Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 New Year's Resolutions

I am not a big fan of New Year's resolutions.  They should be called intentions (like in yoga), which is different from a goal or a promise.  I think that the reason most people fail at keeping resolutions is that their hearts are just not in it.  It's what you're 'supposed' to do at the end of every year.  I am the first to admit annoyance at the throngs of people crowding my gym on January 1st with the #1 resolution of all time - to get into shape.  Don't get me wrong, I truly hope that they stick with it.   Sadly, few do.

Each year on December 31st I make my list of resolutions, and often I tape them up on my bathroom mirror.  As such, they are staring me in the face multiple times a day.  How long does that paper stay intact?  Not as long as I would hope, unfortunately.  So this year I am putting my New Year's INTENTIONS out there for the world to see.  I hope this will make me more accountable to myself, especially when others who read my blog ask "hey, how's that ----- going?"

It's quite an extensive list this year, b/c let's face it, I can be one messed up gal. 

1.  "No phone,  mommy!  No phone!".  It's time to unattach myself to this God-blessed iPhone. Seriously.  There is no need for me to be checking email, texts, and Facebook every 30 seconds.  I came to this realization recently when my 22 month old daughter tried to pry the phone out of my hand as I was halfheartedly helping her with a puzzle.  Information is at our fingertips these days, literally.  We don't have to run out to buy a newspaper or even to check out a book at the library.  How many of us make phone calls instead of sending a quick text? Is it THAT satisfying to click all those icons?  For me, well yes it is.  But not at the expense of precious time with my family.

2.  "I can't believe I ate that".  Ugh.  This is a BIG one for me.  I am sure that the majority of folks including myself have daily mental discussions about food - what I ate too much of, why I ate it, how I'll do better tomorrow.  It is difficult for me to admit this in writing, but, these thoughts fill my brain on an hourly basis.  I want to learn to enjoy my food more.  To stop eating when I am full.  To not hoover down a box of pop tarts when my work day goes into the toilet.  To know that it's okay to eat a red velvet cupcake instead of 50 grapes that just aren't doing the trick when I want something sweet.  I need to use my daughter as a model.  She eats what she wants, when she is hungry, and stops when she is full.  She asks for sweets daily (dad's fault) - sometimes she gets them, sometimes she doesn't.  And she is okay with it.  Food issues are a big negative in my life, and honestly I will probably continue to struggle long after 2012 has begun.  Now that being said...

3.  Stop being a garbage can.  In other words, start making smarter, cleaner eating choices.  It is not always good to be consuming vast amounts of fat, sugar and (yes) booze.  All things in moderation.To put it simply, I am going to make an effort to eat more protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies.  I know from past experience that when I really stick to a healthier eating lifestyle, I feel better.  When I feel better, I am a nicer person.  And everyone benefits from that LOL. 

4.  Be nicer to my husband.  Um yeah, I can be a real bitch sometimes.  And poor Mark often finds himself in my crosshairs.  Most of the time it's not even him that has pushed my buttons.  He is such a good guy - an amazing father and adoring husband who deserves to get the best of me, not the shoddy leftovers at the end of a hard day.  I used to be a very touchy, affectionate person, and I am not sure when that behavior stopped (or why).  But I need to make an effort every day to let him know how much he is loved and appreciated. 

5.  LEARN TO LET GO of issues & situations beyond my control.  I have been working on this one for the past couple of years.  Yoga has helped.  But I need to take the lessons off of my mat, out of the studio, and into the real world.  The time has come for me to practice more patience - with my family, co-workers, and most of all, myself.  I am a self-confessed perfectionist who expects the moon from everyone b/c I always do my best to deliver it myself.  I want to be the best mom, the best yogi, the fastest spinner, the hardest worker...and it makes me and everyone around me nuts at times.

It all comes back to priorities, and more importantly, what I will be remembered for at the end of my life.  Will it be that I could do a headstand?  Get into a size 0 pair of designer jeans?  God I hope not (although at times those trivial things seems vastly important).  When it all comes down to it, how will I leave my mark on the world?  I'm asking you...because I still have no idea.  I heard it in an Aerosmith song - "life's a journey, not a destination".  So in 2012, I hope to start leaving permanent footprints as I go.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Clean-ER Eating, Weeks 2 and 3 - Um, Well....

I was rolling along pretty nicely with this new clean-er eating plan.  I even took a 3 day work trip and managed to avoid most pitfalls (I limited my alcohol consumption, I had only one dessert the entire time).  But then something happened.  Some trigger that sent me face planting into a box of frosted cherry pop tarts.  And a bag of Reese's Cups.  And a box of cookies.  I could go on.  Seriously, I could go on.

