Wednesday, July 31, 2013

100th Post!

Over the last few days, I debated all kinds of topics for my next blog post--but when I realized that this was my 100th post, I thought perhaps I should post something profound.  Apparently my brain is too fried for profound, because I'm going to post an update on my Challenge #2 to get myself healthy!  Eh, what's 100 posts anyway?  Maybe I'll become profound by 200.  :)

the extent of my profundity for today

I last gave you the Challenge #2 update way back on June 17th...before the insanity of the rest of the month (and apparently all of July) took over.  I had just survived my first week without the safety net of my three scheduled exercise classes, and weighed in at 133.2 that week.  I came out of that week with a loss because I cobbled together some exercise on my own--my friend's Zumba class at her gym, a new Zumba class sort of near my house, and some laps at the pool.  Over the weeks that followed, I did manage to swim laps at the pool a few times, but I never made it to another structured class again until last week!  I'll give you the quick overview:

When things got ridiculously busy, I stopped tracking my calories and fitness in my WebMD log.  I had been tracking diligently, daily, obsessively since I started this Challenge in January, and figured I could probably do without the log--I kind of know what I'm doing now, right?  Hmmm...

At my lowest weight (right after I got so sick out at my sister's house), I weighed in at 131.4--not a true baseline since the weight loss was brought on by sickness, but I just wanted to throw that out there so you could know where I was at the end of June!

The beach vacation was a temptation, to say the least--my parents graciously stocked the pantry with all kinds of goodies that I try not to keep at my own house (because I lack the self-control to stop myself from binging...).  My willpower has improved over this Challenge, but the beach was too much--I figured I was on vacation, what could some cinnamon buns/Hershey Kisses/<insert super fatty deliciousness here> hurt?  I had worked so hard toward my goal weight, I deserved a week off!  (This is what my brain kept telling me.)  I finally understand the self-sabotage that happens on The Biggest Loser, when they stick those poor folks so desperately dedicated to getting their health back on track in a room full of their weaknesses and tell them that they can win immunity if they overindulge.  I used to be super annoyed at the people who ate during those temptations, but now I totally get it--dangle the forbidden fruit (or, as it were, nothing nearly as healthy as fruit) in front of someone and give them any justification for it (you've worked so hard!  you deserve it!  it's vacation!  you can win a prize!), and you're bound to have at least one person who cracks.  I am that person--I cracked.  Big time.

seriously, no one can pass up s'mores!

I weighed in right after vacation, and I was up to 136 pounds--I gained 4.6 pounds in 2.5 weeks.  Yikes.  Not even swimming a few laps in the pool at our beach house or long walks on the beach collecting shells could save me from all the junk I ate late at night...early in the morning...pretty much all day for seven days straight.

I told myself that I would get back on track after we got home from the beach.  I berated myself for my bad habits--eating at night, eating too much, eating junk.  But I was super exhausted after our week of fun in the sun, and it was easy to grab those treats and just munch on them to keep myself going throughout the day.  And then Dan went out of town for 3 days last week, and I thought if I could just eat all the M&Ms and Hershey Kisses in the house, I could get back on track (oh, my old faulty thinking at work).  I found M&Ms hidden deep in our cabinets--who knew we had so many bags?  No one ever will know how many bags we had, because I ate them all.  I ate so much, I felt sick.  Ugh.

So this week, I weighed in at 138 pounds...and I'm not at all surprised.  The only thing that surprises me is that I don't weigh more at this point.  What am I doing?  Um, I can't even ask that question--I know exactly what I'm doing (or not doing):

  • I stopped tracking my calorie intake and fitness.  Clearly, I wasn't ready to take the training wheels off, even after 6 months.
  • I am not getting good sleep every night--I've had bouts of insomnia (especially while Dan was gone--I never sleep well), and the lack of sleep leads to poor decision-making when it comes to my food throughout the day.  The lack of sleep also hinders my metabolism and weight loss...not to mention, makes me crazy cranky.
  • I've been eating all kinds of junk.  It's time for a cabinet clean-out (and not the fun kind where I eat everything)--I need to eliminate all the temptations from the house until I can get my self-control under control again.
  • I haven't been exercising!  Without those scheduled classes, I'm blowing in the wind, and it's too easy to put off exercise when you're not accountable to a schedule of classes for which you've already paid.  Dan's new schedule has definitely added a new wrinkle to my quest...
  • I have not been blogging my weight updates.  What did I just say about accountability?  I need to be accountable to you, dear readers, to keep me from breaking my scale.  Obviously I lack the motivation to do this on my own in a vacuum--I need people cheering me on, and I need folks to know when I've fallen off the wagon so that I have the push to get back on again.

