Living It – Week 28

Tip # 459 – Weight Loss 


This tip generated a lot of chatter!  Many of you asked me to report in on how I am doing and be ‘real’ so I thought it would be a good one to “Living It” with.  I would love to tell you that it has been 3 weeks of clean eating, great sleeps, and 20Lbs just dropped off…  ah… no…

My Updates:

* Stopped weighing myself everyday (my whole day was determined my a number on a scale and I often ate more when I was higher with the defeatist attitude that I am already up pounds so why not) – I have managed to only weigh myself 4 times a week (which is down from 20!).  One week I did survive a whole week but then I started worrying that I was gaining and out of control (I sound crazy but some of you must know how it is…).

* I will not to set insane timelines on my weight loss that I always fail on and then eat through the feelings of failure – I cannot tell you the number of times I started to do this.  I would ask myself how many weeks until I have to wear fewer clothes (layers do cover a multitude of sins) and then I would start to say things like if you could lose 15Lbs before the warmer weather…  it was awful trying to stop doing this.  I am determined not to put a timeline to weight loss so I haven’t set any timelines and am just sticking to the goal of permanent life changes.

* I have cleaned out of the house pop and chips – I have stuck to this even though I decided it would be a good idea to go down this aisle in the grocery store and then tried to talk myself into this fabulous looking bag of chips.  I repeated the mantra (‘I would rather feel good long term than a short term fix’) and then got the cart and myself out of there.  I have also found a good pop replacement (It seems to be the fizz I like) and now have flavoured fizzy water.  For those of you in Canada – PC makes a great one!

* I have changed my routine.  I had the habit of coming home and snacking -  A few times I stayed later at work and just arriving home a little later helped with stopping this habit.  If I was home ‘earlier’ I have taken to do a few jobs around the house that aren’t in the kitchen.  It has worked so far.

* I have worked hard to get more sleep (when I am tired I use the excuse that I am eating for energy, I also make terrible food decisions when I am tired and stressed) – This one is a challenge for me as I LOVE my sleep.  Ideally, I would love to sleep 9 hours a night and this is rarely possible unless I go to bed before my kids!  I did manage to go to bed earlier over the past few weeks and it has helped.  I am shocked at how organized I have to be in order to go to bed earlier.  I also have worked on not watching TV mindlessly and then waking up in the morning saying, “Why did I stay up watching that stupid show?!”

* I am going to work hard on my ‘self talk’ (I think and say horrible things about my body 100’s of times in the day) – I had no idea the amount of horrible things I say to myself until I started to pay attention to them a little more.  It starts in the morning some days before I even get up and then I walk past the hall mirror and just continues throughout the day.  It has been hard but one way I am looking at it is telling myself I would NEVER say those things to my best friend so I need to start being a better friend to myself.  

* I am working on cutting out all diet Coke…  I am an addict – I have had three in three weeks.  That is pretty good although I want it every day still.  The fizzy water has helped and the fact that friends and family are constantly nagging me about it.  

I have lost 2Lbs but some of my clothes are feeling better – I don’t have to lie on the bed to get my work pants done up and when I sit down I can still breathe, all good signs!  What I discovered these last few weeks is that I am my own worst enemy in other ways too.  When I discovered I had lost 2Lbs my first reaction and all the ones following it for days was, “Is that it?  This isn’t working?  You aren’t working hard enough on this?  You have failed, again.”  I just need to be happy with the loss and that it isn’t a gain.  I am also going to work hard on measuring out food.  When I tracked what I was eating, I was shocked.  What I put in my mouth throughout the day was quickly forgotten (almost as soon as it passed my lips).  I need to get a better sense of what and how much I am eating.  No matter what big weight loss companies would like to have us believe, weight loss is a simple formula when it comes to food – calories in and calories out need to, at least, match.

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Living It – Week 27

Tip #99 – Be Organized


When I wrote “101 Tips for When They’re Back” I had a fair number of suggestions for making life easier for their return by being organized.  Since we are in the final 60 day stretch I decided that it may be good to start going through the reunion book and living some of my own advice from there too.  I still stand by all of what I said and truly believe that there is a certain loss of control that I have to be willing to give up again.  For the most part, I have been the one making the decisions about what we eat, what things we do in the evenings, where we go, when we go to sleep and so on and so on.  Now I am going to have to readjust to sharing those decisions with someone else.  Being organized will help me feel less out of control (yes, I am one of those people that finds coming home to a clean house one of the greatest feelings in the world – EVERYTHING REALLY DOES HAVE A PLACE!  Despite what my husband and kids say…).