It dawned on me (yes, I have a college degree, two actually) that I am an emotional eater.  I always had this tidbit of information in the back of my mind, but it really came full circle this week.  I was mad, I wanted to eat.  I was happy, I wanted to eat.  I was tired, I wanted to eat.  And I did.  And unfortunately I did not reach for an apple or some greek yogurt (still hate it, by the way, no matter how much Splenda I add).  My mom was an emotional eater.  I remember finding her up at 3 a.m. during my parent's divorce knee deep in a carton of Breyer's ice cream.  Unfortunately, she has struggled with her weight ever since.  And I have watched that struggle with the fear that history will repeat itself.

The really interesting thing here is that I FEEL like shit when I eat like shit.  The good sugary chocolate stuff did not make me feel any better, physically or emotionally.  In fact, I have been a slug all week.  I have been struggling through my morning workouts.  And frankly, I have been a BITCH to live with b/c deep down, I know I need to do better.  For myself. 

Now I could (and have) blamed my husband for bringing home that box of Krispy Kremes or that bag of mint MnMs (my absolute fave at Christmas).  And in all honesty, I do think it's kind of a shithead thing to do to your wife who is trying to clean up her eating habits.  BUT - at the end of the day, I am responsible for my own actions.  While he may have put the goodies at eye level for me, he did not force them down my throat.  I did that to myself. 

So it is with renewed resolve that I vow to start my clean-er eating habits again.  I have a grocery list in hand and plan to head out to Whole Foods to stock my pantry anew.   Now I must confess that I am attending a party tonight with an "all things peppermint" theme (you're jealous, I can tell), so this new plan will start...well, tomorrow.    I mean really.  How can I NOT indulge in a chocolate peppermint martini?  'Tis the season.  Hell yeah it is.  So wish me luck. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mommy's Advice to the L-Bomb

Parenting is the hardest job that anyone can do.  Period.  It is also the most rewarding.  I mean, how can you love someone so much the first time you lay eyes on her?  What is even more amazing is that your love continues to grow.  And grow.  And grow. 

I am an only child of divorced parents.  Surprisingly, I turned out okay.  I mean I definitely have my issues.   My mom was super duper overprotective.  She lived in constant fear that something bad would happen to me, and as a result, I was not allowed to do much as a kid.  Which means that when I got the freedom in college to be on my own, I did everything she told me not to do.  And I did those things very well and very often.  My father was very loving but not overly expressive.  We did reconcile our tumultulous relationship before he died, and I will always be grateful for those last few months with him.  My only regret is that he did not live long enough to meet his beautiful granddaughter.  Sadly, he missed her birth by only one month.

So as I sit here thinking about how influential our parents are (can be good, can be bad), I often wonder what Lucy will say about me in 30ish years.  I hope she will say to others that I was an awesome mom - that I listened to her, that I supported her, that I comforted her, and that I would lay down my life for her.  And I would. 

I am sure that she and I will do battle many times in her life.  And I will always be right.  Well, most of the time.  And when I look back, I hope that she will have learned a few things from dear old mom.

1.  Never let anyone steal your power.  Be strong in who you are.  It is important to know your own mind, stand by your opinions, and fight for what you believe in.  You can't always make friends.  But you almost always will earn respect.  So always go down swinging.

2.  Be passionate about everything that you do.  Choose things in life that you love to do.  And really do them.  This is how you leave your mark on the world.  It is better to be known as someone who lived life than someone who watched it pass by.  Taking risks with a watchful eye is a good thing. 

3.  Be loyal.  Whether you choose to surround yourself with lots of friends or just a few close ones, be undyingly loyal to each and every one.  Open up to them with abandon, but keep their confidences.  Defend them if needed, and stand by them even if you do not always agree with their decisions.  Have one friend whose house you can run to at 10:00 at night when you find out that you are unexpectedly pregnant.  Yes, there is a story there.

4.  Have empathy.  Always put yourself in the other person's shoes before making judgments.  And it is okay to make judgments.  Everybody does.  Just make sure you have really thought about how a situation is affecting someone else, not just you.  It will be a challenge for you as an only child to look through the eyes of others.  Mommy has trouble with this one.  I am still a work in progress.

Lucy - I want you to experience an amazing life and to become an amazing woman.  You are the one thing in my life of which I am most proud.  And the best is yet to come.  As I always say, mommy thinks you hung the moon, kid.

Respect My Turf, Dammit!

I love exercise.  I mean LOVE.  Those who know me would say that I am addicted to it.  I probably am.  Big friggin deal.  So it stands to reason that one of my favorite places in the world to go is to a fitness facility, whether that be a gym, a yoga studio, or even a hotel exercise room.  These places are like sanctuaries to me, 'mother ships' if you will.

I have been working out since college (I am a little embarrased to admit I did pretty much ZERO physical activity up until then, but oh well), so I have had years and years to observe the various behaviors that occur at gyms.  And given that I am a person who 1.  loves to people watch and 2.  gets easily annoyed, well, you can see where this is going. 

