Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm So Excited!!! And I Just Can't Hide It!!!

So today I have to be a little selfish and brag on myself because I am so proud of the accomplishment I have made.  It may not seem like much to some but to me it has been an uphill battle all of my life...weight gain.  I have always been the chunky kid or the slightly over weight girl in school.  Well I came very close to falling into the obese category shortly after giving birth to my son.  I was somewhat overweight before I got pregnant but nothing that would cause any serious health risks.  But I was still very unhappy with the way I looked.  I've always struggled with food and exercise because I love food and I hated to exercise.  I don't enjoy being outdoors often because I don't like the heat or bugs so a large majority of my time is spent inside.  Also since college, every job I've had had been primarily in an office sitting behind a desk.  Pretty stagnant.  So need less to say, as I have gotten older I put on a few extra pounds that later because such good friends with my body that no matter what I did, they just wouldn't say goodbye.  Then I got pregnant.  Hello 3:00 A.M. cravings for ice cream and waffles and the fact that everything I put in my mouth tasted like manna from heaven.  I was very fortunate to have an awesome pregnancy.  I rarely had morning sickness and gained just the right amount of weight at just the right rate.  I only gained 20 pounds the whole 9 months.  Fabulous right?  Right.  Except after the baby came, the weight didn't leave too.  Again, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't lose the weight.  I became very discouraged which only caused me to gain more weight because I am an emotional eater.  So I gave up and resigned myself that I would always be overweight and I went and bought big girl clothes.  If you can't lose it, hide it right? 

Well by the time my 29th birthday rolled around I had some major life events happen that caused some health issues that resulted in my losing about 15 pounds or so over the course of a few months.  Once the health issues were resolved, I decided that I needed to start eating healthier and exercising to improve my overall health.  Losing the first 15 pounds kind of jump started my subsequent weight loss and helped keep me motivated because I was already feeling so much better physically without that extra weight and was finally starting to like the way I looked again. 

Over the past several months, I have continued to exercise and eat as healthy as I can and to restrict my calorie intake to around 1500 calories a day.  Some days its more, some days its less.  I have tried more to focus on what and how much I am eating and less on the calorie or fat count.  If I want something I eat it.  It may just mean I spend 10 extra minutes on the treadmill that day.  But through hard work and dedication, I have seen the pounds drop off over the last few months.  It didn't happen overnight.  I made a promise to myself that I would not be disappointed by what the scale said and let it derail me.  Some days it reads more than I would like it too and other days I'm very happy with what it says.  All I know is those days that I'm not happy with it just means I need to try a little harder today than I did the day before, not get discouraged and give up and eat a whole box of Hostess Twinkies.  This like everything else has been a process.  And it is still on going. 

But today I reached my first goal and I wanted to shout it to the rooftops!!  For the first time in three years, I finally weight less than I did when I got pregnant with my son.  Not only have I lost the 20 pounds I gained while pregnant, I have lost almost 10 more.  I have gone down 3 pants sizes and I feel great!!  I have discovered the stress relieving effects of exercise and that some days I can push myself harder than others but it's ok if I don't always give 100%.  10% effort is better than no effort.  I don't lecture myself or get discouraged if I am not able to exercise on a particular day.  I just tell myself that tomorrow is another opportunity.  Even when I don't feel like exercising, I have found that if I tell myself I'll just go for 10 minutes, I usually end up staying much longer and feel better as a result.  I want to use this as an opportunity to encourage others who are suffering with extra weight that you can do it!  You have to just make the decision and then not judge yourself too harshly.  It will take time but anything worth doing or having does.  Don't come up with some ridiculously strict diet or exercise program.  You'll only be setting yourself up to fail.  Take day at a time.  Start off just planning to spend 30 or 40 minutes a week exercising and limit the amount of junk food you eat.  Then add another 30 minutes a week and try also limiting the cutting back on fried foods and replacing them with healthier grilled foods instead.  The most important part is to know your limits and weaknesses and to not set yourself up to fail but to succeed.  Find a partner to help keep you accountable who will encourage you on the days that your struggling.  Set several small goals that are obtainable to be able to see your progress instead of one large goal that seems so far away.  Also don't set a goal that isn't obtainable for you.  Remember we all have different bodies and what is healthy for one person might not be for you.  Don't judge your self by how someone else looks or thinks you should look.  Just strive to be the best and healthiest body that you can be and you will find you are much happy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Need Some Sleep. Sleep? Sleep? What is Sleep?

