Finding the Spirit

A few weeks after my bodybuilding competition, around Halloween, my sister Nicole and my nephews, Matthew age 11 and Sean age 5, came over to hang out.  My sister all of a sudden had a desire to decorate the house like our Mom used to.

My mom was beyond festive.  She decorated the house for every holiday.  It was adorable and sweet and so fun to walk into the house, even around St. Patrick’s Day, and see little shamrocks everywhere and the house decorated in green decorations.  You know how most people just have boxes in their basement labeled “Christmas”?  Yeah, we have ones labeled “Easter” Valentine’s Day” “Memorial Day” “Halloween.”  You get the drift.

So Nicole started bringing up boxes from the basement and in the closets that were labeled “Halloween/Thanksgiving.”

She opens up the first box, reaches in…and sees a little note with my Mom’s handwriting on it.  “Take care of each other, Love Mom” was written on it.

We were just in awe.   It was of course a bit of a shock to see my Mom’s writing on something in a decoration box of all places.  But we assume she must have thought “Well, they’ll have to go through this box at some point” to ensure that we found it.  It was such a last-minute decision to even decorate the house, knowing we couldn’t do it justice like Mom did, that I almost thought it was luck that we even found it.

Nicole took the note home and rightfully so.  None of us thought we would find any more…until…

Fast forward to just after Thanksgiving.

My sister and I decide we are going to try to bake my Mom’s dessert bread.  This bread is very special.  It’s a recipe my Mom found years ago when we were little and she made it for her friends for Christmas and she made it for Easter too.  This was HER bread.  And it tasted amazing!

Nicole and I baked 4 loaves and they turned out just like Mom’s!!! They are a little gummy in the middle but I recall she had that problem too sometimes.  No big deal.  Slap some butter on that and you don’t even notice.  My nephews tasted it too and they agreed: “Just like G used to make.”

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While we waited for the bread to rise, I asked my sister if she and the boys would help me put ornaments on the Christmas tree.  It’s been kind of hard to get in the festive spirit but we put on some Christmas music and started opening up the ornament boxes.

Guess what we found in the first box?  Yes, another note from Mom!!  She actually wrote it in 2011, just a quick little line about “I’ll always be near you.”  Then she wrote underneath that note in 2012.  “I miss all of you.”  At first I thought she just got the years wrong but Nicole and I think she just wanted to write notes even when she wasn’t sick, just in case.

We hung up the ornaments and I went through some other boxes of decorations to see if I could start to put things up around the house.

I immediately started looking for this mailbox she had.  It has a snowman on it and it’s pretty big but small enough that she kept it on our island in the kitchen.  She would put little toys or pieces of candy in there for the boys.  So everytime they came over, she’d say “Check the mailbox!”  She always had two of everything she bought – one for Matthew one for Sean.

Well, I found the mailbox.  And you know of course I thought to myself “There’s gonna be a note in here.”

Of course there was.  🙂

And it was intended for Matthew and Sean.  It was dated January 16th of this year and it says “I’ll always love you.  “G”

I quickly put the mailbox on the island so the boys wouldn’t see and I went back into the family room and said “I found the mailbox, why don’t you guys see what’s inside?”

So they walked over and opened it up expecting to find candy or something from me…Sean can’t read of course but Matthew saw it and started to smile.  I told them “Go show your Mom.”  So they went over to Nicole who didn’t even know I had found the mailbox and they showed it to her.

Poor Sean asked “What does it say??”  None of us, not even Matthew, could get the words out, we were so choked up.  I finally blurted  out “Do you recognize that letter?”  And he said “Yeah it’s a G.”  I said “That’s right, that’s from G.  It says that she’ll always love you.”

And of course my sister just kind of cried and I started to tear up but I didn’t want Sean to think I was sad and it was interesting because his reaction was sort of joyful.  Almost as if he thinks “Well duh of course she misses me.”  My mom’s big concern was that Sean would not remember her and I assured her he would.

He probably mentions her more than any of us at really random times. I think my Mom speaks to him through him.  I wouldn’t doubt it.  He dreams about her a lot too.

Since that night I have found one more note in a wreath box that was dated in 2011 as well.

It was so nice having this little treasure hunt of sorts around this time of year.  It’s obviously the first Christmas without her so it’s been a little difficult. But knowing she left these notes for us to find after she was gone has helped ease the pain.

