Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vacation's Over!

Our vacation was good. We stayed at a Resort in Windsor, CA and visited San Francisco one day. We drove up Hwy 101 through the Red Woods and went to the Trees of Mystery. On Friday we landed in Medford and stayed with my brother and his wife and children until Sunday. It rained the entire time we were gone but it didn't keep us from having some fun.

I was super impressed with myself. I stayed on track with my food and worked out the entire time we were in California. I even shocked myself by watching everyone eat at Johnny Garlic's, Guy Fieri's restaurant, and then went back to the room and ate Taco Soup. The restaurant didn't have any nutrition information, which is unusual. I didn't want to risk it. I couldn't believe my strength.

Then on Friday, as we were driving back to Oregon, I let my hair down. I proceeded to eat what I wanted when I wanted for 4 days. My digestive track wasn't sure what to do. I was miserable and tired. I regret eating that way. I'm back to it though. My energy should be back to normal tomorrow or Friday. It usually takes about 3 days for my body to adjust after eating poorly. I'm nervous about weighing on Friday. It's that time of the month again so I'm not expecting a loss. Next Friday should rock!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Running in March in Central Oregon

After that last blog I thought we all could use a good laugh.  Last week, one day after work, I decided to go for a run.  I put my ear buds in, grabbed my dog and set off.  I was running at a good pace, the sun was shining and my body felt good.  I was starting to think I should run by myself all the time.  No pressure to keep up with anyone.  No pressure to make sure you don't look like a wimp.  Just out there enjoying nature.  After about a mile and a half, I heard, through the music in my ears, a swoosh.  I looked up and the big pine trees above me were swaying back and forth.  I looked to my left and there was a wall of snow headed straight for us.  Within seconds we were covered in snow.  I kept running and am sure there were times I was going no where.  The wind was blowing so fast and hard.  I felt like I was in the middle of a blizzard.  My dog looked up at me like what are we doing out here.  Don't you know I'm a house dog?!?  Once we got near the street I saw my husband pulling up in the car.  When I saw him I got mad!  Not that he had come to find me, that was very sweet, but that my perfect run was ruined!  I told him to take the dog I was finishing my run.  His eyes got very big and he said, "Are you sure?  Ya know, I wouldn't even run in this?"  I said, "I know, but I'm finishing."  Sometimes my stubborness doesn't work for me.  As he pulled away he rolled down the window of the car and yelled, "You know this is crazy."  I smiled and said, "Yes!"  The picture you see is what I looked like by the time I got home.  I think it took a half an hour for me to feel my face and hands again.  That's what I get for thinking I could go outside to run in March in Central Oregon.  Ha!
I think I’m finally at a place where I feel comfortable sharing with you, what’s been going on in my world since this past Thanksgiving. It’s been one of the hardest seasons of my life. I don’t like to share these kinds of things with others because it makes me feel very vulnerable. This is part of my healing process. It’s okay to let people see the hard stuff. Then they can see the amazing too.

For those of you that don’t know, Jason’s primary employer let him go in November of 2009. He was an outside salesperson to Plumbers and Excavators. The economy hit these professions so hard that Jason was having a hard time meeting the sales goals. Jason was also working a second job at the time. He ran a pizza route for Domino’s. The economy was also taking its toll on Domino’s. They had cut his hours back considerably. From our point of view it was starting to cost us money for Jason to work there. When Jason’s primary employer let him go, Jason asked Domino’s if they could give him more hours. They couldn’t so we felt he had to quit because we didn’t have the first income to cover any more vehicle expenses that may be incurred.

By December, after Jason was awarded unemployment benefits, he decided to go back to school. He enrolled in the Government’s TUI program. That stands for training unemployed individuals. Under this program, Jason could go to school full time, receive unemployment benefits and not have to look for work for two years. We felt like we were finally headed in the right direction. If you’ll allow me to brag, Jason’s been kickin’ it in school. He’s been on the Dean’s List and has not had lower than a 3.6 GPA the entire time. I’m so proud of him. Anyway. . .

