Sunday, August 31, 2008

Channeling My Inner Seamstress

My head is still spinning from last week. Besides having our first week of school (go on over to Kindling the Fire to read all about that), my mom decided at the last minute to come to town. So all of the time that was not spent on school/soccer/Cub Scouts/martial arts and on what little housework I did was filled up with playing with my mom and Allison.

The good news is that I got to bed early most nights and got up early to exercise every day, something I never would have done if it weren't for this exercise challenge! So far, I haven't missed a day, although points-wise I am way behind the overachievers (Debbie, Prudy, and Malia are putting me to shame.) Still, for me it is a victory that on a week when I otherwise might have felt justified in sleeping in I still managed to exercise and stick to my routine.

One of the things that we did with my mom was a sewing project. Now, my mom is an excellent and accomplished seamstress and Allison can sew although she does so in spurts. I on the other hand. have a brief but ugly history with sewing.

I remember making some drawstring pants for myself before my study abroad in Jerusalem. Somehow I managed to put the drawstring in the back of one pair, and sew another pair inside out. Not destined for sewing greatness, but there were other possibilities for me, I was sure.

The next time I even considered a sewing project was several years later, while I was pregnant with Henry, when Alli and I decided to make my mom a quilt for Christmas. I will confess that Alli did the majority of the machine work because I am scared of that thing, but we spent many many hours slaving over the quilt. It turned out to be enormous--much bigger than her double bed required. It also turned out that the pattern we chose, which we thought would be easier and more forgiving than most for us beginning quilters, required acute precision (not my strong point.) In the end, the quilt was beautiful and we were burned out--in fact, we decided that if Mom didn't cry on Christmas morning that it would not have been worth it. Luckily, she did cry. (In my family, we all try to get my mom the Best Gift of Christmas, which means the one that makes her cry.)

Since THE QUILT, I have done very little, largely because I have lived far away from Mom and Alli for most of that time and I am completely dependent on them for any sewing that I might do. My goal is generally to "participate" in the project while letting them do anything that might require skill, accuracy, or attention to detail. And yet in the past year I have really been wanting to learn to sew independently. Maybe it's because the new me is thriftier, maybe because I realized that I'm really lacking in the self-reliance area, maybe it's because I have a daughter now and I am shocked by the immodest clothing that is ubiquitous for young girls and teens. But it is on my list of things to do before I'm 40.

Well, this project still relied heavily on my long-time crutches, but I did more of the actual sewing than I had in the past. And I came to understand the importance of the precision, etc. I can't spill the beans on what we made because it might involve Christmas gifts for some nieces and nephews-- and we're not quite finished yet. But I was filled with an undeniable thrill as I stitched away on the sewing machine. (As invigorated as Bob is about sailing in the following clip, I called out: "I'm sewing! I'm actually sewing! I'm a sew-er!")



So my Christmas gifts are mostly done (for those nieces and nephews--I wish my whole list was done), and even though I am a classic almost-finisher, my Mom and Alli will make sure I do this time. (Plus the new and improved Michal of 2008 would never abandon a half-finished sewing project and spend twice as much money on different gifts rather than finish what I'd started. I'm far too prudent for that! I hope.) (I am going crazy with the parentheses tonight, aren't I?)

This project won't count for my 40 list since my crutches still did more of the work than I did, but it is instilling some confidence in me that I can be a seamstress one day. Before the millennium.

Do you ever start a project and not quite finish it? Are there talents that run in your family but that seemed to have skipped over you completely? Help me feel better about myself and tell me about yours.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Five Minute Fun

I don't have long to spend on a post (today was our first day of school and I have a lot I want to get done before I fall into bed in one hour,) but I saw this over at Melissa's blog and thought it was fun.

Go to this blog to find out which song was #1 on the day you were born.

For me, it was "My Love" by Paul McCartney & Wings

I also looked up Jared's: "Philadelphia Freedom" by The Elton John Band

My mom's: "MaƱana (Is Soon Enough for Me)" by Peggy Lee

And my firstborn's: "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child

I must say that I couldn't sing any one of those for you.

What's yours? Leave me a comment and share.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last Days of Summer

I'm feeling torn in two directions this week. Or more than two. Part of me wants to play, visit with friends, and take the kids to do fun summer things because school is starting next week. The other part of me wants to lock the kids in the backyard, have everyone live on cold cereal and go without clean laundry while I whip my house into shape and get my lesson plans done through Christmas. This is because I feel like life is going to change next week. It's a lot like the way I feel when I'm about to have a baby--I'm in a frenzy to get everything ready and wish that I could just have one more week, no two more weeks until everything changes and I don't have any time for myself.

