Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It all started with a Cookie

*******Update on 8/29/2008*********
It has been about 5 days now and I have not lost my desire to eat meat. I saw a billboard for a steakhouse last night and I told Trey that the steak looked really good. It was a challenge to find something to eat at the Cowboys game last night (I really wanted a hot dog but I settled for nachos). By the way, Trey has also decided to support me by giving up red meat and just eating chicken, turkey or fish these next few weeks. Thanks for your comments and support! Steph

I bought a vegan cookie, a bag of goldfish crackers, and a bottle of water for Sophia and me to share before we got on the plane back to Dallas a few weeks ago. I know this is not the most nutritious meal but after missing the exit to the airport on the highway and getting through security with her car seat, a backpack and a two year old - we only had five minutes before we boarded the plane home and the Hudson News in the Lexington, KY airport was our only option.

I normally would not buy a huge cookie for Sophia (this one was 4 inches in diameter), but the label caught my attention as we were standing at the register. It was a brand of cookie that I had been trying to remember the name of for several years. When I lived in Lafayette, LA, I would buy vegan cookies at Smoothie King. After we moved to Dallas, I looked for the cookies in several stores but could not find them or remember the brand name. Alternative Baking Company. I saved the wrapper so I could look it up when I got home.

When I checked out their website, my main intention was to find some store locations in Dallas so I could buy more cookies. I eventually had to call the company for store locations, but I did click on several links on their website that contained information about vegan and vegetarian lifestyles (definitions below).

Vegetarian – Eats a diet of grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits with or without the use of dairy products and eggs and does not eat meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustaceans.

Vegan – Does not eat dairy, eggs, or ANY other animal product

A few months ago, I started making small changes in my lifestyle to have a more positive impact on the environment. Basically, I was “Going Green”. Trey has been supportive to a certain point, but he HATES the fact that I bought re-usable shopping bags to take to the grocery store. (Seriously, Trisha can back me up on this. He was appalled when I handed him the bags and asked him to buy them at the store). In addition to changes we have made in our home, I have also considered making changes in our diet. This would consist of substituting a few meals a week with “meat free” options for the environmental and health benefits. After reading the information on these websites, I am encouraged to take action. I am going to change my diet.

I know it is not going to be easy. I have been a meat eater my entire life. I enjoy the taste of burgers, steak, chicken, ham, bacon, etc. I did consider becoming a vegetarian in college but my cash-poor college student status was the main reason instead of a conscious choice to change my eating habits. Basically, I can’t say that my views about eating meat have changed overnight but they are evolving.

Mainly, I am curious and interested in learning more about eating meat-free. Would my health improve with a vegetarian diet? Would I be contributing to a healthier environment? How hard would it be cut meat out of my diet or follow a completely plant based lifestyle? Will I be able to eat out at a restaurant? Will I go crave a good steak or a piece of bacon? How long can I stick to this severe dietary change?

I have decided that I am up for the challenge. After much consideration, I am going to follow a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. This means that I can eat vegetables, fruits, grains, eggs, and dairy products. So basically anything except actual meat, chicken or fish. I am going to follow this diet for 21 days and keep track of the changes I see in my health. I am not asking anyone else to make this change or try to argue my point of view – this is a personal and individual decision I have made to eat meat-free. In case you were wondering, I am still feeding Trey and Sophia chicken, fish, sausage, and ground beef. However, I have learned that Sophia likes roasted red pepper hummus with her veggie sticks (I guess she thinks it looks like french fries and ketchup)!

As I am writing this, I am on day four of my 21 days. So far I have noticed that it just takes some planning (especially for lunch) but I am eating more fresh fruit and vegetables so far. I also found a new vegetarian restaurant that just opened near our house that will give me some new options to try over the next few weeks. But I still think a big, juicy steak sounds delicious!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pictures of Sophia at 2 years old!

A few weeks ago, we had Sophia's pictures taken for her second birthday. She had a meltdown during the photo shoot, so we had a reshoot last weekend. The picture at the top of my blog is one that we took last weekend. It is Sophia walking down the railroad tracks at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Here are a few more that I thought turned out great.

Here we are at the canals in Las Colinas...

Here is Sophia sharing a flower with her little lamb...

Here is a beautiful black and white shot of her (still no smile but she is sitting still)

Finally a big smile at the stockyards, while riding on the horse!

And one of my favorites from her tea party...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic hangover

I have an Olympics-watching hangover.

The first few days of the Olympics, I was visiting my family in West Virginia so I did not get the watch much of the television coverage. I missed out on the preliminary rounds of gymnastics and I did not see Michael Phelps win his first one or two gold medals. I guess this is why I felt the need to catch up on all the action when I got home on Monday (which was the third night of primetime Olympic action).

