June 30, 2009

Better Tuesdays: A little something to get you started

Today is Better Tuesday (better late than never, right) and we’re taking another angle because we’ve got something for you! Something that we hope will get you on your way to Becoming a Better U. We've been urging you to join us on our 12-week journey to becoming more heart-healthy and now we're coaxing you into it. Well, not really, but kinda!

Compliments of the AHA, we’ve got three Better U, Better Me kits just for you! We all received our own kits last week and because we’re trying to get you involved too, we want to share a kit with you.

Each kits includes:

Super-cute tote bag for the gym
BPA-free water bottle
Go Red Grocery Guide to help you make heart-healthy choices at the store
Go Red yoga mat
Our signature red dress pin
Heart-healthy snack, Craisins

The BetterU, BetterMe Kit has a retail value of more than $50.

To enter you must (1) become a follower of our blog; and (2) leave us a comment with your heart healthy tip – could be your recipe or could be a change in behavior. For double entries, join the Better U program (click here) and let us know (you can become a "friend" in the Better U community).

A winner will be chosen at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 13.

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June 29, 2009

Work Release Program

In an unexpected turn of events, last week I stayed home from work for 3 days! The nanny's car was having issues and needed to go to the shop. Seeing as how Hubby just started his new job and couldn't take any leave, and considering the fact that we have NO grandparents in town to call on in emergencies, I ended up playing stay-at-home mommy. And it was great. We went to the park; had a picnic on the front lawn; ran errands in a leisurely fashion instead of my usual weekend kamikaze missions; took care of 2 doctor's appointments; hung out with friends while splashing through the fountain and dancing with Gymboree; treated ourselves to a pizza parlor lunch; and I even got through several projects that had been on my "When I Have Time" list. As you can imagine, by Thursday morning neither the kids nor I were excited that the nanny's car was fixed and I could return to work. It was a total bummer. Sure, taking care of three little people and the house all day was a lot of work, but it was such a relief to be able to do things at my own pace...and to steal kisses from my brood whenever I felt like it.

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You can't blame it on the alcohol

Please allow me one moment to vent. Hopefully I don’t get too out of line; but there is nothing better than an online debate among friends! As you can tell from my mini-tribute to Michael Jackson, I admire his talent and am saddened by his passing.

I was surprised and quite pleased by the depth of coverage by various media of not only his passing, but more importantly, his life. From Thursday evening until I left this morning, I was enveloped with all things MJ and from quite unlikely sources. The Today Show dedicated their entire morning telecasts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to MJ, his life, his music, his accomplishments. MTV was running a full tribute of concerts, videos, interviews. VH1 took it back to the days when they only played videos and it was Michael-mania. TV One showed past tributes and videos. CNN, Fox News, Headline News, MSNBC all based their shows on the life and legacy of Michael Jackson. Heck, even TV Land was running (on loop) the Jackson 5 story.

Am I missing anyone? Oh, yes….BET (Black Entertainment Television). One would expect the stalwart of Black television to pay homage to Michael Jackson. But no….they didn’t. They played homage to themselves and their 2009 BET Awards.

All weekend the only programming that BET ran was their trifling countdown to the BET Awards show. That was it!

I was so disgusted that I had to by-pass BET and rely on MTV and VH1 and at times, TV One for coverage. BET should have been the first logical place to start. MJ was our hero and our own Black Entertainment Television was not present at all.

Then, to add fuel to the fire, I tuned in for the Awards last night only to see buffoonery! Joe and Janet Jackson had to endure Souljah Boy, Blame it on the Alcohol and a tribute to new jack swing. Are you kidding me?

I understand that these artists have been rehearsing their numbers for a while, but couldn’t they have put together a more fitting tribute where the entertainers (if we can call them that) thought not of themselves and their album sales, but rather honoring MJ.

Ne yo was the only entertainer that I could give any credit because he did his part. New Edition tried too. But, I was really upset by the entire show and I am ashamed of BET for this display.

Maybe I’m giving them too much responsibility in terms of representing for Black people. I have long given up on that station because their programming is so poor and their representations of black people are so dissatisfactory.

The folks at BET need to step back and notice what their programming said about them this weekend. Hopefully, they can come back with a righteous tribute – maybe, I’ll watch. Just my two cents!

