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KoKo Intervention: Bark Busters

Continuing our efforts to help calm Koko, I took her to the vet and discussed some options, specifically training recommendations.  A large noisy group class wasn’t the best idea for her, not with her anxiety, but personal trainers are $$$.  Her #1 recommendation was Bark Busters.  They were running a Christmas special, so I was able to get both KC and Koko training for the same price, with a lifetime guarantee.

That means they will come to our house, as many times as we need, for no additional cost, for the lifetime of both dogs.  Even if we move out of the state.  Of course it’s a hefty one time fee, but I’m able to make payments and I’ve already MORE than gotten the training for the $$, just in two visits, using the $100-150/hour rate we were quoted elsewhere.

Actually, the training is for US not the dogs.  We just need to know how to help her.

So far, our trainer has come to the house twice, for almost 5 hours of training.  The first time, we worked mostly with Koko, in her crate, on a leash, and free.  She barked and barked and barked at the Strange Man.  None of his techniques would calm her for long.  He’d move, and she’d go nuts again.  Forget him even touching her leash — let alone her.

However, when he pulled out the spray bottle and gave it to me, we finally had a breakthrough and she quit that mean barking.  One good pop of spray in the face was all it took.  The second time I missed, but it still shook her out of her barking rage.

Today, my Dad came over to watch.  Koko has a hate hate relationship with him and always barks at him, even though he kept her for two weeks while I went to the home office last fall.  This time, she barked at him.  No surprise.  I escalated using our trainer’s techniques and ended up popping her once with the spray bottle.

Not another bark.

She even came over after awhile and laid down between us and let him pet her.  (Usually she just paces and paces when he’s over.)

Then the trainer came by and she did bark at him some, but we were able to correct her immediately.  We practiced several different techniques and really, the heart of her issue became clear to me.  If there’s a stranger in the house, she watches them with single-minded focus.  One of the exercises required her to look up to me and make eye contact before she got the treat…and she wouldn’t do it.  She wouldn’t take her eyes off the Strange Men in the house.

So this week, I’ll be working on getting her attention on me.  He gave me several attentive exercises to practice with her that will hopefully help.  The barking is better, but she’s still afraid and nervous.  It is an improvement, though, and I’m encouraged that there’s hope.  As soon as the weather breaks, I’ll be walking her a LOT.  I need it and so does she.

But she ended up on her leash with the Strange Man leading her around.  She wouldn’t ever get in front of him – because she wanted to keep an eye on him!  But he was able to get much closer to her without her sounding like Cujo.  It’s a start!

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General Update

Sorry for the unexpected blog silence!  Things have been crazy around here.  Let’s see if I can catch you up without writing a book.

Survived the trip to MN for the Evil Day Job.  Reconnected with lots of people, gave and participated in training, and realized I’ve actually picked up more than I expected over the past few months, so that’s good.  Work is crazy as usual with meetings, tight deadlines, production issues, etc. so it’s going to be a big push through the end of the year.  I’m taking 47.5 hours of vacation starting 12/18 at 11:15 and I have to get a major project in shape before I can comfortably leave.  (Otherwise I’ll lose the vacation.)

Survived Thanksgiving prep.  It wasn’t the same without my beloved sister and my ex-SIL I still miss sorely, especially on Thanksgiving when we used to prep (and drink wine) together.  Of course it wasn’t the same without That Man’s father either, but we did okay.  I didn’t burn anything, though my cherry pie didn’t come anywhere close to living up to Mistress L’s expectations (see The Billionaire Submissive in June to understand what I’m talking about).

I ended up getting a new computer this weekend so I spent a lot of time transferring files and generally cleaning up my old ASUS for the kids.  They’ve been killing my miniscule writing time by stealing my computer to play MineCraft so I had to do something.  The new baby is also an ASUS, touch screen with Windows 8.  It’s not as bad as I feared though I had to do lots of updates to get caught up to 8.1 and get Scrivener, etc. installed.  So far so good.  It has a gorgeous HD screen that’s crisp and clear, easy on my eyes, though I reserve the right to buy a large monitor at some point to ease my eye strain if needed.

We’re still working on Koko.  She saw the vet today and got some doggy happy pills to help with her anxiety.  The vet also recommended some trainers to help us with her socialization.  The vet agreed that Koko is a sweet dog – she’s not mean.  She’s scared.  Yet that doesn’t mean she couldn’t get into trouble in the wrong situation if we don’t learn how to handle her difficulties.

