Monday, April 29, 2013

Fifteen Weeks Down

Yesterday was weigh-in day!  I stepped on the scale, and felt really great because I lost 2 pounds!  I weighed 138.4 this past week.  I can't really pinpoint what I did differently (if anything!), other than I tried hard not to binge on M&Ms.  I still ate them, but I tried to keep it in moderation!  We ate our typical dinners last week--leftover Cheesecake Factory on Monday night, Subway on Tuesday night (it was a crazy day), BLTs on Wednesday night, pancakes on Thursday night, and a Contessa Orange Chicken frozen bag meal on Friday night.  I stuck to my normal lunch (my chicken salad with grapes, almonds, cranberries) on most days, although I had half of my Subway sandwich on Wednesday for lunch.  Nothing crazy or out of the ordinary...or even overly healthy!  I had my regular exercise classes this past week as well--I added another riser to my step in step class two or three classes ago, and that first night with 2 risers felt like the very first step class back in January all over again...I was winded, breathing hard, and my face was bright red.  What a difference one little riser makes!  So hopefully I've been burning more calories in step class the last few weeks.  Wednesday's Zumba class had a substitute instructor, and I was very nervous after previous sub experiences--thankfully, she was an instructor we've never had before, not the terrible sub!  She started off the class with a lot of hooting and hollering, and I couldn't figure out if she was making those sounds to indicate a change in moves, or if she was just excited...  Turns out, she was just excited--that girl had tons of energy!  She also used super upbeat music, and a lot of songs we'd never done before with our regular instructors, so it was a lot of fun, and great to change it up a bit.  I really liked her routine to Jai Ho! from Slumdog Millionaire--I don't know how you can not smile when you hear that song!  It was a really good class--I love my regular instructors, but I wouldn't mind having that sub again sometime.  For those of you unfamiliar with Zumba or who want to see choreography almost exactly like I did in class on Wednesday, here's a good video:


Saturday probably burned all my calories for the whole week--it was a busy day!  I woke up and got to the commissary early for my weekly shopping trip, because we were out of fruit for lunch.  I got home in time to unload and get lunch fixed for the kiddos, and then after they were down for naps/quiet time, I changed into my swimsuit and headed over to the indoor pool for more lap swimming.  After my first swim last week, I'd been devising ways to get back to the pool all week--I even asked Dan if I could go when he got home from work one evening last week, but he wasn't keen on that idea.  I just loved it last weekend, so I wanted to work it in this weekend if I could.  I had about an hour, and I decided I would try to get to a mile in laps...but I didn't decide that until I was already in the pool swimming, so I hadn't checked the handy chart inside the locker room letting me know how many laps I needed for a mile.  I spent most of the swim trying to keep lap count while also doing math in my head--not exactly my strongest suit.  I used to run track in high school, so I knew the measurements of a track, and I knew the pool wasn't a 50m pool, so I figured it was a 25m--I was extrapolating from that to come up with how many laps I needed to swim.  It took me a really long time to figure out that I needed to swim 64 laps to get to 1600 meters, or 1 mile.  I kept getting confused trying to multiply and divide AND keep count of what lap I was on--that is hard!  I was swimming mostly breaststroke with a few freestyle laps mixed in, and I was keeping a pretty steady pace--it felt good, but I was also really concentrating on the numbers to make sure I got to that mile, so it wasn't as relaxing as my previous swim.  After a little less than an hour, I got to my 64th lap, and I felt pretty triumphant!  I wasn't horribly tired, and I was proud that I went for it and got it done...until I walked into the locker room and saw this chart:

what was I missing??

I am not a dumb girl, and I spent a lot of time and energy figuring out how many laps I needed--I could not for the life of me figure out how I got it wrong and was short of a mile by 8 laps!  It wasn't until I got home that Dan studied the chart with me and helpfully pointed out that the pool is not a 25m pool...but a 25 YARD pool.  Duh.  I even blogged about it last week and wrote that it was a 25-yard pool, but for some reason, I was convinced this week that it was meters--because that's what makes sense in my head for measuring stuff like this (probably back to my track days), but it's not.  It's yards.  8 laps short!  Oh well--I was proud of myself for trying, and I still almost swam a mile!  That's pretty impressive, right?  And I burned a lot of calories for my effort--my arms felt like noodles afterward.

I came home, took a shower, and then all five of us headed out shopping--this is something that very rarely ever happens, so I was nervous about how it was going to go down.  We were setting up Abby's new bed on Sunday with help from Dan's parents, and we needed some things crucial to the project--like a mattress and sheets to fit the new bed!  We spent 2 hours wandering around IKEA, searching for needles in a very Swedish haystack--the boys were not happy hanging out in a cart that whole time, Abby was in heaven since we were picking out stuff for her room, Dan was super grumpy, and I was focused and on a mission.  We treated ourselves to Red Robin for dinner after the painful shopping experience--it was deserved!  I even had time to make a really quick trip to Bed Bath and Beyond while we waited for a table at the restaurant, so I hoped I had everything I needed to make Abby's room perfect.  I was exhausted Saturday night--I burned a ton of calories with my entire day's activities!  Yesterday was totally nuts working like crazy in Abby's room--I'm going to devote a whole blog entry to her room transformation later this week.  Fifteen weeks and 24.6 pounds down on Challenge #2!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Small Stuff

I let stress get the best of me yesterday--I have been doing fairly well at keeping my mood lighter and my spirits higher since I started The Good Housewife Project.  I try to go about my days with a smile and no complaining (well, almost no complaining...), but yesterday, I fell off the happy wagon.  The day started off fine--the boys and I walked Abby to the bus stop because the weather was decent, and we took a "family walk" (as Jake calls any walk we take!) around our loop to look for roly polies and worms after Abby was gone.  It must have been too cold for bugs, because we didn't see very many, although Jake and I had a great conversation about guts when we saw a smooshed beetle.  It was amusing to explain that guts are the squishy things inside your body, but also can refer to being brave--like if someone tells him that he has guts, that's referring to his fearlessness, not his innards.  He informed me that beetles are very brave because they have a lot of guts...on the sidewalk when they get smooshed.  Ha!

That 20 minutes outside set my allergies off, and sent my day downhill.  Allergies are miserable.  I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism two years ago, and the thyroid medication I have to take every day prevents me from taking the only allergy medicine that ever worked for me--Claritin-D.  I can only take regular Claritin now, which is just like not taking anything because regular Claritin doesn't even begin to touch my symptoms.  I hole up in the house when pollen and oak counts are high (and we live in a very beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood...ugh!), and keep the windows and doors shut tight to try to keep the symptoms at bay.  It's miserable, because the weather is gorgeous outside--I just want to go out with the boys and enjoy the pleasant days, but I can't even hack it for 20 minutes without becoming a total mess.  So my nose was running, my throat was hurting, my eyes were itching, and I couldn't stop sneezing after our little family walk this morning.  I have a hard time feeling motivated when I feel like junk--I had a lot to do, and I tend to stress out when I have a lot on my plate.  I got the boys down early-ish for naps and thought I'd given myself a good block of time to check off my list.  Then I realized that I hadn't gotten out any chicken to thaw for dinner, so I had no game plan for feeding the family...and Abby had gymnastics last night, so waiting for Dan to come home and have him cook out or something was not an option.  I was annoyed at my lack of planning--my mom bailed me out and suggested pancakes, which are always a crowd pleaser (except for Dan, who hates them and not-so-secretly hates me when I make them).  Oh well--I can't win them all, and I'll go with Dan hating me over kids screaming when I feed them something they won't even try, especially when I don't have time to whip up something they won't eat.

sword and wand from dinner at the Disney Castle

I was making progress on the laundry, I had cleared some miscellaneous crap off the counters, and I had just gotten the Swiffer mop out when Jake informed me via the monitor that he had found something in his closet...  "It's a sword, Mommy!"  I stared, very confused, at the monitor--Jake has a lot of swords in his room, so that part wasn't confusing...it was the fact that he said he found it in his closet that threw me off.  The only thing on the floor of his closet is a pile of my nephew's clothes that Jake has yet to grow into, and some train tracks that we store in there when Jake isn't playing with them.  There are no swords on the floor of his closet.  There are two bars of hanging clothes in the closet, and a very high shelf where I store random stuff--empty boxes from stuff in the kids rooms, who knows what else...but very possibly, a sword was up on that high shelf.  I told Jake I was coming right up, and what I found in his room made me so angry, frustrated, and annoyed that I couldn't shake it the rest of the day--my enterprising 4-year-old son had stacked some of his larger train carrying cases, climbed on top of them, then used the lower clothing bar to hoist himself up to the upper clothing bar, and then to the top shelf of his closet, where he retrieved a sword from our trip to Disney World last year.  It's actually Alex's sword, but he was too young for it last year (and still is--weirdly, it's a sharp sword!), so I stored it safely out of the way in Jake's closet--or so I thought.  In his climbing/scaling attempt, Jake dislodged the lower clothing bar from its anchors on the wall, and the entire thing fell down, throwing the clothes off their hangers and all over the floor at the bottom of the closet.  Sigh.  This was not in my plan for the day--as I attempted to clean up the huge mess in the closet, I could hear my alarm going off reminding me to pick Abby up from the bus stop.  Thankfully, I had asked Dan to grab her for me and he had agreed, so I just ignored my alarm and kept going on my project.  Since all the clothes were off the hanging bar anyway, I decided to go through those clothes from my nephew that I had stored on the floor of the closet to see if I should swap out some of Jake's smaller stuff for those bigger items.  Switching a closet over for new seasons and sizes is a large effort, but I figured what the heck?  I was already knee deep in clothes, so why not just take on the bigger project while I was there?

