My first resolution was to cut back on the amount of soda I drink, limiting myself to just twenty-four ounces each day. Well, that resolution was a bust! Most days at work, I begin my day by walking across the parking lot to the Subway restaurant where my coworkers and I can get soda refills in thirty-two-ounce or larger cups for just twenty seven cents! I rarely skip that.
I did make some progress though on my second resolution, to lose weight. My goal was to get my weight down to 200 pounds on my birthday, October 20. I almost succeeded in reaching that goal. A few weeks prior to my birthday, my weight was down to 199 pounds, but by my birthday it was back up to 202.8 pounds. As of my weigh-in on Wednesday of last week, my weight was at 201.8 pounds. It was significantly higher this past Wednesday, although it was still under 210 pounds.
The final resolution I made was to exercise more, at least twenty minutes per day, three days a week. I don't think I ever reached that goal. I did exercise more when I began Weight Watchers at the end of April, but that has dropped off quite a bit.
Now that I have evaluated how I did on this past year's New Year's resolutions, I am going to come up with some for 2008. Some of these will be very similar to my resolutions for 2007.
- Drink less pop! Currently I probably drink in excess of 100 ounces of pop each day on average. While this is all diet pop, that still can not be healthy. I'm not going to quit cold turkey, but I am going to begin easing off the pop as the year begins. My goal is to drink an average of 40 or fewer ounces of pop per day each week by the end of February.
- I am going to continue watching my weight and get it down to 195 pounds. This shouldn't be too tough as I am less than 15 pounds from this goal. My timeline for this goal involves losing an average of half a pound each week, a very doable rate. Hopefully the final pounds I wish to shed will come off a bit faster than that.
- I still need to exercise more. This year for Christmas, Mel got me a pedometer. I have used it the past three days, and except for today when I worked from home, I walked over 7,000 steps each day. I would like to average 10,000 steps per day each week. I want to achieve this goal by the end of February as well.
- I also need to exercise more using the elliptical trainer and the Bowflex. I want to use these at least three days each week.
Now I know that New Year's resolutions seem to be made to be broken, but I think I can do it this year if I put my mind to it.
I have tried a couple different techniques to get Emma to eat her chunkier stage three foods the past couple days before coming up with a plan which worked quite well tonight. First, I let Emma play with a second spoon. When she tried to put her spoon in her mouth, I stuck the spoon with the food on it into her mouth. Next, I noticed that when I wiped her face with a damp paper towel to clean her up, she would open her mouth, so I started doing that, inserting the spoon of food when her mouth was open. That worked alright, but she caught on pretty quickly. Finally this evening, while trying to feed her the Gerber broccoli and carrots with cheese, I started alternating spoonfuls of the vegetables with spoonfuls of banana, which she likes. This actually seemed to work quite well. I will have to try it again tomorrow. Hopefully though, she will soon begin to actually like the chunkier vegetables and meat entrees.
Yesterday for lunch, Mel, Emma, and I got together for lunch with Homercles as well as my friend from Las Vegas, Anna, at the Irish Democrat. It was good to see them, especially since Anna doesn't make it back to Cedar Rapids too often. Hopefully Mel and I will be able to go out to Las Vegas sometime this spring on vacation and we'll be able to see her then.
It was pretty quiet at work today since there are not many people here. I did get quite a bit of work done this morning as I listened to the CD I gave Mel for Christmas, the Jolly Rogers' live album, No Refunds. I have to say that it is quite an enjoyable CD. I also put out some of the things I got for Christmas, such as my Bad President daily calendar. It's actually a sixteen-month calendar, so I had to remove all the pages from mid-September, when the calendar began, until today. The calendar even goes twenty days into next year, ending on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.
If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed that I skipped my weekly Wednesday Weight Watchers posting. Well, let's just say that the Christmas weekend was not very good for my diet. I will be getting back on track this week and plan on resuming the Weight Watchers postings next Wednesday, January 2, 2008.
We are also getting an early start to our travels this weekend. We had planned on going to my parents-in-law's house on Sunday. however, with the winter storm and the several inches of ice and snow that it is predicted to dump on us, we have decided that we should leave for their house in Humboldt, Iowa, tomorrow morning instead.
