Friday, February 29, 2008

Crowning Achievements

Raising children is a constant challenge. For me one of the biggest challenges is not to project my own childhood fears, hurts and expectations on my kids. I was the chubby smart kid with glasses growing up in a rather sheltered small town in Southern Ohio. The place we live today is light years from that place but it doesn't stop me from worrying about how they will fare. In author Jenifer Fox's new book Your Child's Strengths she offers tools to discover your child's activity, learning and relationship strengths. Check out her book and the Parent Blogger Network's Blog Blast-Get Out the Brag Book. Read on to hear more about my amazing kids and their strengths.

My oldest daughter is striking. Everywhere we go people remark on her looks and tell us we are in trouble when she hits her teenage years. I have little doubt they are right, she and her high drama is already giving us a taste of what might be in our future. On the flip side of the high drama is a really sweet kid. While at home she may be Ms. Moody, at school she is apparently that kid that teachers just can't resist. She isn't the highest achiever in her grade. She does well but she isn't reading three grades ahead or doing high school math which is what I might have thought of as school success in our achievement obsessed world. Instead when I have been to conferences with her teachers I hear that she is kind, compassionate, good natured and enthusiastic. This year it was almost embarrassing when her math teacher told us that she just might be her favorite kid in the 13 years that she has taught. Watching her on the soccer field congratulating other players for a great play or helping them when they are down has made me really appreciate the kind side of her. These conversations have reminded me that raising good people is really what parenting is all about. Having a kid who is comfortable at home to let it all out and go into the world and have other people want to be around her is great. I sometimes worry about her getting hurt when other people aren't as nice as she is. Thus far she seems to have a natural ability to shrug her shoulders and move on. So far, PDQ is the queen of the relationship.

My younger daughter is much less outgoing than her sister. She tends to hang back and survey a situation where PDQ jumps right in. Sometimes I am amazed at the things that she picks up through hanging back and assessing everything before acting. I don't always appreciate her careful study when I am in a hurry but I envy her ability to consider the options before taking the leap--not one of my finer traits. Through her thorough check of every situation she can plan and execute a plan to do whatever it is that she, or her sidekick Tippy Tornado, have cooked up. When they went to daycare together and he wasn't speaking much she'd get what he was trying to tell her and she'd plot to retrieve his binky from the back of the kitchen counter and succeed. I believe that Boobah will be the queen of learning, both in the classroom and out.

My inner rocker

I have been a country music fan for the past 15 years. Last night the inner rocker came right back out of hiding. Esmerelda and I went to see Bon Jovi at the Verizon Center in DC. We had a good time catching up, having a good brisk walk, people watching and singing along with Jon. I saw someone in their vintage Slippery When Wet t-shirt, I remember that from high school and I just had my 20 year reunion. The crowd was entertaing to watch--grandparents & grandkids, families, drunk college guys, lots of mid-30s to mid-40s folks and the librarian looking lady behind us totally rocking out!

Jon has definitely gotten better with age, Richie, not so much!

Here is the playlist from the show:
SLEEP w/ Jumpin' Jack Flash
BLAZE OF GLORY w/ Knockin' On Heaven's Door intro


Just really great music from 1983-present, there is a band with some staying power! Oh the memories some of those songs brought back. Obviously I haven't been to a concert in a really long time because the $60 t-shirts made me blanch!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mall Hair and Parachute Pants

Tonight Esmerelda and I are going to see Bon Jovi. When last I really listened to Bon Jovi mall hair and parachute pants were the rage. Where I grew up mall hair and "spraying for height" in ones bangs is still WAY too common but that is a whole other post! I went to my twentieth high school reunion last summer and I am sure I will be thinking of those folks tonight when Es and I are rocking out!

These days my taste runs more to the country side of things so I hope I get to hear this song:

It was a swim morning at 5:15 so I also hope I don't embarrass myself by falling asleep and drooling on the Metro!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What IS that smell?

Our bed is horrible. I got a bonus at work and we decided it was time to spend it on our comfort and hope that it might improve our sleep experience. On Saturday I told Boobah we were going to go buy a new mattress when we went to pick up PDQ from a birthday party. And only as a four year old could put it we had the following conversation:

Me: We're going to buy a new bed after we pick up PDQ.

Boobah: Why do you need a new bed?

Me: Because ours stinks!

Boobah: Oh, that is because Daddy farts in it all the time!

