Life With a Lap Band…It’s Just Food!

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Before you go all crazy on me for proudly showing a heavenly glazed coffee roll and coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, let me tell you a story.

Three years ago I began contemplating surgery to help me lose weight. I tried everything imaginable including hypnosis which cost nearly $2,000. It started out well but ended up only helping me fall asleep…during sessions!

I was actually cleared for it once but couldn’t pull the trigger and let the six month window close. I could do this on my own, damn it! So I tried a few more things then started seeing a nutritionist named Maria Weber.

I wrote about my personal epiphany here. You don’t really know when the moment happens until it is past because it may seem familiar to others that preceded it.

20121007-091218.jpgThis is my dad and I the day of my senior prom. I was almost 18 years old but for my entire teenage life I was convinced I was fat. Look at me. Am I fat?

I was never skinny and my nearly 5’2″ body could never look like the models in Glamour Magazine. But fat? I had to rethink all that I KNEW to be true when my mother gave me a photo album when I turned 50 and got my Master’s.

Picture after picture I just saw a dark eyed curly haired girl having fun. How did I allow myself to think this? Then, it became a self fulfilling prophesy.

This is the last picture that set the course of my life. Here I am, October 2010 at a swim meet at Fairfield University.

20121007-090837.jpgI see this picture and no longer feel sad and defeated.

It was time.

I went back to my doctor with an entirely new mind set. To say I was fully invested almost undervalues the actual change I went through. Eventually I put food into its rightful place. Something to fuel my body, enjoy cooking and sharing with friends and something cool to get to write about. It no longer rules my world. It brings me joy.

20121007-092512.jpgHere I am today. I’m pretty darned happy with the way I feel and look. I am going to lose another 20 pounds before I go to France next summer.

And, guess what? One of the ways I have done it is to have the above pictured coffee roll every weekend. I’m just living life?

Have a yummy day!

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She Was A Father Baker Baby 2/8/28 – 8/28/12

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20120830-075229.jpgHere is my mother-in-law at Fairfield Beach in May celebrating my son’s graduation from Fairfield University.

Mom wasn’t drinking out of red solo cup but she didn’t need that modern day symbol of celebration to grasp the enormity of this passage. Her life was one of hope and dedication.
She was one of the Father Baker Children.

20120830-080808.jpgHis road to Roman Catholic sainthood inspired her and gave her a source of pride at what many would consider unfortunate beginnings. Her own path to a loving family had twists and turns and when she finally was welcomed into the home of Frank, a landscape designer, and Theresa Carl she learned the value of hard work, faith and service.

She was a PTA mom, a railroad employee and the ultimate church lady. She loved her friends, her family and her church faith community. Anyone who knew her also knew about those she loved since she shared every tidbit of information she could glean from them. The downside of that is obvious but the upside is also good. If you needed to know the married name of the girl you shared a locker with in grammar school, Lorraine was the woman for you.

My mother-in-law was a woman of simple taste. If you fed her some meat and any form of potato she would dine in perfect happiness.

20120830-083643.jpgI remember one meal, years ago where I made rice as the starch. Everything was on the table and I was finally seated. We said grace and began to pass out the food and my mother-in-law was quiet, scanning the table like she was looking for Waldo. I asked if she was ok and she said yes but she was wondering where the potatoes were. I guess rice was not even a cheap substitute!

She made the most wonderful turkey stuffing with bread and a seasoning called Bell’s Seasoning.

20120830-092408.jpgIt is completely different from the Italian style stuffing my mother makes…and I love it.

Every picnic was not complete without her potato salad. Her recipe is so simple:

 

 

Gramma Rainbow’s Potato Salad

Servings: 8
Prep time: 1:00
Total time: 4:00
Categories: Salad, Vegetable
Source: JudeTheFoodie.com

Ingredients

• 4 Russet Potatoes
• 2 Stalks Celery, finely diced
• 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
• 1 Medium Green Bell Pepper, finely diced

• 8 Oz Mayo
• 8 Oz Sour Cream

• Salt, pepper

Directions

Scrub 4 russet potatoes (2 servings per potato) and boil in their skin until you can put a fork through (do not overlook). Cool. Remove skin and chop into 1 inch pieces.

In large bowl add potatoes, celery, onion and green pepper. Salt and pepper to taste Fold in equal parts of mayo and sour cream and coat evenly.

Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Stir gently before serving.

Made with The Recipe Box. http://www.therecipeboxapp.com/

Swiss steak with thick gravy, pork and sour kraut and potato salad were her signature dishes and I will miss them all.

Mostly, I will miss her. She was pretty amazing.

God rest Lorraine…2/8/28 – 8/28/12

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Loyalty: Be True To Your School

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 Dogs are loyal.

Parents can be loyal, to a fault.

Fans are loyal, until the team starts to lose.

Employees are loyal, but not as much as they used to be.

A friend is loyal, especially when defending your honor.

A spouse should be loyal, showing faithfulness to their vows.