While I would have loved to stay home an extra day, and sleep in my own bed for another night, on the plus side, leaving early than we planned means that there is one less day that I will have to deal with political campaigns calling.
In the afternoon on Saturday, Mel, Emma, and I went out shopping once again to get the very last things we needed to get before Christmas. While we were shopping at Lindale Mall, we stopped so Emma could visit with Santa Claus. We got her photo taken with him, shown below. She was really good for Santa. It only took two shots before we were able to get a photo of her smiling, although Santa did have to pull her left hand out of her mouth!
Because we had to be all packed by 4:00, I was able to leave work early yesterday. Since everything was packed, it would have been pretty challenging to do any work. I was actually done packing by 3:15, so I left at that time.
After I got home, Mel, Emma, and I went across town to do some Christmas shopping. We just about have all of our gift shopping complete now. I do have a couple of things to pick up today, but that should be it. We also stopped by FedEx to pick up a delivery that couldn't be left since neither of us was home when they attempted to make a delivery yesterday afternoon. It was our new cell phones. On Sunday, when our contract with U.S. Cellular is up, we are going to activate the service on our new LG cell phones from Verizon Wireless.
Hopefully the roads are better in the morning. If the roads are really bad, I could normally work from home, but I do need to go into the office tomorrow. We are moving cubicles at work and we have to have everything packed up by 4:00 tomorrow afternoon. I don't have much left to do, but I still have to get it all finished up. In fact, the rest of the packing that I need to do will take less than half an hour. I'm sure the roads will be better by morning though, so this is probably just a moot point.
The candidate I am supporting is not one of the top tier candidates, so it isn't likely that he will win the nomination, but it does bother me a bit to be supporting someone who has a position which would hurt the business I work for. Now there are other aspects of the candidate that I like for which he has earned my support. I do have a backup candidate who is in the top tier of candidates running who will get my support should my candidate's group not be large enough to be deemed viable at the caucus site I attend and he does not plan on eliminating NCLB, so my job is probably secure in that sense.
The one thing I don't like though is when they get the baby's gender wrong. Now I understand that it can be difficult to tell baby boys from baby girls, but they could at least ask if it's not apparent. To avoid the possible gender confusion, I try to put Emma in clothes that are obviously "girl" clothes -- pink, purple, or flowered clothing. Now I thought that Emma's red turtleneck shirt with black pants that she was wearing today looked feminine, but apparently that was not the case as I had more people think she was a boy today than usually do when I am shopping with her. I guess I need to go back to the girlie colors next time we go shopping.
There was one really cute moment of our shopping expedition today. After we entered the elevator in Younkers, we were followed by a couple who each had a stroller with them as well. The man of the couple was pushing a double stroller with twin boys who appeared to be about Emma's age. The woman had a stroller with a somewhat older girl in it. As the three of us with our collective four children rode the elevator down, the children all just looked at other, not sure what to think.
Last night was also the first time that Emma was out in the snow. She seemed a bit confused by the freezing bits of frozen water falling on her face, but it didn't really bother her. She experienced the snow as we were walking into the Irish Democrat to meet a friend of mine for dinner. It was a nice dinner. I tried something other than my typical order last night. Instead of the ribs and chicken strips, I had the Democrat burger. It was good, but I think I like the ribs and chicken strips better.
Will the weight loss continue this week, or will I maintain or gain? We are going to the Irish Democrat for dinner with a friend tonight and having a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. Then on Saturday we are going to the Ox Yoke Inn in Amana for my great uncle's ninety-fifth birthday. With all this eating, maintaining my weight loss will be a challenge, but I think I can do it. Anyway, I am just five pounds from my goal, so if I don't lose any weight this week, that's alright too.