For the next seven days in a row, we stayed up until midnight watching the historic moments that were being made in Beijing. Men’s and women’s team finals in gymnastics, the incredible action in the pool with the US swimmers, more individual gymnastics, and even more gold medals being won in the pool. Each night we would sit in front of the TV, bodies tense from the anticipation of the outcome of a vault, a 4 x 100 relay, or parallel bar routine.

I. Am. Exhausted.

Thanks to MSN, I already knew the outcome of Nastia Lukin’s parallel bar routine yesterday morning so I did not even bother to turn on the TV last night to watch the Olympic coverage. I took a much needed break from the action and went to bed at 10:00 PM.

What about you, are you overwhelmed by all the Olympic coverage? Or are you watching every night like me?

In a way I am looking forward to the end of the Olympics games so I can get back to my normal routine and focus on what is really important. Like football. The NFL Season opener is only 16 days away!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Parking Garage Dilemma

I work in an office building with an underground parking garage. It is private, which means you must be an employee who works in the building to obtain access to the garage. When I began working here, I was given an access key/button to use at the entrance of the garage. Each morning, you must stop the car, roll down your window and touch your access key to the reader, which allows the arm of the gate to raise so you can enter the garage. Even better, if you have a toll tag in your car (which I do), you can register the number so all you have to do is pull up to the gate and it reads your toll tag so the gate opens automatically.

This has become such a convenience that I forget how difficult it is to use the access key. If the toll tag reader is not working, I have to stop and search for my access key. This means I usually start digging through my purse, drop my phone on the floor, spill my drink on the passenger seat, finally find the key, roll down the window, and touch the key to the reader. I try once. Twice. Nothing. Finally on the third try it works. In the meantime, five cars are now backed up behind me impatiently waiting to enter the garage.

Apparently this difficulty with the access gate was becoming more common for many of the employees in the building. Now each morning when you pull up to the gate, one of the two security guards for the building is standing next to the access card reader. If the toll tag reader fails, they will wait to see if you fumble for your key before they calmly step forward and press the button to raise the gate and allow you to enter. This helps keep the backup of cars entering the garage to a minimum. It also keeps my anxiety levels low so I do not delay everyone behind me.

Here is my real dilemma. The security guard that stands less than two feet from my car as I drive past each morning – am I supposed to acknowledge him each day? Most mornings my toll tag works and I don’t have to stop to search for my key. I slow down over the speed bump, drive past the security guy and head into the garage. Should I wave? Should I smile? Can he even see me smile as I pass by? Does he get tired of waving to dozens of people that drive past him each morning? Does he think I am rude or stuck up for not waving?

These do not appear to be naturally smiley men. Maybe they are just annoyed that they have to stand outside in their suits smelling fumes for an hour each morning. It is interesting to note that they do not show up to let us back in the garage at lunchtime. We are left to fend for ourselves by midday. Nope, mornings are the only dilemma for me. After much consideration, I have decided that I will only “smile back” if “smiled at”. And hope that they don’t think I’m stuck up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slacker Steph

I admit it.

I am a slacker.

It has been a few weeks since I have written, either on my blog or in my journal.

Excuses are easy. I’ve been busy, Sophia was sick, I was traveling, I have a lot to do at work, the Olympics keep my up late every night. Trey finally mentioned my blog today and I vowed to update it ASAP.

Over the past few weeks, there were several topics that I wanted to write about but I never took the time to update you about what is going on in the Suiresphere. Here is a quick rundown.

Three weeks ago, all three Suires braved the 100 degree heat to meet a photographer outside on a sunny Saturday evening by the canals in Las Colinas. Our plan was to take a new family portrait and then capture some cute pictures of Sophia as she was about to turn two years old. Brandi, a wonderful photographer here in Dallas, brought lots of cute girly props and I brought about 5 different outfits for Sophia to wear. We scheduled 1 ½ hours of time to capture some memorable moments on film. Forty-five minutes and four outfits later, we gave up. Not one smile was snapped by the camera, Sophia threw a tantrum and she shouted “NOOO!” anytime the camera was aimed in her direction. We tried stuffed animals, we set up a tea party, we put on fairy wings, and we tired on a tiara. I think we tried to hard. Hot and tired, we headed home with hopes of a re-shoot on a cooler day.

Two weeks ago was Sophia’s 2nd Birthday! After much discussion, Trey and I agreed to forgo the typical two year old birthday party. His parents were in town, so we all took Sophia to the Children's Museum that is part of the Museum of Nature & Science. SHE HAD A BLAST! I highly recommend the museum to anyone with children under the age of seven who live in the Dallas area. It is a hands-on experience with five different galleries full of interactive exhibits – all we did was chase her from one room to the next while she played and explored. After the museum, we headed to the Rainforest CafĂ© for lunch where we saw the elephants and monkeys come to life (approximately every 10 minutes while we where there). Later that evening she got to open her presents and eat her cake. I made a flowerpot cake with cookie flowers - it did not turn out as I planned but we all ate it anyway. The next day it fell apart. At least the cookies were cute.

