27 February 2009

(Mis)Adventures in Baking Bread, also known as that ^#%#@@!!! Breadmaker.

It has been a bit of a rough week around Casa de la Maison. BabyA has been sick with a cold, and not surprisingly, cranky as all get out. The good news is that she seems to be past the worst of it. There was much less snot and crankiness today, and she seems to be able to nurse again, thank GAWD. I seriously cannot say how thankful I am for a healthy baby.

In other news, my *&(*&%&^$$%^&#$!!!!!!!!!!! breadmaker. My mom purchased us a breadmaker last weekend, and I've have yet to get a normal loaf out of the damn thing. I wish I had taken pictures of each loaf as I went, but that didn't occur to me until it was too late, so this picture of my most recent loaf will have to scar your psyche stimulate your imaginations.

Note the caldera-like crater in the top of the loaf. This is due, I believe, to an overabundance of yeast in the recipe, which causes the bread to over-rise. And by over-rise, I mean rise so much that it pushes up the lid of the breadmaker like a whole-wheat balloon, punctures the loaf, and then collapses back in on itself, all while leaving a rim of bread flopping over the top of the pan which subsequently burns and leaves the top of the loaf a doughy, under-cooked mess. GRRRRRAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!

Seriously, I wish I could show you pictures of the first loaf of lovely Cracked Wheat Sandwich Loaf pushing up the lid of the breadmaker and leaking halfway down the sides of the f)(*(&%^$^%%^(^'n machine. (I think a picture of the look on my face when I came downstairs and discovered this state of affairs might afford you a few laughs, but I didn't get one of those either). This was the loaf where I used 1 1/2 x the called-for amount of yeast, on the advice of my mother, who said we live at a higher altitude, and therefore I would likely need more yeast, and her boss had baked a perfect loaf by doubling the amount of yeast called for. So I chalked that one up to too much yeast.

One the second loaf, I followed the recipe perfectly. And the result? Almost exactly the same as the first. Exploding dough? Check. Burnt crust? Check. Undercooked top? Check. Grrrarrrggg? Check.

For my third loaf, I used a whole wheat recipe from the internet, instead of from the instruction booklet. It was a smaller recipe, and used considerably less yeast, so I figured at most I'd have a too-small loaf. But no, I got ANOTHER perfect caldera-loaf.

Try number four was a white-bread loaf from the instruction booklet again. I figured maybe it was the flour I was using or something. I got a very pretty loaf of bread, tasty, nicely browned, AND AS DENSE AND HEAVY AS A GAWDDAMNED POUND CAKE. Seriously.

I know this picture looks all pretty, but my friend T actually gasped when I handed him a piece. It's ridiculous.

So this picture? Is try number five. This time again with the Cracked Wheat recipe from the instruction booklet, but with 1 3/4 tsp. yeast instead of the called-for 4 tsps. I'm talking less than HALF the amount the recipe says. But, as you can see, I've once again achieved a beautifully crusted, heavy as hell, caldera loaf. I think perhaps I purchased some kind of mutant over-achiever yeast or something, which is actually depressing, because by the time I've figured out this recipe, I will be out of yeast and may be right back at the beginning. I'm already running out of flour, powdered milk, and cracked wheat. Seriously.

I'm going to try this recipe one more time, this time with 1 1/2 tsps. of yeast, because I know that the dough only overexpanded close to the end of the cycle this time. I checked it with about 15 minutes left, and the dough was near the top but not touching it. So here goes. If I get a good loaf, I'll jump up and down for joy, have a celebratory drink, Twitter about it to all my followers, and blog about it asap. Come to think of it, I'll probably do the same if it fails again too. Ah, whatever. C'est la vie, or le pain, as the case may be.

24 February 2009

The Authoritative Allocation of a Scare Resource, or Hope Can Still Get Me Choked Up.

Heads up all - I'm about to talk politics here. But I promise to keep it short, if not simple*.

Here's the thing. I was watching President Obama's visit to Canada last week. There was a moment when he arrived on Parliament Hill, greeted PM Harper, and then went back outside and waved at the two thousand or so people who were waiting to see him. I'd been watching the coverage of 'This is where President Obama will land' and 'This is President Obama's motorcade' and 'This is the building where there's a room where President Obama will be meeting with so-and-so,' and was thinking "Geez, we are like 12-year-old girls with a crush on this guy." And then, just for a moment, when he made a point of greeting the people there to see him, I got a little choked up. I, the political cynic, got choked up at an American president waving at people. What is up with that??!!

