Friday, December 30, 2011

Goals, not resolutions

I don't like the word "resolutions" because it sounds too serious, to committal.  Goals, I think, is a much more, "Well, I'll give it a whirl" word.  This is my semantics discussion for the day.

Some people are very goal-oriented, and some people are not.  I am in the former category.  I think this is why I like saving money because it takes awhile and gives me something to constantly work towards.

Although my anxiety is certainly better managed than its ever been before, setting goals gives me something to focus on besides worry, besides all the things I cannot control in life.  Setting goals makes me feel like I gave a grasp on something.

Some of my goals for 2012 are--

1. to exercise 1 extra day a week (on the treadmill) for 30-45 minutes.

2. to learn to play Happy Birthday on the piano (although with D's help I figured it out last night so I shall say I want to become really excellent at playing it).

3. to read Charles' Dickens A Tale of Two Cities.

4. to paint the basement.

5. to switch the kids' bedrooms so that G and M will share a bedroom and N will have a room all to herself.

6. to make 2 extra house payments (in an attempt to pay this sucker off in 10 years).

I am always glad to see Christmas vamoose so that I can enjoy the days between it and New Year's Day.  There is something about the promise of what is to come that I relish.  It feels exciting and wonderful.

Oh, geesh, I'm talking like an optimist or something.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'll complain about my body as I eat another plate of Christmas cookies

Overall, I am not the kind of person who pays much mind to my personal appearance.

I have some standards, although just barely.  I do not wear my pajama pants out in public (and I don't count walking out to my mailbox to retrieve the newspaper at 7:30 a.m. as going out in public).

I keep my hair short because it looks best on me.  I do not wear makeup because it makes my face itch.  I wear clothes that are comfortable.  That is my personal appearance philosophy in a nutshell.

In general, I think I am pretty fit.  It has been almost 2 years since I have been working out with a trainer in a group fitness "bootcamp" at a friend's house.  I started it when M was about 6 months old.  In the early days, Eric, the trainer, had us squat up against the wall and hold the pose.  OMG!  It just about killed thighs would shake and daggers of pain would shoot up to my hip.  I had to pant to get through planks.  I was on the thin side but extremely out of shape.

At first I could only commit to 1 day a week for a half-hour.  Now I go 2 times a week, for an hour each time.  My goal for 2012 is to add another day of exercise in.....30-45 minutes on the treadmill, probably on a weekend day when D is at home and can keep the kids from bugging me.  While I would love to commit to more, the truth is that I am still woken up during the night at least once every single night and G usually has me up for the day at 6:00 a.m.  Once M is in preschool and I am getting consistently restful sleep I can do more......but not until then.

I am proud of being able to do as much as I do.

But even though my arms and legs are more cut and my A1C level has gone down, my abdomen bugs the absolute SHIT out of me.  And I hate it that I allow my mid-section to bug me.

I know why my mid-section bulges---the 3 babies who grew there, the uterus that still lives there, and my poor posture.  If my breasts were bigger, I don't think I'd pay much attention to my abdomen.  But with my breasts being naturally small and now terribly saggy, they don't stick out enough for me to think my mid-section looks small in comparison.

Even though I'd like for my abs to look better, I am not willing to starve myself or do cardio 7 days a week (for the aforementioned reasons).  When I get all hung-up about how thin people look in magazines, I have to remind myself that I would look amazing too if my livelihood depended on me looking hot and having an awesome body and if I were airbrushed and Photoshopped to within an inch of my life.

I recognize that is is pretty stupid to focus on one part of my body that I don't think looks so great when 90% of me looks pretty darn least when compared to the general population.

My mom, who will be 74 this spring, said she has finally reached the age where she just doesn't care anymore, and that is nice to know.  It is nice to know there will come a time when I just won't care.  I won't focus on any part of my body and what it looks like because it will all look old.

Ok, now I'm not depressed about my abs.  Just the prospect of aging and death.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scenes from Christmas 2011

Multitasking......eating peppermint sticks/lollipops and playing with Wheelie toy from Mamaw.  

She wanted a La-La-Loopsy doll.  I don't know why since she doesn't play with dolls.  But her Mamaw got her one which provoked joy.....

and tears.  
Good grief.
The teen years are gonna be brutal, I can already tell.

Mommy and Daddy got the boys some "new to them" Geotrax track and buildings. 
 (Santa brings brand new gifts; Mommy, as expected, goes craiglist.)  

N has been enjoying the Mad Libs.  

M is the sssslllloooooooooooowwwest present opener around.  

Mommy bought each of the kids a Disney ornament from our vacation in June 2011.  N's was Princess Tiana, G's was Mike & Sully, and M's was Mickey Mouse.

