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  • Christine Shuck

Baby in House = Organizing Extravaganza


Just a few more weeks and our sweet little newborn foster son will be ready for daycare. He's growing fast and doing phenomenal. I expect he will be close to ten pounds when the home health nurse weighs him on Wednesday.

And while writing feels kind of impossible right now, other opportunities have presented themselves in spades.

Organizing, for one. I had nearly a year's worth of paperwork waiting to be filed! I've slowly gone through the piles and drifts of papers and other things stashed about my office and it feels so much better now.


Pictures, tons of pictures, waiting to be framed, waiting to be hung, also skulked in the corners and against walls and inside of cabinets. Sooo many pictures!

Hanging pictures isn't as simple as tapping a nail into the wall in my house. Not with 1899-era plaster walls. Instead, you have to figure out how to staple ribbon onto the backs of the frames and then hang them from the picture railing.


Last night we put on one of our favorite movies - Red - took over the pool table and got to work. The trio of cards I bought at Harrod's in London in 2020, the trio of Harry Potter book pages and art I bought near the Thames a day earlier, and a ton more are now hanging on the walls and sporting frames as they adorn bookshelves.

Several pieces went over to Cottage West, which has a bit of a travel theme going on over there.


Next on my list? The dreaded closet stuffed to the gills with arts and crafts supplies in the room that used to be the homeschool art room and is now our living room. It's easy to tackle a little bit at a time and also be there to scoop up His Majesty when he fusses.

Books I'm Reading (and highly recommend)

It was the show on Netflix - Maid - that compelled me to read the book. I'll admit, I was seriously triggered by the first two episodes of the show. And can I just say how rare it is to even use the word triggered? I think that these days, that is a word that is over-used. That said, there was no other way to describe my response to watching the Netflix series. I was obsessed. So much so, that I had to watch the rest of the series in just two days, bingeing it, and losing most of my sleep time in exchange.


The Netflix series was good, but the book was far better. It really put a light on what it was like - to be poor - to struggle, really struggle, and it was hard to read Stephanie Land's words and not remember how it felt. Our struggles were different, I ran my own cleaning business and I didn't have the physical ailments she did, I also didn't have to exist in sub-standard living conditions as much as she did.


But for those who have never had to struggle, to wonder whether you could manage to provide for yourself and another - financially, emotionally, and all alone - I think the book will be an eye-opener.


I added a small note to the book. Basically a "read this book" and set it on the large bookshelf in Cottage West. I have lived that life, and it changed me, irrevocably.


I'm also muddling my way through Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst. Every line I read makes me want to hug my foster son closer. At first, I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying that I was simply "caregiver" to him before I took back the power and deemed myself "mommy for now." Because, right now, that is exactly what he needs.


Fill the well with love, right? I've made it my mission to kiss him, hold him, and love him for as long of a time as we have together. Foster care is an often impermanent thing, one that cannot be predicted or counted upon. He might be with us for six weeks, six months, three years, or forever. And it is a rollercoaster ride filled with hairpin turns and stunning drops and rises. Through most of it we are welcome to sit in the corner and keep our mouths shut. It isn't the easiest way to go, but I'll take every moment I have with him and fill it with words, kisses and cuddles.


We have great one-sided conversations, he and I do, and he sits in my arms and stares up at me with such big, curious eyes. Babies are great listeners.


Vegas, Baby!

Four weeks from now I will be in Vegas for my second 20Booksto50k Conference. So exciting!


I keep looking at the huge roster of sessions and it feels not so dissimilar from the Scholastic Book Fair handouts we used to get in school. So many classes (or books), never enough time (or money). Thankfully, all sessions are recorded and I hope to learn a great deal there at the conference, and in the weeks and months to come.



Weight Loss Update

I've never been a dieter, and frankly, when my husband decided a couple of years ago to lose weight by eating just one meal a day, I thought he had lost his ever-loving mind. But he managed to lose a staggering 50 pounds in the course of around 6-9 months and has kept it off.


And after that, I got on the bandwagon... well, sort of. It took me a while to find my pace, about a year before I knuckled down and got serious. In March of this year, I weighed just under 220 pounds, according to my doctor's office scale. Not just that, but my A1C was 6.4 and creeping closer and closer to the official status of Type 2 diabetes. No bueno. I knew I was hurting my kidneys and liver, and my doctor had also recently put me on a statin to reduce my cholesterol. It was past time to get serious.


Today, I weigh 192 pounds, and I'm not done yet. Not by a long shot. I didn't do it through diet foods or exercise regimens - simply by these four actions:

  1. I began weighing myself every day. Same time, same circumstances. I'd get up in the morning, pee, strip all my clothes off, and stand on the scales. Then I'd write it down in my Lose It! app.

  2. I stuck to foods I could a) weigh, or b) I knew the caloric and carbohydrate contents of. I also kept most of my fluids intake to water, and only added sugar-free options to my coffee.

  3. I aimed for a 1,200 calorie a day diet. Sometimes I hit it, and sometimes I didn't.

  4. I practiced intermittent fasting - delaying my first meal until 11-noon and either eating just one large meal or two smaller ones. If I ate a lot for my first meal, then I ate steamed broccoli and sauteed onions for my 2nd meal of the day.

I don't make big goals. I don't plan a week or two ahead. I take every day as it comes and have the same goal each day - "Weigh less tomorrow. And if I can't weigh less, then weigh the same as yesterday."


Occasionally I get more specific, like this month for example is, "Get below 190 and stay there."


I don't obsess. I just stay aware. And that has made all of the difference in the world. For me, it will likely be a permanent daily task - to check my weight. Even when I'm at my target weight, which might take another year of watchful eating to accomplish. My current "ultimate" goal is 175, but I know that 155-160 would be a far better weight for me. And I'm willing to shoot for that, but not enough that I sacrifice my happiness or health trying to do it.


In any case, this weight didn't appear overnight. It took around 25 years of ignoring the scales to get to this point, so if it takes a few years to turn it around, so be it.


I hope my little tips and tricks can help you if you are also hoping to lose a few pounds. For me, it has really been important to keep it low-stress and I'm over the moon with the results so far. One day at a time!

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