Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Something happened on the way to size 18

I quit on me.

I decided that after carrying and delivering two children over 3 years that I had a right to be larger than I was in my 20's - MUCH larger. I deserved ice cream for dessert every night, cheese and crackers as a snack in front of the TV, and an appetizer with every meal at a restaurant! Bring on the loaded potato skins.

And then I had my 20 year high school reunion. And I met Rob Thomas back stage at a concert. And suddenly the woman I saw in the pictures from those two events horrified me.

Who was she? Where did those jowls come from? And that back fat?  And those thighs??? No wonder Rob didn't want to ravage me upon sight...yeah, that must be the reason why. Nothing to do with his solid marriage to a former model. Sorry, I digress, again.

It wasn't easy getting back on track and putting my health first, but hubby and I started to watch everything we put in our mouths and did a weigh in each week. The good ole' weight watchers style. I wrote down my food intake (I don't think he did) and I joined a gym.  A gym without the grunting body builders but the one with the fancy old ladies that use the treadmill with their coiffed hair and full on makeup.  My kind of girls.

And before I knew it the weight started to come off. Salads for lunch every day weren't so bad if you added fun things like almonds, a little feta, grilled chicken, corn, peas, bean sprouts, olives or roasted red peppers. Who said it had to be lettuce, cukes and tomatoes each time?

I used spinach instead of lettuce. Zucchini instead of cucumbers.  And decided that my beloved Ranch dressing was okay as long as the other items in the salad weren't fried, cheesy or loaded with mayo (i.e. chicken salad and tuna salad were a downfall for me!)

Within a year I lost 25 lbs.  Over 2 years some weight has come back on and my body shape changes and morphs as I get older, but last time I checked few grandmothers have the body shape they had at 25.  And if they did, they paid for it.

I do regret giving all those size 12 clothes away when I quit on me. I could use them right now!!  Down 3 sizes feels pretty darn nice.  My goal going forward is maintenance - and not getting on that scale too often.  It's not the number, but the feeling from within.  I need health to live longer, not a 130 lb goal weight.  I'll always have rolls at my tummy - I've never had or needed 6 pack abs.  I'll be soft, not firm. But I'm cool with that.

Tomorrow is Day Two of the C25K challenge I've taken on to fight the gym boredom.  One can only bond with an elliptical so much before time starts to stand still. I tried the rowing machine and it didn't work so great with my back.  So, it's time to spice it up. I can jog. I know I can!! 

Monday, March 29, 2010

I run, therefore I am.

I can say that now, right? I mean I'm starting to run and so that counts.

This lovely lady got me thinking.  Then this one got me thinking some more.  And now it's all I think about.  I've actually had vivid dreams of running where I am breathing properly, keeping a good pace and then I take flight and can't get back down to earth so I wake myself up. Flying like a bird is scary, man.

But I'm not going to be scared off and I'm really gonna give it a go. What better gift to myself for my birthday than to try and get a little more fit this year and go break out on a limb and try to turn myself from an "elipticaler" to a 5K "runner"? 

Day One: I used the Couch to 5K plan as guidance and already screwed it up.  Instead of 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking, I did it the other way.

I'll try to track my progress during the week.  I'm supposed to go 3 times a week with a little break in between. My  next possible day at the gym is Thursday morning - I got my roots colored today and I'll be damned if I sweat with my pretty, straight, silky locks. I need to enjoy a couple days without the frizz.

Thuffering Thucatash

As a parent you try not to traumatize your children whenever possible. But at the same time you need to keep their best interest in mind. So if telling them that there are mean, bad people in the world who will snatch them away from their home keeps them from approaching a stranger in a car, well then you do it.

And if their unexplained fear of losing a tooth that's hanging by a thread creates an unhealthy mouth, weeks of fighting, and tons of tears then you just need to straddle them, tell them you love them, and rip it out of their mouth.  Right? Right?!

The 30 seconds of fear in her eyes as hubby and I tag teamed her like wrestling pros was replaced with lots of bouncing smiles, funny faces pushing her tongue through the space and several exclamations during the day of, "It so much better now that my tooth is out." The tooth fairy cash helped, too.