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June 26, 2009

Jonesie's Reading List

There is nothing like reading a great book that you just can't put down. Reading is one of my favorite things to do and I've been an avid reader since I was a little girl. When I was about 9 or 10, I started to compile a handwritten list of all the books I read. The list included how long it took me to read the book, a rating (stars), page numbers, and author. I was passionate about updating my list and reading a book in 1-2 days. My brother, who is four years older than me, loved to make fun of me for this. Reading was on his list of things not to do. I remember once leaving a book I was in the middle of reading in my desk at school. I left it at school on a Friday and was devestated when I looked through my bag and realized that I left my book. I started crying and my brother had a field day making fun of me for this for years. Brothers.

When my list got to 12 handwritten pages, I decided to retype the entire list on our home typewriter. This was way before every day people had computers at home so I sat there with the typewriter at the dining room table and started typing. It took me hours, days, weeks, to finish it. I can only imagine what my parents thought.

Though I haven't updated the list in over 20 years, I still have my handwritten version and the typed up version tucked safely away in my box of memories. Every now and again when I read a great book I am tempted to add it to my list- just for fun. Who knew I was such a little geek? Shh, don't tell anyone.

In tribute to my list, here are three great books I read recently that you too must read. Have you read them, if so, what'd you think?!

1. Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah (Cried like a baby but it's a happy book that will have you thinking about growing up as a young girl, your journey through motherhood, life long friends, and life as you know it.)

2. Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (Loved it- funny, witty, and full of surprises- just like Joshilyn's blog. I can't wait to read the next book.)

3. The Color of Water by James McBride (Two amazing stories in one. You'll read the story of McBride's Jewish mother who raised 12 biracial children in the 1930s and beyond paralled with McBride's tribute to his "Ma." If you loved Richard Wright's book, Native Son, you'll love this too.)

Enjoy them, they are all excellent reads.

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June 25, 2009

The King

I've been so sad all evening, I don't want to sound over-dramatic, but our world lost a great talent today. I've been listening to the radio since about 7 p.m. where a tribute is being done and I have yet to hear a song played twice. He truly was amazing with so many great songs and performances. I am crying right now (clearly I loved him like no other celebrity) .... here are some of my favorites:

The Girl is Mine; Ben; Liberian Girl; Rock with you (playing now); Don't stop till you get enough; Man in the Mirror; Human Nature; The Lady in my life; Never Can Say Goodbye; She's out of my life; One more chance; Got to be there; and sooooo many more.

I will remember Michael forever because I grew up with. All those many nights with my brother taping songs off the radio and then rewinding and playing back until we knew all the words; or being in awe at the him when he first did the moonwalk and then practicing until your legs were tired; or wearing a glove and white socks; or watching the 30 minute Thriller video over and over again; or loving how he brought all the stars together in We are the World; or just listening to him pour his heart out in his music and feeling like he knew exactly what I was going through at that time because I was so in love. That's the Michael that no one can take away despite whatever has happened in the last few years. I love him and will always. He's the best!

Michael, we'll truly miss you.

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One look was all I needed

Princess is absolutely driving me crazy right now. I am so frustrated that I want to give her back! (Nana…you better come for her soon). She’s not listening and what’s worse is that she’s being really purposeful in her actions, if not outwardly defiant. We had it out last night – she didn’t want to sit at the “adult” table, so we let her sit at her little table, then she only wanted to watch tv and not eat because “I don’t like that!”, so I turned off the tv and asked (read told) her to eat. Lo and behold instead of eating little missy decided to color – on our cream chaise. Yes. color! I was so angry with her when I glanced over her way and noticed what was going on that I literally jumped over my chair to get to her.

My response, however, was not comparable with my level of anger and I wonder whether I’m sending her the wrong message. As you can tell from my athletic moves, I was pretty angry. But, when our bodies actually got close to each other all I could do was give her a little, tiny, itsy-bitsy, wimpy slap on her hand and then send her to her room.

I am from Trinidad, where I grew up getting a few spankings (the real ones) that set me straight for life. I knew not to cross my mom, aunts and definitely not my grandmother. I probably “knew” that because I had experienced one or two “lickings” (as we call it), so that I knew that one look was enough to let me know that I was on a slippery slope. I think I turned out a pretty well adjusted and responsible woman and I am sure that my respect for authority helped in my molding.

Now, fast-forward thirty-something years and I know it’s not socially accepted to spank kids and I try my best not to. I can't yet say whether it's the right or wrong thing because that's another discussion. But, I understand that spanking is not the way to discipline a child and I accept that I need to explore alternate disciplinary methods. I have been trying those methods – time out, counting to three, taking away toys, reducing privileges. But, yet in my heart I feel like she needs to get that one good spanking that will make her appreciate and understand the alternative disciplinary methods better.