That's where I am--I'm trying to do much better this week, but maintaining my focus is hard and will be short-lived.  This week is our only "normal" week so far this summer, and the only normal week I have before we take off on yet another temptation-laden adventure next week!  It's hard to get on a good schedule when the schedule keeps changing, so I'm just trying to keep my head up and work with what I've got right now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DC Girls' Weekend

My best friend Kerry flew in from Boston the day after Abby's big 7th birthday party...the fun never stops around here (not even for a little break!).  I unpacked from those two days at my parents' house, and immediately repacked my overnight bag for a girls' weekend in DC.  Kerry and I had been trying to plan a time to get together (the last time we saw each other was when she flew out to stay with us last summer), and it worked out that she could squeeze in a trip during the few free days I had between Abby's birthday party and our beach trip.  When she visited last year, we just stayed at my house and tried to catch up as best as we could with three kids running around us constantly--Kerry is such a good sport about my crazy kids, and was an awesome honorary aunt taking them to the playground and entertaining them with me for days...but she and I didn't get a lot of time to really talk with each other.  No matter how much we both love my kids, we just couldn't get to the good stuff with them around!  So this year, I convinced Dan to let me have a few days away from the house with Kerry--he was off work before starting his new job, so we had that flexibility.  I thought Dan would benefit from a few days with the kids (actually, the first time he'd been totally on his own with all three of them for an overnight ever--the only other time I've been gone for more than a day, he took the kids down to stay at his parents' house), and I knew I would benefit from some down time with my BFF!

As soon as Dan gave me the green light, I started planning--we wanted to stay in DC, so we picked the Hotel Monaco, within walking distance of pretty much anything and everything we could want to see.  I've lived in the DC area off and on since 1992, so there's really not much in DC that I haven't already done, and Kerry has been to DC many, many's not like we really needed to be tourists, but we wanted to be in the middle of things.  I picked her up at the airport early on a Sunday morning and we went into Old Town Alexandria, where we got SOAKING wet in a torrential downpour on our way to lunch at one of my favorite places, Bread & Chocolate.  The waitress actually got paper towels for us after we were seated, because we were literally dripping with rain!  That didn't put a damper on our day--I was so excited to see Kerry, have the time to talk with her, and the freedom to go do whatever we wanted for a few days!  The rain did let up by the time we were done eating, so we walked around Old Town for a bit before heading into DC.  We made a quick stop at Arlington National Cemetery to see the Kennedy burial sites, and then we made our way to our hotel.  We were staying directly across from the National Portrait Gallery, so we walked over there after checking into the hotel.  Kerry dubbed our versions of DC-tourist activities as "DC-Lite"--we pretty much skipped through the things in which we didn't have much interest and went straight for things that caught our eye, and we didn't linger too much on anything!  It was perfect--we got in some culture while also talking nonstop about what is going on in our lives.  So much to catch up on!

this weird aluminum foil exhibit won't leave my brain

After the Portrait Gallery, we went back to our hotel room and got changed for dinner--by that point, it was raining again, so we went with the path of least resistance and picked a restaurant directly behind the hotel.  We walked in, and I was a little surprised that it seemed like kind of a dive...but, whatever--if they had a good burger, that would be fine with me.  We ordered chips and salsa, and I was chattering away when Kerry told me she could be good to finish our appetizer and head out.  I figured she was sketched out by the dive-y nature of the place, and I was up for anything, so I agreed to finish the chips and go.  After we got out to the street, Kerry informed me that rushed exit was due to the fact that our waitress was practically naked--she apparently had her jeans unbuttoned and unzipped and was not wearing any underwear!  Seriously??  How did I miss this (and why, why did that situation occur in the first place)?  Good call on not eating the prepared food from that establishment, Kerry--you probably saved us some nasty stomach bug.  We were totally stuffed from the chips and salsa, so we just walked and talked in the rain--DC was pretty quiet that evening, and we walked all the way to the National Mall and then back toward our hotel.  We discovered a Walgreens on our walk, so we stopped in to pick up some treats to take back to our hotel--and were totally floored by the most amazing Walgreens we'd ever seen.  It was three stories tall, had a nail salon and a frozen yogurt bar!  Absolutely crazy--best find ever.

check out the frozen yogurt toppings bar INSIDE Walgreens!