So it's 1:27 A.M. on Saturday, November 16, 2013.  I'm still awake.  Not even sleepy.  Tired, yes.  Worn out, yes.  Mentally exhausted, yes.  But able to sleep?  Not a chance.  What is sleep?  Many mothers don't have that luxury and it's even more valuable when you happen to be a single mom.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining.  I love my Little Man more than life itself and I wouldn't trade one moment of his existence for all the sleep in the world.  He's what keeps me going.  Knowing that what I sacrifice will hopefully make his life just a little bit better or just a little bit easier.  I would give everything I own, even the breath from my lungs to see his smile and to know that he is happy.  But that's what mom's do right?  Mine would do that for me, in a heartbeat.  Even though it's a struggle and sometimes I really want to give in and just hide under the covers, I am so thankful for my son and for having him in my life.  Even though me and his dad aren't together any more, I don't regret any of the heartache I went through with my ex when I hear his sweet voice call me Momma and feel him put his little hand in mine.  That is enough to erase the worst pain imaginable.  So I trudge on.  For him.  So that he can grow up to know that he has a mother that loves him more than anything.  Our newest thing is I ask him if he knows how much I love him.  His response is always, "To the moon and back" but I love him even more than that.  There are no words to describe the feelings and emotions that swamp me when I look at his sweet face.  Oh believe me there are times when I want to kill him and I think, "Lord, you know patience is not one of my stronger virtues."  But then we all know that the Lord has a sense of humor and my son is my exact mini-me in looks and eccentricities.  I swear some times I feel like I am looking in a mirror and think, "Oy! Am I really that annoying?"  And my parents just smile at me with that smile you would give to the village idiot and go about what they were doing.  It's just his growing up so fast and I feel so inadequate sometimes.  I think, "I don't know anything about raising a kid.  Especially a son! What if I screw this up and he ends up needing years of therapy to function normally?"  So I pray.  A lot.  I pray that God guides me in how best to raise him and to teach him how to be polite and have good manors.  I make sure to tell him I love him as much as I can and to make sure he understands and believes it.  I just want to do right by him.  I don't want him to grow up and feel like something was missing.  I want to see him succeed where I have failed.  I want him to be confident in who he is.  Just the random thoughts from a single mother in the middle of the night.  Until next time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hi, My Name is Candice...And I'm Addicted to Facebook; and Other Random Thoughts of the Day.

           So hi.  My name is Candice and I am addicted to Facebook...again.  I go through phases with it.  I was addicted back when they first started all the game stuff when Farmville and Mafia Wars were fun and not so complicated.  Then I just got irritated of all the game requests and lack of real entertainment value in my new feed.  The next time my addiction reared it's head was shortly before my birthday this past year when I got a phone that would actually access the internet faster than dial up speeds.  This is also when I discovered my love for Andy Biersack but that's for another post.  With my new lighting fast phone in hand and no job in sight, Facebook became my closest companion once again.  Then reality struck and I had to be a grown up again and actually work for a living. So Facebook and I parted ways yet again.  Now for the third time in my life, I have come back to my good friend all be it a little altered from before but in such a way as I think we will enjoy a lasting friendship this time around.

            Now for the next random thought I had today.  Where have leggings been all my life and why and I just now discovering their awesomeness?  I have jumped on the leggings and skinny jeans bandwagon and I am in love.  I never thought that they would look good on me because I always thought my thighs were too big but I have found that with the right tops they are amazing and so comfortable.  I have even worn them tucked into boots which I was positive that I could never pull off.  Now I'm not saying I look like a runway model or anything but I don't look as grotesquely disproportionate as I expected.  Plus since they are so snug to your legs, they are surprisingly warm.  This is not a good revelation for me as Lord knows I need another obsession to spend money on but I can't wait to buy more.  And the funkier that pattern the better.  So far I have stuck to the neutral colors but only because I have not had the pleasure of finding any in such wonderful patterns yet as so often seen on the internet.  I must search these out so that I can add to my quickly growing collection. 

        Third random thought for the day.  I'm baking again this week.  Four cakes total but three of them are double layer so that means in actuality I have baked seven cakes.  And to my utter astonishment they all came out beautifully.  The cake gods have smiled on me this week and taken pity from my last disastrous endeavor.  But I am well ahead of schedule so they should be glorious for the Sugar Rush bake sale Saturday.  I have started the icing process on two and am pretty sure I will be able to get all the rest of the icing done tomorrow night. 

         That is all the randomness I have for today.  Check back later for more useless information and activities that happen in the life of a single mother.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Proof that I have a child.