Yet, when I was called to the mat, I flaked. In retrospect, that opportunity yesterday was the perfect time for me to lay the law and get her to understand that my words should be more than enough. Clearly my intelligent side got the better of me and I refrained from releasing my wrath – and that, I am very proud of.

But, this morning I was again faced with resistance and it makes me so frustrated at the terrible twos/threes and disappointed in myself because I can’t seem to get a hold of this situation. I’ve got to figure it out – I need some suggestions please.

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June 23, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday L'il Buddy!

We love you, love you, love you!

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Better Tuesdays: Hangin' In There

We are officially 1/3 of the way through the BetterU program and I am pleased to say that I am plugging along as well as can be expected. I have definitely been incorporationg all of the advice and tips provided to us and, slowly but surely, I am seeing results. My exercise regiment (I never had one of those before!) has really started to stick and I notice that I don't feel right if I skip a workout. I also lost another 1lb last week, which is great, but what isn't great is that I know that I probably could have lost another 1lb had I exercised the recommended 5x. I ended up skipping 2 days for reasons that seemed important at the time, but that I now can't even remember.

So that's it. Nothing monumental to report. Just watching my diet, entering my WW points and exercising. I did slide over the weekend during my girls' getaway and ate rich foods high in fat and calories (crab quesadillas, martinis, french fries, hot chocolate, a bacon omelet) because I am WEAK. Or maybe just human. It was like learning to walk. The first bite of the quesadilla was terrible and I felt AWFUL about it. Like I could feel the fat being absorbed by my body. (dramatic?) The second bite was easier and by the end I even threw in a chicken wing. Just goes to show what a slippery slope eating is! Hopefully it didn't set me back too much. I just need to get back on the bandwagon and stay on.

Find of the Week: Yoplait Light Fat Free Yogurt. With flavors like Boston Cream Pie, Apple Turnover and Pineapple Upside Down Cake, I can have my dessert and eat it too. Good job Yoplait - I am impressed.

Here's to another solid week!

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You must have read my mind

We are entering week 4 of the 12 week Better U program and it’s been tough … much tougher than I could have imagined. I thought that I would see instantaneous changes in my energy, body and of course, my weight. Who was I kidding though? I know the rational responses – don’t rush, keep at it; it took months to gain and will take months to lose; it’s the small changes that count … yada, yada, yada!

I am so discouraged and just about ready to quit. It’s not the response that I should have especially since I committed to myself, to the AHA and to you that I would work at it and complete the program. But, after making some lifestyle changes – eating healthier, walking way more than I have ever in my life, eating out less – I would have expected to see some success in the weight area. Heck, even if the scale wasn’t my friend, at least I would have liked to see my clothes fitting better. But no…..nothing has changed!!!! Nothing’s getting better and I can’t understand what I need to be doing differently. What the sense, I ask myself? Why bother?

Then I log in to the Better U website to complete my course for the week and what do I see – it’s the encouragement lesson. The course this week is tailored toward finding ways to encourage women to keep at it and not give up on the program or their health (were they reading my mind or something?). It’s as if they knew that folks would be having a hard time at about week 4 and crafted tips to keep you going. It’s definitely making me feel better and I will bear in mind their suggestions:
(1) build on past success – remember a time when you achieved a positive change in your life and think about what kept you motivated and remember how you felt once you achieved your goal;
(2) keep goals SMART (specific; measurable, appropriate, realistic and with a time frame);
(3) rely on your support team; and
(4) commit to making the change.

So, I’m encouraged again and I will remember those few years in my life where all I could think about was looking hot in a two piece costume for Trinidad Carnival - where I did all that I could do to reach that goal. I will think of how amazing I felt being able to wear that bikini costume with pride knowing that I was beautiful and slim and sexy (P.S. that’s not me in the picture, but that’s what the ladies look like, so you can only imagine the pressure).

Although I doubt that I will reach that weight ever again in life, I will keep in mind my goal of losing 20 pounds and take it one pound per week at a time. I will not give up and I will stop beating myself up.

If you’re having a hard time too, visit the Better U site for some tips. Honestly, the tips hit home with other aspects of my life too!

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June 22, 2009

If my schedule permitted...

I overbooked my weekend so much that I now need a day off and I don't see one in sight for at least the next three weeks. Should I schedule a day off from life, call in sick at my job, or just close my office door for a quick siesta. I'm just so exhausted this morning that 2 large cups of coffee isn't doing the trick today. Somebody, please send me some energy because I don't think I can make it. If only my schedule permitted some time for rest I would be good!