I got the paperwork done for The Billionaire Submissive and discussed plans with my editor on what to concentrate on next.  Up first is Mama C and then a holiday billionaire submissive for next year.  I’m also still working on the new PNR as well, so it’s going to be craaaaazy and full the next few months!

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The Diet Mentality

The short explanation for this post:  The Fast Metabolism Diet is NOT for me.

The long explanation follows.

This latest experiment highlighted for me that I still battle the diet mentality, or the diet trap.  Obsessing about what to eat, when, as if there’s some magical formula that will help me transform my life.  I can eat this… but not that.  I can eat 2 of this, but never more than that.  Or the whole diet is ruined.  If you fall into that all-or-nothing mentality, then it’s a). impossible to stay 100% on plan all the time and b). it’s difficult to recover from slippage.  It’s not a LIFESTYLE.  It’s a DIET.  Aka temporary.

That’s one reason I’m so sensitive/worried about That Man’s salad diet, because I’ve been there.  I’ve starved myself.  I lost weight…for awhile.  And then ended up right back beyond in my worst nightmare.

That vicious diet trap started to rear its ugly head this week, but thankfully I’ve nipped it in the bud before it could cause too much damage.

As I posted, the first week of comparison went well.  I had planned to do another 7-day cycle while still counting my points this week.  However, Middle missed a day of school last week sick, and while I had both Monday and Tuesday off…. I didn’t plan to lay around the house with no energy myself, nor to have Littlest home with me.  So needless to say, NaNoWriMo is not going well right now.

The first two days of the new cycle I did fine.  Then I entered the high protein, low fat, low carb days yesterday.  This is like the WORST of Atkins…without at least the bacon to help you get through all the protein.  I can eat eggs for breakfast, no problem.  I can even do egg whites, although I really hate throwing that glorious farm egg yolk down the drain.  But does it really make that much of a difference if I use 1 tsp of healthy oil to cook the egg?  Taste wise, it’s a huge difference.  I even made egg white “muffins” with sautéed veggies and could barely gag them down.  A little turkey bacon helped but even with 4 egg whites and 2 slices of bacon I was still starving.

Not a good sign.

I soldiered on, even though I just felt like crap.  Littlest wanted soup.  I didn’t have any whole food soup on hand and I sure didn’t feel like making any from scratch.  I SURELY didn’t have phase 2 appropriate soup on hand with no carb or fat of any kind.  Then she wanted mac and cheese.  A traditional comfort food.

I still did okay.  I had my lunch (tuna, a little Dijon, celery).  It wasn’t horrid.  But I was still hungry!  Worse, I had to run some errands to WalMart to stock up on stuff for the sick kiddies, and I missed my snack of cold deli meat.  Ugh.  I did not want cold turkey meat even if it was nitrate free.  No, heating it up wasn’t enough.  I wanted something… good.  Soothing.  Nutritious.  Or at least soothing and good.

You can see where this is going, right?

Yeah, the last bit of mac and cheese met its maker in my belly.

But I got back on track for dinner with a huge plate of plain ground beef and cabbage.  I sautéed the cabbage in a little coconut oil in my iron skillet to caramelize it (a slight cheat).  I even put salsa on it.  And siracha.  And I still couldn’t get it all down.  It just didn’t taste right and it sure didn’t feel GOOD.

Obviously some of that’s the cold speaking.  When you’re sick, you want a comfort food.  So I fought off the cravings, put the leftover cabbage/beef in the fridge, and went to bed.

This morning I was supposed to have the egg whites again.  I tried.  I really did.  But all I could think about was some nice warm delicious steel cut oats with sunbutter, like I’d had Sat.  I wanted it bad.  I started rationalizing in my head about how it probably wouldn’t matter if I ate it today instead of tomorrow.  Or would it?  Back and forth.  I ate the egg whites but I was still hungry.

Still starving.  I’m not kidding – this wasn’t emotional hunger.  My stomach was growling.  I started to get that HUNGER MUST EAT NOW feeling.  Like I’m going to stab someone with a fork hungry.  Maybe part of it was mental, driven by deprivation, but it was physical too.  I needed food.  Good food.