           In today's post, I'll be sharing multiple stories that are all related to the joys of being a single mother of a toddler.  I hope that they bring you enjoyment in knowing that there are others out there who don't always have it all together but who do the best that they can for their children even in the worst of situations.  I'll be the first to tell you that I am usually a hot mess and at least 15 minutes (ok 30 minutes) late for everything.  I feel that I'm worth waiting for and always need to make a grand entrance.  Or so I'd like for everyone to believe.  The truth is I'm a horrible judge of time and how long something will actually take me to finish.  I always think that I can get up and be ready to go out the door in 15 minutes when in reality it takes me about 15 minutes to get out of bed and to the bathroom first thing in the morning and at least another 30 to finish my morning ablutions.  But enough of that.  On to the proof that I really do have a child as the title of this post implies.

Variations on a Theme #1:
           So it's Monday again.  Back to work and back to school.  So that means I have five hundred things to remember to take to school for Little Man.  We both hate getting up early and neither one of us are morning people so Monday mornings usually start with a lot of alarm snoozing and then a constant barrage of, "Wake up Son.  We have to go.  I need you to get dressed. We're running late," and so forth.  Well this morning was no exception but some how I managed to get us both dressed and out the door.  However as we are getting into the car my son decides that he doesn't want his previously requested breakfast muffins but instead would prefer his gummy fruit snacks.  So I run back in the house for the first time.  Yes the first time.  As I am pulling away from the house about to turn onto the street, I suddenly remember that I didn't grab his sheet and blanket for nap time.  So I turn the car around and run back into the house for the second time to retrieve them.  This was a good morning in that I only had to go back into the house twice and only had to turn the car around once to collect forgotten things.  Usually there are at least 3 trips back inside and 2 turn arounds one of which usually takes place from the school back to the house and back to school again.  That has happened more times than I'd like to count.  Luckily for me the two are relatively close to each other so the trips are short.  Never the less the multiple trips still make me late for work.  I just continue to set the goal of being on time the next day and carry on.  One day I will achieve it.

Variations on a Theme #2:
             Anyone who knows me well, knows that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the cooler change the weather takes and the colors that the leave turn and the crisp snap of the autumn air.  I love dressing up and pretending to be something fabulous for that one day out of the year.  It is the only time of year that all social norms can be thrown out the window and your true uniqueness can be expressed without fear of judgment.  But this year the weather was rather uncooperative for the festivities that usually ensue on All Hallows Eve.  We woke this past October 31st to howling winds and pouring rain that continued on for the better part of the day.  It really hampered my mood as I did not want to think about traipsing around the town in puddles of water with a soon to be three year old.  But we lucked out and the hurricane like winds dried up most of the moisture that the sky chose to dump earlier during the day.  But when the time to go trick or treating rolled around, I was worn out from helping in Little Man's class with their Halloween party and then playing catch up at my job.  Oh and if you've read my previous post Disasters in Baking, you'll also know that I had to bake and decorate a birthday cake that night.  But I was determined to take my Little Man trick or treating.  So I through on a somewhat watered down version of the grand Halloween costume I had intended to wear and preceded to take Little Man out.  We first stopped to see a dear church friend who loves Little Man as if he were her own.  He thoroughly enjoyed playing her grandkids drum set and I see one in our future.

        After that, we continued on to my cousin Ellen's house where Little Man had an amazing time chasing her son D around the house flying in classic Ironman style.  Then JE and D took Little Man and I around the neighborhood to collect candy.  Sadly there were not many houses passing out this year.  I guess the early bad weather hampered their Halloween spirits as well.

          We ended the night with a quick stop at Mammy's house to collect our final loot and called it a success.

Variation on a Theme #3:
The sleepy head.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Love is in the air?

    I have a new love.  Well really I guess it is a second new love.  My first new love is the gym but that's for another post.  I have discovered that I love journaling so I thought, "why not post all those wonderful thoughts in a blog for everyone else to enjoy?"  Am I over assuming that my periodic ramblings are so grand and full of knowledge and inspiration that others will actually want to spend their precious minutes reading them?  Not really.  It's your dime.  I'm just using this as an outlet to vent.  I'm not forcing you to read any of it.  That being said I do hope that someone will read my neurotic ramblings and hopefully glean something of importance from my experiences or at the very least have a good laugh. 

       So yes my second new love is journaling.  I discovered a few months ago that writing down all the random thoughts that float through my head actually helps to organize them and quiet some of the louder ones that refuse to let me sleep at night.  I've found that it's really very therapeutic to put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to keys, and just let my thoughts, ideas, and feelings flow as they bounce around inside my skull.  I very rarely sit down to write with any kind of specific goal or purpose in mind.  I find that if I just let my fingers have their way, what is really at the heart of my stress or unrest comes to the forefront and in a way is exorcised leaving behind a serenity and peace that is hard to find in this busy life I lead.  I use it as a way to communicate with God and for him to speak back to me through the movement of my pen.  I don't know if anyone will ever ready any of this or if my words will even make sense to anyone other than me but my prayer is that they might touch just one person out there who thinks that life is too hard or too much to bear and will be turned around by knowing that we all go through things that are out of our control or not of our making.  I pray that that person will maybe not feel so alone but know there is a kindred spirit out there that knows just what they're going through and has come out on the other side victorious.  I write tonight for you.

