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My American Girls - Part Two

The day after the American Girl Fashion Show auditions, the girls bought some outfits/accessories for their American Girl dolls and spent the whole day playing (together) with them.

Mariah chose a little baking kit and it was just the cutest thing.



I couldn't get over the little cupcake stand:


(the girls set everything up on Girl Scout cookie boxes because our living room is full of them at the moment)

The little tiny plates match our Valentine's dinner plates:


And the little tiny gingerbread man cookie cutter might be my very favorite:


This is Mariah's recipe book:


In case you aren't able to decipher her handwriting, but would like her recipe, it's:









The three of them had a whole little bakery set up and spent all afternoon playing:




It's so much fun to watch them get lost in their game and play, all three of them, together, having fun and laughing. Hours of entertainment for them and for me. :)


#1 question I get asked (almost daily) nowadays: have you lost weight?

Somedays that makes me smile and feel like I conquored life's biggest & most important challenge (cause that's how people act when they ask it).

And other days all I hear when people ask that is "Wow not too long ago you were really, really huge! It's really a miracle that you're close to an acceptable size now!" (which I realize may be a true statement but, nevertheless, still doesn't feel pleasant to hear).

The answer is yes, since September 28 of last year I've lost a total of 68 pounds.


#2 question that always follows is: how did you do it?

I usually try to walk away before people can ask me that, because I don't know how to answer it. Because when the weight started coming off, it wassn't even intentional....but people don't understand that, and since they're not being paid to be my therapist and listen to all my woes, I usually just say "Hm? Oh, you know....I exercised. Ate less. Whatever.".

I could say what I really did, what works for me and what doesn't, but I'm not qualified in the least to give any advice on the subject, and talking about it at any length makes me feel uncomfortable.

I did exercise, that part's true. I didn't make any goals, I just started running because nothing else I tried would clear my head and give me peace.

I started walking at first, but my mind still wandered.

So I picked up the pace and still every time I do it, for about a mile all I can think about is how uncomfortable I am, how I'd rather be sitting on the couch, or how silly I must look in my workout clothes.

But then I reach a point where ALL I can focus on is the music in my ears and my breath. And that was what I needed all along, and why I keep doing it. It's still not ever really enjoyable when I start, but for some reason the discomfort of it and feeling totally exhausted at the end of 3 miles feels GOOD. So I keep on doing it.


I am thankful I found a hobby that makes me feel good. And I'm thankful I've avoided injury while running in these hazardous things:


These ugly things have got to be close to 4 years old.....maybe more. That's OLD...especially for running shoes. One of the laces broke in half and then frayed, and so to even tie them into a bow is kind of a challenge. Actually it's impossible. Also, they're technically men's shoes. So they probably don't fit the way a running shoe is supposed to fit, but they're comfy and they get the job done. I'm on the hunt for new running shoes, and I can't wait to lace up shoes that are more comfortable, increase my speed, and keep me injury-free.


Aside from my beat-up shoes, the other things that have kept me moving are:


Music. I can NOT run without my ipod. I can walk, but I find it SO much harder to pick up the pace and run when I'm not listening to something. It has to be the right music too. I have different playlists for when I'm in the gym and for when I'm running. My favorites for either playlist are the kind of songs that I could never ever listen to in the car when I'm with the girls. So they're like a guilty pleasure:




Another big motivating force: Arissa Ronell, Mariah Grace, Mallory Mae. I like the feeling that I get when they watch me make healthy choices. I like how every once in awhile they join in on doing pilates with me on the living room floor. And watching Arissa dance and do her crazy flips reminds me of what I used to be capable of (well I was never capable of doing the stuff she does, even when I was her age, but I was more flexible & active at least).

So that's that.....wayyyyy more than anyone ever wanted to know about me & my issues!!


Somebody suggested I scrapbook some before and after photos....but when I went to look for some, I realized that I've pretty much avoided photos both before AND after I lost a few pounds. :) Plus for some reason I don't really like the idea of photo comparisons like that. It would make me feel like I was less-than okay before.