In November of 2010 the Unemployment Department decided to suspend Jason’s unemployment for review because he had been on it for a year. We were told we would probably start receiving benefits again in about 3 weeks. It put a strain on us, but nothing we couldn’t handle. By January, we still hadn’t received benefits. We were told that they didn’t know Jason had quit Domino’s and Jason wasn’t allowed to quit a job, so we should have never received benefits. They needed us to prove that the job was costing us more than Jason was making before they could give us benefits again. We absolutely could prove it and did. However, we didn’t do it according to their calculations. In the end they decided Jason made $15/wk and so had no reason to quit working at Dominos. We were horrified and shocked.

Jason had told them he quit Dominos. We had even reported this on the weekly claim system online. To our surprise, their system wasn’t showing this. We asked about notes from Jason’s conversation with the fact finder back in November of 2009; the one he told he had quit Dominos. To our horror the fact finder didn’t put that in the notes. What?!?!?! How could this be?

Through this whole nightmare we found out that Jason could have continued working at Domino’s making $15/wk and still received the same amount of unemployment benefits that he was receiving. In fact, he could have been making as much as $88/wk before it would have affected the amount of unemployment he received. This was news to us. Why is this an issue then? Why should Jason not receive anything now because he quit a $15/wk job? I was baffled, but that wasn’t the end.

They denied Jason’s benefits back to November 2009. This meant that all the benefits he had received were now considered an overpayment. They sent us a bill for over $26,000. Of course we appealed, but it was found that Jason had disposable income and so had no reason to quit the job. The original denial was upheld.

After receiving the denial, we received a letter from an investigator. They were investigating Jason for Criminal Intent or Willfully Withholding. What?!?!?! Are you kidding me? We filled out their questionnaire and sent in a long letter with a timeline and explanation. We received a letter last week and the conclusion is that Jason “willfully withheld information in order to receive benefits.” He was disqualified from receiving benefits for 52 weeks and fined 15%. We now owe the State of Oregon over $30,000!

I know, you’re jaw is dropping. It is a nightmare and we’re not sure how we’re going to handle that kind of bill, but I want to tell you about the incredible kindness of people during this trial. People who know us and love us have been very gracious and extremely generous. Our landlord was incredibly understanding and gracious. Our rent and other bills were covered both months by gifts from friends and family. My sister offered us a place to live. We moved in with her the first of February. All 5 of us are living in the master bedroom, but even that has not been as bad as we had imagined it would be. I had several friends come over and work tirelessly with me to clean and get us moved. We couldn’t have made it through all of this without our family and friends.

The struggle to keep moving forward with this weight loss journey has been like climbing Mt. Everest. I have fought and clawed my way through the last several months. I am almost to the top and I’m feeling amazing. We still have no idea how we are going to pay the State of Oregon back. We have to keep it from turning into a Civil Action Lawsuit because Jason is pursuing a Law Enforcement career. He can’t have anything like this on his record. We are already concerned about the fact that they are saying he “willfully misrepresented.” It feels criminal that they can do this to us. We were honest through the whole thing and it doesn’t matter. We are holding our heads high and praying for continued provision and protection.

For every horrible thing that’s happened to us over the past year and a half something wonderful has happened. My faith has been shaken and restored many times. I can’t help but believe that God will help us with this one too. It is unjust, but from what I read in scripture and what I’ve experience so far in my life, these are the moments God shines. He has brought us peace when we shouldn’t have had any. He has put us on people’s hearts. He has comforted us. He has provided for us. He has helped us be creative. He has loved us. . . he still LOVES us.

Weigh Day!

Oops. . . I have a lot of catching up to do with this blog.  So much has happened over the past 2 weeks, but first things first.  Since I last posted a weigh day blog I have lost 5.5 lbs.  I now weigh 215.5.  Only 13 lbs to go until I can say I've lost 100 lbs!  Yeah! 