Thirty minutes later, I was covered in clothes in an organized fashion that only made sense in my head, having Jake help me carry things over to his dresser, and I heard my cell phone ringing downstairs.  No one usually calls my cell phone, so I thought that was odd...but I couldn't get to it in time--and then I heard the home phone ringing...uh oh.  That always freaks me out--it must be an emergency if someone is trying to get me on my cell and at home.  I grabbed the home phone from my bedroom, and Dan informed me that he was stuck in traffic and not going to make it to the bus stop for Abby.  This is not the end of the world, but he hadn't given me any warning, I was already massively annoyed at Jake, and I was wearing my hole-y comfy pants (literally, holes in places not suitable for public viewing), so I couldn't just run out the door with the boys to get her.  Alex was still in his crib!  I threw on some jeans, asked Jake to go see Alex in his room, and walked outside to meet Abby on the sidewalk--thankfully, the bus stop is right up the street and she knows to just head home if no one is there to greet her like we're supposed to be.  I felt overly annoyed because I could have had the boys and myself up and ready for a last-minute bus stop run if I hadn't had to deal with the mess in Jake's closet, and now I was interrupted mid-project.  It also baffles me that Dan works 5 minutes from our house and often doesn't make it to the bus stop in time to pick Abby up on the days when he says he will...seems like poor planning on his part to me, which leads to lots of stress for me.  And now I was outside in the allergens again.  I snapped Dan's head off a number of times between when he got home and I headed out the door to take Abby to gymnastics, and of course, he was less-than-happy with me when I fixed pancakes for dinner.  The mood at our house was lovely, as you can imagine.  I really have done a good job not being irritated like that in months, so it didn't feel good to have that side of my personality pop up again.

I was also upset because I needed to run into CVS before Abby's gymnastics class, but I was late getting dinner fixed because I finished up the closet project in Jake's room.  The CVS is on the way to Abby's class, and the errand would only take 5 minutes, but I didn't have 5 minutes to spare...meaning that I was going to have to stop after her class.  I had a big issue with that plan--namely, the CVS is in the same shopping center as a Dairy Queen...and I haven't had Dairy Queen since I started Challenge #2.  I'll be honest--I've been craving Dairy Queen.  Before embarking on Challenge #2, I binged hard-core on some DQ Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards--at least once a week, sometimes twice...  Blizzards haunt my dreams, and even ruined a very-rare date with my husband a few weeks ago when my mom watched the kids so that we could go grab a quick lunch together.  I wanted ice cream after that lunch and spent the entire date on my phone trying to find the nearest DQ--I was jonesing pretty badly that day, but still, I should have been conversing and connecting with my husband instead of the DQ Locater.  (And I didn't even find a DQ close enough, so all that effort for nothing!)  I knew that stopping at CVS after Abby's gymnastics class would bring begging for ice cream (both in my head and out of Abby's mouth)--DQ dates were a weekly after-gymnastics treat for us before Challenge #2.  I was running late for gymnastics, so I had no choice--Abby and I stopped at CVS after her class, and yes, she begged for DQ.  I gave in, because of my ridiculous cravings, and because I love my daughter and love doing fun things with her.  I ordered a mini Blizzard, which I had never done before (my previous size was a medium, which now kind of makes me want to throw up!), and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that it improved my mood.  Satisfying that obsessive desire will hopefully allow me to focus on things that are more important than ice cream--like dates with my husband.  I had a bad day, but now hopefully I can turn that bad day into good perspective--quit stressing over the small stuff and letting it get the best of me.

happy girl, hoarding all the ice cream!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Revelation

I have always been really hard on myself--I think this is a common issue with women.  We tend to not cut ourselves any slack, and be our own worst critics.  That is definitely true for me--I'm constantly down on myself for not trying hard enough, not doing enough, not being enough.  I've always taken some solace in the fact that I knew I was harder on myself than anyone else was--which to me meant that even when I thought things were bad, at least other people didn't know the extent of the issue.  I felt this way about my weight for a really long time--I could see under my clothes, but thankfully, no one else could...and I thought I did a good job hiding the weight and still managing to look decent.  Plus, I always hoped people would give a mom with three kids a break in the weight department--yes, there are those super skinny new moms (and my mom was one of them...why did I not inherit that gene???), but it takes most moms some time to work back down the scale again.  So I figured between my efforts to camouflage my excess baggage and the fact that I had three little one surrounding me at all times, I was probably safe from the judgments of others because of my weight--if anyone even noticed, they would just chalk it up to having recently had a baby.  They didn't need to know that my youngest baby was 2 years old, right?

I've had a revelation in the last two days, starting with the blog I wrote on Monday--I was writing about that shirt that no longer fits me, and I went searching through my old pictures from the fall to see if I could find a picture of me wearing that shirt to post on the blog.  I couldn't find a picture of me in that shirt specifically, but I did find a picture of me in a similar shirt from the end of September--same brand from the same store.  It was a rare picture, because Dan had the camera and was taking a picture of me from afar--it wasn't a posed picture with the kids, which tend to be the only photos I make it into.  We were at the pumpkin patch with Dan's parents, and they had pony rides--I took pictures of Abby and Jake riding the pony, but then Alex needed a parent to walk alongside the horse for his ride, so I handed the camera over to Dan and took the walk around the ring with Alex.  I remember Alex's cute reactions to riding the pony, and having a good time with him--wishing the ride was longer so that he could continue to enjoy himself.  I don't think I ever even looked at my photos from the pumpkin patch after I downloaded them from my camera, so scrolling through them on Monday, I actually studied them for the first time--and I was specifically looking for pictures of myself, which is unusual.  What I saw in those few pictures of me in the pony ring made me re-think what I had thought at the time to be true--that I was good at hiding the weight so that people looking at me couldn't tell I needed to lose a few pounds, and that I still managed to look cute:

this was the first photo, and I thought not so bad

hmmm...from the side, I can really see how tight that shirt is

I honestly had no idea this is what I looked like at the time

tight pants, tight shirt...overweight girl

yeah, this shirt doesn't hide anything

You might be looking at those pictures and thinking, "Oh, she's too hard on herself--she doesn't look that bad."  Or you might be looking at those pictures and thinking, "Wow...she was totally deluding herself!"  If you're thinking the first thought, you are too sweet and also in denial.  ;)  I know it could have been worse, but I look at those pictures and see who folks at the pumpkin patch that day saw--a girl who is obviously chubby and uncomfortable...and not at all who I thought I was portraying at the time.  For someone who is so hard on herself, I totally didn't see that when I looked in the mirror--the weight had crept up slowly, and again, changes over time are hard to notice when you see yourself every day.  It was just a few weeks after those pictures were taken that I had a "rock bottom" talk with myself in my bathroom--I had weighed myself on my old scale, and I was scarily close to weighing 170 pounds...like 2 pounds close.  It freaked me out, and I took a pen and wrote the number "170" on the inside of my left index finger, where I would see it all day and constantly be reminded that I needed to make some changes.  I started the food journal.  I lost 5 pounds in 10 days.  Then I gained it all back in the form of Halloween candy and general gluttonous indulgence, and the idea for Challenge #2 was born.  I needed to hold myself accountable, and I needed to be ready mentally for a serious attempt at regaining my health.

