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Chewing Gum: A Dieter’s Best Friend

I’m battling the sagging middle.  And not just the one in my work-in-progress.  I’m talking about middle age and all the junk that goes with it.  Well, mostly the extra 15 pounds of junk clinging to my middle.  Where did it come from?  Strike that.  I know exactly where it came from.

I have a confession to make:  I’m a bit of a stress eater.  Okay, I’m a big stress eater.  Candy, cookies, cupcakes; you name it, I want it.  Especially when I’m writing.  While other writers spend their “mind breaks” (translation:  writer’s block) surfing the internet or stalking their old high school boyfriend via Facebook, I’m pulling out the mixer and baking up a batch of Toll House Cookies.  Not for me. Of course not.  I’ll send them to my son at college.

Public Disclaimer:  Before my son rat’s me out, I have sent him cookies this year.  Twice.  The others were of such an inferior quality that I had to get rid of them.  I’m just not saying how.

I do exercise.  But these last few months haven’t been that productive what with a hinky disc in my back and now the fiberglass claw I have to wear on my broken wrist.  I manage three miles in 40 minutes each day on the treadmill, but that hasn’t been enough to combat my hibernating metabolism.

So I’ve resorted to drastic measures:  I’m dieting.  Yes, I’ve returned to the land of weights, measures, and counting points.  Weight Watchers is effective.  And, a lot more fun now that I have an iPhone.  So far this month, I’ve lost 5 lbs.  Okay, it’s not really lost.  That five pounds is actually sitting on the candy aisle at my grocery store in the form of a five pound bag of M&M’s, but I’m resisting temptation.  So far.

And I owe it all to chewing gum.  Now while I write, I chomp on a big ol’ wad of gum.  Hey, at least my jaw is getting a workout.  And my dentist need not worry, it’s sugarless and the whitening kind.  Yeah, I know, pathetic, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

What’s your favorite snack when you write?

Is There An App For That?

Ahh, finally I’ve caught up to my children and am now the proud owner of a smart phone.  Santa was generous and brought me an iPhone for Christmas.  It looks really sleek and relevant in its purple, plastic case.  Now I can read my email messages wherever I am because, you know, my emails are of such an urgent nature that I need them in real time. (Not!)  I can also update my Facebook page with annoying—I mean entertaining—vignettes about my day.  With pictures, too, because my phone has an amazing camera.   Thanks to the Emoji app, I can decorate all my text messages with a variety of cute pictures because why shouldn’t my texts look like they we written by a teenage girl?

And that’s about it because, truth be told, I got a smart phone that’s smarter than me.  Seriously, it talks back.  What do I need that for?  I have teenagers!

I’ve loaded some apps on it, but not many.  When I enter the App Store (how funny does that sound?) I get a little overwhelmed with all the crazy and amazing things I can put at my fingertips.  I have dipped my toes in, picking up a few of the thousands of apps available.  My first one?  The Flashlight.  Now, if I have to change a flat tire in the dark, I have a light right there on my phone to do it by.  Of course, a better use of my phone might be to call AAA, but a gal’s gotta have options, right?

Since it was the New Year, the second app I loaded on my phone was the Weight Watcher’s app.  Yep, I live and die by the points.  Now that I think about it, though, a better app might be one that yells at me to “put down that chocolate!”  Is there an app for that?

Music is very important to my everyday existence, so I’ve had a lot of fun with iTunes and Slacker Radio.  My task for this week is to figure out how to load one of my existing songs to use as a ringtone.  Not as easy as it sounds.  If I’m lucky, my fourteen-year-old will take pity on her out-of-touch mother and help.

I haven’t loaded any games, yet.  No Angry Birds or Words With Friends or—the favorite in the Solheim house—Temple Run.  Okay, I did load Magic8Ball, but that was because Jill Shalvis makes mention of it in her latest release Head Over Heels.  It sounded fun, just like the book.

My son is addicted to FourSquare and I’ll probably load that one, too, if only to ensure he doesn’t become the mayor of our neighborhood!  I do like ShopSavvy, though.  How cool is it that you can compare prices of anything from you phone?