And I suddenly realized I had stepped into the diet trap.  I was excluding perfectly healthy whole foods–not because I have an allergy or real need to avoid certain foods–but because some book guru said to.  I was eating a formula instead of listening to my body and fueling my energy.

Dumb.  I’m sick.  I’m traveling to MN next week and Thanksgiving is the following week (we host, so I have a lot of prep to do).  The last thing I need to do is starve myself with some diet and make myself sicker, maybe even end up with pneumonia again.  DUMB. DUMB. DUMB.

So I made my oats and tracked it all.  And here’s the funny thing:  I didn’t even need a midmorning snack.  I was perfectly satisfied to wait for lunch, and I even ate later than usual because I was working on a production issue.

Whole foods = good.  Clean eating to minimize chemicals, processed foods, artificial sweeteners = good.  I’m not lactose intolerant or gluten sensitive to my knowledge, so there’s really no need for me to avoid dairy or whole grains unless they affect my weight loss.  Whole grains do sometimes make me ravenous unless I have protein or fat with them, so I do try to minimize them for that reason.

I like many paleo recipes and do incorporate many of those beliefs into my eating… but I don’t currently feel the need to give up all dairy and grains.

I’ll continue to use Weight Watchers to help me keep my portions manageable, but I don’t have to be so regimented in staying beneath my daily points.  It’s not a test that I have to pass every single day!  I’m also hoping that as I eat more whole foods and less of everything else that eventually I won’t need WW to tell me how much/little to eat any longer.  But for now, at least with WW no food is ever off limits.  I just have to be faithful in my tracking and measuring, which does get old really fast.

If it’s whole food, I’m not going to put some silly restriction on what day of the week I can eat it.

In summary, I’m grateful to the Fast Metabolism Diet for a few things.

  • introduced me to sunbutter, which I’ve decided I love.
  • reminded me that I love Ezekiel sprouted breads.  (I hadn’t had them since the stint with Atkins many years ago.)
  • if I’m more liberal with the coconut oil, things don’t stick in my iron skillet.  And taste really good.  Duh!
  • I finally found a way I really like sweet potatoes:  diced, cooked in coconut oil until crispy, sprinkled with salt, cumin, and a little cinnamon
  • I can eat well beyond my points a few days a week and still see really nice losses on the scale.
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The KoKo Intervention

I mentioned a few days ago that we were having some issues with the pup, KoKoKoNa, and promised a longer post.

It’s one of those situations where I didn’t realize how bad it was…until one particular incident.  Then I realized we were in trouble.  She’s always been fearful.  When she was a puppy I never had to worry if she got off her little collar — she would run right up and sit on the porch to wait for us.  We joked she was afraid of outside.  She didn’t WANT to go outside.

We used to have Uncle J stop by and take her out if we were going to be gone longer than 4 hours, but he said she was scared of him.  He’d have to reach into her crate to get her out, and then sometimes she peed on the floor.  Again, fear.

She barked at my Dad every time he came over.  She hated That Man’s Mom.  Still hates Uncle J.  She barks nonstop at anything and everything if I put her outside for a while, and for a medium sized dog (45 lbs) she has a very mean, ferocious bark.  I would never leave her unattended outside for fear the neighbors would call the police.

But one particular incident happened a couple of weeks ago that scared me to death.  Princess and That Man were gone to a home HS football game, so I let the two youngest monsters invite friends for a sleepover.  Of course they were excited and a little loud.  I sent puppy outside and warned the girls to let me handle her because she was nervous around strangers.

She stood at the door and barked her head off.  I went out and leashed her, brought her in slowly, and she was like a frothing-at-the-mouth insane dog.  She barked and lunged and carried on like she was nuts.  Not the even same dog.  The girls didn’t look at her, didn’t say anything, just sat quietly on the couch while I stood with her at the back door trying to get her used to them, and I could hardly handle her.  She was so frantic to bite something, anything, that she almost got my leg (I was standing between her and the kids).  She caught my pants’ leg in her teeth.

I know she loves us.  She’s not a mean dog.  But fear can still make a dog go redline and she was over that line and then some.  She would have bitten me if she could have.  Even after I put her in her crate, she couldn’t relax.  She couldn’t stop barking.  She even barked at me every time I walked by, as if she were saying, MOM GET ME OUT OF HERE SO I CAN BITE THOSE STRANGERS AND CHASE THEM OUT OF OUR HOUSE!

I finally put a blanket over her crate and only then was she able to settle down.