I've been thinking about it, and I think I have an answer, or at least the beginning of one. Hold on, here comes the theory. One of the first things I learned in pol-sci (political science) class is that politics is all about the allocation of scarce resources - who gets what, and when, and how. It is also about power - who gets to make these decisions about allocation of resources. Now, we usually understand this in a formal way, ie. we vote someone into office, they make up the government, they makes the decisions on our behalf.

But this also happens in a much less formal way, through ideas and influence. For example, people start talking about the how the West kept getting screwed, and the West wanted in, and suddenly the Reform Party had decimated the Progressive Conservative party in Western Canada, the two merged into the Conservative Party, and now the Prime Minister is from Calgary. Trust me on this, ideas matter. But despite all this, people are more cynical than ever about politics and politicians, because whether the West is or is not 'in', things haven't really changed in Ottawa. In fact, there is less cooperation and more bickering and infighting than ever in our capital.

To go back to the idea of allocating resources, we all know that the more scarce a resource, the ore valuable it is. That's why gold is more valuable than say, steel. If you look at that in a political context, one of the most scarce, and therefore valuable resources is hope. We are all so cynical about politics and politicians that we don't even think about it anymore. We don't really expect politicians to keep their election promises, we don't even flinch when they talk about accountability, and we don't even bother watching Question Period, because watching all the posing and posturing just gets tiring. We don't even think anything else is possible anymore.

But Obama has changed this, not only for Americans, but for the rest of the world. His speeches about the audacity of hope made people believe that change in politics is actually possible. And what struck me in watching all the hoopla around his Canadian visit was the respect with which
he treated other people. Not just other politicians, but the press, and the general public. There was none of the usual attitude of 'I'm too important for this shit,' and man, was it refreshing.

Now, I'm not expecting Obama to be perfect. There will be changes and adjustments as he takes office. I would actually be worried if there were no revisions to policies, because, as former PM Mulroney said on The Hour the other night, being in office ain't the same as campaigning for it. Obama and his staff are in the midst of a monumental learning curve, and they have to have room to move. But it really heartened me to see the basic respect with which Obama treated the people around him, and I really think we could use a dose of that in Canadian politics. Respect, hope, and change have been in short supply, but that only makes them more valuable, not less. Here's hoping we can find someone on the Canadian political scene that can harness these scarce resources as well as Obama has, and give us a chance to say it - Yes, We Can. That, my friends, is something to get choked up about.

(*Apparently it's not short either. What can I say, I'm trying to wring every bit out of that mountain of student debt.)

22 February 2009

Not the soundtrack of the Oscars, but the Oscars as soundtrack.

You would think after 8 months with BabyA that I would've learned that one cannot pay close attention to Television Events and parent. Generally these days, I tend to catch bits and pieces of shows, but rarely an entire coherent narrative. So what in the hay-ell, you might ask, possessed me to think that I could watch the Oscars? While caring for sick baby, and making supper, and unpacking a new breadmaker, with the intention of making bread? That, my friends, is a most question.

Here's the thing - I love, love, love watching the Oscars. If I knew enough other people in this town who also loved the Oscars, I would host a party with those tiny little hors d'oeuvres and lots of alcohol and an Oscar pool. I would even host movie nights before the Oscars, just so we could all see the movies that have been nominated. I'm not sure why I love them so much, because I haven't usually seen all, or even most of the nominated movies. I usually end up just cheering for whatever I've seen. But I get a crazy kick of watching people dress up in ridiculously expensive and beautiful outfits and celebrate the wackiness that is Hollywood.

This year, I got to spend the evening with GeekDad who patiently sat through hours of boring entertainment stuff', and even gave me updates of what was happening while I unpacked groceries and made dinner.
"OK, now it's the best soundtrack. OK,. there's two songs from Slumdog, and one from Wall-E. OK, the one from Slumdog won."
All this while entertaining a slightly manic and sickly baby. The man is a gem, I tell you

I really didn't get to watch much of the Oscar broadcast at all - it was more like the they were soundtrack for my evening of doing other stuff. My overall impressions were lots of Hugh Jackman (which is NEVER a bad thing) and musicals (which is slightly more questionable). I think that the Oscar producers were/are trying to get back to an old-school dramatic feel, as opposed to the kind of cynical, self-reflexive comedy that they've gone with in recent years. Unfortunately, I didn't actually see enough of the broadcast to tell you whether or not it was successful. I came in about the time that Kunio Kato ended his acceptance speech for best animated short with "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto," and you know, I think that may have been the high point of the evening. By the time the big awards were on, BabyA had reached her limit, and we were off prepping her for bed.

