Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the Pink!

You all know I don't usually blog on Saturdays, but today is a special day:  I took part in Fran's Pink Dress Run!

There are bloggers all over the world who are running with Fran, either today or tomorrow.  I have to tell you, since Shelley had the nerve to go off to Hawaii, I'm glad I had this motivation to get up and run today. After my spa day yesterday, I was feeling all relaxed and loosey goosey so running - as much as I love it - was something I could have put off.  But no way could I let Fran down!  I wasn't sure of how long I would go out for but thought at least 5K... I ended up running 6 miles!  It was cool (42 degrees) and breezy, with high thin clouds over the sun so I had to layer to get the requisite pink into my outfit. I also had pink under my outfit as I wore a pink sports bra and as I was running along, I realized that my Fuel Belt is pink too.  I think I did what Fran wanted.  So here you go Fran, here's the pictures proving that I was out there with you!

Red, sweaty face!

Here I am, in the Pink!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Buh-Bye Now.

If you came here looking for me today, you're in the wrong place.  I took the day off from work and I'm at a world class spa.  Famous people go there! Ooooh, maybe I'll whirlpool with somebody famous!

Can I just share with you that I've been excited for three days about lunch at the spa today.  They put the nutrition facts on their menu!  I love that! (Even though I'm totally eating what I want because everything is yummy and healthy.)

In the meantime, may I suggest that:

If you need a recipe to try this weekend, make my Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

If you want to experience a long ass run, with photos, look at Tuesday's Ten

If you want some substance and serious reflection, read yesterday's post.

If you want to read what I consider to be one of the two best responses to yet another stupid Marie Clare article, go read Stacey Ballis' answer here. (Love her!)

If you want to read the other (funny) one, read Jen Lancaster's here. (Love her!)

No matter what, have a great weekend and I'll see you on the other side!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Somewhere I've Already Been

Yesterday morning I did a five mile tempo run on the treadmill while watching Biggest Loser.  The whole time I was watching it I kept thinking that while I don't necessarily agree with the super fast weight loss these contestants put out, it really does amaze me that the body is capable of that.  You know, given the same conditions I'm sure I could have some big numbers like that too.  On the other hand, I wonder how long it takes their head to catch up to what has happened with their body.  Maybe slow and steady is better for us in the long term.

This morning, I wanted to run only 3 miles because I have Muay Thai tonight, but woke up to fog so thick we literally had zero visibility.  As you know, I run early, in the dark, so it's already challenging. Adding in that sort of fog is not a good thing so back on the treadmill I went.

As I ran, I watched the conclusion of Jackie Warner's Thintervention.  Which to me was a whole lot more realistic than Biggest Loser and entertaining in a completely different way.  The highest weight loss (from a man) was 64 pounds in the 13 weeks, which is still a lot.  But there were other participants who lost weight as well, like the woman who has PCOS.  Even though Jackie admitted that woman had a very real medical issue that slows weight loss, she still made the woman face up to what she had been doing to herself: not addressing her health and just letting herself go.

When one is faced with a long-term process, it feels easy to just quit and let go.  Speaking from experience, I can say that all that does is keep you mired in whatever muck you're stuck in.  This applies not only to weight loss but really to anything you are looking at dealing with. In fact I seem to remember a saying from some venture I was involved in: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got."

I supposed the big question  is how to stop the downward spiral, the negative thinking, the same old, same old?  The psychologist on Thintervention was talking to another of the participants who revealed a pretty big secret.  After the woman told her secret and cried a little, the psychologist looked at her and said, "Now you're free.  When you bring something into the light, it doesn't own you any more."

That's how to stop, right there.  Bring it out of the dark place and into the light so you can't be owned, shamed, or driven by it anymore.

I think the reason a lot of us start blogging is because that's exactly what we want to do.  But then, sometimes, even before we are being completely honest about our path, we start to get comments that are not so nice, or are very opinionated about the process that we've chosen, and we go back into the shadows.

In the spirit of lightness of being, I am here to say that is what I have been doing since January of 2009 (though I didn't start blogging until September).  I go full steam ahead for a bit and then I allow something, or someone, to knock me back.  It might be a remark someone made, or simple exhaustion from the process. However, with the recent doctor's visit I had, something clicked and I decided I'm not going to do that anymore. 

