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Happy Monday, Everyone! Another Monday that I’m playing hookie – two Mondays in a row!  I’d scheduled the day off today weeks ago when I looked at my calendar.  I have a supervision duty on Friday night from 6:30pm-9:30pm and then I have to turn around and be at school at 7:30am on Saturday morning to proctor the PSAT, and I realized that next weekend is going to fly by, so I might as well extend this weekend.  The plans for today are to get some household chores done, make a long phone call to my uncle who lives in Michigan, read, blog, and work on some curriculum planning.  I’m also planning on going on a nice long bike ride once the sun finally breaks through this morning fog that we have going on today.

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Quick and Random

1. Choose three songs that would be on the soundtrack of your life.  These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs, In Between Days by The Cure, and There’s a Girl by The Ditty Bops.

2. Share the details of one project that you’re currently working on.

For work, I’m designing curriculum units on The American Romantics: Light Romanticism, Transcendentalism, and Dark Romanticism.  Then we’ll move into Realism before the end of the semester.  I’ve covered these literary periods in the past, but I’m redesigning the units by focusing on stories rather than novels, covering each movement in more depth.  Since I’m using entirely different literature than I have in the past, it means creating new assignments, essay prompts, quizzes, and a semester final.  It’s a lot of work, but I love the challenge because it keeps things fresh, which isn’t easy to do after 13 years of teaching American Literature.

At home, I just finished decorating for Halloween and Fall (although more Fall will come into play once Halloween is over).  My other mini project is to make my own version of these Motivation Marbles that I found on Pinterest.  I’ll definitely post about it when I’ve made them.

3. If you could learn to do one thing overnight what would it be? I’m taking my cue from Kenlie and I’ll say that I’d love to know how to speak Italian fluently.

4. If you could be a fictional character which one would you be?  Wow, this is a hard one for me because I have so many characters swirling in my English teacher’s brain.  Most of the literary characters I know lead lives that end sadly, so I’ll choose Samantha Baker, who is Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles.  Who doesn’t want to kiss Jake Ryan?!

5. What’s your favorite thing about the month of October?  I love the layered clothing, the crisp mornings and chilly evenings, and the fact that The Holidays are more than a month away.  Don’t get me wrong, I love The Holidays, but life gets really hectic during that season, so it’s nice to enjoy the calm that comes with October.

6. Share one TV show that you’re embarrassed to admit you watch.  I’m not really embarrassed by this, but I do watch every Real Housewives franchise.

7. Name one friend that you’re thankful to have in your life today.  I am immensely thankful that I have ScaleWarfare in my life.  She is one of my best friends, a huge support, and an amazing person.  She’s making some major life changes, and I am so proud of her for making sure her life is as healthy as possible in every aspect.

8. What was the most relaxing part of your weekend?  I was able to spend quite a bit of time reading, which is always really relaxing for me.  I just finished reading Jane Vows Vengeance by Michael Thomas Ford and I’m currently reading The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher.

9. Do you like to dance?  I love dancing!  In fact, yesterday my 5-year-old niece and I held a mini dance party as we played Wii Just Dance for about 30 minutes.

10.  Share one thing that you’re looking forward to before the end of the year.  I’m looking forward to meeting my mini weight loss goal before the end of 2012. It has been my main focus of the year, and it will be such an accomplishment when I meet the goal.

Now it’s your turn to share. Don’t forget to go back to Kenlie’s blog to link up in the comments!

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Five Totally Random Thoughts Swimming Around My Head Today…

  1. The best pin I found on Pinterest this week:
  2. This week I started watching Bunheads, a great new show by the creator of Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman-Palladino. It has the same rapid-fire dialogue that I loved on GG, and many of the actors are from that show, as well. The premise is that a Vegas showgirl marries a longtime admirer on a whim, and moves to the small town of Paradise, CA with him. Two interesting things about this are that I found out about the show after a FB post from Jen Lancaster, whom I love AND that one of my former colleagues-turned-FB-buddy actually lives in Paradise, CA. It’s an unusual setting for a tv show, but then again, Stars Hollow wasn’t exactly a big town either.
  3. I’m in the middle of reading the latest from another of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster’s Jeneration X. If you want to follow my reading list, become my friend on Goodreads. What are you reading?
  4. Today my dad and I are headed to see The Dark Knight Rises, which I’m really looking forward to. I love this Batman trilogy and the dark portrayal of the story that Christopher Nolan has taken. Many are saying it’s the best move of the three, and I can’t wait to see it. (My heart goes out to those in Colorado who fell victim to a deranged man).
  5. And finally, I’ll end with a photo of Sofi, who just got groomed yesterday. Seriously, have you ever seen anything cuter?  Looking at this face instantly puts me in a good mood. I’m really lucky to have Sofi.