Which brings me to what was the defining not for my weekend. BabyA's cold has reached that point where she is too stuffed up to breastfeed, and despite our best efforts at nasal hydration and homeopathic remedies, any attempts at feeding result in frustration on both our parts. I find it heart breaking, because I know she feels shitty, and I want nothing more than to comfort her, but everytime I try to cuddle her, she seems to become frustrated that I can't giver her what she wants. GeekDad actually rocked her to sleep for the first time tonight, which I'm ever so grateful for. I just wish it were under less stressful circumstances. All I can say is that I this had better not be a result of teething, because DAMN. This sick baby stuff is rough on all of us.

20 February 2009

How We Got to Here

So BabyA has contracted her first cold, and in addition to the endlessly runny nose and general clinginess, the worst symptom seems to be an inability to sleep at night. She'll go down for anywhere from 20 min to an hour, but then she's up and crying and snuffling and generally feeling miserable. Which leaves me feeling cranky and tired. This is, however, much better than the nasty flu which my nephew and neices have picked up. My youngest neice is two, and has had to visit the emergency room for an rehydration IV since she can't keep anything at all her stomach. I'm hoping BabyA hasn't picked this up, as we've been visiting with Seester and Junebug a fair bit. Fingers crossed.

On to other posting material. I've seen this relationship meme in various incarnations on Facebook and a number of websites, but I'm lifting this one from All & Sundry (Check her out - she rocks!!). I think it's kind of interesting, but I think it will be more interesting to revisit it a few years and see if any of my answers have changed.

What are your middle names?
Mine is Leah, his is Charles (same as his grandpa’s middle name).

How long have you been together?
8 1/2 years since we started dating, and a year and a half since we were married.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
We met in May of 2000, and started dating in July.

Who asked whom out?
He asked me out, the cheeky kid (he was 18 when we started dating). I was kind of taken aback with how forward he was, but also flattered.

How old are each of you?
He is 27, and I’m 33. I know, I know, but seriously, he was the one chasing me!

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Right now we probably see my Seester and her family the most. My brother lives in Calgary, about 8 hours from us, so we don’t see them as much as I’d like. GeekDad is an only child, but he has a step-siblings, who we see fairly regularly, as they live in GP like us. And his step-sister and her family have just moved here from Atlanta, so I’m really looking forward to meeting them.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
The period right after I had BabyA was pretty rough, what with me having a C-section, and GeekDad having mysterious chest pains, and neither of us having much in the way of sleep. Things have greatly improved since then, though.

Did you go to the same school?
The only school we’ve both attended is Grande Prairie Regional College. He did his business program there, and I did the first two years of my Bachelor’s degree there.

Are you from the same home town?
GeekDad was born and raised in Grande Prairie. I’ve lived all over Alberta, but insofar as I have a hometown, it would probably be GP. Both my parents live here, my grandparents lived here, and all of my family have lived here for a significant length of time.

Who is smarter?
I’ve got the academic credentials, but I don’t really think I’m any smarter than GeekDad. There isn’t anything I’ve studied that I can’t discuss and debate with him at home.

Who is the most sensitive?
Again, I’m not sure that one of us is more sensitive than the other. I definitely would say I’m the more tempermental one, and that this was magnified exponentially during my pregnancy. My hormones were all over the place, and I’d go from ecstatic to tearful to furious in literally about 3 seconds flat. We called them my MDK (Murder-Death-Kill) moments. It totally drove me crazy to be so out of control with my emotions, but GeekDad was incredibly patient and understanding. He’d just let me have my crying or yelling fit, wait for me to figure out I was acting nuts, and comfort me when I apologized through my tears. I really couldn’t have asked for a more understanding guy.