The rational side of me can remember that when school starts we will continue to have fun, I will still have time to read, see friends (not often enough), blog, and clean the house--I will just have to be a lot more organized to accomplish this than I have been during the past six weeks when we have mostly stopped doing schoolwork and just lazed around without a routine. (Could this possibly be the reason that my boys are at each other's throats?:)

Anyway, the boys asked me on Tuesday if they could have a "club" party this week. A couple of weeks ago I encouraged them to go outside and play (my usual schtick when I'm trying to get housework done and they are no longer being helpful) and suggested that they turn the "playhouse" that they never use into a "clubhouse." A new club was born which keeps them very busy. When I pay close attention, it does bother me a little bit that it resembles a communist nation with Kimball as the dictator (they say pledges about obey the president and keep lots of secrets), but I try to push that to the back of my mind because they are so happy out there and I have a few minutes to myself to clean blog.

I said yes to a club party, but limited the invitations to one family, since I wanted this to be small scale (translate: practically free and not stressful). They delightedly got busy making invitations for their friends Hayden and Brycen, planning party games and decorations, and telling me all of the food they wanted at the party. (They suggested a fondant cake shaped like a clubhouse-- they have obviously spent too much time around their talented aunt. We compromised on zebra brownies--recipe below-- which take 15 minutes for me to make and included only ingredients I had on hand.) They also served pretzels, grapes, hot dogs, and pink lemonade.

They scurried around this morning when I reminded them that a house needs to be clean when you're going to host a party. They got their bedrooms cleaned in record time and then got busy with crepe paper streamers outside. Here's how it looked when they were finished:


Lucky for me, Mandy (the guest's mom) came along, so we got to chat and catch up while the party kids played trampoline soccer (I'm very safety conscious like that), sidewalk chalk tic-tac-toe, and rode their bikes out in the cul-de-sac.

When the "party" ended, my little hosts were hot and tired and ready for some down time--but before we turned on Annie to relax they learned an important lesson about hosting parties: cleaning up.

If you are in need of some last days of summer treat (or a first days of the school year treat) and are willing to crank up the oven in spite of the heat, try out this recipe for "Zebra Brownies." My boys loved the name, but I love the taste. (Sorry that there's no picture. Mandy and I were so busy chatting that I forgot to take photos. Make them yourself to see what they look like!:)

Zebra Brownies
  • Your favorite brownie recipe or your favorite boxed mix
  • 8 oz. marscapone, cream cheese, or reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature (but know that the marscapone is the most heavenly of the three.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated poison sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Make the brownies according to the directions in the recipe or on the box. Pour the mixture into the greased pan. If you want, wash out the bowl. Or just scrape the brownie batter out fairly well and use the bowl again. They are all going to be together in a few minutes anyway.

Mix the marscapone, egg, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. Spoon large dollops onto the top of the brownie batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the chocolate and cream cheese until it is lovely and stripy or swirly as desired. Bake in 325 oven until a toothpick comes out clean (time depends on your brownie recipe.) Cool completely, then refrigerate for best flavor.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Marriage

We in the state of California are embarking on a very heated debate this fall. On the ballot, a proposition will appear to amend the state constitution to read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."

Many Californians are confused--didn't we do this recently? Only 8 years ago, an overwhelming majority of Californians voted that very statement into law. But since then, the California Supreme Court has ruled that the law is not in harmony with the state's constitution and is thus invalid. Only a constitutional amendment will allow the state to enforce this law.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to which I belong, has joined a coalition of other faiths (including evangelical Christians and Catholics) and concerned citizens to support the passage of Proposition 8. We have been asked to give as much as we can of our time, talents, and financial resources to help this amendment pass with the required majority vote.

This is not meant to be a personal affront on those who choose the gay and lesbian lifestyle. I am not interested in calling names or being offensive. I respect their right to live as they choose but do not agree that they have the right to the God-given heterosexual institution of marriage, which is fundamental to our society and to God's plan for His children. The Family: A Proclamation to the World states unequivocally:

"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. . .

Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."