A shared gift.  

Santa brought M a "hed," as M calls it.

She has been asking for a pillow pet for at least 2 years; she finally got one.

A new Marvel villain from Santa....Doc Ock.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The grinch in me still lives

I loved Christmas as a kid until I stopped getting toys as gifts.

After that, Christmas was mostly a form of torture---being stuck in my house with my family, all of whom were perfectly able and willing to go off and entertain themselves (a skill I only learned in the past few years).   I think Christmas is part of the reason I liked the idea of having a larger than 2 children family.

As a young adult, I was more or less a grinch.  But the truth is I was kinda grinchy about everything.  Christmas just made it worse than usual.

And then I became a mom.  Once N came along, and certainly once she got old enough to understand Santa and the fun of opening gifts, Christmas became enjoyable.

Now with 3 children, Christmas is full of activity.  Children make Christmas magical for their parents.

But with this holiday season having been in full swing for a month now, my inner grinch is starting to poke his head out.

For example:
1. I am itching to take all these infernal Christmas decorations down.  About 3 weeks is all I can stand of holiday decor.

2. I am sick of other people being on the roads.  One of the greatest benefits of being a stay-at-home mom is being able to be out and about when kids are at school and the majority of other adults are at work.

3. These same people on the roads are also in the stores, and while I long ago completed my shopping, I did have to pick up our Christmas morning doughnuts at the bakery this morning.....along with 10,000 other people.  One particular dumb-ass was picking up pies for someone else and didn't know what exactly he was picking up so had to make a mobile phone call while in line (with MANY of his fellow shoppers behind him).  And then he also had to order a latte and a cinnamon twist, which he could have done earlier when he was standing in front of the case instead of waiting until he was in the check-out line.  He got a little huffy at the bakery staff for not hearing his latte/twist order, but apparently his head is stuffed very far up his own tail because he didn't seem to notice that everyone behind the counter was a little harried due to the 10,000 other customers behind him.

4. The kids holiday break should begin on Christmas Eve so that they have only 1 day of being home and not having new toys.  Not being in routine and not having much to do (because of the aforementioned traffic and people that makes their mother refuse to go out in all the mess) are a recipe for occasional bouts of inspired cooperative play but mostly bickering, which drives their mother bonkers.

So I will enjoy this evening and tomorrow and then be ready to move on with normal life.
Although I will have to wait until Jan 3 to actually do so.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gingerbread lean-tos

Yesterday N and I made gingerbread dough.

This morning, N, G and I rolled the dough and cut out shapes for our gingerbread houses (plus some Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes and gingerbread men).

This afternoon, N and G made and decorated gingerbread houses lean-tos.  I'm sure there are some gingerbread squatters living inside.

This was the first time we've ever attempted this, so I wasn't sure how it was gonna go.  Fortunately, given my penchant for pathetic looking birthday cakes, the kids had no problem with the houses not looking picture perfect.

The kids did really well.  They helped me unwrap candies and put them in little bowls.  They helped carry the bowls to the table.  They each waited patiently while I was helping the other one.  It was remarkably calm and fun.  Oh, and messy.

D served as photographer/camcorder operator/gingerbread house critic.

Breaking up the peppermint pieces.

The kids putting candies in dishes.  Oh, and eating the candy too.  

Everything all laid out....ready to go.

N's house before her high-style decorating was added.

G's BEFORE picture.


Still working.....

G's finished house.

N's finished house.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Me and my big ideas

In my 38 years, I have discovered that I often get ideas that seem to come from nowhere.  I just get a notion of something I'd like to do.  Soon after this idea takes seed in my mind, it seems there are always these strange conversations with people or I meet a person with a skill or information that reinforces whatever idea was taking shape in my head.  These serendipitous events make me think that I should run with my idea.  That maybe this is the universe saying, "Go for it."

I always, always listen to these instinctive gut reactions I have.

My most recent "big idea" started in the late summer/early fall.  I determined that it was important to me that my children be exposed to a musical instrument.  Neither of my parents play instruments so they never encouraged it.  As a child I took 10 years of dance lessons but never had any desire to do music.  I attended Catholic school from grade 1 to 12 that did not offer band or orchestra (another reason why I'm pro-public education).  Our music classes were students singing.  I don't even remember being instructed on how to play the kazoo.

As an adult, my lack of musicality bothers me.  I wish I could play some kind of instrument.  In the weeks after college before I found a full-time job, I began taking guitar lessons but once a steady paycheck and 9-5 hours called, I dropped them.  After I had N, I took an adult education guitar class for awhile.

As it normally happens, after this idea began taking shape in my head, I happened to meet someone at a dinner with friends who teaches piano to children.  I was telling her how I'd like for my kids to learn an instrument, and she gave me some information about piano lessons.  Serendipitous event #1.

