Friday, October 28, 2011

Sibs for Life

(Siblings, 2005 - we need a new photo of all of us, guys! Maybe at Christmas!)
My sis Tara sent an excerpt and a link to an article from the Chicago Tribune to us a couple of days ago:

"The playroom is a dress rehearsal for life." That's the finding of several researchers and the ultimate conclusion of Jeffrey Kluger, author of the new book "The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us" (Riverhead Books).   Read the full article here:,0,7967750.story

I've always been interested in what helps to form a person; one of my favorite books is the "Birth Order Book" by Kevin Leman  (and yes, I definitely fit the oldest child profile).   This article was great - interestingly enough, one of the biggest things we learn from our relationships with our siblings is how to successfully resolve conflict. Those who do well with this as children are more successful in our adult interactions.  

Kluger talked about the fact that for most people, our relationships with our siblings are some of the closest and longest-standing ones that we have throughout our lives.  We go through marriages, divorces, our children growing up and leaving home, and our parents dying - and through all of those things, we maintain our relationships with our brothers and sisters.

I also thought it was interesting that the author researched and wrote the book because of his own relationship with his "brothers, step-siblings and half-siblings" - which hit home for me.  Whenever I tell people that I am the oldest of six siblings, I sometimes go on to explain that our family is "blended", and briefly tell the story of losing our mom, and our dad remarrying.  We are definitely a mixed bag - my parents adopted me at six weeks of age, after trying to get pregnant for five years.  As sometimes happens, the "pressure was off" and they then went on to have three biological children.  Then when our dad remarried we added another sister; Tara was an adorable 3-year-old spitfire (I wish I had a photo to put on here!), and I can't imagine life without her.  And finally, the baby of the family, Thomas - he came along when I was 15, and so we weren't very close growing up, since there was such an age difference.  But now that he is in his mid-20s, we are finding more that we have in common, and becoming closer.

Our family has grown over the years, adding spouses and children to the mix, (uh, and losing a few spouses along the way, but we don't need to go there!) but through it all I think I speak for all of us when I say that our 2-3 times that we all get together each year are something that each of us look forward to... We start talking months ahead of time about what weekend will work best, and plans for who will cook what, what the latest drama is, and all of the other things that are part of being in a big family.

So thanks for the article, Tara - you're so right, it IS awesome that we have each other.  I love you all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last Thursday was week three of eight of my photography class, and I’m really enjoying it. The funny thing is that I know two out of the seven students in the class with me. One guy, Jason, was in my scuba class back in February; the other, Eric, is the husband of one of my junior high school friends, Leslie. Turns out he is a photography buff, and some of the photos on her fabulous blog are courtesy of his photography skills – in particular all of the ones of them in Florida, on the header of her blog. It has been nice to have a friend in class, and to get to know him a little better.

We have our “homework” for the class, and approximately four more weeks in which to complete it. Our instructor, Joe, gave us a handout with “The Rules” for our ten photos – I won’t belabor the specifics, but basically we have to use all manual settings on the camera, and shoot the following:

1.) Statue

2.) Animal

3.) Motion

4.) Portrait

5.) Scenic

6.) Fire

7.) Water

8.) Self Portrait (document method used)

9.) Night Photo

10.) Low light with flash

I’m excited, but nervous. There is a wide range of experience in our class – some of the students have been taking photos for awhile. Me, I barely know the top of the camera from the bottom. Ok, not that bad, but still. We will each bring and display our ten photos on the last night of class… and Joe’s last directive on the rules was “Be Creative” – yikes! It is funny, though – I find myself being a lot more observant about everything around me, and often thinking “That would be a great shot”. And we haven’t even hit composition in class yet. I’m looking forward to that lesson, and think it will give me a lot more to work with, skill-wise.

Tomorrow night I will be watching the Cards play at my friend Laura’s house, with a group of people – let’s hope they play better than last night- geez. Hopefully they’ll be more on task back in their hometown. In other news, I had a lunch date today, and it was very enjoyable. It was actually the third time we’ve been out, after being fixed up on a blind date by a mutual friend early last week. First time I’ve ever been “successfully” fixed up with someone… that whole matchmaker thing usually doesn’t work out well, at least it hasn’t for me. But he is a great guy, and in a similar situation to mine – has been a very nice experience, so far.

