life on the funny farm

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Repurposing for Reorganizing

I've been doing some reorganizing lately.

I've been kind of a crazy person going through my house room by room to empty, clean, toss, donate, and organize.

I should be done in roughly 12 years.

When I was working in the kitchen, I looked with new eyes at my old Hoosier cabinet. It had become a catch-all for everything that didn't have a proper home. It stored the pens, pencils, scrap paper, receipts, phone numbers, files, phone books, dog medicine, tooth fairy bags, you name it.

What would Martha say???

I decided it should be used for what is was designed for: a piece of kitchen furniture. So I took everything off the surface and out of its cabinets and drawers. I cleaned it. Then, instead of putting back the flotsam it had previously housed, I placed canisters of sugar and flour in the flour mill. In the upper cabinets I put all my spices.




Yes, Hershey's cocoa powder is a spice in my book.

It was a great place to put my cook books, so in they went, as well as table cloths in the drawers and oversized kitchen implements like grill forks and tongs.




I stood back, wiped my hands on my proverbial apron, and smiled. I was pleased.

But then I turned around and saw all the junk I had removed. Insert curse word of choice here.

I wanted a way to keep it all handy, and yet look nice. I started looking around. I found the old tool box I had picked up for about ten bucks to corral the charger cords by the sofa. It hadn't worked out as I had hoped, and it was sitting empty and forlorn, looking for a new job.

And I had one for it.

I went to the store and bought some larger mason jars. We have plenty of the smaller kind for drinking and other purposes, but I needed the next size up.

I arranged the jars in the toolbox and started filling them up.

Colored pencils, Sharpies, chalk, rulers and magnifying glasses, scissors, highlighters, pens and pencils. I even have a separate jar for unsharpened pencils in the back, so if someone picks up a pencil with no point, they can at least put it in that jar instead of back in with the good ones. The pencil sharpener is tucked in there, as well.




Along with the toolbox, there is also a phone charger caddy and the homework basket.  On the wall above is a year calendar and a dry erase/bulletin board for messages and to-do lists.  




In the cabinets below, I have a drawer organizer with paper clips, tape, glue, etc. There is space for the phone books, the receipts, loose pictures, photo albums, yearbooks, and lots of etc.






Happy sigh. I feel fresher. I feel lighter. I feel better.

And all I paid was a few dollars for the mason jars. Everything else was already on hand.

Sometimes you've just got to look around and think.








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Friday, August 30, 2013

Farm Friday. In a Wordless Wednesday Kind of Way.

One of my iddy bitty widdle biddle ducklings.





















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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

I went to my Weight Watcher's meeting last night.

I wasn't sure what to expect because, although I had been extremely active with cleaning/reorganizing/purging around the house, I had also eaten more than my fair share.

I hadn't gone crazy, but just off enough to start trembling as I stepped towards the scaly monster.

I held my breath....

Wait for it....

There is a God.

I lost 2 1/2 pounds this past week! That brings my total to 24 pounds, which is exactly where I wanted to be (I had set a goal for myself for 25 pounds off by the end of August, and I should be able to get another pound off by the time I flip the page on the proverbial calendar).

I know sometimes I fret over the amount lost each week. It's easy to get excited over 2 1/2 pounds, not so much for a 1/2 pound. 

But when I was waiting in line for my weigh-in, I glanced down at the log of my meetings. There's a column for the date, a column for the weight either lost or gained, and a column to put a plus or minus, for gain or loss. Since everything is arranged in the columns, it made it easy for me to see that each and every week, without fail, I had lost weight. Sometimes only a couple tenths of a pound, sometimes something more significant. But every week has been a loss, and I'm going to make it my business to let that be what I focus on.

Focus on a week, a day, on taking more steps and making healthy choices about what to eat.

One foot in front of the other....



Image source



For any of you also on the weight loss path, hope you're doing well. Let me know how things are going for you!

For anyone just joining in, you can read what I've written on this subject previously right here:


Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5



Till next week, happy weight loss!!


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Monday, August 26, 2013

Miley, Miley, Miley....

Turned on the computer earlier today to see everyone all in an uproar over Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMA awards last night.