A few weeks afterwards, I met my oldest and dearest friend for breakfast.  She plays piano, and her husband is a music teacher.  I told her about my big idea and about what this friend of friends told me at dinner.  I mentioned something about renting a piano.  Kris informed me that once her husband's home sold, they would be needing to get rid of his piano (since she has one in her house where they now live), and maybe D and I could buy theirs.  Serendipitous event #2.

Fast forward 4 months or so, and we now have an upright piano sitting in our dining room.  N and I are scheduled to begin piano lessons on Jan 2.

Like my fitness "boot-camp" classes I take with a couple friends under the guidance of a trainer, I need the structure of lessons and being accountable to people other than myself.  By taking lessons with N, I will be far more likely to practice because I want to set a good example for her.   We can support each other in our efforts.

I don't expect either of us to become Chopin but it would be nice to be able to play the Happy Birthday song or a Christmas carol.

Let's hope this big idea works out as well as some of my other big ideas of the past.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Recording that which is precious to me

The beauty of keeping journals for the kids is that periodically I can read back and remember the cute or hilarious things they did.  I'm thinking this will come in especially handy when they are teenagers and I can't stand them.

I hope that these journals give them a sense of what they were like and what their childhood was like once they are adults.

People have asked me how I have time to journal and blog.  Since I don't watch television and don't play games online and don't send texts or talk on my cell phone, it leaves me plenty of time to write.

When I only had N, I definitely wrote longer entries about the things she did.  With 3 kids, I sometimes only write a sentence or two.

Here are some of the things I jotted down.  It is funny to see how their words and language has changed over time.

5/10/06--N's journal, she was 2-and-a-half
You noticed Daddy's "equipment."  He was getting out of the shower and you gave him a quizzical look.  I asked what you were looking at and you said, "Daddy's ponytail."  

5/21/06--N's journal; she was 2-and-a-half
Just now I put you down for your nap.  You said, "I love you lady."

5/31/07--N's journal; she was 3-and-a-half
On Sunday morning daddy was grinding coffee beans.  You said, "Mommy, tell daddy to stop---he's giving me a headache."

7/23/07--N's journal; she was 3-and-a-half
To encourage you to throw your clothes in the hamper, we tell you to shoot a basket.  Whenever you do so, you say, "I made a shoot."  

7/6/10--G's journal; he was 2-and-a-half
You love watching the Thomas the Train movie, "Hero of the Rails."  But you call it "Hero of the Handrails."

10/28/10--G's journal; he was 3
You started eating a cupcake but then got distracted by something else and left most of it on your plate.  So I gave the bottom part to M.  You eventually came back and said you wanted your cupcake, so I gave you what was left...basically the icing with only a little cake underneath.  You looked at it and said,
"It's dead."  With a look of utter disbelief on your face.  

12/6/11--G's journal; he is 4
Today while you and Nana were playing in the basement, I heard you call her a "meddling door-rat."  

12/16/11--G's journal; he is 4
Today you wound chewed bubble gum around your neck in a thin strand like a necklace and couldn't get it off, although you did get a washcloth and tried to do it yourself before you hollered for me.  It took some serious scrubbing and baby oil to get it off.  

11/13/11--M's journal; he is 2
The other day we were talking about Christmas and N and G were telling what they wanted from Santa. I said to you, "What do you want, M?"
You pointed to the top of the kitchen cabinet where I have the Halloween candy stored in a Winnie the Pooh bucket and said, "POOH!" 

The itch to write---aka, My life of journaling

I started keeping journals as a child.  I continued writing throughout my years of school, even going through a spell of thinking I was the next Anne Sexton or Emily Dickinson.  But who hasn't done that???

In my first journal, when I was around 10 years old, I wrote about what I did that day:  went to the grocery store with mom, ate mac & cheese for supper.  Virtually every concluding sentence was, "Today was a good day."

As I moved into junior high and early high school, I began the bad poetry shtick.  This poem is titled, "Dream Enchantment."  Good grief.

As I got older, my handwriting grew more chicken-scratchy and my mood grew more bleak.  No more "Today was a good day" endings.

When D and I became engaged, I started a journal of our engagement, which I gave to him as a surprise as part of our wedding ceremony.

I journaled about our marriage preparations.  How I felt about him.  What I expected marriage to be.  I clipped articles and cartoons about marriage.

I kept pregnancy journals throughout each pregnancy and then began journals for each of the kids.  I treasure these most of all.

N's journals.  
(First-born children get all the spoils.  Of course, much of my writing from the time N was 2-and-a-half has been blogged.)