3.  Leave the makeup at home, honey.   I want to poke my eyeballs out everytime I see someone (and let's face it, we're talking females here, sorry to call y'all out) who comes to the gym with a full face of makeup, the PERFECT ponytail, and a clearly never been used, $300 ensemble from Lululemon.  If you are coming to the gym straight from work, then I will cut you some slack here.  I sometimes take yoga in the evenings and often leave on my makeup as I am coming from the office.  But still.  There is no primping involved before I step onto my mat.  Period. 

I get up at 5 a.m. every weekday (7 a.m. on the weekends, sucks I know) to exercise.  There is simply no other time in the day for me to do it.  Most of my evenings are filled with chasing around a 'spirited' toddler who is currently looking for any and all excuses to avoid going to bed.  As a result, I am not in my Sunday best when I arrive at the gym.  I have literally rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, poured my coffee (you didn't I could workout that early un-caffeinated, did you?), and made the drive.  All within probably a 15 minute time window, if that.  And I venture to guess that most of my fellow early morning gym comrades do the same.  But there is always that one person (sometimes two, as they are known to travel in pairs), who arrives to class (usually late) ready for her Victoria's Secret photo shoot. 

I do NOT want to see that shit at 5 in the morning.  Seriously.  I look like hell, I know it, I accept it, and everyone else pretty much is in the same boat with me (they accept that I look like shit).  We morning gym rats are here to work.  So we would appreciate it if everyone would arrive equally skanky, please.

2.  Shut the hell up.  I am not the chattiest person at 5 a.m., but I do my best to be polite and make at least 2 sarcastic remarks before the sun comes up.  It's what I do. 

I LOVE the folks that work out with me in the mornings.  It's an amazing group of committed individuals who manage to be friendly at an ungodly hour.  That being said, once class starts, we transform into 'please kick my ass mode' and social time is over.  An hour later, we look even worse than when we arrived (which can be pretty bad in my case, see #3 above).  And we keep coming back for more. 

So I can appreciate the social network and sense of community that a gym provides.  I think it is awesome.  It is one of the main reasons that I go to the places that I do.  BUT...I am going to go postal if you are continuously yapping and laughing during a class and thus disturbing the mojo of my work out (and that of those around me).  It is just rude.  I am not talking about the occasional "jesus, this is friggin hard today" comment said under the breath to the person spinning beside you.  I am talking about full blown conversations that take place.  Loudly.  If you are doing the class right, you should not have breath left in you to run your mouth.

I took a spin class a few years ago during which two ladies sat in the back and talked for the ENTIRE hour. And I mean, the entire hour.  All 60 minutes. It was so bad that several of my fellow cyclists were turning around and staring at them along with me (I am not usually subtle if you haven't figured that out by now).  And THEN -- they had the nerve to complain about the class and the instructor.  I mean, how the hell would they know what took place during the class?  They didn't actually participate but gingerly pedaled along while checking their nails and giggling repeatedly.  I could raise my heart rate more by reading the mail.   Rude, rude, rude.  Enough said. 

1.  B.O. - I mean, really?  Do I even need to discuss this issue?   Why yes, I think I will. 

HOW is it possible in this day and age with every flavor, fruit, and scent available in body washes, deodorants, etc. that someone can show up at the gym with B.O.?    I forgot to mention in #3 above that I lather on a significant amount of Secret before I head out to the gym in the mornings.  I mean, duh.  Now I realize some folks are heavy sweaters, and well, sweat does eventually smell if there is enough of it.  I'm talking about the folks that walk into the room and immediately there is a discernable funk.  And everyone knows who the funky person is. 

Being the conscientious person that I am, I am actually nice enough at an early morning hour to do a self check first before judging the potential offender.  I mean, if the smell is that ripe, maybe it IS me, b/c otherwise, how in God's name could it be so strong (strong = close by)?  It is NEVER me, by the way.  If you want a good laugh, see if you can catch me casually looking underneath my armpit at some very interesting object behind me.  Yep.  Stink self check.  Had you fooled.

The really sad thing is that I don't think these persona are aware of the 'aura' they are spreading around.  And despite the fact that I am in general pretty tactless, I have never said anything to any of them.  In fact, I don't think anyone usually does. I know my feelings would be hurt.  Or I would get super pissed.  Or both.  Then again, I would want to know.  It's a tough call.

So to be on the safe side, everyone please take a good long swipe with your Speed Stick before you hit the gym.  Especially my gym.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ode to My Husband

My husband is a wonderful man.  I'm sure I don't tell him often enough.  I know that I don't show it often enough.  But I adore him.  And for so many reasons.  There are a few of his more endearing qualities that do stand out...