Now, if you do not live in the state of California, do not turn away thinking that this does not apply to you. California generally leads the way in many such laws. Those who support the right of gays and lesbians to marry are aware that the outcome of this proposition will have a tremendous impact on similar laws in other states. And they are raising a great deal of money to shut down this proposition. Already the Attorney General has changed to wording introducing the amendment on the ballot to be highly misleading and prejudicial, including saying that this amendment would result in a potential loss of state sales tax revenues. (Can someone tell me how this would negatively affect sales taxes?) There are many powerful people who are anxious to see Prop 8 fail. There is a commercial that is airing all over California right now, which asks, "What if you couldn't marry the person you love?" (Incidentally, because it does not mention Prop 8, it has been able to use tax deductible donations and non-profit status to push the gay marriage agenda.)

This is not a partisan issue. There are Democrats (not congresspeople) and Republicans on both sides of the vote. This is a moral issue. Voting Yes on Prop 8 means protecting marriage and legally defining it the way that it has been since Adam and Eve were married by God himself. Many have argued that this can be seen as a freedom of religion issue as well, since there are instances in other countries (which have legalized gay marriage) of people being prosecuted for acting on their beliefs that the homosexual lifestyle is a sin (and I don't mean by "acting" that they were physically hurting anyone. Take these instances, which I found on this blog:

  • A Swedish pastor was sentenced to jail for one month after speaking out against homosexual lifestyles from the pulpit. The Gota Court of Appeals subsequently overturned this decision. (link)
  • An Anglican Church in the UK was found guilty of discrimination against homosexuals for requiring a lay Diocesan Youth Director to be celibate if he was not married. It is now against the law for a Christian organization to require its employees to abide by Christian teaching. (link)
  • A British Employment Appeals Tribunal upheld a decision rendered last March rejecting a discrimination claim by a Justice of the Peace. The Justice sat on the court’s Family Panel and had requested to be excused from hearing cases involving same-sex couples based on his Christian religious beliefs. His request was denied and he filed a discrimination claim. The EAT concluded that magistrates must apply the law as their oath requires, and cannot opt out of cases on moral grounds. (link)
  • A Calgary Bishop was forced to remove a diocesan letter from his website because it urged Catholic Christians to support traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage. (link)
  • A professional printer refused to print material for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives because he felt doing so would violate his religious beliefs. He was fined and ordered to print the material anyway. He took his case to the Ontario Supreme Court and then to the Ontario Court of Appeal and lost both times. His total legal bills exceed $170,000. (link)
  • Catholic Charities is forced out of the adoption business for the first time in 100 years because it will not place children with homosexual couples. (link)


Thus, anyone who thinks that this is just about a little word like marriage and that it will have little effect on the average citizen's life, had better reconsider. There is much more riding on this than whether we call it a "marriage" or a "civil union".

The LDS.org newsroom has posted an interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks (a former Utah Supreme Court Justice) and Elder Lance B. Wickman on same gender attraction and the support of the Church for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It is worth reading, but as it is very long and many of you may get distracted before you get to this point, I wanted to share a couple of quotes.
"Marriage is neither a matter of politics, nor is it a matter of social policy. Marriage is defined by the Lord Himself. It’s the one institution that is ceremoniously performed by priesthood authority in the temple [and] transcends this world. It is of such profound importance… such a core doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the very purpose of the creation of this earth. One hardly can get past the first page of Genesis without seeing that very clearly. It is not an institution to be tampered with by mankind. . ."--Lance B. Wickman

"God loves all of His children. He has provided a plan for His children to enjoy the choicest blessings that He has to offer in eternity. Those choicest blessings are associated with marriage between a man and a woman by appropriate priesthood authority to bring together a family unit for creation and happiness in this life and in the life to come.
We urge persons with same-gender attractions to control those and to refrain from acting upon them, which is a sin, just as we urge persons with heterosexual attractions to refrain from acting upon them until they have the opportunity for a marriage recognized by God as well as by the law of the land. That is the way to happiness and eternal life. God has given us no commandment that He will not give us the strength and power to observe."--Dallin H. Oaks

So, whether you live in California or elsewhere, hear my rallying cry. We need you. We need you to help in any way you can. If you live in California, talk to your neighbors and friends. Encourage others who support Prop 8 to get out and vote on election day. If you aren't registered to vote, get registered. If you are a student out of state or living away for some other reason, be sure to get an absentee ballot. Regardless of where you live, you can make a donation to Protectmarriage.com to help fund the efforts to pass Prop 8. You can talk about it on your blog or email your friends about it.

