Couch to 5K to ER

Okay…so Manfrengensen is pretty fit. He didn’t used to be fit. I mean he was fine, not overweight or anything, but he didn’t make an effort to exercise regularly. Then we moved, and we’re less than a mile from a YMCA, so he started going. At first, he started swimming, and then he started on the stationary bike. He’s quite competetive, so every time, he competes against himself, trying to top his last time or distance.

Then this summer, he started running, and he LOVES it. Loves it. He’s thinking about trying to run in the 2012 NYC Marathon. He’s serious business kind of running. Every day, he posts his progress via a chip in his Nike onto the Facebook; every day tells me that he set a new record. In short, he is into it. And he makes running sound like it’s so much fun.

He’s pared down now, his body looks almost Avatar-sh, only you know…not blue. And he hasn’t grown a tail. But I feel like when I hug him, I’m hugging a washboard. And when he hugs me, it’s probably like he’s hugging a bag of laundry.

So, I’ve been trying to exercise. Summer is hard to do regularly because the kids are on crazy schedules…I’m not even going to bother to lay out my lame excuses for you. There’s always an excuse.

It seems like everyone I know (except Manfrengensen) is doing some kind of Couch to 5K program. Just in case you haven’t heard, been under a rock, or just aren’t in tune to that kind of thing, Couch to 5K is an app you can download onto your phone, and it takes you gradually from the couch to being able to run a 5K. Supposedly. You warm up with a 5 minute walk, and then you run for a minute, walk for 2, run for 1, etc, until eventually, you do more running than walking, right up to all running. So I hear.

I thought I would try it. I got some good stretching in, following a stretching regimen I found on Youtube, and then I ran on the treadmill. And I couldn’t make it past 20 or 25 minutes. I couldn’t complete Week 1, Day 1. I would get a pain from my ankle to my knee (I have sprained that ankle so many times — have I ever told you what a graceful individual I am?) and I would have to slow down and stop. I tried different shoes. I tried more stretches, but I still couldn’t make it past 25 minutes.

So last week, I figured, perhaps it’s the treadmill. The weather had cooled, so I planned to run outside in my neighborhood. It was Wednesday, and it also happened to be the one day a month that I cook for a local soup kitchen. I had made the chicken, but then I also make a couple of desserts. The plan was to stretch, put the brownies in the oven, Couch to 5K for half an hour and then back to take out the brownies. So simple, it was bound to go south.

I locked the door, put the spare key in the zippered pocket of my pants and began. It was a beautiful, glorious afternoon. And since my house faces parkland, there was plenty of shade under which to run. It wasn’t bad at all, in fact, at times it felt almost good. But then, at the 15-minute mark, the pain began. I thought I would push through, and I tried, but it was too much, and I limped home. Got to the front door, reached into the pocket and all I found was a hole. A hole! Where the key should have been! And the oven’s on! I’m like Lucille Ball over here, a sit-com mom, goofball, in short: a total dork. I am up a creek sans paddle or even any kind of floatation device.

I started looking for the key. The ground was covered with piles of the first brown leaves of the season. I scanned the street, the curb, the grass, my eyes darting (and by the way — brilliant me, I decided not to wear my glasses for the run so I was like Moleman looking for a glint of sunlight shining off anything at all) in vain for the key. I was saying a prayer to St. Anthony, because that’s what we Catholics do, until I was chanting it aloud, even injecting an expletive toward the end: St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around, my fucking key’s been lost and can’t be found. In retrospect, perhaps the expletive wasn’t a good idea, because as it turned out, St. Anthony gave me the high hat.

Manfrengensen was at a meeting that day, far away. My father had a spare key, but he was working, and I didn’t want to have to bother him. But time was ticking. Half an hour was up. The brownies were drying up in the pan, shriveling, becoming inedible, to say nothing of the potential fire hazard that seemed to become more inevitable with each passing minute.

I had to cave, and I called my dad (hoping that the number I dialed was his, since without my glasses I couldn’t read anything on my phone). After I told him I’d locked myself out, he said he was really busy, so I added, “Dad, I’ve got cake in the oven.”

“Oh, Jesus!” he exclaimed and hung up.

Ten minutes later he barrelled into my driveway. Said he was sorry, he was having a terrible day. He owns a 19-unit apartment building that keeps him very busy, and that day, someone had water leaking from her ceiling. They couldn’t figure out exactly where it was coming from, and he’d had to drop everything to come help me.

And he did. Let me tell you something about my dad: He’s my hero. I cannot tell you how many times the man has rescued me, but I can tell you that it’s been every time I’ve needed rescue. Superman’s got nothing on my dad. He’s awesome.

He tossed me the key, which I proceeded to drop inside the door pocket of his truck. And once I had fumbled to retrieve the thing, he took off to go solve other people’s problems. He’s the man.

