Monday, April 30, 2012

Bathing suits, weight, healthiness

Yesterday I went bathing suit shopping.  In general, I would rather eat glass than shop for clothes, and this is especially true when it comes to purchasing swimwear.

I admit that when I looked in the mirror, I was not too happy with what I saw.  Despite working out, there are some things....3 pregnancies and age....that are really hard to overcome unless you are willing and able to work out every single day with great consistency for at least an hour and give up a lot of things you love in the food department.  So I left the stall with two separates in hand feeling somewhat defeated.

I shopped a little more, with the intent of finding a new blouse, and looked at my fellow shoppers.  I managed to turn my psyche to my general thinking in life, a spin on "Is it better than what I have now?, which is, "Is my (weight, intelligence, hairstyle, insert whatever here) better than those of the people I see around me or the public at large?"

And I would be a liar if I said my weight/body didn't look better than most of my Kohl's shopping cohorts.

I realize that if I stood in a swimsuit next to a model (especially one who wasn't 38 and hadn't birthed 3 children) I would look crappy.  But next to average Jane who is the same age and has 3 children, I look pretty awesome, in my opinion (at least in my neck of the US woods, which has serious obesity/sedentary problems).

This thought didn't make me feel smug;  rather I felt a little sad.  It made me wonder whether I am prejudiced against overweight people.  Swistle's post, which I read last night, made me wonder even more.

I don't think that overweight people are any less smart, capable, well-read, nice, decent than anyone else.  But I admit I do tend to judge heavier people about their lifestyle choices...the food they eat, how much and often, and how frequently they exercise.  I know that body types are fixed and beyond our control, certainly.  I am taller and thinner than most women, which has much to do with my paternal grandmother and great-grandmother being tall and rail-thin.  I know that people can be heavier and strong/muscular/athletic.  Skinny is no good either; there is nothing appealing about skin & bones, a'la Leann Rimes.  I want to be fit.

(Lest anyone surmise I only judge heavier people, I should note that I judge anybody who purchases nothing but junk at the grocery.  It simply baffles me how anyone can eat that much processed stuff.  I also judge people who smoke....cause that shit is just dumb.)

One of the questions I asked myself is whether I am prejudiced if I think to myself, "I don't want to become fat."  Because whenever I feel particularly not in the mood to work out, I need only to see someone overweight to give me the motivation to keep at it.

Because I had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy and my A1C levels put me at high risk for diabetes until I began working out for 2 1-hour sessions a week, another big motivator is keeping my insides healthy.  I do not want diabetes if there is anything at all I can do to keep it at bay.

To be honest, I know I mention the unhealthiness of being overweight to my children.  I know I say things like, "We need to eat our healthy food first before we have treats."  I know I say things like, "If you overeat treats and don't exercise enough you may become overweight."  I don't want my kids to think being overweight makes someone a bad person, but it is certainly not optimal.  I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "I am so thankful that I am overweight."  In all honesty, I haven't thought a whole lot about how my children, especially N, think of what I say in this regard.  Maybe that is one of the luxuries of innate thinness.

Every woman has body issues; I would living in la-la-land if I thought N would be exempt from this.  When I was younger I wanted larger breasts.  Now I would like perkier breasts, less of a abdominal pooch, and for my thighs not to touch.  But I'm not going to starve myself to be that way, nor am I going to exercise constantly and forego the more important things, like taking care of my house and kids and enjoying life.

I have to remind myself that celebrities, who have trainers and chefs, and who work out often also have body issues.  They are real people who just happen to be airbrushed and Photoshopped to make the rest of us feel like our bodies are "less than."  How many times have I looked at the photos of Scarlet Johannsson in a bikini to make myself feel better about my back quarters.

So at this point, I'm still muddling through these feelings.  I don't have an answer for myself yet as to whether I'm doing N a disservice by feeling as I do and saying what I say.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The 5-year project

After reading Mama Bethany's post about her daughter's JCPenney portraits, I thought I'd post what I've done with my kids' JCP portraits.

I save a wallet-size photo from each of their sittings---from 3 months to 5 years.  Then after their 5-year portrait (after which I stop doing JCP photos and just purchase the school photos), I have these wallets framed all together.

This is N's.  (These photos are terrible because I couldn't use the flash or there would be bright spots all over from the glass and gloss.)