Early this afternoon, Mel, Emma, and I went shopping. We had to get a birthday present for Mel's cousin's five-year-old daughter. After buying a Barbie doll for her at Target, we went to JCPenney because I wanted to try on some jeans so I would know the style and size to ask for when I complete the Christmas list that my mother would like me to complete. Because of the good price on the jeans, I ended up buying one pair today, although I can still use some more. I also ended up buying three polo shirts. I normally would not have made such a purchase so close to Christmas, but it was a deal I couldn't pass on. I was able to get three thirty-six-dollar polo shirts for $2.54 each! This will make a good addition to my wardrobe as I haven't added many new polo shirts in quite a while.
After our shopping expedition at Westdale Mall, we went to the birthday party at Pump It Up in southwest Cedar Rapids. Pump It Up is a place where kids can go and play on inflatable slides, bouncing areas, and other similar things. The hour and a half we were there was quite enough. The twenty-something children around the age of five seemed to have a great time, although it was a bit noisy.
After the birthday party we headed home so Mel could get ready to go to a RoughRiders game with her friend Penny for Penny's son's sixth birthday party. While Mel was at the hockey game, I had a friend over to visit. We played a few board games. I hadn't seen this friend in a while, so it was good to have him over.
Now that I have finished writing this blog entry, I am going to check if Emma has gotten back to sleep so that I might be able to go back to bed for the evening. Hopefully she sleeps through until morning. That would be a nice change from her new routing of waking up at midnight and at three in the morning as she has the past few nights.
So far today, I have done about a hour of work while Emma was napping. Other than that, she and I have been doing a lot of cuddling, trying to comfort her despite the fact that she is uncomfortable. She recently began another nap. Hopefully she feels even better when she wakes up.
Prior to the hockey game, Mel and I went to dinner at Applebee's. Unlike the previous time we went to Applebee's, I ordered dinner from their WeightWatchers menu tonight. The meal was quite tasty, and it wasn't too bad for me. Unfortunately, we were delayed in getting our check because the people at the table behind use had an awful lot of questions for the waitress, so she couldn't get us our check right away. We ended up arriving at the hockey game just as it was about to begin.
I, on the other hand, do have something wrong. For about a week now, I have been getting headaches on the right side of my head. Initially I blamed it on a tooth that I have previously had a filling in. I figured that it had developed another cavity. I went to the dentist yesterday for a regular checkup and I asked him to check out the tooth. There was nothing wrong there. Despite that, my headaches have gotten progressively worse over the course of the week. After my dentist appointment, I noticed that the dull, throbbing pain was located more in the area around my inner right ear, so I began to think that I had an ear infection. I tried to get in to see my doctor today, but she didn't have any appointments available. Despite that, my description of my symptoms to her nurse was enough for her to phone a prescription for an antibiotic to the pharmacy. With all errands I had to run today -- taking Emma to the doctor and to daycare, and picking up my prescription -- I managed to get some work done that had to be completed today.
After visiting the World of Coca-Cola, the three of us walked through Centennial Olympic Park to get to the CNN Center where we had lunch at Jocks & Jills Sports Grill. We had a good lunch before returning to our hotel which we promptly left to get to the airport.
I got to the airport a little after 2:00, but my flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 7:45, so I had a lot of time to kill. I ended up watching a couple of Star Trek episodes, "Requiem for Methuselah" and "The Cloud Minders," on DVD on my laptop computer. That took up some of the time. I also walked up and down the concourse and had dinner. Fortunately, the flight left on time and I arrived back in Cedar Rapids around 9:00 tonight.
One problem with staying at the hotel near the airport is that I haven't really seen Atlanta at all. I could be staying in a hotel in any city for what I have experienced being here. After arriving at the airport, I took the shuttle to the hotel. I did leave the hotel Tuesday night with a group of my coworkers to walk to a restaurant, Joe's Restaurant and Bar, for dinner. This is the only restaurant within walking distance from the hotel, aside from the hotel's own restaurant of course. But I suppose that is a common issue with business trips, as the last trip I went on, to Philadelphia, was quite similar. At least with the last project I worked on, we drove to our destination, so we had a rental car and were therefore able to get out to a wider variety of places to dine.