So it’s actually a story about my relationship with my dad, rather than the disfunctional one I have with exercise. I think the fates are telling me that running might not be my thing. But I will find something. There’s a kick-boxing class that looks pretty cool at the Y this fall. I wonder if I can do that without hurting anyone. (Can’t you just see me losing one of my shoes?)

A Crisis of Faith

I was off the diet this summer, and I didn’t do too badly. In fact, even with all the gnocci and ice cream that the summer brought my way, I only put on about six pounds. I kind of hoped to lose those quickly and even get rid of the few other pounds I still had to go, but it’s been hard to stay motivated.

First of all, there’s the job. I’m stressed there and at home, and also, the lunches in the cafeteria are pretty good! Wouldn’t it be my luck to find two of the only four probable gourmet-type lunch ladies in the United States? I’m thinking these ladies could have a show on the Food Network or something. The theme would be something like how to cook delicious meals for 400 or more people. Seriously though — what school do you know of that serves lobster bisque on a regular basis? LOBSTER BISQUE!! I don’t know about you — but I have trouble passing on any kind of bisque, let alone the lobster.

But, as I said, I have been trying. I’ve been going every week to my Jenny Craig appointments, albeit each week taking home smaller and smaller orders of food because I have yet to eat the victuals of the week before. This past week, I was sitting in the lobby, waiting for my appointment, and I had a crisis of faith. You see, footprints-in-the-sandlike all diets, Jenny Craig is a religion. But that doesn’t bother me. I know it’s a religion. What bothers me, is the way they market it like it’s a religion.

First of all there’s the big Jenny Craig sign that hits you in the face as you walk through the door. Is it any coincidence that the letters “J” and “C” are three times the size of the others in the phrase? I don’t think so. Then, behind the words “Jenny Craig” there is a poster of two pairs of feet walking on sand leaving footprints behind them. So, I was sitting there thinking, Are you freaking kidding me? FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND? I can’t believe I had never noticed it before.

I’ve always kind of joked that the appointments are a bit like the sacrament of Reconciliation. You go in and you confess all your transgressions each week. “Forgive me counselor, for I have sinned. This week I ate a bag of Funions.” For your penance, you must step on the scale, experience the weight of your guilt, and then she will likely ask what temptations lie before you in the week ahead. Once you have confessed, then you may partake of their low-cal bread.

valerie jennyLast week, as I was having this moment of dietary agnosticism, I really started to look around. And you know what else I noticed? All the posters they have of the celebrities who have had success with Jenny Craig, like Valerie Bertinelli and Felicia Rashad; in those posters, the women (in their “after Jenny Craig” photos) are lit from behind in a kind of glowing light. These are the saints, the apostles of J.C. They were even touting Bertinelli’s book, Losing It, etc. It was as if they were saying,  “Hey, would you like to read the Gospel According to Valerie?” Yeah, tell us all the good news, Val. What was this place? Had I joined some kind of cult?

It was as if I had an epiphany, or an anti-epiphany right there in the lobby, sitting on that pastel-swathed nondescript office chair between the faux ficus and the overflowing stack of well-perused copies of the Star Magazine. And I honestly don’t know where I will go from there.

I just started to think, okay, the food isn’t bad, and yes, I have lost a lot of weight, it’s good, it’s great for me and all, but when it really comes down to it, this is just a lot of marketing crap. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that I have kind of plateaued, and I admit that the bisque isn’t helping, but still, I feel a kind of void when it comes to faith in the program currently.


And one more thing, while I am kvetching about my apostasy, I have one more thing that I found that day. Just before the saleslady went in the back to collect my food, she mentioned a new promotion they are having in November. I started reading the flier about it and noticed a disclaimer that struck me as kind of funny: Jenny Craig is owned by the Nestle Corporation. I don’t know why, but that seems a bit ironic in some way. Like, I can lose all this weight on Jenny Craig, and then over the winter gain it back by eating crunch bars. It’s like they’re hoping to  get those of us who struggle with weight both coming and going.

What’s that economic term when a company owns all phases of production and distribution?  Isn’t the Nestle-Jenny Craig relationship a kind of vertical integration?

Good, Bad, Ugly, All In a Week’s Work.

I’ve been kind of stressed lately. I know that’s going to shock you, as I am sure I seem so together and easy going here. Ahem.


Anyway, the kids have been sick for a spell. I figured out today that between snow days and sick days, my kids have been home for six of the last ten, when they should have been in school.

But they are all on the mend, and the snow is melting. We had some good times sledding, even though Clooney was almost killed….Okay, it wasn’t my best moment in mothering, but you know, I have plenty of those. I’m a good mom. Just because I failed to stop my son from careening down a steep hill, doesn’t make me a bad mom. See here:



I don’t know…I figured he would know to roll out of the sled. So it hasn’t really snowed here since 2005, when he was two, and he’s never really been sledding. But I just figured he would roll out of the thing. Thankfully the folks driving on the street at the bottom of this hill were watching and driving carefully. Clooney came to a stop right in front of the bumper of an SUV, along with (briefly) my heart.