1.  He is a wonderful father.  He adores, and I mean ADORES, our daughter Lucy.  In fact, he wanted to have a child way more than I did (too bad he didn't have the joy of pregnancy).  And it is one subject about which I will say to him "you were right".

I think that even in today's age that there is a lingering opinion (not usually stated, but it's there) about parenthood that the primary responsibility should fall to the mother.  My observation is that it is typically 51% mom, 49% dad.  This is not the case in our household.  It is truly 50/50.

I travel quit a bit for my job, and as such, my husband is often the primary and only caretaker for Lucy several times a week.  Never once has he made me feel guilty.  Never once has he made me feel that I am not carrying my share of the parenting load.  And despite the jokes that I make about it, he has never once handed me a screaming toddler the minute I walk into the house from a trip. 

So if you see a tall skinny dude running through our neighborhood pushing a jogging stroller and holding onto two dogs, he belongs to me. 

2.  He is always in a good mood.  Well, maybe not always, but probably 98% of the time.  I, on the other hand, am a pretty reserved, sarcastic, skeptical observer of life.  I think that most people suck until they can prove themselves otherwise.   I'm just being honest here. Now once I get to know you, I will throw myself in front of a bus for you.  And I will open myself up and tell you anything you want to know.  Probably more than you want to know.

My husband, on the other hand, will carry on a conversation with a door knob.  He knows the life story of every waiter we have ever had.  He knows the name of everyone in our neighborhood...and their kids...and their dogs.  He has no fear of putting himself out there.  It is a trait that I greatly admire in him.

And when life is not going so well, he almost always has a positive spin on the situation.  In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have seen him truly angry or upset.  It just doesn't happen.   Being a redhead, I have a superquick trigger; my head spins off my shoulders at least once a day.  At least. Mark simmers and simmers until something finally sets him off.  Even the dogs run and hide when that happens.  Which again, it so rarely does.

I think that the consistent pleasantness must be a Midwestern thing (he's from Michigan) b/c we southerners aren't nearly as nice.  "Bless Your Heart" is NOT a compassionate statement.  It means "oh you poor/dumb/unlucky fool".  You southerners out there know I am right.

3.  He thinks I am the shit.  I like being put on a pedestal.  The view is great.  Now ironically, it's when I look like shit that my husband is the most complimentary of my appearance.  I know that I spend too much money on clothes, hair, nails, etc., but that's for the gratification of my own insecure ego.   My husband would prefer me with short hair (I look stupid), wearing a polo shirt (I look even more stupid), and sporting some no-brand tennis shoes (meant only in my opinion for either working out or being a tourist). 

He does 100% support my addiction to exercise.  He will watch Lucy on the weekends so that I can take yoga and teach my spinning class.  And why, you ask?  Because he is an ass man (thank God he is not a boob man b/c I would wear a negative size A if there were such a thing).  So I have to make sure the cheeks are perky. 

I consider myself lucky to have found such an incredible guy, especially because I met him in my
mid-30s (sorry ladies, you know it's not easy to meet men when there are younger 20ish models out there)  and after a divorce.  But he took a chance on a fiesty, belly button ring sporting (don't have it anymore though I dearly miss it) hurricane of a woman with a foul mouth and a bad attitude. What WAS he thinking?  Only he knows :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vacation - What the Hell is That?

Do you remember how much fun vacations were as a kid?  How much you looked forward to Christmas vacation and summer vacation?  Sleep until 11 a.m., play until mama called you home by screaming your name through a pitch dark neighborhood. I rode my bike for hours on end.  I made dirt pies.  I practiced cartwheels in the grass. 

As adults, do we really ever take vacation?  I can speak for myself and say without hesitation - a big fat NO.  It is almost impossible for most of us to let go and escape the outside world.  Internet access is everywhere (even on airplanes, which is actually where I am at this very moment), email follows us on our cell phones.  And we SWEAR we will turn it off, walk away.  But do we really?  Again, I sure as hell don't.  And I very much don't like this fact about myself.

Just once a few years ago I took a two week vacation with my husband (pre L-bomb arrival) to his family's lake cottage in northern Michigan.  I did not turn on my laptop.  I unsynced my cell phone so that it would not receive email.  And I came home to over 500 messages, NOT including spam.  3 days and 5 panic attacks later, I was finally caught up.  Was it worth it?  I'm not so sure. 

Now when I take vacation, I check in on email once or twice a day.  Usually first thing in the morning and again at the end of the business day.  But I keep my cell phone with me at all times should I need to be reached.  And maybe to take a quick peek.  Or twelve.  I want to know WHY I do this.  Perfectionism?  Devotion to career?

First, it really is not worth it to me to come home to hundreds of emails b/c the post vacation bliss is immediately erased.  I prefer to clean out the ol' inbox a couple of times a day, delete what is crap, and save (and yes sometimes respond to) the important stuff.  It makes me feel better.  But it comes at the price of never being 100% relaxed and disconnected from the shit that I am trying to get away from in the first place.  My husband does it.  I have co-workers that do it.  I am in awe.  I ENVY them. 