I purchased size 16 jeans yesterday.  That was super exciting!  That means I've dropped over 4 pant sizes since I started this journey.  Woohoo!  From here it's unchartered territory.  I haven't been smaller than a size 16 since my freshman year of high school.  It's so exciting.

We are going on vacation this week so I'm not sure how good I'll be at posting blogs.  I definitely won't be posting another weigh day blog for two weeks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Monday

Today I'm going to share Curtis Stone's (The Take Home Chef) recipe for

Pesto Glazed Chicken Breast w/ Spaghetti

Here are a few of my notes before you get started.  I buy Foster Farms chicken breasts from Costco in the Freezer section.  Since they are so large I fillet them whenever I cook with them.  By filleting them you get a 3 oz piece which is the perfect size.  I've also found they don't dry out as easily.  I do not make Pesto.  I purchase it from Costco.  It's delicious and saves a lot of time.  First I salt & pepper the chicken and then brown it.  Then I spoon approx. 2 tbsps of the pesto on the chicken and put the pan in the oven.  I've found the chicken to be more flavorful if you brown the chicken in the same pan you'll be baking it in.  I use Brown Rice spaghetti noodles from Trader Joes.  It is a delicious and healthy meal that my entire family loves!  Enjoy!

• Prep: 10 mins
• Cook: 20 mins
• Ready in: 30 mins


• 2 garlic cloves
• 1.5 bunches fresh basil leaves (about 1 1/2 cups lightly packed)
• 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
• 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt
• fresh ground black pepper
• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 9 ounces dried spaghetti
• 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley
• 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved for garnish
• 2 tablespoons torn basil leaves, for garnish

Cooking Instructions

To make the pesto: Using a Bump and Grind or another large mortar and pestle smash the garlic into a coarse puree. Add 1 1/2 bunches of basil and pound until it is coarsely chopped. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. Add 1/3 cup of pine nuts and smash to break them up.

Slowly mix in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper. Set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat tablespoon of oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper.

Cook the chicken breasts just until golden brown but not yet cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat.

Spread the pesto over the top of the chicken breasts.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, to prepare the pasta: Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking about 8 minutes. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

Whisk 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the reserved pasta cooking water to blend well. Add the spaghetti and parsley and toss to coat.

To serve: Using a two-pronged carving fork swirl some of the pasta around the fork. Slide the pasta off the fork and mound it in the center of a plate. Repeat for each serving.

Cut each chicken breast crosswise and on a slight diagonal into 4 slices.

Arrange the chicken slices alongside the spaghetti. Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup of pine nuts, shaved Parmesan cheese, and torn basil. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over and serve.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weigh Day!!

It is weigh day again. . . I worked really hard this week and saw a 2 lb weight loss. I’m really happy with that. I feel smaller this week so I know it was 2 lbs of fat. I now weigh 221. I’m so close to the teens I can taste them. My total weight loss so far is 81.5 lbs.  Only 71 to the finish line and 18.5 lbs until another picture. 

I started running again this week. On Tuesday afternoon I agreed to run/walk 4 miles. I was so nervous. I was sure I had lost all the ground I had gained. It turns out I was able to run 1.5 miles before I had to take a walking break for a minute or so. On Thursday I ran/walked 3 miles. I was able to run for 2 miles before I took a walking break. I kept up a 13 minute mile pace too. I was thrilled! It felt so good to be back out there. I know. . . I’m crazy, but I really missed it. Now you get to read about my running again. I won’t be doing the half marathon in Eugene on May 1st, but I’m sure there’s one I can do in the summer some time.

I love working toward a goal. Setting my mind to something and accomplishing it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I started doing Insanity with my sister last Saturday. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a 60 day extreme workout program and it’s INSANE!! I’ve never sweat like this in my life. I don’t think my heart rate has ever been this high, except for when I was having panic attacks. I’m not convinced it’s healthy, in fact tonight, I was sure I was going to need a doctor. I knew your face could get red from working out; I had no idea the rest of your body could turn red. That’s a new one for me. I’ll let you know how I progress. Today was day 5; I have 55 to go.

Here’s the link if you feel like going INSANE!