I had those pictures stuck in my head all Monday and woke up yesterday thinking about them--I couldn't shake how blind I had been to the obvious issue.  I took Jake to gymnastics yesterday morning and was watching Alex play in the waiting area there--about halfway into the hour-long class, a woman whose daughter is in Jake's class came over to me.  I've seen her every week since Jake started taking gymnastics back in September, but I've never actually spoken to her before, so I was very surprised when she said, "I just wanted to say that you look really fantastic--I can really tell you've lost weight.  I noticed it last week, and thought I would just come say great job this week!"  I told her how much it meant to me to have someone who didn't know that I've been on this journey notice my progress and comment on it.  She asked what I have been doing to lose the weight, and we talked about different gyms and exercise classes, and how hard it is to make time for ourselves when we have young kids--we chatted for the rest of the class time.  I walked away from that conversation with two predominant thoughts:  1) that total stranger made my day (and possibly my last 3 months of effort!) by stepping out of her comfort zone to approach me and let me know that she saw a difference in me; and 2) that total stranger saw me walk in the door back in September and took note of that chunky girl...enough so that she noticed when the girl wasn't so chunky anymore.  It sort of brought my own feelings on those pumpkin patch pictures full-circle in my mind--yes, I was in a bad place back then that I may not have acknowledged fully, but I've really committed myself to being healthier, and have the improved version of me to show for it.  Other people can see it, even when I can't see it in myself yet--and I'm just so glad they are seeing the happier me this time around.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Healthy Weight

Well, folks--I have made it into the "Healthy Weight" range on the BMI chart.  This is the first time I've ever been in that range since I started tracking my weight on the BMI chart--probably after Dan and I got married in 2004.  I always just figured the BMI chart was an unrealistic tool that represented a crazy unattainable weight...basically a fat-shaming tool.  Ha ha!  I never really thought I could be in that elusive Healthy Weight category, but here I am.  I weighed in yesterday morning at 140.4 pounds, for a loss of 1.4 pounds this week--and the healthy weight for my gender and height starts at 141 pounds (and goes all the way down to 104...yeah, right!).  I'm pretty excited about the weight loss this past week, especially considering that Alex's potty training treat is M&M's--every time he has success, he gets 2 M&M's, as do the other kids (you know, to be fair and avoid a lot of screaming).  Mommy gets a few M&M's, too, because let's face it--Mommy is doing most of the work in this process!  I'm working hard for those M&M's, believe me.  So I've ingested a lot of M&M's lately, which is totally out of my norm since I try not to even keep that stuff in the house--just writing about M&M's made me go grab a handful...so hard to resist.  It's kind of crazy to me that I've lost 22.6 pounds since I started Challenge #2--I didn't really think I could get this far...and now 128 doesn't seem like such an insane number.  I'm still not sure I'll get there, but it's not such an outlandish idea at this point.  Only 12.4 more pounds to go!  This week was the first week that I put on a shirt that I wore all the time last fall (short-sleeved, so not great in the winter), and it felt like a tent...I just couldn't get it to feel like it was fitting me, and I felt really uncomfortable.  I actually had to change my shirt, and I was a mixture of sad that a shirt I loved no longer fits and thrilled that my efforts are paying off in more tangible ways!


I feel like I'm finally formulating a plan to stay on the right fitness track once Dan starts his new job in a few months.  I've been ridiculously stressed about how to keep this time for myself to work out, and I just haven't been feeling good about it since I'm totally bummed to be losing my Zumba and step classes every week.  I decided to try out the indoor pool where we live yesterday, since I bought goggles and a swim suit for lap swimming.  I went during the kids' naptime, and swam 21 (or 22...I lost count) laps--so 42 (or 44) lengths of the pool.  It's a 25-yard pool, so I swam more than half a mile.  The first few laps were rough--I haven't swum laps in a really long time, and I was huffing and puffing until I got into a rhythm.  After I found my stroke, I totally didn't want to get out of the pool!  I swam for about 35 minutes, and it felt great.  It's $150 for me to get a pool pass for the year--I think that's totally reasonable.  They have decent hours for lap swimming, and my goal will be to go in the mornings before Dan goes to work--I'm not sure what timeframe I'll be working with since Dan isn't positive about the length of his new commute, but ideally, I'd like to get to the pool around 6:45am and get home around 7:30am.  The pool people told me yesterday that 6-7am is crazy crowded (like 4 people per lane--yikes!), so I'd like to avoid that mess if possible.  I'll just shower at home before I have to start the morning school rush--and the pool is 5 minutes from my house, so it's super convenient!  And I can swim on the weekends, too, when Dan is home.  I haven't gotten the pass yet because I wanted to try it out, see how I felt about it, and I also need to make sure it will work with Dan's commute--he's going to do a dry run to see how long it's going to take him in the next week or two, so I'll know more after that.  I think I've also decided to keep paying for the aerobics classes on post--$71 every 10 weeks.  I can take the morning spin classes from 6-7am on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then on the off chance that I can attend a random Zumba or step class during the week (like if my mom is out here visiting, or Dan has a day off or gets home early???), I'll be able to go to those classes, too.  Both those things combined are a lot cheaper, and a lot more local, than driving all the way to that fancy gym we checked out a few weeks ago...so I'm hoping this works as a solution for me.  I'm nervous about my ability to get up early to work out, and also about the spin classes, which I've never taken before--I totally grilled my best friend Kerry about spin etiquette this weekend in an attempt to mentally prepare myself!

have I mentioned that I'm a little petrified of spinning?

By sticking with the aerobics classes here as well, I can keep going to Zumba and step right up until the day Dan starts his new job--the current 10-week session that I've paid for ends the first week of June, so I was just going to quit after that week...even though Dan doesn't start the job until the middle of July.  By sticking with these classes, I will pay for the next session, do Zumba and step until mid-July, and then switch over to spin in the mornings--it's all the same program, so I don't have to pay more or do anything differently other than adjust my own schedule.  It kind of feels like a weight lifted off me to know that I don't have to quit the classes I love in a month!  I brought Abby with me to Zumba this past Wednesday, because she wanted to check it out and see what Mommy has been doing--she can't participate because she's not old enough, but I thought she would have fun listening to the music and seeing me exercising.  I warned her that there would be a lot of booty shaking, which she thought was hysterical!  I had her pack a bag with crayons and paper as well as her Nintendo DS just in case she got bored, and told her that I couldn't be paying attention to her and getting a good workout.  The Zumba instructor came over to her before class and introduced herself and asked Abby some questions--and then she said, "Make sure you watch your Mommy--she's a really good dancer!"  That just cracked me up--surely she was just being nice, because I've never been a good dancer.  Then the instructor told Abby that she thinks I should be a Zumba instructor!  It was nice to hear, even though I can hardly breathe during Zumba class, much less talk and lead others while doing it!  Abby was totally fascinated throughout the whole class--she didn't pull out her crayons or her DS once, and she was even doing some of the moves in the bleachers!  It was really cute--I wish she was old enough to participate, because I know she would love it.  Maybe I have this to look forward to when she's older--working out with my daughter at Zumba!  Hopefully I won't be horribly embarrassing in my old age.  :)

In other news, Abby is home from school today with a fever and upset stomach.  That is why I am so late posting this--been tending to her all morning, then up and down the stairs trying to keep Jake quiet so that Abby can take a nap this afternoon, and getting her medicine and taking her temperature.  Poor girl!  Hoping it doesn't spread to the rest of us...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken

This week included my favorite day of the month:  Pizza Fundraiser Night for Abby's school.  Have I mentioned that I love pizza fundraiser night?  It provides me with three dinners in one week (about which no one fusses or argues!), leaving me with only 2 weeknight dinners to plan.  Best thing ever.  I was super pumped about pizza fundraiser night this week because I snagged a $10 Domino's gift card in a giveaway they had last week, so our three nights of dinner this week only cost $15 total, including the tip for delivery!  Not too bad if you ask me.  The fundraiser night was Tuesday, so Monday night, I went with BLTs--except in our family, BLT means bacon, lettuce, and toast!  Neither Dan nor I like tomatoes (the texture really gets me...the taste is fine, but the runny seediness freaks me out!), so we don't serve our BLTs with tomatoes.  Abby is the only person in our family who eats tomatoes, and she gets them every day in her lunch, so I'm not a totally terrible mother.  Sometimes the T stands for turkey--Dan and Jake eat their BLTs with turkey, so I guess that just makes them a turkey sandwich...but I digress.  I own a BaconWave, which is the most awesome invention ever--my mom must have ordered one from late night TV when I was a kid, because I grew up with one, and now have one in my own house that I use all the time!

I love my BaconWave!