I will be a cowgirl again on Saturday night, for a Halloween party/bonfire, with the above-mentioned guy. Glad to get to wear my hat again, get my money’s worth this year!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall & Friends

Ok, first things first - GO CARDS!  Who would've imagined we'd be here!?  Sweet!

Second, update on the whole cleanse/diet - going well!  Sweets and breads/pastas have been at a bare, bare minimum, and have been replaced with lots of protein and veggies.  I (of course) REALLY miss the chocolate and sweets, but the cravings aren't near what they were when I started.  The nice thing is that I am also down a pant size in the three weeks - who would've thought that cutting out carbs and sugar would have made such a big difference on my waist line in such a short time?  I mean we're only talking about 5-6 pounds of weight loss but it is such a noticeable difference...  the momentum makes it easier to sustain my healthy eating habits. 

I know that I can add back in things slowly and with moderation, but it makes me realize that just some small changes in the kinds and amounts of carbs can make a big difference.  And the other great thing is that I am not nearly as hungry between meals - I don't have those peaks and falls in my blood sugar, and it really is such an improvement.

Fall is here, in terms of weather - and I love it!  The high today is going to be 49, and I'm thrilled to have a sweater and boots and be totally warm and cozy in them!  We were spoiled last weekend with temps in the high 70s on Saturday, and then 85 on Sunday; certainly not the norm for mid October. I enjoyed a beautiful day outside on Saturday, with a friend:

I had been ziplining in Honduras, and enjoyed it, so was excited to try it again here in Missouri.   The weather was gorgeous, and the course itself was just about 25 minutes away, towards the lake.  We didn't get to do the extreme course, as it was booked solid with people who were taking advantage of the beautiful weather, like we were!   It was nice to spend a Saturday with a friend;  He is interested in more than friendship, but I've had several dates over the past several weeks, and have been very upfront with each person.  I am just not ready to even think about anything romantic, after all I've been through.  I have said more than once that I could probably meet someone perfect right now, and I wouldn't even know it.  My heart is just not there, not in it.  I know that is natural, and exactly what I need right now - to be detached, and give myself a chance to heal. 

Thankfully I have a wonderful group of friends who have been a great support to me.  On Saturday night I went to a Halloween party with two of those friends, Cindy and Clay.   Cindy and I became friends about 3 or 4 years ago; she had started dating Dave's college roommate, Clay, shortly after Dave and I started dating.  And she and I struck up a friendship and have grown much closer than the guys are - so glad I met her!  They've been good to me since Dave and I split up, and they certainly don't mind me being the third wheel, like I was Saturday night!  They were dressed as Ginger and the Professor from Gilligan's island, while I was a cowgirl: 

I decided on the cowgirl outfit based on my new boots, a brown pair of Frye Harness boots - I've had my eye on them for quite awhile, and LOVE them.  The only thing I had to buy for the costume was a cowboy hat; I did have to get some input from Tara, since she and Luke both had "real" hats when we went to the ZBB concert.  Tara reassured me (it wasn't hard) that she has worn her's several times, and I could surely find some other things to wear it to, besides just this Halloween. (I'm thinking another ZBB concert is in order, guys!  :)  That'll be a great excuse to wear my hat!)

Better close - have to get up and get ready for work.  Starting my day out with good friend and fellow blogger, Anne.  We're having coffee this morning at the hospital, where she volunteers as part of Life 2.0.   She's leaving in a few days for their winter home in sunny Phoenix, so this will be my chance to catch up and say goodbye for the next several months.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Check This Out...

For any of you who have met my stepdaughter Paige, (and yes, she will always be like a daughter to me, even if I'm no longer married to her dad) I'm sure you will agree that she is an amazing young woman.  And I am completely certain that anyone who ever spends even a short amount of time with her comes to that very same conclusion!  I was very blessed to be a part of her life for the past five years, and spend time with her while she was at William Jewell during her first two years of college. What fun times those were - weekend trips to visit Paige, meeting her friends, and spending time with her, Ryan and our friends Garry and Heather.  Some great memories! 