I am working hard to base my attitude about weight on what attitude I want my girls to have.

I hope my girls focus on health and how it feels to run and jump and be strong and happy......not on weight.

I hope they never count calories.

I hope they never feel like they have to exercise 'x' times a week or else they've "failed" or been "bad".

I hope they never ever establish a magic number on the scale, which they feel makes them acceptable if they're below it, and scared to death of being over it.

I hope if they ever get to a point where they decide they need to lose some weight, that they don't feel like they'll only be okay once they do lose it.

And I figure if I want those things for them, it's possible that someone might want the same for me and if nothing else: I can want it for myself.


Have YOU bought your Girl Scout Cookies yet?

We've sure been working hard selling them!

We hits the streets as a family on SuperBowl Sunday:


And of course Jesse & I put up signs and sent solicitation emails at work. :)

Neither of those things is as affective a sales strategy, though, as seeing these big ole cheeks and a smile in person, asking for $4 a box:


Happy President's Day


I am not ashamed to admit that I love President's Day. (well maybe just a little....)

So today as well as making crafts with the girls and putting away our Valentine decorations, I'm thinking of some of my favorite quotes from my favorite President:

A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.

Abraham Lincoln is my favorite President. An obvious choice, I know. He only became my absolute favorite a few years ago, after I read this book:


It was a huge book, but I didn't want it to end. And even though I knew how it would end, I may or may not still have teared up when he died. It's a lot more sad after you just read 850 pages and came to feel like you personally knew him.

How could you not love a man with this kind of humor:

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?

Or who says things like this:

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

I just love him. He reminds me a little of my Grandpa, soft-mannered, unfailingly kind, and (of course) always honest. I think he has a lot in common with Jesus also. Those are three people for sure who I would give as answers to that question "if you could invite 8 people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you choose?".

party time!

We went to a super fun birthday party to celebrate our good friend CALEB's 5th birthday:



Mallory was gone for several minutes and came back with what seemed like an endless amount of tickets:


Apparently she hit the lotto of the ticket games and won 1000 tickets.

Not once, but twice!



It was amazing.

Then, right before we left I saw a cute stuffed armadillo in the prize area that I wanted.

For 500 tickets.

So I bought some more tokens and Arissa and I played 20 or so games of basketball until we had enough tickets to redeem the little guy:


I was so happy. :)

And the girls were happy to celebrate with their sweet little friend & couldn't have had a more wonderful time:


Gotta ❥ these girls...

The girls all made Jesse the sweetest Valentine cards you've ever seen in your life.

Full of drawings of hearts and notes about why they love him.

Mariah got really in depth with hers and I had to share it:


It says:

Dear Daddy,
I love you very much. Thank you for buying girl scout cookies. You are the greatest dad in the whole wide world. Happy Valentine’s Day. You do so much for us. You are just as perfect as you can get. Did you know that I learn a lot from you? You are like a school teacher, except you love me and I love you.

Then she sealed the envelope with a kiss, and instructions not to open until Valentine's Day (which was the next morning):


So sweet.

I love it when the girls just go to town with stuff. Like when I don't see Arissa for a few minutes and I go check on her and she's making posters to decorate her desk or signs to advertise a new business she's starting up (baby-sitting, window washing, etc).

Or when I notice the house is unsually quiet so I go see if Mallory has put herself to bed early like she frequently does, and I find her in their "clubhouse", her sparkly markers all around her, coloring page after page with all these intricate details and pictures of things she loves at the moment (puppies, pandas, her family, school).

Or like Mariah and her sweet Valentine Card....when I handed them some simple blank cards and a sticker to put on it where they chose, and I assume they'll just sign their name and maybe draw a heart, and 5 minutes later I wonder what Mariah did with her card and I see she's still working on it, filling up the whole page with sweet words in her sweet handwriting to make something special for her daddy.

I ❥ stuff like that.

I ❥ my girls.


My American Girls - Part One

Arissa saw an ad in San Diego Family magazine for auditions for an American Girl Fashion Show for girls sizes 6 & 10 and begged me to let her do it. Since M&M are size 6s, I decided I'd try to sign them all up.