I love that the bacon cooks out of the fat, and the fat drips off the bacon into the tray...so it's slightly healthier than bacon in the frying pan, and a lot less greasy.  I also love that the contraption goes in the dishwasher, so it's the easiest clean up ever.  I do suggest buying bamboo skewers instead of using the plastic skewers that come with it--I hated handwashing those plastic ones (and they eventually break, leaving you unable to BaconWave...and you just can't have that!), so now I just use the bamboo ones and throw them away when I'm done.  The best thing about using my BaconWave is that I can prepare the bacon during the boys' naptime and stick it in the fridge, then head out to my exercise class before dinner, and call Dan to have him pop the prepped BaconWave in the microwave while I'm on my way home.  I get home in time to check the bacon, toast the bread, and get all the sandwiches ready for dinner.  So that's what I did Monday night--I came home from step class to enjoy some delicious BLTs!  Bacon is also the only meat Alex will eat, so that's a small victory--and no one complains about BLTs, either.

Then we had pizza Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights for dinner--on the third day, I usually make something else for a few of the kids or for Dan and myself, but this past Thursday was Abby's music concert at school...so I stretched the pizza for three days and made it easier on myself.  On Thursday, Dan asked, "What happened to the crock pot meals you were making?  We haven't had one of those in a while..."  That made me laugh--apparently he was over pizza, and he actually missed my cooking!  Unbeknownst to Dan, I was planning to fix a crock pot meal on Friday anyway, but it was nice to have him request one.

I had copied down a recipe from my go-to crock pot blog a few months ago that I hadn't tried yet, so I decided to go for it on Friday.  Crock Pot Lemon Chicken caught my eye because I absolutely love the lemon chicken dish at PF Chang's, but I hadn't tried the crock pot version yet because it requires browning the chicken in a pan before putting it in the crock pot.  My general feeling is that the wonderfulness of a crock pot centers around the ease of putting it together and the ease of cleaning it up--all because of it being a one-pot meal...so the use of another pan put me off a bit.  I decided to just bite the bullet and try it anyway, because again, I love lemon chicken.  I spent naptime getting everything together, starting with the browning:

despite my misgivings, browning really wasn't hard

I only used 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I cut into nugget-shaped pieces, because I figured that would be plenty of meat for our family and the nugget shape might encourage Jake to eat them without complaining (a girl can dream, right?).  I also decreased the amount of flour and salt through which I dredged my chicken pieces before browning them--I used 1/4 cup flour, and 1 tsp regular salt (since I didn't have Kosher salt), and honestly, I could have used less of both for the amount of chicken I was making.  It didn't really matter, though, because the chicken was only dredged in the mixture--so I just had a lot leftover that didn't make it into the pot.  I mixed up the rest of the ingredients exactly as the recipe requires (even though the ketchup really threw me off...ketchup??  really???), and poured the lemonade concentrate mixture over my chicken pieces in the crock pot.  I fired up the pot on low, and got to cutting up some veggies--I can't do a crock pot without throwing in veggies to round out the meal.  I cut up two peppers, a head of broccoli, three whole carrots, and a bunch of snap beans, and had just enough time to throw those in before I had to get going to Zumba.  I opened the pot to put the veggies in, and Dan asked if I was sure the chicken would have enough lemon flavor...I guess he got a whiff of the ketchup, which admittedly was an overwhelming scent coming from the pot.  I had been toying with the idea of pouring the rest of the lemonade concentrate over the veggies to give them some flavor, so I went ahead and did that as a last-minute running-out-the-door decision.  That means I used all 12 oz. of frozen lemonade concentrate in the meal--kind of a lot!  I didn't have time to second guess myself, and it smelled delicious when I got home.  Dan had made some rice for me, so all I had to do was plate it.  The sauce was a little watery (probably the 12 oz of lemonade!), but everything really did look good.

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken

I cooked the chicken portion of the meal for 3.5 hours on low, and I added the veggies for the last 1.5 hours, in case anyone wants to try it at home.  My first bite, I was totally sold on this meal--the chicken wasn't dry, it had a delicious lemon flavor, and the veggies tasted great with the lemon as well.  It was fantastic!  When I make this meal again, I will probably add some cornstarch slurry (I didn't have any idea what that meant, but a comment on the original blog recipe suggested it--it's just a mix of cornstarch and water) to thicken up the sauce right before serving it--I like that the PF Chang's lemon chicken sauce is a little viscous, which this sauce was not at all.  Dan and Abby both loved this meal, Alex ate some rice only, and Jake cried and cried about the chicken...  To be fair, he was ridiculously overtired--but I'm not sure that he would have been happy about it even if he had been well-rested.  The boy just resists change, or stepping out of his hot dog comfort zone.  I'm looking forward to making this lemon chicken again with a few tweaks--it was a delicious success!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mouths of Babes

My mom asked me the other day if the kids have any idea that I've been losing weight.  The answer to that would be not at all!  For one, they are kids, so their awareness of anything that doesn't directly have to do with them is low.  For another, they see me every day--and even I have a hard time noticing any difference, so I could see why they wouldn't notice, either.  My mom was incredulous that I don't notice a difference in myself, because surely at least my clothes are fitting a little better...but again, when you look at something every day, it's hard to notice the changes.  Any parent can attest to this--your babies get bigger and bigger every single day, but you're still surprised when they suddenly don't look like babies anymore!  Yes, my jeans aren't nearly as tight as they were a few months ago, but they still fit me well--which means I haven't gone down a size yet, and which also means that I was stuffing myself into way-too-small jeans for like the last year.  How obnoxious of me!  I'm sorry for all the people who had to witness my skin-tight jeans (and not in the hot, Katy Perry way).

Anyway, to illustrate that my kids have no idea, I'll share two embarrassing little stories from this past week.  We went to the store on Sunday so that I could try on swimsuits for lap swimming.  Dan needed new running shoes, so he and the boys stayed in the shoe department, and I took Abby with me while I looked at swimsuits.  Of course, I had to hit the dressing room, because swimsuits are not really something you want to eyeball, and Abby had to come with me.  I put one suit on, and Abby thought it was fine (boring, but fine).  I tried the same exact suit on one size smaller (because hey, I don't want the suit to fall off me if I keep losing weight), and Abby took one look at it, patted my stomach, and said matter-of-factly, "Mommy--this is a chunky swimsuit!"  Um, I don't really know what to say to that.  It was seriously the exact same suit, just slightly tighter, and I guess accentuating my stomach chunk.  Lovely.  Just to prove that I put no stock in what my kids tell me, I bought the smaller suit anyway.

FYI, kids and dressing rooms don't mix!

Then I was giving Abby a bath last night, and she wanted to see how much she weighed on my scale.  She stepped on and weighed 48.0, and she was a little freaked out about that, because the last time she had weighed herself, she weighed 48.8.  She asked me if it was good to lose weight, and I told her that for her, as a growing girl, she is supposed to be gaining weight, but that a little loss like that wasn't anything to be concerned about.  She was still worried and I wasn't sure she was standing fully on the scale to begin with, so I had her step on again.  The number popped up the same.  Sometimes my scale regurgitates the same weight if it's close to the previous weight (to discourage weighing yourself a million times in a row--it's always going to be the same, people!), and the only way to erase that previous number is by weighing something else of a completely different weight.  So I stepped on to the scale to erase her old number, and my number came back at 144.4--I was wearing all my clothes and weighing in the evening, which I also explained to Abby can have an effect on the number the scale spits out.  Abby saw my number and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh, Mommy--that number is HUGE!!!"  The only thing I could think of to say back was, "You should have seen it a few months ago, sweetie."  Ha ha.  :)

6 is too young to stress about weight!

I'm actually pretty proud of the fact that my kids have no idea I'm losing weight--my emphasis with them has been that Mommy is trying to be more active and healthy, and I know they are aware of that change.  They don't flip out when I put my sneakers on anymore--they stand at the door and tell me to have fun at my exercise class!  They know it's a big treat when we go get ice cream after dinner now, not just something we do when we're out.  Instead of wasting an hour getting dessert, we take hour-long family walks in the evenings when the weather is nice.  We talk a lot about being active and eating healthy foods, and that's the message I want them to learn--not that Mommy weighs herself obsessively, or Mommy isn't happy because her clothes don't fit.  I'm happy that Abby had never seen me step on the scale before last night--that's not an image I want in her memory.  If she grows up thinking I'm not comfortable with my body, what hope can I have that she will feel comfortable with hers?  Kids are just kids--it's too early to begin the awareness of weight as an issue, and the self-doubt that comes with that awareness.  I just hope that Dan and I are giving them the right tools to fend off that self-doubt when it does come (as it inevitably will)--by emphasizing health over weight and helping them stay active!