By the time he gets home I will have…

* Cleaned out the areas of the house that were my husband’s and make them ready for him to invade again (or… to make a mess of and frustrate me but everyone has to have a space to do what they want with)

* Organize the fridge and freezer so that I not only know what we have but that I know we have things he likes too – it will also take the guess work out of meals and make life easier

* Do some bulk shopping for boring things like toilet paper, soaps, etc. – less time in the stores and less hastle

* Sort through and prioritize the mail that is stuffed into a box the door (this has not been a good example but with so much to deal with, if it was addressed to my husband and didn’t look like a bill or urgent, it got shoved into a box)

* Try to get some work done ahead of time so that I can take a few days when he gets back and not feel overwhelmed with a long list of things to do on top of getting used to having to go back to sleeping on my side of the bed!

* Go through the calendar and see what things are going to be happening and try to do things in advance to help reduce the amount of running around when he first gets home (I am going to buy some birthday cards in advance, get some birthday presents and wrap and label them, get postage stamps, etc.)

* Send a copy of our calendar to my husband so that he knows some of what he is coming home to as well

* Write ahead of time and ask what things he is missing the most (besides his favourite wife and kids).  This way I can pick them up when I have time rather than dashing around in the last few days

Regardless of whether or not I am totally organized or a complete mess, reunions are hard.  I really believe that being organized will only help with a smoother reintegration for everyone.  People often tell me that it must be so hard to have my husband away so much – it is but…  it is very hard to get used to sharing a life again after a long deployment too and many times for us, it has been the hardest part.  My husband has been at home with us for a total of 67 days in 2 years.  Getting used to life together again is going to be something I need to begin preparing for and living my own advice!

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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #459

Deployment Weight 

chained to scale

I have battled with my weight my whole life. I love food (and hate it all at the same time).  My favourite foods are usually over 200calories a bite!  If it is sugary, salty or fried, I will most likely eat it. I eat when I am bored, lonely, celebrating or sympathizing.  I also have the terrible self destructive habit of weighing myself obsessively and letting the scale dictate how I feel about myself.

This deployment I ate my way through the first 5 months. It was an easy, short term way to feel better.  The long term result is that I am up 12 more pounds (I already had plenty to lose), my pants are tight and I am scared to even look at a swimsuit. It isn’t a great feeling. So… I have decided to start to do things that will make me feel better in the long term and try to find other things to do rather than eat ridiculous things that have no nutritional value.  But… there are things I am going to do differently this year…

My Plan:

* I have stopped weighing myself everyday (it has been hard as I was doing it at least 3 times a day) – my whole day can be determined my a number on a scale and I often eat more when I am higher with the defeatist attitude that I am already up pounds so why not?!

* I am determined not to set insane timelines on my weight loss that I always fail on and then eat through the feelings of failure – I usually give myself a month to lose 8Lbs or tell myself I will be down to my ideal weight in 6 months, it sets me up for failure

* I have cleaned out of the house pop and chips – they are foods that we were all eating too much of and now they are here for me to automatically turn to

* I have changed my routine.  I had the habit of coming home and snacking and so now I am filling that time with other things like walking the dog or reading for 30mins.

* I have worked hard to get more sleep – when I am tired I use the excuse that I am eating for energy, I also make terrible food decisions when I am tired and stressed

* I am going to work hard on my ‘self talk’ – I am my worst enemy.  I think and say horrible things about my body 100’s of times in the day and I am positive it hasn’t worked in helping me to ever lose weight and makes me feel so terrible about myself

* I am working on cutting out all diet Coke…  I am an addict but I am also convinced that not only does it make me moody it also makes me crave more sugar

I am hopeful that my changing some of my habits and being more aware of the things that I do that actually add to my problems rather than help, that I will now begin to sustain weight loss in a healthy way that lasts.  Wish me luck!

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Living It – Week 26

Make a Calendar Together – Tip #65

Our latest deployment calendar

Our latest deployment calendar

We are now past the halfway mark of this deployment and even though I have the deployment candy jar marking down time, the kids are older and I think need to see it on an actual calendar.  We have a calendar of events that happen each week but I thought it would be helpful to make a calendar of fun!  This week we made a calendar for the next three months so that we can begin to see a  see all the good things that are going to happen in between and after my husband gets back.  We do not have a specific return date so we are just highlighting the possible weeks for now.