The next morning… she was fine.  She spent the night in Princess’s room (unusual — she usually sleeps with Middle but I didn’t trust her anywhere near the guests) and was calm enough the next morning that I carefully introduced her to Middle’s friend.  She didn’t bark once.

But I can’t have a redline dog around my kids, or our neighbor’s little girl (less than 2 years old), or any of the other kids that run in and out of our yard in the summer.  I can’t risk anyone getting hurt – I would feel horrible.  As horrible as I was feeling at the thought of finding KoKo a new home.

I know Cesar Milan recommends walking regularly, and I’ve not been able to do that with her even using his techniques.  She’s just too strong for me to handle and I’m exhausted after 30 mins.  However, Raelyn recommended the Gentle Leader collar.  My local pet store was out of the size we needed, but I found a knockoff version that has worked wonders.  I’m able to walk her and keep her calm.  Wearing that collar, she didn’t bark at my Dad when he came over the next time and even took a treat from his hand (where the time before she struggled so hard she got out of her collar and ran away).

Better, but not enough for me to trust her with children.

So in talking to my Dad, he’s taking her for two weeks for a little intervention.  He has a well-trained, calm bird dog that she can hang out with and he’ll work on teaching her some of those commands.  She’ll be on the farm with lots of new situations and animals to hopefully help her settle down a little.  It’s deer season, so he’ll have lots of strangers in and out (all grown men who’ll be warned to be careful around her).  It’s my hope that a few commands that I haven’t been able to teach her will help steady her out, and I trust my Dad’s recommendation.  If he feels she’s not safe to keep around kids, then we’ll have to rehome her, as hard as that will be.

He gave me an update this morning (we took her up Saturday afternoon).  She will do what he asks…but she doesn’t do it “eagerly.”  She’ll come at his command, but not offer affection or welcome affection in return.  She leans away from him and retreats as soon as he allows it.  She can’t relax but paces constantly.  If he uses his “alpha” NO voice, she pees all over herself.

But he said she is better.  She hasn’t tried to bite him.  She’s just scared.

I have no idea what happened to her before we got her at 10-weeks old.  Maybe she’s inbred.  I really don’t know anything about her or where the people we bought her from had gotten her.  I’ll just keep hoping for the best.

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Diet Comparison: WW and The Fast Metabolism Diet

I’m always interested in what the current diet trends are, so when Middle’s best friend’s Mom (an ex-Weight Watcher) said she was doing The Fast Metabolism Diet, I was intrigued.  I’d never heard of it before, and she was highly recommending it.  She was loving the food plan and seeing good results.  So I thought, hey, I’ll check it out.  I bought the book and scanned through it quickly.

A lot of its premises were really fascinating and I totally bought.  Yes, my metabolism is wretchedly slow after a lifetime of dieting.  My set point is low.  I can eat within my Daily Points (DPs) for weeks and the scale won’t budge–even if I’m exercising hard.  But oddly enough, if I have a controlled splurge of one thing–say we go to Quiznos Subs and I get a sandwich instead of a salad–I can suddenly see a huge loss the next day.  So I like the idea of “shaking things up.”

(Old time WWs will automatically think of the “Wendie Plan” – where you deliberately eat a low and high range of points throughout the week to do a similar trick.)

The basic premise of TFMD is that you keep your body confused with various high and low days carefully fine tuned to get your hormones balanced, your adrenals working again, and more importantly, your body actually burning your own fat stores.  There are phases — don’t groan, I know we’ve all heard all the phases of Atkins and South Beach, etc.  What makes this interesting is you only do the phases a few days (2-3) at a time, so you’re constantly changing things up.  I like that too.  There’s nothing worse than eating something nasty for weeks on end to the point where if you have to gag down one more dish you’re going to hurl.

Even better… everything is WHOLE FOODS.  Organic, sprouted, wholesome foods.  I find that highly appealing too.  No artificial sweeteners, no chemicals, even nitrate-free deli meats.  It does get pretty restrictive though with no wheat, no corn, no soy (unless you’re vegetarian), no dairy as well.  There’s also a relatively complicated list of eat this on this day, but don’t eat this on the other day.  I’m not a fan of such restrictions.

