Thursday, January 21, 2016

Italian Rotini Soup (Reduced carbs for diabetics)

The weather has been brutally cold throughout the midwest. Here in Saint Charles, when the windchill is factored in, the temps were colder than -20 degrees Fahrenheit this week. Yeah, winter is finally here. While I have been managing to eat a cold, green salad at lunch, I knew I wanted something hearty for dinner last night. Enter a new recipe I wanted to try: Lasagna Soup. 

We have some specific dietary needs at our house with Chuck's diabetes. When he met with the dietician, she recommended each of his five meals have no more than 50 carbohydrates each. He had been so careful about counting carbs ever since his diagnosis a few years ago, and then we got married last year. Now I will admit I'm a calorie counter from way back, but I've never had to count grams of carbohydrates. As a new bride, I wanted to show off my culinary skills to my handsome husband. Chuck was more than happy to sit down to my homemade meals of cornbread chili, biscuits and sausage gravy, and the Randomocity Spaghetti Bake. He seemed impressed, and happy with most of my recipes.

When he went for his semi-annual exam with his internist, she was neither impressed, nor happy, with his blood sugar levels. It was time to get back to counting carbs, measuring serving sizes, and adapting recipes. Did someone say ADAPTING RECIPES? Hey, that's one thing I know how to do!

We love lasagna for a hearty meal, but it has so many carbs because of the noodles and tomato products. I'd seen several recipes for Lasagna Soup online, and figured there were several things I could do to improve the carbohydrate situation. Use less pasta. Make sure the noodles are whole grain, which is higher in fiber, and reduces the net carbs. Increase the amount of meat and broth. Eliminate the sugar. Yes, there would need to be some adjustments, but these were do-able. Let the tweaking begin!

There were several tempting recipes online for lasagna soup helped me figure out how to adjust things to make it a little healthier for Chuck. Keep in mind that my PICKY EATER husband has become my BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER over the last year. We've come a long way, but...

There are still some guidelines he likes me to follow:

1. All veggies are to be diced or blended so finely so that there are no chunks of anything visible to the naked eye.

2. Italian marinara is to be traditional-style, and never should there be the words CHUNKY or MUSHROOMS in the title.

3. Rotini pasta is the only acceptable form of pasta, unless we're talking a baked lasagna, and then of course, lasagna noodles are utilized. 

So this week, we offer Randomocity's nearly original recipe: Italian Rotini Soup, featuring reduced carbs.



1 pound lean ground beef 
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
3 t. garlic, minced
1 (24 oz.) jar traditional Italian sauce
8-10 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons stevia
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 whole bay leaf (Why do I never have these on hand?) It's good without it, too!
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 c. whole grain rotini noodles
1 c. cottage cheese (I use fat-free to lessen the calorie count for me)

Optional cheese (add to bowls before serving):
shredded mozzarella cheese
freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, and add ground beef and sausage. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Drain excess fat.

Add marinara sauce, 6 cups chicken broth, tomato sauce, stevia, spices and rotini noodles. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until lasagna noodles are tender, stirring occasionally (approximately 20 minutes).

Discard bay leaf and stir in ricotta cheese, and 4 cups chicken broth, less, if you want the soup to be thicker.  Garnish individual servings with desired amount of cheeses.

Nutritional Info for Italian Rotini Soup: 327 calories, and 37 net carbs (calculated by My Fitness Pal's recipe calculator). One of the recipes for One Pot Lasagna Soup has 662 calories, and 110 grams of net carbs, according to the same recipe calculator.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 12.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 327
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9 g13 %
Saturated Fat 3 g14 %
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 35 mg12 %
Sodium 1389 mg58 %
Potassium 814 mg23 %
Total Carbohydrate 42 g14 %
Dietary Fiber 5 g18 %
Sugars 9 g
Protein 23 g46 %
Vitamin A7 %
Vitamin C44 %
Calcium17 %
Iron17 %

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Taming the Sweet Tooth

I know I'm not alone in confessing I have a sweet tooth. Does it seem odd to you that just yesterday I outlined my BATTLE PLAN on Randomocity for healthier eating for this year, and today I'm talking about my weakness for all things sweet? This is the very reason I HAVE to have a plan in place. The struggle is real, people.

