Monday, March 31, 2008

The 12-Week Challenge is Over!!

First of all, the babyproofing I put off for so long is now here to haunt me!
Eli loves the freedom that comes with crawling (he still loves to walk, but only when I'm able to be right by him in case he tips over). Now he into EVERYTHING! Especially cords - from the computer, from cell phone chargers, the cordless phone base, whatever he can get his little hands on. I'm rapidly trying to find solutions for getting these out of his reach, but some things are a little tricky. Eli is much happier though going wherever he wants to without depending on me to hurry up and help him!
Second, the Healthy Living Challenge is officially OVER!! Remember these?
I had one for breakfast (well, two of them actually :).
Yesterday I was counting down the hours til midnight when I could take a bite of my favorite treat, but ended up falling asleep before that and thus ate it for breakfast. I am happy that I did the healthy living challenge, but SO glad it's over! I haven't had a can of pop in 12 weeks. And I've suffered through exercising while sick and drinking WAY too much V8 (1 serving of V8=2 servings of vegetables - with the challenge I had to get 3 servings of veggies a day - so V8 helped a ton).

Things I (hope) to continue now that the challenge is over:
  • Getting 7 hours of sleep each day
  • Drinking 64 oz of water each day
  • Exercising daily
  • Eating lots of fruits/veggies (but not caring so much about getting such large quantities)
  • Staying away from sweets/junk food

I am happy with my personal results - this morning before I put the coconut patty in my mouth, my official end of the challenge weigh-in put me at losing 9.5 pounds! I went down one pant size, but still need to tone my stomach more so I won't feel so flabby when I sit down :)

It's amazing how good you feel when you don't eat things like coconut patties or chips or other foods that aren't the best for your body, but instead fill up on healthier options. Hopefully I won't go too far off the deep end today enjoying all the sweet treats I've neglected lately! Last week I had to use my free points on exercise (because I was still sick in the beginning of the week), so I was really craving something sweet by this weekend.

I was so sad because I forgot to email my points in on time the week Eli was hospitalized (I totally lost track of what day it was), so I didn't get the bonus point (for sending points in by Mon. night). That put me down at second place (tied with some others). I haven't heard what the exact breakdown is of how much $$ I won.

Sorry to bore you with all of this - I'm off to eat some jellybeans that I bought before Easter (but haven't had the chance to indulge on until now!). Yum!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Favorite Font Tool

I'm taking a beginning Photoshop class from - and one of the coolest finds from this is a free font organizing tool called The Font Thing. This is the greatest tool if you have lots of fonts! (Sorry Mac friends - it only works on Windows.)

Some of my favorite features - it displays all of the fonts installed on your computer. Then you can create "collections" and organize the fonts into these collections. You can put a font in more than one collection if you'd like. The program even has a preview pane where you can view multiple fonts in a collection all in one list - helpful if you want to compare how something is going to look in different fonts.

Sprague also lists her favorite free font sites - Dafont, UrbanFonts, BVFonts, HouseofLime, and MisprintedType. I'm excited to check them out! (and probably waste way too much time browsing through massive lists of fonts...)

I highly recommend the Sprague classes! I've learned quite a bit so far and plan on taking the next two classes in her series. She also has Photoshop Friday, where she posts free tutorials each week. (I've mentioned Photoshop Friday before on my blog)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trying to Beat the Virus

Here are some pictures from my very unproductive week - basically I played with Eli when he was awake, and when he napped, I would go back to bed because I had zero energy from being sick. I'm slowly starting to feel more normal again, but still have a bad cough and constant headache. Eli did get sick and had one night with a fever of 103, but his body fought the virus much faster than mine (thank goodness).

We're still having really crummy winter weather here. Today it's supposed to rain and snow - what else is new?? The good thing is it should be a little warmer on Sunday. Whoo hoo!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sick at Home and Watching TV

I have been home sick with bronchitis all weekend, which was so sad to me because yesterday was Easter and my Gram's 83rd birthday. We had planned on having my family at our place for dinner, but ended up not getting together since I was so sick.