So now GMan and I await our new Tempurpedic bed. Funny how once the decision was made the old bed is even MORE uncomfortable. I am counting the days until the spring quits jabbing me in the hip.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Maven Tris Harder

Many months ago I signed up to do an indoor triathlon on February 23. Its amazing how quickly February 23rd rolled around. I've been working out since September and taking the tri training class for a month. I had myself convinced that it was "only" an hour. I work out for 2ish hours on Sunday mornings, an hour, no sweat. Apparently I was delusional. There were the 5 days the previous week that I was pretty much out of commission with the cold/flu/sinus thing and I am sure that contributed to my less than stellar performance.

Esmerelda arrived at our house bright and early on Saturday morning and we were off. We got to the club and scoped things out. Four swim lanes, water not too cold, I can do this I thought, no sweat. Not exactly. The last time I swam prior to Saturday was awful. My sinuses were still acting up and the very act of swimming laps made me nauseous. Saturday morning I felt good. The people around us were friendly. Although I must say that the one man in lycra shorts had Es and I giggling like school girls. I started out on my first lap and the panic set in. I. Can't. Breathe. I labored through every stroke. I turned on my back once just to breathe for a few seconds. I could feel myself sweating. If you've never found yourself hot and sweaty in the pool, its a really bizarre experience. Finally about 8 of the 10 minutes had elapsed and I found my groove and managed to feel like I belonged in the water. All too few laps and it was done. I finished 14 laps.

Next we went to the locker room to try and peel off the swim suit and wiggle into bike shorts. This is no small feat when you are wet. They kept coming to the door of the locker room and giving us a count down of how much time we had left. I got my bike adjusted and started riding. They had the bikes set to a tension level that you couldn't change. A couple minutes in my seat clicks, okay I figure I just didn't have the pin set all the way. Then it clicks again. I had to get some help to fix the seat while I continued to pedal away with people crouched behind me. I managed to get in 6.55 miles with my crotch complaining about my less than stellar shorts the entire time. Es was on the other side of the circle of bikes seriously kicking butt. Her legs were flying--I just checked and she finished second of all the women on the bike and that was just by .04 miles. She SO rocks the bike! From the bike we had 5 minutes to get to the run.

The run. Or in my case run/walk. It was brutal. After the swim and bike my calves knotted up almost immediately after I started running. A few minutes in I accidentally killed the treadmill and had volunteers swarming around me to try and get me started again. It managed to run a bit and walk and bit and get through 20 torturous minutes, 1.;37 miles. It didn't help that I'd left my iPod at home.

I have to say, nothing feels better than finishing. After stretching out a bit I truly felt great. I get why people exercise and compete--the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. It was a good reminder of how much work I still have to do to get me through the other two tris I've signed up for. I didn't finish last, that was one of my other goals. I was third from last in the women and when I went to look at the overall results I finished better than the last several men as well. I'll take it. I did have a moment when I was looking and saw what I thought was the age and the women after me were 72 and 90. Thankfully those were the bib numbers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mavens New Groove

I spent a lot of my sick time thinking about what it means to be healthy and have a healthy lifestyle. Obviously some of my healthy habits are sticking, everyday one of the first things I considered was "do I feel good enough to work out?" For four days the answer was not just no but, hell no! Yesterday though I asked the question and decided yeah, I was ready to go, first I hopped out of bed and signed up for today's cycling class so I didn't end up on the waiting list. I went for a good 30 min run yesterday afternoon. I could have done more but I kept telling myself that I needed to ease back into things and not push it. The really cold wind didn't hurt that decision making process either. This morning I made it to that cycling class and again held back just a little bit, having to dig out a tissue halfway through was a good reminder. And tomorrow morning I'll be back in the pool at oh-dark-thirty for my first swim since being sick.

Although my exercise routine has been great for the past several months the pounds are not disappearing. Four days in bed did get me a 10 pound weight loss. That weight loss has really inspired me to try harder in the food department.

For the four days that I laid in bed I watched a lot of TV, much of it either on FitTV or Discovery Health. Sunday I caught quite a bit of Dr. Oz and Dr. Rosen talking about healthy eating and exercise. Watching them make house calls and throw out 90% of the stuff in people's pantry and explain how easy it is to do a makeover of your eating habits. Eliminate things with refined ingredients, sugar in the first 4 ingredients, hydrogenated oils and you are well on your way. The other thing was eating food in a more natural state gets you the most bang for the buck. So I am reading more labels and traded my Weight Watchers bagels for some smaller but whole wheat ones for about the same calories. I have stocked up on more fruits and veggies.

Last night my TV orgy continued with The Biggest Loser Couples. They got to go home for a visit and the show followed what they did while they were there. Watching them back with their families in the real world was interesting. Two of the guys were freaking out a bit over things their kids were eating. One little boy kept finding the donuts no matter how many they took away from them. In another family they found healthy options for the adults and then when the food came and they realized they had huge plates of fried foods for the kids they felt bad. I know that I fall into that trap as well. Gman and I have really tried to start moving the kids to healthier habits--less dessert, more fruit, more veggies, and trying to understand what is acutal hunger rather than just wanting to eat.

