Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shopping Spree

I was pretty convinced for most of the day yesterday that it was Friday.  Imagine my disappointment each time I realized that it was, in fact, Wednesday.  Damn you, Wednesday!  You’re just so looong.


To cheer myself up, I made the best beef stroganoff ever.  The secret is to use lots and lots of golden butter.  And pair it with deep, red wine.  I often sacrifice “healthy” for good.  There is no one in the world who would say that beef stroganoff is good for you, other than that it is food and we need food to live.  No, but it is enjoyable, and in the quest for good health, one must not ignore that really enjoying the experience of food is healthy, too.


I bought a flower shirt at Target so Charles would have more wardrobe choices for me each morning. 


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I’ve been on a bit of a shopping spree lately – nothing extravagant, but things that make me happy.  I bought these three pairs of shoes at Payless (two of them had to be mailed to me):


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You would not believe it from their $20 price point, but the red and gray are some of the most comfortable heels I have ever worn.  The heel is a bit too low (it could do with another half inch), but in the realm of compromises, the comfort of these shoes vastly outweighs the added sexiness of a higher heel.  Also, I’ll point it out again, TWENTY DOLLARS.


(The flowery shoes were not $20.  They were $29.  But they’re super cute.)




I also invested in an enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven.  I am so in love with it and I haven’t even used it yet.  I’m going to make this bread recipe as my first dish in it.  Did I pay $104 for it like the website suggests?  No, I did not.  I paid $53 as it was on sale AND I had a coupon. 


And then I bought something ridiculous for the boys: straw mugs.  You drink out of the straw handle!  $0.99 and tough to clean, but super fun for the boys.  Also, really annoying to Tony when they blow bubbles and splatter a mess out the little hole in the lid.


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Tony and I definitely have different sensibilities when it comes to messes.  For a man who doesn’t notice, EVER, that the baseboards are dirty, he sure gets upset when the boys make “unnecessary” messes.  Like when Jamie drips yogurt all over the table, chair, and floor or gets peanut butter in his hair.  Or when Charles spills his milk for the zillionth time because he placed his cup too close to the edge of the table.  Tony’s frustration with messes like these is palpable, and I think it’s because he sees them as totally avoidable.  I mostly see them as funny.  Kids are going to dump cereal everywhere if you let them eat straight from the box.  Tony would never let them eat straight from the box.  I always do.


Fortunately for our marriage, I’m usually making dinner or cleaning at the time, so the tradeoff for a cereal (or other) mess is a meal or clean dishes.  That wise husband of mine chooses not to complain verbally, merely to roll his eyes and sigh in a long-suffering manner.


Well, I was about to wish you a happy Friday, but it’s STILL not Friday yet.  So, instead, here’s Jamie wondering why on earth he should have to go inside just because it’s starting to rain:


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Little Klutz

My mom has often told me that she was called “Grace” as a child/teenager because she was not – graceful, that is.  Neither am I, and I think it has a lot to do with nearsightedness and poor spatial reasoning skills.  Tony, thank God, is neither nearsighted nor has poor spatial reasoning skills.  In fact, he is gifted in both eyesight and reasoning, spatial or otherwise.  I have long hoped that our kids would inherit both traits.


I’ve just about lost hope for this young monkey, though:


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Kid falls off of everything.  In the past week, he has fallen off of a chair (three times!), the back of the couch (he’s not allowed to get up there!), a stool (he’s not allowed up there, either!), down the stairs (he crawls backwards, I swear!), and off of the bleachers at swimming (in front of everyone!).  He has a fat lip, a goose egg on his forehead, and a hole in his tongue and dammit all, that kid gets right back on the escalator.  He falls while walking, while running, while moving from one piece of furniture to another – if there’s a way to go over something rather than around it, he will try.  And fail.  Because his legs aren’t as long as he thought they were or his fingers not as strong or, shit, I don’t know.  He just falls.  A lot.


Most of the time, he is unharmed.  He looks up at me, stunned after tripping again, and says, “Down!”  Yes, honey, you fell down.  Other times, he cries.


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I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t broken a limb yet, but I imagine that’s coming.  And thank God the falling down the stairs incidents (there have been many, most of them when he was going down them backwards like a good toddler does and the one this morning when he was actually crawling up the stairs) haven’t resulted in a broken neck.  Sheesh, he’s out to give me a heart attack.


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Oh, Jamie, I feel your pain.  I fall down a lot, too.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Redeem Your Life with Dancing & Gin

I often wish my life wasn’t so extreme – I seem to have these terrible lows followed by unsustainable highs.  It has been this way since, well, probably forever (or at least since puberty).  I often tell people that  my friends and I worked harder and partied harder in college than anyone I know.  We would stay up all night (in the library that was open 24 hours) studying during the week – many of us had double majors with honors and studies abroad and took a foreign language and were in a sorority and were involved in music or acting or dance – and then we would blow off steam in a train wreck of partying all weekend long.  It would seem that nothing much has changed, except maybe my understanding of the lows and resultant highs and the frequency with which I hit them.