      When I sat down at my computer tonight I did not have in mind to write the words that now seem to be pouring out of me fast than my fingers can type.  But I feel that this is what needs to be said.  Life goes on.  We live. We lose.  We learn.  We continue to live.  None of this is possible without God though.  He is the strength we need to continue to live.  I know he is mine.  Today at church was the anniversary of the first service held by The Vine Church of Memphis and although I was not at that very first service, I was honored to be a part of the celebration of 6 years of ministry that took play today.  There was such a sweet spirit that greeted us there today.  Such a loving spirit of God that feel like a warm embrace from a long lost loved one.  I felt so blessed to be there in the presence of God as he ministered to so many who were hurting and in need of his touch.  I hope that they continue to carry his blessings with them tomorrow and through the week as we ready for bed tonight to prepare for the start of a new week.

      In the start of this new week, I feel as if I have been started anew as well.  I have a peace and an expectancy in my soul that I know is from God.  Seventy days ago, we put a seed in God's hands as a symbol of our faith that what he promised us would come true.  I have a feeling that his promises to me are not only going to continue to come fruition but are about to multiply and grow by leaps and bounds beyond anything that I could ever imagine.  And I am excited and looking forward to it like a child to Christmas morning.  He has had me from day one of this uphill battle and I have learned along my journey to trust in him and let him guide me.  I have learned the hard way more than once that when I push and start to think that I know better than God what I need that I fall flat on my face or in a pit that on he can get me out of but that if I trust in him and what he says I always come out smelling like roses.  I am so blessed.

       Something dawned on me today as I sat there and listened to the word sent fourth through Pastor J.  God said he would give me enough.  He said he would provide what I need.  Not necessarily what I want because what my flesh wants might not always be what is best for my soul but that he would provide what I need and that it would be sufficient.  As I sat there thing that I just barely get by and don't have any extra at the end of the month for frivolous things like boots or clothes, I realized all my bills have been paid these last few months and every one paid on time for the first time in years.  I have a roof over my head that doesn't leak and that keeps me protected from the elements.  I have a nice car that takes me to work.  I have clothes to cover my body and I haven't gone hungry for even one meal.  So yes I have enough.  I have had enough that I can bless others and not fill a sting.  Yes my finances may be so tight they squeak but I've not had to decide which bill I am going to pay over the other or worry where my next meal is going to come from.  God has provided my way and paved my path.  He never said it was going to be as smooth as glass but merely that he would be there to catch me when I stumble and that he would never let me fall.

      Again none of this is what I had in mind to share tonight.  I figured I would be witty and funny in the only way I know how and merely share a sliver of my life for a minute.  Instead I've shared my testimony and how God has changed my life and truly saved me from a destruction that I was barreling toward blindfolded.  Yes I've had hard times.  Yes I've cried.  Yes I've questioned and argued and questioned again.  But in the end He has always known what is best for me and has steered me toward a greater destiny when I simply get out of His way and let him lead.  My journey has been one of much learning and I pray that it doesn't stop anytime soon.  I hope that my words here will speak to one of you out there in TV land and give you hope that all is not lost as you fear.  It may seem that you've lost the battle but God is fighting your war and if God is for us, then who can be against us?

       I'm going to start this new season with a spirit, mind, and heart that is focused completely on God and truly allow him to use any talents I possess to further his kingdom.  And I know that I will be rewarded and blessed by Him.  So when I say love is in the air, I mean that literally.  God's love is everywhere.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Disasters in Baking

Every good baker knows that the weather affects how well your cakes rise, whether or not your candy will set, or if your soufflĂ© will fall.  But I am willing to bet that not many of you know that your mood and frame of mind can also affected how your baked goods turn out.  I found this out the hard way.  Continue reading for the tale of the Distracted Baker.

            About a week and a half ago, a good friend asked me to make her son a birthday cake and at the time I thought, “no big deal,” so I gladly informed her that I would love to make her son’s birthday cake and I preceded to dream up a grand and glorious cake that any 16 year old boy would drool over.  So I immediately started researching his interests to see if there was anything that I could draw inspiration from that could be recreated in my delicious frosting.  Sadly every picture that Google returned to me was either completely made out of fondant or looked like a 3 year old had done it.  I guess this should have been my first clue that I was doomed to failure as I am never at a loss of ideas or how to recreate something with my own flair in my chosen medium.

