Friday, January 24, 2014

Introducing, the Slop Dog

Sometimes, memories live in tastes.

A couple years ago, I asked for family members to share with me some of their "iconic" recipes (shoutout to my sister for gathering them all for a very thoughtful Christmas present!). In my paternal grandma's batch was something called "Ham and Cheese Rolls." This did not ring a bell for me, and I found it odd she'd included it with her lemon squares and lasagna.

This past Christmas, I connected the dots.

At one family gathering, my mom was concocting what appeared to be the weirdest amalgamation of ingredients into one huge bowl. I saw chopped ham, mayo, chili sauce, cubed cheese, and hard boiled eggs. It was all mixed together and then put into hot dog buns, wrapped in foil, and baked.

I was like, where did these come from?

My mom said, "Grandma used to make them all the time. She called them ham and cheese rolls, but your dad always called them slop dogs."

The latter seemed very apt. Looking at the now-melted mush of ingredients, I can see why my 6-year-old self didn't go crazy over these things. I mean, hard boiled egg??

I took a bite. And there it was. I knew this taste, vaguely, but there it was. My older sister said my grandma used to make them on New Year's Eve, and I remember them now, their smell and texture. I have a feeling I only tasted them once or twice as a kid, but it's not a taste you forget.

It is unique. It is odd. It is good. Over the course of my time at my mom's for Christmas, I polished off many a slop dog. Try them for your next picnic.


1/2 pound cubed ham
1/2 pound cubed sharp cheese
1/3 cup sliced green onion
2 hard cooked eggs
1/2 cup sliced stuffed olives (we may have skipped these)
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1/2 cup chili sauce


Combine all ingredients. Pile mixture into split hot dog rolls.

Wrap in foil - Twist ends securely.

Place on grill over medium coals, turning frequently. OR Bake in hot oven 20-30 minutes, 350 degrees.


Inspired by the prompt, "Share a recipe that everyone in your family loves" in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Bloom Is Off the Rose

Hello from Week 3 of January commitments. This is the first week I've felt moderately blah about my fitness and food efforts. There are reasons for this, besides the fact that motivation ebbs at times--I have a cold that has me exhausted and sneezy, Munchkin is hoarse and I'm stressing it will turn into something that requires a doctor's visit. And my back tweaked again and that is always annoying. Last night was the first night when I felt, seriously, that's ALL the calories I get??? I just wanted to munch and graze.

BUT, I didn't. I had just enough calories for dinner and I didn't have a sweet snack afterwards. This is nigh a miracle! Keep on, keepin on.

  • Track all my food. Still doing. I lost 3.4lbs this week for a total of 14.7. Not too shabby. 
  • Get at least 8,000 steps a day. Doin it, though it has been a challenge with this cold. I am not able to step it up at all like at the gym, so I'm doing a lot of walking around the house at night. That also means, I'm right around 1,200 calories a day and that is a challenge as well.
  • Take the stairs. Yes to the stairs, though I took the elevator once because I had to print something before a meeting and the clock was ticking and again because I was carrying 50lbs of bags and with my back I didn't think it was smart to haul them up 9 floors.
  • Meditate 5 days a week, even for just 5 minutes. Missed one day this week, but still going.
  • Floss. What's flossing?
 This week marks the last one before vacation! One more big push until a much-needed break.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Still Going Strong

Week 2 of January commitments to getting healthy went very well. Here's the rundown:

  • Track all my food. Still doing, and it's getting easier now that I've become familiar with the calorie count for many of my go-to foods--not so much looking up. I was pleasantly informed by my weekly FitBit report that I ate 7,000 calories less than I burned this week--that's exactly on point for eating 1,000 calories less than I burn each day, the goal for 2lb weight loss a week. This week, I lost 6.8lbs for a total of 11.3lbs. I know this is faster than recommended, but when I was "on" during my big weight loss in 2001, I did lose quickly. And, my weight fluctuates daily (I'm weighing myself every day), and so tomorrow I very well could be up 2lbs. I'm just going with it, knowing that I'm doing my best with food and ...
  • Get at least 8,000 steps a day. ... walking! I am LOVING the walking. I haven't always been a fan, but I am really enjoying it now. Last week, I averaged over 10,000 steps a day. I also did some harder jogging at the gym a couple times, but I'm really focused on the step total.
  • Take the stairs. Still rocking the stairs. I can't say it's getting easier, but I haven't been in the elevator for like 10 days. It's nice.
  • Meditate 5 days a week, even for just 5 minutes. Yep. I still don't know if it's doing anything, but I'm trusting it.
  • Floss. #Fail. Once this week.
This weekend poses some challenges, as we're going out to lunch with some friends, and it's another friend's birthday. I'm mentally prepped, but encountering these things is different from thinking about them. But I will succeed!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Believe Me, You're Better Off Without It

My Munchkin, my sweet baby, unclench your teeth from the pacifier.

Because, though I still see the bald baby who rocked the Army crawl across the carpet, you are a big boy now, with a big boy haircut and big boy shoes and long, long big boy legs. You speak big boy sentences and have big boy interests and love big boy games like “twista-twista” and forward rolls with Daddy on the big bed.

Though you still sleep in the crib and you still grasp my hand as you drift off, though you don’t yet wear big boy pants, you are a big boy. You are. And you can handle life without the pacifier. You’re better off without it.


Here are the logical reasons:

You’re biting it more than sucking it. And you’re wearing the boppys down and causing knicks and holes and Mommy is constantly vigilant over them and it’s driving her crazy worrying you will bite the end off. It’s safer now, with your big boy teeth, if you let it go.

You talk more when you don’t use it and we love to hear you, Daddy and I, we love your little voice and your observations.

I’ve hated that thing since the hospital gave it to you without my knowing. I should have stopped it then, when you were just 1 day old, since it wasn’t my choice to start. What did I know, on day 2 of motherhood? 

But these are my reasons. They aren’t yours. Why are you better off without your boppy?

I could answer more effectively if I didn’t feel I was lying to you. Because Mommy’s secret is this: That blanket stuffed under her pillow? That’s her baby blanket. It is over 30 years old, and it shows. Mommy still rubs the silky edges when she goes to sleep.

Some people used to tell me I was better off without my baby blanket and I dismissed them. They do not know.

But here is the thing I will say. I don’t need my blanket now. It doesn’t travel with me, and I fall asleep as normal in its absence. It’s a comfort I keep because I choose it.

And you don’t get this yet, but I do: You are strong. You are better off without that boppy because letting it go gives you the freedom to speak your mind, and you have such a mind. You have such true and sharp things to say.

Don’t ever hide behind a crutch because it’s comfortable. Spit out the boppy and speak. You will be better off.

Inspired by the prompt, "You're better off without it" in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Could Walk 10,000 Miles

Well, that's how I feel today! Because after a week's concentrated effort, I'm finding that 10,000 steps a day is not so daunting.

A week into January resolutions, things are going very well. I have my eye on the short-term prize, which is a trip for Hubs and me to St. Lucia. The goal is to be good with food and exercise all the way until we leave, which is soon! Then, we plan to work out together while we're away, but I can tell you I'll be indulging in the "free" (read: all inclusive) food and drinks for the week we're off sunning ourselves and connecting as a couple.