Jared & I have decided that this is important enough to us that we are willing to make sacrifices to support Prop 8. I do not tell this in order to boast--our contribution will still not be enormous. Since we are not in a position with a lot of discretionary money, we've decided to forgo our upcoming anniversary get-away and donate the money that we would have spent on hotel and gas (instead, we'll try to do something local to celebrate and hope that we can still unload our kids for the weekend on grandparents!:) IN addition, we will be canvassing neighborhoods to encourage citizens to get out and vote. My in-laws have given up their favorite entertainment of dinner and a movie for the next three months in order to support the cause. I only share this because I hope to inspire those who think, "I would donate if I could, but times are tough right now . . . " Almost all of us has something that is a luxury that we could give up for a time in order to support and protect something so fundamentally important to our society and belief system. So think about it again before you dismiss the idea of donating to the cause, and dig a little deeper. Our society needs the sanctity of marriage to be preserved.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nesting

I'm in a nesting frenzy right now; anticipating, not a new baby, but the beginning of the school year. This is the first year that we are starting off with homeschooling in the fall (we took Kimball out of public school last November) and the first year that no one is participating in public school at all. Knowing how much time it takes up and wanting desperately to have a sense of order in my life and in my house, I spent last week on a massive organization task. I took everything out of the hall closet and only put back in things that pertain to our "Tiger" Academy (a name we use online to protect our real-life identities). Everything else had to find a new home or go to our friends at Deseret Industries.

Thus, all of our DVDs are now located in one of three DVD wallets. My dear husband insisted on keeping all of the cases "in case we ever want to sell them because they become collector's items." (Can I tell you how much I hate keeping things because they might become collector's items? And is it really possible, even if the Lord of the Rings Special Edition Trilogy is one day worth a small fortune, that I will be able to convince him to sell it and finance our children's college tuition? I doubt it. And yet, the domain of the garage is his and if he wants another box full of empty DVD cases out there with his old GI Joes and all of my junk important things that I don't use very often.)

Our winter coats are hanging in the closets of the people who wear them. Our vacuum is currently homeless, but I will find a spot for it by the end of the day. Our extra table leaves are in a spot in Ian's closet, thanks to his generosity.

And then there was a huge, unorganized pile of school things, some of which we used and some of which I'd only looked through once, put at the bottom of the pile, and never thought about again. Not to mention the 15 gallon bin full of our "daily school stuff", which didn't even fit in the closet, and the shelf in my closet that was overloaded with various resource books. (My mom gave me a lot of stuff when she was getting ready to retire from school teaching. None of it stolen from the government, I assure you!)

Now, the closet looks like this:I really should label the bins. If you care to know how I organized this, read on (those of you who don't homeschool can just skip the next few paragraphs.)

On the bottom, two hold math manipulatives and one holds small educational games that might be looked over if they were competing with the games in our game cupboard. In the middle, each boy has his own bin (in the color of his choosing) and notebook. The bins contain a journal, some workbooks, and a few other things depending on each child's needs. I'm not sure yet if I'll use the notebooks for finished work that we are proud of or for weekly assignments.

The third row from the bottom is pretty obvious. The caddies are low enough that the kids can grab them and bring them to where ever we are learning at that moment. There are four cups of crayons in the caddy, each with a color corresponding to the child's bin so that we don't need to fight over crayons. There are also scissors, colored pencils, and erasers in the crayon caddy. Another holds glue, tape, a stapler, markers, and rulers. The white board markers are in a small plastic box and a large pencil cup is already full of sharpened pencils, thanks to Henry's good efforts.

The top row of cubes contains a bin of craft supplies (which is sadly mostly empty at the moment. I'm not very crafty, but I'm really trying harder for my kids' sake); some extra supplies that I can dole out as needed; and all of my teacher's manuals for this year, which Jared says are far too heavy and are in danger of jeopardizing the entire structure, but I'm ignoring that. (Something which I will surely come to regret later, but that is right where I want the manuals. So there.) On top is writing paper, scratch paper, and math workbooks that they will use later in the year.

The shelf on top, which is barely visible in the photo, has books that I may use for resources. Ideas for math, language arts, unit studies, holiday craft activities, science, . . . . you get the idea. But now I can see them all, so I know just what I have and can put my hands on it quickly if I want it. Hurray!

The white board props up in front of the cubes when we aren't using it, which also makes it harder for Bronwen to get to the crayons if the door is accidentally left open. Crayons she likes to eat and markers she likes to use to give herself tatoos all over her body. We hope she gets that out of her system soon.