Last night after I arrived at the hotel, I headed down to the hotel bar to get dinner as the restaurant was closed. While there I ran into a couple other people who are here for the same meeting I am here for. After talking with them for just a moment, I learned that one of them previously lived in Cedar Rapids, teaching for over twenty years at one of the Catholic middle schools in town during that time. So, I joined the two of them for dinner before returning to my room for the evening.
I had better finish getting ready as I am supposed to meet some others downstairs for breakfast in ten minutes.
My sister's friends arrived early this afternoon, too late to go to the actual football game, but with enough time to see the end of the game on TV. Later this afternoon, the three of them went to Iowa City to relive their college days. My sister didn't go to school there, but the other two did.
While I didn't get around to planting the flower bulbs yesterday, I did get them planted today. However, I couldn't put them all where I wanted as the ground was a bit too hard where I was attempting to plant half of the bulbs. So assuming that the bulbs all perform as I hope they do in the spring, we should have a very colorful front step to our house as all 108 bulbs are planted directly in front of the front steps to the house!
According to the Build-a-Bear coupon I received, this Sweetest Day weekend. As I had never heard of this "holiday" before, I did a little research. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Sweetest Day, which is the third Saturday of October, is celebrated mostly in the Great Lakes region and parts of northeastern United States. It is supposed to be an "occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember not only the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed." I have no plans on celebrating this holiday, which seems to me to have been invented only to promote candy sales, but I will still get my free, or discounted, stuffed animal.
We are also planning on going out to eat tonight for my birthday, but we haven't yet decided where to go. I would like to go somewhere that has food that won't ruin my diet. I am so close to my goal that even on my birthday, I do not want to overindulge.
Finally, I think today is the day that I will finally get to plant the flower bulbs that we received almost two weeks ago. I really need to get that done before it gets too cold, and I think the weather should cooperate today!
- For lunch Wednesday, I went to the Cork 'n' Form with my mother and grandmother for lunch. I didn't make the healthiest choice then.
- Thursday night, Mel had some friends over and we ordered pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Once again, I ate more pizza than I really should have, and then we each finished our dinner with a brownie sundae.
- Friday night I had dinner with Homercles at Bennigan's. Sure, I could have made a healthier choice than the burger I had, along with the appetizers that we ordered, but I didn't.
- On Saturday we went to the Amana Colonies for lunch and I ate too much there as well.
- I did better on Sunday and Monday. While I didn't count my Weight Watchers points carefully, I was at least mindful about what I was eating.
- Then tonight, I had dinner with my mom since she was in town for a class she was taking. We went to Red Robin for dinner. The large burger there was quite tasty, but I am sure it will result in my gaining a pound or so for the week. I guess we'll find out tomorrow morning.
Now I should be able to eat out on occasion and not feel guilty about it, and it shouldn't ruin my diet, but having less-than-healthy dinners or lunches five times in a week is a bit much. I need to be able to have an occasional not-so-good-for-me dinner, but this was just too much. Making poor choices when eating out is a real weakness of mine, one that I really need to get under control before I go on a week-long business trip to Atlanta, Georgia, in a couple weeks. My birthday is Saturday, and I would like to go out to eat with Mel and Emma to celebrate, but I think I need to pick a restaurant for once where I can make a choice that will be good without overindulging.
Now I titled this blog entry by wishing someone would make Ann Coulter shut up, but on second thought, maybe that isn't a good idea. She of course has the right to her views and the right to express them. Besides, every time she opens her mouth, it shows just how intolerant and unintelligent some Republicans can be.
I heard someone earlier today say that we shouldn't only condemn such atrocities when it doesn't inconvenience us, such as the genocide in Sudan. However this seemed like a poor example since this is something that is happening now! If genocide in Turkey were happening today, or maybe a bit more recently than ninety years ago, it might make more sense to condemn them, but it doesn't recall accomplish anything to do so now. Now we have Turkey, one of our allies upset with us, and while I don't think we should be in Iraq, that doesn't change the fact that we are. With a great portion of the supplies being sent to Iraq from the United States passing through Turkey, it would seem to me that pissing off the Turks wouldn't be a good idea.