We indulged in some delicious frozen yogurt, bought chocolate to eat later, and headed back to our hotel for the night.  Kerry is a big gym rat at home, so we picked a hotel that had a gym--we got up and worked out together the following morning, which was a great way to start the day!  It was a rainy day again, so we headed out with our complimentary Hotel Monaco umbrellas and walked until we dropped.  We wound through the Sculpture Garden on our way to the National Mall, and then spent a few hours in the National Museum of the American Indian--Kerry is a high school English teacher who teaches a book about American Indians, and she wanted some information and photos to add to her lessons...any kid who has her as a teacher is so lucky!  We then hit Kerry's favorite spot in DC, the Botanical Gardens--absolutely beautiful, and amazing that they create so many different climates and grow so many types of plants and flowers!  We made an obligatory stop on the steps of the Capitol and then walked all the way to the MLK Memorial--that's 2 miles, folks.  Just to get there.  Then we had to walk back--and this was on a super hot day after we had already walked at least another 2 miles!  We finally made it back to civilization, and stopped at the first restaurant we came to (we refused to eat street vendor food since we had been so healthy that day with the gym that morning and all the walking) for a late lunch of sandwiches.  My legs felt like they were still walking after I sat was painful to get back up again!  After we ate, Kerry took me on a tour of some of her favorite clothing stores--I never shop, so this was an intimidating education for me.  H&M was huge, crowded, and crazy.  Forever 21 overwhelmed me.  The Gap wasn't so bad--I've been in there before, so at least I was familiar!  Kerry thinks I need to go on What Not To Wear--as I've said before, I don't disagree.  She tried to update my style, but I'm pretty set in my jeans-and-t-shirt ways--she did manage to get me out of my standard summer footwear of UVa flip flops and into some more-stylish Havaianas black flip flops, so I'd call that a major fashion victory for her!  We managed not to break the bank, and limped our way back to the hotel for a break before dinner.

We decided to go to Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House for dinner--we hadn't yet been by the White House on this visit (we tend to take a picture of ourselves in front of it whenever Kerry is in town!), so we wanted to go by after dinner.  It was a gorgeous night, and we got our picture.  :)

Kerry, me, and the White House

Kerry got up and went to the gym the next morning before we checked out of the hotel, but I couldn't drag myself out of bed to go with her--I was SO tired from our DC adventure the day before!  I did eventually get up, and we drove around DC a bit more before heading back to my real life--we were supposed to meet Dan and the kids at the boys' gymnastics class and then get lunch with them, but Jake threw up that morning, so gymnastics was cancelled!  Poor Dan had to deal with kids throwing up while I was gone...  Kerry and I got lunch together and then headed to my house, where the kids were thrilled to see her and show her everything in the house--they wouldn't leave her alone!  We all went out to dinner that night (Jake was feeling much better, thankfully!), and then I had to take Kerry to the airport the following morning.  Three days go by so fast, but it was a wonderful, restorative visit with the girl who knows me best--I can't wait to plan the next Kerry-and-Jill getaway!

Kerry with my kiddos--they LOVE her!

I have to give a huge shout out to my awesome husband, who not only let me escape the daily grind for a few days while he held down the fort at home with the kids, but he did a tremendous job!  He led the kids in Lego building competitions, read lots of stories, and even took all three kids to the National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center to see the Discovery space shuttle!  Amazing--that's an outing that this well-versed stay-at-home mom probably wouldn't have attempted by myself, so I was super impressed with Dan's desire and execution--he made some great memories with the kids, and that meant everything to me.  Great job, honey--and thank you for my girls' weekend!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Abby's 7th Birthday!

