...my newest nephew, Titus Maxwell!

He was born to my brother Nate and sister Suzy on March 23rd at 8:38 PM. He weighed 8lbs 6oz and was 20" long.

We love you Titus!

This is my third nephew, now, and I have still another one on the way! Hooray!!!
I have failed in my food choices over and over and over beginning Saturday and continuing on through today. On Saturday, Jeremy returned from his journeys, and the family rejoiced! We enjoyed a wonderful pancake breakfast at a maple syrup farm, and yum! The smells and tastes and love we encountered there filled my heart. At lunchtime, we hit a drive-thru KFC. For lack of any healthier choices, I ordered the 395 calorie plate: two pieces of grilled chicken, cole slaw and green beans -- then I added a 220 calorie biscuit. It certainly tasted good! I didn't really call those two meals failures, it was what followed that qualified for that title.

At some point in the afternoon, Jeremy and I both became discouraged over our lack of house and over our small, dark apartment. Instead of returning home, we began driving aimlessly, claiming that we were searching for land to build on, but we both knew we were just avoiding the apartment.

I'm an emotional eater. I eat when I'm happy. I eat when I'm discouraged. I eat when I'm bored. I'm also a recreational eater. I eat for something fun to do. It doesn't help that Jeremy also eats this way. I have no one to look at me and say, "What in the world are you doing?" I took Liberty into a nearby CVS to use the restroom, and I picked up some chocolate covered cashews on my way out. (I do have to point out that this is a better choice than others I might have made in the past.) I proceeded to consume most of the container.

For supper, we ate at Taco Bell, and I didn't even try to chose something worthwhile. Sunday, I told myself, would be grocery day and time to redeem myself, but in a continued effort to avoid our apartment, Sunday brought more of the same choices.

At last, Monday! Back to a normal routine! I prepared items solely off the menu, and enjoyed a great day.

Until 8:30 PM. My nemesis.

Jeremy had insisted that we purchase a bag of Ruffles, and it called to me from the kitchen. I ignored it. It yelled at me. I walked by the cabinet and attempted to stare it down. It shouted to me, and my tummy awoke and called out happy greetings to the chips. I reminded myself of my commitment to eat nothing or in an emergency only fruit and water after supper. My tummy ridiculed, and I poured some chips into a bowl.

Today I told myself, "Today I will do right." But I didn't. I craved chips and junk food in a way that I have not craved them the past two weeks, and I gave in. I finished off the chocolate covered cashews while the girls napped. I snacked on buttered bread and skipped the good stuff like the fruits and nuts my girls were eating.

While I'm typing this blog, it is 9:30 pm, and I want to say, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will do right." But I wonder if I will. My heart was fully engaged in that same promise yesterday and look where I am at the end of this day. But you know what? Tonight, I will talk to my Lord. I will pour out my struggles to Him. He knows how hard this is for me. Tomorrow, He will hold my hand (and my plate, if I let Him), and together we will triumph. One choice at a time.

For now, you want to know something happy? I have succeeded at not snacking after supper this evening.

One point for me!

Oh yes, and one more point: I have been semi faithful at following along with my pilates video the past week or so, and tonight I realized that I am capable of doing TWO exercises that I could not do when I began!

I suppose there is one good thing about failure. It is always in the past.
You've noticed the new blog look, but have you noticed the progress I am slowly making in tweaking everything, thanks to my awesome friend Debbie? She's helped me with tons of details, and she's in the process of fixing my greeting face so it's not slipping into the archives. She also figured out how to link the descriptive list next to the Welcome blurb to various corresponding blog posts, but we have one problem.

We can't figure out which post would match up with the word "Out-Going." What do you think? Do you remember a post that would match that, or would you like to suggest another descriptive word and a post to match?

It would help me sleep at night. Or at least it would help me not stay up so late working on this rearranging of the blog.
This week I added a few new recipes to our menu, and here's what I thought of them.

1. BooMama's Asparagus

Use "our menu" link above to find the recipe.

The asparagus was, in a word, HEAVENLY. It looked, smelled and tasted wonderful. The girls even enjoyed it, and I was afraid they wouldn't. The dish was extremely quick and easy to prepare. Leftovers heated up in the microwave perfectly and stayed crisp. Grade: A+

2. Calle's Apple Burgers

1 pound turkey burger
1 large apple shredded with the peel on
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
couple dashes of onion powder (except Liberty "helped" me, and she POURED the onion powder in)

Mix all ingredients together, shape into patties and grill. (I used a skillet on the stove top.) Makes five large burgers or a dozen little snack sized ones. Calle' says her girls love eating the tiny ones as snacks. For me, the recipe made eight large ones, but apparently not as large as the ones my friend makes.