Monday, April 15, 2013

20 Pounds Down

Finally, I'm getting back on track with Challenge #2.  I weighed in yesterday morning at 141.8, which is a loss of 3 pounds from last week's weigh in.  Of course, over the previous two weigh ins, I gained 1.2 pounds, so my net loss this week is 1.8 pounds--my previous lowest weight was 143.6 back on March 25th.  So hooray!  I am especially happy that I have now lost over 20 pounds since I started the Challenge exactly 3 months ago--I've lost 21.2 pounds, to be exact, so just about 7 pounds a month.  My weekly average is 1.6 pounds, so I've been consistent throughout this whole process, even though I've had a few stumbles along the way.  I really felt like I got back into my routine last week, after the disruptions of Easter candy and so many temptations--obviously, my body appreciates knowing what's coming via my routine, and doesn't appreciate being thrown into a chocolate coma...  I probably could  have guessed that outcome without testing the theory as thoroughly as I did, but oh well--I've righted the ship and am on the right course again now.  I'm thisclose to getting into the healthy BMI range--only 0.8 left to go!  I'm really excited about that prospect.

ha!

I did fail in my mini-Challenge last week--my midnight bedtime.  I was just all off on my hours, and even after issuing myself the mini-Challenge, I couldn't manage to be in bed before midnight.  Usually it was around 12:30am, but there were a few 1am nights as well.  I'm going to try again this week, because I love sleep--I'm not sure why I torture myself with such a late bedtime.  I need to get myself to bed earlier, because one of the solutions I'm considering to my exercise class dilemma is waking up crazy early to fit in a workout before Dan goes to work.  The exercise classes here where we live have early morning sessions--just not Zumba or step, which is such a bummer.  They offer early morning spinning--I have never tried spinning before, but that would be an option to change things up a little bit.  I also took the plunge yesterday and purchased a swimsuit for lap swimming, and some goggles--so I can get up early and go to the indoor pool here to do laps.  The spin class is Monday and Wednesday mornings, so I could do laps on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  I'm not sure how I feel about the early mornings (again, I am not a morning person), but if I can get myself to bed at a decent time, it shouldn't be too bad...I hope!

unfortunately, I think my brain will know anyway...

Not too much going on this week, other than chugging along with the potty training for Alex.  We are making progress, but it's still the constant run to the bathroom, and the occasional accident.  He seems very proud of himself, though, so that is a great thing!  It's so much easier now that he's not being so stubborn.  We even ran errands yesterday evening and went out to dinner, and he stayed dry the whole time!  Very exciting stuff.  :)  Abby has the day off school today, so I'm just monitoring craziness with all three kids.  I need to get cleaning during naptime today (I type this to motivate myself...not because I think you care)--even though it's not Tuesday (my bathroom cleaning day on the schedule), the bathrooms desperately need my attention!  My goal is to get this house back in shape ASAP--I slacked off on some of the cleaning last week, so now I need to catch up.  A housewife's work is never done!

Friday, April 12, 2013

I am Lonely

I've been in a total funk, probably for the last two weeks.  I've been racking my brains to figure out what my problem is, and I don't want to just chalk it up to the fact that I haven't lost weight these last two weeks, either.  I'm not that shallow...right?  I should be able to take the ups and downs of this health/weight loss journey in stride--I'm a smart girl, and I know things like this are rarely easy, and require a lot of time, work, and commitment.  So I've been searching for some other reason, and I think I finally hit on it last night--it's a sentiment I've expressed many times before, but I hadn't realized that it applies right now.

I'm tired (that's a given--I have three kids).  Despite a cleaning schedule, I'm really behind on all my housework (also a given, considering that again, I have three kids).  I get stressed out when I'm tired and behind on my housework (that is to be expected).  These things have contributed to my less-than-stellar mood lately, but there's one thing that really puts it over the top for me, and I expressed it to Dan last night when he informed me that he would be doing work after the kids went to bed:

Dan:  "So, we have Modern Family on tonight?"
Me:  "No, it was on last night, but we didn't get a chance to watch it because you went for a run after the kids went to bed."
Dan:  "Right--I mean we're watching it tonight."
Me:  "Yes."
Dan:  "Okay, well, as soon as that's over, I'm going to get some work done."
Me (shoulders sagging, visible change in demeanor...followed by a long pause, and then blurting out the first thing that came to my mind):  "I AM LONELY!  It's really hard.  This poem...sucks?"

For those of you who don't get my So I Married An Axe Murderer reference, here's a crappy video so that you can fully appreciate my cadence (and desperation).




I am lonely.  There it is.  I masked the seriousness of the feeling with a quote from one of our favorite movies, but I am lonely.  It feels more potent the last two weeks (maybe longer) than it has in the recent past, because Dan went out of town on a trip that last year, we were able to take together--a mini-vacation away from the kids that did wonders for me.  I slept in, sat in a hotel room and read books on my Kindle while Dan was in meetings, and he and I had meals out without children interrupting us, and late-night runs for ice cream like we used to.  It was glorious, and refreshing.  Not to mention the actual road trip--I love road trips!  Nothing better than singing along with the radio, sitting next to my best friend, talking or not talking for hours on end.  It worked out great last year because Dan's business trip coincided with Abby's spring break, so I could leave the kids with my parents for a few days and not worry about burdening anyone with our crazy daily school schedule.  This year, we didn't get so lucky--his trip was the week after her spring break, and also started on Easter Sunday...totally poor planning on both fronts.  So I stayed home with the kids (as I should have), but I couldn't help feeling sad about missing the time away with my husband--and missing out on that time to reconnect.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Dan and I have a difficult time balancing the demands of our jobs and our kids with our relationship to each other.  The constant presence of children totally affects our interaction with each other--it almost feels like a business relationship sometimes, because when we see each other, we're throwing out dates for doctor's appointments, school commitments, and the day's happenings over the din of three kids and us trying to make dinner.  Okay, not many businesses run that way, but you get what I mean.  We have a hard time finding time for us in this crazy, full life we've built together.  I know these problems are short-term, because our kids will only be young once, and when they're out of the house and Dan's retired, we'll have nothing but time for each other.  I get that.  It doesn't make my day-to-day any easier right now, though.

So we have no time for each other when the kids are around--that's just the practicalities of parental life, and I'm okay with that.  What's hard for me is that after the kids go to bed, Dan often has another agenda that doesn't involve me.  He disappears for an hour every night to decompress from his day, right after we close the last of the kids' bedroom doors--it's like he has a timer set, because it's almost always an hour, down to the minute.  He uses that hour check his email, surf the internet...whatever, just chill.  I don't begrudge his need to decompress--goodness knows I need to as well, but...I hate that hour.  After spending 12 hours of my day in the company of id-driven children, with little adult interaction, guess what?  I am lonely.  It's really hard.  I just want to spend time with my husband.  Then inevitably, if the weather is nice, Dan wants to go for a run when he emerges from his hour-long me time--they don't do early morning PT in his current job like most military locations require, so that means he needs to find another time to work out.  He could get up early and do it then anyway, but the guy loves his snooze button--to the point where I beg him to please just not set the alarm for an unrealistic time because all it does is go off and wake the kids up, not him.  So he works out after the kids are in bed, and how can I not support his exercise time, even though guess what?  I am lonely.  If he's not exercising, he brings work home, and holes up in our bedroom while I veg out to HGTV--there's nothing more pathetic than watching an episode of House Hunters that you've already seen...but I do it, because it keeps me company.  I can't watch any of "our shows" because Dan isn't watching with me, so I have to save them for a night when he is free.  I get maybe two nights a week of actual time with my husband, which we spend catching up on the TV shows we've missed the other nights...and even on those nights, I'm still lonely.

yep, some days, I totally feel this way

This is the problem I've run into in the past--expecting my husband to fill all the voids that my lack-of-social-life provides.  He's just one guy, and although he's a great guy, he can't possibly be my only outlet--it's too much pressure for one person.  Very basically, I just need to get a life.  My feeling of loneliness is exacerbated by circumstances right now--it's the tail end of a long, dreary, stuck-inside winter (not much opportunity for mommy socializing when I'm alone in my house...); even though the weather is finally brightening up, my allergies have kicked in full force and I don't even want to think about going outside, much less actually go out; and I'm potty training Alex right now, which means long days stuck in the house, dragging a stubborn 2-year-old into the bathroom every few minutes.  I've lost entire days to the bathroom this week--it's mind-numbing, but at least the boy is getting the hang of it!  Potty training is one of my least favorite tasks of parenthood...  To keep from going out of my mind, I text my best friend in Boston countless times a day, and I call my mom at least once a day--and that's pretty much the extent of my social interaction, sadly.  Even Facebook doesn't provide me the interaction comfort it once did--I try not to spend too much time on there, since it's a massive time suck.  I had this feeling of extreme loneliness when Abby was a baby--I was home alone with her a lot while Dan was in law school or studying, and she didn't even know how to talk yet...I felt like I was going crazy, sometimes carrying on conversations with myself just to hear someone talking.  I held tons of resentment toward Dan, because he got to leave the house every day and chat with other adults.  When Abby was 8 months old, I'd had enough--I researched and put myself out there by joining a moms' group.  Best Decision of My Parenting Life, not kidding.  That group provided wonderful friends for myself and for Abby, and I discovered that I wasn't so alone in the world after all--and my resentment toward Dan melted away, because I wasn't expecting the poor guy to be my only friend in the world anymore.  That's a really tall order, and that's where I feel like I'm stuck right now.