All of those things lead me to one conclusion, I need to be more intentional about my food and exercise choices. I need to remember that my choices extend to the health of my family. I hope the changes I am making will help us all be happier and healthier. When the weather is warmer I hope we can all spend more time outside in physical activities rather than at home in front of the tube. So to help me with those goals I have joined the Healthy Lifestyle Bloggers over at IowaAvenue. Another site that I found recently and love is Half of Me, which chronicles a 2+ year journey to lose half her body weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle. I love her quirky style and her honesty, good week or bad she reported her weight loss through it all. Now that she is closer to her goal she shares her new exercise and food experiences. Finally, I have been visiting Sparkpeople again to account for my food and exercise (and its free!).

Here's to healthy choices!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Love you, mean it! (8 ways!)

Today I am (happily) back in the office pounding away at my keyboard. I don't know that I've ever been so happy to get out of the house. I threw away all our toothbrushes, I gave the children a stern lecture on handwashing, keeping their hands out of their mouths, not sharing anything with anyone and staying away from anyone who is sick this morning on the way to school. I am sick of being sick, of taking care of kids that are sick, and discussing being sick. So there, I am done.

On to much happier thoughts. Today is my eighth wedding anniversary. Last night we were discussing how sometimes it feels like we've been together forever and other times it is hard to fathom that its possibly been that long. Time seems to fly by these days, a sure sign that I am getting older and continue to sound more and more like my mother with every passing day.

So, in honor of our eighth anniversary I'll tell you (and him) eight wonderful things about GMan.

  1. I love that you have a joke for almost any occasion. Your ability to laugh at yourself and the world around you is amazing. I don't think I've always appreciated it as much as I do now, I enjoy it instead of wondering what other people will think.

  2. I love what a great Dad you are. You walk that wonderful tightrope between stern disciplinarian and fun guy with what appears to be great ease.

  3. I love how you never get really mad at me for the stupid stuff I do. I remember being scared to tell you something so many times and being relieved that you just shrugged it off. Oh by the way, about the car....

  4. I love that you can talk about how you feel and show it in so many ways.

  5. I love that you've found your passion in photography and have grown so much in the last few years.

  6. I love that you teach Boobah's Sunday School class, I know it means so much to her and that the other kids love it as well.

  7. I love your ability to fix just about anything. I know I might now always sound appreciative of the time it takes or what it costs but I love having you be my Mr. Fixit.

  8. Finally, I know its trite but, I love the way you love me.

From our honeymoon

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Is one normal day too much to ask for, really?

Crud, crud, go away

please don't come back another day

Both kids are back at school today. Boobah's fever is gone, weather was okay, thank goodness for small miracles. I on the other hand feel like something left on the bottom of the cat box. Everything kinda hurts. Of course the fact we swam at 5:15 this morning (or as Gman calls it oh-dark-thirty) didn't help. I was too tired to care what I felt like when I got up--basicaly its one foot in the suit, other foot, pull on clothes, grab bag, grab Kashi bar, open door, leave house. Go back for whatever I forgot. Actually leave driveway.

When I got home I climbed back in bed (after swimming a 1:04 50 and 2:22 100 in the time trials), wondering if Boobah would be well enough for school. Although she wanted to stay home yet again (to have Mommy and/or Daddy all to herself no doubt) she didn't have a fever and was far perkier than she has been in days! By the time I explained to PDQ that it wasn't nice to complain when someone bought you a present when it was something you asked for even if it wasn't EXACTLY which one you wanted, I dropped off both girls and distributed the Valentine's cards at Boobah's school I knew I was in trouble. Blahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I called the trusty Mr. Don, acupuncturist extrodinaire and he paid me an office visit to try and keep it at bay. He warned I might feel awful later but this would get me through the day. Here's hoping! Three meetings, gotta get through three meeting.