Thanks to whomever the patron saint of sledding might be.


Here’s the funny thing though: I’m such a dweeb. I was the only person on the hill that day wearing a hood. I don’t know what’s with people. They were all out there with their necks exposed in teen-degree weather. Not me — I’m bundled. I may be a dweeb, but I’m a warm one. Manfrengensen teases me that I look like Han Solo on Hoth in that get up.


Almost as warm as the inside of a ton-ton.

Almost as warm as the inside of a ton-ton.



But like I said, I was warm. We’d been sledding for like an hour, and they decided to do one more run, but I was finished and stayed at the bottom. Manfrengensen started to walk, and when he was like fifty or sixty feet from me, he turned back to me and yelled something that sounded like, “Blah, blah blah, tree.” My hearing’s not too good with the hood on. I kind of interpreted his words like a dog interprets those of a master. My head may even have been cocked to one side. “What?” I asked for clarification. And again, he said, “Blah, blah blah, tree.”

So, I figured he wanted me to wait by the big tree there, maybe take some pictures or video (see above as proof of what a great job I did at that). Turns out though (and I only found this after we’d nearly lost one of our young) he’d said, “Stand down here and make sure they don’t go into the street.”

Oh. That made more sense, I guess.

So, I sat in the corner with the dunce cap that night.


Then yesterday: The boys had another snow day, but The Princess had a dentist appointment, and we also had some errands to run. Because I wasn’t sure of the condition of the roads, I gave us some extra time to get there, planning to leave the house at 9:30. Things always happen though. Someone always has to go to the bathroom after they’re all bundled to go. I couldn’t find my gloves. I had my purse over my shoulder, along with a bag packed for the Y, figuring we would go there later in the morning.

So all that’s over my shoulder when one of them asked me to help him find his glove, which had been removed after sledding the night before and thrown into a massive pile of laundry in our galley of a laundry room. I had made some delicious coffee yesterday, and I had put some in a travel mug and worked all my chemical magic to get it just right. I set the cup on the washer, and bent down to look for the glove. But somehow, the stuff over my shoulder upset the coffee, and the thing went FLYING, landing totally upside down and commencing to empty onto the laundry room rug.

And I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for not using the F word right then.

But then I stood up. I really don’t know what I did to that coffee cup, but somehow as it went down, it must have flown up and around, and when it did it sprayed EVERYTHING in the laundry room with sweet caramel-colored nectar. There was coffee on the window, the window pane, the window sill, the baseboards, the wall, the washer, the dryer. There was even coffee on both the inside and outside of the slightly-open door of the laundry chute. I’m talking total carnage.

So I cleaned that up and we made it to the dentist with seconds to spare. That went well. The boys were good waiting, and The Princess handled her first cleaning like a sparkly-toothed pro. We left to head for my Jenny Craig appointment, again with minutes to spare and got about five hundred yards out of the parking lot when the dentist’s receptionist called to ask if we might have left a case full of DS games (and I figured out there were about $300-worth of games in that case) behind. Yes we had. If Edison’s head were not attached, I think you know what might happen.

Later, more milk was spilled at home in a dramatic fashion that covered most of the table and kitchen chairs. That was when I think I came closest to totally losing it. Especially when Clooney told me that I had “missed a spot” cleaning it up. Then I kind of went Incredible Hulk for a minute.


So here’s the good:

At Jenny Craig yesterday, I had dropped another 2+ pounds, taking me over the 30-pound mark. Technically speaking, I have less than five more pounds to lose.

Today I went to Macy’s for the bra sale they are having (buy two, get one free) and I got four bras for the price of the one I was wearing from the place I went to in Unmentionables (the everyday one.) But in that bra’s defense, I want to tell you Sarah Jessica Parkerthat I went to Ann Taylor after that and tried on a T-shirt that made me think “My God, that looks like a FABULOUS rack! I must buy this shirt.” I freaking looked like I had Sarah-Jessica-Parker boobs, and (as you may or may not be aware) those are not to be sneezed at. Unfortunately, my belly button, which was shrouded in what’s left of the flab (damn baby weight!) and visibly outlined by the white spandex-cotton blend, spoke the sense to me through the clingly fabric to counsel against it. It said, quite frankly, “Sister, you are no SJP. We’ll talk again when you lose those five.” 

BUT despite the talking belly button incident, I tried on these jeans today that I had tried on more than a month ago. They were a little tight back then, and gave me a bit of muffin-top (and I don’t like muffin-top, at least not on me). A month ago, I had left them at the store. Today they fit great! I almost cried. Nice to go clothes shopping and like the way I look and feel.


Overall though, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. This morning I loaded up the crock pot with chicken and ingredients to make some kind of mushroom chicken thing. When I got back from the mall five hours later, I checked on it: forgot to plug it in. Doh!