Last week beginning on Tuesday, Sophia got sick with a stomach virus. Every day I would start to think that she was feeling better, then she would get sick again. By Friday, I was confident that she would be ok to go back to daycare. Her fever was gone but she still refused to drink any fluids. My worry and relief bounced back and forth as she would sometimes take a sip of water and reject it a minute later. More than once we considered taking her to the hospital for dehydration but I was not sure it was necessary. I sometimes doubt my mommy intuition but I felt that she was going to be ok, without the use of a hospital and needles. She lost a little weight and looks thinner. Over the weekend she was definitely low energy but now she is getting back to normal. I did enjoy the chance to hold her, hug her, and comfort her while she was sick - like I used to do every day when she was a baby. Now she is too busy playing and running around the house to stop for a hug.

Two weeks ago, I bought plane tickets for Sophia and me to fly back to WV to visit my family. However by Friday, I was not sure what to do about her illness. Confident that she had kept food down for over 36 hours, we got on the plane Saturday morning. It was the first time that she had her own seat on the plane, and I brought her car seat so I could strap her in during the flight. About 1/3 of the way through the flight she was ready to OUT. She asked to potty several times (because it got her out of the seat) but would tell me it was “all gone” once we where locked in that tiny bathroom in the back of the plane. Thank you God for the extra patience that you give potty training moms. We got to see the inside of the airplane bathroom 5 times this weekend for the sole purpose of washing our hands!

Our quick trip to WV was full of family time. We only get to visit once or twice a year, so we try to see as many people as we can. Baseball games, church, birthday celebrations, and Mama’s breakfast were how we spent our two days. Sophia really enjoyed playing with Allie and she chased Papa’s and Cindy’s cats all over the yard. She would sit down on the driveway and demanded the cats to get in her lap. Very cute to watch. Yesterday she asked for Grammy, Allie, and Jenny. Then she got quiet for a moment before she asked for Mama and Papa. She will never get to spend the night with them like I did as a child but I am glad that she understands and remembers who they are at this young age.

My last excuse for not updating my blog is the Olympics. We stay up each night to watch swimming and gymnastics and still have to get up early to go to work the next day. The men’s and women’s team finals were exciting (men) and heartbreaking (women) and I am excited to watch the women’s all around finals tonight. Maybe I can catch up on my sleep in September.

Check back soon for some new pictures of Sophia! Even though she will probably not be smiling in them.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My sick Sophia

Trey is at home with Sophia today, on her second day of being sick with a stomach virus. Yesterday was my day to stay at home to comfort her cries, clean up her messes, and watch cartoons all day long while lounging on the couch. Just last week I was amazed to see my little girl growing up and celebrating her 2nd birthday. Suddenly she seemed so small and helpless to me.

On the couch in the living room, I made a comfy bed of pillows and added Sophia’s baby dolls for company. I sat down beside her, she crawled in my lap and leaned against me while we watched Dora, Strawberry Shortcake and The Little Mermaid. A fever left her cheeks flushed and her eyes glassy. Her hair was frizzy from sweating in her sleep but I never bothered to chase her with a comb like I do most mornings.

If I got off the couch, Sophia would follow me. Her arms outstretched, she asked me to hold her and buried her face into my shoulder searching for comfort. She got quiet and clingy right before her tummy would turn and she cried right afterwards. Back on the couch, I rubbed her back and tummy and she fell asleep in my arms twice (something we have not experienced for over a year).

In the middle of our second sick night, I called the emergency nurse. I considered taking her to the ER (we feared she may be dehydrated) but I could not stand the thought of Sophia getting an IV. Instead I chose the option to wake her every ten minutes and make her drink teaspoons of liquid from a medicine syringe. She slept in our bed so we could hear if she got sick again. Once I got out of bed this morning, she asked to go potty (a good sign that she was not dehydrated) and my fears were eased slightly. She seemed to be feeling a little better, but we took her to the doctor to be sure.

Now she is back at home with her daddy and watching cartoons on the couch. If she continues to keep her fluids down, she can start to eat again this afternoon. Her sickness was bittersweet; it hurt me to see her in pain but I was holding my baby in my arms again. She is a little big for my lap now, her legs fall off my lap and her arms wrap all the way around my neck. I pray that she is feeling better and that she and Trey both get some rest today.
***Pic of Sophia getting a back rub (before she got sick)