After going back to my friend for more information and to regroup on his interests, everything I could think of that a young boy might like did not fit in this case.  I was at a loss.  So I decided that simple was the best.  I would make it masculine without being too grown up or too young and it would be less work for me since I had neglected to take into consideration that I would be baking this cake during the Halloween holiday and amidst orchestrating an entire food court for a church play.  Silly me to forget I’m not Wonder Woman.  My thighs are much larger than Linda Carter’s.  But I carried onward wayward son and after several misfires persevered. 

 In the end, I baked 5 different cakes in order to get two that were usable.  This has never happened to me before.  I have never had so much trouble baking the cake.  That is usually the easy part.  Icing the beast is where the skill and prayer, a lot of prayer and not to mention tongue biting, comes into play.  This time however it was as if I were a zombie trying to bake this cake.  My cake recipe is very simple, 1 box of cake mix, 1 packet of a secret ingredient, 4 eggs, and 1 cup of water, mix it, bake it.  Easy.  Well this time I was also using a chocolate chip fudge swirl and that is where the madness set in.  I mistakenly used my secret ingredient in the fudge and then added too much water to it because I had the biggest blonde moment of my life and forgot how to read simple instructions.  So the first cake would not rise or set through the middle.  See below for that monstrosity.


On the second cake, I made everything correctly but I forgot to spray the pan so needless to say only half of the cake came out.


The third attempt wasn’t much better as yet again I misread the instructions and added to much water but I also decided to go the old fashioned way and use the oil that is called for on the box directions.  So this cake just had too much liquid and was extremely runny.  So I decided to add a little of my secret ingredient to try to thicken it up.  Big mistake.  This cake not only didn’t rise it shriveled into a 80 year old version of a cake and was about a half inch thick which was much too thin.  I was so disgusted with this cake that I immediately threw it away and neglected to take a picture.  You should be thanking me though as it would give you nightmares.

The fourth cake I made was miraculously a success simply by the grace of God and the fact that I was about 5 seconds away from running to the Wal-Mart bakery and buying a premade cake to try to pass off as my own.  After that I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Day Two in Disasters in Baking:

 So day two was supposed to only be icing but since I had failed so miserably the first day to produce two sufficient cake layers, I still had one cake left to bake.  So I ran to the store as soon as I was released from work to buy my ingredients and get home to get my cake in the oven so I could take my little Ironman trick or treating.  Now if you’ve been keeping up with the story, you should know that at this point I am out of eggs.  There are twelve eggs in a carton and I’ve baked three cakes that require 4 eggs a piece and 1 cake that required 3 eggs.  This was only possible as my mom had three eggs left in her carton and I had previously purchased an additional carton in which I only intended to use 8 eggs.  We now know that this was not the case and all 15 eggs have been used.  So what did I forget to buy at the store?  All together now, EGGS!!! 

So as I’m putting the dry ingredients in the mixer and trying not to get chocolate on my costume, I dawns on me, I have no eggs.  Such is my life.  So I quickly jump in the car and run to the nearest grocery store to pick up eggs.  Again by the grace of God the fifth cake turns out beautifully and I am now ready to go cavity collecting with my little guy.  We had a wonderful time but I had not anticipated the lateness of when we would return with his newly acquired candy stash.  Remember, I have only baked the cakes.  I still have to frost and decorate which I’ve already mentioned is normally my weak point.

So I say a quick prayer for a steady hand and begin to tackle the crumb coat, which also ended up being the top coat as well.  I was too impatient to let the first coat of icing dry enough before beginning the final layer of icing so there were little bits of cake in the final layer.  Ho-hum but what are you gonna do?  Also the icing did not want to stay on any of the corners or edges so a light bulb finally goes off and tells me, “Hide it with the border!” 

On to the next step, piping!  My aunt was generous enough to loan me some of her baking supplies which thankfully included food coloring and I ended up with a gorgeous blue that was dark enough to not be pastel but still taste good.  Somehow this phase of the process when off without a hitch and I finally felt like I was in the zone and the ideas and juices were flowing.  Even after all of the trouble I had to endure, I’m pretty pleased with the final result.

So the moral of the story is this.  Don’t bake when you’re already overloaded with a million other things running through your mind or when your mood is less than perfectly positive because your emotions will affect your baked goods.  I can only hope that this cake tastes good and not of exhaustion, crankiness, or orneriness as I experienced all this and more while baking it.  I hope that you can all learn from my misadventure in baking and check back soon to see what other fiascos I will encounter in my life as a single mom.