So, with all the weight I have lost, I needed some new underthings. But I had no idea what size bra I am any more, so I needed to get fitted. For Christmas, someone gave me a gift card to Victoria’s Secret, so I made time to go there.

But you know, it’s their busy season. They had two girls working, and like fifteen people in line waiting to pay (made me think recession shmacession, but then sex always sells, right?) so I kind of tried blindly to find a bra that would fit to no avail. I had been a 4_ D+, so I was trying

Yeah, I could pull this off. It would just be hard to get the wings through the door of my bedroom.

Yeah, I could pull this off. It would just be hard to get the wings through the door of my bedroom.

3_ C’s and 3_ C’s, and in every case, the cups would runneth over.

What I really needed was some help. Ideally, this help would come from someone who knew what she was doing though, some woman on the west end of middle age who was wearing both a tape measure and a pair of glasses around her neck. I don’t know what Victoria’s Secret is like in your neck of the woods, but the one at my sad little mall (the one that’s one bad holiday season away from having a wig store?) is sparsely populated with college-age girls who look as though they may have barely passed their G.E.D. for all their looking at their own reflections in any window or surface that might do the reflecting.


Besides, I have this theory about Victoria’s Secret: They’re not all that. They are fast food for underwear, like the McDonald’s of Underwear (Manfrengen says, “So, they’re like McBra-nalds?”) but no one says they’re the McDonald’s of Underwear because what they see is Stephanie Seymour, Heidi Klum or Naomi Campbell in a lacy bra and panties and people (specifically men and the women who aspire to be such fantasies) are just like “ooh, SPEC-TAC-ULAR!” but really it’s just eye candy…junk food.

Seriously. I blame Victoria’s Secret for the unnecessary pervasiveness of the thong, which let’s face it, is a kindness to call at the very least misogynistic. All you have to do is add Victoria’s Secret to the mindlessness (that masquerades as female empowerment) that is Sex and the City, and what you will get is a lot of sheep who believe they need sheering in a Brazilian style.

So I left Victoria’s Secret in search of that lady with the tape measure and her glasses on a chain. I went to this store in a little shopping center that my stepmom had recommended, and sure enough, the ladies there were at the ready with the tape measures.


Expressing It.

Expressing It.

So, I got measured, and I actually learned something new: that while your measurement goes down, your cup size actually goes up. So even though I have gone from 4_ to 3_, I’m still in the D territory. The woman got me all fitted with a nice comfortable every-day bra, and then I said, you know, how ’bout something with a little more va-voom? Something that could lift me to the heights I was in the 1980’s? Sure enough, she pulled out this sexy number with black tulle and a little tuxedo thing going on between the underwire. It had a little row of roses going up the middle. (Just an aside: who designs underwear? How about that for a career?) Any way, yes, it fit nicely. Not only did I look like something out of the 1980’s, I looked and felt like Madonna circa 1987.

It was very nice indeed, so I told the woman I would take it. Then she asked if I would like to see the matching panties, and I thought what the hell? I’ll go for broke. Let me tell you: I have always been a strictly Jockey girl. I have never owned a matching set of bra and panties. It’s just never been important to me to have such a thing, and I have never suffered either sexually or self-esteem-wise because of it. Just never got around to it. Its not that I don’t buy into sexy.  I like sexy and to feel sexy, it’s just personally I’m more like the sexy librarian than the kind of girl who looks like she should be working on a pole. But okay, today I had decided to go for broke. Today I would get the panties that matched this fabulous bra. What the hell.

Then she brought the panties. She said they were panties, but I wasn’t so sure. In the front, yes they had that kind of tuxedo thing going on around I guess you could say where the band of the panties should go; they were kind of that hipster-style brief, but everything else, including the crotch, was tulle. Black tulle. There was no elastic in the back or anything, it was just tulle, and I could picture my cheeks basically swinging in the breeze that this flowing fabric would fan. But I’m a gamer, I figured I would check it out, and I did, but it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t me.

Then I looked at the price tag: FIFTY-FOUR DOLLARS. For panties! That had very little fabric! Fifty-four dollars…I don’t even know that I have ever paid that much for a whole pair of pants. I probably have, but I am sure I felt like I better get my money’s worth out of them.

So then I thought, crap, I already said I was taking the bra, let me check the price tag here. Va-Voom! I don’t want to tell you the exact price, but let me just say that those beans could buy a lot of Jockeys. But you know, Jockey’s not that sexy, so I went with it. I’ll wear it for those special special occasions, and when I do, even though I probably won’t be able to breath as freely, and the lace on the straps are likely as not to give me a rash, I will feel like a million bucks. At least for the evening.

If the dress fits…

Several years ago, there was a Laura Ashley store here in town that was going out of business. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of Laura Ashley, but I happened to wander into the store, and I fell in love with a dress. It was this navy blue A-line timeless number, and it had soft, yet nubby, delicate navy blue roses embossed in its fabric. I bought the thing, I think without even trying it on, despite the fact that there were no returns because the store was closing.

