Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

My highly anticipated 40th birthday occurred last Sunday, August 15th. As those of you who read my last blog, you'll remember that I was granted a two-month extension on my 40-pound weight loss goal, which I originally hoped to have completed by my big day. The new date I've set for myself is October 15th. Given that I now only have nine more pounds to go, I'm fairly certain I'll make that deadline and may in-fact beat it by a couple of weeks. I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

My birthday weekend was a blast! We took the kids to the Santa Cruz area and stayed at my mother-in-law's cabin in Felton. We enjoyed a day at the beach and rode rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

We spent the next day in Carmel followed by a birthday dinner at my favorite restuaurant in the world, Lugano Swiss Bistro in the Barnyard Shopping Center in Carmel Valley. We discovered the restaurant on our first family vacation we took 8 years ago with our son Will, who is now 10. We (probably me more than my husband) fell in love with the place and now go at least one time each year, typically coinciding with my birthday weekend. On a good year, we get down there twice. This trip, I got the honor of wearing the birthday hat and got to kiss the big Swiss cow for good luck. That was a first!

Me with Lugano owner, André Lengacher. I just realized when looking at this picture that the patio table that is just behind us is the table we sat at when Christian and I visited the restaurant for the first time.

As if this wasn't celebration enough, Christian and I depart tomorrow (today, for those reading this on Friday) on our first real vacation alone since Piper was born 3 1/2 years ago. He's taking me to Las Vegas, and surprised me with tickets to see Barry Manilow, who I have adored since I was a teen. I can't wait! I'm hoping for a wonderful, relaxing trip that includes lots of sunbathing by the Mirage pool, froo froo drinks, sleeping in, shopping, dinner at Tao (and possibly a trip to the nightclub to see if we see any celebrities), and, yes, gambling. Wheel of Fortune quarter machine, here I come!

The days prior to my 40th birthday, I did a lot of thinking about my 30's and what I hope my 40's will be like. My 30's were wonderful. We had two children who we both adore. We moved to Benicia, which we really enjoy, and bought a house with a view in a neighborhood we love.

But my 30's were also the most difficult period of my life so far. My mom was diagnosed with dementia when I turned 30, just after Will was born. She so desperately wanted to be a grandmother, but didn't have the chance to have the quality grandmother experience she waited so long for.

Mom holding Will just after he was born.

Me with mom at the Alzheimer's home where she lived for several years. This photo was taken in October 2003 at her birthday celebration, which was just a few months after she moved there.

She passed away earlier this year. Those 9 1/2 years were hard. And dad moved on, and eventually got re-married. And while I'm happy for him, that was hard too. Then my brother was deployed by the Army to Iraq, where he is serving currently. And while things are calmer there than they were at the start of the war, it's still nerve-wracking knowing he's there. That's been hard, but I know he feels good about being there, so it makes it easier.

My hope for my 40's is that it will be a decade of a much healthier lifestyle for me. I hope it's filled with many wonderful family memories with Christian and the kids. It will be a decade that will find us welcoming my brother back home from Iraq, and one that will have us sending Will off to college somewhere, hopefully somewhere close. Both kids will be going through a lot of changes and by the time I'm 50, Piper will be in middle school...oh goodness, I imagine that will be an entirely different blog!

I am also determined not to beat myself up so much in my 40's, and give myself more down time. Sometimes I feel I go, and go, and go....from work, to the gym, to home, to start crocheting to add items to my etsy shop (shameless plug:, to labeling blankets for Project Linus, to etc. etc. Not to mention, squeezing in family time, and going to Will's sporting and school events.

In my 40's, I'm going to cut myself some more slack. For example, I wanted to get a workout in tomorrow morning before heading out to the airport for our Vegas trip. That would have meant lugging Piper to the gym daycare, stopping by Raley's to pick up a prescription, hurrying home to take a shower, dropping off a Project Linus blanket at the local hospital for a teenager who is recovering from being hit by a car, finishing packing, and heading of to the airport. I just got crazy thinking about all that would be involved in trying to accomplish all of these things.

So, my new, mature, 40-year-old self decided while I was running on the treadmill at the gym this evening that I will skip the gym tomorrow morning. Instead, I will take my daughter to Starbuck's for breakfast in the morning, stop by the hospital to drop off the Linus blanket, leisurely pick Will up from school, head home and about 30 minutes later head to the airport with Christian. Whew, I'm calmer just thinking about it.

And if I decide to, I'll use the Mirage gym to workout when we get to Vegas. But, since what happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, I guess I won't be able to tell you if I did or not.

Here's this week's picture, which is not ideal, since I'm freshly sweaty from the gym. But, my more practical 40-year-old side says, it'll be just fine if you all see me in my lycra shorts and sweaty Army shirt.

Until Next Week,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

And She Lived Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, a not-quite-40-year-old Queen named Jennifer traveled with her royal family to a far away land. It is a magical land. There, you can find beautiful princesses and handsome princes. You can meet magical faries and a mouse named Mickey. And soft cuddly characters like Eeyore and a silly old bear named Pooh, who loves to eat hunny and doesn't even stop once to consider the Weight Watchers points value.

They call this land Disneyland. Some call it the Happiest Place on Earth.

