I am a Saints fan.

The Saints are having quite the offseason this year.  As a proud member in good standing of the Who Dat Nation, it’s been very frustrating, to say the least.

First of all, they need to sign Drew Brees to a long term contract.  It’s certainly not like he hasn’t earned it.  Brees is a class act & is the face of the New Orleans Saints.  The fans love him.  He makes us proud, both with his leadership on the field & his character off.  They need to pay the man.

Secondly, this bounty thing has people going nuts.  Some of the things I read are bizarre to me, like the Atlanta Falcons owner saying that even if Matt Ryan wasn’t named as a target, he’s sure he was one.  Well, yes.  I’m sure he was.  And I’m sure Drew Brees is the “target” of any defense the Saints go up against any given Sunday.  It’s the nature of the game.  Football is supposed to be hard hitting & exciting.  Of course the defense wants to sack the opposing quarterback.  I definitely do not condone hitting with intent to injure someone.  But this is not flag football, folks.

Should Sean Payton’s year long suspension stand, I will miss seeing him on the sidelines next year.  I think Payton is an outstanding coach.  Should players such as Jonathan Vilma get suspended for some games, I will miss seeing them play.  Should we end up having an average or less than average season, I will be disappointed.

BUT … I am a Saints fan.  I am.  I will wear my Saints jerseys & beanies with pride.  I will root against the Falcons & the Cowgirls wholeheartedly.  I will remain a Saints fan.

I don’t necessarily think we will have a bad season.  I think the Saints kind of enjoy the underdog role.  So I say bring it on.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s pay Drew Brees, please.

My exercise of choice – bicycling!

Every summer, a small group of friends & family gets together & takes a trip to the beach for a few days.  Last summer on our beach trip, Amber, Jody, & I made a Walmart run for some groceries we needed, and we came across these adorable bicycles in the sporting goods section.  They were women’s beach cruiser bikes.  We loved them.  All three of us talked about how cute they were.  My mom & her friend, Mrs. Barnes, also came across those bikes on one of their trips to the local Walmart & admired them.  Mama & I decided we both wanted to buy those bikes when we got back home.

My sweet, generous Daddy ended up treating both of us to new bikes.  I keep my bike at my parents’ house along with Mama’s, because they have such a great neighborhood for riding.  We’ve had a lot of fun riding our bikes.  My sister & brother-in-law live down the street from my parents, so they rode with us several times last summer, too.  My nephew, Seth, who is in the photo below, led our biking adventure once.  Suffice it to say, Seth was our personal trainer.  He took us on our longest, most strenuous ride that day. It was great.

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So, now that the weather is getting warmer and my income tax return is pending, I’m considering buying another inexpensive bike from Target or Walmart to keep at my house.  There are times I want to ride, but I don’t want to drive to my parents’ house to do it.  So, this will give me options.

And, I’m also thinking I may end up buying a bike rack for my car, that will hold two bikes.  I just find riding bikes to be really fun.  Running?  NO.  Not fun for me.  Bicycling?  YES.  Absolutely.  And it’s even more fun when you have someone to ride with.  If I have a bike rack that’ll hold two bikes, I can take my bikes – both of them – when we go to the beach this summer.  Then two of us can ride bikes to the souvenir shops, a restaurant, or a snowball stand.  We can just ride up & down that main stretch of highway & enjoy the breeze & the salty air.  Or if Melissa & I want to take a day trip to a small town not too far from here, just for a fun day, we can put the bikes on the rack & ride our bikes through the downtown areas.  That just sounds really fun to me.  It sounds like a plan.  🙂

8:00-4:30 & I are getting along just fine!

I changed my work schedule to working five days, 8:00-4:30, and I just completed my first week on that new schedule.  I also just started counting calories on Monday.  I want to lose seven pounds (which should be attainable) & tone up.  And I gave myself a 10:00 bedtime about a week ago.  Those were all my new changes that have gone into effect.  And let me just say – SUCCESS.

I really like the 8:00-4:30 schedule.  Mornings are good.  Days are good.  Evenings are good.  It’s all good.