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June 20, 2009

A night like no other

As you may know (if for no other reason than the fact that we've been posting, facebooking and twittering about it for the past week or so), we filmed our first episode of The Verdict on momtv.com last night and it was.so.much.fun!

Trust me when I tell you that it was a comedy of errors throughout the night and it felt like we were on an episode of Seinfeld. We had a plan and that went out the window! But, as mamas, we adjusted. All in all, it was fun to be in the same place at the same time with the mamas just chatting like we always do.

AND...an added bonus was that after the show was all said and done, we got a girls night out. We stayed up until 4:30 in the morning eating, drinking, laughing, sharing stories and getting advice. It was a mamas slumber party and it was SO overdue!

Anyway, check out the replay or join us for our next show live from Chi-town as we attend the BlogHer conference. We will be streaming live from our Blogalicious meet-up event "The Lush Experience". We are dead serious when we say it's a night not to miss!

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June 19, 2009

Don't forget - tonight at 9:00 p.m.!

The mamas will be LIVE and IN LIVING COLOR on momtv.com tonight at 9:00 p.m. Join us for The Verdict - we promise a fun (if not funny) and lively discussion about hot topics, relationships, work life balance and more. See you later!

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June 18, 2009

The Big City Life

I am spending most of this week in DC for a work related conference. DC is where I lived when I was in law school and the conference is not too far from the campus. So of course, all the places around are all too familiar- the smell, the noises, the people. It's making me home sick even after five years of living in Florida. Truth is, I don't like where we live. Rather than list all the reasons I don't like where I live, I'll just list all the thinks I miss most about DC.

Things I miss the most are:

  • The restaurants. I love eating out, it's my favorite thing to do. There are so many great restaurants here and they are packed day to late night. (Side note: The economy seems to be booming here.)
  • Walking. I have seen so many women and men, in suits, pushing their children in strollers. Kids seem happy, parents seem happy. All part of the daily routine. Where I live now, people don't walk. We drive our cars everywhere we go. Hot or cold, we drive. My neighbors pull their car out of their garage and drive to the pool in our subdivision.
  • You can get your hair done for $25.00 here. It costs me at least $45 and they don't do a good job. My hair is not even the same anymore. It was long and luscious when I lived in DC. Now it's short, dry, and hard to do.
  • The architecture is beautiful here. You just don't see these types of structures where I live. Unless you pay an arm and a leg, and give them your first born, your house will mostly look just like your neighbors.
  • Things stay open late, the hair salon, the nail shop, the restaurants, the movies. I'm a night owl, this is perfect for me.
  • My friends! I left so many good friends here. I miss my friends.
  • Last but not least, everyone here seems so damn smart and intellectual. And by everyone, I mean people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. That's not common where I live and I sometimes worry that there are not enough "role models" for my kids. I don't want them to be surprised when they see a minority or woman in a powerful position, or in an intellectual position. That's how I grew up. It sucked.
So why did we leave DC? We left because that was always "The Plan." The plan was that Hubby and I would live here a few years, he would get a few years of work experience under his belt, then we would move back to his hometown so that he could work in the family business. That was the plan. I knew it going into this deal. So when it was time to go, we put the house on the market and within three days it was sold.

I'm not resentful about it and I know Hubby is probably reading this and thinking he knew this was coming. I guess it's all part of marriage- you sometimes have to give things up for the good of the family. So that's what I did. Did I give up to too much? I don't know, but there's no point in even thinking that way.

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Taking it back to the basics

Princess and I went to one of her classmate's 4th birthday parties on Saturday. The party was so simple and so basic and the kids had a blast! I sound surprised, don't I? As I stood in the backyard and watched these kids fall out over playing with a hose in a blow-up pool it made me ponder all the frills and fancy that we parents try to do for these kids parties, when the truth of the matter is, all the kids really want to do is take it back to the basics!

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Love It! Thursdays Giveaway: HomeFree Treats!

It seems like lately more and more of the kids I know are allergic to something. Peanuts, of course. Dairy, sure. But wheat? And gluten? It seems our kids are becoming more and more sensitive to certain ingredients with each new generation. I even know of a 4-year old allergic to grass. Poor thing!

The good news is that children with these types of allergies can still have their cookies, cake and eat them too, thanks to the good folks at HomeFree Treats! They were kind enough to send me some samples of their cookies and BOY was I sold!! Let me first say that (1) I don't have any allergies, so it's not like I need to eat cookies without certain ingredients; and (2) I'm not an organic-fanatic in the least (I mean an organic cookie? What's the point?) So believe me when I say that these cookies are off the hook. I would totally buy them just for their taste alone.