Abby turned 7 years old at the end of June, and the girl was celebrated many times!  The first of her birthday celebrations was at school before the end of the year--summer birthdays all get clumped together at the end, and Abby came home on a Friday informing me that her teacher said her school birthday would be the coming Monday.  Really?  I searched her backpack for a note alerting me to the plans for her party (should I send cupcakes?  should I plan to attend?  is Abby correct on her dates, or is her celebration a different day??), but found nothing--and as it was a Friday, I couldn't get in touch with her teacher to find out if Abby's intel was correct.  I had already promised my girl some cupcakes for her school party, so that Sunday night, I went ahead and made two dozen to take to her class the following morning--hoping that Abby had her days right!  I was crazy tired that night, and of course, I started my cupcake project very I was finishing up the decorating well after midnight.  I think my tiredness worked in my favor because I got very adventurous with the icing tips--I just pulled tips out at random, and glopped icing on the cupcakes with them!  It was actually pretty fun, although I'm a little bummed because I didn't think to write down which tips I used to make which cupcakes...

my favorites are the dark purple icing

watching DC Cupcakes came in handy a little bit

happy school birthday, Abby!

Phew...I made those cupcakes just a day after Alex's birthday party, so my house was overflowing with cupcakes.  I was a little cupcaked out, but I loved how they looked and was pretty proud of my effort--and Abby was correct on the date for her school party, so I didn't show up in her classroom with cupcakes for no reason!

Abby's next birthday celebration was supposed to be at the playground near our house on her actual birthday--because we were having her big party out at my parents' house (an hour from where we live), I wanted to have a local get-together for her school and neighborhood friends.  I sent out invites in her backpack before school ended, and even though it called for making more cupcakes, I was excited to have a fun outdoor activity with my girl and her friends.

cute invite--and it did include an RSVP and more info on a location!

Abby handed out something like 25 invites, but it seemed like the timing might not be great for the celebration--a lot of our neighbors were going to be out of town or have moved by that day, so I was hoping her school friends would come through.  By the RSVP deadline, only one neighbor had responded that they would be there...hmmm.  I was really worried that Abby would get her hopes up for a big morning of fun with her friends at the playground, only to have very few people show up.  I tried to prep her for a small playdate (although I was hopeful that some folks would just come without RSVPing), and she was excited to see the family who had RSVP'd.  Unfortunately, this celebration had to get cancelled at the last minute when I got terribly sick out at my sister's house--so I have no idea if folks from school wandered around the playground looking for us that morning...  To make up for my ruining her special day, my mom and sister sprang into action and put together a fun morning celebration at my sister's house when Abby woke up on her birthday!

presents for the birthday girl!

Grandma came to the cupcake rescue!

We came back to our own house the afternoon of Abby's birthday, and had one day at home before we went back out to stay at my parents' house...this time, to prep for Abby's big birthday party!  I had chosen a cake design for Abby's Rapunzel party theme by doing a Google search--I looked for a cake that looked simple and fun.  I found one on this blog, and thought it was something I could do!  It was a pretty straightforward design--one large round cake (for the "water"), a smaller round cake (for the "grass"), and a cute tower made out of cupcakes!

the water layer

grass layer on top!

building the cupcake tower

the finished cake!

The cake wasn't too hard (to check out my previous cakes, click here)--I did spend a few hours on it, and my mom helped tremendously (as always!) by making the icing and colors for me, but it wasn't a stressful experience.  Abby loved her cake, too!

the birthday girl with her cake at the party

Happy birthday to my sweet girl!  :)  The party was great fun, and guess who made a surprise appearance??  Rapunzel herself!  :)

Rapunzel with Abby

Friday, July 19, 2013

Swimming and Sickness

I'm going to try to catch you guys up in some sort of chronological order from where I left off--it's been such a busy, busy, busy last few weeks that I actually just had to consult my pictures to remind myself of what I did when!  I left you right after Alex's 3rd birthday, as Abby was finishing up first grade and Dan was enjoying his last few days at his old job.  He had a tough time saying goodbye to that work environment (as did I--the hours were so family-friendly, and we couldn't beat his 5-minute commute!), but was looking forward to some well-deserved time off between jobs.  As soon as he got off work on his last day, we relocated our little family to my sister's house for a few days--my 90-year-old grandmother was staying at my parents' house, so we decided to stay with my sister so that we wouldn't have to drive back and forth for hours every day just to visit!  We scheduled swim lessons for Abby and Jake out in my sister's neighborhood during that time, too, which was super convenient.