I would like it duly noted that on this particular day at Chicago's French Market, I resisted temptation, and did
not even sample these beautiful macarons. They are on my bucket list, though. Of course, they are...

Yesterday, sitting around the kitchen table at a friend's home, several of us were talking about food. Most of us admitted that it's the sugary foods that tempt us most, and one friend said it's the salty stuff that appeals to her. The ladies were talking about New Year's resolutions. One said the longest she can last is about two days. There was good-natured laughter and camaraderie as we commiserated with each other about the temptation food holds for us. 

As LeeAnn was telling us about one of her friends who loves chocolate, she had a rapt audience. It seems this friend was on a very long flight to Korea. Before she had left, she had bought a one pound box of See's chocolates. Apparently, she ate one piece, which led to another, until, well, the inevitable happened, as far as I was concerned.

"Can you believe she ate the whole box before the plane landed?" LeeAnn asked. There were looks of disbelief, and wide-eyed stares as everyone considered this amazing feat. 

"Oh, I'd be so sick," one of our friends admitted. Not me; I totally understood how something like that could happen. I wasn't that impressed.

"Fourteen hours on an airplane, just sitting there?" I finally blurted. "I could eat a pound of chocolates easily!" I didn't volunteer how QUICKLY I thought I could devour the candy, but I'll confess to you, I don't think it would have taken me the duration of the flight for the box to contain nothing but wrappers!

My history with eating sweets has been chronicled here. I started young, with midnight snacks with my Dad, and being my mom's first suspect when there were MISSING COOKIES

MY WEAKNESS FOR ICE CREAM details how I managed to eat a half a gallon of ice cream during one 12 hour day. Tell me you've never done that. Never? Hm. Guess that's just me. 

Yeah, anyone reading my blog has probably figured out that I have a sweet tooth the size of Ohio. This year, rather than beating my tendency for sweets into submission, I'm going to admit my weakness, and limit my exposure to my trigger foods. When I do partake of my favorite temptations, I'm going to be INTENTIONAL about it, and savor the experience. I'm not trying to eradicate every grain of sugar from my diet, I'm simply attempting to TAME my sweet tooth. Maybe one day I'll be known as the Sweet Tooth Whisperer.

A girl can dream...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Battle Continues

Walking through Target last week, which happened to be just two weeks after Christmas, I was shocked to see all of the bikinis already on the racks. I had just passed packages of Easter candy, so I shouldn't have been so surprised, but I was. Bikinis? In January?

If all of the post-Christmas/New Year's ads for workout equipment and Slimfast didn't make us declare war on our New Year's resolutions, I'm thinking the thoughts of pouring ourselves into our swimsuits in a few months may be... inspirational. Or depressing. Take your pick.

In years past, I would have had a detailed battle plan for my war on weight, but this year, I'm sticking to the basics. It's less of a war, and more of a daily regimen to get this soldier in better shape. I will admit that I find myself recommitting to workout and healthier eating  goals now that the  holidays are over, not because of a weight loss resolution, per se, but because I know I stand a better chance of fitting into my jeans again without any major holiday or family celebrations for the six weeks following Christmas. I'm hoping these weeks will set the tone for the rest of the year.

A few months  ago, a friend  shared a 7-Minute Workout app on her Facebook page. (Click the link if you're interested. I'm not being paid to endorse their product. Just sharing here.) I've been using it, occasionally, but this week, I've been a little more diligent. It is harder than it sounds; don't laugh, but who can't devote seven minutes to building some muscle mass? I've been glad to have the app in my personal arsenal.

When I found myself face down in  the beige carpet of our  family room after attempting the prescribed planks, wall sits, and modified pushups, I just concentrated on stabilizing my breathing. My skin was "dewy" and flushed. 