After months and months of anticipation, and daily questioning by Princess Piper if the day had come to travel to this far away land, the Royal Family boarded their carriage – a 2008 Toyota Camry.  They drove for miles and miles, stopping occasionally to use the royal throne at the Golden Arches. It really wasn't that royal, but it would do in a pinch.

On these occasional pit stops, King Christian, Prince William and Princess Piper would feast on Chicken Nuggets, french fries, and chocolate chip cookies. But not Queen Jennifer. Instead, she opted for a grilled chicken sandwich without mayonnaise, apple slices and a King Sized Diet Soda.

You see, Queen Jennifer was determined to lose 40 pounds by her 40th birthday. And that birthday, August 15th, was rapidly approaching. So she did everything in her power to try to stick to her diet and exercise plan for this weeklong adventure in this magical land.

She exercised at the gym every day leading up to the trip, and partook in no cheat days because she was saving all of her extra points for the voyage. In her trunk, she packed fancy clothes and practical shoes and even workout clothes, thinking just possibly she would be able to jog around this magical land of Disney each morning.

That silly queen. She thought she would have the energy!

But she quickly learned that a day in the land of Disney would zap every ounce of strength she had. She went to bed each day when the clock struck midnight with throbbing aching feet, only to wake up the following morning at dawn with the same throbbing aching feet.

Princess Piper at the end of a very long day at Disneyland.

It became clear that the exercise strategy was not going to be successful on this voyage. Instead, Queen Jennifer rationalized that the walking all day around this gigantic land and its neighboring land, California Adventure, would be exercise enough.

During the trip, the Queen resisted many of the temptations this land had to offer: freshly baked Churros, Mickey Mouse shaped cookies, and the most delightlfully smelling Kettle Corn that you can imagine. There were fresh beignets in New Orleans Square, corn popped in tomorrow land, and candy so light it was just like cotton. The queen knew that these culinary distractions would only keep her from her goal. So she stuck with her two-point Weight Watchers Almond Sensation Bars for breakfast, did her best to order salads and vegetarian burgers for lunch and dinner, and tried with all her might to ignore the delictible smell of Kettle Corn that seemed to be around each and every corner.

Princess Piper enjoying every bite of the castle cookie she decorated herself

That worked for a couple of days. But then she slipped, ever so slightly. One night, she had a hot fudge sundae. It was good...and worth the points. Another night she convinced King Christian to agree to ordering Spinach Artichoke Dip as an appetizer at dinner at a wonderful little restaurant called the House of Blues. And then there were some other very minor insignificant cheat moments that involved frozen lemonade and a margarita, the queen's particular weakness.

But all-in-all, she did fairly well. Better than many others fared in this far away land.

The Queen and her King, as well as her prince and her princess had such a wonderful time on their journey. It was quite possibly one of the very best vacations they had had. Princess Piper proved to be quite an adventurous little one at her young age of three, which meant the Royal Family could enjoy all of the thrills this land of Disney had to offer.

When the Queen arrived home after a very, very, very long carriage ride heading north in I-5, she collapsed into bed after they arrived back to their castle shortly after midnight, knowing she had to report to her official queen duties at work in just a few short hours. When she arose from her slumber, she decided to step on the scale to see how she was doing. To her great surprise, she learned she had GAINED 7.5 POUNDS!

"Oh shucks," she exclaimed! After all, queens don't curse, you know.

"How in the world could I have gained 7.5 pounds in one week?! " And then she said, "I just wish I had more time to complete my weight loss goal."

And then, the strangest thing happened. The very same Fairy Godmother that Queen Jennifer saw during Breakfast with the Characters at the land of Disney appeared. Sure, it was a little bit weird, given that the Queen Jennifer was all ready to begin her shower and get ready for the day, but she decided to play along.

Cinderella's (and Queen Jennifer's) Fairy Godmother and Prince William at the Breakfast with the Characters in the land of Disney.

The Fairy Godmother said, "I am here to grant you one wish. I know you had a wonderful time in the far away land with your Royal Family and you have a big birthday coming up. So my gift to you is to grant you one wish...any wish you want."

The queen thought and thought. And while a million dollars seemed like a good wish, for the purpose of her blog, Queen Jennifer said:

"I wish I could be granted an extension on losing the remaining weight needed to meet my 40-pound weight loss goal. It's clear that I'm not going to be able to do it by my birthday, even though I've come such a long way."

And just like that, the her wish for a two-month extension was granted. Her Fairy Godmother assured her that all her friends and family members who are following her blog will be proud of her for her accomplishments to date and would continue to cheer her on as she continued her journey to lose the remaining weight she needed to lose 40 pounds prior to her new deadline: October 15th.

Queen Jennifer was so relieved. And as her week went on, and the water retention resulting from the trip to Disneyland and her increased sodium intake from eating out every day subsided, her weight went down and down.

And as of this writing, she was back down to 154.5 pounds -- 12.5 pounds shy from her goal of 142 pounds and only .5 pounds above her weight from her last royal blog post two weeks ago.

Despite a slight gain, Queen Jennifer knew that she would, indeed, live happily ever after.

Here is this week's picture:

Until Next Week,

Queen Jennifer