Abby has had swim lessons before (a parent/child class when she was 18 months old, and private lessons when she was 4 years old), but judging by the few times she's been in a pool this summer, we really wanted her to get a few lessons in before our beach vacation in early July--just to get her more comfortable on her own in the water, and give her a little more technique.  My sister had heard of a girl who gave lessons at her neighborhood pool, so we went ahead and signed Abby up for semi-private lessons with my niece.  After we had Abby's lessons on the calendar, I got to thinking about Jake--he's 4.5 years old now, and has never had swim lessons.  He's also extremely adventurous--he's never had any fear of the water, which is great...but is also very scary as his parent!  I went ahead and signed him up for private lessons with the same girl for the same days as Abby's lessons--I considered a swim school near our house for him, but figured he would do best one-on-one...a safer set up for our little daredevil, for sure!

The pool in my sister's neighborhood is so nice, and the lessons were in the morning before the pool opened--it was great, because we had the whole place to ourselves with no distractions!  We got there a little early on the first day, so we let the kids play in the kiddie pool before the instructor showed up...and we got the surprise of a box turtle swimming in the pool with them!  Poor little guy must have fallen in--my sister's husband rescued him back to the woods after the kids got a big kick out of watching him swim for a few minutes.

hello, little turtle!

The swim instructor was great with the kids--Abby had her lesson first (I wanted Jake to see how it all worked before it was his turn...I wasn't sure how he was going to do with the whole listening thing...), and she was like a fish in the water.  She was a little timid throughout the lesson, though, so we just needed to work on her confidence--but by the end of the 4 days (4 half-hour lessons), she was swimming freestyle on her own and working on side breathing!

love this one of Abby jumping into the water!

my girl practicing her freestyle technique

Jake, our fearless future stuntman, surprised the heck out of me--he has always been too comfortable in the water, not worrying at all about silly little things like drowning or the fact that he doesn't know how to swim.  I was expecting more of the same in his swim lessons--that the instructor was going to have her hands full with him...and she did, but not in the way I thought:  her hands were literally full of him, because he wouldn't venture away from her at all.  He was ridiculously clingy, and very, very timid.  The instructor told me that he is a natural swimmer, and she felt like if he would let her let him go a little bit, he would be swimming on his own...but he stuck to her like glue.  I don't know where this newfound fear came from in him (he never had a bad experience in the water to prompt that level of concern), but in a way, it made me more comfortable--I've always been super worried about his lack of caution in the water, so some extra care on his part is not a bad thing.  I think the lessons were good for him, even though it was sad (and strange!) to see him so nervous about everything.

happily floating, as long as she's holding onto him!

he was a great listener, even if he was clingy

Alex didn't get in on the swim lesson action--he's not a huge fan of the pool, so I didn't think lessons were a good fit for him right now.  He did come to the pool to watch the lessons with us--Dan took him in to play in the water the first day, but after that, he preferred to sit by the pool with me and cheer for Abby and Jake.

Alex wanted to float, like his brother and sister!

Alex and me by the pool

While we were staying out at my sister's house, we enjoyed good time with my side of the family.  After the morning swim lessons each day, we would get the kids ready and head over to my parents' house to visit with my grandmother and aunt.  The kids loved running around like monkeys with their cousins, and we adults managed to chat over the din.  My grandmother loved getting to see all the kids (she hadn't been to Virginia since 2009, and hadn't yet met Jake or Alex), and my librarian aunt enjoyed reading to all the kids one of the nights.

my sweet grandmother with 6 great grandkids

my aunt reading bedtime stories to a captivated audience

After dinner each night, we would head back over to my sister's house, get the kids to bed, and then hang out with my sister and her husband.  I somehow got pulled into helping my sister tackle some laundry projects (she would like to have me believe that she's allergic to any stains, and therefore needs me to come get all the stains out of her laundry for her--ha ha!), and Dan got to play Trivial Pursuit with my brother-in-law (I won't say who won...out of consideration for my poor husband, who is incredibly smart regardless of the outcome!).