I watched the video, I read some blogs and comments and tweets, I laughed at the Smith family's reactions.



Image source

And then I sat back and thought about it, and asked myself how I felt about the whole thing.

Being the Mom of three teenaged girls (girls who grew up on Hanna Montana), I found that, oddly enough, I wasn't all that bothered.

See, when my kids were three and four years old, they went through a potty stage. I'm not talking about potty training. I'm talking about anything that remotely relates to the potty is disproportionately funny and intriguing. And although I witnessed this firsthand in my own kids, this applies to every kid of that age group pretty much across the board. You Moms know what I'm talking about. For a good two or three years, everything relating to poop or pee or potties is just hilarious. If they see a pine cone? Poop. Apple juice? Pee. You get the picture.

I think young adults go through a similar phase, only sex (and being uninhibited in general) replaces poop and pee. Normally, these kids cut loose at college. I have a friend whose daughter, who was Catholic school educated K - 12 and a wonderful girl, broke both arms as a freshman while dancing on a table at a pub.

The pub was her stage. Her place to cut loose and go a little wild with no parent/teacher/priest watching over her shoulder.


For Miley? The world is her stage.




Image source

And for years, she has had no one watching over her shoulder, no one whispering a little guidance in her ear.

Even her song lyrics sound like a little child, don't they? "It's my party I can do what I want." With as many sexual (poop and pee) references as she can put in, because that's what is looming so large in her mind right now.

When my kids were going through the potty thing, I basically ignored them, knowing it was a phase that would pass.

So with Miley,  I say everyone just back off.  Don't give her the attention she is so desperately seeking.  She'll work through her phase and move on to more adult behavior soon enough.  I think she'll be with us for a while.  She's actually quite talented (in my opinion anyway).

And believe it or not, I kind of like her song.  I just put my fingers in my ears and go lalala for the drug references, and I burned my eyes out with a hot poker after watching the video. 

But you've gotta admit, it's a catchy little tune.


*********************


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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Farm Friday on a Sunday: Chicken Surgery

I was doing some barn chores yesterday.

In the course of events, I saw one of our little hens settin' off by herself, real quiet like.

So I picked her up, and noticed something looked off with her foot.

At first glance, I thought she had a bit of a manure ball stuck to her claw (it happens).

But, horror of horrors, I realized it was not a manure ball, but rather some baling twine that had gotten wrapped around her feet. And the baling twine had gotten all frayed and tight and tangled, and

HER TALON OR CLAW OR TOE OR WHATEVER WAS NEARLY AMPUTATED!!

I brought her in the house and called Daniel over. Nugget is, after all, his chicken.

I sent one of the kids to the pantry to get the surgery bin.

Doesn't everyone have a surgery bin in their closet?

I put a surgical drape in Daniel's lap and set Nugget down on it.

I cut the twine off from around her feet with some bandage scissors and reassessed her talon. It was dead, but still attached to her foot by a bit of live flesh.
I don't know, is that what you're supposed to call it, or did I just coin a new phrase?

So I got a scalpel out of a wrapper, had Daniel hold on to her pretty tight, and cut the talon off.

I. Cut. The. Talon. Off.

Where else can you read stuff like this?











Look at all that stinkin' blood. Is that not disgusting?







That is a TALON.

In my HAND.





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Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Bright Light Has Gone Out

When I was about 12 years old, we moved into a house in Surf City on Long Beach Island. While I lived there, I met a boy a few houses down from me by the name of Matt Bradley.

Matt and I were in Miss McNeil's class in 6th grade. When I walked in with my treasure map project, thinking I was the bomb, I soon had the wind taken out of my sails when I saw Matt's map. He could outdraw me without even trying.

I lived in that house for a couple of years, and Matt and I had lots of fun together. In the winters, we'd go ice skating on the Manahawkin Lake and sledding down the dunes.

By freshman year in high school, we moved to the next town over, and I didn't see Matt as much. But out of the blue a couple years later, he called me up to ask me to the junior prom.

He drove up in his crappy orange Gremlin, and we had our pictures taken out on my deck; him in his rented tux and me in my Gunne Sax knock-off. I felt like I was on the arm of a celebrity that night. I was with the coolest guy there.




