Thursday, June 30, 2016

Banana Republic Size 14

Today I walked into the Banana Republic outlet and bought two pairs of pants size 14 because THEY FIT! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Well this is new....

For the first time ever I had to wear a belt. 

Current weight: 225.3
Date: April 2, 2016
Week 11
Weight Loss: 25 pounds

Journey is just beginning...

(I wrote this post on January 16th, right after my first Healthy Balance class.)

Today I am beginning a journey. I have taken this journey many times before. But I hope to not have to take this journey again in the future. I really hope that this is the time that I make the choice to change. 

I am overweight. I have struggled with my weight ever since puberty.  Food is my drug of choice. And I am addicted. Through and through. Addicted.  I think about food from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. When I wake up I think about breakfast. After breakfast I think about lunch. After lunch I need a snack. After snack I'm thinking what am I going to make for dinner. After dinner I'm thinking what am I going to have for dessert. Addicted.

Every other time that I have tried to lose weight I have done it with very little motivation other than the view in the mirror.  This time my motivation is strong. This time it is a selfish reason other than the view in the mirror. This time it is to be able to watch my boys grow up.  

This time there is also a motivation that is not selfish.  This time I cannot begin to imagine my boys not having their mother around. They would be devastated. And as much as I try to protect them from anything that could harm them, I cannot imagine the harm they would feel without their Mommy. I am doing this for them as well.

I am starting a healthy balance class at Kaiser.  It is similar to weight watchers in that there is a class you attend every week with the same people in it to help motivate each other. You weigh in at the beginning and then you have the class. I am attending the class with a coworker in the hopes that we can motivate each other at work as well. 

I am committed to making this change. I am committed to not focusing on the food. I am committed to not feeling like I am missing out on anything by not having dessert every minute. I am committed to doing this for me and for my boys. 

Starting weight : 250.36
Date: January 16, 2016
Week 0

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's All About the Cake!!

Let me start by saying that yes I have watched way too many cake decorating shows.  I have not taken a single class in cake decorating.  And I very clearly am far too confident in my very amateur cake decorating skills because as we approached our son's first birthday party almost 5 years ago, I had the brilliant idea to make his cake myself.  It was a long and arduous process that resulted in a 2 tier (3 layers in each tier) cake that took me all night to produce.  A year later you would think that I was smart enough to call Costco to order a full sheet cake.  But nooooooo, I decided again to make the cake myself and it has become a yearly tradition with the most recent cake being 4 tiers! (Holy wow!)

1st Birthday - Theme: Sesame Street
2nd Birthday - Theme: Toy Story
3rd Birthday - Theme: Thomas the Train
4th Birthday - Theme: Superhero
Are you impressed yet?  You really should be.  If you know me at all, then I know for sure you are impressed.  I don't even cook dinner most nights, so these cakes are monumental! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Calling All Superheroes!

As promised (yes, I know it was about a year ago) here are some details and pictures from the Superhero birthday party we had for our 4 year old last August. 

Our son only made two requests for his birthday party: 1. "I want a superhero birthday party." and 2. "I want a bouncy!"  Superheroes are HUGE in our house so it was a very easy decision to throw him a superhero party and a very easy theme to put together since he knows and likes just about every single superhero.  I mean seriously, my four year old can name every superhero, tell you their real name (Batman = Bruce Wayne), tell you if he wears a cape or not, etc. etc. etc.  And by the way, this has not changed as he is quickly approaching 5 years old. 

The Invitation
The invitation is important to me.  I don't do an evite; I much prefer an actual physical invitation mailed or handed out. It sets the tone for the whole party.  I searched Pinterest, Etsy, Ebay and several invitation websites before deciding on this awesome invitation from The Patty Cake Press. I wrestled at first with the fact that this invitation only had Batman on it but since Batman is my son's favorite superhero, we decided this was the best one.  (And let me just say that I loved working with The Patty Cake Press and recommend them!)


The Decorations
We have his party every year at one of the local parks.  This year we opted for the air conditioned room at the park which means a large room with tables that need centerpieces.  I printed out comic book covers on cardstock and glued them to bright colored gift bags filled with bright colored tissue paper.  And I hit the jackpot when I found at Michael's an entire selection of superhero coasters made of chipboard.  It was easy to stick a wood skewer into the center of the coaster and stick them coming out of the bags.

The Food
I am particularly proud of the snacks at the party, all of which were superhero themed. 

The whole food table with city background

Batman's Batarangs - my grandmother baked bat shaped sugar cookies that were DELICIOUS!

Captain America's Shields: Special Edition Oreo cookies with red and blue frosting

Penguin's Minions: gummy penguins

Wonder Woman's Lassos: licorice strings

Green Lantern Rings: green light up ring pops (I had everyone I know searching every store for these.  My grandma and Aunt saved the day when they found a jackpot of them at one store!)