The cinnamon and sugar in the recipe scared me at first. I was afraid they'd be dessert-like, but they weren't. They were wonderful! These were also quick and easy to prepare, and BONUS - two different neighbors came knocking to ask what I had cooked. They said the apartment hallway smelled delicious! :-) Liberty and Mercy picked at the new food (I served it plain), but at lunch today I put the leftovers on wheat buns with ketchup and pickles. They gobbled them up. (Ketchup covers a multitude of sins, and yes, I know ketchup isn't healthy, but really.) Grade: A-

3. Chicken Stirfry

1 package frozen oriental vegetables
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c apricot preserves
1/4 c soy sauce
1 inch ginger root grated
Crushed peanuts (optional, I omitted them.)

Boil frozen veggies according to the package directions. (I added chopped chicken pieces to the frozen veggies and boiled it all together.) In a small saucepan, combine all other ingredients and simmer. Pour mixture over vegetables, top with peanuts and serve with rice or pasta. I doubled the recipe at Calle's suggestion because I served the veggies over top of brown rice instead of to the side.

I've never prepared anything vaguely oriental, but we love Chinese food from restaurants, so I gamely gave this a try. The process of purchasing the ingredients presented a grand adventure in the grocery store. When I first looked into the freezer case for the frozen veggies, the only ones I found were around $8.00. I accidentally snorted, and a nearby Wal*Mart stocker asked if I was okay. Turns out those packages came with a sauce packet. The veggies-only packages were less than a dollar, and I was quite relieved. After reading all the labels on the chicken broth selection, I chose Swanson's Natural Goodness Chicken Broth - the box says 100% fat free, no MSG, 33% less sodium than our regular product - and I recognized all of the ingredients! I'd tell you what apricot jar I bought, but I've thrown the jar out already. I used one that said all fruit on the label. Another shopper and I had a blast reading the labels of all the soy sauces out loud to each other and trying to decide which was the best. We finally settled on the cheapest, and I told her I was going to put water in the bottle to cut the sodium in half. Then I realized I had no way of knowing whether the added water would change the sodium level, so I told her I'd just pretend it was better for us and leave it at that. The two of us cracked each other up repeatedly, and I wish I'd gotten her name so that we could have become friends. But alas, we parted ways, never to see each other again. And also, whatever perfume she wore smelled incredibly good. Next, I purchased ginger root for the first time in my life, and it thrilled me to an unreasonable extend. I'm really not sure why that was so wonderful for me, but there it is -- the highlight of my grocery trip was picking up a ginger root and taking it home with me.

The stirfry was quick and easy to prepare (which you will notice is important in all of my recipes), and it looked GORGEOUS on the plates. So gorgeous that I actually ran to find my camera.

(And I just now ran to find my camera so that I could show you the pictures, but my camera is nowhere to be found. So you'll have to imagine the beauty that was our supper.)

However, the girls picked the chicken chunks and the rice out and left the veggies. I couldn't blame them. The frozen veggies remained bland even with the sauce, and speaking of the sauce, it turned out very watery, not flavorful. I'm not sure if diluting the soy sauce was such a great idea! If I ever make this dish again (I'd like to give it a fair shot), I would not double the recipe (we had sauce aplenty), and I would wait until the fresh vegetables were in season (that frozen stuff tasted like water.) Grade: D+ but I think I could bring the grade up if I tried it with fresh ingredients. Also, peeling and grating the ginger root blessed my soul! I can't wait to use ginger again in another recipe.
Sun commented a few posts ago, and gave me this link, and after I checked it out, I knew I had to share it with you all. I also plan to send it to our church office so everyone coordinating meals can use it if they want. Thank you, Sun!

I enjoy using this website with Liberty. She may even be learning something from it. What I know for sure is, she loves to click it, she's getting good at certain tasks, and Mercy cheers ecstatically whenever Liberty earns a balloon. I've heard Mercy shouting out letters, numbers and colors as she watches Liberty click. (Make sure you have the sound turned up on your speakers to get the most benefit.)
Thanks for lending me your opinions, everyone. (And by the way, HI, CATHY!) You know, it just occurred to me that the greeting picture does not have to be my face. It could be a picture of anything...as long as I can figure out how to move that Archive box down, but that's a job for another day. I'm exhausted.

The time change has not been kind to our family, and all this messing with the blog late at night has not helped me get my hour of sleep back. Last night, although the girls went to bed at their normal bedtime, Liberty and Mercy were still awake and giggling to each other at 11pm. So today, I instituted the STATE OF EMERGENCY NO NAP DAY. We started off the day right by leaving a fun voicemail for Daddy, then we ate breakfast, cleaned up together, worked out with my pilates video together (kind of), piled up cushions in the middle of the living room and then ran from the opposite wall and belly-flopped onto the cushions. I was surprised at how amazingly good it felt to do that myself. One time I accidentally flipped head-first over the cushions, and the giggling that followed released a lot of stress I've been allowing to build up. Which reminds me, I need to go to bed.

