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Just When You Think You’re Starting To Look Pretty Good…

you have to buy new clothes 🙁   Why is it that no matter what size you are, you always feel like you look like crap in new clothes?   Brighid irritates me to no end.  When I go shopping with her, I really look at her like the person who would look great in the proverbial potato sack.  Then she tries clothes on and her face drops, she fidgets, she gets frustrated.  It always annoys me.  But now that I am a more normal size, I headed to the mall a couple of times, deluding myself into thinking that I could just walk in to any store, pick up a dress or two off the rack, put it on, and be beautiful.  Okay, not beautiful, but at least presentable enough to be seen in public.

Not the case.

I’ve been to all of the major retail chain stores in our area.  I’ve tried on dress after dress after dress after dress.  Oh, and after dress.  Stuff hangs in all the wrong areas.  Things that should fit me don’t zipper.  Things that should fit me fall off.  Things I think are ugly fit well.  My arms are too jiggly for sleeveless.  My stomach is too saggy for anything clingy.  And while we’re at it, my feet are too big and my one eye droops a little. 

Being fat, you pretty much had to take what there was.  If it looked good or bad, it didn’t matter much because at that size, my options were limited to the ugly thing in blue or black or some God awful ugly print.  Most of the time, I didn’t even venture into the store.  I’d go to Lane Bryant on line or Roamans catalog and just order the thing that looked like it covered the most and looked least awful.  Having all of these choices in regular retail stores is more frustrating, because with SO many things to choose from, you would think SOMETHING would look good.

I ordered a dress from the Newport News catalog.  I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it as much as I expected I would.  I’ll take pictures when I do wear it, so you can all post your comments.  Be honest – brutally honest.  I can take it.

Protein Bars Review: Pure Protein High Protein Bars

Stealing an idea from my cyber-buddy and gastric bypass surgery peer Melting Mama (visit her awesomely amazing and talented self here:   http://www.meltingmama.typepad.com/wls/  ), I am going to review these protein bars that I picked up at WalMart last week.

 Here’s the thing with protein.  Once you’ve had WLS, you spend your life trying to figure out ways to get enough in.  A lot of people feel that by now, you should be able to eat enough to get enough protein.  Other people think that you should be forever dependent upon the dreaded Protein shakes.  I have issues with the protein shakes.  Most of them are unpalatable, and those that I can choke down by doctoring them up with other stuff, I have to spend time doctoring up with other stuff and that discourages me from making them.  I need something fast and convenient, but the premade shakes that I’ve tried don’t cut it.  I can choke some of them down, but for the most part – NASTY.

So, I’ve been looking more and more often at protein bars as my go to source of instant and convenient sources of protein.  I like that I can grab one on my way out the door in the morning without worrying about it taking time away from making the kids’ breakfast or lunch, and I like the fact that if we go on a long car trip, I don’t have to pray we find a Wendy’s for chili or a Taco Bell for beans and cheese as my only sources of protein.  Neither are very good for me, very tasty, or reliably located. 

After struggling to like the Atkins bars – and yes, it has been a struggle – I took a recommendation from Melting Mama’s product reviews and picked up the Pure Protein bars.  She highly recommends the Chocolate Deluxe bars, but I’ve never been a huge fan of pure, unadulterated chocolate.  I picked up one of the Chocolate Deluxe bars, along with a Blueberry Crumb Cake bar and a Chewy Chocolate Chip bar.  I’ve now tasted all of them, and I’ll give you the run down.

Pure Protein High Protein Bar Chewy Chocolate Chip Flavor:   I opened this with skepticism.  Of course, it LOOKS good on the package.  The label pictures chocolate chip cookies and loose chocolate chips, surrounding this yummy looking candy bar appearing type protein bar.  I have come to expect pictures to be deceiving.  The first thing I noticed when I opened the wrapper is what was NOT there.  If you come to rely on protein bars, you will find that MOST bars, when you open them, have a yucky (for lack of a better word) smell.  The drinks, the shakes, and the bars all have a very distinct odor to them, and it’s not pleasant.  This bar did not have that odor when I opened it.  It completely smelled like chocolate.