Kryptonite: rock candy sticks (I had some white rock candy sticks already so I used green food coloring to "paint" them green.  Worked like a charm!)

Radioactive Spiders: gummy spiders that Mom found in Spiderman's colors - Awesome find!!

Green Goblin's Pumpkins: pumpkin shaped lollipops that had a green light-up stick.

Super Fruit Fuel: an awesome fruit bar - my grandma knocked it out of the park when she offered to bring "some fruit" for the party.

We also had Lays, Doritos and Sun Chips in coordinating bins with Superhero pictures glued on.

The Activities
As the kids arrived, we gave each one of them a superhero cape and mask to wear.  Each kid could spend the whole party dressed as a superhero.  I made the capes myself out of t-shirts and bought foam masks on Ebay. I spent every lunch break for about 2 weeks prior to the party ironing the hems and felt stars on the handmade capes.  (Supermom??)

Boy capes - black with a blue star

Girl capes - light pink with hot pink star

For weeks I spent every evening freezing my son's small superheroes and villains into blocks of ice.  We hid the blocks of ice all over the grassy hill outside the party room.  Then we gathered all the kids and told them that Mr. Freeze had frozen all the superheroes and villains.  It is their job to go find them to rescue them from the ice.  What fun!! (Suggestion: if you plan to do this activity, I recommend that you ask each kid to find and bring back one block of ice and then you give them a small prize or their party favor.  This is a way to track that each kid was able to find one block of ice.  We failed at this so some kids ran out and found multiple ice blocks, leaving some kids without.  So, we had to quickly take some of the ice back out to the hill for kids to find again.)

Mr. Freeze has frozen everyone in ice.  You need to go rescue them!

And off they go!
My mom found an awesome stand-up of a superhero lifting a car for the kids to use for a photo op.  Each kid took their turn poking their head through while we (and their parents) took pictures of them. 

We also had temporary tattoos of Superheroes for the kids.  My wonderful sister-in-law (who was very pregnant at the party!) sat and helped any of the kids who wanted to get a temporary tattoo. 

And of course there was the Superhero bouncy as requested!

The Cake
As you will see in an upcoming blog post, each year I work very hard on H's birthday cake.  It is a labor of love for sure!  This year I made the mistake of showing H some superhero cakes on Pinterest.  He immediately decided on a four tiered cake (YES - you read that right - 4 TIERS!) but quickly told me he didn't like the Spiderman tier.  He didn't want the Spiderman logo but instead wanted Spiderman's eyes.  It was my brilliant (note the sarcasm - not brilliant at all because it meant A LOT of extra work!) idea to make the layers of cake of each tier color coordinated to the superhero.  OY VEY!

This cake was EPIC!  And by far my biggest cake accomplishment yet!  (And for those of you superhero nerds, I didn't realize until after the party that I was missing a blue ring on Capt. America's shield.  Luckily my son didn't notice!)
This is a terrible picture and doesn't even show the top tier of Batman which was yellow and black but it is the only picture that shows the colors of the cake inside.  (Bottom tier: Capt. America - red and blue, 2nd tier: Spiderman - red and black, 3rd tier: Superman - red and yellow, top tier (not shown): Batman - black and yellow.)

My son, husband and I all wore Batman shirts.  And can I say that my family rocks - my parents wore Spiderman shirts and my brother and sister-in-law wore Superman shirts.  It was not planned for each group to wear a different superhero shirt.  We are just that awesome that it didn't have to be planned!!  I love them!! 

Me and my awesome hubby!

What a successful party!!  The kids all had a blast!  But more importantly, our son had a blast!!  And he even got a Batmobile as a present from my parents.

A "real" Batmobile - huge hit with the 4 year old for sure!!

When I asked our son last week what kind of party he wanted this year for his 5th birthday, he quickly answered "Superhero."  (He hasn't quite learned yet that his Mommy is crazy and crafty and desperately needs a new birthday party theme each year.)  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Me

Up until this point, I have used this blog to merely scribble some thoughts.  I don't share much about me and almost nothing about my family.  I don't completely trust the internet (despite my complete obsession with it) and I do not trust divulging too much information.  And I am sorry for that.

I recently read a list of "Do's and Don'ts" (how do you properly spell that??) of blogging.  The number 1 thing on the Do list was to share about yourself, share about your passions, share about your family.  And I cringed.

In an age that is so completely connected electronically, I cringe at the thought of sharing about my loved ones on a public forum.  I post pictures to Facebook, but vigorously set up privacy settings on my profile, whole albums, and even each individual picture.