Where do you eat out most as a couple??
Eat out as a couple??!! BWAAAAHAAAHAAAHAAAA!! Seriously, we have an 8 month old baby. We went out for our first meal as a couple since we had BabyA for Valentines, and it was to the Keg. I think it could have been KFC and it would have been wonderful.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Vancouver, for our honeymoon. We’ve both been to New York since we’ve been together, but not as a couple. I went for work, and he went for school. We’d like to go together and visit Cindy and Junior and Sebastian, friends who live there.

Who has the craziest exes?
Neither of us, thank god.

Who has the worst temper?
Again, probably me, although in my defense I tend to get mad, yell, and the apologize for yelling and proceed to discussing whatever it is that is bothering me as a sane person.

Who does the cooking?
GeekDad can cook breakfast (bacon & eggs) and make decent sandwiches, but I’m the one who does the actually preparation of meals. The bonus here is that I love cooking. It’s a little bit of an escape for my brain, and there is nothing better than watching someone taste something you’ve cooked and see a look of delight spread across their face.

Who is the neat-freak?
That would definitely be GeekDad. He is the tidy one, the organizer, and I am of the whatever, leave-it-where-it-lies school. However, GeekDad’s neatness doesn’t necessarily translate into him cleaning up after me. Sigh.

Who is more stubborn?
I don’t really think either of us is that stubborn. We’re pretty good at discussing and compromising. However, I admit that once in a while I will get a bee in my bonnet about something, and be a general pain in the ass about it.

Who hogs the bed??
That would be BabyA. Before her, it was our cats. I guess we need to take ownership of our bed back.

Who wakes up earlier?
GeekDad, but mostly just because his work hours have started ealier than mine. On weekends, I’m usually up first. Not early, but first.

Where was your first date??
You know, neither of us can remember. When we got together, I were living 5 hours apart. The first weekend we got together we spent with our friends, and after that it wasn’t so much a date as spending whatever weekends we could together.

Who is more jealous?
I don’t think either of us is jealous. We certainly haven’t had any incidences where jealousy was an issue.

How long did it take to get serious?
Not very long at all. We started dating in July, and moved in together unofficially by December. This was due in large part to my moving back to GP when my father had a nervous breakdown. Not only did GeekDad stick around through that, but he was an incredible support to me and my family. After our relationship survived all of that crap, I knew we could make it really work.

Who eats more?
GeekDad probably eats more at meals, and I tend to be a snacker. Especially late at night. It’s a bad habit, and one that I am working on changing.

Who does the laundry?
Mostly me. I was going to say that this is because I don’t trust GeekDad to do my delicate stuff, but that isn’t really true. GeekDad tends to pull the “I don’t know what I’m doing. Isn’t it easier to just do it yourself?” card here, which is just malarky and he knows it. While I’m at home with BabyA, I’ve taken ownership of the household chores to a greater degree, but I think once I get back to work, we’re going to have to have a chat about this.

Who’s better with the computer?
I spend more time on the computer, and definitely more on the web. I have computer control issues, and watching other people computing drives me crazy. The itch to just do it myself is overwhelming. I think this comes from the same place as my impluse to finish other people’s sentances for them. I know it’s a bad habit, but I seem to have very little control over it. That said, GeekDad is definitely better with design and photoshop programs.

Who drives when you are together?
Normally that would be me – again with the control issues. GeekDad says I get too critical of what he’s doing, and it’s less stressful if I just drive. I am learning to change this, however, because with BabyA’s carseat, we have to move the passenger seat forward in our car, and GeekDad doesn’t fit (he’s 6’4”). And he’s probably the better driver anyway, just less assertive than I would like at times.

18 February 2009

I'm a little late, and a lot anti-valentine...

As everyone knows, this last weekend was Valentine's Day. Now I'm in a happy and healthy relationship, and have been for a number of years, but I'm still more of the school of anti-Valentine's parties and Valentine's sucks cards. One year I made anti-Valentine cookies with a friend - they were cookies decorated with broken and bleeding hearts and messages of hatred and gloom. It was one of my favorite Valentine's Days ever.

However, that sort of thing is less appropriate when one is happily married, so GeekDad and I celebrated our Valentine's with our first dinner out without BabyA. I've written here before about how much work it is to eat out with a Baby, but I really had forgotten how NICE it is to be able to eat an entire meal without handing out crackers and making funny faces and wiping mush from a little face. I love my daughter, but I REALLY enjoyed my meal out. This was the first time in a long time GeekDad and I were able to have a conversation, and not just talk, and I was reminded how lucky I am to be with someone who gets me.