Years passed. We hadn't been in touch since high school, when lo and behold, the dawn of Facebook was upon us, and old friends began to reconnect.

I learned that Matt was living in California. He had married, and was the proud father of three beautiful children. He was also a talented guitar player and gymnast, and his passions were as much a part of his life as were food, water, shelter. He lived life to the fullest, in every way possible.










Unbelievably, Matt died about a week ago.





Last night I attended a memorial service on the beach in Surf City where Matt and I used to swim and body surf. A group of his old friends stood in a circle, flowers and candles in our hands, bare feet in the sand. We shared remembrances, we cried, we hugged, we prayed.


We walked down into the ocean, and set our roses into the sea.









Goodbye, Matt. You will be loved and missed by many, many people.

God bless you and your family....



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

Unbelievable.

Just when you think customer service and business integrity are dead, the good people over at Fitbit go and do something like this.

I had been wearing my Fitbit faithfully, 24/7, since I had first taken it out of the package.

Loved. It.

It tracked my steps, my calories burned, my miles walked, my "very active" minutes and even my sleep patterns. It pitted me against a few other gals I had friended through the Fitbit community in a friendly competition which I found very motivating. It was the most useful weight loss tool I had ever encountered.

And then something terrible happened.

I was wearing it in the ocean, because I knew it to be waterproof and I wanted to track my activity while swimming and boogie boarding, and I hadn't seen any cautions against it. Two days in the ocean went fine. Third day was NOT the charm. I got hit hard with a big wave, and off it came. The surf was rougher that day, the water not so clear, and it was gone. My girls and I walked along trying to feel for it with our toes. I searched the beach thinking perhaps it would get washed ashore, but it was gone for good.

When I got back to the house we were staying at, I emailed Fitbit's customer service and explained what happened. I honestly didn't expect to get anywhere.

Much to my surprise, they emailed back the same day. Asked me for some particulars, and by the next day they were informing me they were replacing it for me. I should be receiving it any day now.

Fitbit ROCKS!



Anyway, back to the weight loss portion of this post, I didn't do quite so well at last night's meeting. Still a loss, but only a small one (0.6 pounds). Still, I guess even a small loss when on vacation is good, right? So now it's time to get back on track for a more sizable weight loss next week.

And if my Fitbit comes in soon? It'll be that much easier.





For any of you also on the weight loss path, hope you're doing well. Let me know how things are going for you!

For anyone just joining in, you can read what I've written on this subject previously right here:


Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4



Till next week, happy weight loss!!







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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

NaNonFiWriMo. Wha...?

I was recently featured in an article by Amanda Socci on Write Nonfiction in November. The focus of the article was to provide a writing prompt to profile bloggers, said bloggers including myself, Sam Kemp-Jackson, J.D. Bailey, and Jamie Meteer.



I was thrilled to be featured, and to be included with this group of highly talented bloggers. Reading the article was a very "Who, ME???" moment, and although it came out nearly a week ago while I was on vacation, I still feel a bit elated.

But enough about my elation, let me take a minute to answer Amanda's interview questions...





Holy cow, Amanda, I feel so honored that you've chosen me for this!

All I have to say is create opportunities, be sexy, ....

Oh wait, that was Ashton Kutcher's speech.

Never mind.

How about if I just answer your questions?



1) With so much going on in your life with your children and farm, it is surprising that you have time to write! How do you manage to squeeze in writing time?

I guess I consider writing what I do for fun and down time, so the question is really how I manage to find time for the children and the farm, because the writing is what I WANT to be doing.


(2) You write at length about adoption and medical issues in a way that is informative yet heartfelt. Would you consider yourself an inspirational writer? Why or why not?

No, not really. If people find my writing inspirational, wonderful, but I don't set out to inspire with what I write. I just write the stuff of my life.



(3) How did you get started hosting blog hops? What have you learned along the way?

I started participating in blog hops a while back and found that they were a wonderful source of traffic for my blog. When one of the hop hosts announced she was looking for a new co-host, I threw my hat in. In addition to co-hosting that one, I also "guest-hosted" a few others from time to time. Although I have since bowed out of co-hosting, I enjoyed my time doing it, although it was certainly a commitment in time and effort.