I will have the boys' photos finished in matching frames.  N's is above my dresser, and eventually I will have all 3 hanging there.  When I die, the kids can have their portrait collages, but until then I'm going to savor being able to glimpse how quickly my children's childhoods passed.

This is what I have so far for G---come September, I will be able to get his framed, which sorta blows my mind.  It seemed like it took forever to get N's done.  Of all of my children, G's life has passed most quickly.

It sorta bugs me that the 3-year photo is horizontal, while the others are vertical, but it's not like I can do anything about it.   It also sorta bugs me that all the backgrounds are not the same, but I try to remember that the photos capture a moment in time (and their outfits at that particular moment might have looked terrible with another background), and the whole point is to see the kids' faces and growth.  

And M's:

I am also saving Spring school picture wallets, which are usually better than the Fall ones (which are used for the yearbook and have that "Deer in the Headlights" look about them).  Those start in 3-year-old preschool and will be saved until high school.

I'm still waiting to receive N's 2nd grade Spring portrait, but here is 2 years of preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade.

I like for the photos throughout the house to be current---what the kids look like now---for the most part, but doing these allow me to savor some of the delight of when the kids were very young.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I can't help but make fun of this children's book

For the most part, I love children's literature.  While I tend to be a snob about adult books, I am much more of the "whatever gets a kid to enjoy reading" philosophy when it comes to little ones.

One of my favorite children's books of the moment is Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.  I think I fell in love with it based on the following:

"Patrick Edward was a wonderful boy, but his mother was a monster."
"Her bad moods terrified the neighborhood."

Sometimes, though, I come across a big huge dud of a book, a book so stupid all I can do is pick it apart in my head while I'm reading it to the kids.

The book Weebles:  The Weebleville Talent Show is one of those books.  I can go along with the general plot and theme---taking on too much isn't good for a person (or a Weeble) and you need to rely on your friends.

But there is a "romance" between two Weebles in the story, Tibby Wobnobbin (an elephant Weeble) and Tooey Winkington (a turtle Weeble who is also a firefighter).  Why is a suggested romance even necessary in a Weebles book?  She calls him "my darling Tooey" and "Tooeykins."  They have a special practice for the talent show......yeah right, special practice, my ass.  They practice "for hours."  Every time I read this to the boys (M got it for a present) I envision a giant Weeble orgy, with animals of all kinds boning each other in the center of Weebleville.

What is even more mind-boggling to me is that Tooey is doing a break-dancing routine for the Weebleville Talent Show!  The story says--

"Tooey started with some fancy footwork.  Then he moved into the 'popping and locking' part of his performance.  Finally he slid to the floor for his big finish--a Super Speedy Back Spin!"

Oh Lord help me.  He is a Weeble and has no legs or feet.  How in g*d's name can he do fancy footwork???  What parts exactly is he going to "pop and lock?"  And though he is a turtle, he can't fall down (per the jingle) so isn't a back spin sorta impossible?  When he tries to throw himself to the floor to spin, won't he immediately pop back up onto his wobble?

I'm telling you it is all a veiled story about Tibby and Tooey bonkin' each other's brains out.

As I read it, every time I read it, I have these same stupid thoughts, a raging blitz of criticisms spewing from my brain into the abyss.  I'm not sure what is more insane---the book or my diatribe response to it.

3 more reasons not to divorce

I was able to think of 3 more reasons why I don't want to wreck my marriage:

1. Dependency--

It sucks, but as a stay-at-home mom I am completely dependent on my husband for my livelihood.  Last year I made about $350 for my freelance writing, so that certainly isn't enough to keep me and 3 kids afloat.  If D up and abandoned me, I would most certainly make his life and checkbook miserable but there is no getting around that every financial statistic I've ever read notes what a bum deal divorce is to wealth over the long-term.

2. An Older Body--

When D and I hooked up, I was 21.  While I don't think I was as physically strong as I am now that I've been working with a trainer for two years, I was also 17 years younger.  My abdomen hadn't been stretched to TimbukTu 3 times, nor had my breasts nursed babies for 4+ years.  I didn't have skin tags all over the place.  My gums hadn't started receding.

D and I have been seeing each other naked for a long time, so there is none of that embarrassment, the shyness that comes with a new lover.  If D and I split, I can only assume that neither of us would abstain from sex for the rest of our lives, which means both of us would be having to show off our sorry, aged asses to others.  The guys I would likely hook up with would also be in their 40s or 50s.  The gals he would hook up with would likely have a lot more junk in their trunk than me.....if I'm just going by the general population I see in these parts.  On a purely surface level, we're better off sticking with the naked bodies we've been looking at for almost 20 years.