I’m sure there are a million things I can do with this wonderful little gadget.  I need a copy of iPhones for Dummies because a mother can only bear so many exasperated sighs and eye rolls from her children when asking for help.  With time, I’m sure I’ll be a pro.  But you know what the best thing about my iPhone is?  The one reason I consented that Santa could go over budget and get me one?  FaceTime.   Because when your child is lying in a hospital room three hours away, all you want to do is see his face.  Hopefully I’ll never have to use it for that, but just knowing I can makes me sleep better.  Isn’t technology great?

What are some of your favorite apps?

It’s Not Rocket Science…Or is It?

Phew! It’s over.  No, I’m not talking about the holiday season.  I’m referring to the 8th Grade Science Fair project.

I have a confession to make:  I don’t like school projects.  Yeah, I know, bad mom.  But seriously, these projects are meant for the child to do on their own.  Of course we all know that never happens.  Perhaps I should have done what several of my daughter’s friend’s parents do with school projects: just recycle one from an older sibling.  Sadly, my conscience is too queasy for that.

It started out well.  We—I decided to ride shotgun on the project selection lest she pick something too complicated—picked out a pretty easy experiment using cereal and other household items. I also put my foot down and told her “no groups”, thus eliminating the coordination of schedules of multiple teenage girls who can’t drive yet.  Off to a great start. (cue the ominous music)  The experiment involved grinding up breakfast cereal, adding a little water to it and putting it into a plastic bag.  Then, she’d skim a magnet over the bag to gather the iron, weigh the iron and compare it to the label on the box to determine if the label was accurate or not.  Simple, huh?  Bill Nye the Science Guy even had a You-tube video with the how-to’s.  Then comes experiment day.  Now, in the Solheim house, I get all the written or creative projects.  Dad gets all the messy, tactile ones.  That’s just the way it is.  (I should mention here that my husband’s involvement is risky because he’s a bit like Tim Allen’s Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor character and many of the projects end up being somewhat souped up pretty quickly.  Just ask our neighbors about the labyrinth of gutters that graced our backyards in preparation for the AP Physics boat races!)

The first step was to grind up the cereal in the food processor.  Tim—I mean Dad—insisted he needed “more power” to properly grind the cereal and our coffee grinder was quickly sacrificed.  Then came the little problem of the magnet.  It seemed the craft store magnet I’d purchased for a few dollars wasn’t strong enough—can you hear the chest pounding and grunting?  So, off to his contractor supply store he went for “more power” in a magnet.  Twenty dollars later, we have a magnet that must be kept at least fifty feet away from all the computers in the house and perhaps cell phones, too!

Okay, so six different kinds of cereals are ground and bagged: the iron has been dragged to one corner of the bag and it’s ready to be weighed.  Hold on! It seems my little Weight Watcher’s scale only weighs in grams and the iron needs to be measured in milligrams to correspond to the food label.  Holy snot!  Two pairs of eyes look accusingly at me.  And now you see why I hate school projects.  How is this my fault?  Shouldn’t she have checked this out for herself?  It’s her grade, after all.

No problem, we’ll just call a chemist friend to see if he might have a scale that weighs in milligrams.  The Science Fair Goddess is smiling down upon us because he does, but we have to wait until after the Packers school the Giants to use it (yes, we started at 4 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon).  We ask if we can just pick it up and use it here since we’re already set up, only to be told his scale retails for over $5,000 and it really shouldn’t be moved.  Panic sets in because any work done in a separate lab other than the student’s kitchen has to be pre-approved and “signed off” on in advance.  My daughter is hyperventilating at this point.  I just want the whole mess out of my kitchen so I can cook dinner!

Amazon to the rescue.  Fifty bucks later, I arranged for a scale calibrated in milligrams to be overnighted to our house.  I’ve also probably gotten myself on some DEA list because, really, who buys a scale in milligrams besides drug dealers?  Crisis averted.  And the best part:  I somehow was able to scurry off to Bunko while she and Dad redid the experiment a few nights later with the new scale.

At this point, it’s all over except for the big display board.  Of course, she waited until the final day of Christmas break to complete it.  It’s only due the day they get back!  But her board rocks.  Sadly, she doesn’t have much by way of creative skills—I have the test scores to prove it—but she does have her father’s Tool Man mentality: “Go big or go home!”  I doubt anyone else’s board has flashing lights and removable magnets. 🙂

And that’s how I spent my Christmas vacation.

What about you?  Any great school project stories out there?  I’d love to commiserate with you.

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