(4) Your blog posts are more than ready to be republished into a series of nonfiction books. Your style is lovely, intimate, and always endearing. Do you think people would enjoy reading about the adventures of your farm, your children, and your many witty life observations in a printed book format?

I'm flattered that you think so, Amanda! That is something worth considering, although that would have to go on the back burner for a spell. Since going back to work, it's been pretty hard keeping up with the writing. Queries and submissions have ground to a halt for me for now, and even the blogging itself has slowed substantially. Still, thanks for that vote of confidence!



(5) What is the overall goal you have for your blog? How do your children feel about you blogging personal details about your life experiences?

Hmmm, two questions in one number.  Tricky, Amanda, tricky! 
My short term goals for the blog would be to recommit to a schedule, which has fallen to the wayside recently due to work. The schedule is important to me because I know readers "tune in" for different reasons, such as farm, large family, adoption. Without keeping to a schedule, it's hard for me to deliver focused content in a consistent way. Long range, of course, I'd like to increase my followers and my page views, but mostly because it's nice to have an "impressive" number on the page when sending out query letters.
As far as my kids, they seem to find it pretty cool for the most part. We were recently recognized from the blog when we were away on vacation about 400 miles from home, and they felt like celebrities!


(6) You claim to write all over the place but yet, you manage to keep some sort of schedule. How do you reconcile these seemingly distinct left and right brain habits?

Because there is so much chaos in my life, I craves me some structure. I can't always get it at home, so I strive to get it in other places like my blog. And like I said above, it helps not only myself, but my readers, as well.


(7) You’ve been blogging for a long time but it seems that you really increased production in 2012. What changed for you in 2012? Did the popularity of your blog inspire you to write more or did something else push you to write more?

In April 2012 I took part in Robert Lee Brewer's Platform Challenge. It pushed me to learn new things and helped me to grow my readership. In querying agents, I learned that size really does matter, and they all wanted to see a bigger following. So I kicked things into overdrive with what I had learned in the challenge, and as a result I was able to quadruple my monthly page views. In addition, interacting more with my readers through comments and email spurred me to give the blog more and more attention. It has really become a part of me.


(8) How did you get to live on a farm? Were you raised in a farm setting? Did you marry into a farm lifestyle? Why do you consider your lifestyle to not be like those who live on “authentic farms”?

I was raised on the beach (Jersey shore), not a farm, but I have always had a bottomless love for animals of all kinds. When my husband and I moved into a rental on a small farm early in our marriage, I promptly plopped a horse in the pasture, and the floodgates were officially opened. Although at this point we have several dozen critters, I still don't consider myself an "authentic farmer" because I do not generate any income from farming. The horses are for riding (in theory), the goats are brush-cutters, the bunnies are for petting, the dogs and cats and the bird are all good-for-nothins. The chickens are the only ones who pull their weight, but they don't weigh very much, now, do they?


(9) Your style and voice are distinct and charming. Why would you allow others to write guest blog posts for a blog that is already rich with a voice that others like to read? Do you think that guest blog posts enhance or detract from your writing?

When writers approach me to ask if they can guest post, I generally say yes if the material is pertinent to what I think my readers would enjoy. I figure it helps the writer with traffic, it often boosts my numbers (particularly if it's something that "pins well"), and it provides my readers with an interesting article. Although it's not my "voice", I still consider these opportunities a win-win for everyone involved.


(10) Why is it so important for you to be considered a top blog in TopMommyBlogs? Does the title of “top blogger” fuel your writing? Do you feel some sort of validation from that title that you do not already receive from readers of your blog?

OK, it's shallow time. Top Mommy Blogs is a great source of traffic. Of course I love having a position somewhere on their first page, but regardless of my place on their pages, I generate a lot of new readers/followers from their site, so I really appreciate people taking the time to click to vote every day. But you're absolutely right, Amanda, I'm not really crazy about the moniker "Mommy Blogger. Why not just blogger? Still, of all the names I've been called in my life, I'm not going to put up too much of a fight over that one!