When I bit into it, the first thing I noticed is that it is chewy – kind of nougaty (is that a word?).  It’s not creamy smooth like you would find in, say, a Snickers bar, but it is not as gritty as I have found in other protein bars.  There are chocolate chips – not a ton of them, but enough that you you get a good taste of them.  Usually, I don’t mind when Eilis or Granuaile takes my protein bars and finishes them, but I have to admit, I could have finished this one if Gracie hadn’t grabbed it.  It had a nice flavor – you won’t confuse this with a Take 5 candy bar or anything like that.  It definitely is good for you, but it doesn’t have that “oh my God, this is awful, it must be good for me” vibe to it.  I can definitely recommend this bar.  As for Nutritional Info, here’s the basics:

Calories:   190

Calories from Fat: 45

Trans Fat: 0

Sugars: 1 gram

Sugar Alcohols: 9 grams (if you’re super sensitive, this can cause GI upset, but I did okay with it)

Protein: 20 grams (WOOHOO!!)

There  is also about 20% of your RDA of quite a few vitamins – especially the Bs.

Pure Protein High Protein Bar Chocolate Deluxe Flavor:   Once the skepticism was erased by the good flavor of the chocolate chip bar, I had no trouble opening this one to give it a try.  Again, you will   notice when you open it that it does NOT have the protein smell.  I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I know it certainly helps me eat these bars.  Again, this looks like a chocolate candy bar.  When you bite into this one, you get exactly what the label suggests – Chocolate Deluxe.  For me, it’s chocolate overload.  The bar is kind of textured like a brownie, but the flavor is more of a chocolate fudge or chocolate truffle kind of flavor.  It’s definitely intense chocolate.  There is no way I could eat all of one of these bars – it’s just too much, too dense, too chocolate for my tastes, but I don’t want that to discourage you.  It’s GOOD, but not being a raging chocoholic, it’s just “too” chocolately for my particular tastes.  I would buy it again, but I would probably only use it to take a bite when I have a chocolate craving as opposed to relying on this one as a meal replacement.  There’s no way I could get the whole bar in.  Here’s the breakdown on the nutrition in this one:

Calories:   170

Calories from Fat: 40

Trans Fat: 0

Sugars: 0

Sugar Alcohols:  7 grams (if you’re super sensitive, this can cause GI upset, but I did okay with it)

Protein: 20 grams (WOOHOO!!)

There  is also about 20% of your RDA of quite a few vitamins – especially the Bs.

Pure Protein High Protein Double Layer Bar Blueberry Crumb Cake Flavor: I was drooling over this one in the store.  I’m getting ready to go on a weekend trip with a group of my girlfriends to Chicago.  We are coming from all parts of the country, so everyone agreed to bring something from their part of the country that everyone else would like to taste.  LisaJean is bringing Tastykakes, and one of my favorite is the blueberry pie, so I’ve had blueberry pie on my mind for weeks.  When I saw this bar, I snatched it right up.

Blueberry pie from Tastykake it is not.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.  As with the other two Pure Protein bars, you notice immediately when you open it that it doesn’t have that protein stinkiness.  I smell blueberries and maybe a little cinnamon.  This bar is coated with a yogurt type of substance as opposed to chocolate, so it was a welcome change from the two chocolately bars I have already taste tested.  When you bite into this bar, the first thing you notice is the blueberry puree on top.  It’s smooth, non-gritty, sort of like what you might find in blueberry jelly.  It’s soft when you bite into the bar.  Then you hit the crumb cake layer.  The cake part is chewy, so not completely like a crumb cake, but you definitely can see the resemblance.  The cake part is where you taste the cinnamon, get a little of the crunch of the crumb cake topping you would find on a regular crumb cake, and it definitely has a texture.  I don’t want to say it’s gritty, because those of you familiar with protein bars will know gritty is a bad thing, but it doesn’t melt in your mouth like a normal cake does.  It’s good, I like it, and when you get a craving for something fruity, this definitely fills the craving.  As for the nutritional information on this one:

Calories:   200

Calories from Fat: 60

Trans Fat: 0

Sugars:  2 grams

Sugar Alcohols:  9 grams (if you’re super sensitive, this can cause GI upset, but I did okay with it)

Protein:  18 grams (WOOHOO!!)

There  is also about 15% of your RDA of quite a few vitamins – especially the Bs.

I taste tested the Chocolate Deluxe and the Blueberry Crumb Cake at the same meal, and with what I ate of both of them, I probably didn’t equal one whole bar.  Both are definitely dense and filling, so you might not actually get the whole amount of protein in one meal.  But I would HIGHLY recommend these bars over any of the others I have tried so far.  I will be looking to buy these in bulk so I always have them on hand.  There are several other flavors I plan to try, including a strawberry shortcake flavor and a peanut butter flavor. 