PMS, right?  It just sucks.  The older I get, the worse it is, and it is always accompanied by a bout of depression and a spiral of hopelessness as I run like a hamster with my cheeks stuffed full of food pellets from one task to the next, barely taking the time to breathe.  That wheel is spinning, all the damn time.  And when my brain chemistry changes for a few days a month, I can’t seem to see beyond it.  And worse, I can’t even remember the next month that I know perfectly well what’s going on here and it’s not my fault and it will pass and maybe I should just go ahead and drink that bottle of wine already.  Some things you can self-medicate.


Actually, thanks to my mom and her love of quackery, I drink Gin & Tonics when it’s that time of the month (I dink them other times, too) because, apparently, tonic water helps with cramps.  So there you go: G&Ts are good for you when you’re crampy.  It’s just science (fuzzy science based on something my mom told me that she heard from someone else who definitely isn’t a scientist).  You’re welcome.


One thing that is great about getting older is how little you have left to lose on the dance floor.  I saw 22-year-old me out there dancing this weekend in several of the girls at the bar, and boy was she insecure.  And damn, those heels were high.  When you’re old, have kids, are happily married, and don’t get out to dance enough, well, you just don’t care.  You dance for fun and because you love it and you have a much better time than you ever did when you were young.  So there’s a silver lining to the wrinkles-and-sag cloud.


Even better?  We danced in celebration of a friend’s 30th birthday to a 90s and early-2000s cover band.  There’s no faster way to take me back to every frat party I ever went to.  The only things missing were a backless shirt, belted jeans, and the aforementioned self-consciousness as I tried to look hot while dancing.  It was wonderful to blow off steam in that way, to hit that high and sweat out the unhappiness of my week with friends.  I wasn’t even hung over, merciful God.


I’m tired today, though.  The extra-hard workout Saturday morning plus four hours of dancing like a drunken idiot (we! did! not! stop! dancing! not! once!) plus getting home at 3 am plus getting up at 8:30 am plus not much sleep last night and yeah, I had coffee and chocolate cake for breakfast this morning (I am a great example to my children).  Which helped me deal a bit better with the fact that I had to carry a screaming and kicking Charles into school today.  But my hormones have leveled a bit, so even though I still want to stab myself in the eye about that kid and his tantrums, and least I didn’t have the urge to just get in my car and keep driving until I’m someplace far, far away and hopefully warmer than here (instead, I drove to work, where the power was out, whee!).


Next month, I’ll aim for less fatalism and more G&Ts, chocolate, and probably some sappy movies or something to dull the pain.  And I’ll try to get all the ironing done before I turn into a mess of PMS-driven angst so that it isn’t taunting me in my darkest hour (“You’ll never get me done!  NEVER!”).

Friday, February 22, 2013

So I Will Buy New Shoes

Okay, so probably what I need is some chocolate and a glass (bottle) of wine and for my hormones to calm down (being a woman is aaaaaawesome!), but I can’t do that (bottles of wine being detrimental to my head and chocolate being detrimental to my waistline).  I can go dancing, which I will do this weekend (for the first time in about a year) with some girlfriends, so that might take the edge off.  If you’re out and about in Bellingham on Saturday night, please flirt with me.  My ego needs a boost. 


I’ve written and deleted this post today several times (all in 30-second increments between tasks!) because I just don’t know what to say.  I hate to continue in the same vein and complain ceaselessly about my feelings of inadequacy; they are there, they are not going away.  I can list them easily enough, the pressures I feel to perform well as a wife, mom, and in my career, the worries that keep me up at night.  Though I am advised to cut myself some slack, it’s impossible to do so – there is nothing in my life that I can let slide any more than it already does.  If I neglect my children, well, I won’t be able to live with myself.  If I neglect work, several people will find their jobs in jeopardy.  If I neglect my appearance or my housework or my marriage, one of the most important people in my life suffers. 


It does some good, to vent in this space.  I like to feel less alone, less isolated.  But it certainly doesn’t lead to solutions, does it?  I can only move on, try daily to be better and do more.


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Self Portrait


One of the stupidest things about being overwhelmed is that I still want more children.  I know, right?  Logic doesn’t even begin to play into this desire.  How could I handle more?  But I want more.  I want to have another infant to cuddle.  Not today, not tomorrow, but someday.  I like to think that there’s an alternate version of me out there that has enough love and time and energy to give to yet another baby.


