Monday, April 30, 2012

We All Had Fun

While my sister was here visiting we went to the Lincoln Children's Zoo.  We all had fun.

It was so much fun.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's Talk Sugar, Shall We?

I wrote this post at the end of last summer, and am finally publishing it now.

We had several 14+ hour car drives this summer, and on one of them, in a fit of boredom, I began absolutely pestering Devin with questions.  I took notes on his answers, and because I am not ashamed for you to know how truly nerdlike I am, I typed them up for you.  Maybe you'll learn something too?  (These are not direct quotes from Dr. Rose.  I did my best to stay accurate, but I am just paraphrasing here.)

So what kinds of sugar are there?
There are naturally occurring sugars, added sugars, and digestible carbohydrates that are broken down in the body and become sugar.

Naturally occurring sugars are found in what foods?
They are found in fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes (i.e. plant based foods) and milk.  So, just about everything but meat.

Are naturally occurring sugars good, or should they be avoided?
They provide calories just like added sugars, but they bring with them other nutrients-so eat up.

What is an added sugar?
They have many names on a label: sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, inverted sugar, glucose, fructose, honey, molasses . . . to name a few.

Should these sugars be avoided?
That depends. If you feel like they should be, then you should. Personally, I do not avoid them. When I say I don't want a brownie, it is not because of the sugar. When I eat my bowl of oatmeal after dinner, I always add sugar to it. Sugar has its place in a healthy diet, even high fructose corn syrup. To be healthy, eat a balanced diet.  If 80% of your calories come from some source of sugar then you may have a problem.

There is a lot of hype about high fructose corn syrup. Tell me more about that.
There is no evidence in scientific literature that high fructose corn syrup is worse than sucrose for your body. Food companies use high fructose corn syrup because it is cheaper than sucrose. But they also like to use it because it is sweeter than sucrose, so they can use less of it to get the same sweetness intensity, which also saves them money. When you eat something with high fructose corn syrup, you are getting less overall sugar than if they had added sucrose.

Could you tell me what you mean when you say sucrose?
Sucrose is fructose and glucose that are combined, and when you eat it your body uses an enzyme to separate it. Sucrose is what most people think of when they hear the word sugar, granulated sugar, or powdered sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup is fructose and glucose that are already spread apart, or separated.

What else should I know about high fructose corn syrup?
One of the main concerns people have about high fructose corn syrup is the fructose part. People worry because fructose more easily converts to fat than sucrose. But sucrose is 50% fructose, and high fructose corn syrup is 42-55% fructose, which is not a significant difference. So if someone is avoiding fructose (say, in high fructose corn syrup) then they should know that they should also try avoiding sucrose, as it also contains fructose.

Anything else you want to say?
This whole discussion in the media about fructose being lipogenic is not really going to make that much of a difference. What is effective is reducing total calories and if that includes reducing sugar then that should be your main reason, rather than just blindly avoiding fructose.

Another concern about sugar is the myth that it leads to hyperactivity in children. Studies have shown that a child's activity level does not change when they eat sugar. What changes is the perception that adults have while watching the child's activity levels.

A sugar crash does occur, and it varies depending on how each individual is affected by the sugar in their bloodstream. It occurs usually half an hour to an hour after eating something really sugary. Most people will find themselves really hungry again at this point because their blood sugar is low.  At this point Devin went into some complicated, lengthy explanation about insulin and you'd think  I would understand it a little, since my brother has been diabetic since I was six, but I got none of it.  If you'd like to hear about that, just ask and we'll do another post.  Pending Devin's cooperation, and another 14 hour car drive.

It is almost impossible to cut sugar entirely out of your diet. If you tried to eat a strict no-sugar diet you would be restricting yourself to eating meat, and mustard, vinegar and vegetable oil, Crisco.  You wouldn't even be able to salt your meat, because they add dextrose to salt.  Crazy, right?

All fruits, vegetables, dairy, bread, cereal, grains, nuts, crackers, ketchup—anything you would add to your food or eat that is not a pure ingredient has sugar. It would also exclude processed meats, such as bacon, hot dogs, sausage.

If you allowed naturally occurring sugars, and only excluded foods with added sugars you would then be able to introduce into your diet fruits, vegetables, cheese, and milk.  You would still exclude cereal, crackers, cream cheese, and mixed food items.

The point is to be active, eat well, and be happy. 

What should I ask Dr. Rose about next?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thanks for Coming

Dear Sister:
I know you like to come in March best, but April turned out pretty well too, didn't it? Especially there at the end when Hanna was being MUCH nicer to Daniel.  See, now if you hadn't stayed so long she might have been a bully the whole time.  You should always stay ten days.  Apparently that's how long it takes for some of my kids go from bully to best friend.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I'm Not

a child photographer - and when I say that, I certainly mean that I am not a professional photographer of children, but I also mean that I try to avoid taking any pictures of children.  You've probably noticed that they are sort of few and far between on this blog.

I could give you a lengthy explanation about why I don't like to take pictures of kids, but perhaps it would be best if I just showed you.