Alright, so I've made up my mind... and then I hit a rough spot. Today for example. I'm tired. My arm hurts from the flu shot I got this morning. My legs hurt from all the running I've done lately and I still have Muay Thai tonight. I feel like quitting everything and going back to bed. Obviously I need help and accountability to stay exposed and light.

A couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to put a spotlight right where it needs to be.  In the process of sharing some things that have been going on, one friend asked me to continue to share with her - even things I wouldn't put on the blog.  This is what convinced me: "Please keep me informed  - I can be your secret cheerleader!"

At first this sounds like I'm moving in shadowy areas - a secret cheerleader and all.  But I'm choosing to think of her more as an accountability PARTNER.  Someone who I can bare my guts to and who will cheer me on, but be brutally honest in the process.  Here's some of what I got yesterday after expressing frustration and tiredness to her:

"Keep doing the next right thing...enjoy the gift of health that you are giving yourself. Remember, it's about avoiding the meds first and foremost. Hang in there!!!!!!!"

Exactly what I needed to hear, because I really wanted to go back into the shadows.  Which as we know would get me nowhere, except somewhere I've already been.  So I'm choosing to do the next right thing and stay in the light.

I've always been a girl who loves sunshine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Ten: A 12 Mile Run

1. If you're going to run 12 miles you have to get up early enough to eat something more than just a banana.  Otherwise you end up with your stomach actually growling hungry right about mile 9 when your calorie burn has reached about 900.

2. Body conditions and weather conditions mean everything.  If the weather is cooperative - i.e., cool temperatures, no wind, and if you're relatively injury free and have nutritionally prepared properly leading up to it, you'll probably have a decent run.  In other words, hydrated and 42 degrees and calm is a heck of a lot easier to run in than dehydrated and 42 degrees and windy.

3.  Pay attention to dogs and other animals along the way.  Even if they're with a person:
  • My thought: "Oops, a dog with no leash, gotta stop." 
  • Said to me, “He’s really friendly, he won’t hurt you.”
  • Said by me, “No offense but I've learned not to run by dogs without leashes.” 
Followed by the owner grabbing the dog's collar, and as soon as I went by the dog, it lunged at me and growled.  Alrighty then.

4. No matter how much Body Glide you use, chances are you will end up with a chafe in a place.  Or two.  Which you won't discover until you get in the shower.  Water hitting it = "YEOW!"

5. You can't think about the entire distance, otherwise you'd probably never do it. Breaking the run down into segments will help you get through it.  Even then, you'll probably have a mile or two where you really struggle, both mentally and physically (why hello there mile 7-8!).  That's when you just have to gut it out.

6. You'll enjoy a 12 mile run the most if you don't keep looking at your Garmin to check your pace.  It's not a race, its a run.  And forget about comparing your current pace with your faster pace blah blah years ago.  It doesn't matter because every run is it's own creature.  Enjoy it and just run.

7. If you carry your phone/camera with you on the run and it's autumn in New England, you will probably be able to capture some really spectacular photos!

Remember the water fountain photo from my training run this past summer?
Here it is again

8.  Sometimes you will even see things that surprise you.

I thought summer was over!

Wait a minute!  It's not winter yet either!

9.  At some point later in the day, even after your ice bath, you will discover that you have some body parts that are aching and spots that are burning.  Don't ignore that if you want to run long distance again.

10.  After you run 12 miles, you really appreciate the 1398 calories you burned.  Because you eat whatever you want, including chocolate covered cake balls.  Food tastes better than it ever has before!

Here's those short ribs, over creamy polenta.  YUM.

Monday, October 25, 2010

His & Hers

I really enjoyed my do nothing weekend, spending most of it in recovery from the 12 mile run I did Saturday.  Good excuse to hang around the house without makeup and alternate between getting some chores done and plain old relaxation.

Yesterday as usual, I was menu planning and doing some cooking for the upcoming week.   I'm blessed because Mr. Helen is pretty easy going when it comes to our eating so I get to pick our weekly menus.  I am fortunate to have a full size freezer so if I haven't purchased anything while grocery shopping, I go shop there to figure out what to eat.  When I got to the freezer I saw that for some reason we had an abundance of ground beef.  So I decided to make a good old fashioned meatloaf for dinner. Mr. Helen
l-o-v-e-s meatloaf so I knew he would be happy when he came through the door and smelled that cooking.