Go.  Right now.  Buy these protein bars.  Tell them I sent you and they should send me some for free for recommending them so highly 🙂

Tooth Fairy, The Sequel

Eilis came home from a sleepover at Dram’s yesterday with her second loose tooth in an envelope.  On the envelope, in her printing, she wrote “Tooth Fairy 2”.  She handed it to me and asked me if I would put it where the tooth fairy would find it and leave her something.  Before I could ask, she explained to me that the number 2 was so the tooth fairy would know it was her 2nd tooth, in case the gift she left was different for a second tooth than it was for the first tooth.  I had to laugh, because I don’t know if little kids think the prizes go up with each tooth, or if they would be something different than money for each tooth or what.  She was very cute though, in making sure I knew what the 2 was for.

 For our first go round with losing teeth, the tooth fairy did sometimes bring stuff other than money.  It was usually when a tooth would fall out at 9 o’clock at night and we had no small cash on us.  The tooth fairy would print up a certificate for a book at Barnes and Noble or a lunch somewhere or a water ice or something.  I guess I’ll have to pull out some of those great prizes this time as well.  Maybe money isn’t special enough.

And the lesson learned this time around?   Kit Kat bars did not add nuts.  Eilis lost her tooth while eating a Kit Kat at Dram’s house.  She mentioned to Dram that the Kit Kat had nuts in it.  Thank goodness Dram thought to check…

Past, Present and Future – with a little extra on the sides

Anna's Anniversary ring

So, at about our 5 year wedding anniversary, we were swamped still with medical bills that resulted due to Brighid’s premature birth.  We had moved from Southern NJ to Central FL, we were in a very nice home, but we were strapped.  To honor our fifth wedding anniversary, we phoned to see about staying one night at the Grand Floridian in Disney World – something special, something we would never normally do, and something we thought we could afford.  When it came down to it, the rate per night was about what we were spending on two weeks worth of groceries, so we ended up having dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Ran Getsu, instead.

On our 10th wedding anniversary, I was recovering from my c-section, having just given birth to Eilis 3 weeks prior.  We obviously couldn’t plan to go away anywhere or do anything too big.  I had a 3 week old baby that was nursing, and we had Brighid, and by that time, we were living in South Florida, too far to just leave the kids with grandparents and get away for a few hours.  Whatever we did had to include both kids and not cost too much, because we had just spent a bunch of money on all new baby stuff, and we had just planned a large Christening party.  We ended up at lunch at Red Lobster, because Jim didn’t want to go at dinner, when it would be busy and the baby might be a nuisance to the other diners.

For our 15th wedding anniversary, we decided to do something really special if we could find a sitter for 3 kids.  My sister Megan and her friend Karen agreed to watch them.  Well, Megan agreed, but dragged poor Karen in for backup.  The hotel where we spent our wedding night was not far from Megan’s house, so we dropped the kids off late Saturday afternoon and went to the Marriott in Crystal City, Virginia.  They gave us a gorgeous room – a suite with a living room and a separate bedroom.  Upon arrival, there was a bottle of champagne and a tray of chocolate covered strawberries.  We debated going to the restaurant for dinner, but decided to relax and order room service.  The dinner was great!   For breakfast, we ordered our same breakfast from the day after our wedding – steak and eggs.  Delicious.  But, it was over so quickly.  We picked the kids up around 10 on Sunday morning and headed home.  We’ll have to try and do this again for our 20th anniversary – but a little longer than 18 hours.

I am one of those people who believes in advertising, and it was just around our 10th wedding anniversary that I decided I NEEDED an anniversary band.  Very popular at the time were the diamond rings that had three stones – one for your past, one for your present, and one for your future.  I loved the commercials for those rings, and just before my 10th anniversary, Jim took me to Safian and Rudolph to look at the rings.  Well, up close and personal, I didn’t love them as much as the price tags made me feel like I should, and I felt like we had way more pressing things going on.  So when the lady that was helping us suggested instead of an anniversary band that we re-tool my engagement ring – like maybe adding two smaller stones to the sides of it to give it that past, present and future.  I thought that would work, and then my husband got wind of the plan and just about had a fit.  The engagement ring is really important to him, and it hurt his feelings that I would even consider changing it.  He did jot down the stock numbers of two rings I liked, but were pricey, and we left the store.