Ben was nice and took Eli out with him to different places, so I got some breaks and was able to rest, but I also ended up lying on the couch watching a lot of t.v. I watched some shows that I had recorded on the DVR, but soon was ready for something besides Law and Order reruns. Last night I scrolled through the guide and two shows caught my eye - "I Can Make You Thin" and "Play Piano in a Flash." Here are my reviews.

I Can Make You Thin - it's a new show on TLC where British weight-loss guru Paul McKenna discusses 4 simple techniques that will connect you with your body's hunger signals and help you have a healthy relationship with food. Apparently this show has been a huge hit in Britain. Here are his rules:
  1. When You're Hungry, Eat!
  2. Eat What you Want
  3. Eat Consciously
  4. When You Think You're Full, Stop

Ben and I both feel like we have a tendency to overeat, especially if we're at a restaurant or eating takeout. It was really interesting to hear this McKenna's suggestions for becoming more in tune to when you're hungry and full. He emphasizes that this isn't a diet, but he does feature people on his show who have lost a lot of weight after following the guidelines.

This week we're going to practice one of his suggestions: when you take a bite of food, chew it a quarter of the speed you normally chew, and with each bite, put the fork DOWN! (McKenna says this is key) We tried it at dinner last night, and it's hard to do! I hardly ever put my fork or spoon down because I feel like I need to hurry and help Eli or get things cleaned up. The other thing McKenna suggested - try eating with your eyes closed! He says you will be way more in tune when you are actually full. (And if you don't eat a lot in one sitting and you're hungry 10 minutes later, go back and have more to eat, but only until you're full).

Overall, I thought the show was interesting and plan on watching the rest of the shows in his 5-part series. This is the 12th and last week of the Healthy Living Challenge... while I am a little tired of following the rules, I do want to continue being healthy.

Play Piano in a Flash: this was on a PBS channel. It caught my eye because I took years of piano lessons but have lost most of my piano skills. This show apparently is in its ninth season, but I was tired of it after the first eight minutes. Piano Guy Scott Houston gives LENGTHY explanations on everything and it was painful to watch. I finally turned it off when I couldn't stand it anymore. So much for relearning how to play piano in a flash :)

Let me know if you have any favorite new shows to watch... I am always looking for something different to put on our DVR list!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eli's in the Double Digits

Eli is 10 Months?? I can't believe it.
Sometimes I just want to squeeze him!
(Okay, more like all the time :)
He loves playing in the bath
and splashes like crazy!
We're still practicing the walking.
He's not to the point where I can leave him standing/walking by himself and not worry that he might fall over...
He loves holding our hands and racing back and forth in our living room.

Eli finally got on his hands/knees and started crawling last Sunday. So he walked before he crawled. Even still, he doesn't crawl very often - I really think our hard floors aren't so fun to move on.

Eli says ma ma, da da, ba ba, and loves to say, ah ah AH! over and over again. He's finally taking two good naps each day and is starting to be happier in the car (though he still does plenty of fussing if it's a longer ride).

He loves pulling books, toys, anything off of shelves, out of baskets, and off the table. He has 6 teeth and his favorite foods are turkey, grapes, bananas, bread, chicken, plums, apples, and baby puffs. He sleeps with two snugglies - a dog and a frog, and a thin blue blanket. When I put him to bed, he always hugs all three of those things and then turns onto his side to go to sleep.

Eli loves reading books - this week his favorites are: Where Is Baby's Belly Button, Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, C is for Coco, The Carrot Seed, and Goodnight Moon. His favorite toys: the Parents push toy with blocks, the Leapfrog table, any stuffed animals, shape sorter (he doesn't understand the shapes aspect yet - he just likes throwing the shapes), and his frog bath toys. Sometimes he hums along to music or when one of us is singing to him. I can't believe he's already this big!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Free Shipping at Williams Sonoma

I saw a deal on SlickDeals and had to share it - free shipping at Williams Sonoma through tomorrow (Thursday, March 20). You have to use this link to get the free shipping to show up in your shopping cart:

Test Your Vocab Skills

Check out Free - For every word you get right, the site donates 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. It's fun to test your vocab skills and learn some new words.

