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Once more, with GUSTO.

So, some of you may know that a while ago, I tried to lose a pretty substantial amount of weight. This became an attempt at a lifestyle change... and for a while, it was working.

Even now, I still pay attention to what I eat and try my best to keep on top of it... but life is crazy, and it's easy to find excuses not to do something.

Well, my friend Tiffany approached me Sunday about her goal to lose weight before her birthday. I suggested we try to do a sort of Biggest Loser competition, to keep each other motivated. We had tried it once before, but neither of us kept the other accountable... so now we're giving it another go. Except, this time, we're going to work at it.

Our plan is to get together at least 3 nights out of the week and work out together, that way if we don't do it the rest of the week, we'll at least be working out 3 every week. It'll be perfect, because we've also been trying to figure out times when we can get together outside of work and hang out. We watch the same shows and like the same music and all that stuff... so this is a good way for us to have a chance to talk and what not. Certain days we'll get together and work out, and then watch one of our shows. Other times we'll get together and work out with a DVD, and then play something like Just Dance, to get a bit of cardio in as well as just... play a video game (lol).

We don't go to the same gym, but we've also decided what we can do is set times to go to our respective gyms, then get together after our work out for a drink or something, to talk. This way, we'll be held accountable for going to the gym once or twice a week, as well.

Anyway, this is just an update to say I AM GOING TO TRY THIS AGAIN. Huzzah.

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The Genius that is Childhood (Redux)

A couple days ago, I blogged about the sock pegs, Camden's solution to my "I can't find everyone's socks" problem. Well, he has now taken it a step further, and - as you can see in the picture - is now using the coat pegs for socks AND shoes.

We may even go as far as to use them to hang coats on... someday...

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technobabble

I am making my first blog post from my phone. I found an app that will work with Blogger. I'm still figurin it out, but supposedly I can set a Hyperlink, post pictures fairly easily, stuff like that. It could be very useful, once I figure it all out

Look, 11:11 when I was looking at the blog for my story, the 11th Hour.


Is this where I put tags? Still learning still learning

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You never really realize they're listening



I used to sing this song to Camden when he was younger, during diaper changing time. He loved it, would always laugh and clap or whatever.

I was feeling a tad nostalgic, seeing as he's pretty much potty trained now, and figured hey... if it calmed Camden down during changing time, maybe it would calm Andersen down, too. So, I sang it to Andersen and it worked! But, the best part was, I got as far as "and he said to the man running the stand, HEY!" and Camden said "BUM BUM BUM, got any GRAPES?" I sang further "The man said:" and he said "Nope, just lemonade." It was so awesome.

Later I asked him what a duck says, and he said "quack quack!" But when I asked him what a duck says at a lemonade stand, he said "got any grapes?" XD It's so cool to see that kind of stuff stick with them! And it makes you realize just how much they pick up. Camden even asked me where my car was, because I had driven my mom's car that morning. The kid picks up on stuff.

Now if I could just get him to stop referring to the church as "Lauren's house"... lol.

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They think they're sooo smart...

And nine times out of ten, they are. Children will almost always be able to outsmart me... but shh. Don't tell them that. It could be the end of me if they find out.

Last Wednesday, I had an interesting conversation with Bria. Because loose food attracts bugs, the kids are not allowed to eat anywhere but on the mat, and at the table. So, when Bria was running around with her chips, I told her she needed to put them away, or sit down at the table until she was finished with them. I then proceeded to tend to Andersen. After a bit, Bria walked up to me and presented me - quite proudly, actually - with an empty baggie.

"I'm done, I'm done!" she said. I told her that was great, that she needed to throw the baggie away and then she could go play. That was that.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I got to work early and decided to clean out my purse and, lo and behold beneath the candy, and the receipts, and my wallet, and all the other stuff in my bag, there was a layer of tortilla chips.

Near the end of my attempted clean up, I figured
I should take a picture.
 That little stinker dumped her chips into MY PURSE, and I had no idea until Sunday morning when I cleaned it out. Ha ha, joke's on me. Guess I'll be keeping a closer eye on her when she's got chips from now on.

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The Genius that is Childhood

I am always blown away by the child's ability to think outside the box. As a (sort of) writer, I kind of pride myself in the ability to see uses for things that aren't conventionally thought of, but as good as I am (narcissistic? maybe a bit), I will never be as good as my kiddos.

They seriously surpass me time and time again in the out of the box thinking. The other day, Andersen - yes, you read that right, Andersen - used one of their push carts as steps to climb up on the coffee table. Of course, looking at the thing I never saw it as steps. Now, that's all I can see!! Like one of those pictures that's either a wine glass or two people looking at each other. Once someone points out one, it's extremely difficult to see the other.

One of my favorite examples of this was the sock pegss. I have a problem with socks when watching the kids. They always seem to get separated and lost and I can never find them. Sometimes I'll have the presence of mind to take the socks off when I take the shoes off, but my kids are at the point where they can take their own shoes off all by themselves, thank you very much. Super duper!