Even at 60% off, it wasn’t cheap, but I figured that if it was too small, it would give me a goal. I brought it to the counter, and the salesclerk reminded me of the no return policy. When I said okay, she kind of gave a me a look that said Okay, lady, but you’re never going to pull it off.

That look, that parting thought, her resignation that the customer is always right, no matter what I might think has haunted me all these years, because as it turned out, she was right. I had misread the size on the tag, which said 12, but a UK size 12. In the States, it was a size 8 (and I think it was cut as a small 8 at that), and at the time, I was more of a US 12.  The thing fit me like a navy blue sausage casing. Those delicate embossed roses stretched across my mid section and looked more like warped clown faces than anything remotely floral.

I never wore the thing.  It has hung in my overflow closet, complete with the tags.  I thought about selling it on eBay, as I had other children, and my size ballooned to 14 and even 16, but something always kept me from parting with it. I really was crazy about that dress when I bought it.

Anyway, next weekend, I am going to a baby shower, and I was thinking of buying a new outfit, but then I thought, let me check and see if I have anything old that might fit.  The Laura Ashley does. It’s the tiniest bit tight across the bust (which Manfrengensen will be glad to hear) but it drapes beautifully over my abs and butt.

I wish you could see how I am grinning at the moment.


An Attempt, Albeit Failed, To Start Her Young On the Grammar

The Princess just had me change a Barbie into Cinderella Barbie’s dress so that the doll didn’t look like a tramp any more.

“Her looks beautiful!” The Princess exclaimed, and I corrected her.

“She,” I said,” SHE looks beautiful.”

And The Princess grinned, “Yes, she does.”


I have been the Super Mom so far this week.  Yesterday The Princess and I started her in a tumbling class that she took right to.  And I think it made her happier all day.  She didn’t really fight me on anything all day, even though she was tired, and we had a lot of laughs.

We also had a few errands to run after the tumbling, including a stop at PetSmart to pick up THE FISH.


Edison and Clooney have been angling for fish since before the summer.  We first put them off with the excuse that we travel a lot in the summer, and therefor it might be hard to keep the little suckers alive.  Then when autumn came, I put them off with the idea that I didn’t know where we would put the tank.

Well, Friday we were in that shopping center, and I took them over there, because it’s kind of like a free trip to the zoo, and they started with the fish thing.

Goldfish in this one, but its the same tank.

Goldfish in this one, but it's the same tank.

It seemed like almost everything was on sale at the store, trying to get rid of holiday stock I guess. Heading for the automatic doors, I noticed a tank that looked cool and wasn’t much in the way of an initial (and let’s be honest with ourselves – ultimately fruitless) investment.

And so we bought the thing, with them in my wake, and at least in my mind’s memory they were chanting, “FISH TANK! FISH TANK! FISH TANK!”

We prepped the water over the weekend, and as of yesterday became the proud owners of three fancy-tailed guppies. The boys were so excited that they ran right up there when they got home from school without even bothering to take their coats off.

Edison named two of them: Red Tail and Red-Red. Clooney named the other one “Anthony.”


One other thing I have been meaning to mention, in case you are thinking about starting your new year with a diet:

I’m still doing the Jenny Craig, and it is working out well.  So far, I have lost 26 pounds in 16 weeks.  I have another nine to go to get to my goal.  Overall, it has been easy to follow, and I have enjoyed the food, though there have been times when I have gotten into a rut with the things I like, and that makes me kind of bored with the selection.

The holidays were tough, but I still did well.  I stuck to the diet, but gave myself Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners off.  There have been other times when we have been out to dinner or lunch, so I haven’t had EVERY meal for the last four months on Jenny Craig. But I watch my portions, and I think about what I am eating.  So far, I’ve kept losing, and that’s a pretty good feeling.

I’m not big on working out, but I have been doing that as well for the last few weeks.  I hate to go, but after I do, I feel really good too.  My goal is to be in a bikini this summer….lofty.

Misc. Updates

Yesterday The Princess and I baked together for the first time.  It was fun.  She was into pouring all the ingredients into the bowl and mixing them together, but for me, it meant so much more to do this mother-daughter thing.  Nothing special, just brownies, which from what I have heard, turned out to be delicious.

The Princess Making Brownies

I haven’t talked about the diet for a while, but to give a quick update, I am doing great with the Jenny Craig.  I am more than half-way to my goal weight, having lost more than 18 pounds since I officially began the diet.  More importantly, I went back to the doctor yesterday, and all of my numbers have come down.  Since July, when I last saw him, I have lost 21 pounds.  My cholesterol has gone from 252 to 175, and my trigycerides, which were embarrassing — over 700 — are now 122.  It’s great to look in the mirror and feel better, but I have to tell you, when they gaveEdison in his play me the numbers yesterday, I teared up.  The numbers are the important thing.  Overall, I feel pretty great.