But first I want to finish telling you about our day, because it was just that wonderful, it needs to be shared.

We ate leftover asparagus and potatoes for lunch. I just nuked the bowl full of greens and the three of us each grabbed a fork and shared the bowl. My soul felt good watching my girls dig into the new (to us) vegetable with me and enjoying it. Then we went to the doctor's office where we discovered Mercy has an ear infection (and I'm wondering if I may be working on one, too, because my left ear hurts drastically!) Afterwards, we drove to Wal*Mart to pick up Mercy's Amoxicillin, a case of Aquafina, and new boxers for Jeremy. (You hear that, Jeremy? I found your ever elusive "favorite" boxers, so when you come home, you can be super happy with your underpants! What better way to entice you home, yes?)

On our way back to the apartment, it was revealed to me that our local seasonal ice cream store was once again open for business! I debated quickly. On the one hand, ice cream is not on the healthy foods list that I keep in my head. On the other hand, I've done an amazing job of not indulging in any of my old habits this past week and a half. (Thank You, God.) On the one hand, I don't want to ruin all of my hard work. On the other hand, this is not a "diet," it's a lifestyle, and it's flexible; one ice cream is not a crime for me. On the one hand, will I be able to stop at just one ice cream? You would not believe how painstakingly I researched the pros and cons of this decision. On the other hand, it's a gorgeous, warm, sunny day (and I heard that snow is in the forecast in a few days) so I decided to go, but go as the new Missy, not the old uncontrollable me. I ordered a small vanilla yogurt and requested three dishes. The girls and I split the treat. Aren't you proud of me? I was.

And then I added peanut butter and marshmallow toppings.

Because the sun was shining.

You know?

But the best part for me was realizing that those few bites satisfied me. I didn't have a wild, uncontrollable craving for more. (Please read that last sentence in a tone of wonderment.) I'm actually enjoying my self-imposed "healthy" lifestyle, and I didn't care about the ice cream. I tasted freedom, freedom from the bondage of food, and it tasted good.

We also stopped at the library and paid my over-due fine. Then we picked out Sesame Street's "Do The Alphabet" video and "Dance Along" video, and I got the last two books in the Welcome To Partonville (Dear Dorothy) series that I've been reading. And by the way, I HIGHLY recommend this series. It's by Charlene Ann Baumbich. Read it! You won't regret it.

The girls watched the alphabet video while I made Chicken Stirfry. I'll tell you all about that later. Then we hung out at the park making sand castles with our buckets and shovels. (Grandpa and Nonna, those are the best things you have ever sent -- besides the dress-up clothes.) I single-handedly confronted an evil gang of teenage boys in souped-up cars who were racing around the parking lot, and later when the police asked me to describe them, all I could remember was "three of them had dark hair." Sigh. I guess my spy skills have gone downhill, and just when I finally get to use them!

Bathtime followed, then cuddling my clean-smelling little girls and reading bedtime stories, tucking them in, and seeing with my own two eyes the fact that NO NAP DAY really works! Liberty never attempted a bedroom break. There were no claims of thirst, or needs to go potty. The decibel-level in the bedroom remained at zero.

Well, what do you know? I really did figure it out! But now that I've suddenly realized my headshot will greet me everytime I view my page, the thrill of victory has quickly worn off. Here are three possibilities for the greeting face. Please to be telling me which one I should use?

Number one:

Number two:

Number three:
Okay, I think I've gotten everything except the fake picture taken care of. Hooray for me!!!

Tiffany and Debbie, you offered, so here's my plea (and your chance at being a heroine!!!) (I feel like that word should be spelled differently, although, if you fix my photo problem, I will love you as though I were addicted to you.)

The instructions tell me that I need to change the image url "http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_k_DnmK4oz2Q/S2vuttj_NuI/AAAAAAAAAsg/zDDFRHfsqPA/s1600/main-img.jpg" with the Image URL I want to have.

Here is the image I want to have:

OH MY GOODNESS! I think I may have just stumbled upon the solution to my migraine! Let me publish this post, and then see if I have figured it out. If you do NOT see a change to that blonde girl, you will know that instead of stumbling on the solution, I really just stumbled, and you will need to send bandaids.
Obviously, I'm making some changes to my blog.

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to get that fake picture off yet, but it's three in the morning, and I'm really, REALLY tired. HTML is not my love language!

I'll try again when I have time to work out all the little kinks. If anyone can tell me more about HTML and wants to help out a friend in need, contact me please!
The recurring theme around this blog seems to be food right now. I've mentioned a few times that we are slowly moving towards a healthier lifestyle, and this week, I took a GIANT step.