Mrs. Ullrich was contending that the accident was, in part, the county's fault since they didn't have the road maintained well enough and failed to warn people about the danger following the first accident. Now it shouldn't take a genius to realize that riding a bike with skinny tires on a road with cracks on it can be potentially dangerous! Since riding on my first RAGBRAI in 2000, I have always paid close attention to the road on which I am riding. It's too bad that Mrs. Ullrich felt the need to sue someone over her husband's death which was probably as much his fault as it was anyone else's.
Even with Crawford County now banning RAGBRAI from the confines of its borders, there are still 98 counties in which RAGBRAI can go for now. Unless other counties follow suit, the rest of the state is still open for the ride. As for Crawford County, I plan on boycotting any businesses there, and I will not be passing through there. Of course, that won't affect them at all since I probably wouldn't have been there anyway, but if they don't want me and my bike there, I'll just stay away. Hopefully this isn't then beginning of the end of RAGBRAI.
Anyway, since the services in the Twin Cities were held area with the final services today in Iowa, most of the family decided to travel to Iowa yesterday afternoon. Since we were returning to Iowa, we decided to go back to our house. It was really nice to be back in our own house, sleeping in our own beds. I think Emma slept much better being in her crib.
We spent the remainder of the evening at my aunt and uncle's house in Cottage Grove. My aunt and uncle from the Chicago area as well as their son and daughter-in-law were also there. Everyone enjoyed seeing Emma.
This morning, Mel, Emma, my mother, and I went to the Mall of America to do a little shopping. Apparently most of the clothes we brought with us for Emma, as well as most of the clothes we still have at home, doesn't really fit anymore. So we got some new onesies for Emma. We then met my sister for lunch at Don Pablo's. Later this afternoon, we will probably return to my aunt and uncle's house where my uncle and his son who live in North Carolina should now be since their arrival in Minnesota this morning.
Now though, I am once again reconsidering my final weight goal. I am afraid that if I do get my weight down to 190 pounds, my new pants with a waist size of 34 inches will be too big and I would have to go down to a size 32 or 33. That in itself is not an issue, but being tall, it is getting more difficult to find pants with the 36-inch inseam that I need. I have found some Dockers in size 34x36, although I had to order them online, and JCPenney does have casual pants in waist sizes of both 32 and 34 that they will hem to any inseam length requested. However, I think that finding jeans in size 32x36 will be extremely difficult, and I think I can probably forget about 33x36. Perhaps I should do some research to see if these sizes are available. I don't necessarily want to set my weight-loss goal based on the availability of clothes, but it is something I need to consider.
This is the second grandparent I have lost this year, with my mom's father passing away in March, less than two weeks before Emma was born. My dad's father died when I was in eighth grade, so I have had three only living grandparents for about twenty years now. Now I have just one grandparent left.
I didn't think that I would be too upset when my grandmother, my dad's mother, died, but it has been a little difficult. In the fall of 1997, when I was student teaching in Council Bluffs, Iowa, I lived at my grandmother's condo there. At the time, she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Living with her during that time, I was able to help her out when she needed assistance getting to doctor appointments and with shopping. I had a good time living there. Maybe that is part of the reason this is somewhat difficult.
Perhaps another reason why losing Grandma E. is more difficult than I thought it would be is that I am losing a connection I had with my father who passed away a little over two years ago. Of course having her around wasn't the same as having my father, but it was a connection to him.
Mel, Emma, and I will be heading up to the Twin Cities this week to see Grandma one last time before she is cremated. I am just glad that we were able to see her a couple weeks ago when she was still cognizant of her surroundings and that everyone else in the family was able to make it there to see her.
My weight is finally below 200 pounds! Actually, it did dip slightly below that mark at least twice in the past few weeks, but by Wednesday, my weigh-in day, it was always back up over 200 pounds. This is probably the first time my weight has been this low since my freshman year of college, although I am just guessing about that since I didn't pay much attention to my weight back then.
I lost three pounds since last Wednesday, which means that the Weight Watchers website once again scolded me for losing too much weight. My net weight loss since beginning Weight Watchers in April is now 31.6 pounds.
