My Posts

The origin of my love of reading and a review of a heartwarming and funny book.

When you read advanced reader copies and post reviews, sometimes you get into a funk. Lately, even though I’ve been offered some good books to read, I have not been inspired by anything. Sometimes the best reads are recommended by your mom!

First, let me tell you about my mother. She is the one who shared her love of good books with me when I was a child. I have many happy memories of her reading to me and my three brothers when we were kids. A favorite of ours was the Poky Little Puppy. So many times my wonderful mother would fall asleep reading this book to us. All these years later, I still get sleepy and start to nod off when I see this cover.

So, my mom and I often talk about books we are reading, we want to read, or we have read. As we talk about them, our to be read piles grow exponentially. Some of the authors we have shared with each other – Preston & Child, Adriana Trigiani, Frederik Backman, Richard Adams – and so many more. The latest recommendation from my mom, Patricia, was The Tour by Jean Grainger. Mom told me how much she was enjoying the book and I immediately went onto Amazon and downloaded the e-book. I started reading on the evening of October 18, 2020 and finished in the wee hours of October 22, 2020. I devoured this book.

If you enjoyed all of Maeve Binchey’s books, you will love this story of a group of American tourist who are on a bus tour of Ireland. The characters in this story all seem so real. There is the easy-on-the-eyes and warm hearted tour bus driver, the snooty academic, the neglected housewife and her bombastic idiot of a husband, the mysterious Texan, two individuals who came to learn more about their Irish roots, the hot mess of a Mom who drags her antisocial musician son to Ireland to find a new sugar daddy, and the grieving, mousey widow trying to move on. This book is a masterclass in how to take a group of unrelated characters and have them change each others lives. I loved this book and can’t wait to read more in this series (YES!! There are more books in this series). I know I haven’t given many details about the book itself or what happens. I want you all to experience it yourself – no spoilers.

I think one of the reasons that this book resonated with me is the fact that I have been on a bus tour…with my mom. Yes, the same mom that recommended this book. Funny how that worked out, isn’t it?

In the 90s, Mom and I took a bus tour of South Dakota with the St. Joseph’s Indian School. This is a school that my grandmother started donating to when my mom was a child. We saw Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments, which were amazing. Even more amazing, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park. It was an inspiring and fun trip. As the youngest one the bus, I was so inspired by one particular tour member. She was in her 80s and only had one lung…yet she kept up with all of us. I don’t think I could do that NOW!

So, in this Covid-19 world, my suggestion is to do your traveling through books. Pick up The Tour and go on a bus tour of Ireland!!

I hope you all have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.

Slow and steady

In my mind, I see the story of the tortoise and the hare. Remember that one? I have always loved that story. The hare thinks he will always win because he is faster, so he laid down and took a nap. While he was napping, the tortoise, who is slow but never gives up, wins. That’s how I’m taking this whole get healthy and lose weight thing. I’m down 3.9 pounds. Slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of all my friends and family. I am saving all of the recipes and tips that you have sent me and am hoping, with cooler weather, to take some of you up on taking a walk together. My friend, Suzanne, and I have joined 99 Walks, which is a motivational tool to get us walking. I’m looking forward to walking together in person or virtually. Thanks Suzanne!

One thing I have to get better at is planning meals. Some days when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is prep and cook a meal. This past week there were several days where I came home and said “NOPE!!! I’m ordering DoorDash”. This has got to stop. Not only is it more expensive than eating at home, it is harder to find healthier foods for delivery. So, Mike and I will be making up a menu, shopping, and doing some real food prep today. I want to see how much money and time we save doing this. If anyone has any tips, tricks, or recipes for meal planning, I would be grateful if you would share.

See you all next Monday for my weekly weigh-in.

Overwhelmed with your kindness and excited about the future.

Everyone has been so supportive of my weight loss journey. I’ve received so many tips and messages of encouragement the past few days. I love each and every one of you for joining my cheering squad! It was kind of overwhelming to get all the messages. You all lifted my spirits!

So far, things are going well. We’ve found some great recipes that use more Whole Foods and less processed foods. Our two favorites have been the crunchy chicken and black bean tacos and the glazed pork loin with cucumber radish salad.

Breakfast has always been hard for me because it is my favorite meal. I love everything about a good hearty breakfast. Scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, pastries, and most of all – delicious coffee. I can have eggs on Weight Watchers. They are actually a zero points food. (Please don’t ask me to explain why. I don’t care why, I’m just glad they are). Two slices of bacon cooked crispy are 3 points. Pastries – I have to cut them out all together. They are delicious but they are like Pringles to me – I can’t just eat one. LOL.