Sample Vocab Words:

prognosticate = predict
incogitant = thoughtless
perogative = privilege
cronyism = favoritism to friends
propensity = inclination
ardor = zeal

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ready for Spring

There's only so many things we can do in our little space. Eli and I are both going a little crazy as we spend the days doing the same things over and over:
Eli plays with the Leapfrog table (and walks away from it)
Eli pushes the push toys
He plays with the blocks inside (this is the best toy!)
throws the blocks
and likes to pick up scraps of cheerios off the floor

As exciting as this is... we're ready for spring. Too bad it's supposed to snow on Friday :)


Playing peek-a-boo:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bathroom Before and After Pictures

I was looking through old photos on my computer today, and since I was in my 2006 folder, I realized it was two years ago that we had our bathroom remodeled. I love seeing before and after pictures on other blogs, so I'm going to post mine here just for fun.

We went to Peru in February 2006 for Ben's brother Caleb's sealing in the Lima Temple. His wife Elizabeth was from Lima and we had a fantastic time staying with her family and also traveling to Machu Picchu. We were gone for 10 days, and when we came home, there was a surprise waiting for us.
The ceiling above our shower was sagging.
Is this not the most hideous shade of green that you've ever seen??
We had to have the entire bathroom ceiling ripped out and replaced. Thankfully, it was paid for by the owner of the condo above us, because his renters had been using their shower even though there was a hole in the wall, which then allowed water to get into the walls and eventually dripped into our ceiling. Not good. (this was before the dog lady bought the place)
So... soon we had a new ceiling. We had talked about remodeling our one and only bathroom since we bought the condo, but it never seemed like the right time. Somehow, having a new ceiling put in made us realize how nice it would be to gut the entire bathroom...
The tub was original to when our condo was built, in the 1920s. The vanity was from the 70s when they converted the building's apartments into condos. It was so ugly.
The light fixture... awful! So was the tile.
We saw this on a box at Target and decided this was the look that we wanted to copy (random, I know!) - white pedestal sink, subway tile, and wood molding for the trim. We obtained quotes from four or five contractors - the highest being $19,000!! No thanks. Thankfully, one of my nanny friends' fiance and his brother did small remodeling jobs on the side, so we hired them to do our bathroom for a really reasonable price.

Here it is with the plaster walls torn out.
It was scary seeing our bathroom like this!

But soon enough, Jon and Gabor put up new drywall and started tiling.
We had to get creative while our one bathroom was out of commission. I would go over to work early and shower at the house, and Ben took showers at the university gym. We had use of the toilet for all but one day, so that night we slept over at Drew and Caroline's house, which was a huge help.
We did the most frugal, but nice job that we could do with our limited budget. The tub and marble floor tile were both from Home Depot. The subway tile was from Century Tile and the most expensive part of our bathroom.

The light fixture and sink were from Lowe's, and the encased mirror/vanity was from Menard's. The Pottery Barn shower curtain was new from eBay.

The only thing that didn't change was our very powerful, commercial toilet. It would have been difficult to change the plumbing to a more modern toilet, so we decided it wasn't worth changing something that worked just fine! It's loud though.
It took two weeks for the bathroom to be gutted and redone.
That was a long two weeks, but well worth it!
After the bathroom was finished, we had a "potty party" with our friends to celebrate the new look. It was lots of fun!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Every St. Patrick's Day, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union #110 turns the Chicago River a bright neon green with 40 pounds of dye. I love this tradition! You may have seen this in the movie, The Fugitive.

We didn't make it into the city this weekend for the festivities, but I thought it would be fun to post some pictures when we went two years ago (last year I was too pregnant at this time to really enjoy the excursion).

Below - two drunk guys stripped off their clothes and jumped in. Amazingly, they managed to swim over to the side and climb out before the police arrived to arrest them. I was amazed at how many people were already drunk by 11 a.m...
Here we are on the way to see the parade. It gets very crowded!

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Obama-Wear

Some fun finds from this morning
(the site is a little strange, but these shirts are cool):