Second, when you throw a child into the mix (and especially a 'spirited' toddler like my sweet baby Lucy), vacations are no longer fun.  They are WORK.  They are stressful.  You spend your time watching and chasing and trying to entertain a child with the attention span of a gnat.  You have to pray upon the kindness of friends and in-laws to watch your demon spawn while you go for a bike ride with your husband.  During which you hold the handlebars with one hand and check email on your cell phone with the other.  And so the vicious cycle continues.  Email actually becomes a welcome distraction from the repeated sound of 'mommy! mommy! mommy!'.  And you know I adore my child.  But damn.  I practically skip when I drop her off at daycare after we return from vacation. 

So I throw out this dilemma to the universe.  How do you turn it off when you take time off?  Is there such a thing as taking vacation anymore? 

Don't even get me started on how I spent my maternity leave...

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Top 3 Pet Peeves...So Many To Choose From!

I often wonder if people have the same conversations in their heads that I do.  When something annoying comes across my radar, I slip into mental super sarcastic mode, whether I  eventually verbally express my thoughts or not.    What I have found is that the same issues come up over and over again.  And my reactions are always the same.  Amused irritation. 

It was difficult to narrow down my pet peeves to just three, but I think that this list is a good representation of the dramas in life that wreak havoc with my sense of humor and my patience.  So without further delay...

3.  Slow drivers in hot cars.  It is one thing to get behind an older person who can barely see above the steering wheel and thus is driving about 25 miles per hour.  This is not necessariily a bad thing.  If you can't see the road, should you be driving at all?  For an average adult, if the speed limit says 65mph, please go 70.  No cop in the world is going to waste his time on you.  Plus, I am going to honk at you as I pass by like there is no tomorrow.  I may give you the finger too, but that depends on my mood.  But I digress...

I am talking about those folks who are creeping down the interstate at 55mph (OR LESS!) driving a car with enough horsepower to fuel a small country.  Why in the world would you spend a bizillion dollars on a sweet ass Corvette ZR1 and go that slow?  Floor that sucker.  Seriously.  Drive like you are on the Autobahn.  Otherwise, you might as well get a scooter and be done with it.  You can better believe that if/when my husband agrees to finally let me get that BMW that I have been eyeing for many many years, you can guaran-damn-tee that I am going to hit 90mph at least once on I-40.  Just because.  It's the principle of the thing. 

2.  Martyrs...stop your bitching.  We often encounter people in our work and personal lives that I like to call "martyrs". And I do not mean this term in a positive way. These are folks who 1. complain about doing things that are their responsibility and 2. then expect praise for doing those very things that are expected of them (and that they willingly agreed to do in the first place). I will also throw into the mix those people who complain about being fat or not liking their hair simply for the purposes of stimulating a compliment (which I don't get b/c the compliment is neither spontaneous or genuine). But I'll leave that subject for a future post perhaps.

To my first point, martyrs talk about how awful their work is b/c they have to do this or that and it sucks. That would be like me saying "I hate my traveling sales job b/c I have to travel." Um, IT'S YOUR JOB. I don't feel sorry for you, not one bit. If you don't like it, quit. Or at the very least talk to someone about ways to make things better for you. Be proactive instead of just complaining all the time.  Stop looking for outside reinforcement, b/c I promise you that a lot of folks already think you are lazy, whiney, and/or a drama queen (or king).


To my second point, do not say to me that "I never hear what a good job I am doing". Okay, let me qualify that statement by saying that folks who go above and beyone their responsibilities AND (this is a must, not an option) expect NOTHING in return, do deserve positive feedback. I'm instead talking about those who need constant attention and praise. It's like in the movie "Beaches" when Bette Midler's mom tells her "You always needed too much attention. Your wore everyone out. I'm sorry, I just can't pay attention to you anymore."  Everyone wants to hear that they are appreciated, well liked, etc., but to expect positive attention constantly is unrealistic, and frankly, annoying.

So be wary of who you complain to - it might just be me looking back at you and saying ''get over yourself".  Everyone one of us has struggles. What makes you any different? It's how you respond to those difficulties in life that truly show your inner power and strength.  As my yoga teacher often says, "you are perfect and whole, just as you are". Damn skippy.

1.  Airline Travel...well DUH.  This one is a no-brainer.  I mean, I probably could just stop here.  But I won't.  Gone are the days when I could arrive at RDU airport 5 minutes before my flight and breeze through security with 8 carry-on bags and my shoes still on.  September 11 changed all of that. 

Honestly, I don't mind that additional screening methods have been employed.  I don't even mind the full body scanners.  If there is a market of perverts out there who get their jollies from looking at my innards, go for it.  Better that than being blown up mid-air.  Think about it. 