Being a stay-at-home mom can be the loneliest job on the planet, even though it can also be rewarding and fulfilling.  Yes, I'm surrounded by children and clamor and craziness all day, but I'm navigating it mostly by myself, with no rational person with whom to step back and hash out the right course of action at any given point in the day.  It's just me, in my head all day, second-guessing myself and my parenting decisions.  It's hard to put yourself out there and meet other moms, because you run the risk of meeting moms who are cliquey and judgy...and trust me, they are out there.  I don't need that drama, but I do need to get a life, so I'm just going to have to go back out there, make friends, and hope for the best.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Phone Calls

I spent the end of last week and the beginning of this week on a million phone calls (or at least it felt like it).  I started researching possible preschool options for Jake for the fall--he'll be 4.5 years old, so he still has another year before kindergarten.  I'm not actually a big fan of preschool in general, but I do see the benefits of it for a kid like Jake, mostly on the socialization/learning-the-school-routine side of things.  He's really only ever had Dan and myself as his teachers/disciplinarians/caregivers, and I think throwing him into full-day kindergarten in a year might really be scary for him.  Easing him into the idea of listening to a teacher and having a longer day where decent behavior is expected and required could be a really good move for my crazy boy.  I looked online for places with good recommendations, and the phone calls began--some were knocked off the list right away because they were crazy expensive ($288/week--are you kidding me???), some were knocked off because they don't have space for Jake, and some were knocked off because of the start time...a lot of preschools around here start at 9am, and I need to take Abby to her bus stop shortly before 9am, so it's not feasible for me be in two places at once.  Traffic around here is totally insane, so I need to factor that into my travel time in the mornings as well.  Ugh.  I have emerged from the preschool research totally overwhelmed with too many not-quite-viable options, and nothing that is the exact right fit for us.  I'm really tempted by a good preschool about 25 minutes (against traffic!) from us, but again, their start time for morning preschool is 9am.  They have room for Jake, and I know from a good friend that he would have an amazing, enriching experience there, and the price is right.  They offer an afternoon preschool, but of course that would be right in the middle of Alex's naptime--and you can't even register for the afternoon class until the morning classes are full...which they aren't yet, so technically, there is no afternoon session at this point.  Yes, my head is spinning, too.

why is this so hard to figure out?

Another round of phone calls involved my desperate search to find something to replace the exercise classes I've been taking once Dan starts his new job.  I love Zumba--it's a fun, great workout, and I hate to lose the momentum I've found taking that class.  I don't love step as much, but I do recognize that it's a good workout and has really helped me on this journey as well.  If I'm going to keep going to group classes, I need to either hire a babysitter and stick with my current classes, or find a place that offers childcare or really late classes (like after the kids go to bed kind of late).  The babysitter would seem like the most straightforward approach, but a babysitter for 3 kids at dinnertime would be really expensive.  I've also never left my kids with a babysitter before, so that causes me some anxiety--we've been fortunate that whenever we've really needed someone to watch our kids, we've been able to count on our families.  I'm not a working parent, so the need to hire a babysitter hasn't really existed--Dan and I don't get many date nights!  So not only would I have to adjust to a stranger watching our kids, but the kids would as well...and I know that would be tough.  Nothing like some mom guilt to go along with my exercise!

this idea is so appealing!

There are a lot of Zumba classes in my area, but they are expensive or a long drive (in that darn traffic again).  I finally found a gym that sounded like it might be right for us--it has a pool (and I love swimming, so that would be fun to add into my routine!), it offers step and Zumba and many other classes, and it has a great childcare area.  The catch?  It's a 30 minute drive from here--mostly against traffic, depending on when I would be trying to go.  I still thought it sounded enticing enough to at least go check it out after I talked to their membership director, so we all loaded in the car and went as a family this past Saturday.  I tried the two gyms closer to us last year, but the boys absolutely hated the childcare (and I don't blame them--the women working there were so weirdly not child-friendly!), so it didn't work out at all (literally and figuratively).  I hoped that having Abby with us when we introduced the boys to another gym childcare environment would help soften the blow for them--her presence is a comfort to them, and they often look to her for guidance...so if she was fine with it, I hoped they would be fine with it, too.  We also told the boys that we were going to a Sport Center, and specifically never used the word Gym--I knew that would freak them out after the last experience!  We left the kids in the childcare room while Dan and I got the tour of the facility, and it was awesome--they just opened, so everything is brand new and super impressive.  The kids did well in the childcare room--no meltdowns or upset, although they did say they didn't want to go back...  That didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about it--I was hoping they'd have a great time and be begging to go back, but I should just be thankful they didn't scream.

So there's a lot to consider with that gym.  I feel nervous about the drive--that's a lot of gas money, and will require a lot of motivation...I know some days (especially in bad weather), I'm not going to want to make the drive.  Their class times are also awkward for me--9:30am for Zumba, which I could probably make in the summer when I don't have to worry about the bus stop in the mornings, but apparently you have to get there early to secure a ticket for the class since it's so popular...and on school days, I won't be able to get there early.  It would really suck to drive 30 minutes for a class, only to find it full and not be able to take it!  They offer another Zumba class during the evening, but it's right at prime traffic time--that 30 minute drive could easily stretch to 2 hours, and there's no way I'm doing that.  It's a lot of money to spend on a gym membership about which I'm so unsure--although the place was great, I just don't know if it's the place for our family...which has me still searching for options.  I may end up buying some Zumba DVDs to do at home, and investing in my own step to use at home as well--although I'm really not happy with that idea, because even though working out at home is easy and free, I'm never "off-duty" from my job.  The best time to work out would be during the boys' nap/quiet time, but I'm still up and down the stairs a million times when Jake needs to use the bathroom or sticks something down his air conditioning vent that needs to be retrieved, or puts his Easter basket over his head to the point where he can't get it off (all those things have happened in the last week!).  I have to have one ear on the monitor at all times, so I couldn't zone out with my iPod.  That time would be stilted, stop-and-start, and definitely not good time to focus on myself and my exercise goals.  I could get up early before the kids in the morning, but since I would make a lot of noise with the jumping up and down and having the TV on, I would worry about waking them up and then having the same disruption problem.  And did I mention that I'm really not a morning person?  Dan thinks I should work out at night, but that's just about the last thing I want to do after the kids get to bed--I'm totally drained from the day.  So, that's all up in the air--still not sure what I'm going to do when Dan switches jobs in a few months.

two future Wahoos?