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Happy Friday, and I hope you have a fabulous weekend!!

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Friday the 13th, one of my favorite days ever, because as I’ve written before, I don’t believe that any Friday can ever be unlucky.  Do you believe in that superstition?

Five Totally Random Thoughts Swimming Around My Head Today…

  1. The best pin I found on Pinterest this week was one I really needed to read:
  2. This week I watched both seasons of The Riches on Amazon’s Instant Video, which because I have a Prime membership, entitles me to watch tons of free tv shows and movies. If you’ve never seen the show, I highly recommend it.  Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver are brilliant, as is the writing.  Unfortunately, it fell victim to the writers’ strike in 2008.  It’s a shame, too, because this show should have lasted for several more seasons.
  3. I finished reading The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner, and it is her best novel in years.  I’m a huge fan, and this book captures the same spirit that Good in Bed had. I was captivated by the characters and the story, and I finished it really quickly.  Next I’ll be reading the latest from another of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster’s Jeneration X. If you want to follow my reading list, become my friend on Goodreads.  What are you reading?
  4. Yesterday when I was shopping at Trader Joe’s, I found a new coffee blend that I’m looking forward to enjoying after dinner, when the craving for “something sweet” strike: Trader Joe’s Vanilla Chai-Spiced Coffee.  I had it last night, and it offers a really nice blend of spice and sweetness.  I’m normally not a fan of flavored coffees, but this one is good.
  5. And finally, I’m going to put in another plug for Bia, the GPS Sports Watch that I mentioned on Tuesday. Bia is getting a lot of buzz; they were written up on Wednesday in The Huffington Post.  They’re so close to their goal, but they only have until Saturday at 2:59AM Eastern to raise the funds.  How cool would it be to be a backer?  BTW, Bia is the Greek goddess of force and power – perfect name, right?! I really hope Bia Sports is able to get their funding.

I have some fun weekend plans that I’ll write more about next week.  Happy Friday, and I hope you have a fabulous weekend!!

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I just read Sabrina’s post and decided to steal the idea.  BTW, if you haven’t checked out her blog yet, do it today.  She’s awesome!

Five Totally Random Thoughts Swimming Around My Head Today…

A little something I saw on Pinterest recently. Cool, right?

  1. I am so addicted to Pinterest that I get disappointed when I’m on another site and they don’t have a “scroll to top” button.
  2. Last week I started watching a new show on HBO called The Newsroom, and I am in love.  It is a smart, quick, funny show about the state of our news programs (and society as a whole).  I am personally so disgusted with major news network anchors reporting trashy celebrity gossip as news.  I can turn to E News if I want that.  When I’m watching the nightly news, I want REAL news.  The idealist in me hopes that this show takes off and people start demanding more from our news/media outlets.  Aaron Sorkin is back!
  3. I am so thankful that several months ago a Groupon led me to the joys of threading.  I had an appointment today, and it is just so quick and easy.  It’s cleaner than wax (which used to break me out sometimes) and it’s cheaper, too, since all that’s used is cotton thread.  It’s slightly more painful than waxing, at first, but it also seems to last longer.  If you haven’t tried threading and they offer it in your area, I’d recommend giving it a try.
  4. I’m just about to finish The Night Circus, and I seriously don’t want it to end.  I have loved reading it.  So much so that I’m going to offer it as a choice to my students as outside reading.  Next up is The Next Best Thing.  If you want to follow my reading list, become my friend on Goodreads.  What are you reading?
  5. I’m cooking dinner for my sister tomorrow night, and we’re trying something new to both of us – grilled tofu.  After quite a search, I’ve found a marinade using Sriracha that isn’t going to turn our mouths to fire.  If it’s as good as I’m hoping, I’ll post a new Bella Cooks in a couple of days.

My weekend plans don’t extend past some workouts (Zumba, gentle yoga, a possible bike ride, yin yoga, and walking Sofi), so I’m hoping to connect with a couple of friends and go to a movie – any recommendations?

Have a fabulous weekend!!

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I just finished reading Frank Bruni’s Born Round: A Story of Family, Food, and a Ferocious Appetite and I have to say, without equivocation, that it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time.

I’m upset with myself for waiting so long to read this book.  I had heard about it more than a year ago, but at the time I felt like I didn’t want to read one more memoir about someone who was overweight and struggling to get thinner.  In a way I think I picked up this book exactly when I needed it most, as I am about to embark on what I hope is my last weight loss effort and what will lead me to the more difficult part of weight loss – maintenance (that seems so far off, but I know that if things work out as they should, it will be here within the next few years).  This book isn’t meant to be a guidebook as to how to lose weight, but I gleaned so much from it that I do think it made me think differently in terms of my approach to weight loss, eating, and enjoying life.  It’s a memoir about struggling to lose weight, but it’s also so, so much more.