Only problem is, ground beef would be considered a splurge food for me right now, so I needed to come up with an alternate for myself.  I then spied a package of ground chicken breast and immediately decided I would have meatloaf too - buffalo chicken meatloaf!  This recipe originated from one of the Biggest Loser Cookbooks and I vary it according to my taste on the day that I make it.  It's really yummy with all the flavors of buffalo chicken wings without all the calories and fat.

The great thing about this meal is that it really wasn't any trouble at all to adapt this menu to make the His and Hers meatloaves, because I served the same sides:  twice baked potatoes (made with low fat cheese) and garlic green beans. (Well, he also got homemade beef gravy and homemade buttermilk biscuits.)  Here is this week's version:

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

1/2 cup skim milk
2/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup shredded carrot
2 egg whites, whisked a bit
4 T Cayenne Pepper Sauce (like Frank's Red Hot), divided
1/2 cup reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 x 3 bread pan with olive oil spray.

Put skim milk and oats in a bowl. Stir and let sit to soften, about 3 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the chicken breast, onion, celery, carrot, egg whites and 2T hot sauce. Add in oats and mix well. Gently stir in blue cheese crumbles. This mixture will be quite wet!

Put mixture into the prepared bread pan and smooth top. Brush remaining 2T hot sauce on the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until set.

Makes 4 servings.

207 calories, 4.1g fat (2 saturated), 63 mg cholesterol, 918mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 2.7g fiber, 27.7 g protein.

Here is a picture of it all ready to go into the oven

A picture of my plate!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Life on the High Wire

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance this week. Lots of things have brought this on: thoughts about my cholesterol, the chocolate covered goodness that was delivered to my office on Monday, and an incident with my legs on Tuesday, which I’ll get to in a minute.

This is how important balance is…

  • All work, no play = someone who is probably cranky and not balanced
  • Staying up too late or constantly interrupted sleep = someone who is tired and not balanced
  • Sleeping too much = often a sign of depression, which can be caused by a chemical imbalance
  • Too many calories, not enough exercise = someone who is overweight and not balanced
 … see what I mean?

Tuesdays and Thursdays are a “two-a-days” for me. I run in the morning and I go to Muay Thai Boxing in the evening. It’s very, very important that I eat correctly and hydrate properly; otherwise I do not have the energy to get through the class. All day, I am actively aware of what I’ve eaten and how much I’ve had to drink. It’s a survival thing.

Tuesday evening after Muay Thai, I went home, showered and got something to eat. I watched maybe a half hour of TV and was ready for bed. As I started to get up from the sofa, both of my legs locked into charley horses in the inner thigh that went from my knee to the very top of my thigh. The pain was agonizing… and unrelenting. Poor Mr. Helen didn’t know what to do. He was hopping around our living room like a bunny until I said, “I think I’m going to be sick.” His response to which was to run into the kitchen and bring our full size garbage can to me (uh, OK, open garbage can will really make you sick!). The next thing he did was to run and get ice packs out of the freezer and come back and try to stuff them between my thighs, which were now clenched together as I hunched over and groaned in agony. This went on for 15 minutes. Finally they let up and Mr. Helen tried very hard not to laugh (because it is sort of funny to watch, even though the person is in pain). He helped me get up the stairs to bed, wherein I promptly did not sleep well because I was so afraid they were going to come back.

Of course, I immediately knew that for some reason, my electrolytes had gotten out of balance and I would need to figure out what to do to fix that on Thursday.

Side Note: on Tuesday when this happened, I craved salt all day and even more after my class. In fact, my “dessert” that evening was 10 roasted sweet potato strips, sprinkled with salt.

I did manage to fix it yesterday and my legs are finally starting to feel better.  As you can imagine, they've been really sore.

Today I’m trying to balance my carbs and electrolytes because tomorrow I plan on running 12-ish miles. I don’t want to crash and burn – or 'hit the wall' as it’s known amongst runners.

 I’m looking forward to that run and also to my ‘free’ day. Yes, I will be eating that chocolate covered cake bomb. I also plan on making Pioneer Woman’s Short Ribs and having a glass of red wine.   I'll probably watch some Reality TV, along with something like 60 Minutes.  I'll stay up late and sleep in late or maybe get up early and take a nap.This weekend sort of feels like a mini vacation. I don't know about you, but I need that balance in my life.