In the meantime, I’m going to ignore the workout of the day (while trying not to feel guilty about letting down the team and condemning my body to being flabby forevermore) and try to make time in between work, errands, dinner prep, housekeeping, and kids to buy myself some new shoes and a shirt with flowers on it.  Charles always wants me to wear a flower shirt and is always disappointed that I don’t have one and I just want new shoes.  Cheap shoes, but new nonetheless.


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This dress has flowers on it – I wore it for Valentine’s Day.

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But the best I could do today was a flowery scarf.  Damn, I feel and look about a hundred years old.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Day in the Life of Crazy

I got up yesterday at 6 am.  Charles was in bed with us – I think I already explained how he hit me first thing in the morning, ostensibly over my wardrobe choices (specifically over my choice to get dressed at all), Jamie was sleeping, so was Tony, and I had a meeting to get to at 7.  Work for several hours, I left early to get gas and groceries before my dentist appointment, which was the only time all day that I relaxed for even a few minutes, in that blissful dentist’s chair.


I’ve had so much stress in my life lately that I snapped my night guard in half and had to get it replaced (which is expensive).  On Friday.  Which meant that I went the whole weekend clenching my jaw in my sleep with enough force to snap super tough plastic designed to withstand the pressure of the body’s strongest muscles in half.


We’re having a major supplier problem at work, which trickles down to just about every customer we have.  Add that to all the normal stresses of running a business, plus my personal stress of not being able to devote enough time to it or my family or anything else in my life, worries about finances and frustration over stupid decisions made in the past (this house that we’ll be stuck in FOREVER), and you have a jaw-clenching spiral of anxiety.


After I got myself a new night guard (hopefully it’s reinforced for super wear), I proceeded to mangle a salmon I had intended to prepare for a party last night – the head was still on, and the backbone was in and, basically, I’m an idiot.  No one should allow me around fish with a knife.  But no one else was available to help and I destroyed the damned thing beyond recognition so instead of having a healthy protein to take to the party, I made super unhealthy chicken (with mayonnaise.  And cheese).


The party was for our Baby Boot Camp instructor, a wonderful woman who has been my friend for several years.  We’re currently doing a 3-month challenge in Baby Boot Camp to be more fit, healthier, make better food choices (so the bad-for-you chicken was a terrible choice), etc, and I’m now reminded why I didn’t do it last year.


The whole thing makes me feel like a goddamn failure.


Every week there is an email with videos to watch (they’re short and I never get to them), food/eating changes to make, and a daily workout.  I rarely complete any of them, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one.  Every other member of the group posts that she’s done the workout on the FB site, or that she’s lost so many pounds this week, or that she changed her diet to include kale or some such garbage this week.  Me?  I wear heels to work, so I’m unlikely to get down on the dusty floor of my warehouse and do a one-minute plank every hour or 25 jumping jacks every hour.  I get up at the crack of dawn and go-go-go all day long, so I’m unlikely to find time between work, groceries, meetings, dishes, dinner prep, swim lessons, and anything else that comes up to do a daily workout or a morning plank routine or hip bridges or anything else.  Hell, I write this blog in 30-second snippets in between work tasks.


And it’s not that I don’t WANT to do these fitness things; I would love to be stronger and more fit.  I don’t have time to give my children and dog, let alone my husband, the attention they deserve.  How can I add another workout to my list? 


And then there’s the pressure of knowing I’ll be doing Ragnar this summer.  When will I find the time to run?


So after I mangled the fish and set some chicken out to thaw, I picked up the boys from preschool, carted them home, and snuggled them while I read books.  We then frantically beat feet to swim lessons (snuggling and reading frequently make us late for other obligations) where I chased Jamie around while Charles worked on side-breathing.  Then we ran home, grabbed the chicken from the oven, and went to the party.  Where Charles threw a fit when it was time to go home.  None of the other kids did, but you know, F*&#ing Fours.


The kids were in bed by 9ish, Tony was reading me depressing articles from the internet, and I was trying to lull myself to sleep with a trash novel by 10:30.  I feel guilty about the time I spend reading at night, but truthfully, I just don’t have the mental or physical energy to do anything else and I need the escape so badly.  I am in awe of these people who have clean houses, who do workouts at night, who meal-plan or cook for the week in one fell swoop.




I’m overwhelmed, you guys.  And when I’m overwhelmed, I look in the mirror and all I see is failure.  I look around at my friends and all I see are people who dress better, look better, have better-behaved children, cook better, clean better, and who clearly are not as stressed as I am.  It’s a stupid downward spiral of self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness.  The guilt at any little indulgence I allow myself, be it chocolate or reading at night, is near-crippling.  I know that I will survive and make it to tomorrow, and I certainly don’t want to give up anyone or anything that I have, but I just don’t know how to do anything well anymore.  I just don’t know how to feel pretty or successful or good about myself.  It is so hard to like myself, let alone love myself.