Then comes coffee. I like mine light and sweet. That means a lot of cream and a lot of sugar. Yesterday I tried having my coffee with 1% milk and Swerve sweetener. BLECH!!!! Today I am using 1 TBSP of Natural Bliss Salted Caramel creamer. It is n to sugar free. It is 2 points for each tablespoon. I did not add any additional sweetener and it is ok.

I am already feeling improvements in how I feel. I slept really well last night after working hard around the house with food prep and laundry. My mood is better and I feel that I can accomplish this task and reach my goal.

Blame in on the…

In July 2019, I bared my soul and admitted, not only my weight but that the doctor told me I had to do something about it.

I did. Joined Weight Watchers online, right after I got home from the doctors appointment. I was actually doing very well. Blood pressure down. Lost 18 pounds. I was moving more and eating healthier.

Then came Covid-19.

I am not putting all the blame on Covid though. I am fully accepting my contributions to my backslide. However, I lay about 49% of the blame on this stupid “new normal”.

Since I don’t have the best immune system, I asked put in for a work from home assignment – but only if someone with more of a reason to stay home (small children, elderly parents living with them, immune compromised themself or a family member at home.). I was given the work at home assignment to help another department handle calls from people who needed financial assistance or were looking for information. While I am grateful for the chance to stay home and healthy, I was now tethered to a computer answering calls 8 hours a day. The ringer on the laptop didn’t work, so I actually had to sit, with headphones on, waiting for a call to come in. So, what did I do – I snacked because I was bored. On top of snacking, I literally sat for 8 hours. Sitting and snacking for 8 hours. In my regular job, I would be on my feet most of the day attending to the needs of the patrons at the library. So….you got it…the weight piled on.

On top of all of the snacking and sitting, I was also an emotional wreck. My visit to my elderly (sorry Mom and Dad – I don’t think of you as elderly. When I close my eyes I see you in your 40s still.) parents was cancelled due to the pandemic. Our other mini vacation to the Flower and Garden show at Epcot in Orlando was also a victim of the pandemic. To make matters worse during this terrible 2020 shit show, we had two relatives die without us being able to celebrate their lives at a funeral or memorial service.

Then, we discovered Door Dash. Now I didn’t have to shop, prep, or cook everyday. We just ordered our food – already cooked – to be delivered. Bad find. That food is NOT healthy. Chilis, Chik-fil-A, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabbas, Metro Diner, Wendy’s, Plaza de Mexico, Buffalo Wings and Rings…all so delicious and so NOT healthy. While it helped to deal with the changing situation of food shortages and also put funneled some money into our local eateries, more pounds packed on.

About two months into working from home, I decided that, in order to stop snacking constantly, I needed to find something to keep my hands occupied. CRAFTS to the rescue.

I painted, I drew, I colored, I sewed, I taught myself to crochet. I spent my time looking for something new to learn. I started to learn Spanish. Being distracted from stress eating, I stopped gaining but didn’t lose any weight. In order to do that, I would have to start moving more.

Fast forward to July 8, 2020. My “triumphant” return to my regular job at the library. After sitting every day for three months, I could barely keep up. Between the extra weight, the lack of exercise while working from home, and the stress of being back out in the germs – I thought I was going to have to quit my job because I couldn’t keep up. I would go home and cry because I was in so much pain. It took me almost two months before I was able to keep up with my job again.

Well, I had my four month follow up with my doctor this past Friday. While it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, it was not good news. After ballooning up to 321 lbs (oh I have a hard time admitting to that in writing but I’m doing it.) I made the commitment to restart Weight Watchers and get to feeling better. At my doctors appointment, I weighed in at 317.6. By some miracle, I was only up a pound from my previous appointment.

After a long discussion about next steps, the doctor agreed to give me 3 months to make progress in my weight loss. I feel terrible, which is a great motivator. Healthy eating and food prep starts today. I did well enough on Saturday and Sunday to actually lose a pound, so the journey has begun….again.

Please, say prayers, think good thoughts, send encouragement, share helpful tips/recipes and exercises you have tried. I need all the help I can get. Each Monday morning, I weigh in. To keep my honest, the doctor asked me to email him my Monday weight.

So on with my journey….

Let it begin with me

Those who know me are aware how I feel about politics and politicians. For those who don’t know me, I am not a fan of either. I don’t like to talk about politics, politicians, lobbyists, etc. I am not perfect. I never claimed to be. As I get older I have tried to show my beliefs by how I treat other people, with dignity and respect. I don’t often speak up but I feel I should at this time.

I am a fat, white, imperfect, Catholic woman that has had very little adversity to overcome. With that being said, I need to address what is going on in our country. I am not as eloquent as some of the wonderful write ups I have seen but here it goes.

Dear People of Color,

I am sorry. I’m sorry that you and your families can’t leave your homes without fearing being judged and attacked for the color of your skin. I’m sorry that sometimes people walk to the other side of the road to avoid you due to their prejudices. I’m sorry that the color of your skin makes you a target for hatred and violence from ignorant and evil people.