Problem with that is, they don't always announce when they're taking their shoes off, and the socks tend to come off 5 minutes apart from each other. -_- I'll talk to them ahead of time and tell them they need to keep their socks on, which they of course respond to with "Ok Wowen ok". And then their socks always manage to "fall off" sometime later.

So I've been trying to find a way to keep them together, so they don't get lost... and recently I mentioned to Asher that if he wanted to take his socks off, he had to give them to me or put them up somewhere together. Well, he took his socks off and left them on the ground, and Camden saw them, picked them up, and stuck each one on one of the coat pegs by the back door. And they stayed there all day.

He did this all by himself. There was no "look at me!" or "help
Ms. Wowen!" He just climbed up and put them there himself.
Seriously, what a genius idea! The socks are in plain site, and together, so they don't get lost!! You can bet your bottom dollar I'll be using this idea in the future, yes sir-ee. But I never would have thought of that on my own.

Kids man. Kids.

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NaNo Update!!

It's been a while since I said anything about NaNo. In fact, it's been since November 1st... and that post was scheduled and written ahead of time so in reality, it's been longer than that. XD

Basically, it's going well. I'm having to struggle to catch up on the weekends, but hopefully this week (week 3) will go much better (not as many extra curriculars). As far as word count goes, I'm at about 30K. The 2K a word day thing is working out pretty well... except for when I fall behind and end up having to pen something like 6-8K in one day, lol.

As far as story, I'm fairly impressed. It's just a first draft, so don't expect to read it in entirety (save for like, one person), before the second draft is written. But things seem to be moving along quite well. The uncovering of the conspiracy - which is what I was most worried about when coming up with this idea - is coming along swimmingly. And my writing itself has improved.

My characters have decided to take on a life of their own. When crafting them, I had a small idea about each of them, but each has changed in interesting ways. Astrid is far more mentally unstable than I thought she would be, Colin is an introvert, Kara's slightly immature, Caleb has a stick up his butt and I absolutely detest Haylie. Even Samuel is a bit of a jerk, but he hasn't been in the spotlight as much as the others have. He may change once I get to know him better.

My "villains" have yet to really be in the spotlight, but I like the Reckoning, at least. They seem to be coming along just as solid as Team CHECK. As for Nicolae, still not sure about him. He'll probably be something that needs a lot more revision in the second draft. As of right now, he's a pretty bad dude but I don't know a lot about him. I'm hoping that will become clear later on but, I don't really know.

The most fun part about the whole thing is finding connections in the conspiracy along with the characters. There are a few things they uncovered that I didn't know they would uncover (if you're a writer, that will make sense. If not, well, just smile and nod your head lol), and I got seriously excited over some of them. One of which was the introduction of a character from my last NaNo. O_O

As stressful as it has been at times, I'm having a LOT of fun putting this all together. One thing is for certain, though... I'm more than halfway done with the 50K goal and I'm nowhere near half way through the story. The game hasn't even started yet.

I'm really excited to see how this turns out, once it's all said and done. I feel like reading On Writing right before starting this was a really good step towards getting serious about it.

If you want to check up a bit more on my progress, feel free to do so! Here is my NaNoWriMo profile. The synopsis is updated, and there's a small excerpt!! :D

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Just watch...

video

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Andersen turns 1!!

click the pic for more pictures of Andersen and the party!
(located at Mary's blog)

So. My youngest kiddo is now 1. Does that mean I don't have any more babies??? Maybe not... but I'm pretty close. As fast as they grow up in the first year, they seem to grow up even faster after the 1 year mark... I think it's because they start understanding speech, and understanding you, and they start walking and climbing and having preferences and, all in all, turning into little kids.

But what's truly been a blessing about Andersen is he's probably the first kiddo I've had that was that young when I got him. I met Camden when he was around 6 months old but didn't actually start to work with him until much later. Andersen, on the other hand, I met the day after he was born. And comparing the picture of me holding him in the hospital to what he looks like now... it seems like it was yesterday and forever ago at the same time.

Sometimes it's really hard to realize how blessed we are, but having Andersen turn 1 was kind of a slap in the face. I've gotten so many wonderful experiences with these kids and their families, and it really truly has been a blessing. They keep me on my toes and keep my imagination at full throttle, and at the very least I can always count on their smiling faces to improve my day, no matter how bad or wonderful it has been. :) They won't be kids forever, though... so cherish the moments you have while you have them.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
~Ferris Bueller

 

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A child's laughter is the best medicine


video

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You are getting hungry... verde hungry...

Tried my hand at Chicken Enchiladas Verdes tonight! It was supposed to be for Saturday night but, hey, if you can't be a little flexible with meals then you have no business cooking!

Unlike Beef Bourguignon, this recipe did not take all day to make. And, unlike Beef Bourguignon, I had never attempted this recipe before. It was a challenge, to say the least. It called for things I had never heard of before (tomatillos, for instance), and asked me to cook the one thing I really hate cooking: Chicken. But, seeing as this is my experimental cooking time, I went ahead and tried it out.