I’ve lost a lot of weight recently, and had to have my wedding and engagement rings resized.  We went back to Safian and Rudolph, rings in tow, and they said they could have my rings resized and ready to go in time for my 16th wedding anniversary on March 9th.  On March 9th, in we went, baby in tow, and my wedding and engagement rings were done and fit perfectly.  Woohoo!   As I turned to leave, Jim handed our salesman a piece of paper and asked him if they had whatever was on the paper.  On that paper were the two rings I had seen 6 years ago. 

They did not have those rings by those stock numbers anymore, but the salesman checked around and pulled out one ring pretty much identical to one of the rings on the paper, and he pulled out another one that was similar to the other ring on the paper.  Then he pulled out two trays of rings and had me browse through them.  Jim kept saying to pick a couple that I liked and if the time ever came in the future that he was going to buy one, he’d have an idea of what I liked.  The one ring I chose, and loved, was the same one I chose 6 years ago.  It had three marquis shaped diamonds – one for our past, present and future – and it had two pear shaped diamonds on each end – the same shape as the main stone in my engagement ring.  It was beautiful, but a little expensive.  The other ring I chose reminded me of Jim’s wedding ring.  It had three round diamonds, but in between it had two baguettes, side by side, and the shape was very much like Jim’s wedding ring.  It was also less expensive.

So, I told Jim and the salesman that I had narrowed the selection down to those two rings, and Jim promptly turned to the salesman, and to me, and said whichever one I wanted, I could have!!   Well, after picking myself up from the floor, I chose the one that I had loved those 6 years ago, the marquis diamonds with the pears on the ends.  The salesman applauded my decision, calling it a gorgeous ring, and then pointed out that with the three marquis diamonds, if I wanted to down the road, I could make a piece of jewelry for each of my three daughters.  The ring had to be resized and cleaned up, and the guy said it would be ready in a week.

To say my head was spinning is an understatement.  I came out of the store almost in tears, thinking about how much our bathroom remodel is going to cost, and thinking of the clothes I need now that I have none that fit me.  Jim was disappointed that I wasn’t so excited I was floating. 

Yesterday was the day the ring was ready.  I can’t even describe how gorgeous it is.  And now that I have three daughters, I look at it and it represents my whole family – three stones for each of the girls and the two pears on the ends for Jim and I.  It brings tears to my eyes to look at it – not because it cost money I think we should have spent on something else – but because it’s so beautiful, and it’s so ironic that 6 years ago, I would have picked out a ring that would have significance once our family was complete.  If I think back to the day I got married, and the words the priest used regarding our wedding rings – a circle, with no beginning and no end, just like our love for each other – this ring means the same thing.  The difference between this one and my wedding ring is that the circle, with no beginning and no end, just like our love for each other, represents all of us, not just Jim and I.  It’s so special, this ring.  I know it won’t ever mean as much to Jim as it does to me, but I hope some day, when it is shared with my daughters, it means this much to them.

Wedding Weight

On August 1st, as I was sitting on the gurney waiting to be taken in for my surgery, I kept thinking two things.  The first thing, as you expect, was how much I didn’t want to die and leave my husband and daughters behind.  But the second thing that kept running through my mind was Please, don’t let me fail at this.  And as I waited, becoming more and more anxious, I thought about what I would have to accomplish to consider this surgery successful.

Wedding Weight

I was always heavy, but in the months leading up to my wedding, we dieted.  I managed to go from about 190 pounds, down to about 160 pounds, and the day I got married, I weighed in at 165 pounds.  It was still 20 pounds or so over my “ideal” weight, but I was happy and comfortable at that weight.  I didn’t feel overweight. 

So on that day of my surgery, sitting on the gurney, I put that wedding weight in my mind as the weight I wanted to be before I considered my weight loss surgery successful. 

In the 7 months since surgery, I have gone from a size 26 to a size 12.

I have gone from sweating to death every night, sleeping in t-shirts, in the middle of winter to sleeping in flannel nightgowns with covers on and still taking a little while to get warm and toasty without the excess weight on me.

 I have gone from going out to dinner, ordering an appetizer, and entree, a soup or salad, and a dessert to ordering a soup and having a bite of Jim’s dinner.

But today, I am successful 🙂

The scale this morning said 165 pounds.  I could have cried.

I have   very few clothes that fit me, and I have skin hanging off of body parts I forgot were there.  I lost a lot of hair, although that seems to be slowing down and I colored it last night, so it’s not even thin and grey – just thin. 