I want you all to know I see you and I hear you. I see your pain. While I have not experienced your fear and pain, I can empathize.

I will continue to be kind to everyone, to speak up when I see injustice and abuse, to strive to be an example to others in how to treat people, to pray for everyone to do the same.

Please know that this white woman sees you and hears you. Please know that, when I see your children I see how precious and beautiful they are. Please know that when I see you on the street or in the store, I will always have a kind word and a smile for you (Due to the pandemic, if I’m wearing a mask, I AM smiling underneath).

I wish you all peace, love, and justice.

A whole new world.

As I sit here on the couch at the end of a day that saw me working from home AND using Telehealth services to have a doctors appointment, I think about how different thing are from just a month ago.

A month ago, I was working regular hours helping library patrons check out books and return materials. I was teaching craft and technology programs. I was laughing and chatting with library patrons and co-workers.

A month ago, I was suffering with terrible allergies, just like others. I sneezed and no one looked at me like a plague carrier. My sore throat from my head draining didn’t have me worried that I had this horrible virus that is wreaking such havoc on the world.

A month ago, I would have gone to my doctors office and sat in the waiting room not concerned that the person next to me was infected with Covid-19. Now I hop on my computer and video chat with a doctor I’ve never met before. Convenient? Yes. As thorough as a face to face appointment, not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, the doctor listened to me and I was satisfied with his conclusion and think I will be feeling better soon.

A month ago, I could sit next to my friend and chat without worrying that we would transmit a virus. Now I have to be at least 6 feet from everyone. I miss hugs and shaking hands. I miss high fives.

A month ago, Mike and I would be thinking where we could go to watch the sunset and have dinner on date night. Now we either cook at home, have food delivered, or go through a drive thru for food.

A month ago, I wouldn’t think twice about running out to Publix, Walmart, or Target. Now I have to think about gloves and a mask and whether the store will have what we need. I make sure that I thank all of the people working at the store because I have seen customers be very nasty to them. How is it the checker’s fault that there is no toilet paper? It isn’t their fault that they have no (insert what you are looking for)! Be kind always.

A month ago, many people went to work not knowing that they were considered essential during a pandemic. They went to work and did their jobs without thinking they might be called on to put their lives (and their families) on the line to make sure your cell phone worked, the shelves were stocked at the store (as much as they can), or provide you with entertainment (books, movies, liquor). Now most are working crazy hours, dealing with angry people, and still getting paid exactly the same as they were doing their regular jobs. There are some lucky ones who are getting a little more per hour, but there are just as many killing themselves for the same pay. Make sure you say thank you. Make sure you remember them when this is all over.

A month ago, doctors and nurses, first responders, healthcare workers were taking care of all of us without the thinking they might catch something from us and die. They have not stopped taking care of us now that this horrible virus is threatening them. They are doing this, in many cases, without protective gear. The fact that a nurse doesn’t have the correct mask to protect herself while caring for the sickest Covid-19 patients is so shameful. I hope the people in charge of purchasing for all the hospitals and medical offices can get some protection for their staff.

A month ago, students and teachers were looking forward to the end of the school year. There were graduation parties being planned and end of year teacher gifts being made. Now teachers are reworking their lessons so they can teach online. Parents are scrambling to make sure someone is home all day to take care of the children and help with the home schooling.

I know there is more that is changed in this whole new world but these are the ones that strike me today. I know we will all come through this completely changed. I hope it is for the better. I pray we don’t forget the lessons learned during this time and fall back into our hateful, hurtful ways.

World death toll from Covid-19 as of right now is 88,433.

Covid-19 stats can be found https://ncov2019.live/data.

The great and the wonderful

Wow! What a crazy week!

The library where I work was open as usual on Monday. On Tuesday 3/17 we closed to the public. Staff remained working. We have been checking in returned materials, sanitizing them, and shelving them. We have also been answering phone calls. Most of the calls have been “Are you open?” I am surprised that I haven’t taken any calls asking for information on Covid-19. We are prepared with websites and phone numbers about the illness as well as information on where patrons can go to make photocopies, send faxes, etc. We have begun the enormous task of wiping down all shelving, surfaces, and materials with sanitizer in preparation for the day we can reopen to the public.

On Friday 3/20 we started doing curbside pick-up of reserved materials. We have been calling patrons and letting them know how they can come pick up the materials. The system has gone pretty well and we are still tweaking it. Patron reaction has been amazing.

