Hello and welcome to Sunday Snippets, hosted by RAnn, in which a gathering of Catholic bloggers answer a weekly question and share the week’s posts.  It’s a great way for you to find new blogs to read, and also to catch up on what I’ve posted this week if you missed anything.

This week RAnn requested that we provide links to several oldie-but-goodie posts, which I am doing right here:

Things I Know:  Raising Teenagers

Letting Go

She’ll Be Gone

Lifelong Marriage:  Not for the Faint of Heart

Dear Mom in the Pew

Why Stop at Two

On Growing up and Letting Go

What’s a Catholic Voter to Do?

Why Catholics Contracept and What Can the Church Do about It

And now, for the current week’s posts:

I started off with Answer Me This, sadly for the last time, as the hostess has decided not to do it any more.  I am going to have to find another good way to jumpstart my blogging week.

I followed that with Tennessee Volunteers.  While the title may be a nod to the start of football season (Go Vols!), this is one of my periodic gardening posts.

Next up was another linkup I do regularly, Five Favorites.  This week my offering had a red theme, although I didn’t realize it until I finished writing!

Finally, I shared Forty Years of Yo-Yo Dieting, as a prelude to writing next week about what I am doing NOW instead of doing that!

I hope you enjoy this week’s posts, and maybe learn a little bit more about me and some of the things I like to write about by reading the old ones!

I’ve been promising for awhile that I would write about the way I’ve been eating lately.  I’ve already shared with you the positive effects on my health and my weight.  I haven’t sat down to write before now because it feels important to start at the beginning, and the beginning was a LONG time ago.

I went on my first diet when I was a slightly chubby four-year-old, on the orders of my pediatrician.  So I have spent a lifetime feeling fat (even though there were many periods in my life where I now believe I looked just fine), and have been off and on diets ever since.

Me at age two, before hopping on the diet treadmill

Me at age two, before hopping on the diet treadmill

What that first diet was I don’t remember, and I had plenty of treats as a child.  What I do remember is always having the sense that I wasn’t supposed to be eating them, and feeling guilty when I did.  I remember weighing in at the Diet Workshop every week, and eating things kind of like brownies made with Sweet ‘n’ Low and drinking Alba 77.  As I entered high school there was the Scarsdale Diet and then the Change-Your-Metabolism-Diet.  Some of them worked better than others, but I never lost ALL the weight.  I never weighed the magic number the weight tables told me I should.

That's me in the middle, when I was about ten, and always on a diet

That’s me in the middle, when I was about ten, and always on a diet

After gaining the Freshman 15 in college, I came home for the summer and went on the rice diet.  Only instead of the recommended two weeks I did it all summer long, along with walking several miles each day, swimming laps at the pool, and doing 150 sit-ups and crunches every night after working full-time as a Cracker Barrel waitress (a brutal job).  I went back to school weighing 142, my lowest adult weight, but still unsatisfied because the Met Life table said I should weigh 130. (The rice diet allowed me one piece of fruit for breakfast, and one piece of fruit plus either three rice cakes or a cup of plain rice for lunch and dinner.)

Fall 1986 after the rice diet--please excuse fire-damaged picture

Fall 1986 after the rice diet–please excuse fire-damaged picture

I continued dieting all through college, eating very little a lot of the time but what I now know to be all the wrong things (bagels, giant corn muffins, sandwiches, pizza).  After I graduated and got married I found another diet in an old magazine–I can’t remember what it was called but it was mostly vegetables.  I lost 30 pounds in six months (I was still far from 130 but I look good in pictures from back then!), then got pregnant and gained 70 lbs.  I used that diet again after Emily was born and lost almost all the baby weight, the only time I ever came close to doing that!

Leslie's Graduation

1989 – college graduation

Right around this time the low-fat craze started.  I read a book that said you couldn’t gain weight unless you ate fat.  If you avoided all fat, you could eat anything else you wanted and you couldn’t help but lose.  I fell for this hook, line, and sinker, and ate carbs like crazy, avoiding cheese, meat, and french fries, and gained instead of losing.  At some point I did Jenny Craig.  There were a couple of stints in Weight Watchers, one of which helped me lose 60 lbs. in time for my sister’s wedding, at which point I got pregnant for the fifth time.