When you do your best, and it’s not enough, what then?  My expectations really aren’t that high to begin with…

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

F*%&ing Fours

The Terrible Twos weren’t so terrible for Charles.


Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments.  I distinctly remember the time I couldn’t get Charles into his carseat – I was several months pregnant at the time – after picking up a pizza and we sat in the parking lot, Charles screaming, me openly weeping at my plight, for maybe 45 minutes until Tony could come and rescue us from each other.


Tony’s always been better at bending Charles to our will, especially since Charles figured out that there were limits to my physical strength.


But ages two and three were fun in spite of the constant energy, clinginess, and sleep troubles.  He was easily distracted if things didn’t go his way, everything was new and interesting, and bribery totally worked.  Time out worked with some success.  He took naps.  Exhaustion resulted in sleep, not tantrums.  It has always been tough to mother Charles, but I think we have reached a whole new level of difficulty with age four. 


He’s bigger.  He’s stronger.  He knows much more about what he wants, how he wants it, and when he wants it.  He understands when he is not getting his way and is unwilling to be distracted by shiny things or fun activities.  He’s struggling to seize power from us.  And he lashes out when he’s angry.


Last night, I sent Tony off to enjoy some time out with the gang from my office at pub trivia while I put the kids into bed.  Charles refused to brush his teeth or have his teeth brushed.  Then he refused to get into bed, so I picked him up and put him in, an act which earned me a screaming, kicking fit.  Charles threw himself on the floor in the hall, effectively putting an end to my efforts to get Jamie to bed, who, by that time, was exhausted and showing it by throwing his own screaming tantrum when I took his toothbrushes away from him by force.  The great thing about Jamie (largely due to his age, I’m sure) is that when he is mad, his temper burns hot and fast and then he sticks his thumb in his mouth and snuggles into my shoulder and calms right down.  Despite Charles’s terrifying screams, Jamie finally went to sleep.


Charles, however, continued to rage.  The neighbors probably thought that I was pulling out his toenails one-by-one.


I eventually sat down next to him in the hall and held open my arms.  He crawled in, snuffled into my shirt, and I calmly explained why we have to brush our teeth (he didn’t care) and also that he was losing library privileges for a whole week.  If he could go a whole week without throwing a fit at bedtime, he could go back to the library and take home a sack of books.


He crawled into our bed around 3:30 am.  I got up for a meeting at 6, and as I was getting dressed, he woke up and said, “Mommy, why are you wearing that?!”  When I told him I was getting dressed for work, he got out of bed, walked over to me, and smacked me right on the back while screaming “no!”  The little jerk.  (We don’t hit him and tell him “no!” by the way, so he isn’t mimicking.)


Our constant discipline of Charles is wearing on me.  He gets a lot of time out.  He often has privileges, toys, and books revoked.  We’ve embarked on a program to give him more responsibility, more little “jobs” like wiping down the table after dinner and making sure books and shoes are organized and in their places, in the hopes that he will learn to do these things without them being extraordinary requests that cause a fight.  He responds well to love and cuddling, but not at all to discipline.  And frankly, I don’t feel like cuddling him when he is kicking at me and throwing food on the floor and screaming and telling me “no!”


Oh, Charles.  When he is good, he’s very, very good.  But when he’s bad, he’s terrible.


This is a good chance for you all to weigh in and tell me that it gets better… that five, six, and seven will not be so horrible.  That powers of logic and reason may develop soon in my son’s brain and we’ll all get some relief from the violence of his misbehavior.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beach Babies There on the Sand

Sunny weekends at the beach can be near-perfect:


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Oh, plus pizza with friends, time spent with both my parents and my in-laws, brainstorming business ideas, a beautiful Sunday-morning run along the bay, and an astonishing amount of food ingested by my children.


Here is what they ate on Saturday ALONE: two bowls of Rice Krispies (each), a half an English muffin with jam (each), a link or two of sausage (each), MY bowl of Cheerios with yogurt and jam (which they stole and devoured), and two fried eggs… and THEN WE WENT TO BREAKFAST, where they each had a pancake and scrambled eggs and milk, and then our friend Mike made Charles a plate-sized Mickey Mouse pancake, which he nearly finished.  Then we went home for naps and chill time and then after nap went to McDonald’s, where Jamie ate five chicken nuggets and Charles ate an entire cheeseburger, they both had fries and ice cream, and Charles ate both packets of apple slices.  THEN they had some cherry cream-cheese pie, some popcorn, and some applesauce at snack time.  And we haven’t even gotten to dinner yet!  At dinner they ate rice and veggies and meatballs with milk.  Phew.  Neither asked for a bedtime snack.