Who am I  kidding? I was a  sweaty mess and exhausted. My drill sergeant would have been screaming at me. It's hard to  believe that just a brief decade ago, I was a gym rat, lifting weights and running four miles several days a week. Look at me now. "Pushing" myself to last a whole seven minutes of calisthenics, and feeling proud if I get through 30 minutes of moderate cardio on our stationary bike; I call those good days. Go, me.

Weight Watchers proclaims this is The Year of Our Best Bodies, with Oprah as their poster child, saying 2016 will be the year of her best body yet. Well, here's hoping, Oprah. And yes, you and I both know it takes more than hope. So I've been making a more concerted effort to improve my own health, avoiding my trigger foods and working out more days than not.

Like Oprah, I've been up and down the scales all of my adult life. My body just seems pretty happy where it is these days; it's hard to convince it we don't need so much sugar, and we need to move a lot more. The battle continues, but this soldier is kinder to herself these days. No self-flagellation when I do indulge. No hard and fast rules that make it difficult to be successful. No obsessive weighing. No forcing myself to commit to eliminating certain foods from my diet. Adopting a common sense approach of eating more nutritious foods, and less junk, and moving more is my battle plan. I'm less of a warrior these days, and more of a good little soldier.

These days, I'm just trying to avoid my trigger foods most of the week, and allowing myself to indulge in something during the weekend. I'm working on limiting myself to one or two servings of a favorite treat, but it's hard because I LOVE COOKIES AND ICE CREAM. And I've set the goal to work out at least six days a week. 

I'm trying to be flexible about exercising, too. Like when we went to LAKE GENEVA for our anniversary last weekend, I didn't utilize the hotel's gym, but I declared my goal met when my Fitbit buzzed on my wrist letting me know it was time to celebrate walking 10,000 steps that day. (Yay for walks in the snow!)

So this year, no more declaring war on my body. It's been a good body. I've made peace with these curves, and no longer require strict boot camp regimens to whip myself back into shape. I'm just going to plod along, and try to do better. That seems like a better way for me to win the Battle of the Bulge. I'm determined to like myself along the way, and be kinder to myself when the inevitable setbacks occur. I'll just dust myself off, and keep going. 2016 is my year to SOLDIER ON, and if I end up with my best body ever, well, that would be just great.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter Afternoon (Poem)

Just beyond 
the poinsettia,
outside the 
window pane,
a winter scene's
The snow 
has come again.

Fluffy little 
flakes of snow,
through the air,
like softest
goose down feathers;
the limbs,
no longer bare. 

Inside I'm warm
and cozy.
It's time to 
steep some tea.
I have a show
outside my window
winter's making 
just for me.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Please Don't Hate Me for Not Hating Snow

Look at this forecast! There's a 60% chance of snow today, and a NINETY percent chance of snow on Friday. Let me put it to you
another way. There is a decent chance I'm going to get to try my new sled out today, and there is a REALLY good chance I'm going to get to go sledding on Friday. Can you understand my excitement?

I know; I know. Some of you hate snow. Some of you hate me for for not hating snow. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't always loved snow. 

As a child, I hated being cold and wet, and in the sixties, there was no Goretex; there were no waterproof, insulated snow boots, at least not at our house. I hated when Mom made me stuff my feet into plastic bread bags before cramming my feet into those cheap, plastic snow boots with the elastic/button closure. It seems I always came back in with frozen, wet feet anyway; I didn't really see the point.

When I ended up going to college in Utah in the eighties, I dreaded walking to class in the snow. Utah doesn't do snow days. Oh, there is plenty of the white stuff there, they just don't cancel school when it snows, whether there is a skiff or three feet of it. The show must go on for school kids and college kids. And thanks to the snow plows from the Utah Department of Transportation, it does.