Which brings me to the actual topic of this post. It's been on my mind quite a bit lately, probably because of all the Valentine's hoopla, and also a conversation I heard on CBC radio, and another I had with my Seester. We were talking last week about relationships, and marriage, and babies, and one of the things we discussed was how I found it very frustrating in the churches I attended was this annoying emphasis on finding THE RIGHT ONE. There's this whole movement where you are supposed to pray that God will bring the right person into your life, which I think is really problematic. First, I'm not a believer in the whole idea of soul-mates, which is really what THE RIGHT ONE means. I don't think there is one person with whom you are compatible. There are people with whom you are more compatible, and people with whom you are less so. But relationships, and marriage, if that's for you, is about finding one of those compatible people, and then working your ass off at becoming the RIGHT ONE for them.

Because relationships are work - a lot of work. You start with getting used to co-habitating with someone, with all those things that are fun, but also all those annoying habits, and differences in handling meals, and chores, and even in how you communicate. And then you add in all those stressful life events, like the death of loved ones, and moving to a new house or a new city, and losing a job, and finding a new one. Throw a kid or two into the mix, and things get even tougher. And you start to see how this person handles stress, and whether they remember to keep talking to you, and sometimes you talk to each other, and sometimes you just let each other rest, so you can actually handle talking to each other again. You get angry, you get frustrated, you get sad.

But you also work at finding ways to take care of this person, this partner. You learn when to make them talk, and when to just let them be, to sleep, or think, or get their mind to a different place. You think about ways to show them you love them, whether it's little or big. You find ways to make their family happy, because you know it makes them happy. And you talk and fight and make love and compromise and WORK. And if you're lucky, they do all those things for you too. And somewhere down the road, you discover that you haven't found the right one, you've become the right one, and this person has become your right one, because of all the work and love and talking and fighting and compromise.

I think this is why I'm not such a fan of Valentine's Day, because it seems more about infatuation than love. The gestures of Valentine's Day are nice, but they are peanuts beside all those things that really make a relationship work. And the truth is that you don't find a Valentine, you make one. Don't get me wrong, I totally get that even finding someone with whom you are compatible and who feels the same way about you is hard, and not really fun, and can absolutely suck alot of the time. But I think if people were allowing themselves to look for someone they could work at a relationship with, and not magically have a relationship with, it might be just a little bit easier.

I am so lucky, because my partner in geekdom, my GeekDad, knows from work. He does all of these things, the love and the talking and the work, for me, and inspires me to do these things for him. And I hope that with alot of work and a little luck and just buckets and buckets of love, we will continue to work at being the right one for each other. So I won't wish him or you a happy Vaalentine's Day. I'll say to my GeekDad - I love you, and thank you for everything. And I will wish all of you the joy of a labour of love!

12 February 2009

If I could freeze a moment in amber, this would be it.

Today's post is short, because things have been a little crazy around here again. But I just had to get this down somewhere. This morning, I babysat my youngest niece, LittleJ. It was fun - we made a hat out of Christmas ribbons, leftover scrapbooking stuff, and a paper plate. LittleJ kept BabyA endlessly amused simply by being herself, and we had great fun. After Seester picked up her daughter and left, BabyA and I laid down for a nap. And then Cat#1 decided he wanted under the covers, which he hardly ever does. And Cat#2 curled up at my feet. So I was lying in my bed with a baby snuggled into my chest, a cat snuggled into her feet, and a cat snuggled into mine. It was warm furry bliss. And if that doesn't qualify as a Grace in Small Things moment, I'm not sure what possibly could.

09 February 2009

Another week in my suburban avoidance scheme...

Sorry for the delay, folks. This was supposed to be posted yesterday but I was having issues with compatibility between the new firewall I downloaded and Blogger. Hopefully these are now resolved. This wasn't a (planned) part of my suburban avoidance scheme, really

So, it's time for another weekend update, because I've been slacking this week. Actually, I've been working on a scrapbook for BabyA, which one hand, I hesitate to mention, because scrapbooking just feels so suburban and bourgeois and just uncool. But, despite the fact that I try to be none of these things, I am assembling a scrapbook for BabyA's first year. And damned if I don't enjoy it. It requires at least a little creativity, and I really don't have enough creative outlets in my life right now. And it can be done in short spurts, which is a requirement for any activity I take on right now. And it doesn't aggravate my carpal tunnel, which is also important. So, I'm coming out as a scrapbooker. Deal with it.