Happy Valentine's Day to all, especially my dear, sweet husband with whom I will celebrate eight years of marriage next week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Too Hot to Handle

Poor Boobah, she has got the fever part of the "fever and cough" that have been making their way through the school, the neighborhood and the office. Yesterday morning she got dressed and then told me her forehead hurt. When I reached out to feel it I hadn't touched her and I could feel the heat. So I ended up not getting dressed at all. Of course I couldn't find the thermometer, the Mommy measurement system said she was seriously warm. I called the neighbor to see if PDQ could walk to the bus stop with them, I really didn't want to drag a sick kid to the bus stop in a sub-zero wind chill. It was amazing, an hour after a dose of ibuprofen and she was running around the house. 5ish hours later, in the midst of addressing the Valentine's cards for school, she crashed again. Its amazing how quickly it comes and goes.
Last night after Gman got home I finally ventured out for a thermometer--sure enough 103.3. She was complaining of her head, throat, ears and tummy. This morning we went to "Winter Express Hours" at the pediatrician's office. I love these people, we were in and out in half an hour without an appointment and saw one of our regular doctors. Just a virus, like everyone else in town, was the conclusion. I expected as much but unlike when I was sick, I figured I'd get a professional opinion. My kids are so seldom sick that when they are its hard to tell how sick they really are.
So Boobah and I are camped out on the couch again today. She's curled up under the blanket at my side and I am trying to do some work. As much as I hate that she is sick, I am enjoying spending time cuddled up with her. Those moments are far too few and far between these days.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Best of Both Worlds

Today the boys went to a gun show, tomorrow they are going to a car show. In order to counter the testosterone load the girls and I started the day at ice skating lessons and then went to see the Hannah Montana Concert Movie in 3-D. There were a few times when I thought the 3-D was going to make me vomit. Boobah apparently had similar sensations because she asked a couple of times if she could take them off. At one point I glanced over and she was reaching out, trying to touch the hands that looked like they were right in front of her. It was so precious, I found myself taking a mental snapshot to call up later. After the obligatory movie bathroom trip (at least I wasn't missing any plot here) she decided to spend the rest of the movie dancing in front of her seat in her too small shirt, pink cowboy boots and nasty 3-D glasses (think Army issue frames). Again, too cute! She is growing up way too fast.

The movie was okay, the girls certainly enjoyed it. I just kept thinking about the boatloads of money Disney is making off her and hope that she is getting her fair share! I also thanked my lucky stars more than once that I was not at the concert to listen to the actual shrieking in person because the low level, constant shriek on the screen was more than enough!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Doing more before 8AM than most people do all day

OK, I'll admit maybe its not more than MOST people do all day but I am sure its more than SOME people do all day. You know who you are.

This morning started with the 4:45 AM alarm. I SO didn't want to get out of bed, but I did. I wrestled together my things and headed to the gym. We warmed up, which in that pool this morning was no easy task. Then we had a midievel torture sessions with resistance bands mimicing the swim stroke. My triceps hurt already, that does not bode well for the rest of the day.

I felt like a serious slug this morning. So much for the fantastic-ness of working out, this morning I felt like a slug--period. Everything seemed like an effort. How could I be breathing hard if my heartrate is only in the 80s? We did drills that made me feel like a complete moron. Roll the hips, then the arm, then bring your head out and breathe. Okay, now head back in, follow with the arms and the hips. Keep your head down. With all that to remember and knowing someone is watching I forgot to breathe out so then I had to try to blow out and fill back up before I put my head back in the water--nearly impossible!

Then home so that GMan could go to work. I laid down for just a minute. If only I could nap for 20 minutes, I'd feel better. Yeah, right. All I could think of was "I SO don't want to get up." Finally I said the heck with it and extracted myself from the bed. Shower, get the kids up, get myself dressed. Have minor disagreement with PDQ that no, she doesn't get to go stay with the beloved Lois and must actually spend the afternoon with, gasp, her mother. The high point was seeing Boobah get dressed up in her ballet outfit for her first lesson at school!

Then we were off to Safeway. I needed powdered sugar to make glaze for the cakes I made last night for the conference dinner at school tonight. I took the Mother of the Year route and bought my children a doughnut and Lunchables for a fine nutritional start to their day. Note to self--must have vegetables and fruit for dinner. So we loaded up into the car again and off to the school. After dropping off PDQ I went to the PTA office and threw together the glaze and put it on the cakes.

Okay, a little after 8, NOW I can go to the office to do "work." Funny how it seems like I've already done a whole lot of it today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Two words I never thought I'd use together

And sorry honey, its not, you're right.

I had a great run today. It was fifty-freaking-nine degrees on the fifth day of February in Maryland so that gets a big woohoo to start things off. I felt like crap this morning, tired, still kind of sore throat. It was foggy this morning and given the weather prediction I was bound and determined I was going to run outside. Mid-afternoon it was dark and overcast and I was wondering of I was going to have to spend more time on the dreadmill. When I left work it was starting to clear just a bit, I drove to the gym, changed my clothes, found some good tunes and off I went to run around the lake near my old house.