Thanks again, Amanda, for including me in this!!!!



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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sweet Sophie

The worst part of having a pet, by far, is saying goodbye.

We had to say goodbye to one of our most cherished pets last night.

To make matters worse, we were completely blindsided. We had just returned from vacation, and we were greeting all our dogs, when we realized our little Sophie Cakes was not among the horde. I sent someone outside to call her, and Daniel went into the Dining Room and Game Room to look for her.

He saw her lying next to the door in the Game Room, and thought she was asleep. He walked over to her, excited to say hello. He called her, and reached down to pet her and nudge her to wake, and realized she had died.

Needless to say, we were all traumatized, and what followed was much crying and questioning and hugging and comforting and more crying and more hugging and so much sadness.

Since we had someone coming over twice a day while we were away, and it didn't seem like she had been gone long, we think she had died earlier that day. By all appearances, she died in her sleep. There was no sign of struggle or trauma. Her belly was not enlarged and we saw no blood or evidence of anything out of the ordinary. Stroke? Aneurysm? Heart attack? We'll never know.

What we do know is that we are all left with an empty space that hurts.

We will miss her bat ears.

Her spins.

Her cuddliness.

Her couch potato ways.

Her silence.

Her big melty eyes that said so much.

Her trust in us.







For those of you not familiar with her story, you can read about her here.

But in a nutshell, we got her from the shelter about 5 1/2 years ago. We were told that they had tracked down her previous owners, but they didn't want her back because she was always running away. Well, judging by the scars all over her head, we think we had a pretty good understanding of why she ran away.

She took to each and every one of us right away, and was content to stay with us. She formed a strong bond with James, and went up to his room every night to sleep cuddled up next to him. Silent, and with a history of trauma, they had much in common.



I'm glad to know that the bulk of her life was happy, and that she was loved and cherished.

But we will miss her.



So, so much....

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fame. Yes, Fame.

I'm famous.

*Stretches. Examines fingernails in a bored manner.*

Yep. Famous.

That's right.

I was out at dinner last night with my family. Afterwards, a few of them wandered next door to the sweet shop for some ice cream (I, with my iron will, did not).

Fred came back to where we were sitting, looked at me and said, "OK freakazoid. You need to go in there."

I asked why.

He told me he and a couple of the kids were in the shop, and the woman asked him if his wife had a blog. Turns out she reads it all the time.

Might I remind you that we are currently 22,000 miles away from home (give or take) on vacation?

And yet I (or rather, my freckle-faced kid) was recognized.

Is that the coolest thing in the universe or what?!?!

Anyway, here is a shout-out to the good people at the Sweet Spot in Corolla, North Carolina in the Outer Banks.





Shakes so delicious my oldest is insisting we go back there again today.

But if we do, I'll have to bring my entourage so I'm not mobbed by folks seeking my autograph and a photo op.





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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

Last night was my Weight Watcher's Meeting, but I wasn't there because I'm away on vacation.

I'm not worried, though.

Even though I could be doing a lot better with what I eat (and what I drink *ahem*), I have been getting so much wonderful exercise.

"Wonderful exercise", you say?

Yes, wonderful exercise.

Each and every day I take an early morning walk on the beach, and each and every day I have gone swimming/boogie boarding, usually for what seems like hours, with my kids in the ocean.

I am in love with this kind of exercise. I don't feel like it is something I "have" to do or "should" do. It's simply something I "want" to do.




Why can't there be a beach in the PA countryside?





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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Day at the Beach

I'm on vacation.


I'm far, far away in the Outer Banks.


And this vacation could not have been better timed.


We found a wonderful house about three houses from the beach. It has enough beds to sleep all 13 of us (our family plus two bffs,  plus sister, brother-in-law and little nephew), and decks that overlook the ocean. The rooftop deck? Little piece of heaven right there.


We have been beach-sitting, boogie boarding, surfing, walking, bike-riding, card-playing, beach-driving, horse-watching, light-house-climbing, pancake-eating, and in general just having an amazing, beachy-good time.



