Now that this closet is finished, I'm torn between getting all my lesson plans figured out and getting my master bedroom decluttered. I will do both before school starts for us in a week and a half. Please hold me to that!:)

Back to my projects . . . .

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Am Like a Three Year Old

Ian and I had a really tough day on Thursday. Really, it was probably not any different for him than any other day, but he had a grumpy mom-on-the-edge to deal with. I seem to go through different phases where a different child drives me crazy for a while, and he's the one right now. With that said, he does continue to melt my heart on a regular basis, so don't think that I'm ready to give him away. At least not for more than a few days.

Anyhow, sometime in the afternoon I sank to my knees for the fifty-eleventh time that day to say a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to help me be calm and handle this without yelling or spanking him (especially since neither of those things seem to work on him anyway,) the spirit gave me a glimpse for a moment of the parallels between us.

I was whining to the Lord about how Ian always said so sincerely, "I'm sorry, Momma. I promise not to do it again." Sure, he means it. For about two minutes. And then we start all over again. As these thoughts were going through my head, I felt the spirit whisper to me, "Just like you, Michal." And I realized: how often do I ask the Lord's forgiveness for something, telling Him that I'll do my best to not repeat it, and then find myself asking for forgiveness for the same thing again? How long have I been repenting for yelling at my kids? For being impatient and impulsive and alot like a toddler? For at least 6 years. And does Heavenly Father listen to my apologies scornfully? Does he lecture or nag me? Does he throw it in my face that I've repented for this before? He does not. As I repent and ask His forgiveness and for His help, I feel the sweet peace of the spirit engulf me and I know how much He loves me. I know how glad He is that I am sorrowing in my weaknesses. I know how much he wants me to do better, even though He knows that I may very well mess up again. I know that He wants to help me, if I'll let Him.

In that moment, not only did I understand how much I am like Ian (and thus have more compassion on him,) but I realized another way that I can strive to be more like Heavenly Father. I can shower love on my sorrowful, apologetic (and naughty) son. I can assure him that I know he can make better choices. I can tell him how much I love him without putting a "but" in the sentence. I can help him make better choices by the situations I put him in and the attention I give him.

Since I am so very like a three year old, I am all the more grateful for a loving, forgiving Heavenly Father who is patient with me. So very patient. I hope it rubs off someday!:)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Note To NBC


I love the Olympics! I have been talking to our kids a lot about the Olympics lately, and have been anticipating watching them as a family. Too bad the coverage that airs in the middle of the night has middle-of-the-night commercial content.

Inspired by Rebecca's actions a few weeks ago, this afternoon, I sent an email to NBC about the tasteless "adult" commercials that are being aired during middle-of-the-night Olympic Coverage. I am posting about it here because I believe that our voices will be heard if many of us share our concerns with NBC about their low standards. If you want to email them about Olympic coverage, their email for this is: nbcolympicsfeedback@nbcuni.com

The text of my email is below (but please, write your own rather than just copying mine. It's more powerful that way.)

I am writing to complain about the content of the commercials being aired during the Olympic coverage. I recognize that much of Olympic coverage is being aired in the middle of the night and that the regulations for night time TV are different, but please understand that the Olympics are a family oriented event. We have programmed our DVR to tape most of the events airing on many NBC networks, and were appalled this afternoon, while watching fencing (taped on USA) with our 8 and 6 year old boys, to see a commerical for a personal vibrator as well as phone $ex commercials. Thank goodness we can skip through commercials--nevertheless, with our 30 seconds forward button, we got more exposure than we wanted to those commercials. My husband and I avoid late night TV because we don't like those types of commercials ourselves, but it is truly disappointing that the commercials airing during Olympic coverage were not screened to be family-friendly, when NBC knows that families watch the Olympics together.

I sincerely hope that this situation is changed quickly and is not the norm for the duration of the Olympic coverage.

Sincerely,

Michal xxx, a person in your desired viewing demographic (under 35, middle class, discretionary money, etc etc.)
Thanks for listening to my rant, dear readers!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Filing a Report

Hello, FBI? I am calling to report an alien abduction. It took place several months ago, but the clone that they left is such an amazing physical likeness to our three-year-old that it took us a while to figure out what happened.

Our Ian is the easy, laid back, thank-goodness-we- have-him kind of kid. Case in point: He slept through the night (12 hours) long before he was two months old. He proved to be uber-flexible when it came to napping schedules, since he was always being woken up to pick up someone from preschool or so his mom could fulfill her demanding church calling. He was cheerful nearly always and a joy to be around. People were always commenting on how sweet he was, how compliant, how easy to watch. Sure, he was busy, but since he announced everything he was going to do before he did it (we called him "the Narrator"), it was easy to nip problems in the bud.