I finally made peace with the snow around 1983, when I was introduced to cross-country skiing, and Goretex, and insulated boots, coats, and gloves. What a difference the right gear can make in an attitude. I had so much fun in the snow, I totally forgot how uncomfortable winter used to feel.

Having children made me love snowy days even more. I know; there's the bundling, and the de-bundling, and the hanging all the wet clothes up to dry, and the tracking in, and all that. But there is so much more good stuff to enjoy with littles: sledding, and snowballs, and snowmen, and when the wet mittens are hanging to dry, there's the hot cocoa.

About a decade ago, my kids and I kicked up our winter activity level a notch by discovering the fun to be had at the ski resorts. Dylan was snowboarding, and I took SKIING LESSONS with my younger two at Brian Head. While Sierra seemed to be a natural, and the other skiers in our class called her Suzy Chapstick, she never got bitten by the downhill bug. But Bridger and I loved it. He went on to become a snowboarder, and I eventually attained (beginning) intermediate status as a skier.

When I talk to Chuck about those days, I can't help but get teary. I miss skiing so much. 

Chuck understands my love of snow, and all things winter, and planned an anniversary getaway to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin this last weekend. We returned to the Mill Creek Inn, the place of our honeymoon. There was snow in the forecast, so I kept my fingers crossed all day Saturday.
Photo credit: Mill Creek Hotel

Friday night we recalled our favorite memories, the remarkable moments of our first year together. We set an intention to have many more remarkable moments this second year, and even though we know it will be challenge, we will try to make 2016 even better than last year.

The weekend was everything we had wanted it to be: relaxing and romantic. Saturday afternoon, we had declared it a "pajama day," which in Bennorth vernacular means we would retire for the day to our room, and would lounge about in our comfiest clothes, and just be lazy. Our plan was going swimmingly until about 4 P.M., when I saw the snow falling outside our window.

"I know we declared it a pajama day, but would you be willing to make this a REMARKABLE day, and go with me for a walk in the snow?" I asked my husband who was just finishing the last bite of his chicken parmesan in our kitchenette.

My husband is the trouperiest! Without a moment's hesitation, he was on board with the change in plans. We bundled up, and headed out into the swirling flakes. Our mittened hands were clasped together as we tromped through the snow around the shore of Lake Geneva. We took selfies, and laughed, and talked. Kissing my husband in the falling flakes; it just doesn't get much better than that. 

All of my anniversary weekend dreams came true: we had a relaxing, romantic getaway, and it snowed! Our weekend was great; the snow made it even better. 

Call me crazy, but I think a good winter has lots of snow. Here's hoping the forecast for Chicagoland builds some momentum as we head toward the weekend!

If you don't HATE snow or skiing, or perhaps you just enjoy the misadventures of klutzes in the snow, you might enjoy some of these stories from the archives:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Getting My Groove Back

Back when I was teaching, and my kids were all still at home, I would wake up at 4:30, work out, shower, fix breakfast for the kids, and get us all to school. My routine was set, and I knew just how long everything would take me to get to work on time. My afternoons were jam-packed with phone calls, meetings, appointments, and chauffeuring kids, when needed. My job necessitated that I have routines in place so our schedules worked smoothly. 

Since retiring this second time, though, I've had a harder time finding my groove for a morning routine. Often I am awake by 3, back to bed, if I'm lucky, and then up with Chuck at 4:45. There are certain things I can count on; breakfast with Chuck, a little time on the couch together before he heads to work, and chatting on the phone during his 80 minute commute. It's the time I have to myself I've had difficulty managing. I couldn't quite put my finger on why, until this week. I finally figured out I HAD A PROBLEM WITH MY PHONE.

It used to be when I woke up, whether that was at 3 or 4:45, I generally grabbed my phone first thing, checked Facebook, and then the scrolling would begin. I would head downstairs to start my coffee, and grab my laptop, so I could see things a little easier. I would sit on the couch, mindlessly plowing through the many posts on Facebook. When Chuck woke up, I'd set things aside to spend time with him, and we would chat on the phone during his commute to work, and then I'd head back to the couch, assume the position, and get lost in the "time suck" of Facebook. 