When Lorelei was little I stopped dieting.  I told myself when I was ready I would join a gym and do Weight Watchers again, but that what I needed to do was live life without constantly feeling guilty about food and bad about myself.  And I do believe I needed to do that.

Me holding Lorelei in a four generations photo taken in 2006

Me holding Lorelei in a four generations photo taken in 2006

In the meantime, while not avoiding the occasional treat, I ate what I considered to be healthy:  beans and rice, whole grain bread and oatmeal and other whole grain cereals, lots of fruit and vegetables, very little meat or cheese because they were high in fat.  Of course, I had my vices:  coffee with cream and sugar, Mountain Dew Monkey Ice from Weigel’s, a shared dessert while eating out, but although I went through fast food drive-thrus with the big kids almost daily, I rarely indulged.

I didn’t weigh myself for many years, and while I did not balloon when I stopped dieting constantly, I did slowly add pounds.  And I got older.  Finally, my weight began to affect the way I felt.  A friend not much older than I had a close call.  My left leg was swollen and painful, and walking upstairs made me breathless.  I could tell my blood pressure was getting high (after a lifetime of being subnormal!), and I started to get scared.  I decided that in 2014, as soon as I had access to medical care, I would have everything checked and then start a journey to better health.

I’ve been sharing some of this journey with you in my ObamaCare posts, without including a lot of details about how I’ve changed my eating habits . . . but now this post has grown very long so I will make this a two-parter with Low-Carb Love Affair to be published in a day or two!

Five Random Favorites

This is a pretty random list of favorite things that are on my mind this morning, so that I can link up with Mama Knows, Honeychild!

five favorites


1.  This popcorn popper

So we have lots of people in this house who are popcorn-crazy (also just crazy, but we won’t post about that) as you could tell if you came to see me because of all the popcorn in the couch cushions (and everywhere else too if we don’t clean up before you come).  And so we had been buying and eating lots of microwave popcorn, which as we all know is one of the unhealthiest things in the whole world.  Then I found a stove-top crank-operated popper we inherited from Grandma, but that thing was labor intensive, and heating oil on the stove to high temperatures is always a little scary.  And it was a pain to clean, so it was always sitting around in the way because I could re-use it without taking it apart and washing it but I couldn’t put it away like that!  Plus I was afraid to let the kids use it, so anytime anyone wanted popcorn (all the time) it was all on me.  So I looked on Amazon, ordered this, and my life was changed.  It requires no oil, and the little kids have already learned to use it themselves.  And old-fashioned popcorn is cheaper, so there’s that.

Which leads me to another favorite . . .

2.  These popcorn bowls

photo credit: sharsuniquefinds via ebay

Now, I would never in a million years have bought these, as darling as they are, because I don’t believe in buying single-use things that then have to be stashed away somewhere taking up valuable space and like as not getting ignored in favor of something more convenient most of the time.  But these came with the house–the prior renters left them, unused and still in the box, in the garage.  And we have a cabinet right over the stove that is too high and inconvenient to store things we want to use all the time in, but still accessible enough to get to.  So we use these every day, and the big one conveniently fits right under the opening of the air popper, and holds exactly the amount that 1/2 cup of kernels pops into.

Of course we put real butter on our popcorn, which leads me to another favorite . . .

3.  My butter dish

butter dish

I like to leave my butter sitting out on the counter.  Before you start worrying that it will spoil, please understand that between cinnamon toast, popcorn, and using it for cooking, we use about a stick each day.  And hard butter won’t spread, which is such a nuisance.  So I used to just leave it sitting out on a small plate.  But the cat would lick it whenever he got a chance.  I’ve seen the other things he’s had in his mouth, so there was no salvaging that butter!  Now the lid keeps the butter safe.

4.  My new coffee cup

red coffee cup

Emily bought this for me at Wal-Mart the other day, just to be nice.  That’s enough of a reason for me to like it, but I also like the way it looks sitting on the counter waiting for the next cup of coffee.  It makes me happy.

And now I am seeing that this post really does have a theme after all, so I will add one final favorite . . .

5.  My red kitchen

food tomatoes

You can read more about it and see more pictures here.

That’s it for this week!  Please visit the linkup for more favorites!

Tennessee Volunteers

Although it is in fact ALMOST football time in Tennessee, I am not talking about THOSE Volunteers!  No, I am talking about the ones that appeared in my garden this summer.