I get out of bed no more than fifteen minutes past the time I used to get up.  Three mornings this week, I’ve cooked breakfast for my sister & me.  One morning was chocolate chip muffins, one morning was breakfast sandwiches, & one morning was blueberry muffins.  Melissa felt pretty spoiled walking out the door with a fresh, warm breakfast wrapped in aluminum foil!  (She told me I was fired the first morning I didn’t make breakfast!)  I’ve had time to straighten my hair every morning.  I fluffed up whatever load of clothes were in the dryer & folded/hung them up twice this week, I think.  And I even put on makeup one day.  I had time to do these things.  It’s really nice not to feel rushed.  It’s nice to eat something at home (or wrap something up and take it with me if I’m not quite hungry enough yet) for breakfast.  It sure beats digging through my desk drawers for whatever junk I can find to eat.  And I know exactly what time I should leave to avoid heavy traffic at the elementary school down the street.  If I leave at 7:25, I don’t have to look at my clock in a panic at all, and I arrive at work between 7:45-7:50 in the morning.  I get to work early.  ME.  The mornings are going very well.

My day isn’t so long that I’m exhausted at the end of it.  My productivity at work this week has been great.  I haven’t come home a single day this week thinking, “I really wasted too much time today.”  Every day I left work feeling like I had truly earned my paycheck.  It’s a good feeling.  I’ve yawned a handful of times throughout the day, but only once did I think, “I want a nap.”  And that feeling passed quickly.  One day when I got home this week, I mowed our yard.  One day I went to my parents’ house & rode bikes with Mama for a little while.  On my old schedule of 7:00-5:30, I was always exhausted when I got home and didn’t have the energy to do much of anything.  So, this has been nice.

When I woke up Wednesday, I had an initial thought of being bummed out that I was going to work.  Wednesday was my off day previously.  But I reminded myself that had decided to make this change.  Nobody made me do it.  The first two days on the new schedule had gone really well, so there was no reason Wednesday should be bad.  And, you know what?  It wasn’t.  It wasn’t bad at all.

I’ve adhered to my 10:00 PM bedtime (or within ten or fifteen minutes past it) all week.  There were a couple of nights that I’d lay here a while, not really sleepy enough yet.  But I didn’t allow myself to grab my phone or a book or turn on Netflix for entertainment.  I would just lay here until I would fall asleep.  I knew it would make a difference in my energy level & productivity, so I made myself stick to it.  And I’m glad!  There wasn’t a single morning this week that I woke up thinking, “No … I just need ten more minutes.”  Every morning I woke up thinking I was ready to get up & get going.

Last weekend, I went shopping for some healthy lunch options.  And every night I would pack my lunch to take to work the next day.  I’d just grab it out of the fridge in the morning and go.  That went very well, except I’ve still been hungry after lunch.  This calorie counting is not fun.  It’s not fun, but it’s still going well.  I even discovered that oranges aren’t as dull & boring & sticky as I thought they were.  When I slice them & put them in a container at night, it’s not a sticky situation to deal with the next day.  And, surprisingly, they taste really good!

I’ve done well sticking with my calorie goals with the exception of Thursday night.  Thursday night is always family night at my parents’ house.  I lost my mind that night.  It’s hard to behave when you’re met with mashed potatoes (real ones, of course), slow cooked roast & mushroom gravy, rolls, sweet tea, & chocolate covered strawberries.  Oh, we had salad too, which was delicious, but that didn’t do me in.  My main problem was the chocolate covered strawberries.  I ate that dessert like I hadn’t seen food in a year!  But, like my work roommates said, enjoying myself at family night once a week is not going to make or break me.  So, Thursdays will be the one night I give myself permission to eat what I want & stay up past my bedtime.  Ha!

Bring on week two!

I love audience giveaways!

Several years ago, my friend, Jody, & I went to New York City.  We got tickets to The View & went to a taping.  (This is back when the show wasn’t as ridiculous as it is now.  Meredith & Star were still there.  No Rosie.  No Whoopi.)  The guests that day were the finalists from Project Runway, Danielle Steel, & Doris Roberts.  I was hoping they’d give the audience a season of Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD.  (Jody wasn’t excited about that possibility because she had never seen the show & didn’t really like sitcoms.)  Well, no DVDs.  We were each given a copy of Danielle Steel’s latest book – The House.  That was my first audience giveaway.  (Oh, and I might add that our last night in NYC, after we packed our stuff up, we watched several episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond on tv in our hotel room.  Jody laughed a lot & concluded, “Lep, I do like this show!”)