This weekend I saw a couple of movies. First, on Saturday Mel and I rented Fracture, starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. We picked up the movie at Mr. Movies on our way back home from an hour-long walk. It was a very good movie. In the movie, Hopkins's character shoots his wife in the head then waits for the police to arrive, confessing to the shooting. The rest of the movie shows his trial, with Gosling's character as the prosecuting attorney, as the antagonist tries to get off from the attempted murder charges.
Then on Sunday, I got together with some friends to see The Simpsons Movie. This was also a very good movie. Much like an episode of The Simpsons on TV, the movie's plot changed directions several times toward the beginning before settling on a main plot line. There were references to occurrences in the many seasons of The Simpsons that added to the humor.
Prior to going to see The Simpsons Movie on Sunday, Mel, Emma, and I went to the baptism of the baby of one of Mel's former coworkers. After the baptism at the church, we went to a party at the former coworker's boyfriend's parents' house. They live just a few blocks away from us. We had a good time there, although I did eat a bit more than I think I should have. I still think I am on track for losing weight this week though, so I shouldn't worry too much about that. But I guess we'll see about that tomorrow morning.
She looks like she is about ready to sit up on her own, and she may begin crawling soon. She has her six-month doctor appointment tomorrow and in the afternoon we are getting her picture taken. Hopefully she smiles this time. She would not smile for the photographer for her three-month pictures. Anyway, we do have plenty of pictures of her smiling that we took ourselves.
After two weeks of weight gains, I am going to make a couple of changes in how I follow my diet this week. First, I am going to record every little thing I eat for the entire week. This means that I will curtail my snacking on foods that people set out at work, or if I do eat something, I will determine the number of Weight Watchers POINTS it is and record it! Second, I really need to be getting regular exercise. This is an important part of the Weight Watchers program, one which I have been largely ignoring the last few weeks. I will have to start making the time to get some exercise.
It turns out that Emma just has a cold, otherwise she is fine. I should be able to return to the office tomorrow.
Yesterday morning we did some shopping at Babies "R" Us. We needed some new car seats for Emma as she is about to outgrow the one she has. We had some coupons for Babies "R" Us, but the closest one to where we live is in the Des Moines area, so we thought we'd stop at the one near my sister's house. Now we just have to figure out how to fit the two car seats into the car for the drive back home.
After shopping, we all headed down to Hastings, Minnesota, to see my grandmother who is in a care center there. She is doing pretty well considering that she is suffering from cancer and has decided to discontinue treatment for it. She is sometimes hard to understand when she is talking because she tends to switch around consonants in words she is pronouncing. She also has a tendency to use the wrong name or to refer to people using the wrong gender or relationship. Nevertheless, we understood most of what she said. We are planning on stopping there on the way back home to see her one more time before returning to Iowa.
Before seeing my grandmother yesterday, we had lunch at Green Mill with my aunt and uncle who live in Cottage Grove. It had been a few months since we had seen them. We had a nice lunch of pizza before heading back to the care center to see my grandmother.
For dinner yesterday, Mel, Emma, my sister, and I went to Saint Paul to meet some of my sister's friends for dinner at Fabulous Fern's. They had really good food there. I would recommend it as a place to go for my coworkers who occasionally come to the Twin Cities for work, but I am not sure I could give them adequate directions on how to find the place.
Perhaps this bit of news will help me with the weight loss and then the eventual maintaining of my weight. The Gazette reported earlier this week that T.G.I. Friday's has decided not to put a restaurant by Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids. I enjoy Friday's and had been hoping that they would return to the area, but I guess that will not be.
With my weight now down to 201 pounds, I am very close to being below 200 pounds, which is a goal that I would really like to reach, and it is definitely in sight now. Last week I indicated that I wanted to get my weight down to 187 pounds. After talking with my wife and a friend of mine this weekend, I may not try to get my weight that low. They both think I'd look way to skinny if I got my weight down that low. I do at least want to get my weight low enough below 200 pounds though so that even if it fluctuates some, I will still weigh under 200 pounds.
After doing a little research, I think the spider is a Argiope trifasciata, also called a banded garden spider. If anyone has any better information about the spider, please let me know.