3. My children and whomever's children--

Since D and I would likely hook up with others, the chances are pretty good that the others would also have children.  I have enough trouble being able to tolerate my own children that I think it would be a great STRETCH to attempt to tolerate children I didn't deliver.  As much mess as there is in "intact" families, step-families bring with them all kinds of mess that I can't even begin to wrap my head around.

Clearly I need a new scrapbook or painting project to work on.  My cerebral cortex is getting a workout thinking about this kinds of junk.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reasons to not get divorced

Whenever I think to myself, "Geez, I'd like to blow this popsicle stand and leave D alone to shlep it out  with the kids," it doesn't take me too long to reconsider.

Being a practical person has its downsides, such as making me a terrible shopper (I always think practical stuff like, "Do I really need this?").  But I like to think practicality has its good making me stick around in the marriage department.

So for me, personally, I can think of many reasons to not separate/get divorced/wreck my marriage in general:

1. I do love my husband for a variety of reasons, such as our shared disinterest in religion, his appreciation of independent film/books, his general leftist political leanings, his weird sense of humor, his disinterest in sports, his quiet.

I cannot even fathom being with someone who was praising jesus all the time or siding with Rick Santorum or watching golf and football and basketball or, god forbid, was a chatty kathy.  It just wouldn't fly.

And as much as I drive D crazy with my Carrie-ness, I can't see him being happy with someone who expects him to go shopping all the time, or who wears tons of makeup and is "high-maintenance" in the physical appearance department, or who expects him to attend church with her.

2. There is something to be said for a shared history.  In our case, it is 17 years total---almost 15 as a married couple.  Even though he is from Mars and I am from Venus, he probably does know me better than most anyone.  There is comfort in that, and I would miss it.

3. Our children, which actually should come as the #1 reason I wouldn't want to wreck my marriage.  I know adults whose parents have divorced and it did a number on them psychologically.  I cannot imagine what it would do to our children.

4. General logistical challenges---
Sometimes we have busy weeks, with piano lessons on Monday and Girl Scouts on Wednesday, and by Friday we are just spent.  But we manage it together somehow.  When I think about how difficult it would be to manage this and not be married, not share the same home, it makes my head hurt.  Lots of people do it, but lots of people are very, very tired.  If I had to work full-time as a teacher and the kids got sick, D would be the one to deal with it because his work situation pays better and is much more flexible than mine would be as a teacher (at least during the school year).  The things that I do now for the management of our lives/home he would have to take on and do his job and have the kids every other weekend, and I would continue doing what I do and have a full-time teaching job and have the kids on D's off weekends.

5. I knew all this before---
I was young going into our marriage (age 24), but I certainly wasn't an idiot.  The things that aggravate me about D are basically the same things that have irritated me about him forever.  I can choose to allow my aggravation to destroy our marriage, or I can accept that I can't change him and I knew this going in.

6. Loneliness--
Divorce shatters a person's self-esteem, regardless of who initiates the proceedings.  Most people who separate/divorce are pretty quickly back in the arms of someone else.  We want and need a partner in our lives.  I sometimes think lifetime commitments worked better when lifetimes were considerably shorter, but we haven't evolved beyond our desire to pair up.

Marriage, like parenting, is a lot of work, a lot of picking battles that are worth fighting, a lot of deep sighs, a lot of knowing when to keep your mouth shut, a lot of honesty with yourself.  Much of it feels like you are slogging your way through muck and muddles.  But its awesomeness is astounding when it peaks.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The problem with him is mostly me

I have been reading Raising Your Spirited Child, and I have come to the conclusion that I am simply getting a taste of my own medicine.  The biggest problem with G is that temperamentally he is spot-on like his mother.

The book discusses the characteristics of spirited children:

1. Intensity--loud, shrieking, noisy when they play/laugh.

2. Persistence--"getting them to change their minds is a major undertaking."

3. Sensitivity--"a wayward string or scratchy texture can render clothes unwearable."

4. Perceptiveness--"They notice everything" and "they are often accused of not listening."

5. Adaptability--uncomfortable with change.

Extra bonus characteristics:

*Regularity--"An eight-hour night of undisturbed sleep is a mere memory lingering in your mind from the days before their birth."