I think they’re growing.


We came back Monday to a dirty house.  Tony worked all weekend long, and by all weekend, I mean that when I talked to him every evening or even late at night while we were gone, he was either taking his dinner break and about to head back to the office or he was at the office.  Tax season is a good time for us to leave – we all miss Tony, and I think he misses us, but allowing him to work without feeling distracted or guilty for being gone is the best for him and for us.  It’s easy for me to slip into resentment this time of year, and that’s not constructive.  This is the nature of his job, it will soon be over, it pays the bills.


However, I have decided that I am going to cull the herd, so to speak, in his underwear drawer so that he will have no choice but to do laundry more often when he is home alone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I love you. I really do.

I woke up this morning to two little monkeys looking me straight in the face at 7 am (Charles gently stroking my nose).  Damn near gave me a heart attack.


It seems Jamie has learned to climb out of his crib (perhaps with help from Charles) when he wants to get up.


There’s a lot of love in my life.  Most of it has a snotty nose or a stinky butt and makes a lot of noise, but some of it brings home shortbread cookies and makes me coffee in the morning and even schedules surprise date nights.  All of it, even the stinky part, fills my heart. 


Which my heart needs as soon as it stops beating out of my chest after being startled awake by my sons.


May your life be as blessed.


VDAY 2012

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Swim Lessons in Sanity

There’s a woman who takes her three boys to swim lessons every week who is an amazing source of encouragement to me.  Her youngest is five years old and I get the impression that she looks upon me and Charles and Jamie both pityingly and wistfully – she’s been where I’ve been, and she looks survived.


I don’t even know her name, but she is one of the best parts about swim lessons for me.  She always smiles encouragingly and comments about how her oldest was the easiest, or that you can take them to a half hour of swimming and they still have so much energy you don’t know what to do with them, or that she loves swim lesson day because they take showers at the Y and they don’t have to think about bathtime. 


She looks great – fit and healthy and not aged and rundown by her boys the way I sometimes imagine I will look in a few years.  She’s firm in her corralling of them and the boys seem to be genuinely good kids.


I want to be like her someday, looking back from a position of having been there, offering some other woman in the trenches of early motherhood a serene smile and a few well-placed comments indicating that it does get easier and even better with the passage of time.  That having boys will continue to be an overwhelmingly energetic lifestyle but one that will always be fun.


Right now, I am the mom whose temper is short.  Who is exhausted by 8 pm.  Who is tired of disciplining for the same offenses day after day.  Who can’t understand her 19-month-old when he is clearly upset and wants something specific but cannot communicate what that specific thing is.  Who feels pulled in too many directions at once (Dinner!  Work! Laundry!  Dishes!  Play with the kids!  Read my book!  Play with the dog!  Exercise!) and isn’t giving proper attention to anything.


The fifteen minutes we spend in the locker room after swim lessons twice a week serve to remind me that others have gone before me and survived; surely I will, too, even if one kid won’t get out of the shower and the other kid is trying to run away.  In the meantime, I’ll try to refocus my energy on enjoying my children and letting some other stuff slide.  All they want for dinner is Mac N Cheese anyhow.


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Monday, February 11, 2013

Vomitorium 2013, Take 2, 3, and 4

If you’re not a parent, or maybe you’re a new parent and don’t yet have a four-year-old, one thing that will definitely astonish you when the time comes is the impressive volume of your child’s stomach.  Especially if you are noting said impressive stomach volume at midnight when your child has evacuated the entire contents of same.  All over his bed.  And then manages to do it again an hour or so later.


I would recommend, to all you mothers out there, that if your family is going to get sick, to do it in the manner in which we all fell to a stomach virus this weekend: first your husband, then your kid, then you.


Tony came home early from work on Friday, something that is so rare that I knew he must be super ill.  When I got home from a run with the dog, I found him curled in bed.  I picked up the kids, we shopped for some 7-Up for Mr. Sick, and returned home.  I kept our little darlings occupied, we had dinner, I did bedtime, and all was well.  Tony actually felt better around 10:30 pm, so he got out of bed and went downstairs to stretch his achy muscles.


I thought everything would be fine. 


I am such a sucker.


Charles started vomiting around midnight.  Tony started our first of many loads of disgusting laundry immediately following that episode while I holed myself up in the bathroom and proceeded to get sick.  By 3 am, I was vomiting, too, and worrying about dehydration because I was, by then, losing water from both ends.


It hit me harder than any of our boys.  I could barely crawl out of bed at noon, while Charles was already bouncing off the walls and Jamie, having conquered the sickness a few days previously, was his normal, happy, teething self. 