Last year I planted zinnias for the first time ever.  I didn’t know anything about them, and I had no idea how bountiful they would become.  I got a couple of six packs at Kroger or somewhere, and they got bigger and bigger and bloomed and bloomed all summer long.  So of course I wanted to plant them again this year.  And of course I couldn’t find the same kind this year!

But apparently zinnias re-seed, and so a month or so ago, these appeared.  They didn’t grow where I would have planted them, but I let them stay.

volunteer zinnias

volunteers zinnias 2

I am actually not a huge fan of annuals.  I’ll set out a flat of pansies in the fall, and in the spring put in a few to fill in empty spots or provide a missing color, but in general I am too lazy to want to bother with replanting things year after year.  But I have to have marigolds, and this one below is my favorite kind.

volunteer marigolds

It, too, is a volunteer!  The marigolds I planted THIS year mostly died.  I have never seen anything like this one, though.  I don’t even understand it.  It’s bush-sized now and I didn’t know marigolds could get this big.

garden volunteers

garden volunteer 2

Did you see my other volunteers?  I don’t know what they will turn out to be yet, but I know where they came from.  Every year we get vines like that all over the front yard, anywhere that pumpkin seeds fell when we carved our Jack O’Lanterns.  Last year we got all excited thinking we would have pumpkins.  I transplanted every one I found over in the side yard, and was disappointed when they instead grew various kinds of gourds, something that apparently happens with hybridized crops.  So I don’t know what’s going to happen here, and even though I hate to pull up vigorous and healthy plants, these are getting so long that I will probably have to.

Do you have volunteers in your flowerbeds?  Any suggestions for me for plants that re-seed reliably?

Answer Me This #18

It’s Sunday so it must be time for . . .


1. What is your favorite picture book?

Oh, what a hard question!   I don’t really have one favorite, so I will just name the first favorite to come to mind:  The Runaway Bunny, which I like even better than Goodnight Moon, a more famous book by the same author.  This way of showing a mother’s love is SO much more appealing to me than sappy things like I’ll Love You Forever and its ilk.  I wrote about other favorite kids’ books here.

2. Are you a boycotter?

Not on a grand scale.  I avoid Nestle products as much as possible due to their flouting of the WHO code regarding advertising of formula in Third World countries.  It’s not making any difference; I know that–it’s about me, not them.

3. How do you feel about cheese?

I love it and am so happy that low carb eating allows it after I have spent my life avoiding it and feeling guilty about the fat content.

Lunch one day this week, including feta cheese

Lunch one day this week, including feta cheese

4. How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?

Three, which were purchased for me by my son Teddy a couple of years ago, I think for my birthday.  Before that, the last pair I had were blue and I purchased them at Cracker Barrel in 1986.  I had them till the house burned down.

5. How long has it been since you went to the dentist?

I’m not really sure but the embarrassing truth is probably 14 years.  I know it was before William was born.  We don’t have dental insurance, and I don’t get cavities, so it hasn’t seemed like a priority, especially since I brush obsessively several times a day and even in the middle of the night.  I plan to add a dental plan next year now that we are used to paying a monthly health insurance premium.

6. If you could visit any religious site in the world, where would you go?

First choice, Vatican City.  Second, Lourdes, where I have already been with my grandmother when I was 17.

For more fun answers, check out the linkup at Catholic All Year!


Welcome to my Sunday Snippets post, and thanks to RAnn for hosting and for inviting me to the linkup!

Question of the week: Introduce yourself. Some of us have been participating for a long time; others are relative newcomers. Take a minute and briefly tell us about yourself and your blog.

I’m Leslie. :-)  I’ve been married to John for 23 years, and we have five children:  Emily (23), Jake (20), Teddy (19), William (13), and Lorelei (9).  We live in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is my hometown.  John is an attorney who works from home, and I’m his assistant.  I also do some contracting work for a non-profit my mother is the community organizer for, and this year I am homeschooling Lorelei.  I therefore do not have as much time as I would like to write in this blog, which I started four years ago as a new avenue for my writing after my long-time stint as a columnist for the local Catholic paper came to an end.  I write about pretty much anything I feel like:  parenting, marriage, Catholicism, life issues, politics, education, homeschooling, recipes, books . . . you’ll find it all here.  Thanks for visiting!