In other news, my grandmother celebrated her 91st birthday on Sunday. 91. Wow. I really cannot fathom that. Because she has seen so many things, and the world has changed so much in that time, and I wish I could bottle even a fraction of her wisdom, for hoarding, and downing on those days when my child and my husband and especially my own special brand of insanity are driving me around the bend. But I can't, so for now I will simply enjoy the fact that she is still with us, and can share her beauty and kindness with us for another year. Happy birthday, Grandma!!

After our brunch, Seester (my lovely younger sister) and her family came over, and we hung out and played RockBand and ate lasagna and had a really nice evening. It was really quite wonderful, and I would like to state again that I feel very lucky to have such a great family. Just sayin'.

I was planning on posting photos of my grandma's birthday, but we forgot our camera at home, and took pictures on my mother's camera. Which she cannot locate the USB connector for. So its a no go. So I'm posting these instead. These are today's Grace in Small Things. Please to enjoy.

Regular Baby.

Cow-face Baby.

Delighted Baby. There you go.

01 February 2009

My Weekend Update, which is nowhere near as funny as Amy Poehler's.

This weekend was nice. Just, nice. Friday was dinner out with visiting relatives, which if you are a parent you realize generally goes like this:
1) Clear the table of anything Baby might grab that could injure her or result in a mess. This means clearing the table of EVERYTHING. Cutlery? Check. Water glass? Check. Beverage glass. Check. Napkin? Check.

2) Now that the table is empty, refill with Baby's toys, sippy cup, snack cup, saucer with food, baby spoon, wipes, bib, etc., until the damn table looks like your table at home, which means it is invisible under the BABY STUFF, OH GOD, THE BABY STUFF.

3) Spend the time while you are waiting for your food thinking how good Baby is being, and how nice it is too eat out.

4) Food arrives, and Baby suddenly loses patience and sanity, and MUST BE HELD NOW, not so she can enjoy being held, but so she can squirm like a worm on a hook, reach for all those things out of her reach and squeal at the top of her lungs when you don't give them to her. All of this you are doing with one hand, while trying to eat with the other hand

Actually, I have to admit, it wasn't really that bad. Both GeekDad and I got to visit with some of our family, and my cousin and his wife who were sitting across from us have a daughter only 7 months older than BabyA, so they were engaged in the same lovely ritual as us. It's just that I remember when going out for dinner was more relaxing and less exhausting, and I miss that, just a little. However, GeekDad and I have finagled Nana into babysitting for us for Valentine's Day, so we will be having our first dinner out unaccompanied by BabyA. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday involved a little lounging and a little shopping, and then dinner with some out-of-town friends and some in-town friends, and was generally a really good time. We started a game of Cranium (which is awesome, btw), and didn't realize that it was almost midnight by the time we left. That is the latest we've been out since BabyA was born, and it was kind of nice.

Sunday was dinner at the in-laws, which started with some visiting, and then moved onto some Wii, and finished with a lovely roast, so generally, a really nice day. I tried to remember to take pictures, but forgot mostly, as usual. I did however, get the following pics of Grandma teaching BabyA how to use a ride on toy, which she loved.

So, generally a good weekend. In other news, I saw my doctor this morning about the weight loss thing. She recommended something like Jenny Craig, which says is successful for alot of her patients. JC is not an option for me - for one thing, its freakin' expensive, and for another, the food is bland as shit, as my mother-in-law and her hubby can attest. I asked about Weight Watchers, which I've tried before with some success, and she said that it takes more patience, because of the food weighing and cooking, etc., but can work quite well. I think that's what I'm gonna go with. I'd rather cook my own food anyway. She also let me know that she can prescribe an appetite suppresant, but not until I'm finished breastfeeding, so I can keep it in mind for the future. I also need to work on a regular excercise plan, but I feel better just having made this first move. My biggest goal is to be healthy, so I can be a better example for my daughter, and this is a definate step in the right direction. Consider yourself warned, hamster wheel!!