But the idea, the premise, is definitely intriguing. It’s like you’re deliberately fooling your body with high whole-food carbs like steel-cut oats and fruit for a few days.  Then you go strict Atkins/paleo-style high protein — only it’s extremely low fat too.  No fat-laden cream or cheese dishes here, or as many bacon and eggs as you can eat.  Then the last three days of the week, you go high natural fats with avocados, sunbutter, coconut and olive oils, seeds and nuts.

I could totally see how swinging through those cycles could fool your body into working harder and get a sluggish metabolism working again.  I had been back to tracking faithfully on WW for the past 3 weeks, eating within my points every single day, and the scale had not budged.  Okay, I lost 1 lb, gained two, then lost 1.  See?  Sluggish metabolism!

So last week, I decided to give it a try, with a few caveats.

  • I’m still tracking all my food in WW and trying to get my points in (more on that in a minute).
  • I’m not going to rush out and buy a bunch of diet crap.
  • I’m not going to have a cow if I eat something that’s not on the “okay” list on a certain day.  Whole food = good even if it’s not the “right” day.
  • I’m still keeping my coffee and half and half.

I was far from perfect that first week.  Right away, I had a coffee drink at church that had some sugar and dairy in it.  (That Man ordered a plain cappuccino but that’s not what I got.)  I made Chocolate Chili which had tomatoes in it — which weren’t approved on that certain day.  I also used whole grain wheat products a couple of times instead of sprouted because I wasn’t going to waste what we already had (and yum, I love whole grain).  I didn’t have any sunbutter, so I had natural peanut butter instead. I cheated a tiny bit on my oils too and had coconut oil a few times on the “low fat” days.  I didn’t really even exercise much — just a little.

I tracked on WW the entire week.  The first two days of high carb and fruit I was pretty close to getting my points in… but didn’t meat the healthy oil requirement.  The next two days of high protein, low fat, I was extremely low on points (like 10 pts short) and I ate a TON of food.  Those days, almost every single thing I ate were Power Foods — lean meats and veggies — so I knew I was getting a lot of nutrition.  If I was hungry, I ate, but I tried to stick to the plan.

Then the last three days…

Whoa.  WAY over points.  It was a shock.  For breakfast, I was supposed to eat 4 1/2 T of fat.  Yes.  4 1/2 T!!!  I couldn’t stomach it … let alone actually track that much fat.  I did a T of coconut oil in my oats and about passed out in fear logging it.  I went way over on points that day, and you know what?  The very next morning I was down another pound.

Hmmm, I thought to myself.  What the heck?  So I tried to be a little more generous on the healthy fats.  I ate the avocado AND the healthy olive oil on my salad.  I went ahead and used the full 3 T of natural peanut butter on my 1/2 bagel the next day — so much peanut butter I could hardly swallow it without my mouth gluing shut (man was it good!!).  And the scale went down AGAIN.

I ended up using almost all of my weeklies — something I hardly ever do.  And I lost 2.8 lbs, after staying in my dailies for 3 weeks and not losing a thing.

It was an eye opener for me.  I know you’re SUPPOSED to eat your weekly points.  They’re there for a reason.  But I always hoarded them for a special occasion….that never really came.  Sure, sometimes I’d have pizza or something and try to track it, but I never deliberately set out to eat those points.  Even when doing Power 90 faithfully, I only ate 4-6 pts extra a day and still felt guilty!  It’s crazy, I know.

If nothing else, giving this plan a shot is helping me get over that reluctance to use all of my points as WW intended.  I ate a TON — enough healthy fats to make the long-term dieter in me cringe — and I still lost a huge chunk of weight (for me).  I ate tons of Power Foods.  All healthy, organic as possible, whole grain, whole foods.  No “diet” foods with fillers and chemicals.

I’m still not a fan of being so restrictive on the first four days of the plan.  I mean, does it really make that much of a difference if I use 1 tsp of olive oil to cook my egg in?  Or 1 yolk?  The high protein days, I’m supposed to have 4 egg whites only for breakfast, which is hard to cook without any fat at all in the pan, even if it’s non stick.  There’s only so much all meat dishes I can get down too — I’m just not a fan of so much meat after my months of Atkins years ago.

However, it’s only two days.  And the very next morning I know I’m going to sit down to a delicious bowl of steel cut oats rich with coconut oil, sunbutter, and an apple (although apple wasn’t listed on the phase 3 fruits I ate it anyway).  It was SO GOOD and stuck with me for hours and hours.  I ate that on Saturday morning before the girls had two basketball games and I was so stuffed I really didn’t even need the snack 3 hours later.