While this clearly sucked balls for me, the extremely sick one, it was probably the best option for the family if all of us had to get sick.  For one thing, I hate it when the others are sicker than I am – I love these boys, and I want them all to be fine.  It’s far easier for me to be scarily ill than to see them be so.  For another, I was so sick that even assuming that the three of them ate marshmallows for breakfast and watched Diego all day didn’t bother me in the least.


We chose to quarantine ourselves for most of the weekend, though Tony and Charles ventured out a bit Sunday.  And we have a “finished” home improvement project (a whole saga with bathroom light fixtures that simultaneously look much better than the old ones and make everything look much worse, underscoring the need to patch sheetrock, paint, and tile the floors this summer) to show for it.


I have welcomed coffee back into my life, and bread and bananas, but I’m still a bit wary about other foods.  Perhaps tomorrow, cheese.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrating Love/Ideal Gifts

Tony and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Well, there was one year that we did, when Tony was still in school and I was off of work for some reason in the middle of the day (maybe I started work at 3 that afternoon – I was working the front desk at a hotel in Blaine), so we had a lovely Valentine’s Day lunch and Tony brought me flowers and wine (wine with lunch!  Scandalous!) and these pretty painted wine glasses, one of which we still have (the other broke, which is not a symbol of our broken love, but rather an example of either clumsiness or why one shouldn’t throw a football in the house – I can’t remember which).  And, I guess, the year before we “celebrated” when we did a naked, tandem bungee jump in Nanaimo (that bungee operation has since been sold to a larger company of bungee parks and no longer does the charity Valentine’s nude jump party – probably because it was too cold) and Tony gave me a beautiful heart-shaped diamond pendant that I still wear sometimes when I’m sure small, peanut-butter covered fingers aren’t going to be grabbing it.


Since then, though, we don’t really do Valentine’s Day.  We don’t go out.  We don’t exchange gifts.  We don’t do special meals.  Tony is a CPA and this is his busiest time of year – it’s not fair to expect him to make some grand gesture of love to me when he is tired, stressed, and working 14 hours a day, even on Saturdays.  I bought some unreasonably cute Valentine’s cards to send to family (I’ll post them here on the 14th) and I plan to make cookies for Charles’s and Jamie’s party at preschool. 


It’s less stressful this way, and I am starting to understand that Tony doesn’t get the whole gift-giving thing, anyhow.  It’s just so much easier to let this holiday go.  Same with our anniversary.  OF COURSE we celebrate our anniversary, but I don’t want or expect big, showy presents.  I don’t need Tony to re-declare his love to me with expensive jewelry or something.  Instead, if we can continue the tradition started last fall with dinner and a movie out, I will be a happy camper.


I read this post on Milk & Cookies and I was thinking, hmm, what DO I want for Valentine’s Day?  Or rather, what do I want on significant, gift-giving holidays like my birthday or Christmas or Mothers’ Day (that one totally counts as a gift-giving holiday, too)?


Well, this is where it would be useful if Tony knew how to work Pinterest, though I can’t see him ever setting up an account, because things I like/want are right there.  As all women know, I don’t want what I need, I want what I want.


I like flowers, especially because they feel so girly, and my life has become dominated by boy stuff over the past few years.  The bouquets at Costco are the best; full, multi-colored, and not full of lilies.  Barring that, I love peonies, daisies, and daffodils.  What I really need for flowers is a larger variety of vases, but I don’t have room for them.  And I would be afraid of them getting hit by a football (there is a no-throwing-balls-in-the-house rule, but it is frequently forgotten).


Every woman loves jewelry, but I really don’t want expensive stuff.  Although a strand of pearls would be nice, funky, bold-colored, costume jewelry is where it’s at.  Like this:




I would like to have lots more cheap jewelry, and then a good way to organize it.  Like a jewelry box.  I’m thinking of buying myself one as soon as I can justify spending $100 plus shipping on myself, and this is the one I’m considering:



From – it’s wall-mount, so hopefully little fingers won’t be able to paw through my stuff until they’re old enough not to want to.


And chocolates.  I was in the bad, bad habit of buying myself a box of See’s chocolates when I was nursing Jamie and craved chocolate ALL THE TIME.  I always got a half pound of Milk Chocolate Buttercream and a half pound of Milk Chocolate Bordeaux.  I think you can understand, based on recent posts about eating well and losing weight, that I don’t do this anymore, but gift chocolate doesn’t count.


And I love silly home-decor stuff.  I would love to have decorations for every holiday imaginable, but right now I have Christmas and Halloween covered, and that’s it.  And my Halloween decorations need beefing up.  But also, I love funky home decor that serves a purpose, like these awesome wall hooks:






And, obviously, a sappy love note will always do.