*Energy--busy, climbers, leapers

As I reread these characteristics, I feel like I am reading about myself, a person who hates change, and has hated change my entire life.  A person who is stubborn to a fault.  A person who is high energy and has a terrible time sitting still.  A person who tends to be loud and exuberant and harpy-like when I'm angry.

Many of the parents mentioned in this book also had their "A-HA" moments when they realized how much their child was like them or like their spouse, causing them to either understand the child so well as to be unable to handle them (like me) or unable to understand the child at all because the child was so drastically different from said parent.

At this point, I'm still kind of absorbing what I've read about characteristics, observing G and reflecting on my own temperament.

I did purchase some balance disks for the kids to use at dinner, in an attempt to keep all of them seated for longer than 2 seconds so that we can possible enjoy a family meal without me or D becoming angry that all three of the children are up and about instead of seated and eating.

I did institute a reward chart for G, who since we began it has slept 6 nights (not consecutive but pretty close) without waking me at all.  And I also put his sleeping bag and a pillow on the floor right next to my bed so that he knows he has a place where he can come during the night if he needs me (but he knows he does not earn a sticker if he does.)  My hope is that it will allow him to feel safe/secure/comforted without me being up and down and up and down multiple times a night traipsing into his bedroom.

I truly want to be the best possible mom for him that I can be, but he is such a challenge for me.  If nothing else, at least I know I'm trying, although some days that doesn't feel like much at all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

They were in the wrong store

I have heard that there is an actual website called, "People of Wal-Mart" or something along those lines featuring photos of the outlandish getups people wear into the store.  

My own children could have their own webpage titled, "Kids Whose Momma Isn't Gonna Argue About What They Wear To the Mall."  

N went to her BFF's birthday party at Club Tabby.  I had dropped her off, but D and the boys went with me to pick her up.  I took my camera along because I knew N would look foxy (or like a clown on acid).

The boys, however, decided that they, too, wanted to express their inner fashionista by insisting on wearing their bicycle helmets and rain boots not only en route to the mall, but through the mall.

N looked like this when we arrived.  

Oh lawdy!

And then she proceeded to do this to her brothers:

Fossil beds with my boys

Two weeks ago, N's class visited a local state park on a field trip, and I went with them.  Due to the weather, we were not able to get out on the fossil beds.

Today, G's playgroup visited the same state park, and the weather was absolutely perfect so we were able to see the beds up close.  I think I did damn well managing the boys on the rocks, logs and general river one ended up bruised or bloody, and I even got some photos.

I told G and his playgroup friends how this area was an ocean 400,000 years ago, and how we don't know if any dinosaurs were in this area since all evidence was eroded away by melting glaciers.  At that point, all 3 of the older boys (M was the tagalong) managed to find gigantic rocks that they informed me were dinosaur teeth and dinosaur eggs and dinosaur whatever.  As suspected, loads of well-researched evidence mean nothing to preschoolers.

It was the perfect place for little boys to get muddy, climb, throw rocks and hit things with sticks.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What IS your problem, anyway?

If I knew why G gets up out of bed multiple times a night, I would do something about it.  He doesn't have to use the potty.  He isn't crying in fear.  He doesn't even talk to me.  For all I know, he could be sleep-walking.  I am in such a fog of sleep-deprivation I really don't pay much attention to him as I walk him back to his room and cover him up.

I do all the stuff a parent is "supposed" to do to get a child to stay in his/her room.  We have a consistent bedtime routine, his room is inviting, I don't let him in my bed or lay in his bed, I walk him back to his room over and over and over again.

I have observed how he sleeps when he hasn't had a nap versus when he has had a nap---it makes no difference.  He actually seems to get up more during the night when he hasn't napped.  Since he is up for the day at 6:00 am, he simply can't make it until 8 or 8:30 without some kind of mid-day rest, especially since the nice weather is keeping us outside and active much of the time.

But I am about ready to resort to a frying pan upside the head to induce grogginess or duct taping his ass to his mattress.  My mood is very much tied to my sleep, so suffice it to say my antidepressant is having to work overtime all the time to keep my irritability in check.

I suggested to him last night that we do a Reward Chart whereby he gets a star if he stays in bed all night and a small toy after M-F of staying in bed.  Last night I think he got me up 3 times, so I'm not sure external motivators are his thing.  Lord knows, I hate charts but I am so desperate for uninterrupted sleep.