It’s the “so much more” that I think I enjoyed the most.  I won’t go into a full review here, so if you’d like you can read the one I wrote on Goodreads.

To recap the book, it begins with Bruni as a child who had an insatiable appetite from the start.  He recounts that even as a baby his mother could never produce enough bottles to satisfy his unending hunger.  He was born into an Italian-American family so much like my own that I had to see whether or not we were actually related somehow. 😉  His father’s family is from the same area of Italy that my father’s family comes from, which isn’t too common.  And although is mother and many of his aunts weren’t of Italian heritage, they quickly adopted the Italian culture as their own and began competing with each other in the lavish holidays they’d host, filled with dishes that each one claimed as their own.  I felt as if I was reading about my own mother and family members throughout this entire section.  When Bruni delves into the darkness of his eating disorders and binges, I felt his struggle so fiercely that they were like my own.  In many ways his out-of-control eating reminded me of the times when I’ve felt the same way.  The self-imposed shame, degradation, and promises to improve have often come from my lips, as well.  When he hits his highest weight and seems to recoil from the world around him, I could relate to that too, to a degree.  And later, when he finally seems to figure out how to enjoy relish food, but not be a slave to it, I felt myself wishing for the same.

Along the way Bruni includes so many self and family photos  that you really do feel as though you know all of them.  I loved this aspect of the book, and think adding the pictures definitely makes the reader feel more connected.  Especially when reading a book as personal, honest, and raw as this one.

It was towards the latter section of the book, when Bruni is able to review his life a bit, that the most poignant quotes could be found.

I think the difference,” I told him, “is how much I’d rather be like this.  Once I pulled myself out of whatever it was I’d sunk into, I never wanted to go back.  I was pretty miserable.  I think remember that and concentrating on how I feel now — being aware of how much better it is — that’s the difference.  I’m determined in a way I wasn’t” (Bruni).*

*The one thing I dislike about the Kindle is that it doesn’t tell you the page number you’re on.  It gives a “location,” but that has nothing to do with the actual page number that you’d be on if you had a paper book in your hand.  I wish they’d change that, because it makes proper citation impossible.

This greatly resonated with me.  Through all of his crazy diets, eating disorders, etc., it wasn’t until Bruni finally realized that he wanted to enjoy food, but not in a dysfunctional way.  He chose quality over quantity.  He had moved to Rome to be a foreign correspondant, and he says that he thinks the reason why Italians (and so many Europeans, for that matter) are thinner than most Americans isn’t because they exercise more or eat healthier, but because of the portions of their food.  He was eating out most of the time while he was in Italy, yet because the portions were smaller and he enjoyed the richness of the offerings, he didn’t feel the need to gorge himself on junk.  He stopped snacking, started walking, and lost weight. It made me realize that once I get the Lab Band surgery, I’ll be able to accomplish the same thing.  That’s the beauty of the band.  It’s a tool that helps you keep your portions in check.  (Not that you can’t “cheat the band,” but if I’m going through all of this to get the surgery, you’d better believe that I’m not going to do that).  This quote really made me realize that I will feel the same thing that Bruni felt when he wrote this passage.  Once I start losing a significant amount of weight, that will become the impetus to continue to lose, and eventually maintain a healthy weight.

I concluded right or quite complete.  The main difference between then and now wasn’t determination.  It was honesty.  I didn’t lie to myself the way I had in the past.  I especially didn’t lie to myself about food.

When I was honest with myself, I had to acknowledge that there’d never been, and would never be, a magic eating or dieting formula that overrode and erased whatever volume of food I consumed: no skeleton key to a skeletal me…

…I had to admit that the success or failure of every diet I’d ever attempted boiled down to the most basic equation of all: how much energy I expended versus how much fuel I took in.  And no matter what I’d once tried to tell myself, I always knew, in the course of a given day, whether this eequation was out of whack.

When I was truthful, I could see all of that.

The truth: this selfawareness might well spare me any further rides on the gain-and-loss roller-coaster, might put an end to yo-yo me.

The truth: I couldn’t be sure.  For now I was on the straight and narrow – or narrowish.  But it might not stay that way.  I was getting slower and creakier, but I was trying.  I was making a real effort” (Bruni).

I won’t even analyze that quote, because I think the words Bruni wrote speak for themselves.