I definitely saw enough results that I’m going to run through the phases again this week.  I’m continuing to track on WW again and get as near as I can to my points on the early phases.  You’re supposed to give a whole 28 days to allow your metabolism to recover.  With the upcoming MN trip next week, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to keep up with the restrictive plan, but I’ll at least continue to track my foods on WW and see what happens.

I strongly believe that we can heal our bodies with food.  I’m hoping that I can actually heal my metabolism a little after wrecking it all my life with one crazy diet after another.

P.S. I also ordered Well Fed 2 since I’m loving the first cookbook so much.  The high protein and high natural fat days are very paleo friendly with a few modifications.  (e.g. paleo doesn’t allow beans but TFMD does on phase 1 and phase 3)  I’m hoping to find some new inspiration!

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Bag ‘Em, Bob

Daddy Bob B–my Dad, aka Papa From Mexico because when the girls were babies he temporarily lived in Mexico for two years for a job and they STILL call him “Papa from Mexico”–works at a cattle auction barn.  For “fun”, don’t you know, because he’s retired.  I mean, nothing says fun like having a bull that weighs a ton chasing you around the barn.

But Dad is smart.  He keeps the cows from getting too close with his trusty tool.  It’s basically a long stick with a plastic bag on the end.  He doesn’t have to whack the cow with the stick.  All he has to do is rattle that bag on the end and the cow usually heads off in the opposite direction.

Now working at a cattle auction is pretty dangerous, both for the handlers and the cattle themselves.  A mean bull crashed into a gate and broke his neck.  Another cow broke her leg and was put down.  I had no idea what happened to these animals when they’re accidentally killed or seriously injured like this.  Not until Dad picked up a newly dead cow and drove it to the processing plant.

He’s taken several cows to the plant over the years and it’s become a sort of joke.  Here comes a mean cow.  The other guys shout, “Bag ’em, Bob!”  Half expecting the cow to whirl around and crash into another gate to become hamburger.  Sounds like a sure-fire way to fill up that freezer, right?

Kidding, kidding!  But the other day, another 600-700 lb young cow suffered a fatal accident and they called Dad.  He was out and about, swung by to pick it up, and took it directly to the processing plant.  Then sweet man that he is, he brought the whole thing down to us as our early Christmas present.  Several hundred pounds of fresh, young, grass-fed beef.  My small box freezer is more than half-full of hamburger, and our upright freezer from Grandma at the Lake is full of roasts and steaks.

It’s such a blessing to know I don’t even have to THINK about buying any meat for the winter other than a chicken here and there.  Plus it’s “homegrown” beef.  I don’t have to wonder what it was fed or how it was handled.  Dad’s been going to this small processor for years and they’re actually related distantly.

So a HUGE thank you to my Dad.  I can’t wait to start making chili and watching That Man try to eat all those steaks!

Bag ’em, Bob!

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September Totals

It was a pretty dismal month.  Sigh.  I ended up with just under 17K words instead of my goal, 30K.  Worse, I feel stalled and very uncreative.

There’s just too much stress going on in my life right now.  At least the month of hotline support for the Evil Day Job is done, although this month won’t be much better (major software upgrade and I’m primary on call after hours).  However, I’m taking two days off to make this weekend extra long, so hopefully I can recharge the well and reset my clock.  (I really badly need to get my hair colored — I’m looking frightful and it’s not Halloween yet.)

Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention here that I’m my FOURTH boss of the year now.  Yes, in the 18 years I’ve been with this company, I’ve had more managers this year alone than the rest of my career.  Crazy.

We’re still adjusting to the absolutely crammed full schedule.  Marching band contest is in full swing.  I’m not used to having a child need to get to school on a Sat. by 7:30 AM (after all of us staying out for the football game until almost 11 PM), who doesn’t get home until 2 AM.  How are we supposed to a). get caught up on our rest after getting up at 5:30 all week… and b). make it to church the next day when we’ve been sitting in the parking lot for 40 mins waiting for the buses and semi truck to unload?

(Yes, you read that right.  Princess’s band is so large that it takes 5 school buses, a semi-truck emblazoned with their marching band name and two large pull-behind trailers to go on the road.  Crazy.  In my day, we had 13 people in band!!)