 I mean, how do you get them to look at the camera?  And IF you ever manage that, how do you get them to smile?
 I don't even want to talk about posing.  It seems that once I step behind a camera I lose any authority I might have as a mother.  There's just no respect.
Now and then a few extras wander in. 

 And sometimes, my subjects just wander off.

Don't worry, I won't quit my day job.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Girl and Her Great Grandpa

I can see him sitting comfortably in a folding chair in the shade of my newly leafed tree.  His dignified white hair distinctive from my view out the sliding glass doors.  Looking at him is like looking down the bright path of my memory, into the happiest scenes of my childhood.

I can see her running across the grass toward him, her wild and carefree hair a delightful mess of peanut butter, sand, and good Nebraska wind and sunshine.  Her shirt is a hand me down from cousin Jill, her pants from a family at church, her socks a gift from Grandma last Christmas.  Looking at her is like looking onto the bright path of my future, into what will be the happiest scenes of being a parent.

She smiles up at him, asking a question.  He pats his knee, extending the invitation.  She steps closer, accepting.  He holds out his hands, she reaches up her arms.  One swift motion and she is sitting close, snug and cozy and in that microcosm, every single thing is perfect.  The part of me that stores my childhood is envious, but the rest of me is so glad she gets to know Grandpa too.

He will talk about names and places, people she will never meet and sights she will never see.  She listens with her ears, but she understands with her soul, and she begins to know who she is, to realize what family means.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Figure It Out

I found a piece of paper tucked neatly into a book that I hadn't opened in, easily, 10 or 15 years.

The writing on the paper is not in my handwriting, and I do not recognize it as belonging to anyone I know.

It is a list of words, with a few scribbled out mistakes.

I cannot for the life of me figure out:

a. what the list means
b. who wrote it
c. why it was in my book

And so, I present to you a challenge.  Can you figure out a connection that ties the words together?

I dare you, I defy you. Go ahead, try it.  Your brain will melt or something, maybe, but just try anyway.  If you DO come up with something, I will

a. ask you if you got a 1600 on your SAT
b. send a referral with your name on it to MENSA
c. ask you to home school my children.

And now, without further ado, prepare yourself - I present the list:

a companion
things to build with
a bible
suntan lotion
edible things
a boat
those little fireworks
a cow

Seriously.  Go for it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

May I See It?

Sometimes I leave the camera lying around where the girls can find it, and worst of all, reach it.  When this happens they always come running (please don't fall!) and bring it to me, begging me to take their picture.  They pose in front of me, smiling so sweetly, and then just as I am about to click for the picture, they move yelling, "May I see it please?" and I am left with this on the screen:

But really, it isn't that big of a deal because even when they do hold still long enough, my photos are hardly noteworthy.

I must say though, a really cute smile makes up for so much that the camera and photographer lack, doesn't it?

Friday, April 6, 2012


My last post got me all thinking about that summer, it was undeniably a pretty good summer.

So, I took a trip down memory lane. Indulge me?

 This is a picture of the barn we lived in.  It had no heat, and floors that sloped so you walked downhill to your bedroom and uphill to the bathroom.
 This is where we worked, a landscaping company.
 We went to the beach whenever we could.
 When we first moved in in May it was very cold still in Maine so we pushed all our beds together on one wall like this, and in the mornings sometimes we'd all snuggle close before braving the blast. Did I tell you the barn had no heat?
 If you've never had a summer in Maine, I must ask: What are you waiting for?
 The island we lived on had no fast food restaurants, one night we drove some distance to get some. We might have gone a little... overboard.
 When my beautiful sister and I were young.  Thank goodness we're still beautiful, at least.
Ah, our ingenious plan for warming up - no heat, remember?
 Some of our group from that summer. I am third from the left in both pictures.  Spencer is in the yellow in the top picture.
Taking a break at work, with one of our "bosses", Mikey.
 I must ask you again, why aren't you planning a vacation to Maine right now?
 And now I have to ask myself, why am I not planning a vacation to Maine right now?  Let's see, when is a good week for a trip?

I stole every single one of these pictures from the following people's facebook pages: Melissa, Michelle, Nicole, Alison.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Saying Goodbye

We hadn't lived here very long before I figured out something important.  Most of my friends are women I meet at church.  Most of them live here because their husbands are going to graduate school at the University.  Most of them will only be here for two, three, and when I'm lucky four years.  Most of them I will eventually have to say goodbye to.

Saying goodbye isn't really something new for me.  It has been my experience in life that people come, and people go - but most often it is me and my family that do the going.  When I made the realization that almost all of the friends I made here would be leaving, it felt strange to me that I would be the one remaining, while they went off to find their new adventures.

We have lived here for two years now, and I have already had to say a few goodbyes.  And it seems I just keep hearing about this friend and that friend whose husband just got a job there, and off they go too.  I tell you people, I am not used to being the one left behind.

A few nights ago I lay in bed, unable to sleep and I thought about goodbyes.  Some people say, "I am no good at saying goodbye" or "I hate goodbyes", and I wonder why they say this.  Do they think that there is someone out there who loves saying goodbye?  Is there such a person who wakes up, giddy at the thought of saying "So long, farewell, have a good life?" and 'boy, these tears running down my cheeks feel so good, and I'm elated at how much I'm going to miss this dear friend'?  I think not.