Loyalty was discussed all of the time in my house growing up although I did not think of it until I was an adult.  I was raised knowing that loyalty was one of the utmost characteristics which would secure a relationship no matter if the relationship was personal or business.  My father used to always talk about people who “always” bought their car from him, or in the negative, “never” bought their car from him.  The worst insult you could levy on my father was to shop his store then buy from a competitor. 

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Today my son is coming home to compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships at Erie County Community College’s natatorium.  This is a dream come true for him… junior at Fairfield University swimming NCAA Division I at a pool where he competed in high school.  Many of his family and friends who have never had the opportunity to see him swim in college can stop by this week and experience a little of the excitement that championships bring.

So what of loyalty?  My alma mater and employer, Canisius College is hosting this championship!  Although I will be decked out in Fairfield red and will act as a host for the parents, I will be wearing my Golden Griffin pin and Canisius Athletics jacket.

As those great philosophers, the Beach Boys once sang:

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school”

GO STAGS! Fairfield University

GO GRIFFS! Canisius College

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

15 Hour Drive for 2 Minutes and 10 Seconds

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It’s true. We are THOSE parents and darn proud of it!

I have always been fascinated by the parents of student athletes and now that I am one of them I understand so much more. Many of the coaches I work with tell me about the wonderful things their parents do for the program and believe me, most of them are not sexy…just a great way for them to save money and to save time.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Canisius College Women’s Soccer game on the campus of Fairfield University. We arrived on campus Friday evening to attend his swim meet at the University of Connecticut the next day. This was the first time a Canisius event occurred on campus while I was there for a swim meet since my son started there in 2008.

Decked out in my Canisius College Athletics jacket, I found the visitors section by listening for the cheers from their hale hearty fans. I would venture a guess that the entirety of the visitors section had some sort of DNA match with someone on the field.

I introduced myself as a member of the Canisius athletic staff and enjoyed meeting nice folks who share the student athlete parent bond. We talked about the competition in the conference and the frequency of the games. We compared notes on distance traveled and they commended me for traveling so far each week for our son’s meets.

My favorite conversation was with a mom who wanted to let me know how much easier it was to be the parent of a swimmer rather than one of an outdoor sport. She supposed it was much easier to sit in a natatorium than to battle the elements. She thought it more comfortable to be indoors and while she is mostly correct she does not understand how oppressive the heat can be in a pool. When you are cold you can add layers but when you are in the pool and sweating from the high heat and humidity you cannot take off your skin.

My answer was simple. I gave her the weather issue and agreed we have it easier to be indoors. But I left her with a thought. If their child was a starter or even a top layer substitute they watched them play for 1-1 ½ hours in a game that lasts about 2 hours total start to finish. But with swimming you could attend a meet which lasts 3-4 hours (including diving but that’s another blog) and your child could potentially compete less than a minute if they are a sprinter. Whoosh, they are done!

If this seems like complaining, I’m not. Actually I’m honored to be able to attend so many meets and grateful for the time and means to do it.

This week it will be at least 20 hours…but he may swim a longer event so maybe it will be 4 ½ minutes!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie

Facebook: Jude TheFoodie

JudeTheFoodie.com

Please Don’t Come to My Swim Meets – You’ll Embarrass Me!

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From June 2008 until October 2008 there was a not so silent argument going on in our house.  Our son decided to attend Fairfield University and “walk-on” to the varsity swim team.  His coach explained that if you go to practice and work hard you will be in the line-up.  You may be swimming “off events” but you will be in the line-up.  What an incredible opportunity for a kid who earned full tuition – a chance to be on a team!  But, no, he did not want us there.  He didn’t know what to expect and did not want the extra pressure of having us in the stands in case he did not actually get to swim.

For those of you who are not familiar with a competitive swim team please see my next blog “My Child is Enrollment Management?”  As I describe, mid-major swim teams traditionally are used more as enrollment management, with few scholarship dollars, than responsible for generating revenue in ticket sales.

If you know me, you know my husband and I try to attend most of our son’s swim meets.  Last year we only missed one and it was one that was rescheduled due to an equipment malfunction.  Remember, every meet is an away meet when your child goes to school seven hours from home.  So, how did we get to this point when two years ago he didn’t even want us in the humid cavern known as a natatorium?

The first meet was at Holy Cross, another wonderful Jesuit institution of higher learning in Worcester, MA.  My husband and I insisted we would attend his first NCAA Division I sporting event – you would have needed an act of Congress to keep us away.  We would respect his wishes the rest of the season, but the first meet? Of course we were going to be there!

Sure enough, when he climbed on the block, pushing his goggles on his eyes with the palms of his hand like I had seen him do 100’s of times before, I could see the smile on his face when they introduced him.  In lane one, swimming for Fairfield University, Anthony Caserta!  I could see my husband’s chest expand – nothing can describe the feeling of having your child compete in intercollegiate athletics – absolutely nothing.  I can safely say it is right up there with marriage and birthing babies – seriously, it is!  It is the validation that all of their time and effort in training and academics was worth it.  It is also validation that all of your parental sacrifice of time and treasure helped them achieve a dream.