This week I started as I always do with Catholic All Year’s Answer Me This linkup.

Next I linked up with What We’re Reading Wednesday.

I wrote about books again the next day, writing about five books that changed my life.

I continued my series on my homemade homeschool curriculum.

And finally I finished up with an update on my family’s adventures with Obamacare.

I hope you’ll check out some of these posts and come back to see me again if you enjoy them!



It’s been a couple of months since my last update, and things have been happening (and also some things have not been happening, as you will see!).

When I updated you last, I was complaining about the bureaucratic elements (mess) involved in Obamacare, AKA The Affordable Care Act, despite my overall satisfaction.  We were waiting to get a letter notifying us of our official hearing on the appeal I filed to try to get Teddy, William, and Lorelei covered.  Well, I am still waiting.  I have never received a letter or a call or ANYTHING.

However, I also told you that I was going to have to submit another huge batch of financial information, and proof of citizenship, and I don’t know what all else.  So I got that all together and went to upload it to the (still very user unfriendly and prone to crash) website, and could not for the life of me figure out where to upload the documents.  Last time I think I just mailed them.  So I called the help line.

This is the first bright spot of Healthcare.gov, and I want to reiterate it:  The people who staff the help line are efficient, courteous, and knowledgeable, and there are no ridiculous hold times such I have experienced with, for example, TennCare (40 minutes or more).  This guy was quickly able to tell me how to upload the documents, and also said that he thought from looking at my account that it was a mistake anyway.  I wasn’t taking any chances, of course, so I did upload them, and thought I would also take a moment to ask him is he knew anything about my appeal.

Naturally, another department handles that, but he told me if I wanted we could reapply right then for the rest of the family, and that if we were successful, they could be covered by the first of the next month, and that the deductible we’d already met would apply for them as well.  He did it for me while I stayed on the line and supplied the information, and lo and behold, one hour later, everyone in our family was on the way to being insured!

He also put in a request to make it all retroactive to my original application date.  They’ve since denied that and I am getting ready to file yet another appeal.

Our premium did go up as a result of the addition of three people.  We are now paying $411/month, which I am quite sure is still pretty darn low.

What have we been doing with all this awesome health insurance?

Emily, William, Lorelei, and Teddy have all gotten checkups now and have been pronounced in good health.  William and Lorelei both got some immunizations, and Lorelei had several icky warts frozen off (she was very brave!).  John and I both saw the dermatologist.  Y’all, I have been dreading that checkup for years.  Skin cancer runs in my family and I was sure I would hear some awful news.  Instead, the doctor told me I have relatively light sun damage and she doesn’t think I have anything to worry about! (I celebrated by coming home and laying out in the sun.  Just kidding.  Sort of.)  Teddy and I visited the chiropractor yesterday.  Now if you know anything about chiropractic you know it usually takes at least a couple of visits to straighten out whatever brings you there (sciatica, in my case).  So in the past, as a self-paying patient, I would usually try to get by with one visit.  But with a co-pay of $8, I think I’m going back Monday.

Now you know that as a result of all this care and support, John and I have both made some significant dietary changes.  John has now lost 20 lbs., and I’ve lost approximately 40.  He had his blood drawn last week and will find out on Monday whether his numbers have improved along with his weight.  I won’t have another checkup till October some time, but I can tell you that I feel great, have lots of energy, and can walk four miles up and down hills on a summer day without dropping dead.

John and I smiling and feeling healthy!

John and I smiling and feeling healthy!

I wrote a post on my five favorite low carb things to eat a couple of weeks ago and y’all, the page views on that post went out the roof!  So I expect people might be interested in hearing in a little more detail about some of the dietary changes I’ve made, and I’m planning a post on that next week probably.  But for now let me just share one amazing change that I am incredibly proud of:  I now drink my coffee with NO SUGAR AT ALL.  Only cream.  And anyone who ever saw me drink coffee before will know how huge that is!

If you would like to read all about our healthcare triumphs and travails, please see below:

The $64,000 Question, Answered

Who Are the Uninsured?

Uninsured No More

ObamaCare Update

ObamaCare Update 2

ObamaCare:  My Latest Update

ObamaCare Revisited


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