About the only fun, fulfilling phone calls I've made the last few days have been congratulatory calls to local high school students who have been accepted to my alma mater, the University of Virginia.  I would have loved that personal touch when I got into UVa (although I applied early admission, when the decision was binding--so they didn't have to waste resources on convincing me!), and I love being able to give that to future Wahoos.  A lot of the kids I called had already decided to attend, so it was mostly a quick love-fest about Virginia conversation--but some of the kids genuinely had questions, concerns, and were still deciding between schools.  I spent an hour talking to a kid who wanted advice about college in general--he asked me such varying questions regarding anything from the Freshman 15 to whether the classes would be a lot like high school size-wise to how to pick a roommate to dorm life.  I loved spending an hour giving him an introduction to UVa and what his life will look like in a few months, and I got off that call feeling like I had really made a difference to him--I hope that difference means that he picks UVa when his decision is made.  Those phone calls were invigorating--it's such an outlet for me to be defined not as a wife or a mother for a few hours, but as a college graduate with valuable information and a love for my school that I am excited to share.  Wahoowa!!  :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Discipline

Another week, another weigh-in.  I tipped the scale at 144.8 pounds yesterday, a gain of 0.4 pounds (for an overall gain of 1.2 pounds the last two weeks)...which actually pleasantly surprised me, given how far I fell off the wagon this week.  After gaining last week, I felt really bad, but also really unmotivated.  Dan went out of town (he left on Easter Sunday...boo) for the first part of the week, and while I had grand plans to use my "me time" in the evenings productively, I instead totally self-destructed.  Without someone here to hold me accountable, I spent those three days eating the rest of the Easter candy--if I never see another Hershey Kiss again in my life, that would probably be good...  I don't even know why I was so tempted by Hershey Kisses--we usually keep them in the house for little treats for the kids, and I never touch them...until this past week.  I just wanted to eat them and eat them until they were gone and no longer tempting me.  Now I need to stock up again--I don't even want to think about how many I ate.  And I broke crucial Challenge #2 rules by eating them at night after the kids went to bed, sometimes even after midnight when I was supposed to be in bed.

my rationale for eating all the Easter candy

When Dan isn't home, I have random insomnia--I'm super tired, but I putz around the house doing nothing important until the wee hours of the morning, and feel exhausted when I wake up...which in turn makes me not want to do anything but lounge around during the day...and then stay up all night again the following night.  It's an ugly cycle.  I even skipped a few days of my cleaning schedule, I was being so lazy.  My mom came out here to help me on Monday night so that I could still go to my step class in Dan's absence, and she stayed until Tuesday after lunch--it was nice to have the company, and to still be able to exercise.  The classes last week were the only reason I didn't gain 15 pounds in a week.  My regular Zumba instructors were back on Wednesday and Friday, and Wednesday's class really energized me--it was fun and just what I needed to break me out of my binging funk.  Friday's class was also good, but my pesky elbow really bothered me during that class...  I sucked it up and went to the ER Friday night after the kids went to bed--the elbow wasn't getting any better, and I was concerned that I was doing more harm by using it and exercising with it this past week.  I had been avoiding going to the ER for it because I just kept hoping it was going to get better on it's own, and also because I didn't want anyone to tell me I broke it somehow and end up in a cast--but I wanted to get an answer for the pain.  The doctor I saw was really nice, but he honestly had no idea what I have done to it--I had it x-rayed, and the x-ray shows some abnormalities, but he couldn't figure out what those meant...so now I have to go see a sports medicine doctor in the hopes of figuring out what I did to it and what I can do to fix it.  Ugh--not what I need right now.  Maybe it will get better before I have to go see someone else about it--I just want to get on with my life and not have an injury bugging me!  The ER doctor did say that I could keep using it and just take Motrin, so at least I didn't walk away with a cast or a sling.

Ugh...discipline is no fun.

I have lost the discipline I had when I started this Challenge...I didn't call getting healthier and losing the weight a challenge for nothing.  It has definitely been (and continues to be) incredibly challenging!  Last week, I even stooped so low as to skimp on my food journal reporting (if I only eat two bites of the kids' mac & cheese, I don't have to write it down, right?).  I still haven't been drinking enough water, and I definitely have been missing my Challenge-imposed bedtime.  We spent the day yesterday at my in-laws' house, and my mother-in-law is on a similar health journey.  I was inspired by her notes to herself all over the house--"Stay strong!" on a cupboard door, "You can do it!" on her bathroom mirror, "Don't even think about it!" in the pantry.  Perhaps I need some notes around the house for myself--my internal willpower isn't working out so well.  I'm issuing myself a mini-Challenge for this week, in an effort to get back on track:  Get to bed no later than midnight all week.  I think my bad sleeping schedule has put my thoughts in a tailspin and made it easier for me to splurge and not be as disciplined as I need to be.  Once I get my sleep schedule righted again, hopefully everything else will be easier to stick to--and if that's not the case, I'll mini-Challenge myself again next week to fix another problem area!  Here's to some actual weight loss this week!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

I love my kids, and love being a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes the ridiculousness of my daily life just needs to get written down for posterity.  The boys have been giving me a run for my money lately--I don't know if it was the full moon last week, some weird growth spurt they are going through, or if their ears are full of wax...but something has been up, and I've been going a little nuts.  Jake was the most laid-back baby until he hit around 15 months, and he has been non-stop since then.  We've had our extremely rough patches with him (specifically around his third birthday--the few months before and the few months after were so so exhausting), but he has grown into himself a little bit the last 8 months or so.  I thought we had survived the crazy-ornery stage and were done with it, but I'm reconsidering that thought these days.  Jake is a firecracker, which I usually find endearing, but lately he's been a major handful.  The kid has no fear and zero impulse control--I truly think he's going to grow up to be a stuntman (which terrifies me!).  A few examples from the last few weeks of Jake insanity:

1)  While having a serious discussion with Abby about bullies, I told the story of how my brother was beaten up by some mean boys when he was in high school (that's the sanitized version--he was actually jumped by a large pack of gang members in California because he was wearing the wrong color shirt...it wasn't pretty, and he was badly beaten).  Abby asked what the mean boys did to him, and I explained that they hit and kicked my brother.  Jake was listening to the story as well, and happened to be standing right next to me while I was describing the bullying.  The next thing I knew, I was being kicked hard in the shins by my 4-year-old.  Really, Jake?  Because someone mentioned kicking, you felt the need to demonstrate on your mother?  He went in time out, and I have a few nice bruises to show for my bullying son.

2)  In gymnastics class, Jake is drawn to the bars...he will often wander over even when it's not his group's turn on the bars, and hoist himself up there.  His move du jour is hanging upside-down, with his hands and feet on the bar.  This wouldn't be a problem, if he simply kicked his feet back down and let go of the bar with his hands, landing on his feet.  No, that would be too sensible--instead, he hangs upside down until he can't hold on anymore, and then just drops, head-first, onto the mats below.  The first time I saw him do that, I almost had a heart attack, envisioning a broken neck or a concussion of some sort.  He hit the floor and I held my breath, waiting to hear screaming and watching for movement--I was relieved and a bit amazed when he not only didn't cry or lay paralyzed, but he kicked his feet up into the air and did a crazy flip move to get up.  Then he figured out that he could do a headstand (which I didn't know was within his abilities at this point), throw his feet up onto the bar, and then pull a "Look, Mom--no hands!" move by putting his arms out to the side--using only his head for balance on the floor.  I think the child will try anything that pops into his head.

signature Jake moves on the bars

3)  I can't even think of a cute intro for this next anecdote...  Last week at bedtime, I sent Jake into the bathroom like I always do while I was changing Alex's diaper in the hallway outside the bathroom.  I instructed Jake to get undressed, throw his clothes in the hamper, and go potty, which he usually does by himself--typically I have to prompt him to stop wasting water while washing his hands, but otherwise, he handles his own business in the bathroom for the most part.  He just recently learned to stand at the toilet, so he told me that he was going to do that first, which I said was fine (he will then sit to finish whatever else he needs to do...no details necessary!).  He completed both standing and sitting phases, at which point I entered the bathroom to wash my hands after finishing Alex's diaper change.  Jake needs my help to get off the toilet, so I helped him down--and when my arm brushed against his hair, I noticed that my arm got wet.  Hmmm...that's funny.  Why is Jake's hair wet?  I hadn't heard the faucet running, and my mind could conjure no logical explanation for wet hair.  I reached out and felt his hair with my hand, and yep, it was definitely pretty wet.

Me (sincerely curious):  "Jake, how did your hair get wet, buddy?"
Jake (impish, smiling nervously):  "Uh...I put my head in the potty."
Me (incredulous):  "I'm sorry--YOU DID WHAT??"
Jake (very nervous, but smiling kind of proudly): "I looked into the toilet and my hair got wet."
Me (disgusted and reluctant): "Was that before or after you went potty?"
Jake (confidently): "After!"