Edison was in a play this week, written by his music teacher and performed by everyone in the third grade at his school. He spent weeks singing and dancing around the house, and even though there were times when I really wished he would stop, there will be times in the future, when other pursuits have garnered his attention, when I will miss that singing.

I am finishing up a book I had to read for the book club called The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.  It’s one of those books I can’t wait to be done with.  The writing is just okay, nothing overly literary, and at times the narrative is cliche, or just doesn’t feel real, like the author is stretching a limited imagination.  It tells two stories in two separate narratives that the author is trying to somehow relate to one another.

One is a historical fiction about Brigham Young’s 19th wife, who divorces him and sets about on a crusade to end polygamy in the late-19th Century. That part of the book I really like.  It’s fairly well researched and feels authentic.  The other is a modern sort of murder mystery about a 19th wife in a cult-like sect that split of from the Mormons after 1890 who is accused of killing her husband.  Her estranged gay son returns to the small town and proceeds to investigate the case, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you know, the mother’s innocent.

But I had some real problems with that part of the book.  First of all, the solving of the murder comes abruptly and totally from left field.  There’s no building of the clues, only a bit of meandering around them.  The explanation of the murder is less than a page, and the motive isn’t fully believable, especially given that the climax is the first we’ve heard of it.  Also, the confession comes after a totally contrived scene where the main character is captured and seems to be threatened, but again, it doesn’t feel as real as the author had been hoping to make it.

My biggest problem was with the main character, who as I mentioned, is gay. Why? Because I guess that would make the story more interesting? The author tells us that the guy spent a little time selling his bod, and on more than one occasion mentions that he was paid by a dude to let him put his “arm in a place where no arm should go.” Ew.  And then, about 2/3 through the book, he meets a guy who falls in love with him and wants him to stay, make a commitment after ONE NIGHT TOGETHER, and the author tries to kind of make a case that it’s hard for Jordan to do that because of how he was raised in the polygamist sect.  He can’t love, you see.  But I felt like — well, he did just meet the guy. Frankly, the love interest comes off more like a creepy stalker than a sincere life partner.  (I pictured him as Kenneth Parcells from 30 Rock, only you know, as a creepy stalker.  If they ever make a movie of this book, Jack McBrayer should totally play the character of Tom.)


But I keep turning those pages, because I do want to find out what happened to Ann Eliza Young, Bringham’s 19th wife.  I’m not sure I will find out, and I also worry that we’ll never find out what happened to the son she left behind when she left Utah, though the fact that she misses him is mentioned several times in the course of the story.  I have like ten pages to go.  Then, like Ann Eliza, I will be free (to read something else.)


p.s. — just searching on youtube, I found these clips.  Seriously, this is the funniest show on TV:



Jenny Craig Update

Currently in the sixth week on Jenny Craig.  So far, I am down a little over ten pounds, and I have lost a total of six inches on the main places these things are usually measured.  I have lost half of the weight that I had put on in the last year, but then I would also like to lose about ten to fifteen pounds beyond that.

Overall, I am happy, and I feel healthy, though I did kind of fall off the wagon at a party this past weekend, and I think that made me miss all the tasty foods I miss, like real mashed potatoes and cake.  Manfrengensen and I are going out for dinner on Friday.  I would like to find a 4-oz. fillet somewhere.

I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier, but the type of Jenny Craig plan I am doing is the one where I can choose my own food for the week.  They also offer a pre-set plan, but I like having the choice.

Lately I have been “into” the Jenny Craig lunch pizzas, which are actually quite tasty.  There are two kinds, pesto and personal.  Both feature wheat crusts and chopped tomatoes, along with a fair amount of cheese.

I have given up on the chicken and tuna salads. Too little return for the investment, and I just don’t like the canned feeling of it.

I like the Chicken Stuffed Sandwich, another hot-pocket kind of deal filled with cheese, chicken and broccoli.  A good amount of chicken too.  It’s not like the McDonald’s apple pie, where you are down to the last bite and realize you have yet to see any real fruit.  It’s actually what it says: chicken stuffed.  It’s good, but as is the case with all things, even better with taco sauce.

About two weeks ago, I was kind of craving french-fries, so I got the Fish and Chips dinner entree, which was surprisingly good, and didn’t even need taco sauce.  You get a few potato wedges in that entree, and it bakes up nicely in the toaster oven.  Overall very satisfying.

I find I am eating a lot of pastas, Spinach and Cheese Tortellini, Rotini with Meat Sauce, Chicken Pasta Parmesan, etc.  I don’t really mind though, as the Italian blood in me could eat that for every meal.




In terms of snacks, I am still preferring the salty snacks to the chocolate ones.  The Bruschetta Veggie Chips are pretty good, and I am still into the Cheese Curls.  I tried the Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bar, which is kind of like a Snickers, but not packed with peanuts and offers only a thin layer of nuget.  Needless to say, Snickers is better, but this isn’t too bad a substitute, though I don’t feel I need to get it every week.