What does drive me crazy is the inefficiency of the system at some airports.  Notice I said SOME.  I recently flew through Dallas-Fort Worth, and let me tell you, those guys have their shit together.  Seriously.  There are security checkpoints at every other gate.  In and through in less than 5 minutes.  And that includes laptop out, shoes off, and liquids in the baggie.  Same thing with Munich (and a few other European airports).  There are big dogs and guys with even bigger guns standing everywhere.  Nobody even thinks of getting out of line.  Again, in and done in 5 minutes.  You can even leave your shoes on.  In contrast, I once had a TSA agent in Nashville hold me up for 20 minutes b/c he couldn't identify the 'strange' substance inside the heel of my wedge sandals.  Um, it's cork, you a-hole. 

Furthermore, the status of the security line in terms of busy versus not is completely random.  I have never been able to predict how long it will take.  Morning or night, Monday or Friday, whether I have on red shoes or black shoes...does not matter.  It never fails that the line will be out the front door and wrapped around the parking garage on those days when I am running late.    It is also on those days that they will have 2 lanes open versus the 4 or 5 that they are equipped to run.  The staff is 'on a break'.  Really?

My final rant about airline travel is the issue of baggage.  I never check luggage, EVER. The one time that I did I ended up in Belgium for 3 days with one outfit (the one I was wearing).  And yes, that included underwear. I have become a much more efficient packer since then.  In fact, my suitcase is a work of art.  I can pack for a week in a foreign country with one carry-on bag and my purse.  The key is to stick with one pair of shoes, two if you bring tennis shoes for exercise.  It can be done.  I am convinced that the baggage folks do not actually read the tags on the suitcases.  I mean, after all, DFW looks a heck of a lot like DTW.   I'm just sayin...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Clean-ER Eating, Week 1

In support of a good friend who is participating in a fitness challenge, as well as in an effort to do something good for myself not involving my nails or hair, I recently decided to clean up my diet.  Background - I am a pretty thin person with good exercise habits and an above average metabolism.  I could eat pretty much what I want (and in general I do) and keep the pounds off with regular exercise and occasional diet tweaks.  But, one cannot subsist forever on Pop Tarts and red velvet cupcakes, though I did make a pretty good effort to make it happen.  I wanted to see how I would feel if I tried to limit processed foods, sugar,  and alcohol (good God) and increase my intake of fruits, veggies, and lean protein.

Now, I tried to start this new eating pattern during the week of Thanksgiving, and the results were mixed.  Probably not a smart time to embark on an effort such as this, but honestly, there really is no good time.  So I 'officially' embraced clean-ER eating beginning 5 days ago.   I added egg whites and whole wheat bread, fruits, veggies, and some lean meat (struggling with this one a bit b/c I hate grilled chicken and the only pork I like is southern BBQ) to my diet.  I also started keeping track of what I was eating to see if some meals made me feel better/worse than others throughout the day.  If you want a good app for this type of thing, myfitnesspal.com is awesome, by the way.  It also keeps you honest b/c you document every single thing that you eat. 

I say clean-ER eating, because I will tell you that I have had a beer this week  in addition to a couple of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners.  I don't have a lot of time to cook.  I'm not going to argue that point with those who say that I do, so don't go there.  End of discussion.   IMHO (others I am sure will disagree) it is still better than my usual end of the day entree, Randy's Pizza.  I had a turkey burger last night at a local restaurant, and substituted a side salad for the fries.  So I'm just trying to be a little smarter with my choices.  Not perfect, just smarter.

So after almost one week with what I consider to be no cheats, here is what I have learned so far:

1.  Fiber is not always your friend.  I won't go into detail here, I am sure you can read between the lines.  Let's just say that when you decide to add whole wheat, fruits and veggies to your diet, do it slowly.  Do not eat an apple, 40 grapes, and an orange in the same day.  At least not in the beginning. 

2.  Eating clean is expensive.  It's true.  I've made two trips to the grocery store in one week, and the bill has been no less than $50 each time.  It's not good, it's not bad, it just is.  I will say that I do think it is worth it, at least so far.

3.  Most people will think you are nuts for trying to be healthy.  I run into the same arguments when I try to extol the virtues of exercise to those who don't understand why I workout almost every day without fail.  "You're in shape!" "Why are you trying to lose weight?" (I'm not, by the way.).

I am married to the human version of the Cookie Monster, a 160 pound stick who can eat whatever he wants and not gain weight.  I mean, he actually LOST weight when I was pregnant.  Fact.  I am often awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of him opening candy wrappers or bags of Cheetos.  He thinks I am nuts too, or at least I don't think he fully understands why I am trying to eat better.    Just because I look okay and have a normal BMI, does not necessarily mean that I am healthy.  Bottom line, know that temptation will always be around.  Most folks are not going to accomodate your new eating habits.  They will chow down on that molten chocolate lava cake right in front of you with little to no remorse.  And you know what, that's okay.  Because...