So what about you?  What do YOU want for Valentine’s Day?  Also, what do you do for Valentine’s Day?  I think there’s this vague notion that all the cool people go out to a fancy, romantic dinner on February 14th, but I don’t know anyone who actually does.  I’m going to my exercise class with the kids and then coming home to make dinner.  The next morning, I’m packing the kids and dog up to leave Tony in peace for the long weekend.  So I guess that is a Valentine’s gift of sorts: here, honey, have a whole weekend to yourself!… so you can go to the office and work like a fiend.  Okay, maybe that’s not so great a gift after all.  This time of year sucks.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vomitorium 2013

When I picked Jamie up from preschool yesterday, he was in “loaner” clothing, something that is NOT a good sign.  Loaner clothes can mean a variety of things, of course: diaper changes didn’t happen frequently enough, so they leaked; breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks were particularly gooey that day; the kids played outside in the mud; or, the dreaded, “he’s been vomiting for the past forty-five minutes, but we didn’t call you because we knew you were on your way anyhow.”  Guess which one happened yesterday?


He toddled over to me, all sad eyes, and promptly started gagging when I picked him up.  I did that mom thing, where you put your hand out to catch the barf because you don’t really want it all over your clothes.  When he was done, though, the poor kid just snuffled his pukey face right into my shoulder anyway, so what was originally not a laundry day turned into a several-loads day.


He threw up a few times over the course of the evening, each time preceded by several seconds by a volcanic rumbling I could hear from across the room and then a coughy-gagging noise.  But he ate food at dinner and kept drinking water, so even when he woke up to vomit around midnight, I didn’t get too worried.  Since last summer, I’m a bit more paranoid about dehydration than other symptoms of illness.  Indeed, this morning he was mostly fine.


And therein lay the dilemma: do I take him to school or keep him home?  It’s a difficult thing for working parents, and I know that I have it better than most.  I can take either of my children into work at any time, do what I need to do, and go home.  My hours at the helm of the business accounts aren’t recorded or judged.  I have a job to do, and yes, I need to be present most of the time to take care of daily management needs, but as long as I get the bills paid on time, I can stay home with a sick kid.  Not everyone is so fortunate.


But it’s not easy to keep one of my babies home.  Working remotely stresses me out, and when I miss work, I miss work.  Tasks pile up on my desk, issues go unresolved, I feel less than fulfilled for the day.  I would, as most working moms would, love to spend more time with my kids, but I hate feeling pulled in two (or more) different directions.  Work is important to me.  And my children love school.  They love the attention, they love the social interaction, and they love the structure.


I ultimately decided to take Jamie to school.  He was happy this morning, running around, yelling at the garbage truck, eating his breakfast and feeding bits to the dog.  Perhaps I made the wrong decision, but I assured the preschool teachers that they should call me the instant he seems to be feeling ill again.


photo (52)


Here’s hoping it was just a twelve-hour bug.  And here’s hoping none of the rest of us get it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To Hell with This

Well, that was a SPECTACULAR failure.  By the time I was ready to pick up the kids at 3:30 yesterday, my tummy was rumbling with hunger and I only had 350 calories on the little calorie counter left to spend on dinner.  Then I went to my Baby Boot Camp class and felt light-headed by about halfway through (but did I stop?  No!  I never quit!  There are people watching, so I do more pushups and more jump squats and more more more!).  The workout, which I classified on my “My Fitness Pal” (it is NOT my pal) app as “calisthenics,” was worth 500 calories, which I promptly spent on dinner of ranch chicken with rice and green beans.  YOU try to eat a yummy dinner that doesn’t reach 800 calories.  I came in juuuuuust barely under 1200 net calories for the day.


And I was miserable.


So I changed the app, because I’m not quite ready to give up yet, and lowered myself to losing 1/2 lb a week – which means that I will take approximately five months to lose 10 lbs.  That’s discouraging in and of itself.  But at least it gained me 200 calories to spend every day, soooo… oh, wait.  Now that I’ve plugged lunch into the app, I can see that I have 425 calories to spend for the rest of the day.  Unless I go for a run, then I will have 300 more.  I fucking hate this.


That’s it.  I’m done.  I’m erasing this terrible app from my phone right now.


I am NOT fat.  I know this, I truly do.  And I eat really healthy food with the occasional treat.  I don’t eat stuff I know to be super unhealthy (like pop), but I do enjoy good cheese, the occasional glass of wine, and I like to bake.  I like real butter, and lots of it.  I like to exercise


I don’t like worrying and fretting about what I’m putting into my mouth and I don’t like the sense of failure I have when I eat something that “costs” more calories.