But then tragedy strikes our nation and suddenly I feel an urge to share more to show the world, that I stand with them, not just as a fellow American, but as a fellow human.  I have a heart that aches with every tragedy and feel that sharing a piece of myself might help me work through the pain I feel with each news report.  And so, while I still will not post pictures on this public blog yet of my kid(s), I share a small piece of me with you.

Disneyland, Mickey ears, buckets of meat -- great birthday celebration!!

How old are you? -- 36 years old

What is your middle name? -- Elaine

Hair color? -- Brown (although I am guilty of changing that every now and then as witnessed by my blogger profile picture)

Eye color? -- Blue

Do you wear glasses/contacts? -- Yes, I wear glasses.  I do not like contacts.  I have not found a pair yet that I cannot feel every single time I blink.

Where did you grow up? -- Los Angeles, CA.  More specifically, the San Fernando Valley.

Have you lived anywhere besides your hometown? -- Nope, lived my whole life in Los Angeles.

Married? Dating? Single? -- Happily married for 6 years.

How did you meet your spouse/significant other? -- Online 16 years ago when there was really only AOL chat.  A very chance meeting that could not have been more meant to be.

Do you have kids? Want kids?  -- I have one boy aged 4 1/2 and another boy due May 30.  Ecstatic.

Favorite type of food? -- Italian (although admittedly I am not very picky - I also like Mexican, Mediterranean, Chinese, American, BBQ, etc.)

Do you drink? -- Rarely.  Don't overly enjoy the taste of most alcohols and alcohol generally makes me sleepy.  But, if I do drink I enjoy mixed or fruity drinks - margaritas, hurricanes, chocolate almond amore at Olive Garden (ummm....YUM!!)

Grilled or Fried? -- FRIED! No competition there!

What is your favorite meal of the day? -- Dessert.  Serious sweet tooth!

What is your favorite candy? -- LOVE dark chocolate, the higher the cacao the better!  But, if I had to pick a brand-name candy, I would have to say Snickers (chocolate, caramel, nuts....I am salivating!)

Favorite holiday? -- Fourth of July!! Relaxing day spent lounging with family and friends, yummy BBQ, ending with amazing fireworks celebrating this great nation!!  No shopping for gifts, no stress, just fun.

Favorite Season? -- Winter.  As an overweight person, I far more enjoy bundling up in tons of layers than baring all the blubber in shorts and tank-tops. Besides I do not live where I could get snowed in and start to hate winter.  My winters here consist of some rain and wind.  Pretty mild.

Favorite Movie? -- This is a tough one.  I have favorites in different genres.  RomCom: Fools Rush In, 50 First Dates, 13 Going on 30.  Drama: Pride and Prejudice (the newer one with Keira Knightley), The Godfather I and II, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Natural.  Adventure: National Treasure, Back to the Future (all of them!), Pirates of the Caribbean (again all of them!).  "Oldies": Some Like it Hot, Good Neighbor Sam.  Musicals: Now this one is by far the hardest for me - I LOVE MUSICALS! There are some that I do not like (South Pacific, Picnic) but I would have to say that they are my favorite type of movie and therefore most fall under my "favorites" category.  Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Kiss Me Kate, Gigi, Singin' in the Rain, Unsinkable Molly Brown, Grease, Thoroughly Modern Millie and so on and so on and so on...... And this doesn't even begin to mention Disney and Pixar movies.

What books are you reading?  -- Here is where most people will gasp with horror.  None.  I am not reading any books.  I know so many people who read one book after another and have a huge stack of "To Read" books but I am just not one of those people.  This doesn't mean that I don't ever read, or don't enjoy a good book, I just don't read constantly and find it hard to really get "into" a book.  Once I find one that peaks my interest, I read it every second possible until finishing, but I rarely find those books.

Favorite type of music? -- Country, Musical soundtracks (duh!)  But, I also listen to 80's, 90's, "Oldies", Gipsy Kings (LOVE!!), big band, crooners (Dean Martin!) and so much more!

Favorite Song? -- This is like asking about my favorite movie.  Definitely not just one.

What are you listening to right now? -- Pandora on shuffle. Stations include all of the above types of music.  Fun to listen to Garth Brooks, followed by Elvis, followed by Benny Goodman, followed by Rent.  Love it!

Favorite sport/team? -- LOS ANGELES KINGS!!


What did you want to be when you were a kid? -- Easy question. Teacher.  Still the same now.  If I could change professions right now, I would enter a classroom and never leave.  Working on it.

What do you do now for work? -- Fundraising Database Administration (sounds exciting, right??)

What is your favorite hobby? -- CRAFTING!!  I enjoy making presents for my son's teachers and classmates.  Scrapbooking!! (Although I am SOOOO behind!!  I have all of the supplies for my son's baby scrapbook and not a single page completed! UGH!)  I love crafting for my son's birthday parties - I can take a theme to the max for sure!!  And the mommy-made birthday cake can be quite epic. (Post coming soon of all the birthday cakes I have done so far.)  I really wish I had a good workspace that would allow me some room to work on these things little by little.  Right now it just gets spread out all over our coffee table or dining table - a bit inconvenient.