You've probably heard the ROCKS IN THE JAR (time management) analogy shared by Steven Covey. If you put the big rocks (priorities) in first, then the progressively smaller ones, you can fill every nook and cranny with sand, but if you start with sand, the bigger pieces won't fit in. 

I'd been starting each day with the sand, so to speak, and neglecting my big rocks until later in the day. Once I realized how much more productive I could be by tackling my big rocks first, I started limiting my time online. What a difference it has made. 
On fire, I am. 

We all have our priorities. Yours are probably quite different from mine, but we all have tasks we would like to accomplish on any given day. Mine are becoming part of my routine, although they are still not done in any particular order. Each morning, I set an intention, one word which provides an overriding thought throughout the day; a touchstone to which I return often, checking in with myself to see how I'm doing. I've chosen words like: love, gratitude, service, self-control. I make time to read from the New Testament, and to pray. I make a list of tasks for the day which I need to get done. And I've been exercising. I do a quick seven-minute workout app on my phone that is a killer, but I know that planks, sit ups, and push ups are going to help me tone my muscles. And as much as I hate exercising indoors, I have decided to ride our exercise bike while I talk to Chuck on his commute to work, to help me pass the time. It's so dark and cold this time of year in the early morning hours, so this is my compromise to make sure I get in a workout.

I'm voraciously reading Debbie Ford's book, The Best Year of Your Life. The Kindle version was only $1.99 on Amazon, so the cheapskate in me was thrilled, and the intentional living part of me was ecstatic. As a fan of Debbie Ford, I am enjoying her positivity and good suggestions for setting goals and accomplishing them to make this the best year of my life. It's going to be hard to top 2015, but I'm going to try!

All of these wonderful resources seem to be falling in my lap from all sorts of places. Once I set my word for this year, INTENTIONAL, I have been drawn to inspiring quotes and scriptures, and great books. I've been printing off goal-setting sheets, and week-at-a-glance printables like crazy. Synchronicity is at play in my life once again. I love that right now I seem to be a magnet for intentional living inspiration. 

For me, routine is less about the ORDER in which things are done, and simply that the things are DONE. Early. Right away. After waking up. Before the day gets away from me.

In case you're wondering, I haven't totally given up Facebook, but I've been waiting until most of my tasks are done, or until about eight in the morning to take a peek. I've been spending about 20 minutes checking in with friends, sending birthday and get well greetings, and then I just pop in periodically throughout the day. I'm spending so much more time being productive, and reward myself with quick breaks on the internet in between my tasks. 

When Chuck checked in with me mid-morning on Tuesday, I told him I was enjoying a break on Facebook with my second cuppa, "my guilty pleasures."

"Nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure," he said.

With my husband's stamp of approval, maybe it's not as guilty a pleasure as I thought. Social media will still be a part of my morning routine, but it will be just be a filler like sand, and not a priority. Looks like I'm on my way to getting my groove back.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I Am Drawn to My Phone Like a Moth to a Flame

During the sermon last Sunday, our pastor was talking about idolatry, and asked what it is we worship. Chuck poked me with his finger, and I returned his smile, because I worship him, too, in a sense. I pointed my finger back at him, and then directed my attention to the front of the church. 

What is it that we put before our God, we were asked. What gets our attention? What occupies our thoughts and time? 

Well, that made me squirm for a moment. I knew what it was, but certainly wasn't quite ready to admit it to myself, or anyone else. This thought has been nibbling at my conscience for awhile now.

What has my attention during my waking hours? What do I do the moment my eyes flutter open? What is either in my hand or back pocket at all times? What is the first thing I do before I start my car, or put it in park? How do I start and end my day? 

I would like to tell you that my thoughts turn to God, and I pray, and read a pocket-sized edition of the Bible, or that I am involved in intensive service to my fellowman, but you may suspect, and rightly so, that I have a little work to do in these departments.  No, I am embarrassed to say that my attention turns to a little flashing blue light, a visual siren in the dark, and throughout the day, that draws me in like a moth to a flame.