Let’s not even talk about every other Friday night for football games.  The constant expense of tickets, concession $$, travel money (they’re spending two nights out in Oct), and of course travel money for us when/if we go with them.

Now add in the other two monster’s volleyball games, basketball games coming up.

AND of course their weekly spelling tests, geography map tests, Princess’s homework in three honors classes, monthly reading goals…  I do so much studying with them that I feel like I’m back in school!

AND Coyote Con is just around the corner.  So is NaNoWriMo.

AND I have final line edits due on Lord Regret’s Price.  Not to mention planning for release in Dec.

Gee, I have no idea why I’m so tired and stressed out.

So, baby steps.  That’s all I can manage right now.  I’m back to shooting for 250-500 words a day until I get my creative juices flowing again.

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I’m in full panic frenzy mode.

Tomorrow’s my last day at the Evil Day Job until May 7th and I’ve got soooo much to do!  We’re in the middle of a large project with a hard deadline, and I’ve got to try and come up with enough stuff for a very efficient programmer to work on while I’m out.  She whizzed through all the stuff I did this week already so I have absolutely NO CUSHION.

Oh, and I’m getting yet another new boss.  My current new boss gave his notice and is moving to a new department within the company.  Third boss in less than 5 months.  My mantra:  Change is a good thing.  Change is a good thing.  Change…

I still have to finish gluing my mask promo items.  We only have about 25 or so done.

I still have to find more clothes to wear during the day, although I’m covered for the nightly events for the most part.  The dress I bought for the award ceremony is gonna be snug.  Thank God for Spanx.  I want to get at least one more pair of black jeans.  Maybe another shirt or two.  I’ll see what I can find this weekend, but I’ve struck out on my favorite brand of jeans once already.

Granny brought by the cute little vest thing to wear beneath my corset.  The only problem I see with it:  it’s extremely short.  I don’t know how comfortable it’ll be if I’m fighting it all the time, but I suppose under the tight corset it probably won’t go anywhere!

I put on the beaded corset yesterday to practice lacing myself into it.  It has back ties, which are really hard to do alone.  Littlest saw me working on it and came in to help me again – by planting her foot on my butt and hauling on the laces.  *can’t breathe!!*  Thank God she’s not coming with me….  Although dang, she managed to suck me in pretty well!  (I could barely move, though, let alone sit down.)

I’m breaking in some new boots to wear during the day.  Yeah, not my brightest idea, but I fell in love with these red Dr. Martens.  In all my internet reading, I found that Dr. Martens are notoriously tough to break in, but these aren’t bad at all.  Of course I am wearing two pairs of socks with them… but I’ve been able to wear them all day without issue.  Will I be able to walk all around KC next week in them without crippling myself?

We shall see!

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Playing Dress Up

Today I drove back up to Granny’s (my Mom) and helped put the finishing touches on the outfits.  I. Am. Amazed.  My Mom did such an incredible job!  The pieces are gorgeous.  They mix and match, with interchangeable bustles and boleros.

Here are a few pictures.  Warning:  sans makeup and my hair is messy.  The fancy beaded corset is harder to put on, so I stuck with just the white one for now.


This one was taken in Mom’s sewing room.  The bustle is detachable, simply buttoning onto the black taffeta skirt’s waistband.  I thought this would be my favorite bolero, but I actually like the red one (below) better.  It might be hard to tell what’s in the pattern on the bustle, but it’s black feathers, skulls, spider webs, etc.  Wicked cool and definitely not “usual” Victorian wear!







This one was taken once I got home.  This bustle is much more complicated and ties onto loops sewn into the back of the skirt AND buttons onto the waistband.  I’m starting to understand why ladies had ladies’ maids, because MAN it’s going to be hard to dress myself at RT.  I have to tie the bustle on first, but leave one side undone so I can slip into the skirt.  Then tie and button it once on.  It’s almost as hard as fastening the busk on the other corset!

The monsters helped me make the hat.






Here’s the same one from the front.  That apron thing beneath the corset is also detachable, so I can choose to wear it with either bustle.  I adore the flash of red satin in the cascade!

I’m still working on finding the right shirt to wear beneath the corset.  This cami works, but the straps are a little too big and I’ll be constantly checking to make sure nothing’s sagging out the side.

The pattern had a lined vest that looked a lot like this cami, but Mom was having problems with it.  I told her not to worry about it – the show stoppers are done and are gorgeous.  I can find something to wear underneath!