An update on my commitments for the month:
  • Track all my food. Done and doing. I'm a Weight Watchers gal, but right now I'm tracking all my calories (even lettuce and celery!) in my FitBit app. I love this. My available calories adjust throughout the day as I walk/move more or less. I love having it all right there. I've "nailed" my calorie goal every day for a week, have eaten between 1,200 and 1,600 calories a day, and lost 4.5 pounds in a week. (Mostly water weight, I'm sure.)
  • Work out 5 days a week. This has sort of morphed into my next commitment.
  • Get at least 8,000 steps a day. I hit and exceeded this goal. On days I went to the gym to walk for about 30 minutes, I easily hit 10,000 steps. Days I didn't, I worked for 8,000 steps. I have decided to take my "working out" slowly, focusing mostly on steps rather than miles or speed. I'm not in great shape and I don't want to push my body too hard, so while I've been to the gym several times this week, it was to walk more and only slowly jog about 8 minutes, if at all. I'm taking the fitness advice that walking is the best thing you can do for your body to heart. I love hitting 10,000 steps. And, honestly--it's not that hard. I thought it would take so much work. It just takes about 45 minutes of concerted effort a day. The rest falls into place. Hubs and I walk around our house at night, just back and forth, back and forth, and Munch walks with us! He says "I steppin too!" I can't wait for spring.
  • Take the stairs. Boy have I nailed this one. Every day I've been in the office for the past week, I have walked up and down the stairs. I work on the 9th floor. This means that when I get in in the morning, I walk up the 9 floors, deposit my stuff and check my email, then head back down and walk to Starbucks, then walk ANOTHER 9 floors back up. It feels like hell while I'm doing it, but it feels awesome afterwards. 18 floors by 10am isn't too shabby! I've only been in the elevator twice this week, when riding to and from a meeting with a colleague.
  • Meditate 5 days a week, even for just 5 minutes. Done. I do a 5 minute guided meditation every morning before my shower. I don't know if it's doing anything, but I'm going to keep doing it.
  • Floss. Um, twice this week. Will try to be better. Why is flossing so impossible, I ask you?
Here's to another awesome 7 days!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Breaking Bad Habits: Weekend Meals at Home

For the past several months, Hubs and I got into the very unhealthy habit of eating out for most of the meals between Friday night and Sunday night. I don't know, when 5pm on Friday hit, it's like something clicked in our minds and it was all restaurant food all the time.

Part of it was being busy and overwhelmed with the holidays and just life. Despite what Rachael Ray may contend, ordering takeout or running to Chipotle takes much less effort than making ANYTHING, even a sandwich, in my own kitchen. There are no veggies to chop, heck no veggies to BUY, and someone else does all the work.

And another part of it is that WE LOVE FOOD and we love takeout and we love restaurants. We just love eating. What we don't love is the effect that had on our bodies! And it has had one.

And once again, a lesson I'm learning over and over is that I can't go lax on myself with food. Some people can take or leave food. If given the option, I am like GIMME, all day, every day. I need to set limits on myself.

So, part of "get our butts in gear" January is to not eat out for dinner or meals on the weekend for the entire month. Not even our beloved go-to Chipotle, which is actually healthier than most takeout if you do it right--but it still is a lot of calories, and we got into the habit of splitting a bag of chips, which are decidedly unhealthy.

And that's what eating out turned into: a habit. So much so that this weekend, on Saturday night, Hubs turned to me and said I really feel like we should be going to Chipotle. We'd programmed our bodies, in a very Pavlovian way, to expect Chipotle for dinner on the weekends. It felt WRONG not having it, my body and mouth were like WHERE IS MY CHIPOTLE WITH THE AMAZING CITRUS-Y RICE???

We needed to break that habit. We need to reprogram our minds to expect a nice cheesy veggie burger (an awesome veggie burger with BACON) and a big homemade salad.

I know that so much of my problems with food are wired into me. I used to eat a Luna Peanut Butter Protein Bar every morning. That is practically a candy bar, despite its name. And my mind just wanted it. It took several weeks of changing my breakfast routine to not immediately crave a Luna bar as soon as my mind was fully awake.

So I need to trust that eating an apple after work will eventually be wired into me. That if I push through the cravings, I won't constantly want Chipotle.

Don't get me wrong, once January is over, I'm positive we will institute a Sunday night Chipotle night again. On Sunday nights, with Monday morning looming, Chipotle is a must. But that will be the ONLY meal out on weekends, and we won't get chips. And that'll be a big change that we worked hard for.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Back, and Forward

What do I say after not posting for over 2 months? It's like what you say to a friend you haven't spoken to in months--so much has happened but when you try to boil it down to a few sentences, you just say, Not much has been up with us, same old thing.