But this clone "Ian" that the aliens left us has an altered personality. He is anything but compliant, and nothing we do seems to motivate him to do what we want him to. He doesn't respond to threats, bribes, begging, time outs, spankings . . . who ever heard of a human child like that? Instead of being flexible and laid back, he now has rigid alien customs that he must abide by:
  • that his blankets need to cover his legs but not his feet
  • his toast needs to be cut diagonally
  • he cannot wear a pair of shoes that is not his current favorite, regardless of whether it is appropriate for the occasion or outfit
  • he has stopped eating everything in sight and has decided that he won't eat half of our human food
  • cameras inflict physical pain on his alien brain, and thus he cannot tolerate having his picture taken, and will run screaming from the room in agony when one is produced
When he doesn't get things the way that he wants, this clone child is prone to ridiculous fits unlike anything seen before (in this previously perfect child).

We are loathe to give him up until we get our own Ian back, but we implore you to make this rescue mission a top priority. We can only imagine what alien Ian will be like as a teenager.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Healthy Habits Challenge Kick-Off

I promise to have a new, unrelated post up soon for those of you who are sick of hearing about exercise. But I wanted to update you that as of this morning, there are 23 people participating in the Challenge. And it's not too late for you to get strong, lean, and empowered with us! We'll all be thinner by the holidays (and ready to establish another healthy habit.)

I got up at 5:20 this morning, shocked at how dark it was--obviously, it has been several weeks since I have actually gotten up to exercise. I went on a power walk in the neighborhood for 1 hour, earning 2 points for today. It felt fantastic. While I walked, I listened to General Conference on my MP3 player, so I came home feeling uplifted, inspired, accomplished, and ready to face my long to-do list today. I am so excited that so many of you are participating because it is so much easier to do with peer pressure (and money on the line).

How did you kick off the challenge today? How do you plan to? Leave a comment! And if you haven't joined yet, think about it. We'd love to have even more join us.

Friday, August 1, 2008

You Know You Want To

It's not too late to join us in our Healthy Habits Exercise Challenge! Leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll add your name to our roster. Click on the picture at the left to see our website. You know you want to join us. As of writing this, we have 11 people signed up (my sister is the only one under duress,) and I would really like to see 20-30 of us. Not only can we all get healthy together, but that will increase the amount in the Victory Pool. So COME ON! You know you want to. Think about how strong and lean you will feel when Thanksgiving rolls around, tempting you to fill up on dinner rolls and pumpkin pie.

I need this so badly because I have been rolling over and going back to sleep way too often lately. Far too often. And eating too much ice cream, cobbler, chips with garden-fresh salsa, and bundt cakes. Bundt cakes because I have been feverishly concocting recipes for the Nordic Ware Bundts Across America contest. You may remember that it is one of my 40 before 40 goals to win a recipe contest. As far as I'm concerned, being chosen as a finalist and winning a prize of any sort would qualify. If not this one, there will be plenty of other opportunities. (Too bad another 40 before 40 goal is to weigh significantly less than I do when entering baking contests. Do I sense a paradox?)

For this particular contest, you must submit a photo of your cake with a slice taken out of it and the Nordic Ware pan next to it. Which means that you have to make the cake and not just submit a recipe. And since I am a procrastinator, and since I entered three recipes, we've got a lot of cake around here today. (The deadline was today, naturally.) So tomorrow morning I'm taking a Christmas breakfast coffeecake to a shower brunch. Hope they are feeling Christmasy! Sure, fresh strawberries and lemon pound cake would have been a better choice in August, but I'm not about to make another cake tonight. Forget about it.

As you may have figured out if you've been reading my blog for very long, sugar is my downfall. I have a major sweet tooth and find homemade treats and quality chocolates and premium ice cream to be irresistible. I can pass up a Chips Ahoy, but not a See's Candy Walnut Square Bar. I can skip a cupcake from the store but hardly ever a homemade one, especially if it has thick, buttery frosting. And never if it's this one. Possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made. But I digress. I am sure that if I ever conquer this whole sweet tooth thing, my weight management issues will be much more manageable. :)

What about you? What food is irresistible to you? What is easy to pass up, at least when you are trying to eat well? Let's discuss amongst ourselves.