4.  Thank God for the cheat meal.  Oh hell yes.  I have been planning this all week.  Tomorrow night I will be hoovering down a BBQ sandwich, hush puppies, and some cherry cobbler.  And it will probably be the best meal of my life.

I'll end this by saying that after only 5 days my energy level is more consistent throughout the day, I am less cranky (my husband may argue otherwise), and I feel better when I exercise b/c I am not using Peanut MnMs as fuel.  Simple changes can make a big difference. 

But you may still want to hide the cookies in your house if I come for a visit.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Need an Exorcism...Stat!

Toddlers are hideous creatures.  They really are.  And my little bundle of joy is no exception. 

It has been explained to me that the Terrible Twos take place because a child cannot express himself or herself and the result of that frustration is a flailing, screaming mess that can occur anywhere, anytime.

There are phases when it comes to raising a child.  Any parent that says the first 6 weeks to 3 months are 'not so bad' are big, fat liars.   You try and sleep 3 hours a night for weeks and weeks and see how pleasant you are.  It's been said that your memory of that difficult time fades (hence why most folks have more than one child).  Let me assure you, it is burned into my memory.  Permanently.  One of the (many) reasons that Lucy will be our only princess.  Besides, I could never recreate perfection like that. 

One thing though that is FANTASTIC about the first 3 months is the ability to go out for the evening with your friends or a spouse and not have to worry too much about how the baby will behave.  Nine times out of ten, they will sleep soundly in their carseat throughout the whole affair.  So get out of the house NOW.  I speak the truth.

Then comes a transition phase from 3-6 months.  Your little darling can roll over, make eye contact, and give you a smile unrelated to what is going on in his or her diaper.  Still, they are little 'pods' as I like to call them, (and I mean this term affectionately) that need constant supervision.  Babies of this age are still somewhat unpredictable, though in general (IN GENERAL), a parent can breathe just a little.  Notice I said a little.  I still hovered over Lucy's crib every night to make sure she was breathing during this time.  I still do that, by the way. 

So next comes the honeymoon phase from 6 months until around 15 months.   Babies babble and say ma ma and da da (ma ma comes first, as obviously it should).  I think this is a particularly awesome phase for women who in general have a more nurturing instinct than men.   Yes, that includes me.  Don't laugh.  I loved this time with my daughter.  It was amazing to watch her grow and change right before my eyes.  And she would still let me hold her.
The one caveat to the above is that the honeymoon period can become drastically shortened if you have an early walker.  Which, big surprise, we did.  At 9 months.   At first I was so excited.  Yay!  Lucy is a genius!  She's going to take over the world!  HOWEVER - once your kiddo becomes mobile, life as you know it is over.  You will never sit down again.  Ever.

Parenting is for the younger.  I am 38 years old, so by young-ER I mean the 20ish years.  Chasing Lucy around was (and still is) exhausting.  Weekends are not relaxing, vacations are work.  But it's a sacrifice you make for your own little piece of immortality.

So around 15-18 months, toddlers really find their voice.  Loudly.  Repeatedly.  They have no regard for location or the hardness of the floor upon which they are inevitably going to fling themselves multiple times a day.  For no reason.  At least not one that we as parents can figure out.  All of a sudden your sweet little darling becomes Satan-in-waiting.  You never know when their heads will spin.  And of course you can't ASK them what they want b/c they cannot tell you.  So they show you.  It actually became comical at one point, so much so that my husband and I would start laughing at her (trying to hide it from Lucy, of course).  The best thing to do is to walk away and not acknowledge the behavior.  It works 90% of the time.  Lucy's longest tantrum lasted about a minute, the exception being the night she screamed for an hour b/c she did not want to go to bed.  To which our response was going downstairs, shutting ourselves off in the sunroom, and turning up the volume on the TV to a house shaking decibel level. 

It comes to pass during this time period (of course) that we were headed out on a couple of summer vacations.  My husband (and me also, though reluctantly) thought it would be a FANTASTIC idea to drive to northern Michigan so that we would have access to our car.  So off we went.  With a toddler.  And of course the token dog in his crate in the back of the vehicle.  Can't forget that.  Side note:  we made this journey TWICE during the summer.  Twice.   We tried a two day trip (8 hours each day, so 4 days of just travel for a 12 day vacation, figure that one out).  It went something like this:  Scream (Lucy)/Whine (doggie), flail in carseat (Lucy)/scratch bottom of dog crate (doggie), more screams and whining (two legged and four legged creatures respectively), sleep for an hour (both), repeat.  For 17 hours total.  And that is just one way. 