What is it that I all but worship these days? My phone; that's what. I check my phone constantly. If there are no texts from Chuck or my kids, the very next thing that gets my full, undivided attention is Facebook. 

There have been times in my life when there are important lessons I need to learn, and I am given opportunity after opportunity to learn, until I am able to put the concept into practice. Right now, I am being inundated with an awareness of how much time I am wasting with social media. 

Our own children do not spend as much time on social media as I do. They are setting good examples of managing their time well in this respect. Some of our kids have gone so far as to de-activate their accounts on Facebook and Snapchat. 

My daughter Sierra is setting the bar high for me. When I chided her when I couldn't find her on Facebook, she told me she was no longer there, but I could text her any time. She is so much happier NOT being on Facebook. She is DOING and LIVING, and she loves her newfound freedom from social media. She and Bridger, my youngest, have been spending lots of time together since she moved back to Utah. They decided together that they wanted to do things and learn stuff, and not waste so much time online. 

There are memes and videos I see daily, encouraging us to put down our phones. To focus on our children. To take advantage of the time we have face-to-face with family and friends. Slowly, the message is sinking in.

My first excuse to Sierra was, "I'm home alone for more than ten hours a day. Facebook keeps me connected to family and friends. It's my lifeline to the world." And then it hit me. What do I have to show for all those hours? How much time am I wasting on Facebook, scrolling, endlessly scrolling, through the cat videos, political rants, and silly jokes, to find the one or two friends with whom I actually make a connection? I need to be more pro-active, and guard my precious time better than that. 

I mentioned I was drawn to my phone like a moth to a flame. This saying is often used in reference to a fatal attraction situation. While my fascination with social media may not result in any actual fatalities, I think it's safe to say that the end result of almost any obsession is disappointing, and is usually less than satisfying. I thought it was interesting to read that scientists think that moths are not so much attracted to a burning candle, as they are disoriented by the flickering light. ( Ah. So perhaps I have more in common with the moth than I realized. I have been a bit disoriented myself with my Facebook obsession. My friend Tonia calls Facebook a "time suck." It really is. Once I begin to peruse the newsfeed, it is hard for me to stop, and moderate the time I spend online. I don't want to be consumed by my own tempting flame.

Sunday, I finally admitted I needed to evaluate the way I spend my time, and determine how to make the most of each day. Since my word for 2016 is INTENTIONAL, I knew that setting an intention each morning would make it easier for me to follow through on my goal, if I limited my exposure to social media.

So yesterday, even though my phone's blue light was flashing in the dark when I woke long before sunrise, I only checked to see if any of our kids had texted us. I could see I had eight notifications from Facebook, but I ignored them. I had set an intention for the day of being productive, and knew that my phone and computer could wait until I'd seen to the things I thought were most important first. 

I was amazed at the tasks I accomplished by being focused in the morning. They were the routines I always mean to get around to, in between all of my socializing on the internet, but somehow never quite complete until much later in the day, if at all. But from 4:45 until 8, I was a busy bee, spending time with my husband, reading, writing, and working out. Laundry was started, dishes put in the dishwasher, bedroom tidied. Wow. All by 8:00. Then I spent about 20 minutes on Facebook, posted a little post about my morning, and then put the laptop away to do more stuff. It was great. 


The house was tidy. I finished decorating our Christmas Valentine's tree. I tried a new recipe for a citrus-glazed scone that was marvelous. And when I wanted to contact friends and family, I texted them or made a phone call. For the first time in a long time, I felt grounded. It was a satisfying day of accomplishments and connecting with loved ones.