I'm not going to lie to you. About half way through this recipe, I panicked. First off, some of my tomatillos were less than desirable. Because I'd never used or heard of tomatillos before, I didn't think to check and make sure all of them were okay. I was able to use most of them, but a few had to be tossed into the trash. It was sad. Then, because I have no idea how to cook chicken, I had a mini panic attack because I wasn't sure if it had cooked all the way through (it was fine, tho, just fyi). Then, I had another panic attack because I had to use some of the chili verde sauce to mix into the chicken, and what was left over did not look like very much. Still, I kept on truckin'. 

I seriously thought these were going to turn out horrible, though. But, to my surprise (and relief!) they were VERY delicious, and the only thing I didn't like was that I didn't have more! 

FAVORITE THING: 

The recipe was very flexible. If you compare the picture of my Chicken Enchiladas Verdes with that on simplyrecipes.com, you'll notice that they look pretty much nothing alike. That's because I took quite a bit of liberty with this recipe... once I began to panic, I kind of just fumbled my way through. I used bigger tortillas and thus was only able to make 10 enchiladas instead of 12. I tore the chicken apart with my hands, instead of using a knife and fork. I used a large, sweet yellow onion which I think gave it a touch more flavor (I know my onions, trust me) and I eyeballed most of the measurements. Finally, instead of simply warming the enchiladas in the oven, I let them bake a bit. I put them in as I readied the sauce (as per the instructions), then put them back in once I applied the cheese and chile verde sauce. This made the cheese all melty, and made the chicken and tortillas soak up all of the flavors, instead of simply holding it all together. 
The chile verde sauce. This is something I am definitely going to use with other dishes. It was extremely easy to make and was so delicious! It was easily my favorite part of the meal. It was kind of sweet, and had quite a kick to it. So wonderful. Even after the sour cream was added, it was wonderful. And it went really well with the chicken. 

LEAST FAVORITE THING:

Aside from all the panic involved, I was really bummed that I didn't plan further ahead and actually have something to go along with the meal. It seemed incredibly bare, just having the enchiladas on a plate... but I don't know how to make Mexican food. I realized that it's a genre (can food have genres?) in which I'm lacking when it comes to cooking. I'm hoping I can learn some side dishes and have an actual meal when I come to this recipe again... because I will be coming to it again. 
HELPFUL TIPS: 
  1. Cook the chicken the night before. The recipe calls for you to make the chile verde sauce while you're cooking the chicken, but it saved me a lot of time to just cook the chicken the night before and refrigerate it. That way, I could shred the chicken while the sauce was cooking! And I microwaved it for about 45 seconds to get it warmed a bit. The oven did the rest. 
  2. Let it bake in the oven. As I said already, it helps melt the cheese and forces the flavors to all blend together. 
  3. Check your tomatillos when you buy them/buy them the day of cooking. This may be known by everyone else but I'm going to assume there are a few people out there that didn't know this: tomatillos are apparently very common in grocery stores. They come in little papery husks that I thought were completely attached; they are not. SO, be sure to check your tomatillos for any dead spots. A few small ones are fine, those can be cut off, but some are too damaged to take. The husk is very easy to remove, and I'm sure there isn't a law against checking your produce before purchasing it. 
  4. Double the recipe! Everyone so far has enjoyed these enchiladas, and they are all wanting more! If you plan on feeding 4 or more people with this recipe, double it. Your consumers will be grateful!
CONCLUSION: Chicken Enchiladas Verdes is a bit of a challenge in the hands of a first timer, but it is extremely flexible, very affordable (about 30$), and quite delicious. If you like cooking, and like the idea of cooking, I suggest you give it a whirl. Your family's taste buds will be thanking you! 

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A word to fellow WriMo-ers...

And after what seemed like an eternity, NaNoWriMo is finally here! Whether you're prepared or unprepared, nervous or excited, one thing remains the same: we have quite the road laid out before us!

For new WriMo-ers:
I want to wish everyone good luck as you start your novel! 50K may seem like a huge number when you're starting ("once upon a time..." only 49,996 words to go!) but you'd be surprised at how fast that number dissolves. Just remember to keep writing. You're putting together a novel in a month... do not worry about quality. Do not worry about whether or not it is understandable. Remember that, when you write the first draft, you are writing for yourself. You need not worry about the reader until you re-write. For now, just write. Write so you can say you did. Write so that you can call yourself an author. Write because you love it. And no matter how stressful things get, no matter how many tricks you need to deploy in order to reach that word count, never stop writing. You can do this!

For returning WriMo-ers: 
What is wrong with us? Haha. For those of you that have written with me before, I'm looking forward to another stressfun month! For those of you that haven't written with me before but are doing so this year: looking forward to it just as much!! To those who simply listen to me cry about writer's block and offer encouragement: you're probably not looking forward to this BUT THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.

Keep your chins up and keep on truckin'. We know what to expect... but don't let that discourage you! HA. Good luck to all of you.

For everyone: 
For some reason, I felt it was a good idea to read Stephen King's On Writing for the second time a few days ago. I didn't get all the way through, but I did come across a quote that meant nothing to me the first time through, but that I think applies to NaNo very well.

The most important [thing I learned from writing Carrie] is that the writer's original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader's. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatoively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel **** from a sitting position.
And trust me, he would know. ;) 

Good luck in your endeavors! See you on the other side!!! :D

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