As I right this, I am sitting on the deck in an Adirondack rocker while a couple of the kids are cooking dinner. I have a glass of wine on the table next to me, the seabreeze in my salty hair, and the sound of the ocean soothing my soul.




I could get used to this....



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Saturday, August 10, 2013

How To Plan A Pirate Themed Birthday Party

Today I have a great guest post for you from Anne Legg, on the subject of planning a pirate-themed BD party.




How To Plan A Pirate Themed Birthday Party

Birthday parties are a fun and exciting event! But planning a birthday party can be a big undertaking. This article discusses how to plan a pirate themed birthday party in just a few simple steps. Hopefully these tips will help you plan your pirate party successfully and stress free.

Costumes

The best idea for a pirate themed birthday party is to include the idea of costumes. This can be done by asking your guests to dress up in pirate garb on their own. This will allow your guests the freedom of choosing their own costume or making one if they so desire. You might want to think about having a costume contest at the party as well. This is always a good idea to encourage participation, as some guests might not be inclined to dress up. However, offering a prize for the costume contest winner is always a motivator for participation, even if the prize is a small one. Having costumes at a party always aids in the fun and general atmosphere of the party. When guests have on pirate costumes, you can include games like talking like a pirate, etc. You could also purchase small items such as eye patches, bandanas, fake gold hoop earrings, and hook hands for the party and pass them out. This is an easy way for everyone to have costumes and not to require the guests to dress up. These also serve as great party favors for your pirate themed party as well.

Invitations

Make your own invitations that look like a treasure map, or pirate ship, or an eye patch, etc. You can also include an eye patch and bandana in the envelope with the invitation to follow the costume theme. That way everyone at least has something to wear to the party.

Treasure Hunt

A really fun activity for a pirate themed party is a treasure hunt. This is simple to do, as you can draw out a simple map with short clues as to where to go next. Include a clue at each stop on the map, which will lead to the treasure. At the treasure spot, place a treasure chest filled with candy or prizes and have each child choose a “treasure” from the treasure chest as a reward for finding the treasure.

Cake/Decorations


Complete your pirate themed party with a pirate themed cake and decorations. These things can be purchased at party supply stores or grocery stores. You can also choose to make your own decorations or cake with a pirate theme. Some great ideas for a pirate themed cake could include a treasure map, treasure chest with chocolate gold coins placed around, a pirate ship, etc. You could also make cupcakes and place pirate flags in the cupcakes to complete the theme.










About the Author

Anne Legg is a seasoned party planner and has planned many pirate themed birthday parties. She suggests checking out these pirate costumes for some ideas for your next party.




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Friday, August 9, 2013

Percy Jackson

Everyone change your plans for tonight.

You need to get yourselves to the movies.

Why, you ask???

To see Percy Jackson, Sea of Monsters, of course.

Why, you ask again?

To see my sister Mary Birdsong!

Mary plays a creepy-scary-ghoulish-cab driver from hell.

You can read what she has to say about the experience by going to her blog Big Mama's Honeymoon Underpants.

She has a video clip of her scene on there, too. You will NOT believe how six hours of make-up and prosthetics can transform my Bee-U-ti-ful little sister into something so ghastly.
(Mary is the one behind the wheel)


Image source


Check it out!


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

I had a good week!

Finally.

I lost another three pounds, for a total of just under 21 down.  I had hoped to have 25 pounds off by the end of August, so I think I'm still on target for that.


One thing that I think made a big difference was getting a Fitbit.   I got the Flex, and I love it.




Image source





Love. It.


It tracks my steps.

It tracks my sleep.

It tracks my blood pressure.

It tracks what I eat.





It's a little creepy, truth be told.

It's like wearing my own personal stalker on my wrist.



Seriously, though, it's fantastic.

It puts me in competition with myself. If I walked 5,000 steps yesterday, I'll want to walk 6,000 today. And 7,000 tomorrow.

See where I'm going here?

Yeah.

And every little bit helps.

Little bit.

Fitbit.





Anyway, for any of you also on the weight loss path, hope you're doing well. Let me know how things are going for you!

For anyone just joining in, you can read what I've written on this subject previously right here:


Week 1
Week 2
Week 3


Till next week, happy weight loss!!


*************

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