I’m also completely off of the cookies and cream Anytime Bar.  It’s all peanut butter flavor for me.  I don’t know what happened, but one day the cookies and cream one made me gag, and I haven’t gone back.  Again though, I’m not that fond of cookies and cream to begin with, so don’t go by me.

This week, I have two challenge-entrees, or the things I am trying for the first time.  Last night I had the “Cookout Style Chicken” which has barbecue sauce and a side of baked beans.   The chicken was a little stringy, and fell apart when I cut it.  It was about the size of my palm, no surprises there.  But the beans!  My god, the beans.  There were lots and lots of beans.  Maybe a whole cup of beans.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of beans for me.

This Sunday I’m also planning to try the “special” entree of the month, Spaghetti and Meatballs, which is only available in October.  I will let you know how that goes.

What’s Going On

Haven’t written in a while…I have been busy putting dresses on princesses from these Disney sets The Princess got for her birthday.  The dresses are made of rubber, and she can’t really put them on the dolls by herself.  Though she can take them off like nobody’s business.  The sets are great.   I’d say she spends 70-80%

Cinderella Precious Princess Sparkle Bag

Cinderella Precious Princess Sparkle Bag

of her playtime imagining with them.  I had bought her a small Snow White set at the grocery store last month that came with two outfits and a little Dopey doll.  No idea what’s become of Dopey.  Her aunt and uncle got her more expanded sets of Sleeping Beauty and Belle, each of which came with three outfits and some other accessories like Mrs. Pots and Chip, the teacup.  Then yesterday, we were shopping for gifts for upcoming events, and she came across a Cinderella set.  I don’t really like to buy stuff “off-holiday,” but I buckled yesterday because she was so excited about how this set came with Prince Charming.  Plus, like I said, she plays with it almost all day.  So, I caved. And it is pretty cute seeing her imagine them dancing together, humming her off-key, awkward-rhythm waltz.

The only slightly negative thing I have to say about them is that every dress comes with a matching pair of shoes that don’t stay on too well. We have probably lost a third of them so far.  I’m sure if we busted open the vacuum cleaner bag, we would find them.

Speaking of toys — have you ever experienced a kids game called Lucky Ducks?  It’s kind of like the duck pond you would find at a carnival, only there’s no water, and the ducks go around in a motorized circle, making repetitive and squeaky quacking sounds as they do.  The object is to find four ducks with the same color on their bottoms.  The Princess is playing it right now.  I’m telling you, if we took a few of these games down to Guantanamo, and fired them up, we’d be able to find Bin Laden within an hour.

Though I am sure the use of this game is outlawed by the Geneva Convention.


Diet Update

In other news, the diet continues.  So far, I have lost 7 pounds, which is motivational for the continuation.  But you know, I still think about the money.  Maybe it’s the part of me that’s always been broke, (a sense I will probably never shake — which I am sure is somewhat comforting to Manfrengensen) but I think, yeah that’s great, but what is it, like fifty bucks a pound?

But I feel good, I must say.  I do see a bit of a difference in my carriage.  Yesterday I actually found an outfit that fits me nicely (though it will look infinitely better with a little tummy control) which is good because in the coming weeks I have many social engagements, baby showers, baptisms and the like.  And of course you know that when you look good, you feel good, dahling.

I have tried a few other things on the menu, and I would like to tell you that if you are planning to do Jenny Craig, you should avoid the Breakfast Scramble.  It’s like an egg and cheese thing served over diced potatoes.  In general, I don’t like to mix my egg and potatoes in a hash-like state, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  I think it was the cheese…too tangy?  Or maybe it was the turkey bacon cubes…too smokey? I don’t know.  Not for me.


Good stuff though — Chocolate Walnut Brownie.  Too small.  But brownies always are.

Jenny Craig – Week 1 Overview

Okay — went back to Jenny Craig today.  Over the last week, I lost 3.8 lbs, so I am happy.  They assigned me a new counselor, who was a bit of a seller, which I don’t particularly care for.  I like to just go in, get weighed, get my food, and get out frankly.  I don’t need any cheerleading, or fawning, or anything like that.  So anyway, she was making all this small talk, meanwhile, I’ve got the Princess with me, and she’s running the length of the hall, making like she’s going to leave without me.

She had been pretty good today.  First, we had to go to the doctor in an effort to get rid of this cough I have that’s now on day 11.  Enough already with that. (More about the visit later.)  Then we went to the grocery store, and by the time we got to Jenny Craig, it was like 12:30.