Many moons ago it was a real effort to walk around the lake. I was totally in awe of anyone who could run around the whole thing. I've run there a few times but always in the a few minutes of running to a lot of walking vein of things. Today I ran to the lake and 9/10ths of the way around it--I'd have done the whole thing but the path down there took me too far away from the gym and I needed to go get PDQ and Boobah. 32 minutes, all running. Go me! The best part was the way I felt, I felt great. I managed to power up the hills. Any ick I felt in the morning was gone, I watched ducks and geese on the lake, I gave the friendly runner's nod to the other runners (me-a runner?), and just generally enjoyed being outside in the fresh air.

I never ever thought I'd say it but I had a great run today.

My first blog contest: Guess what it is?

I clicked through an ad on Gmail and got this. A quite useful little gadget. Not sure what the prize is but can you guess what it is?!

Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm Ready to Rock

That is what Boobah told me this morning as I was quizzing her on whether we had everything she needed to go into school this morning. "Yep Mom, I'm ready to rock!" Obviously she and daddy are hanging out together :)

I felt seriously ready to rock yesterday afternooon. Yesterday morning we had a great workout. A little over an hour on the bike, then the run outside. I was all pumped up to run ALL of the workout from last week. Alas, coach announces, this morning we are running hills. Hills? Ugh I did an okay job, I passed someone and there were at least 4 people behind me. I didn't quite catch up to the woman in front of me who was in my sights for most of the run but I felt okay with my progress. I had a slight moment of panic when I went back into the gym and saw the sign that there was NO HOT WATER. I had to go to church and I was the liturgist so I had to stand up in front of people and couldn't do it without a shower. Thankfully it was a false alarm of sorts, the water wasn't hot but it was warm.

By the time I got to church I felt great. Serious runner's high (or runner and biker in my case). I went to the grocery store, BJs, and Trader Joe's on the way home. I found myself jogging through the aisles and the parking lot. Woo hoo, gotta love it. Then I got home, prepared all the food for the Super Bowl festivities. Starting to wind down a bit. Made it to the Libby Lu birthday party--could barely stay in the store because it was SO WARM. Thankfully I got a chance to walk around the mall a bit and found some great bargains. If there is one place that can suck the life out of you though, it is the mall!

Woohoo for the big Giants win, I really couldn't have cared less but GMan and Esmerelda were rooting for the Giants so I was glad to see them happy and to watch a truly great game. So now, its Monday, again. I need to get some of that exercise high back to get me through this day!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fill 'er up

As you may have read in my past blog posts (because really, have I had anything else to say lately??) I am planning to do two triathlons this summer. I signed up for a triathlon class at my gym. There is a lot to learn about swimming, cycling and running. But I am also learning there is also a lot to know about how to fuel your body to make it through those workouts. I don't know what planet I've been on that I missed this obvious link but seeing so directly the link between what goes in and how your body works has certainly given me a new perspective on food.

All my life I have been heavy. My Mom says it started when I was 3 and had my tonsils out. I had been sick pretty much constantly before that point and once I could eat, eat I did! In the time since I’ve done every diet known to man, some with more success than others. I am certainly guilty of emotional eating, eating to celebrate nearly anything, and eating because I am bored. Working out, HARD, for long periods of time is starting to change the way I think about food. Its not about how good it tastes (although that certainly helps!), its about giving my body the fuel it needs to do what I am asking it. This has been a really ah-hah for me over the past few weeks. Don’t eat before a workout and relatively soon after, they have a name for it--bonk. You can't perform at your best, you feel icky. In everyday life you get the same effects when you eat poorly but its not nearly so obvious as it is when you are trying to be an athlete.

It has sparked good conversations at the dinner table with my daughters as well. The older one has a bit of a belly these days and is suddenly a bottomless pit. I hope we are on the fattening up part of a growth spurt before she shoots up but my own insecurities and experiences as a child certainly have my antenna up looking for teachable moments to make her think about what she is eating, how much and why. I want to help her learn to save herself from world of growing up fat. The food is fuel message seems to work. Kids can make connections so quickly if we give them good examples.

I am a seeker of information. I like to have many resources at my disposal to go to when I try to solve a problem. Right now that problem is finding healthy, good tasting food to fuel my body and my family. Kroger has introduced a new website to help all families learn more about food preparation, nutritional information and food safety.

If you are interested in learning more, check out the Kroger site. Go to the Parent Bloggers site to what other bloggers are saying about their resolutions in the Healthy Living: The Perennial Resolution Blog Blast. Best of all, you could write up your own thoughts on the subject, join in the blog blast and have an opportunity to win one of 5 $50 Kroger gift cards! You can also sign up to receive the PBN newsletter so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

So, tell me, what are your resolutions for the new year? How are you doing so far?