In all honesty, when it was all over, I think I was more traumatized at having to do it than she was at having it done...and her little brother was gasping in horror so we know we won't have the same problems with him when it comes to those wiggly, wobbly teeth! Carry judging necessary.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lunch, party of one

I'm a part-time Mom, full-time employee. It's sad really. The hours I spend in front of a computer clearly outnumber the hours I spend with my kids.  I'm a forty-plus-hours a week worker and some of that is by design, simply because I have access to work all the time since I do it from home.  It doesn't really turn off.

At night, once the kids are tucked away in bed, I can return to the glow of the computer monitor and check emails, respond to inquiries and update anything that needs updating.  I can wake up and log on before I've even put in my contact lenses or changed out of my PJs.  And when I travel to the office for visits, I'm gone before the kids are dressed and I rush back to pick them up, only to spend a few hours with them until their bed time.

In reality, we wouldn't be spending 10 hours a day together anyway, I mean they are in school and that takes up 6 hours of their day - but unlike the other kids that walk off the bus at 2:00 into the arms of their Mom or Dad, mine are kept at the daycare program so I can get a couple of more hours into my work schedule.

And yet, even though I have all this "alone" time while I work - no co-workers knocking at my office door or clients clamoring on the phone - I still have to get out by myself. Away from the home office. Away from the hum of my laptop.  I don't feel like I spend enough time with my kids, yet I also feel like I don't spend enough time with Me.  It's a weird struggle because while I'm not being a Mom during the day, I'm also not being an individual. I'm being an employee and that's not my time - it's the company's time.

So, every few weeks I take myself out to lunch. Just me. I don't tell anyone at work. I don't invite anyone to join me.  I usually go to a local restaurant and sit at the bar, watch ESPN on their TV, and eat alone. With my thoughts. And my guilt. And french fries with a side of ranch dressing to dip.

I can't do it all and I hope my kids know that the hours we spend apart aren't a reflection of my love, just of a choice. A choice I hope I don't regret and that I hope they understand. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

People from the past

I've been finding myself stopping during the day recently, staring out the window of my office, and thinking, "Gee, I wonder how so-and-so is doing".

I pretty sure I can blame it on Facebook - it seems over the past year I've spent more and more time reading statuses from high school friends I haven't seen in 15, 20 25 years, or co-workers from a decade ago. I have been able to catch up with people who have moved cross country or have stayed right where I saw them last.  And the pictures of their growing families are great.  It has been pretty fun visiting the past.

But then there are those people in my life that I didn't necessarily spend a lot of time with - but knew for one reason or another - who seem to pop into my brain every now and again.  And one of those people has resurfaced and I'm so excited, because more often than I realized, I wondered how she was doing.

Kerri wasn't a friend, if you were to look up the definition of a friend, but for a couple of years we did spend every 6 to 8 weeks together for an hour or two, laughing and talking about life. Come on ladies, who else could it be? My hairdresser!

She became my hair stylist after the guy I was going to couldn't seem to get me back home in under 3 hours.  She was new to the salon and after having to rebook a couple of times with her boss, I decided I'd just stick with her because I really enjoyed her company and she was genuinely a good kid. Seems weird, but I always wished the best for her.  The relationship she had with her family was refreshing and she had a really smart head on her shoulders.

Then, I believe it was the spring of 2006 (remember, I'm the chick who is lucky she remembers the year her children were born, so dates and I don't always match up), I got a message about an upcoming appointment with Kerri. There had been an accident.  She wasn't going to be able to do my hair so they needed to reschedule.  A million things from "fender bender" to "fall down the stairs" ran through my mind. I wondered what had happened.

As I soon learned, this vibrant, funny, giggly, 20-something year old had been the victim of a truly fluke accident. She had decided it would be neat to learn to horseback ride and during one of her sessions - with a helmet on - she got tossed by the horse and subsequently kicked in the head.  She was flown to a hospital in Boston where she stayed for weeks and weeks with her brain swollen, unable to speak, walk or move much. She wasn't paralyzed but those first few updates on her condition were heartwrenching.