This past January, I went to New York City with some friends.  While we were there, we happened upon someone giving away standby tickets for a taping of the Dr. Oz show.  I think Dr. Oz is a little goofy sometimes from what I’ve seen of him, but we thought it would be fun, so we went.  The segment on “The Surgery You Should Be Asking For” (aka gastric bypass) was a little over the top for me.  But the segment on SLEEP made me happy, because I love sleep!  I love sleep so much I’ve recently given myself a bedtime, as a 32 year old adult!

So, not only was the sleep segment interesting, but Dr. Oz gave us all kinds of free stuff!  Over the course of the last two months, I’ve received four gifts from Dr. Oz – the final gift arriving yesterday.

First was my cooling mattress pad with NASA technology that supposedly detects when you get too warm & cools you down.  I haven’t noticed that.  I have noticed that I’ve woken up hot a few times, but no more or less than usual.  So I’m not so sure about this NASA technology claim, but it is a very soft, comfortable mattress pad.

Second was my white noise sound machine.  It’s great!  I used it a couple of nights, but it sounds just like the small personal fan I run in my room.  I definitely need white noise when I sleep.  It’s way too quiet if it’s just silence.  I’ve been known to turn on the bathroom vent just to have a little white noise if I’m sleeping somewhere other than my own bedroom.  My parents have been borrowing my white noise sound machine since I don’t need it on account of my fan & they love it.

My third gift was an eye mask that completely shuts out all light (that’s true!) & ear plugs.  I don’t have a need for the ear plugs.  I need white noise, not silence.  The ear plugs sit unused in a drawer.  The eye mask has been useful a few times.  On those rare occasions that I am going to sleep with a headache, I pull out my homemade eye mask shaped rice bag from the freezer & put it over my eyes, and then cover it with my eye mask from Dr. Oz.  It holds the cold pack in place & I sleep like a baby.

Then gift number four which came yesterday is a pillow that is helpful for neck/back alignment.  It is very comfortable.  I slept great on it last night, and I’m looking forward to going to sleep on it again in twenty minutes when my self-imposed bedtime arrives.

So, to sum it up, I’m glad I sat through the gastric bypass segment to get to this amazing sleep set-up.  I may have to go to a Dr. Oz taping again next time I’m in NYC.  He gives away some great stuff!  (Better than The View.  Plus, you don’t have to listen to all those ladies holler over each other.)

A Friday night well spent.

Melissa & I had the opportunity to volunteer for Compassion International at a Bebo Norman concert this past Friday night.  We’ve volunteered at events like this in the past, but not in a really long time.  I’m thankful my friend, Brooke, was contacted to volunteer & gave me the heads up about it.  I think Compassion revamped their volunteer process in the past few years and Melissa & I apparently never went through the process to be added back to the list.  But, thanks to Brooke, we found out about this opportunity & contacted Compassion.

Melissa & I both love Compassion.  We both sponsor kids & have actually formed relationships with the kids we sponsor.  We write letters back & forth with them.  We’ve both made letter writing a priority, so we hear from our sponsored kids a lot more often than sponsors who never or rarely write.

We worked at the table with child packets of children waiting for sponsors.  Bebo spoke a little bit about Compassion & encouraged the audience to consider sponsoring.  Melissa & I, along with two other volunteers, helped with the paperwork & accepted payments from the new sponsors.

One lady asked for a little boy from a certain country, so I went through several packets until I found a child who met that description.  I handed the packet to the lady & she said to her son, “Look, Max!  He has the same name as you!”  Her son’s eyes widened & the lady filled out the form to begin sponsoring the little boy.

Another lady asked for a little girl born in 2002.  I found a little girl who fit that description, and the lady looked at the packet & pointed out to her daughter that she & this little girl were born two days apart.  As I talked to the lady, I learned that she was going to let her daughter be the one to write the letters & correspond with this child.  I think it’ll be fun for these two girls, who are just hours from being exactly the same age, to become friends.

My favorite reaction of the night was an elderly couple.  They looked through the child packets on the table & chose a little girl to sponsor.  The husband filled out the paperwork & made the first payment.  As they were walking away, they took the child packet & the wife smiled ear to ear and said, “We have a daughter!”  They linked arms & walked off with big smiles on their faces.

Goodness, I love Compassion International.  I’m glad I decided to sponsor about nine years ago at a Jars of Clay/Caedmon’s Call concert.  It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I think a total of 22 children received sponsors Friday night at that concert.  That’s 22 happy children & 22 blessed new sponsors.  What a gift, for both sides of the sponsorship.