But I’m a success.

Would I recommend this surgery to everyone?   No.  It’s hard work and it’s a scary thing to not know how you will live out your life.  There are no long term studies done to tell me that in 20 years I will be far healthier than I would have been if I stayed fat. 

But I am a success.

With dedication, work, love and support, I will keep this weight off.  I have never been able to do that before, but now that I can consider myself a success, it would be  a shame to mess that up.

Where the Heck Have I Been Update

Well, with not much time on a normal basis to write as often as I’d like, you may have wondered why there hasn’t been much of anything going on here lately.  After a couple of great trips to Orlando – one with Jim, Eilis and Granuaile; the other with just Brighid – I came home to get back into the groove of things only to find myself in the hospital.  I had emergency surgery nearly 3 weeks ago for a bowel obstruction.  I spent a week in the hospital, and came home last Thursday.  I missed Eilis’ sixth birthday party in the process, and feel like I missed a whole lot of other stuff, but I’ll catch up with what I can.

 I had about 30 staples that went from my belly button up towards my chest, and they came out last Tuesday.  Unfortunately, they were replaced by steri-strips, which have been driving me crazy.  They can come off tomorrow – woohoo.  That will leave the new scar all bright and happy and there for all the world to see.  At least with the steri-strips covering the incision, you don’t see how ugly it is.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll have that early Frankenstein look about me.

It took a few days after coming home from the hospital to get used to eating again.  I was on just IV fluids in the hospital until the day before I left, when they allowed me to have liquids.  Part of my discharge was to make sure I could eat something solid, and I was able to eat a little toast with peanut butter.  I’ve gradually gotten back to where I was before surgery – which is a lot of soup, cheese, pretzels, and nuts. 

So, I know I haven’t posted much, and I’ll try to get a few exciting things on here.  I’m just over the bed sore that was on my butt, so sitting at the desk should be a little easier now.  I’ll make it up to ya 😉   I promise.

Happy Sweet Sixteen!

Nope, not my daughter’s birthday!   Today is my 16th wedding anniversary 🙂  

I decided to take a statistics tour and see how great that is compared with other marriages in the country.  I was pleased to learn that most first marriages that end in divorce do so within about 8 years.  43% of first marriages end within 15 years – another milestone reached.  And 60% of all marriages end in divorce.

Of course, marriage is not without it’s problems, and of course, we’ve had ours.  But in the grand scheme of things, here’s how I look at my 16 year long marriage.

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  Really.  We have faced serious things in this marriage.  We have had a baby born and spend more than a month in Neonatal intensive care.  We have experienced pregnancy complications that resulted in lengthy hospital stays on two other occasions.  We have lost 5 children to miscarriages.

During our years together, we have declared bankruptcy, had a home foreclosed on, had to grocery shop at gas station mini-marts, because the only “money” we had was a few dollars remaining on the balance of our gas station credit cards. 

In the course of 16 years, I have had operations for kidney stones, gallbladder removal, gastric bypass and intestinal obstruction.  Jim has undergone  6 eye surgeries, including cataract removal and repair of 4 retinal detachments.

And, as people do, we have faced overwhelming sadness with the loss of Jim’s father, my father, and my sister, Bean – all within 3 years of each other. 

But it wasn’t all bad that happened to us.

We have three of the most gorgeous daughters on the planet.

We have a comfortable home, bursting at the seams with toys, books, clothes, food, and love.

We have traveled from one side of the country to the other, cruised to beautiful locales, and visited Europe.

There has always been enough to celebrate all the special occasions in our lives – Christenings, birthdays, First Holy Communion, graduations, good grades, and loose teeth.

I believe we have always lived the vows we said to each other – for better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in good times, and in bad; in sickness, and in health; in joy and in sorrow; to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.

And it gets better with each passing year.  We have gained strength to get through the rough spots, the sad points, and the worried times.  We have learned to find and appreciate the small joys, and we can use them to keep us afloat in rougher seas.  Each year brings a renewed committment to each other and our family and the life we hope to give the girls. 

I can say after 16 years, I not only love Jim, but I continue to be in love with him.  I still get the butterflies in the stomach feeling when he’s coming home from work, from a business trip, from a quick trip to the store.  I smile at his dimples and love the wispy way his hair falls in the front.  He makes me smile and he makes me laugh, and I am so glad that we have gone through these 16 years together.  There is no one else I could imagine having by my side.