She eventually returned to her parents home and last I had heard was walking with a cane, had lost some motor control and was suffering from speech impediments.

I stopped going to the salon where she had worked, because quite simply, without her laugh and presence it wasn't a relaxing place to be and I figured she wouldn't be returning. 

Flash forward to Monday and a good friend of mine, who also knew her, dropped me an email to say that she had run into Kerri while out to eat on Saturday and she was asking about me. I smiled. And got a tear in my eye. The update sounded great. She was walking on her own. Looked healthy. Had left the salon and was moving on to new things. And according to Kerri, it was a very big step that she recognized my friend and approached her.  To quote her, "I will mark this in my book."  So how blessed did I feel that she remembered me; some random client from years ago?

I got her email address and dropped her a note. She wrote back almost instantly, attaching two pictures of her and her new pug puppy. She sounds fantastic and we're planning on meeting for lunch soon.

I can't wait just to give her a hug. It was a great reminder that even if you don't spend years, months, or every day with someone, you can still leave an impression - and hopefully it's a good one - so when someone from the past comes to pay a visit, you can pick up right where you left off.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Seven sleepless nights

Starting last Thursday, our family was hit by a mother's most feared terrorist; the stomach flu. The "I have no control over either end" type of flu.

The little lady fell victim the first 2 1/2 days which meant all hands were on deck listening for footsteps in the middle of the night heading to the bathroom, or moans from the bedroom.  Someone had to be ready to hold her hair back, or comfort her that she would be okay. Never a tear, God Bless her.

As soon as real food was back in her stomach, the little man fell hard Sunday night.  His bout only lasted 24 hours, but again, ears peaked at any little sound, including the cat just wandering the house at 2 a.m.  You never knew who it was going to be...or what was going to happen.

By Tuesday night, Mr. Man wasn't feeling so hot. Both the kids were on the mend - sleeping, eating, playing in sunshine.  So, that evening I "slept" on the couch to avoid the germs and listened to the floors creak upstairs with his every rush to the porcelain god.  All told, I think I squeezed in about 4 hours of sleep that night.

Then Wednesday evening if was my turn. This time, I sent him downstairs and I commanded the bedroom and master bath as my quarantined area.  I never really slept, being woken every hour by the reminder of the long, drawn out battle.

By Thursday, I put the window in our bedroom up just a touch so I could at least listen to the nice weather outside...but didn't dare open the shades as the sunshine hurt my head too much. Aches, pains, throbbing sinuses on top of the stomach flu made for a joyous spring afternoon.

Then the call from the kid's after school - little man lost a fight with diarrhea.  Hubby had stayed home one extra day to relax and be sure he was okay, so he was sent to pick the little guy up. Appears to have been short lived as he was back to normal by last night.

I emerged for about 15 mins last night to catch the kids in their shorts, complete with stark white legs, rushing out side like it was the first day of summer vacation (I would have shared a picture with you because it was pretty funny - but this sick thing got in the way).  It sounded like a nice day outside, and I'm thankful the rain had passed and they could get out to avoid any further contamination.

So that brings us to today. Friday. Eight days after the first battle. I am sitting upright. Eating toast, rice krispies and sipping water.  The kids went to school, hubby to work.  I'm catching up on emails but trying not to stay vertical for too long - this HAS to be the end of it all.  Plus, I hear Saturday may hit 70 and dog-gone-it I will enjoy ONE of these spring days before the temps come crashing down again.

My friends and family, put your guard up if you see it hitting your homestead - this little bugger took 4 people down in 7 days - it's not fooling around. Tonight, I hope and pray we all get a full night's sleep!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'd like a weekend do-over, please

After RAVING about our wonderful weekend last week, I will just say this weekend SUCKED. Big ole sucky, sucked.

1. Endless rain and wind for days. Plus, unreliable sump pumps kept hubby up every 2 hours with the panic of another flooded basement.