But that same old thing--LIFE--was busy and wonderful and stressful and blessed for the last few months of 2013.

I had a blog-life crisis in October. I had a social media crisis then too. In that, I decided I hated them. All of them, all of it, forever and ever, Amen. I hated the seemingly self-serving self-reflection, the narcissism EVERYWHERE, the know-it-all tones. Mostly, I feared that my little baby munch, when he's not so little or so baby, when he's teenage munch or adult munch, will say, why oh why did you feel the need to chronicle every time my snot turned green or I refused to sleep, for all the world to see and judge and comment on?

What if my son is intensely private? What if he's horrified reading my words? I don't think this will happen, but it could. He's a person, and a person has a right to say, don't put that out in the world about me.

I've missed blogging, but not desperately. In October, I quit Facebook FOREVER, hand to God. I cut down on Twitter. And I got less clutter-feeling, and I liked it.

But, I am a writer and I miss this writing. I won't be writing about Munch so much, no no. I won't be chronicling the ways motherhood freaks me out or bears me up. Well, maybe some.

So I'm still having a bit of a blog-crisis, but I've decided I don't care. Write through it, eh? I don't know who my blog-self is. And that is okay.

2013 was a good year, all told. Some highlights, before we turn our eyes to the New Year, one of my most favorite times.

I stayed over night away from Munch 3 times, for a total of 5 nights. This was a huge step for me. (In a few weeks, I will nearly double that time for 2014, yikes.)

I traveled to Pittsburgh, Michigan, Gettysburg, Chincoteague Island and Ocean City, Massanutten in Virginia, and New York City. I traveled with Hubs and with Munch and with family and with dear friends.

I started and finished a cross-stitch, which is an unbelievable feat for me. It took so much time and commitment and it's one of my year's proudest accomplishments.

I cooked, but not as much as I wanted.

I ate at restaurants and take out, far too much than I should have.

I ran and sweated, a bit.

I laid about.

I saved money.

I spent money.

I became an Aunt.

I had our front bushes torn out and our lawn cleaned up for winter.

I ate "clean" for 5 agonizing, brave days.

I supported family and got cheered on by them in my turn.

I supported myself.

I cried and worried.

I laughed and felt joy--joyed, if you will.

2013 was a bit of a hibernation year, when I reflect on what it felt like big picture. Not that we did nothing, oh no. We were as busy as ever. But we lived day-to-day, and it was good.

What I mean is, I didn't hold myself accountable enough, I let myself slip or hold steady. Sometimes you need that. But sometimes you need to push and pull and make yourself stand up.

I know best-laid plans and all, but Hubs and I are looking at 2014 as a Year of Preparation, a Building Year. And preparation and building take work and commitment.

Instead of laying out my typical resolutions, Hubs and I have chosen two words for the year: Frugal and Healthy.

Frugal seems so negative, but what we really mean is SAVE. As in money. We desperately want a new house, a bigger space. And for that to happen, I have to not buy random crap on Amazon. We have to save. Stick to our fun budget, and cut out the chaff.

Healthy, that's a big one. Munch watches everything now, takes it all in. And I want him to see a healthy mom. An active mom. One who values her body and her self and her mind. I've let myself go far too long without losing this weight. I want to lose the weight like I lost it in 2001. I started my 100 pound loss on January 2 that year. Thankfully, I don't have that far to go this time. But it's time to double-down.

So, to focus my healthy efforts, here are my commitments for January, ahead of Hubs and my Big Event in early February:

  • Track all my food.
  • Work out 5 days a week.
  • Get at least 8,000 steps a day.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Meditate 5 days a week, even for just 5 minutes.
  • Floss.
 And, blog. About what, who knows. But I'm glad to be back.