I’m grateful for these life lessons, although I’d rather not have anymore charley horses, thank you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Truth and Consequences

My mother is the youngest girl of 10 children. Her baby brother died a couple of years ago and other brothers and sisters passed before that so now there only remains my mother, her sister who is one year older and their oldest brother.  Additionally, she is at the point of her life where many of her friends and acquaintances are passing away.  It's tough and every time she hears about someone else who has been diagnosed with some terrible thing like cancer, I can tell she wants to sweep in and save them so her life does not melt away before her eyes.

The other day in a phone conversation she began to tell me that her sister's husband, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last June, is refusing to have any treatments for it.  He spent some time talking with men who have been through the various surgeries and procedures and decided that he does not want to possibly suffer the consequences.

This terrifies my poor aunt, who can't imagine not having him around after 54 years of marriage.  In turn, my mother is upset and terrified for her sister.

While she was talking I'd had a thought go through my head and when she finished I said, "You know mom, there are still going to be consquences from his choice.  Just different ones.  There are always consequences from the choices we make."

Over the past couple of weeks I've had a lot of opportunity to think about that very thing as it relates to how I eat.  While it's quite possible that I am the victim of some bad genetics, there is also the possibility that I can change the consequences by making different choices.

Mr. Helen and I were in a conversation over the weekend and he said, "Oh you can't have that."  I replied to him that in fact, I 'could' have whatever I wanted to, but the consequence of certain choices might be that my cholesterol will not drop and I will have to go on medication.  Which I really do not want to do.

As I've negotiated the waters of this new way of eating, I've tried to keep it in the forefront of my mind that every choice I make will have a consequence.  For me, right now, I am much more in tune to what my choices will do for my HEALTH as opposed to what they will do for my weight. 

For example, on Monday night when Mr. Helen was making some lovely baked cod for dinner, I simply requested that he not use butter on my piece of fish and brush it with a bit of olive oil instead.  Hopefully small choices like this will have the consequence of bringing my cholesterol numbers down.

Still, as I confided in a friend recently, even when I did first stage of the South Beach Diet some years ago, which most people say kills their sugar cravings, I never, ever stopped craving carbs and sweets.  Never.  The minute that first two weeks was over I had a spaghetti dinner with ice cream for dessert.

Thankfully, my doc is allowing me one "free" day a week.  She explained that research has been done that shows if individuals partake of saturated fats on just one day, rather than spreading it out over the course of an eating week, it seems to have little to no effect on cholesterol.  In other words, it's best to have your cheese-filled, double-stuffed potato with real butter,  and Porterhouse steak with butter sauteed mushrooms, and a decadent dessert one time a week, rather than having a teeny bit each day.  She also told me whatever you can make at home will still have less saturated fat than almost anything you could buy.  I guess all those little goodies you can buy at the grocery store bakery are not made in the healthiest fashion, even if they are freshly baked.

Consequently, one of the choices I have made is to limit my sweets, even if they would 'fit in' calorically or any other way.  It doesn't mean I don't want them.  I do.  Almost every night I think about having just a scoop of ice cream, or one cookie, or one square of chocolate, but right now I am choosing to try to change the consequence of my genetics.

Monday, I was having hungry day for some reason.  All day long I just wanted to eat.  And pretty much nothing I ate felt satisfying.  Even though my head knew darn well I had eaten plenty of food, I sort of felt like my nerves were on edge. When I get like this, sweets seem even more appealing.

Sitting at my desk, minding my own business, two of the managers popped into my office and handed me this, saying, "Thank you for all your hard work for the company!"

That right there is a Chocolate Covered Cake Ball.  It's about the size of a golf ball.  Can you even begin to guess how badly I wanted to pop that sucker in my mouth?  But I happened to be in the midst of a text conversation with Shelley.  So instead I took this photo and sent it to her.  Her response?  "Are you going to eat it?"  (How much do I LOVE that she didn't judge or tell me what to do?  She just asked.) Which made me stop and think about it.  Was I?  Because really, I should be saving this thing for my free day... while I was composing myself and my thoughts, they came back through with this:

That right there?  Chocolate Covered Oreos!  I was texting Shelley as fast as I could, almost so I could breathe and be rational.  Finally I answered her that I would not eat it until at least Wednesday and in fact was going to challenge myself to hold onto it until Saturday. She responded, "You can do that... just put it out of sight."