2. Puke, puke and more puke.  What started on Thursday night as a stomach bug for Abby and lasted through Saturday, also turned into a stomach bug for Alex by Sunday evening. I don't think I've slept through the night since last Wednesday. Next?!

3. Can I take my head off my shoulders? Because if I can't breathe and can't shake this sinus headache, I would prefer to not have it attached to my body. Do you hear that? Thump, thump...thump, thump...thump, thump.  Just my sinuses POUNDING in my ears. And how do I run out of Sudafed in my house, when I need it most?

4. Another tree down. The final row of hemlocks that shielded us from a straight-on view into our neighbor's kitchen is offiicially toppled over. Hi neighbors!  Hello! Can you see me now?  Yes, that's how I look in the morning. Scary, right?

5. Daylight Savings Time.  As if all of this wasn't enough for one weekend, I had to lose an hour of sleep that I wasn't getting anyway.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boston you're my home

We decided to venture out to Boston last Saturday, mainly because the forecast was for sunny skies and warm temperatures, but also because we've been slipping lately with our Friday Family Fun Nights. Seems the weekdays get away from us and suddenly it's 8:30 on a Friday and we're rounding up the kids for bed. Plus, this winter we were overloaded on the weekends with ski, skate and swim. It was our first Saturday in a while without anything on the books for a change.

So we spent all afternoon disconnected from the computers, TV and DVD players and enjoyed a stroll around our fair, little city.

We started our day at the Boston Fire Museum down by the Children's Museum on Congress St. I had one goal - stay outside. I didn't want to find myself inside on a sunny, warm spring day (only exclusion was grabbing something to eat at the Sinatra Brunch at Lucky's - kids complained the Frank impersonator was singing too loud).

The Boston Fire Museum is small, but free, however they do take donations. And they have the pump trucks from the 1800's which the kids thought were very cool. Along with displays of old helmets, badges and memorabilia.

We then walked towards the water to inspect the new buildings that seem to be popping up everywhere along the Seaport area. That landscape sure has changed since 1994.We showed the kids where Mommy and Daddy met at work...and where we met Uncle Fugi, Uncle Ben, Mr & Mrs. Black, Auntie Jocelyn, Uncle Dave, Fairly Odd Mother and Father, Lily & Paige's Mommy...ahhh the list went on and on.

After the stroll down memory lane, we made our way along Rowe's Wharf where my son was excited to see the guy from 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" at the Boston Harbor Hotel. We are assuming he was referring to the Bell Captain - but we're not totally sure.  There were some people tooling around on Segways which looked like great fun.  Too bad those never really hit mainstream.

There was a police boat cruising the harbor as we made our way along the water. That's all my son needed to see to make his afternoon complete.  We continued our stroll over to the Aquarium where the line was one that could rival the lines during summer vacation - so we took in some time with the seals out front while they were fed and did some tricks. 

One promise I made last year (and the year before) to my daughter was that we'd take a horse drawn carriage ride around Boston one day.  So when she saw them parked out front of the Aquarium, her face lit up.  I, of course, insisted there were more over by Fanueil Hall so we continued our stroll across the street to the Rose Kennedy Greenway.  I'm still amazed that was the smelly, old, crumbling Expressway.  They have done an amazing job of creating walkways, parks and seating all along the surface road.  It was so pretty.

Across the way was the entrance to Fanueil Hall, where we took in a street performer on a pole, juggling knives.  In my traditional fashion, I saw tragedy so I kept trying to get the kids to back away a bit.  He was pretty entertaining.

Naturally, the horse and carriages I imagined on the other side of Fanueil Hall were not there, but we did find some tucked away by Sissy K's and the Hong Kong (which sadly is still boarded up from a fire. RIP old happy hour memories).  Note: the carriages by the Aquarium are 100 times nicer, but a promise is a promise and she wanted in on one of those buggies, so off we went.

Our horse went nice and slow, so we got to enjoy the sights of all the closed office buildings and restaurants in Post Office Square.  But seriously, it was cool to just trot around the side roads and get off our feet. The rest of our afternoon was spent wandering around Fanueil Hall, enjoying some ice cream and cookies for dessert, and picking up a few gifts from our trip.