My menu for the week and my grocery list were made up of items that were either completely whole - meaning only one ingredient like green peppers - or just a few ingredients all of which I understood to be food items, not chemicals. And something I learned from Calle: not one of my purchased items contained high fructose corn syrup!

When I asked for blogging help a week or so ago, Suanna suggested that I post a menu or a recipe. So, Suanna, this is for you! Thanks for lending me an idea.

Tonight - Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches (thinly sliced sirloin, chopped veggies, cheese, on hoagie buns), Whole Pears

Sunday - Turkey (think Thanksgiving), Rosemary Potatoes (sliced potatoes lightly tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary and salt, then baked -- my sister Charity's recipe), Citrus Asparagus (BooMama's recipe)

Monday - Apple Burgers (Calle's recipe -- I'll let you know how they turn out), Mashed Potatoes, Leftover Asparagus

Tuesday - Chicken Stirfry (Another recipe from Calle, and if I remember, I'll tell you about that one too after we try it), Rice, Berry Muffins, Pears (Okay, I'll admit it, the berry muffins are a "just add water" mix that I bought several weeks ago. We're finishing off what's left in the house that isn't all natural.)

Wednesday - Eat at church (Hallelujah! Maybe they'll have something fattening!)

Thursday - Tacos, Salad (My favorite meal ever!)

Friday - Pizza Quesadillas, Salad, Kiwi (My mom created the idea of Pizza Quesadillas years ago, and everyone I've ever served it to, loves it -- one tortilla shell, leftover from taco night, sprinkled with shredded cheese, favorite pizza toppings added, a little more cheese on top, then second tortilla shell sandwiches it off. Bake in the oven until cheese is melty and tortilla shells are crisp -- for me that's around 10 minutes at 400. Cut into triangles and serve as pizza slices. Jeremy likes to dip his into pizza sauce. I like to smear sour cream and salsa on mine.) Salad, Kiwi.

I'm very excited about this week. I'm hoping to prove to myself that I am capable of eating healthfully and still enjoying it. Also, I took a drastic step yesterday and poured out all drinks that did not pass inspection and tossed all food that did not pass inspection. (Thankfully, it was grocery day, so there wasn't much food left to toss. I kept the Doritos for Jeremy. Really, for Jeremy. But don't judge too harshly, there was only about a serving left in the bag anyway. A Missy-sized serving, not a label-sized serving. Just enough for Jeremy to enjoy polishing off.)
We spent today at Calle's house where our girls all played together and had great fun. The seven of us went on a walk to the nearby lake, navigated ourselves and our strollers through a giant puddle in the walk way and stopped on a small wooden-slatted bridge to watch the water whoosh its way along. We talked and laughed and our three-year-olds told "funny jokes" to each other that only the two of them understood. Calle and I grinned together, loving the fact that those two "get" each other's very unique sense of humor.

Calle offered to be my nutritionist and dietitian (is that the same thing?), so I'm going to be accountable to her for the food I eat and the exercise I do or don't get each day. I'm very thankful for that! Did I tell you that I've filled our refrigerator with only fresh, unprocessed fruits and veggies? (except for the carrots -- they've been peeled and chopped for me, otherwise I'd never take the time to eat them.)

My accountability call to Calle tomorrow is the only thing stopping me from having a plate of Cool Ranch Doritos right now, so apparently, it's working.
As you know, I've had a bit of a block in my brain. I think the everlasting winter had something to do with it, and the wait to hear about the house has also frustrated me -- which is silly because we knew when we put an offer in that it would take a while to get an answer.

But here are some recently developed items of interest.

It has been sunshining for several days in a row, and our Mud Puddle has finally surfaced! Later this week we are supposed to get rain, so I am trying my hardest to soak up every ounce of sun possible before then. The girls are attempting to soak up every ounce of mud.

As evidenced by [The Splash Stomping Video] & [The Muddy Boots Game Video].

Two of the liens on "our house" have been signed off on by two banks. They have agreed not to receive any money back from the sale of the house. Another offer has been placed on the home, and Jeremy and I now have to evaluate whether our next move should be to increase our offer to some unknown amount and hope it beats out the other one, or to walk away. We're talking to God about that, and waiting on the bank to tell us when our decision time will be.

Jeremy's traveling for the next two weeks, so I've lined up days of fun to keep us occupied and not missing Daddy so much. Today has been ENJOY THE SUNSHINE Day and Do ALL THE LAUNDRY Day. Two activities which are slightly incompatible. So far, I've succeeded in dashing inside to keep the washer and dryer busy, but I guess I'll just save the folding and putting away for when the sun goes down. After all, Jeremy won't be home to see the mountain of clean clothes developing on our bed.
I need some fiber to get this blog going again.

So I'll make some up. Um...

No, I'll let you guys make some up. Give me ideas! Give me questions! Give me something funny! Give me an H! Oh, sorry.