eating for Your Soul - The 10 week program is over. It's been great.   I will now have one-on-one sessions.  Some of you may remember I used to type out some of the lesson steps while I believed it was a not-for-profit program.  EFYS is going in a different direction, and a publisher is looking at the program.  It's not a good idea for me to reveal too much about the steps and content.  I hope the publisher scoops this up as is and helps it get off the ground.  I see it helping many people.

Well, that's about it.  My blanket and pillow have a stronger pull on me than this computer.  Stay healthy, everybody.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Candy-free Easter

Candy-free Easter:  10 Easter basket ideas kids will love - without the sweets - Anne Wallace Allen For The Associated Press  - Daily Herald


Susie Peyton, an art teacher in Redwood City, Calif., has always tried to minimize the candy in holiday traditions with her three kids, now ages 11 and 15.

“I’m the awful mom who goes through their Halloween basket and throws out all their hard candy,” said Peyton. “They have a big sweet tooth, and they would eat candy for breakfast if they could.”
Easter, with its expectation of chocolate eggs and marshmallow peeps, presents unique challenges for mothers like Peyton. Store aisles are bulging with Easter-themed chocolate and confectionary.
But there are plenty of other options, as inventive mothers like Peyton have found out over the years. Here are 10 themes for candy-free Easter baskets kids will love.
Gardening basket. 
Gardening is at least as much as symbol of Easter as a foil-wrapped rabbit, and a row of carrot tops pushing through the soil is something kids will remember long after the last jelly bean is gone. Instead of using a basket, try a small rubber gardening tub, a plastic watering can, or a bucket organizer — $25 at Gardeners Supply catalogue, www.gardeners.com. Add colorful seed packets, a pair of gardening gloves and a few intriguing gardening tools.
Sleepover basket
Cradle a pair of slippers, some new pajamas, and a couple of silly joke books or bottles of nail polish in a small, sturdy overnight bag. Add a plain pillowcase and some fabric markers so the child can decorate it. Then add a nightlight. There’s a good selection of affordable ones in themes from Las Vegas to T-Rex at Lamps Plus, bit.ly/dUHibY.
Bird lover’s basket
Birds are another sure-fire sign of spring. You can use the birdfeeder as the basket; many of them have lift-off roofs that provide an original nest for a bird-friendly collection including birdseed, some seed-covered suet bells, and a pair of inexpensive binoculars or a stuffed owl. The National Audubon Society has a free brochure called “Bird Feeding Basics,” downloadable from its website: bit.ly/fpqIih.
Art basket. 
Peyton used to start with an inexpensive plastic beach bucket from the dollar store. Add a sketchbook, gel pens and fancy-edged scissors. Scrapbooking stores carry a fantastic array of rubber stamps or places like Stampadoodle Art & Paper, in Bellingham, Wash., will custom-make any stamp you want. www.stampadoodle.com.
Sports-themed basket, geared toward the passion of the child in question. 
For a gymnast, that might mean a new leotard, shorts or warm-up gear, all nestled in a handy mini-laundry basket. Throw in some new grips, chalk or wrist guards. Gymnasts also like gymnastics-themed T-shirts, posters for their rooms, hair ties and the all-important hairspray and curlers. Nail polish is usually prohibited in competition, so add some nail polish remover to the mix. For Little Leaguers, try new batting gloves, baseball hat with the logo of a favorite team, sunglasses and a book about a legendary player. Future hoops stars might like a pump and needles to keep basketballs firm, a team jersey and matching shorts, and a sweatband.
The food basket
Just because candy is off-limits doesn’t mean all food has to be. Pancake mix, exotic cookies such as Pocki sticks (a Japanese treat available at most Asian stores) and some fresh fruit. Retired Portland, Ore., dietician Carolyn Knutson, who has spent time comparing sports bars, recommends Kashi chewy granola bars, which are low in fat and sugar compared to their shelf-mates at the grocery store.
The goldfish bowl. 
Every year, humane organizations around the country plead with parents to steer clear of gift bunnies and chicks because so many of those impulse purchases turn into unwanted pets. But if it’s a live gift you need, try goldfish. The setup is inexpensive, the care is minimal and the fish themselves, in the right setting, are a strangely soothing addition to any kitchen counter. 
The cooking basket. 
Use a large mixing bowl as your container. Add a kid-sized apron — Williams-Sonoma has a nice one for $22 with a garden theme, www.williams-sonoma.com — and mixing spoons — Anthropologie has beautiful nesting spoons and cup measures, and a darling chicken-themed egg timer — along with a colorful spatula (Oxo’s is just $7.99, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond). As for instructions, there’s no better guide for the newly hatched chef than Georgeanne Brennan’s “Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook.” Brennan shows a rare sensitivity in her treatment of delicacies like Shlopp (homemade granola) and Lime Ice.
The memory basket. 
Craft stores like Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics sell sturdy decorated cardboard file boxes and upholstered sewing baskets that can be made into scrapbooking kits for the very young. Add a photo album, some scrapbooking paper and some prints, either from your own printer or an inexpensive site like Snapfish, www2.snapfish.com. Add a blank book and an invitation to write in the journal every day, even if it’s only a line.
The sweet-smelling basket. 
One of the biggest hits among the seventh-graders I know this Christmas was a scented candle that smelled like a cupcake. As any pre-teen will tell you, you can find a lip gloss, candle, or lotion in almost any flavor or fragrance under the sun. Recently, Jelly Belly got in on the act with a host of products that smell like jelly beans but don’t cause cavities, such as bubble wands, nail polish, candles and even stationery.
And even if you’re anti-candy, consider throwing in a few real jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.
“The bottom line is that all foods have a place in a diet, but it’s a matter of frequency and amount,” said Knutson, who was a department chairwoman at Clackamas Community College in Oregon and has worked in community and hospital nutrition. “It’s OK to have candy on special occasions. It’s a part of living.”