This Christmas, as my family and I sit down to dinner, we’ll attempt to make it as festive as we can.  It won’t be the same but now we can tuck these notes away and take a look at them when we miss her the most, and see that she’s still here.

Watching, making sure we’re taking care of each other, knowing that she will always love us.

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Step Away from the Dessert Table

This weekend was the infamous Dessert Party thrown by my former client Lina and her hubby Jeff.  Lina spent the better part of her December and probably November baking all kinds of delicious treats for this annual festive event.  I attended 2 years ago and although I remember indulging in a few treats I honestly can’t remember what I had.  I’m guessing I just didn’t care because I wasn’t really watching my weight too closely back then.

This year is obviously a different story.  Declining the invitation was not an option because once again, I want to prove that losing weight is possible during the holidays.  Plus, I don’t see the need to be anti-social when you’re watching what you eat.

Here is what was presented to myself and their guests upon walking in the door:

Can you say, YUM?
Can you say, YUM?

I don’t think this picture does it justice…so here are just a few close ups:

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So what do you do when you’re trying to lose weight but you’re invited to a dessert party?  You have plan.  My plan was to eat enough to be satisfied but not too much that I felt guilt and gluttony.

You also need reinforcements.

I brought a friend with me, Brian, who I assigned the task of “Spotter” to.  I told him to spot me and make sure I didn’t go overboard.  Unfortunately Brian doesn’t know me well enough to know what is considered overboard in my mind. BUT, he did a great job regardless. 🙂

Lina and Jeff also did a great job supporting me by showing me things that I could have without the added guilt.  So awesome of them to think of little old me!

I was going to take a picture of what I ate but I didn’t want the guests there to think I’m an Instagram freak or strange even though it’s becoming quite normal to take pics of your food.  So I’ll just tell you the damage:

  • About 4oz of a white wine spritzer (About 2 sips in I thought “I want to EAT my calories, not DRINK them!”) and switched to water
  • 1 cup of a mix of berries that Lina and Jeff said they provided specifically for moi.  Thanks guys! Fruit is always good.
  • 1 tablespoon and a half maybe ( I didn’t bring out measuring spoons but the thought of breaking those things out in the middle of a party makes me laugh)  of Angel Food cake with that pudding and strawberry combination.  Is it just called Angel Food cake or strawberry shortcake?? Whatever it was it was also very good and although I tried not to spoon too much pudding on the plate I did get a good chunk of it.
  • 1 of the cookies in the middle of that picture there…The one with the green icing in the middle. I WAIT for these cookies when my Mom makes them and Lina’s did not disappoint.  A little thicker than how my Mom makes them but oh so good!!!

I stopped for a while and chatted up some people….Taking a break from the madness.

After about a half hour of drinking water and talking I thought I could handle just a little bit more.  Brian mentioned the pumpkin pie would be worth it as well as this 7 layer chocolate chip  graham cracker ecstasy Lina made (Picture above on the silver plate).  So I opted for one little bite of pie and one small piece of the layered goodness.

End result?  Worth it. 🙂  I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t feel bloated. I didn’t feel gross.  I had FUN!  And best of all, I didn’t feel deprived.

HAD I NOT been trying to lose weight I honestly think I would have gone bonkers and probably would have had no self control.  The end result would have been ugly.

At the end of the night I still fit in my size 7 pants.  I haven’t worn size 7 pants since I moved back to Cleveland from Chicago.  And I got them around Christmas time so it’s been 3 years.  And they JUST fit.   So a bit of advice if you’re attending a holiday party of the same magnitude and find yourself with the same doubts:

Wear a pair of pants that JUST fit…that if you went nuts with food you MIGHT embarrass yourself and pop/rip them.

Okay maybe that’s not the best advice but it worked.

Thanks again to Lina and Jeff for putting on a great party!  And thanks for reading my blog!

Interesting Sidenote:  On the way out the door I met a woman whose daughter does Figure Competitions right here in Northeast Ohio!  How random is that??  Feels so good to meet other women who are doing the same things since honestly, I don’t know anyone locally doing/training for a competition.

Weight this morning: 127lbs.  The meal plan Coach Davies has me on is clearly working very well.  I still feel energized, still in a great mood, still making progress!

I did a much better job planning my meals for the week and even had time to help out my family making pierogies yesterday!  YUM! (Potato of course…sorry can’t do the sauerkraut).

HAPPY MONDAY!!

-Michelle