I gained so much from reading this book (no pun intended), and I would highly recommend it to everyone. If you’re like me and after finishing it you want to read more from Frank Bruni, be sure to check out the journals on his website.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” —  Charles W. Eliot
I  chose this quote this week because I’m looking forward to our Bloggy Beck Book Club on Thursday.  I hope that many of you will be able to make it, because I’m really getting a lot out of reading the book. I’m learning a few new ideas, as well as having other ones reinforced.  It’s really helping to give me the skills I think I need to be successful with weight loss.
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I also love this quote because I love to read.  I agree completely with the sentiments that  it expresses, so much so that years ago I decided to teach English because I hoped to impart my love of reading onto my students.  Each year,  there are always a few students who discover a love of reading, or the love of a specific text, and each time it happens it makes me smile. 
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If you’re interested, you might want to find me on Goodreads so that you can see what I’m currently reading. 

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Things are going well and I have this week off.  My main  goal for the week was to get in some serious activity each day, and so far, I’ve done pretty well with that.  I’m trying to balance all this working out with being social.  My first instinct this week was to become a hermit (except for going to the gym), but that seems a bit unhealthy and unrealistic.  I do have a few fun outings with friends and family planned, so I think I’ll still be able to meet all of my fitness goals while having a good time.

This week off really makes me long for summer.  I enjoyed those months off so much last year, and I know that it will be here before I know it.  So I’m going to try not to look too far ahead and just enjoy the here and now.

Speaking of which, I thought I’d do a bit of an update about some of the things I’ve been enjoying lately.  These are both social and fitness related:

  • I’ve been getting so much out of reading The Beck Diet for Life.  I can’t wait for our first book club meeting. If you’re looking for something to read that might also help you with your weight loss goals, I highly recommend it.  I hope you’ll join the book discussion, too.
  • I’ve been going to the movies lately, which really makes me happy.  As much as I love films, I find myself watching more of them at home than at the theatre, and I want to make it more of a habit to see them on the big screen.  Two weeks ago I saw Up in the Air, which I loved; George Clooney is like an actor from a bigone era – so smooth and suave.  Friday I went with two girlfriends from work and saw Valentine’s Day.  This was pure fluff, but in that great chick flick way.  This weekend I finally watched Whip It, which I’d had at home from Netflix for at least a week.  I loved the grrrrl power in the film, and if I wasn’t such of a wimp about not wanting to break a nail, I think I’d love to try roller derby.  I know I’d be able to give and take hard hits.  LOL.  The mom of one of my students is actually in a roller derby locally, which I think is beyond cool. I have two more “dates” for the movies – one  with a friend for tomorrow  and one with my mom on Saturday.
  • I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Winter Olympics.  I’ve always loved figure skating, but this year I’m really awed by the power and grace of speed skating – especially the long track program.  I went to Vancouver when I was 14, and I fell in love with that city.  My mom mentioned the other night that if she had to move to a different city, she’d choose Vancouver over most in the U.S.  The thing that I remember most is that it reminded me of the best parts of San Francisco, although the people were even friendlier.  I loved that there was a lot of culture in the city, and it had a nice mix of cosmopolitan charm.
  • As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been participating in The Shrinking Jeans Olympics.  So far I’ve “competed” in the crunches (3 min.), cycling (6 miles), jump rope (3 min.), and plank hold.  On tap today is the wall sit squat.  I’m looking forward to hula hoop, rowing, elliptical 5K, jumping jacks, and stair climbing later this week.  If you have some extra time this week, I think you should join us.  C’mon, who doesn’t have 3 minutes?
  • Being the confirmed book lover (bookworm) that I am, I always have at least 2-3 books going at once, and a fiction book that I’m currently reading is The Myth of You and Me by Lea Stewart.  This book has captured my attention with its air of mystery, fabulous writing, and strong character development.  It’s one of those books that you can’t put down, but don’t want to finish either, because you love it so much that you will be sad when it’s over. (If you ever want to see the books I’m reading, look me up on Goodreads.com).
  • I weigh in tomorrow, and don’t expect exciting news because TOM is here.  TOM really sucks, right?  He always shows up at the most inappropriate times.  Ah well, maybe the scale will surprise me.
  • I bought a new workout DVD (as if I needed more of those, LOL), but I was drawn to it because of the title – Biggest Loser 30 Day Jumpstart.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s divided into 5 10-minute segments, which I thought would be a great way to customize workouts – something quick to get the blood pumping, or doing them all together for a long, complete session.  I’ll let you know what I think of it (I’m planning on trying it later today).
  • You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned RLR yet.  Well, that’s because I’ve been busy doing other activity.  Or should I say, I’ve been avoiding the RLR by doing other activity.  🙂  I’m scared of the 5 minutes of jogging, but I’m going to bite the bullet and do it today.  For sure.  Wish me luck.

That’s about it for now, dolls. I hope you have a fantastic week.

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