Ugh!!!!  Seriously?  What on earth prompts a kid to think about sticking his head in the toilet and then actually do it.  I handed him over to Dan immediately because I thought I was going to lose my mind, and Dan ushered him into the bath tub while lecturing him profusely on the fact that just because something pops into your head doesn't mean you should do it.  I should have that lecture on repeat with Jake!

dedicated to my boys

I don't have a lot of stories about Alex--he tends to just follow along behind Jake, learning all of his tricks and bad habits on the way.  They are often quite cute together, but more than not, they are partners in crime.  If one cries and refuses to eat dinner, the other joins in...you know, just to show some brotherly solidarity.  I am attempting to begin the potty training fun in earnest with Alex, and that alone is enough to drive me nuts.  He wants to be a big boy, he wants to be like Jake, but he does not want to wear undies.  The boy loves his diapers.  I'm feeling up against a wall with him--he's so darn stubborn, and I think if I can't get this done with him in the next few months, the battle is just going to get harder.  As of right now, he screams and screams when I put him on the toilet...even though he will eventually use it as soon as he calms down, and he gets super excited when he is successful.  It's just those initial moments, getting him there, that make my head hurt.   I have been insisting that he use the toilet before I give him a bath, and the fussing and whining about that begins before we even head up the stairs.  Yesterday afternoon, I took the boys upstairs for their baths and attempted to prep Alex for the toilet--I bribe with chocolate, naturally.  He was upset about the prospect of going potty (I even had Jake go first, to demonstrate that it's normal and not scary!), and fought me as I tried to pick him up and set him on the toilet.  We struggled, and the next thing I know, his foot was in the toilet that Jake had just used.  Yeah, that happened.  I had to fish him out, dry him off, and then coax a very distraught boy to use the toilet himself.  It took 25 minutes of screaming before he finally calmed down and completed his task.  Did I mention how stubborn he is?

I will outlast you, Alex!

I think all moms have their hands full and deserve medals for their efforts, but moms of boys will always have a special place in my heart.  These boys put me to work every single day!  Abby had her ridiculous moments, but she was an absolute breeze (and still is!) by comparison--we didn't know what we were in for with Jake and Alex.  Thankfully for me, they are all three good kids, and these crazy days will pass...or at least that's what I keep telling myself as I keep a desperate, slipping grasp on my sanity.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Waiting Game

When we moved to our current location, Dan was just coming back from his most recent deployment.  We were looking for an assignment that would be family-friendly (or as family-friendly as you can get in the military...), so that Dan could reconnect with the kids and not have crazy hours like he did at our last assignment before the deployment.  His current job has delivered just that--a slower pace, work that Dan loves, no possibility of deployment, and a flexible schedule that allows him to come home at a decent time.  I've gotten so spoiled, because Dan will help me out by taking Abby to the bus a morning or two every week, and he gets her from the bus in the afternoon most days so that we can have some family time and eat dinner at a decent hour together.  With these evening exercise classes, I have really been able to count on Dan being home so that I could have that time for myself to get in shape.  We also have our extended families close enough to spend good quality time with them right now, and we've tried to make the most of this assignment.  We moved here almost 2 years ago for a 2-year assignment, knowing that if Dan got picked up for his promotion (which he did), we would be moving this summer.  I've had bittersweet feelings about the move--bitter because I really hate the process of moving (I have yet to meet anyone who loves it), and because this next move is only for a 1-year assignment...ugh.  Moving twice in 2 years is not at all my idea of fun.  We'll be moving farther from our extended family--not far enough to deter visits (hopefully!), but more time in the car for the trips.  The sweet part is that the 1-year assignment is in my favorite place in the whole world--Charlottesville, VA.  It's where I went to college, where I lived for a few years after college, and where I would have stayed for the rest of my life if I hadn't married into the military.  Even one year there is better than 3 years anywhere else, in my opinion!  I've been really looking forward to our year there--thinking about where we would live, reconnecting with good friends there, and exposing our children to the most beautiful place (and their future alma mater!).  Dan will be in school during our year there, so the hours will be very family friendly again, and I know we will create awesome memories.  It'll be like law school lite--pseudo-civilian life in a college town...and this time, it just happens to be my most favorite college town!

so true...all the stress of a military move falls on the spouse!

That's been the plan for the past two years--assuming Dan is on the promotion list, we move to Charlottesville in the summer of 2013 (i.e., three months from right now!).  Dan and I began the argument over where to live in Charlottesville probably a year ago--there is no military housing there, since there's no military installation in the area, so we'll be living on the economy.  My obvious preference is to live near downtown and the University, because when I think about living there, I envision taking the kids for walks on the Lawn and being close to everything (including my favorite bagel place, Bodo's Bagels).  Dan wants to live about 30 minutes outside of town, in a subdivision that has a Starbucks, pools, and lots of other military families going through the same schooling with Dan.  I see the appeal of his preference, but I just haven't been able to adjust my vision so far away from where my heart wants to be...in the heart of things!

While waiting anxiously for the promotion list to come out and set our move plans in motion, Dan came home from work one day late last year and totally threw me for a loop.  He had received an email at work that day--a random announcement of job postings that gets blasted out to everyone in the service, and I guess he was having a slow day, because he read through all the postings.  One caught his eye--a position with a lot of prestige for which he felt he could possibly be qualified and which piqued his interest, and it would keep us in our current location for one more year.  For the record, I'm totally used to Dan setting his sights on goals out in left field--and normally, I can bring him back down to earth with some reality checks...like when he was still in law school and he informed me that when he was done with that, he really wanted to go back to school and become an architect.  Um, so many issues with that idea (even though architecture is cool!)--his military commitment, his chosen path of lawyer being cemented by law school attendance, and the fact that I was not suffering through law school just to turn around and support him yet again through another school when he already had a perfectly marketable degree.  So yeah, sometimes he has job-related ADD, and I kind of thought his enthusiasm for this random job posting he had just discovered that morning was another symptom of that ADD--something we would laugh about later, but not seriously consider.  I felt that way for about five seconds, until my dear husband informed me that he had started the application process for that prestigious position.  What?  I wasn't sure how he could learn about a job, put out feelers to see if it was even something his bosses would support, get the go-ahead from those higher ups, and contact the personnel people to "throw his name in the hat" for consideration in the span of something like five hours--five hours during which he did not contact me once to see how I would feel about the whole idea.  Maybe that's a sign of his complete trust in my support for him and his career ambitions...or maybe it's a sign that he didn't even think about how this turn of events would affect me and our family.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and go with that first one...even though I have a suspicion it was more the latter.  Hmmm...  Granted, I wouldn't have stopped him from applying for the job, but I would have at least appreciated a conversation before we were thrown into this new possibility.


Fast forward 3 months, his application is complete for that position, and his name comes out on the promotion list.  The get-the-ball-rolling event for our move to Charlottesville had happened, and our ball was firmly stuck--while other families on the promotion list snatched up the desirable Charlottesville rentals, we were still waiting to hear whether Dan was selected for the position that would keep us here another year.  Did I mention that we were supposed to be moving in 3 months?  My stress level was starting to go through the roof--I'm a planner, and I had no idea what to plan for.  The kids' gymnastics center questioned me about our plans for their summer session, and I couldn't commit...because we might be moving.  People asked if I was looking into putting Jake in preschool, and I couldn't even research preschool options...because I didn't know where we would be living next school year.  Our garage is a total disaster of things I need to sell before we move...but were we moving?  The kids pestered me incessantly about the move--they wanted to know why something for which we had spent two years mentally prepping was now up in the air (I wondered the same thing, too, kids).  Dan was selected for the interview phase of the new job, which was a good sign...but with so few slots and so many candidates, it was still a long shot that he would get the position.  The interviews came and went, as did the deadline on which we were supposed to learn our fate, and I thought I would lose my mind with all the waiting and waiting--I just wanted to know what we were doing, one way or another.  Dan had off on Thursday and Friday of last week to spend some family time with us during Abby's spring break, but he had to go into the office on Friday to take care of some business--he went during naptime, and my phone buzzed with a text shortly after he got to his office and checked his email:

"I'm in!!  no packing yet!"

He got the job.  No moving van in three months.  One more year here.  I'm relieved to know what we are doing, and so proud of my husband for knocking it out of the park, aiming high, and achieving his goals.  I'm also extremely nervous--the new job starts in just a few months, and it will be a total change of pace for our family.  Gone are the family-friendly hours, the 5-minute commute, the help at the bus stop...and Dan's ability to get home in time for my exercise classes.  I'm going to be on my own a lot more in managing our kids, and while that's something I'm used to and can handle, I've been spoiled the last two years with him working just down the street, and I know the adjustment is going to be hard.  We also have to shell out a decent chunk of change because the attire for this position is not his military uniform--the only suit Dan owns is one he bought for our honeymoon, and it no longer fits him.  Oh, and I don't iron...  So many feelings bubbling over--I'm excited for Dan, happy to not be prepping for a move and to be staying close to family, but overwhelmed with the changes and the worry over what this new path means for our future.  At the very least, I can bank on our move to Charlottesville next summer--unless my husband gets an email with job openings...kidding...I think?