Jill Robbins, a mom, clinical psychologist and founder of HomeFree, created the bakery, with a line of delicious, wholesome cookies and cakes, as well as a cook book full of easy to make allergen-free recipes, so that kids with food allergies can enjoy treats along with everyone else. She seems to have thought of everything, from making her goodies in a dedicated bakery to minimize the risk of her baked goods being contaminated with food allergens, to creating an allergen-free baking cookbook so that parents can bake for their kiddies without worry.

All of the treats offered by HomeFree are peanuts, tree nuts, egg, wheat*, and dairy free. (You can check out their FAQs for specifics on what is and is not contained in their products).
All I can say is that the cookies were good. Ask my sister - I ate the whole (sampler) packge in one evening. Tsk tsk. In fact, they were so good that I want to share them with you! I have 2 boxes of HomeFree Organic Cookies to giveaway to one lucky MamaLaw reader. Just (1) become a follower of our blog; and (2) leave me a comment telling me why you should win. A winner will be chosen on Sunday, June 22.

*for those for whom traces of wheat could be a concern, please note that their grains are processed in shared facilities with wheat. Further, due to agricultural practices in this country, oats often contain traces of wheat.

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June 16, 2009

Carraba's "Toast to Dad": A Contest & Giveaway!

Carrabba’s Italian Grill is inviting everyone to write a brief toast to their dad for the chance to win a four-night trip with their dad to Napa Valley, including a tour of the Rubicon Estate, a case of Coppola wine and dinner with Coppola’s winemaker!! Ten runners up will celebrate with dad closer to home with dinner for four and Coppola wine at a Carrabba’s restaurant. And, as another reason to say "cheers" to dad, all contest entrants will receive a certificate for a free appetizer valid on a future Carrabba’s visit. You can enter the “Toast to Dad”until June 30, 2009 by posting your toast on their website.

But wait! There's more. Two lucky MamaLaw readers will win a special prize just from Carraba's. For your chance to win a gift certificate for $50 OR a Ciao Tuscany cook book, all you have to do is (1) become a follower if you aren't already; and (2) leave us a comment telling us your favorite Italian dish. You can also tweet this giveaway for an extra chance.

If you end up winning the certificate but you don't live within driving distance of a Carraba's restaurant, just let us know and we can switch it out for a cookbook.
Giveaway ends Tuesday, June 23rd!

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Better Tuesdays: Progress Report

Hello Week 3!

Gosh time flies when you're not eating carbs.

THE GOOD: I am pleased to report that, since starting the BetterU program, I have been exercising at least 5 times each week. And that my friends, is major considering that I really was not into working out before. My exercise of choice has been the walk-jog regiment, but I have also been incorporating step aerobics and other cardio workouts on FitTV. When it comes to my diet, I've been doing a good job of packing my lunch and snacks for the day and sticking to it. I've also tried to add some form of protein to my breakfast which, just as Dr. Mieres promised, has helped me to feel less hungry throughout the day. Remaining diligent about entering my WW points has been working and I lost 1.8 lbs last week! A small victory, but if I can keep up this pace, I will be over halfway to my goal by the end of this program.

THE BAD: Dinner is still a challenge for me. I crave the comfort foods late in the day. So far, I've been able to hang tough and stick tothe protein and veggies but I did have 2 slip ups: I loooove my spaghetti. I really do. My sauce is off the hook. And so, I caved last week and had some. I was careful to have more sauce than noodles (I measured out 1 cup of noodles), and at least the noodles were whole wheat. I skipped the cheese too. Over the weekend I had thin crust pizza with pepperoni. I caved again, I did. But I had water instead of the root beer that I wanted and added in some mushrooms for posterity's sake. So those are my naughty food confessions for last week. Hopefully I'll have less to report next Tuesday. The other bad thing about this week is that I am definitely conscious of feeling fat. I'm not sure what changed, but I want to get rid of this extra weight and now. Maybe that's a good thing.

FAB FIND: Have you tried The Skinny Cow's Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream Cone???? Divine, i tell you! Dee-viine. With 150 calories and 3g of fat, this is a guiltless treat that tasts like the real thing.

Leave me a comment to let me know how you're doing on your BetterU journey. Along with a visit to Joshilyn's site, hop on over to A Shorter Story where A Shorter Mama is on her way to becoming a BetterHer starting with a fly new 'do!

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