So, the girl’s selling, and she sold me the discount program, which I had already figured I was going to get.  First of all, like I said earlier, I was on Jenny Craig before my wedding, and at that time, I got a “lifetime” membership, so I didn’t have to pay any kind of fee to sign up this time.  They’ve got some promotional deals, like I think they have a “Lose 20 lbs. for $20” deal going on now, but currently, the “membership” is $399.  Then, they have this discount deal where you pay $99 (“for the first year”) and you get 10% off the food for the first ten weeks, 20% off for the second ten weeks, 30% at 30 weeks and 35% off when you reach your goal weight.  Needless to say, I hope to reach my goal around the 20 week mark, but still, I figured I’d make the money back with those discounts.

So, then she says, “What about a pedometer?”  And I was like, “Huh?” And she says how having a pedometer can be really motivational.  So I said, “You know what I find really motivational?  My American Express bill.”  I don’t think she got the joke, but that’s okay because I was kind of kidding on the square.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about the best and worst of the food I’ve eaten in the last week:


That stuffed sandwich turned out to be pretty good when paired with taco sauce.

Banana Nut Cereal — surprisingly filling

Maple Nut Cereal — I’d been warned that this was hot, but okay, I like oatmeal, right?  Yuk.

French Toast — Pretty good

Pancakes – Okay too.  The Princess actually begged for and ate a lot of that one.


Chicken Salad — not bad.  Adds the sensation of spreading something on a cracker like you’re at a cocktail party.  Came with an unsweetened applesauce that was okay.

Tuna Salad — not as good as the chicken.  And it came with a fruit cup of diced peaches.

Personal Pizza — took a lot less time in my toaster oven than the directions indicated.  Was burnt, but still edible.  I think it will be much better next time. Comes in both a tomato and a pesto variety.  Both were pretty good.

Turkey Burger and Chicken Sandwich — both okay.  Turkey Burger comes with barbeque sauce.  I chose to bake it in the toaster oven, but the middle was still frozen, even after baking it for more time, so I ended up having to pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds.  This seemed to happen often with the sandwiches.  Like this morning, I did the Sunshine Sandwich for breakfast, and the egg was still frozen in the middle, even after baking for 20 minutes.


Mesquite Chicken — good, though again, I messed up, read the directions wrong.  It said to “remove mesquite chicken from box.”  So, okay, I peeled back the cellophane on the entree and pried the chicken out from the broccoli and potatoes.  I thought it was weird that I couldn’t remove several potatoes that were frozen from the chicken, but whatever.  Turned out that the directions just meant to remove the entree from the box. Oh. I mean, who cooks the thing inside the box?  At least I’m not that much of a moron. So though it was tasty, because of my glitch there, the chicken was a little rubbery and the broccoli was microwaved to a limp grainy paste.

Sweet and Sour Chicken — Yummy. Made me regret the portion control part of the diet.

Chicken Fetuccini — Not bad. The cheese tasted more “real” than some of the chicken fetuccinis I have gotten at the grocery store.  My microwave kind of burned it a little, so next time, I will scale that back some.


Manfrengensen and I went out to eat one night, and I just had a soup and salad at the restaurant. But overall, it was an easy diet to follow.  Of the snacks, my favorites were the salty ones, the cheese curls and popcorn were quite satisfying.  I also had double chocolate cake, which was a little dry, but not bad, and also double chocolate cheesecake. Last night I had the smores bar, which the girl at Jenny had recommended, but it was small, and just okay.  I’m not a big fan of the smore anyway, so don’t go by me on that one.



I really like my doctor, but she has her practice in an urban hospital.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but just sometimes, I see things and people that kind of surprise me.  Like I said, I had to take the Princess with me, so I brought some books and snacks for her.  We were reading, and I was paying attention to the book and her.  The waiting room filled up, and a woman sat on the other side of the Princess’s chair.  She made a bit of a fuss over the Princess, as people sometimes do, and the Princess then proceeded to crawl into my lap and bury her face in my shirt.  This was nothing out of the ordinary.  The Princess is often shy of strangers at first, so though I was looking at her, I was making excuses to the woman, you know, she’s shy, etc.

Then I looked up, at this woman.  She had one tooth. One.  That was it.  Maybe some in the back, but none that I could see.  Only one of her eyes was fully functional, and her face was kind of set in a Popeye-like expression, not that I haven’t set my face in such a way (hey, I don’t claim to be Mrs. America), but I thought, my God, the Princess must think this is like something out of a fairy tale — the kind of scary part.  It was very hard, for me not to act as though I were taken aback, because honestly, I was.  I’m not saying that I expected to see Annette Benning when I looked over there, but the person I did see was wholly unexpected.


Here’s another thing about my city: My city’s urban landscape is one littered with the bones of half-eaten chickens, and usually those have been fried at some point. Not always, but usually.  The sidewalks of the downtown area are speckled with old gum and fresh spittle.  It’s not a beautiful place to visit.  I don’t want to seem like I don’t have home town pride.  I do.  But I think these spitters, these gum depositers and the half-chicken eaters kind of ruin it for the rest of us.