Do you like to travel by plane? -- I prefer road trips but I am not afraid of flying.  I am always willing to hop on a plane to go somewhere fun!

Where is the last place you visited? -- My husband and I were just talking about this.  We think the last place we went on vacation was our honeymoon 6 years ago.  However, we did visit Boston for my sister's college graduation which I think was after the honeymoon.  But, we are definitely due for our first family vacation with kids.

If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be? -- Road trip? San Diego with my boys.  That is one of my favorite cities and I would love a family vacay there to Legoland, the SD Zoo, Sea World, Seaport Village, Casa de Pico!  National flight? While I would love to go back to NYC and Chicago, I would have to say Seattle because I have never been but been wanting to.  International? Italy. Period. (I mean an entire vacation of pasta, tiramisu and gelato?? Ummm where do I sign up??)

What is the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome? -- Life is not easy, right? I am incredibly blessed, so my answers may seem trivial to some people.  1. School -- I was (ready to hate me?) an A student in all AP/Honors classes, destined for greatness in high school.  And then there was college.  Crash. Burn. Repeat. I have been working on my Bachelor's Degree on and off since the Fall of 1995.  I have no doubt (at all!) in my mind that I will complete it but it has been quite the process.  (That graduation will be quite emotional!)  2. Finances -- Hello, my name is Erika and I am an over-spender.  I like to shop (yes, I bargain hunt but even that adds up) and I like to eat out.  These two habits can be quite rough on a bank account.

Your proudest achievement? -- My son, hands down best thing I have ever done.  I am not a perfect person and far from being a perfect mom; but, I work very hard to make sure that I do right by him.  I am incredibly proud of that little boy and he is without a doubt the best and most important achievement of my life.

And there you have it.  A very slight glimpse of the crazy person behind Just Erika Speaking.

Yes, I like to barbeque in my Dopey hat.  Doesn't everyone?

(Originally written on 4/19/13, a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings.  Completed and posted today.  Life has a way of getting in the way of completing tasks, right?)

Friday, March 8, 2013

If I Were A Rich Woman

I haven't written a post in forever.  I know I don't really have many "followers" but I feel the need to apologize to the blogosphere anyway.

But, despite my lack of actual blogging recently, blog post thoughts swirl through my head on a regular basis and I am suddenly compelled to share with you some things that I have been crushing on.  Many of the bloggers that I follow do a weekly post about what they love recently.  I am not sure I could handle a weekly post of things I want but can't afford to have....depressing, no?

But, I am a shopper at heart and even though I cannot afford to buy a stick of gum right now, I still do a lot of online "window" shopping.  And these are just a few of the things that I am loving lately:

These gold, glittery serving utensils are so fabulous that I have actually been guilty of checking them out on the website at least once a week just hoping that they will be suddenly on clearance.  No luck yet!

I have been drooling over these Danielle earrings by Kendra Scott for a couple of years now.  I have a pair of replica earrings in turquoise that my mom bought for me that I adore (and get lots of compliments on) but they are not as large as the Danielle earrings.  Drooling!

How cool is this awesome soup bowl / sandwich plate from Uncommon Goods.  First, let me say that I LOVE Uncommon Goods.  Second, I just LOVE tomato soup and grilled cheese so when I saw this little setup I was SOLD!  But, in case I wasn't already sold on it, they had to show an alternate image of it being used for dessert with cake and ice cream.  Ummmm, now that is my kind of dessert - do you see how much ice cream is in that bowl?!  Yes, please!!

I have never really understood the concept of a paperweight.  I am sure that back in the days before central air when people had to keep their windows open in the summer to avoid suffocating from the heat, paperweights were important in case a breeze came through.  However, I do not live without central air in Southern California and my windows are almost never open.  So, a paperweight is a little bit unnecessary.  But, how cute is this pink LOVE paperweight??  This belongs on my bookshelf for sure!!

This face mug cracks me up!! Now it just needs to have an open mouth big enough to carry more than 2 cookies.  (Who only eats 2 cookies at a time?? NOT ME!  More like 10 - 15 at a time!)

My home is not complete until I can successfully make bowls out of brownies!! Every dessert would start with a brownie bowl!  But, I have some advice for the marketing crew that put together the picture above: less fruit, more ice cream and caramel! 

So, there you have it.  Only a few of the things that I could add to my "Wish List."  And as nice as all of these things are, and as happy as I would be to receive any of these, right now I am a little more focused on all the cool baby gear we need to get in the next few months.