So, I need to thank Shelley for helping me see that I CAN DO IT.  That it's important to me to remember the consequences of the decisions I make.

The treats are out of sight (which sort of helps make them out of mind) for now.  And I need to tell the truth:  my free day is Saturday.  So I won't be having them today.  You can hold me to that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn Leaves

Saturday morning I got up bright and early to do a virtual run with Shelley.  Due to us living in different time zones, we actually did run at almost the same time this week because her running group started earlier.

I knew it would be a challenging run because it was windy.  Usually if I get out early enough the winds are a bit calmer, but not this day.  I ran 8.5 miles in sustained 30 mph winds with 40-50 mph gusts!  Normally I would have run on to even that up to 9 miles or even added enough to do 10, but I have to tell you, I could not wait for that run to be over.  It was HARD.  I never did find my stride which meant I "felt" every single mile.  And the wind just made it impossible to get my breathing correct.  I texted Shelley and told her WIND SUCKS.  At least there was some pretty foliage and a crystal clear blue sky to ease the pain a bit.

This was about a mile from the end of my run, which was also my fastest mile.  I could not wait to get back to my car and get out of the wind!

I got home and was pleasantly surprised to find Mr. Helen had made up our bed (which I had stripped in the morning), vacuumed the family room, and cleaned one of the bathrooms!  I didn't assign him those chores, all I did was nicely say on Friday night, "I need some help around here.  I don't want to spend my whole weekend cooking and cleaning."  That left me only a few things which I accomplished while he went off to watch our nephew play in his last regular season soccer game.

Once I felt a bit rehydrated and had eaten, we took off for our foliage run.  The foliage in our area still isn't anywhere near peak but we knew we could find some if we went a bit away from the coast. While I was really looking forward to this, I knew Mr. Helen was agreeing to do this to satisfy me, or what I like to call the Marital Sacrifice.  However, I also knew that he would enjoy it once we got started, and if our first stop was B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill, where I could ply him with an apple turnover or cider donut!  I was correct on all counts.

Here are some shots of our three hour tour. Unfortunately even though I used a better camera, we had some heavy clouds roll in so the colors don't come through as spectacular as they were in person or even as nice as that top shot that I took with my iPhone, but I hope you'll  enjoy!

B.F. Clyde's is the oldest steam operated cider mill in the United States.  

This is the only building that was around when we were young.
It houses the cider press and you can actually stand just outside the door
 and watch them press the apples.

Cider Press

If you want the "hootch" (hard cider), you have to line up behind the press building. Makes it all seem so dangerous!

If you just want apple pies, fritters, cider donuts or any of their specialty items, there is a different line
(Mr. Helen is waving - the only time he'll stand in a line is if there's a Clyde's turnover at the end!)

While he waited, I walked around the property and took photos
They have added a lot since I was a child

Trust me when I tell you Mr. Helen has large hands.
These apples must have weighed a pound each!

Ah, the perfect bite of a homemade Apple Cider Donut!  

Now, we're off to leaf peeping!

Heading Home

Friday, October 15, 2010

Coming Out of the Mine

Last week during all the fuss about a Marie Claire article and the "Big Six" bloggers I came across Caitlin's blog Healthy Tipping Point for the very first time. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, surf around and you'll find out, I'm not explaining it here).  In the post I happened upon she had photos up of a casserole that she had downsized into individual sized instead of a big one. It sounded good so I clicked on her Recipe Link to check it out. Then I was all like, "Holy Crap! I can modify this a bit and it will fit my eating plan!" So I did, and may I just say YUM. I have been all over it this week, eating it as a side dish sprinkled with Cholula Hot Sauce one day, and having it as my "main" for lunch where I sprinkled chopped avocado on it. Let me say it again. YUM.

I should have a photo here for you but I forgot and we ate it all gone. If you want to see the original recipe, go to Caitlin's blog. Here is my version:

Caitlin's Santa Fe Casserole, Revisited

1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic. minced
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1/2 tablespoon EVOO
Pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Egg Beaters
1 and 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 and 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (I used Cabot's 50% reduced fat cheddar)

Heat oven to 350. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

1. In a skillet, cookd the onion, garlic and green pepper in the olive oil until tender.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the Egg Beaters, Milk, salt, chili powder and pepper.