We had a nice 3 days there, and were supposed to head home right after the kids' last swim lesson on 4th day...but I got horribly sick.  It was not good--I don't really know the cause (exhaustion?  raw cookie dough?  too much of my mom's heavy-yet-delicious home cooking?), but I was a horrible mess.  I started feeling badly when I went to bed the night before--my stomach was hurting, and I thought I was just overtired...but then I was up all night in the bathroom.  Ugh.  Dan had to take the kids to swim lessons by himself the next morning because I couldn't get out of bed--thankfully, my sister helped get Abby ready and to her lesson in their car.  We really needed to get home that afternoon, too--we had tickets to a concert that night (my favorite band, and a much-anticipated date night), and I was hosting a small birthday get-together at the playground near our house for Abby's birthday the following morning.  Needless to say, we missed our concert (boo!!) and I cancelled Abby's cupcakes in the playground--I felt terrible about the whole thing, but I really couldn't have made it home, much less gone out on a date or baked cupcakes!  I finally got out of bed that evening and was feeling a bit better--but after a few hours of feeling somewhat normal, I was standing in the kitchen chatting with my sister and her husband when I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out...I tried sitting down with my head between my legs, but that didn't make the feeling disappear.  I tried to make a run for it up the stairs to my bed (where Dan was already soundly sleeping), but I didn't quite make it before I wobbled and hit the floor right outside the bedroom door--I didn't lose consciousness, luckily, but I physically couldn't stay on my feet anymore.  My sister said it looked like I was dancing a weird jig before I fell over, and my brother-in-law bolted up the stairs to my aid like Superman--it was rather amusing, if I wasn't on the floor scaring the crap out of people.  Dan got the surprise of his life when he awoke to my sister standing over him yelling that I was passed out on the floor.  Urgh.  There's just never a dull moment, is there?  I think I was just depleted from my hours in the bathroom as well as my lack of food all day, and I honestly felt much, much better when I woke up the next morning...and we were able to head back to our own home after a wild adventure to kick off our summer!

be so, so careful what you wish for...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Back to Reality

I'm back!  I know it's been a long hiatus, and I have TONS to write about to catch you up on our last few crazy weeks.  I'm sitting down now, though, because I felt compelled to write right now about something I didn't really intend to discuss at all...much less address in my first post back.  The need to write has gripped me all day, so here goes...

Cory Monteith.  Before this week, I don't think I could have told you the name of the guy who played Finn on Glee.  If I could have pulled his name out of my head (from the ridiculous amount of MSN gossip I read), I doubt I would have pronounced it correctly.  Of course, that has changed this week, with his untimely death being a huge topic of discussion--Dan's dad texted me at 7:54am Sunday morning to inform me.  My father-in-law was the last person I would have imagined to be touched by this particular actor's death, but he was, and felt the need to share it with me as soon as he heard.  I got his text when I woke up, and while I thought it was sad news, I surprisingly didn't dwell on it too much--I have a massive tendency to consume myself with tragic stories, but Cory's death sort of rolled over me like a passing wave (probably because it was the morning after we returned from our beach vacation, and I was too tired to give anything much effort).  I thought about Glee and how that was a bummer for the show, and about Lea Michele coping with the loss of her boyfriend...and then I went on with my day.