So being the intelligent parents that we are, we decided to drive the entire 17 hours in one day upon our return to NC.  I mean, how bad could it be?  It's only ONE DAY.  Needless to say, that day is another reason why Lucy will remain an only child. 

And yes, we did the whole thing a second time a month later.

Which is why for Christmas this year, mommy and baby Lucy are flying to see family, and daddy is driving.  I am hopeful to get an upgrade, so Delta first class passengers, you have been warned.  Here comes the L-bomb.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advice From the Clueless Mom

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was not super excited about the idea of having children.  Friends and co-workers would talk to me about their kids, and I would immediately glaze over and start doing my grocery list in my head. Now I am a parent, and being a mom is the coolest thing ever. 

Of course I can say that now, 22 months after having my daughter.  At the beginning, not so much. 

I am an only child with limited exposure to children.  I never babysat.  I never worked in the church nursery.  Obviously I did not have siblings to corrupt.  And now here is this living, breathing, screaming, squirming creature who expects me to take care of her.  My husband was as clueless as I was, by the way.  The blind leading the blind.

I read all of the books, I received all of the online pregnancy and parenting newsletters.  I turned in my collection of smut novels and biographies of serial killers for copies of "What to Expect".  I talked to other parents.

And you know what?  NOTHING can prepare you for having a child.  Nothing. 

Example - I chose for personal reasons to bottle feed my daughter (BTW she is healthy and happy).  The books say that bottle fed babies sleep for 4 hours between feedings and breast fed babies for 2 hours.  Now that is more like it, I thought naively.  I can feed her once during the night, and my husband can do the same, and we will just go on our merry way getting 6 if hours of sleep easily.  Piece. Of. Cake.  Um, no.  Lucy woke up every two hours screaming for food.  No sooner was she tucked in, bottles washed, mom back in bed, and BOOM.  Hungry again.  The books also say that most babies  should eat "x ounces" of formula in order to properly grow.  That is CRAP too.  My child ate what she wanted and stopped when she had had enough, often taking much less than what she was 'supposed' to eat.  Babies are pretty good self regulators, I have to say.

My point is that there is no manual, guidebook, or advice for having a baby. You as parents have to find your own way, and let your child guide you. 

At Lucy's first birthday, I proudly declared that I was celebrating the fact that she was still alive after a year.  I was not kidding.  I can barely take care of myself most days. 

So if your child gets off  the feeding schedule or screams for no apparent reason, it will be okay.  I promise.  If I can do it, trust me, anyone can. 

I am still clueless, by the way.  But she's still alive and kicking at 22 months.

We're having a baby...yay?

I never had this strong desire to be a mom like all my other friends.  If it happened, great.  If not, life would go on.  My husband, on the other hand, desperately wanted a family.  He had a very Beaver Cleaver childhood (no one's parents ever got divorced, seriously), and he hoped to recreate that experience for his own children.  I was indifferent to the whole thing. But I thought, what the hell?  Let's give it a shot. 

After two years of trying to conceive - including, my personal favorite - taking drugs that make one a raving lunatic, I had had enough.  Back on the pill for me, I declared.  My husband asked me to give it one more month.  So I did.  And because I was so done with the whole situation, and didn't give a crap if I got pregnant or not, well you can guess what happened.  Yep.  A big plus sign on the test.  All 4 of them that I took. 

How did I feel, you ask?  Scared.  Terrified, actually.  I bolted out of the house, jumped in my car, and drove to my best friend's house at 9:30 on a Saturday night.  I must have looked a fright standing out there banging on the door and yelling "I know you're in there, I can hear you!"  I wasn't yet ready to deal with the actual father of the child.  Because that would make sense. 

I talked things out with my friend, and I have to say, I was still shellshocked several hours later.  So I went back home and called my doctor (yes, after hours, b/c it was an emergency to me!), who told me 1.  "the plus sign doesn't usually lie" and 2.  "no, all the beer you drank last week did not do damage to the baby".  Still not feeling the joy, here.  Waiting, waiting...

The following day, my husband (who by the way actually asked me 'what does the plus sign mean?') and I went for an ultrasound and some bloodwork.  Nothing more humbling than having your junk exposed and your insides displayed on a big ass monitor for the world to see.

And then it happened.  Thump, thump, thump.  Super fast.  Thump, thump, thump.  Is that what I think it is?  Why yes, it's a heartbeat.  OMG.  The image on the screen looked like a lima bean with a disco ball pulsating inside of it.  That was it.  I was in love.  It's a person.  In. My. Body.  And yes, I did make the ultrasound tech look all up in my insides to make sure there was not a second heartbeat.  I mean, let's not get carried away here.

Lucy Alexa Avitabile was born 8 months later.  She is now a 22 month old crazy toddler.  And her mom still thinks she hung the moon. 

More to come later on the adventures of my child, who I affectionately refer to as "the L bomb".