Being fit is the goal, and I’m clearly not doing myself any favors by tracking what I eat.  I certainly don’t want to pass out every time I exercise.  Let’s just all be reasonable about this, m’kay?  To hell with counting calories.


In other news, I got my hair cut:


photo (51)


I like it.  It’s a bit choppy at the bottom, a really blunt cut, but I’ll probably have my lovely stylist add a few layers next time and all will be well with the world.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying having a kicky little flip at the bottom, or softening the look by curling it under.  It’s a nice change.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mother Love (or Hate)

I started a fitness program today: The MOLO Challenge.  It’s an adjunct to the regular Baby Boot Camp classes I participate in three times a week, which are, themselves, kind of like CrossFit with strollers and no weights.  I’m pretty strong and feel pretty fit these days – though I’m sick right now and am therefore trying to decide if I should stay home with a cup of tea this afternoon or take a dog for a run before picking up the boys and going to Baby Boot Camp – but I still haven’t reached what I would consider my “ideal weight.”


I’ll just put it out there: I weigh, depending on the day of the month and the time of day, between 145 and 150 lbs.  The morning I got married, I weighed 132.  I am a size six.  I have been doing Baby Boot Camp for over a year.  I did not do the MOLO Challenge last year because I had a six-month-old and the body to go with him and I didn’t want to see, on a daily basis, just how much work I would have to do to get rid of that body.  I would rather never weigh myself and never have anyone measure my butt, thighs, or waist.  And for God’s sake, please don’t anyone look at my arms flapping when I wave.


The MOLO Challenge (I think it stands for Mother Love) includes lots of extra, out-of-class fitness activities like planking before bed and 30 seconds of high knees throughout the day, as well as nutritional challenges.  And this is where I’m stuck this week.  I downloaded the nutrition app onto my phone and started inputting my weight, height, goals (I think 135 lbs is a reasonable goal), and food consumption.  The app tells me that in order to lose 1 lb a week, and thus getting me to my goal in four months or so, I have to consume 1200 calories a day. 


I eat so well, you guys.  So well.  And there’s no WAY I’m going to be able to stick to 1200 calories a day.  I’m within 400 of my daily allowance right now and this is what I’ve eaten today: Raisin Bran with almond milk for breakfast, an apple, a small green salad with homemade vinaigrette, a whole-wheat tortilla, and two slices of cheese for lunch, and some homemade monkey bread for a snack.  Also, coffee and lots of water.  It’s not even 2 pm… how can I last until bedtime on 400 calories?


The only thing on that list that isn’t good for me is the monkey bread, so I guess I can cut out all joy from my life and stop baking good things for my family to eat.  Maybe then I’ll be allowed to have more than just chicken and broccoli for dinner.


Argh!  Dieting, I hate you!  I felt pretty damn good about myself this weekend, and now, just by having an app tell me that in order to lose a little weight I’m going to need four months and starvation, I’m right back where I used to be.  Hating this body, hating these extra pounds, hating my advanced age.  This is why I never do this stuff – it’s supposed to be empowering and it just makes me feel like a failure.  Will it be worth the negative effects to my psyche if I lose the spare tire?  I’m just not sure.

Monday, February 4, 2013

They’re Bookish Lads

I’ve maybe done too good a job of reading to my children.  Oh, sure, it’s one of the most important things you can do to help develop your child and get him ready for school and blah, blah, blah, but what about me?  I don’t have a minute to myself that my children are not clamoring for me to read them a story.


Jamie wants his stories all day long, but especially, it turns out, when I am trying to get dressed, do my makeup, or brush my teeth.  Charles particularly enjoys stories when I am trying to make dinner.  Is it any wonder we never get anywhere on time?


My new solution to the problem is to have Charles “read” to Jamie.  I figured out that he could do this after he spontaneously picked up a book and started reciting it to Jamie on the couch (he’s embarrassed about loving his brother so much, I think):



Charles doesn’t actually read the stories – he just knows most of them by heart because we read them so often.  Jamie really loves Go Dog, Go! by PD Eastman and any and all of the Sandra Boynton board books.  He wants me to read them over and over and over and over and over again while he snuggles in my lap, sucking his thumb.


Charles is currently into the Babar books by Jean de Brunhoff.  Man, those stories are LOOOONG.  I swear, by the time I’m done reading to both of the kids each night, my throat hurts from the exertion.


I’m not really complaining, of course.  I’m so happy that these boys are readers and I’m really looking forward to the days when we can read some of the great classics (Harry Potter included) together.


Until then, though, it would be nice if I could just have five minutes to get ready in the morning without hearing, “Mommy, would you read me a story?” or “Book!  Book!”