This weekend I happened upon a great article by Dr. Jill Carnahan entitled  Eight Habits That Changed My Life. You might want to read Dr. Carnahan's blog for all eight ideas, but this is the one that reached right out, and bopped me on the head:

"First things First: Do your most important tasks first thing in the morning.  Start with an intention and prayer and then move on to the tasks that matter most.  Don’t get caught in the urgent by default like most people do.  Be deliberate instead of just responding to the crises that come your way.  The classic book by Steven Covey is a great place to start if you want to learn more." 

Setting an intention each morning helps me stay focused. I like the flexibility of choosing one word each day. I enjoy controlling my focus, and I can determine how I want to direct my energy each morning. 

This moth intends to steer clear of the flame of her temptation, and rise above it to fly to greater heights.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hair: The Long and Short of It

When I looked in the mirror, I was shocked. Where there used to be light brown hair framing my face, there was now the shortest of pixie cuts, featuring platinum blonde hair that was barely long enough to spike, and definitely not long enough to reach the top of my ears. My shock slowly gave way to acceptance. My face relaxed into smile. I ran my fingers through what was left of my hair. I tousled the bangs. My hands passed over the bristly feeing of the sides of my head. And then I froze.

I looked like her, but older, with a less
comfortable-looking smile.
Photo Credit:
I didn't recall discussing this with Chuck. The next conversation we have could get a little awkward if he can't talk because he is too busy staring at my nearly bald head. My husband and I talk about everything; how is it that I neglected to mention I was going to remove most of my hair, and lighten it by a dozen shades or so? Should I give him a quick call? A text of warning? Just show him, and hope he thinks I'm still adorable? I was starting to feel sick.

This, folks, is the nightmare I had last night. Whew. As much as I'd like to try a new hairstyle, I was relieved to wake up, and realize I have a chance to ponder what I'd like to do, and talk about the possibilities with my husband.

This is my life when I try to grow my hair out; I battle with my hair to behave every morning, and leave myself open to scenes of nightmarish proportions when I fall asleep. 

They say a change is as good as a vacation, and I suppose I've been craving a change of scenery, at least as far as my mirror image is concerned. I love my hair when it's shorter, but I have never dared to go as short as I could. Unless you count that one time I was in college, and thought I'd save myself some money by dropping in at the local beauty college. What a disaster.

Every time that poor hair technician checked to make sure both sides of my hair were even, she realized one side was shorter, so she would lop off a bit more from the other side. She would recheck, cut off a little more from the OTHER longer side, and repeat. By the time she was done, my hair was less than two inches long at its longest point. And I was near tears. I had gone in for a TRIM, people, and basically came out with a crew cut. I realize I can't judge every student in beautician's school by that poor girl, but I just could never bring myself to try another beauty school haircut. 
Thank you, Lisa, for making my hair more stylish.
When that horrendous haircut finally grew out, my roommate Lisa cut it into a boyish wedge, which I loved. 

While you may think I live a charmed life, having great hair is not one of the blessings I've enjoyed. I came into this world with baby-fine blondish hair that could only be styled with LOTS of hair products (remember Dippity-Do and Aqua Net?) or processing my hair with a perm or color. 

As I grew older, I dreamed of having waist-length hair, or even better, hair that grew past my butt, just like Cindy Bryant's in my sixth grade homeroom. But alas, my hair never made it that far because it was overtaken with split ends and nasty snarls. As a result, I've worn my hair in some sort of bob most of my life.

Asymmetrical style

When I met Chuck, I had an asymmetrical hair cut. And he seemed
Buh-bye, uneven sides.
Hello, short hair.
The growing out began in earnest.
to really like it. I loved it, too, but after we got married, I told him I was ready for something different, something that reflected how balanced my life felt since we had met, and I asked Syndi to even up the sides. It felt pretty liberating. For awhile. Now, it just feels boring.

My hair is finally getting longer. By longer, I mean it almost touches my collar, and the side that was über-short has now grown down to my jawline, matching the other side.  I think I am finally ready for something something different.

It's 2016. New year; new me. Maybe blonder hair. Maybe shorter hair. It might be a good idea to run these thoughts by Chuck, though, before I make an appointment at the salon; whaddaya think?