* Complete the calendar together (so you can also discover the events coming up that are important to them)

* Put it in a high traffic area so that everyone can reference it

* Add fun events, activities and holidays

* Mark birthdays and milestones and identify which month your family member is likely return

* Add things that you want to do at the top and reminders

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to:

Living It! – Week 25

Journal Daily – Tip #10

FullSizeRender (12)

So…  I have not been following my own advice and writing in a journal this deployment. When we had our last deployment I wrote in a journal every day (sometimes only a line or two) and then sent the journals over for my husband to read about our daily lives, the kids would draw pictures on pages and we even put in photos or ticket stubs.  They were a great way to track the big and the little things and they are a fabulous keepsake.  I can see them on the shelf as I write this!  Now jump ahead 7 – 8 years and technology seems to have taken over my life.  Instead of a journal, I write a daily email and attach photos of things we are doing, report cards or art work they have done.  I wanted this to be something that we had as a memory though so I started a file and put a copy of each email into there each day.  That way I could always print them out and scrapbook them if I ever have time…  unlikely but I remain hopeful and I didn’t want them to just be lost in my husband’s inbox.

My advice remains the same (despite me not doing a good job of following it).  This week I bought a book and decided that we would track the next few months in “hard copy” and make it something he can read when he gets home.  I decided that sending them over during the deployment has way too much risk that they will be damaged or lost.  It is also some thing nice to enjoy and a great conversation starter when your family member gets home.


* Get everyone in the family involved

* Make time each week to write a few things in it

* Add ticket stubs, bills, or any other momento that you can think of

* Include Top 10 lists

* Print pictures off your phone and add them in

* Put the book in a high traffic area so it doesn’t get forgotten

* Make it fun, not another responsibility – you don’t have to write a novel, just a few lines a day is enough

* Use doodles or drawings too


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Recommended Reading – “Rain, Reign”

A must read for all educators and parents!


Every now and again I am lucky enough to stumble onto a book for kids that I can’t put down, that makes me think and tells a moving story.  Rain, Reign by Ann Martin is one of them.  This book provides readers with insights into how challenging some student’s home lives can be, how Autistic students may perceive their world, tough decisions we all will have to make at some point and most of all – what it means to be courageous.  Rain, Reign provides the reader with a greater understanding of why children with Autism may choose to make sense of their world the way they do, how they may make some decisions and sometimes behave the way they do.  When it is estimated that 1 in 5 children are somewhere on the Autism spectrum, this book is long overdue.  The wonderful thing about Rain, Reign is that it is multi layered.  It isn’t just about Autism or Rose, it is about courage, overcoming obstacles and how your percieved flaws (in this case, Rose’s black and white thinking, can be one of your greatest assets).  Students will connect with this book on a variety of levels and hopefully re-examine those students they share a classroom with, see on the yard or sit with on the bus home and realize that everyone doesn’t have just one story but that everyone has layers and some of those can make life tough.  I highly recommend picking up a copy of Rain, Reign.  Every classroom and every household should read this book!

For Educators:

Rain, Reign – An Educator’s Guide

Overall Themes and Questions

  • Rose has autism. What are some things that you know about Autism?
  • Is Rose a hero? Why or why not?
  • Parents make mistakes. What are some mistakes that Rose’s father makes? Is Rose’s father a good person?  Give at least 3 reasons from the book to justify your answer.
  • Each character in the story has flaws. Choose 3 characters from the story and identify their flaws.
  • Rose has black and white thinking. List some times in the book when she had this type of thinking. What things do you have black and white thinking about?
  • Is Rose a hero? What makes her a hero?
  • What is Rose’s biggest obstacle or challenge that she has to overcome? Explain your thinking.

Questions to consider:

What rules are important to Rose?
Why do you think students are unkind to Rose?
Rose understands her world through creating structure, numbers, rules and routines. How are you and Rose the same and what makes you different?
What are some of the things that Rose attributes to having high functioning autism?  Make a chart of her abilities and list whether or not you think they are positive or negative. Be ready to defend your thinking.

Rose needs support from Mrs Leibler to start conversations differently. How does how you start conversations with people differ from Rose?
Rose has some triggers that can cause her to become upset and agitated. What are they and what things does she do to remain calm. Provide examples from the book. What upsets you and how do you calm down?