There have been so many announcements of free online activities, tours, concerts and more. I am going to try to start listing them here. I will also include some links that cost money that I think are worth it. I do NOT get any benefits from referring you there. I just enjoy them and want to share them. I will update the list on a weekly basis. If something really good has been announced, I will try to post it immediately. If you hear of any additional educational, entertaining, or just uplifting websites, please share them in the comments. Anything negative or snarky will not be tolerated.

Field trips

Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips – there are some great trips on here

We Are Teachers 25 Amazing Virtual Field Trips for When You Can’t Be There in Person – by teachers for teachers

The Smithsonian – I’ve never made it to the Smithsonian, so I plan on doing this one myself

Activities and Crafts

Easy Peasy and Fun Crafts and Activities – this site has some free activities as well as a subscription. There are some really cute and fun things on here.

Entertainment

Garth Brooks – Garth will be giving a Facebook Live concert on Monday 3/23 at 7pm Eastern. Go follow him on Facebook and make a song request.

Neil Gaiman – Neil Gaiman’s website has free short stories and other fun stuff. Go to www.neilgaiman.com/Cool_Stuff

Digital Ren Faire – join the Lords and Ladies of the Court for a virtual Renaissance Faire.

Fitness

YMCA 360 – always free for members but they are currently free of charge to the general public.

Stay tuned for more as I find them.

FLATTEN THE CURVE!!! Wash your hands — for 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face. Practice social distancing. Call your doctor if you have fever, cough or shortness of breath.

My observations during the Covid-19 pandemic (so far)

Some things I’ve observed as we adjust to our new pandemic reality:

THE BAD

  • Toilet paper apparently cures Covid-19 – NOT!!!  The fact that people were fighting over toilet paper in stores makes me sick.  Remember how we all came together after 9/11?  Shouldn’t we be sharing and helping each other? My heart breaks knowing that children are seeing this type of behavior. It’s bad enough we see it on Black Friday (or Shameful Thursday – when people go shopping after their Thanksgiving feast causing many to have to WORK on Thanksgiving).
  • If we are going to self distance ourselves and follow the direction of the CDC, why do you need ALL of the hand sanitizer???  When you are stuck with hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer and no food, what are you going to do?  Trade hand sanitizer for food?  Selfish.
  • Why do we all of a sudden need hand washing instructions?  What were you doing before Covid-19??? (Ew…I don’t want to know). Want go improve your hand washing and have fun doing it? Create your own 20 second hand washing song at www.washyourlyrics.com.
  • The store being out of toilet paper and ramen noodles is not the fault of the 17-year-old or 77-year-old cashier or bagger at your local grocery store.  Be kind to them for they have to hear the same demands and questions all day long.
  • While we are at it, why don’t we be kind to EVERYONE?!?!?!  Is it really that difficult?  
  • I’m tired of hearing people say things like “I’m not at risk so I’m going out” or “They just want to control us with fear”.  Guess what…just because YOU aren’t at risk doesn’t mean you can’t be a CARRIER and contaminate someone who then goes home to a parent, spouse, or child fighting cancer or asthma. Boom. You just killed someone with your selfishness.
  • People are actually STEALING MASKS AND HAND SANITIZER from hospitals, doctors offices, and public places (at least one library that I know of) that offer it to their patrons to keep them safe.  I’m floored by this.  The masks are needed by healthcare professionals that are taking care of the sick and putting themselves at risk to do so.  How much of an ass do you have be to do that???

THE GOOD

  • Internet companies have been stepping up and offering free internet service to those who can’t afford it so they can home school.
  • Online learning companies have been offering their services for free to help children keep learning during school closings.
  • Can’t go to the movies, the mall, the bars. Can’t watch sports because almost all of them are cancelled.  Guess what you can do:
    • Learn a new language (check your local library. They may have Rosetta Stone or Pronunciator for you to learn for FREE.)
    • Learn to play the guitar/piano/harmonica (check YouTube!)
    • Read a book – physical book or electronic. It doesn’t matter.
    • Write a book
    • Learn to crochet or knit (YouTube it or check out http://www.creativebug.com)
    • Write a letter and send it snail mail (You can even order stamps online to be delivered to your home or print your own label at http://www.usps.com)
    • Clean out your closets and prepare a donation box (thrift shops, goodwill, Salvation Army). They may even pick it up!
    • Check on your neighbors
  • Share a virtual trip or craft project by going online to:

    Monterey Bay Aquarium – https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

    McHarper Manor – https://www.mcharpermanor.com/blog

    Lunch Doodle with Mo Willems – https://tinyurl.com/wfkarpt

Metropolitan Opera – metopera.org

You can also google virtual museum tours, video story time, and many more cool things to keep your kids or yourself from going stir crazy.

Finally – some handy rules:

If you are sick – stay home.

Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds.

If you are told to self isolate/quarantine – do it!!!

Cough and sneeze into your elbow.

Be kind.

And because it is so important – STAY HOME!!!!!