Cory Monteith, aka Finn Hudson

Glee was a favorite show for Dan and me when it premiered in 2009--the perfect premise for a former choir girl who can still sing along to every song on the radio.  Dan enjoyed the show a lot, and in fact, he was the one pushing us to watch Season 3 when I had sort of lost interest--the songs were okay, but the story wasn't grabbing me like it once had.  Season 4 dropped off Dan's radar entirely (which I found weird since he was so into Season 3--he's an enigma sometimes), but it was still on our DVR, so I found myself folding laundry and checking in with the characters every week despite Dan's refusal to watch it with me.  I don't love the new cast members, and actually, if you asked me who my favorite Glee character in general is, I couldn't tell you--no one is really a favorite, because I don't really love any of them and never have.  It's just been a fun show to watch and enjoy the singing--although now that I think of it, I was totally taken with Blaine when he first came on the show (oh, those Warblers and their Teenage Dream...).  Rachel annoys me (despite her obvious enormous talent), Finn's doltishness bothers me...but I do think they are cute together.  I watched last season with my remote in hand, fast-forwarding some of the new cast plot and a lot of the songs (funny, since the songs were what drew me to the show when it started), just so that I could see what was happening with Rachel in New York and all the other original cast members.  I thought the school shooting episode last season was extremely poignant in a way that the earlier seasons of the show really moved me.  I actually watched all the singing parts of the Guilty Pleasures episode, so there were a few recent episodes that I enjoyed and weren't just time-killers for me.  I wasn't counting down to the new season or fretting over what would happen with Rachel or Finn--in other words, I'm not a Gleek.

My nonchalant attitude toward Cory's death lasted about a day--until I was scolding Alex for doing something obnoxious with my usual first-and-middle-name combination.  "Alexander Finn!"  Finn. hadn't really dawned on me that Alex's middle name was sort of associated with Cory Monteith's character--we didn't choose Finn because of the show, although I'm definitely not above naming our kids after favorite TV/movie character names:  Abby's middle name comes from one of my favorite movies (Somewhere in Time...don't make fun of me), and Finn was inspired by the name of Poppy Montgomery's character's son's name on Without a Trace (did you follow that??).  Her son was only on the last season, and I don't even think they ever showed him since he was just a baby and didn't come to work with her, but I watched the show regularly and the way she said his name stuck with me--I liked how it sounded, and threw it into play when it came to naming Alex a few years later.  When we named Alex, I was concerned that Finn was too "pop culture," given that folks would probably think we named him after Finn on Glee.  As a middle name, though, I decided not to worry about it too much--we had such a terrible time coming up with Alex's name as it was that I wasn't going to let something like people thinking we were huge Glee fans get in the way of a name Dan and I finally both agreed on and liked!  Amusingly to me, my niece's middle name is Quinn, so we have the original Glee power couple covered--an odd coincidence.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am way more of a crime drama girl than sitcom girl--my only pet as an adult was a cat named McCoy, after Jack McCoy on Law & Order.  Not only do I not object to using a name from TV, but apparently I have a TV name-stealing problem...)

my Alex Finn

After the Finn/Finn association hit me, I spent some time googling Cory and learned more about his life and struggles.  I watched some old Glee clips from the first few seasons, and felt pretty sad about the whole thing--he really seemed like a good guy who was trying to do the right things in his battle with addiction.  When I hear about tragedies (be they drunk driving crashes, untimely deaths, mass shootings), I'm always struck with a desire to rewind time--if we could just go back to yesterday when everything was fine and the world wasn't upside down.  If only the car struck by the drunk driver had gotten stuck at a light a fraction of a second longer.  If only that person had missed their flight on a plane that eventually crashed.  If only.  As a parent, these kinds of deaths really bother me--I was giving the boys a bath today and thinking about the fact that Cory's mom gave him countless baths just like I have my boys, and she never envisioned the path his life would take.  That he would be a problem child in high school, and eventually drop out.  That he would become a famous actor.  That he would succumb to a heroin addiction.  He was just her little boy, as Jake and Alex are mine--with her hopes and dreams for their future first and foremost in her heart.  It makes me want to bottle my kids up in a safe cocoon--I know I can't keep them out of harm's way forever, but I wish there were a magic wand to help fend off some of these future unforeseen heartbreaks.

So I didn't intend to write a random tribute-ish post to Cory Monteith ever in my life, but being a parent changes my whole perspective on life and death.  I'm holding my kids tighter and sending up some positive thoughts that my sweet kiddos' unique personalities/tendencies perfectly align with all our parenting efforts to somehow keep them safe, healthy, and happy for as long as they are meant to be on this earth.  And I would be remiss (if not a bit off topic) if I didn't say a happy anniversary to my sweet husband today--we stood in a little chapel right down the street from our current house and promised our lives to each other 9 years ago.  I love you, honey!