I write down funny things they've said over time and include little notes they've written.  The note below was written by N.  It says, "I waas seik."  (I was sick)

The blogging explains why G and M only have 2 journals each.

G's journals

I keep tickets of events we take the kids to see.  This is the ticket from G's first movie-theater experience---seeing Cars 2 this past summer.  

M's journals
M obviously doesn't say much, but I do write down new words he is saying and books he wants me to read over and over and over.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

That's like, your opinion, man.....

I truly have mixed feelings about blogging and any other kind of social discussion media (Facebook, Twitter, whatnot).

On the one hand, I think it is great for people to be able to "put stuff out there" because it does often open the door to discussion, or at least getting people to think.  For me, blogging and Facebooking are a means of quenching the need to write, stay in touch with friends in far off places, and perhaps offer support to other stay-at-home moms and women with mood issues similar to mine.

It is always nice to have someone I actually know (like Giselle or Susan or Keri) comment because, even when they disagree, I know that they like me.  We have a relationship outside of the blogging and Facebooking and know we can tease each other.

It is also nice to have bloggy friends I don't know (like Kelsey or Bethany) comment because they have  given me thoughtful comments.  While they, too, may disagree with things I have said, they do so in a way that is tempered with friendship established over the course of reciprocal blogging comments.

But here's the double rub with doing anything publicly.  First, there are those people who don't acknowledge themselves, who stay anonymous.  Remaining anonymous is certainly fine and in principal I don't have a problem with anyone's wish to remain unknown.

However, sometimes while remaining safely cocooned in their anonymity these folks write things in a way that comes across as hateful, mean-spirited, and generally ass-hole-ish.  Would these people say these things if we all knew their names were Kate and Delores and could see a picture of their faces right next to their names?  I think not.  Would these people say these things to my face if they knew me?  I doubt it.

I have read lots of things online with which I disagree, but I generally keep my mouth shut and my fingers still.  If I type something which might be construed as mean or nasty, then I am just coming across as a jerk.  And if I don't even own up to it by showing my face and listing my name, then I am a coward.

Some might say, "Well, you are putting your stuff out there, so suck it up."  I agree to an extent.

The difference is I am not demanding anyone read my blog, not emailing it to someone's browser without them having added their email to the little feature on the blog's home page.  I am essentially putting a potted plant of my choosing on my front porch where anyone who drives by can see it.  Some people who drive by say, "Hey, nice flowers."  Some people see my flowers and think to themselves, "Dang, those are ugly." And some people yell out the car window as they drive by, "You got some nasty-ass flowers on your porch!"

This metaphor could be applied to virtually any situation.  If I wear something hideous to Target most people will ignore it, thinking to themselves, "God, what an atrocious outfit!"  But no one is gonna come up to my face and say it because 1. to do so is rude and 2. they run the risk of being punched in the mouth.

If only the courtesies we extend to people in real life were extended to the online world.

The October surprise

In October my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.

The day before their actual anniversary, my brother and I held a surprise wedding blessing and party for them at their church.  We started planning it in August, making it the longest 2 months of my life since I couldn't talk about it with my mother, whom I talk to about virtually everything.

Much skulking around was needed to pull this thing off.  I had to scan through all the joke emails they send me to pull email addresses for their friends whom I don't personally know.  I had to do some B&E at their home in September and early October when they were out of town to check their address book, borrow some CDs to burn songs onto my iPod, and "steal" the champagne glasses they used at their wedding (that D and I used at our wedding 14 years ago and my brother and SIL used at their wedding 10 years ago).

On the invitations, I put my home phone number as the RSVP contact info, meaning I had to unplug my answering machine whenever my mom was here and I ran errands so she wouldn't hear someone leave a message about the event.

A few days before the event I called the welcoming committee chairperson at Mom and Dad's church to ask if she would call my parents to get them to "usher" at Saturday's 5:00 mass.  It took mom awhile to finally understand that she didn't actually have to usher....that it was our ploy to ensure they showed up to mass.

We ordered a beautiful wedding cake, made a Shutterfly photo album of pictures of them from the past 40 years, and purchased a commemorative plate on which guests could sign their names.

The day after the party I felt like I'd been hit by a truck----exhausted like never before.  I've planned events in the past and never had this kind of visceral feeling after all was said and done.  I think it was the secret-keeping that did me in, the anxiety that someone could let the cat out of the bag.

But it was wonderful.  My dad's two Air Force buddies and their wives (from Ohio and New Jersey) came down, as did many of dad's former co-workers at General Electric.  Mom's quilting group friends attended, as did neighbors and family members.  Mom and Dad were shocked to see so many unexpected faces.

The groom kissing the bride.  

My family.