At the end of our day, we made our way back over to Congress St. via the Intercontinental Hotel for a potty break.  Abby was fascninated at how soft the paper towels were in the ladies room.  I told her to work hard and aim high in life and she could have those same towels in her own bathroom.  She had no clue what I was talking about, but did exclaim she wanted to move to Boston with her husband some day so she has a dream - those are important. Alex saw another guy from "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" at this hotel, too.

The best part of the whole day was that we spent almost all of it outside, strolling and observing the city before the rush of tourists sets in. No real plan. Just the family spending time together in Boston, for no particular reason.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The sigh heard round the world

Oh yea, people...that huge sigh you heard on Saturday was the collective "Yes!" coming from the suburb-dwellers of New England.

If you weren't here to enjoy it, you missed a great spring weekend! We know better than to get too excited, but it felt fantastic to walk around outside without boots, hats, mittens, scarves and heavy jackets. The kids played. The adults drank relaxed. The burgers and dogs hit the grill.

The neighborhood seemed to wake up from it's sleepy, winter slumber as every one emerged from hibernation. And except for the man who cut me off today, and then proceeded to block me in while he rolled down his window to scream a myriad of insults and profanities at me, the world seems happier, alive and pale ready to welcome the rebirth season.

So, as I write this blog with a sense of calm and relief that we could be rounding the corner, I am reminded of the snow storm of April 1, 1997 that dumped 3 feet of snow the day before we were to leave on a trip to Texas...I hope the next sigh you hear from New England isn't the "Come on!" one as we're shoveling one last time.

Get out! Enjoy it while it lasts!!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Big business meets inspiration

I have about 3 or 4 TV shows that I watch religiously; they all happen to fall on Sunday nights. They are left over from my solo Sunday nights when my husband used to work the overnight shift. They are the shows that would keep me company after I put the kids to bed and needed a little time to myself to regroup for the hectic Monday morning schedule.

So after the Super Bowl when I sat intently watching a new Sunday program Undercover Boss, I thought, "I can't get sucked into another show on Sunday nights." Too bad, sister, I can't stop watching it.

Luckily, it's available online so during a lunch break here or there I get caught up on the episodes, but if you haven't watched it yet, it's worth viewing. In a sentence, it's C-level execs of HUGE consumer-facing companies that go undercover to see how the employees out in the field feel about the corporate office, and to see if there are ways to improve business. The sad part is if it's successful, it's going to be hard for season 2 to fool anyone when a stranger shows up saying they have a camera crew with them as a documentary to view entry level employees trying to find work.

Having been a white collar worker most of my life, I'm always fascinated by the employees and jobs that keep our great country moving forward. I will always appreciate my early working years as a waitress which began when I was 14 1/2 and ended at 23. That job seriously taught me how to communicate with any type of person from any background; how to react to unpleasant situations (say, perhaps, you spill a whole glass of tomato juice on a customer) and how difficult it is for service companies to survive.

The workers profiled out in the field during this show are inspiring. Could you spend hours during your work day straightening cheese onto burgers as they come off a huge conveyor belt? Or how about urinating in a can because you are a female trash collector and potty breaks throw your schedule off track and could get you in trouble? Could you be in charge of cleaning the port-o-potty at an amusement park, all the while joking and smiling and being thankful you have a job? Or stuff hamburger buns into a bag (it was apparently much harder than it looked)?

Sometimes I forget how comfy my desk chair is - and how I'm able to start work and end it according to my schedule - or how I can stop and chit chat with a colleague without worrying about clocking in and out, down to the minute. I know I'm fortunate, but what I do for work doesn't feed America, keep it clean, save the planet or make much difference to the world outside of my house.

So, thank you to all the workers out there who do the tasks that go completely unseen by many - yet keep the system working so the American Dream lives on. The jobs I've never had to consider applying for, yet are the jobs that help people keep their homes, feed their families and move industry forward.

And a little thanks to CBS for reminding me that this country is made up of all types of workers - with all types of stories of their own.