In my fog of grouchiness before my coffee kicked in, I searched and found some books that I have already reserved in an attempt to help me deal with G:  Sleepless in America and How To Raise Your Spirited Child, both by Mary Kurcinka.  

God, do I ever wish kids came with instructions tied to their toes when they popped out of the uterus.  

I survived Spring Break (I think)

We were busy bees the first 5 days of Spring Break.

Saturday was our first foray into egg dying and decorating, as well as Easter celebrations with my brother, his family and my parents.  

The spoils of Nana & Pa's egg hunt.  The other two kids were too busy running around to actually get photos of them.

Sunday was Easter celebrating at home with the kids' baskets....

And more celebrating at Mamaw's house later in the day.

A certain 4-year-old boy woke me at 3 am Monday with chocolate puke all over himself and his bed.  A memorable Easter, indeed.

Monday was the zoo.  (No photos since I was solo with all 3 kids, a picnic lunch and the wagon.)

Tuesday was a local nature preserve.  We actually went once after lunch and once in the evening since the kids had such a great time the first go-round.  Fortunately, this preserve is a 5-minute drive from our house so Daddy and Mamaw were able to explore with us.  G kept running ahead yelling, "C'mon team!  Let's explore!"

Wednesday was a day trip to a small children's museum about an hour from our house.

Given the busyiness of the first 5 days, the remainder of the time has been spent laying fairly low.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

My love/hate relationship with articles on saving money

When I see a magazine that has an article titled, "How I Saved $10,000 in a Year" (or a title along those lines), I cannot flip to that article quickly enough.  In my mind I'm thinking that maybe I will learn another tip for saving money, some deep, dark, long-lost secret for squirrelly away another coin.

And I am always disappointed because everything the person says to do, I'm (and we're) already doing.

I use vinegar and ammonia and baking soda rather than purchasing expensive cleaning products.
I clean and reuse plastic bags again and again.
We buy Starbucks bagged coffee and brew it at home.
I buy clothes and furnishings off craigslist and at consignment sales.
We don't go on big vacations every year.
We eat out infrequently.
I buy generic for most everything.
I periodically search for better rates on homeowners/car insurance and request deals on phone/cable modem.
We watch public television and don't have cable/satellite expenses.

I probably do save $10,000 a year, but I'm looking for the golden goose of frugality---something that probably doesn't exist if I want to actually, I don't know, have a life. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pre-Spring Break (aka, How Will I Ever Survive Summer?)

Tomorrow officially begins N and G's Spring Break.  My enthusiasm is underwhelming.

The good news is that it is only 5 days, and surely....surely....I can survive 5 days with my children.  The other good news is that it gives me a window into what I will need to do when we are attempting to survive summer break.

I had a brilliant brainstorm while reading with N before bed:  a shared summer reading journal.  When D reads to her this summer, she can write me a note about what she read, and when she and I read together, I can write my reflections on what we read and she can respond to my thoughts.

There isn't much I've planned for the week.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings I exercise at a friend's house in the morning, and Wednesday I have a small day trip planned to a nearby city's children's museum.  I strong-armed my parents into keeping N and G Thursday night for a sleepover (actually I just asked, and they agreed.  If it were me being asked, I would so have to be strong-armed.)

N has 2 birthday parties to attend, so we'll be wrapping gifts, and she'll be making cards.  And we've got to create a gift to the earth made of recyclable materials (for her school's Earth Day celebration).

And I might get all crazy and attempt to clean something.
But I doubt it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Getting my money's worth

I recently purchased a dual annual membership to our local zoo and science museum for about $150.  Three Thursdays in a row in March, the boys and I went to the zoo.  Had I bought tickets each visit these trips would have cost me $73.35.  This past week we visited the science center, which would have cost us $35 for a one-time visit.   So in six weeks time, more or less, we've almost paid for our membership.  I love, love, love knowing that I am getting my money's worth, which I think means I'm a boring ole grownup.

The boys just love having fun.

G on the rhino sculpture.

Having a blast on the carousel.

In a canoe.

Making a M-G-and-komodo dragon sandwich.

Chatting it up with "Naah" (Nana) on the phone at the science center.

Putting on a puppet show.

Heading down the slide.

The water play area is, by far, their favorite.  

My little detective and his assistant.