Note: I don't want my kids to be in anything like a "beauty pageant". Life is hard enough to get through with some self-esteem left in tact, I would never sign them up for anything where they would judged "good enough" or "not quite".

But first off, this fashion show is for charity.... to benefit the UCSD Medical Center Infant Special Care Unit. Also, these auditions were not based on who was "prettiest". The American Girl company sent the charity 50 dresses which the charity was not allowed to alter in any way, so they just have to find girls who will fit the clothes that they make and label as size 10 and size 6.

I called and the woman said they had filled up the auditions already.

Then she called me back and said she had three spots left.

Miracle #1. So I signed the girls up.

Saturday morning we googled the directions and drove up the 15 freeway and arrived thirty minutes early. I was so proud of us making such good time. We sat in the car for about 15 minutes since we were so early, but eventually I started thinking things weren't right because there were only 2 other cars in the parking lot, and no other girls seemed to be showing we went inside to make sure we were at the right place.

Of course, we weren't. We needed to be at their other location, off the 5 freeway, in exactly 11 minutes. The receptionist told us we could probably make it there in 20.

So off we went, hurrying and praying.

We missed the freeway exit because the receptionist had only given us part of the name. I took the next exit and went north, which happened to be in La Jolla near where I used to work. I have no sense of direction and I get lost frequently in Lemon Grove but I took a side street that I thought I remembered heading towards a metro area, in hopes it might be somewhere near where we were headed. It was. Miracle #2.

We found the street we needed. But it stopped halfway in a dead-end because of construction.

We found a detour. After about a mile there were no more detour signs but we drove another 6 miles before we decided we were headed in the complete wrong direction. We turned back around, Jesse suggested we try a random street that he thought went in the direction we wanted to go.

It took us right to it. Miracle #3.

I told the girls that I was sure it was a lost cause, but we might as well just walk in and let them tell us for certain that we were too late.

The suite numbers weren't marked so we ran around the building a good 3 times before we found the right one.

BUT once we got in, they let us check in (as if we weren't 38 minutes late), the girls went RIGHT in for their auditions and we walked right out. Miracle #4.






Miracle #5: All THREE of the girls made it. :)

I waited a whole week to tell them (it was killing me) because I wanted to build the anticipation and make it fun.

I printed out cards with the girls' faces transposed onto the specific American Girl doll that they most resembled, and decorated 'em a bit (w/ American Girl paper and stickers, of course):



I made a special addition as I set the table for dinner, to give them a clue of what my announcement was going to be about:


.....and then after lots of build-up, I handed out the cards and announced ( when she's giving away cars) that:

ARISSA's gonna be an American Girl model....


MARIAH's gonna be an American Girl model.....

and MALLORY's gonna be an American Girl model!!!


It was SO much fun! I love suprises (when I'm not on the receiving end) and the "big reveal" and watching the girls so happy they can't even stand it:


Last time we went to Fuddruckers, the balloon guy was there again!

He stands by the bakery and makes balloon animals/creations for tips. Last time the girls got monkeys & flowers, this time they chose:



and teddy bears:


The lips on the unicorn were so cute....and kissable:


Jesse and I didn't get one for ourselves, but we did get a strawberry shake so we were all happy anyway:


I thought that as the girls got older, I would have more time for crafts. As it turns out ,it's the opposite. Well that's not completely true, I guess it's just that when it comes to churning out unqiue, thoughtful stuff for their classmates, I am forced to cut back and simplify in the interest of time (and money).

For Arissa's Drill Team buddies we simplified big time and got them all done in one short afternoon.

I got a bunch of cute faux chinese-food containers from Michael's:


I thought about baking our own fortune cookies like I've done before....but I decided we could "simplify" it even more.

So we cut out red & pink papers:


And Arissa wrote her own "fortunes" for her friends:


We threw them in with some Hershey Kisses:


...and packaged 'em all up.


Now we can sit back and relax and wait for the best part...handing them out. :)

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