I thought about the goodbyes that I never really got to say.  You know how sometimes you know someone is leaving, but you keep thinking that you will have an opportunity to see them one more time, and then... you wake up one morning and realize that the last time you had seen them was, really, the last time you were going to see them, and why didn't you give them one more hug? Why didn't you make it meaningful?

I remembered one goodbye I never got to say.  It was in Maine, the summer of 2005, the summer I stepped outside of myself and tried something new.  Two of my best friends and I had moved up to Maine to work, and while there we made friends with a group of fun-loving guys who were also there, just for the summer, to work.  One night, sitting around talking, the topic of first kisses came up and everyone shared their story.  Well, I had none to share.  I was a few weeks from being 22 and the people in the room who didn't know me couldn't believe it.  I didn't see why they should be so surprised.  Yet, there it was.  And then suddenly, for various reasons, I decided to step outside myself and see what happened.  One night our group went to sit on a rock wall overlooking the ocean.  We listened to the waves and smelled the delicious Maine air and probably thought deep, profound, wise thoughts.  On the walk home I carefully engineered my position such that I was walking, and at a safe distance from the rest of the group, with the carefully selected Spencer.  I don't know what we talked about.  But as some point, the person who took over inside me when I stepped aside took a deep breath and said, "I have a favor to ask you.  Do you think that on the Fourth of July you could kiss me?"

I don't really remember how the rest of that conversation went, either, but I do know that at the end of it he had agreed, and we had an agreement.  I think at the time that I had asked him that I had maybe ten days? a week? until the fourth of July, and at first that seemed like forever.  Surely that will never really come, and I will never actually have to face that moment.  Then, suddenly, there we were, all of our group on blankets watching the fireworks.  Maybe they would never end, I thought.  Maybe the sky will go on forever lighting up in explosive flowers.  All too soon though I found myself, again part of a group, walking back to the barn where we lived.  Spencer kept looking at his watch, and then at me, and I have no idea what he was thinking.  I pushed it until five minutes to midnight, and then the person that took over inside me when I stepped outside myself took another deep breath, and went and had her first kiss.

The days of summer came and went, and it was...well, a story for another time probably.  But eventually the days added up until we had spent them all and it was time to go home.  And I never got to say goodbye.  Or, more importantly to me now perhaps, thank you.

There are two reasons Devin and I are married today.  One, because in the summer of 2005 I stepped outside myself and decided to change the course my life was on, and two because a guy named Spencer, even if he thought I was mostly crazy, showed me a few things I needed to learn.

I think it is because of that unsaid goodbye and thank you that it bothers me now whenever I don't get a chance to say a real goodbye.  And so, in particular to Megan Sayer, I'm sorry I never got to see you one more time. I really thought I would. And I really thought I would return your baking sheet.  Do you want me to mail it to you?  I mean, if you don't have your baking sheet how are you going to keep making cookies? Goodness knows, the world needs your cookies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I Think of You

One of my favorite songs from the Phantom of the Opera has always been "Think of Me".

Think of me
Think of me fondly
when we've said goodbye
Remember me
Once in a while
Please promise me
you'll try

The other day Heather played with a toy for the first time.  I gently uncurled her little fingers which she always has clenched tight in a fist.  I took advantage of that inclination newborns have, and while her fingers were uncurled I placed the toy right on her palm, so easy for her tiny fingers to wrap back around and hold on tight.  And when she shook it for the first time, such delight!  Then she smiled, and while it was not her first smile, it was her first smile caused by a toy.  I paused for a moment, and thought of someone else.

It reminded me of another little baby, one who loved rattles, and loved smiling.  I still think of you sweet baby Tabitha.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How You Can Tell

Hallie's favorite cereal has long been a topic of discussion in our house. Is it Raisin Bran? Rice Krispies? or Honey Bunches of Oats?

This morning, Devin declared once and for all Honey Bunches of Oats the clear winner, and I couldn't help but agree - the evidence was clear.

In the event that you have also been wondering about the favorite cereal of someone in your life, I give you the process you can use to discover the truth for yourself.

How You Can Tell:

1. They eat four plus bowls of it every morning (every morning that it is available, that is).
2. The squeal in undeniable delight when it is placed in the cart at the grocery store.
3. This squeal must be of the surprise-trip-to-Disneyland-where-you-meet-Justin-Bieber variety of squeal.
4.The person in question kisses the box of cereal whenever the opportunity arises.

As Devin and I discussed the now undisputed favorite cereal, I wondered longingly, is there anything in my life that I love so much?  And as I asked myself that I was prepared to feel a melancholy wistfulness for my youth, when I was excitable and wild and loved things without abandon.  That's why I was so surprised when instead of that, I was immediately filled with a list of things that I do, indeed, love that much.

Really Good Music
Easter Dresses for Little Girls
Spring Flowers

My name is Hallie Rose, and I love Honey Bunches of Oats.
What do you passionately, excitedly love?