3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the rice, beans and cheese, Stir in the onion mixture

4. Pour the egg beater mixture over and combine well.

5. Put into the prepared casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole is firm in the center.

Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

In my opinion, this made about 4 servings (but maybe they're lady like servings):

Calories: 287.7 ; Total Fat: 9.3 g ; Cholesterol: 23.7 mg ; Sodium: 386.5 mg ; Total Carbs: 32.3 g ; Dietary Fiber: 5.8 g ; Protein: 22.7 g

I also doubled the entire casserole, except for the wet ingredients (because 1 cup of dried rice makes 3 cups cooked). At step 3, prior to adding the wet ingredients, I took half of it and put it in a freezer bag and froze it. So next time all I have to do is whisk up the wet ingredients and bake it off. Gotta love saving time.

Next time, I am going to try adding green chilies and black olives.  Personally, I would like it a bit spicier but that would be a no go for the other person who eats at my house (meaning, I would really like to add some jalapenos too!).


By now you're wondering where this blog title came from?  So glad it's Friday today.  It has felt like an interminably long week for no apparent reason and I literally feel like I'm coming out of the mine.  I want to chant FRI-DAY! FRI-DAY! FRI-DAY!  That's how much I'm ready for it to be 4:30 so I can start my weekend.

I have decided that we are going to take our foliage drive tomorrow if at all possible.  I like it when there are still some green trees because I think it makes the ones that have turned stand out.

Which means that I'll need help getting some things done around our house.  I am going to take Kristen's and Lori's suggestions and tonight when I go home, "tell" Mr. Helen what I need him to do.  Wish me luck.

I also need to get in a long run tomorrow, which should be very interesting.  We had a 'noreaster come through overnight and the transition today and tomorrow is bringing very high winds.  Gusts of up to 50 miles an hour expected tomorrow.  When you're running, not only can that knock the breath out of you, it can also knock you over.  Which I know from experience because one time I did a 20 mile training run in a hurricane. 

Have a great weekend all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Did

Today my baby is 31 years old.  Seriously, do I look old enough to have a 31 year old daughter who is an accomplished world traveler?  Who has a Very Important Job and Many People who work for her?

I guess I did something right.

She was such a good baby, and so content. She just had the sweetest disposition. Never really cried - even when her diapers needed a change! Believe it or not, that has translated into her adult life. Most of the time the first words out of people's mouths about her are "She's the sweetest thing!" Next is, "And so smart!" Next usually is, "And she looks just like your husband!" (Which is hilarious considering there is no biological connection there.) But I've told you before they are two peas in a pod conspiring against me... maybe there is something to do with nurture verses nature, eh?

She loves life and lives it to the fullest.  Even when I look back at baby pictures of her, I can see the vibrant, full life she will one day have.

So I celebrate!
Closest thing I have to a newborn photo - they didn't do them in the hospital in Zambia.
She's 3 days old.
 Christmas 1979 - 2 months old (and look at young,skinny me!)

She's about 6 months old here. We were living in Zambia at the time and my mother had sent a package with this cute pink dress and adorable black patent leather shoes. It's a miracle we got the package as the mail was so unreliable over there. (Obviously, we had a Polaroid back then!). That's young skinny me holding her up so my mom could get the full effect.

Happy 1st Birthday!

Happy 3rd Birthday!

3 yrs. old Christmas 1982 in the program at her daycare center


Happy 6th Birthday!

 First day of Fourth Grade

8th Grade Graduation Dance 

 Around 16 years old, all dressed up for a Homecoming Dance

Happy 17th Birthday
(this was her last birthday at home... from 18-21 she was away at college) 

With her best friend, Senior Prom night

High School Graduate, Class President, Class Salutorian
"Most Likely to Succeed", "Most Popular" "Best Classmate" 

Got her home because it was a big one.
Happy 21st Birthday!!

2007 Maid of Honor at her BFF's wedding

Dancing with Mr. Helen on our patio

Surprised me and came home for Mother's Day!

Surprised me and came home for my 1970's themed 50th Birthday

Still best friends after all these years 

With Grammy Helen 

 Loving Life!

She's the best thing I ever did people.  If I was never, ever to accomplish anything else in my life, I know I did this One Good Thing by giving the world my daughter.