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Weekend Roundup

First, the Weight Watcher update.  As I said last week, I made a deliberate effort to eat more of my weekly points (22 of 49) and continued Power 90 through Wed.  Thursday I took a break because I was really achy.  Not exactly sore but just deep down joint achy.  Friday I had to finish our taxes.  Sat and Sun I lost to business.  🙁  So I have to get back on track TODAY.

On the bright side, I’m down 2.4 this week.  Slowly inching back down to my all-time low!

Two of the monsters had school activities this past Sat.  Yeah, I know.  They were so thrilled.  Littlest spent the night with a friend and we had an hour or so where everyone was gone. That rare moment of quiet must have addled my brain because I decided to try and make a petticoat out of tulle to wear beneath my RT costume. 

I can cross stitch.  I can crochet.  I can embroider.  But I am NOT a seamstress.  I haven’t used my sewing machine since we moved here almost 3 years ago, and of course, I couldn’t find my manual (so I downloaded one off the internet).  It took me half an hour to remember how to fill the bobbin.  Another half hour to get everything threaded correctly.  Then I started making this monstrosity of a petticoat.

I made so. Many. Errors.  ARGH.  I was trying to sew 10 layers together and I got to the end and held it up, only to realize that I’d “dropped” two random layers as I was sewing it.  I also trimmed each piece of tulle with satin ribbon.  About 2/3 of the way through, I ran out.  It took me 3 attempts to finally get everything attached to the wasitband of 2″ black satin ribbon, or I would have ripped it out and done it again, because my underneath bobbin thread balled up in a couple of places and looks terrible.  Of course no one will see it but me (assuming I can even wear the blasted thing), but it really bothers me that it’s so messy.

I finally got it all sewn onto the ribbon and closed it with room to thread the elastic through, but I don’t have a safety pin.  It’s just narrow enough — with too much tulle poking up inside — to get the elastic through by hand.  I really need a big safety pin and I’m probably still going to be sweaty and cursing before it’s done.  I had to take a break, though, because I worked on it ALL DAY.

Sunday I made a trip up to Granny’s with the tardy black taffeta for the skirt.  I was supposed to go alone, but Mom can’t go to the bathroom without company, let alone a trip.  I ended up with Princess and Littlest making the 1 hour 45 min car ride with me.  I was afraid they’d be bored.  This wasn’t a fun trip, but a working trip.  I intended to help Mom with whatever menial tasks she could give me (after reading the tulle adventure I’m sure you understand why she couldn’t get me much to do).  The girls were pretty good, though, helped out by Mac taking them with him on a shopping trip.

My beloved sister Molly made the drive up too so we could chat and laugh at how many times I had to take the hook and eye off and redo it. 

I did help cut out a few pieces.  By that, I mean I helped pin and listened while Mom explained grain and fold and how to read the stupid patterns.  She did the cutting!  Other than that, I stuffed the bustle pillow with Sis and then did the hook and eye.  Oh and I made coffee several times and stuffed Granny with turtle cheesecake.  It was the least I could do.

We ended the day with most everything cut out except for a lining for other bustle.  Mom had the sleeves done for the first bolero and I tried on the other piece of the bolero to make sure it was fitting.  I got the wrong kind of interfacing (boo) so she’s going to have to hit the store today.  Meanwhile I have 5 yards of some crap none of us can use.

All in all, it was a work-filled fun day.  We had fun and hopefully I helped at least a little.  I had to leave and head home before it got dark (I’m not a very good driver either.  I sure didn’t want to brave the interstate turnoffs in the dark), but Sis said they got quite a bit more done after we left.  I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

When we got home last night, I started some prep work for a promo thing I thought of.  I have pens to give out, but I wanted something unique and special.  Something that wouldn’t cost me a lot — but also was less likely to get thrown away to make room in the suitcases because it was just too cool to toss.  I finally had a neat idea, but it required some printing of little cards with my book cover.  I didn’t have business cards anyway, so I designed two last night, one with Yours to Take and the other with Her Grace’s Stable.  Now I just have to hit a PartyCity store and buy a glue gun.  *cryptic*  And feathers.  Lots of feathers.

I’m also going to make a steampunk hat.

*buys more feathers, beads, buttons, and trinkets*

Two weeks and counting for RT in KC!