Parvani, in Rose’s class, looks away from Josh when he is being mean about Rose’s behaviour and rolling his eyes. There are subtle and quiet things we can all do to show people we do not support bullying. List as many as you can.

Would you work hard to track down the Henderson’s?  Why or why not

Rose’s father loses his temper and frightens Rain and Rose. Instead of hurting Rose he leaves the house. When you are losing your temper how do you calm yourself down?

Rose’s father has come from a background where his parents were unkind to him and he is working hard to not follow in his parents footsteps.  Is her father brave and honourable?  Why or Why not?

Activity Suggestions:

Have a period of working with radio static in the background to mimic how Rose must feel. Put the paper, pens and other classroom supplies in a different place every day for a week to show kids how they also like routines and structures too.

Each child has to make a box describing them with a minimum of 5 things in it that are significant to describing who they are as a person. A twist on this activity would be that a classmate would present their box rather than them doing it.

Mapping out their community like Rose is able to do.  Drawing a map to scale, using a key, etc.

Make a list of all Homophones that Rose identifies.

Make a list of what each household should have in the way of emergency supplies.

Using details that Rose gives us about Rain make a Lost Poster.

Make a list of all the prime numbers that Rose identifies in the book.

Write a different ending for the book where Rose does not have to give up Rain.

Have a class debate – One team thinks Rose should have done what she did when giving back the dog to the Henderson family and one team that thinks she should have not looked for the previous owners at all.

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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #458

Loneliness – Tip #458


No one tells you about the times you are going to feel utterly alone as a member of a military family (no one also tells you about the deep seeded resentment you will feel but that is a tip for another time!). It is hard going it alone during a deployment or any extended absence. Everyone in your life has their own lives too and can’t be around all the time nor would you want them to be. Having said that, you are going to experience loneliness whether you are alone or surrounded by people.  While I don’t have a lot of time to feel lonely (and there are definitely times when I enjoy my alone time) it can also sneak up on you and leaving you feeling truly awful.  After several deployments I think that I have learned to combat loneliness (most of the time).  This doesn’t mean I don’t have a good cry or take some time to feel well and truly sorry for myself but I don’t let these be lasting moments.  I feel it and then do something about it.  Flying solo has also forced me to get comfortable with who I am as a person but you can only be with yourself and/or your children so much before you crave an interaction that doesn’t start with, “Can I…” or “Would you…”.  Weekends seem to be hardest for me as I am usually too exhausted to have the drive or motivation to do much but also have so many obligations – driving kids to their activities or friends houses, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping, that I don’t have time to connect with people that aren’t living under my roof as much as I would like to.  


* Acknowledge that you are lonely and try not to eat your loneliness away (it doesn’t work and you end up feeling worse – trust me… I am the master at eating feelings and whole bags of chips!).  Talk to other people about how you feeling.  They often have a brighter perspective and a good suggestion or two – they also don’t cause weight gain that can put you in a downward spiral.

* Make plans and actually do it no matter how tired you are.  Have something to look forward to (ensure that they are plans that friends or family won’t let you bail out on).

* Read great books (great means anything that you can lose yourself in).  A book doesn’t have boring commercials and you can get lost in it, escape from your own reality and forget about your own stresses and problems.  It can also give you some much needed quiet time and perspective.

* Look at the things that you are doing that trigger feelings of loneliness and see what you can cut out or do differently.  I had a family friend tell me that on days that she feels lonely she can’t sort out photos.  If you know this, don’t do it.  Wait for a time when you are in a better place.

* Think of things that make you happy and do one.  Be selfish.  Do something that brings you joy or happiness.  I find that I often feel lonely because I am too caught up in making everyone else happy and missing having someone around who puts me first.  Each week take a time out to put yourself first!

* Spend less time on Facebook and other social media sites and make real life connections with people.  While it is easier to connect via Facebook, it is so much more fun and rejuvinating to actually meet with someone in person.  I would challenge you to look at your Facebook account and then PM someone and make a plan to see them in person.

* Spend time actually tracking time of day, hours of sleep and your diet when you feel lonely.  These can impact how you are feeling and may be easier to adjust than you would think.

Lonely quote

None of the above suggestions will stop you from feeling lonely once and awhile but they can reduce the number and length of time!

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