Now Paige is abroad for her junior year, at Oxford University.  I know her dad, mom, boyfriend and many non-Oxbridge friends will miss her terribly, but thankfully she has started a blog to keep us all updated about her experiences while she is there.  Her blog address is so check it out.  (And I love her background color and pattern, so you may be seeing it on my blog very soon!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cleanse Update

I'm all chickened out.  No, really.  NO MORE CHICKEN.  And broccoli, and green beans.  And, we're only on DAY FOUR, people.  Today I mixed things up a bit and stopped by Backyard Burger and ordered a burger.  Took it home, threw away the bun and fixins', and ate it with a daub of dijon mustard (ketchup is on the "no eat" list, too much sugar/corn syrup) and enjoyed a healthy bowl of steamed broccoli with it.  Ok, maybe I can still handle the broccoli and veggies, but I've got to figure out some other recipes.  Here's one I found today, on Hungry Girl -  Roasted Vegetable & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers... tried to copy/paste a photo on here, but no go.   But trust me, they look yummy, especially after chicken and broccoli for four days.  I'm going to have to expand my recipes/shopping this weekend, and pre-make some lunches for next week.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

As weekends go, this past one was pretty darn nice! Nothing big happened, a fairly quiet weekend, but very refreshing to just be outside working in the yard on Saturday and taking a walk with the dogs on Sunday. Fall is in the air. I love fall. Ok, I love fall, sometimes. But this is also the time of year that I find myself feeling melancholy; it took me several years (and yes, some therapy) to realize why, unconsciously, I was feeling this way. This was the time of year that I would always have more difficulties with my relationship with husband #1, and while in the middle of marriage counseling I did figure part of my issues out. (The marriage counseling wasn’t as successful, obviously, but there were other issues at work there.)

My mom passed away at the end of November almost 30 years ago, and I didn’t realize how that was what was affecting me each year. Fall is such a nostalgic time anyway – crisp air, burning leaves, high school football games, they all remind me of growing up. Once I realized why I was feeling blue, it has been okay. Now I “own” it, and it has been something I recognize each year, which has helped me work through things when I do feel that way.

This fall is full of changes – first fall by myself in awhile. As a friend and I were discussing yesterday, the holidays are coming up, and I am actually looking forward to them. I love getting together with my family – the emails are already flying back and forth about when we’ll be celebrating Christmas together in St. Clair. That was perhaps one of the biggest issues between me and Dave, from my viewpoint – he really did not want to spend much time with my family. And it wasn’t anything about my family in particular, he liked them just fine - he admittedly wasn’t close to his own family either, and just truly didn’t feel comfortable in family gatherings. So it was a struggle to agree upon which holidays he would travel with me; many of our visits were shorter than I would have preferred, because I would compromise on coming late/leaving early, in order for him to go with me. I just always felt the pull between the two – wanting to spend time with my family, but also wanting to keep peace in our relationship. While I will hate to be single at the holidays this year, I won’t miss that part of it at all.

What else is new – well, I start my photography class at the local community college this Thursday night. I’ve really been looking forward to it. I took a couple of two hour classes at the store where I bought my camera, and this is an 8 week class with that same instructor. I’m such a nerd, but I’m actually very excited about having “homework” that he will assign to us, and having him critique our photos.

Another challenge is that I’m starting a diet, or cleanse, for the next month plus... Cutting out sugars in my diet – it is a candida (yeast) cleanse, more specifically. I love sweets, I crave sugar, and I actually halted most of my sweets when Dave and I first split up. I actually halted a lot of my eating in general at that point, and didn’t have much of an appetite for several weeks. That’s how I react to stress, I don’t eat. Now that I’m starting to do better, my appetite is back, and my penchant for sweets has returned in full force! I’ve had my weakness, Pillsbury three times in the last two weeks.

And I can tell, my body can tell, the negative effects of all the sugar again. I need to really curb it, for multiple reasons – the first one is that I had lost a lot of that belly fat around my waist, and it is starting to come back. But the other reason is that sugar can allow the bad bacteria to grow out of control in our bodies, which in turn causes yeast and other fungal infections. I did this several years ago, on a less stringent level, and it did help. So I’m trying it again, this time armed with more information. We’ll see how I do.   The primary items that I can eat are chicken, fish, green/non-starchy vegetables, eggs, milk, some seeds and nuts, oatmeal and other limited grains.   Very little fruit, NO sugar, NO processed foods, NO alcohol and NO coffee.   I'm cheating on the coffee a bit, but will mainly drink decaf.

This is day two, and I was REALLY craving some sweets this afternoon, but didn't give in.  I was cringing in my office, listening to a couple of coworkers talking about these yummy Weight Watchers pumpkin muffins, and several other goodies.  Should be a challenging several weeks, on many levels!