So, how did I end up here, at a Courtyard Marriott in Worcester, MA following his second meet, two years later, at Holy Cross?  Turns out, he glanced up to the stands while he climbed up on the block and saw his blubbering parents standing there cheering him on.  As a freshman, he still did not know any other parents so, if we were not there, who would cheer for him?  He came up to the stands later to thank us.

The next meet was the following Friday against MAAC rival St. Peter’s College at their home pool on campus.  My husband and I must have gotten ten texts a piece from him telling us about his swims and complaining that no one knows him and is not cheering for him.  I am sure that is not true as we cheer for all of the kids but to a lonely freshman it was his reality.  It was those texts that made us change our plans and decide to travel to as many meets as possible and we haven’t looked back.

To this day, I still do not remember how he did his first race.  How could I see it through my tears of pride?

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie

Facebook: JudeTheFoodie.com

Town House –Independent Living with Training Wheels

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Oh joy, he “made” it into an on campus town house this year.  Yipee! Absent in all of the anticipation of this glorious assignment was that the cost of the town house alone is equal to room and board in the dorms.  Ooopsie!

Good news is that we got the old sectional out of the garage where it has been since the new one arrived during March Madness.  Oh yeah, I can’t say March Madness…silly me…since the NCAA basketball championships in March.  Between the truck rental, the ginormous amount of tolls on the New York State Thruway and the gas we decided it may have been cheaper to go to a discount store and buy a new one.  Ah, but this one has a sofa bed in it.  I don’t know but I’m thinking we may have just contributed to the near occasion of sin.

Anthony could not wait for the independent life of a town house.  Little does he realize, he is now sharing with four other guys rather than just one room mate.  Most of all, he is sharing FOOD with these guys.  How long will it take before there is a fight over who ate the last yogurt (ok, drank the last beer but let me live the dream for just a little longer)?

Not to throw Fairfield University under the bus here but the town house was filthy.  The kitchen was really dirty…not a good way to start.  My husband cleaned the cupboards, counters and walls.  Really?  They clean the dorms, don’t they? But, not wanting to be a helicopter mom, I know it is not my place to complain. 

It appears Anthony may be in charge of grocery shopping.  He does have experience and I have had him shop at home for the family.  The only difference is, shopping at home is with my debit card and shopping at school is with pooled money.  Good luck with that.

He called me the other day and told me each of the guys gave him $20 and he was on his way to Sam’s Club to stock up.  Stock up with $100?  Good luck with that!  He told me what his basic list was and I just chuckled.  He would need double what he had.  I made the tragic error of telling so.  Bad mother! 

I got the next call just after check-out at Sam’s. $67 included chicken (you know Mom, if you buy chicken with the skin on it’s cheaper!), ground beef (we can make our own hamburgers), center cut pork chops and chips (two for one, gotta love BOGO).  He bought bread and buns, a huge bag of frozen broccoli and bananas, cereal and milk and a big bag of charcoal.  He was then off to the Stop-and-Shop for fruit and condiments.  Total spent: $105. 

I am very proud of him and realize he is going to learn way more than how to center a beer pong table on top of Ikea side tables.  He is going to review all of his kindergarten skills only the town house is in place of the sandbox.

Oh, and when I texted him yesterday he said he couldn’t talk…they were having a barbeque!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

I’m a Swim Mom!

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I’ve had many titles in my life…many jobs that I’ve done and some I even let define me (shame on me!). I’ve also been called a lot of things in my life (to my face…likely a bunch of unflattering ones behind my back), sweetie by my parents, Jude by my siblings and friends, hun by my husband of over 29 years. I have been called the hammer, the receipt Nazi, the queen of forms by my colleagues but nothing makes me happier than to be called Ma!

Today I pack up the car once again and set off this time to Baltimore for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The MAAC had to postpone the meet a week while the city dug out from under two snow storms. My husband and I calculated that just this season alone we have logged over 5,000 miles on his SUV and the MAAC’s will put us well over 6,000 miles.

Just a few short years ago I would have wondered about a family that did such a thing. I have worked in college athletics as long as my son has been alive…going on 20 years ago but nothing could have prepared me to be the parent of an NCAA Division I student athlete. I have met many proud parents throughout my career at Canisius College. Most of them have been wonderful, devoted folks whose sacrifice began well before their child stepped onto the playing field (or in our case swimming pool). These are people who gave not only their time but in many cases (hockey parents are a classic example of this) their treasure. Equipment, facility rental, lessons, coaches, tournament fees…it goes on and on…these things cost a lot of money. Swimming is awesome…goggles and a Speedo and off you go!

So, as my Fairfield University sophomore son steps onto the pool deck tomorrow and I once again burst with pride, I would like to congratulate the parents who made this all possible.

Jude Russo Caserta

Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie