Monday, February 28, 2011

Top of the Muffin, to ya! Week 7

With Harper, I used pregnancy as an excuse to go buck wild and eat anything I wanted - especially after losing a significant amount of weight in the first trimester due to blindingly severe morning all-the-time sickness.

Immediately after Harper, all of our nurses complimented me on my flat stomach - umm.. really? Best you've ever seen, huh? Why yes, I believe I will have that fried chicken from the cafeteria. and that dinner roll. and that carton of chocolate milk.

A couple days later, I sashayed stumbled, wobbled, and weakly limped my way out of the hospital, clutching tightly to Brandon and trying not to faint from prolonged uprightness. All I could think about was getting to the car, but paused briefly to notice that the pants I wore in (that they told me would still fit when I left) were but a millimeter from pants-on-the-ground inspiration.

In the weeks that followed, I'd occasionally stumble out into the light, glance at a mirror and see a puffy, mascara-less, tired face and hair with barf in it. I'd shudder if I had the energy, then hear the echo of sweet people saying, "It took 9 months to grow her.  It'll take 9 months for you to get back to where you were."

I'd wrap those words around me like a warm, soft, barf-less blanket and go change another explosive diaper.

Obviously, I took that blanket to a whole nother level and I'm still sleeping under it every night.

..Because here I am, 20 months later, and I'm doing things I would absolutely never, ever do before I was pregnant.  I think all you need to do is look into our fridge.  College Courtney would slap me in the face if she saw it.  Take a peep at this den of iniquity:

On a positive note, I have two product raves this week:

1. Veggie Max patty from Subway. I ain't skurd of the meat substitutes, so I have no idea why I haven't tried it before. Tons of flavor, almost tastes a little like chicken, but mostly veggies so that it's not completely creepy. 70 calories. Love it.

2. Brandon & I have a love for Japanese hibachi food and two nights this week, I sauteed zucchini, yellow squash and onions and cooked whole grain brown rice.  No egg in the rice, no butter..period, just sprayed a little olive oil in the veggie pan so they wouldn't stick.

Then, and this is the most critical part, I drove to Benihana and bought a pint of the brown ginger sauce and a pint of the mustard sauce (only $4.50 each).

Amazing, amazing dinner.  No shrimp tails in the hair, which I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss.

This week, I reset and find an old normal.

Down 1/2 lb. Darn you, salt bombs!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A New Deprivation

Before I had Harper, I actually thought, "How on Earth will I survive if I can't sleep in on the weekends?"

I actually thought about that. It was my deepest, darkest, most seriously selfish concern! 

Not: I have no idea how to calm a crying baby. Hell, I haven't held one..ever!

Not: I have no idea how to change a diaper. Eww! and barf? Omg. I'll barf!

Not: My body is going to be ripped to shreds. Will I ever be able to put it back together? (no.)

What kept me awake at night was, ironically,.. that I would miss the zzz's.  I couldn't bear the thought of it.

20 months in..

Late at night, when the house has been quiet for a few hours and the toys are picked up and the peanut butter & jelly has been wiped from the walls, I can hardly bear the thought of waiting until 6 a.m. to see her, again.

I can't bear the thought of her becoming a teenager and missing her until 11 a.m. instead of just 6 or 7 a.m.

..or the thought of her growing out of fleece footed pajamas and never being able to wash and dry another set.

..or the night she decides that she's tired of reading 2,500 books with us and abandons our preciously long nightly routine forever.

Until then..

Friday, February 25, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Foreign language films in subtitles should count as answers when someone haughtily asks, "So, what're you reading these days?"

..because otherwise, this is the only book club that I belong to:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ringing the bell of earthy desires

Each New Year's Eve, the Japanese have a tradition that I'll get behind in a very American, Spring cleaning sort of way. 

They clean their homes and throw out old stuff. Most businesses and their employees spend the last day of the year doing the same thing. 

They end the day with long noodles (to signify crossing over form one year to the next) and then a big cast iron bell is rung 108 times for each of the earthly desires Buddhists believe to cause suffering.

The purpose is to welcome the new year with a clean slate - including people's minds and bodies.

So today I'm cleaning, making an unspeakably large donation of "stuff" to Goodwill, being exceedingly thankful that we had the resources to purchase, use and re-purpose said "stuff" and tonight I think we'll have.. spaghetti.

..And here, I'm therapeutically listing my current earthly desires.  . . . for which I feel a twinge of Scarlett O'Hara suffering, because what I have now is good enough and I won't buy more:

Lemon & Juniper Breeze candles - 2 for $20, right now. How Springy!

China Glaze Knotty Nauticals Starboard and OPI Texas Collection Houston We Have a Purple:

Sewing machine - This one, specifically. Laugh it up:

Cookware in funky colors, like this vintage Club Aluminum dutch oven & a Le Creuset loaf pan:

...and a set of calligraphy pens:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In which consumerism makes me first-kiss giddy.

Under the cover of a dusky dawn, the cheetah stalks her prey. Clad in unassuming Ralph Lauren oxford and mom clogs, she blends in among the wares. Is that a towel display or the huntress poised to pounce on the 90% off Valentine's display of Target?

On the day after Valentine's Day, Harper and I stalked, but things were only 50% off. I resisted all but two throw pillows ($2.50 each) for Harper to play with on the floor & an oblong plastic-y striped tablecloth ($5.00) for crafts and finger paint.  Mostly, we planned our attack.

Yesterday afternoon, as Harper sat sneezing and snotty in a state only rectified by back-to-back episodes of Team Umizoomi, and Brandon toiled away next to her on a take-home test, I made my move.

I slipped out quietly and before either one needed a sippy cup refill or a sandwich missed me, I was home with these.  Ignore the awkward hand placement.  That's how I roll.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Top of the Muffin, to ya! Week 6

One day, I made the grand mistake of taking Harper to Ulta because.. in the middle of the winter, girls just need some OPI therapy.

As soon as Harper hit the door, I knew we were in trouble.

5 minutes in, she was double-fisting expensive nail polishes and trying to squirm away to freedom.

I have to handle her like a live grenade.

If her mood is tarnished, the bottles will be launched in protest - either smashing on the floor, Gallagher-style, or wounding unsuspecting old ladies.

After 10 minutes of disengaging bombs browsing, we entered the queue. Waiting, I admired my swift Mom moves: Beneath her notice, I managed to downgrade her fists to one bottle of polish and a small, inexpensive tube of Ulta Citrus Verbena hand lotion that I didn't really want.

$2.50 or a tantrum? $2.50, thanks.

I've never been one for fruity, foody lotion, so for days, it sat in the car, unused. Then, one day when we were stuck in traffic, I relented. For just $2.50, it takes me to a happy place. . .

Smell-o-vision ..smell-o-vation...happens on the afternoon commute.  It goes a little something like this:

Because it smells like this:

Which makes me think of this (omg. have you ever had these?):

And you buy those here, which is where we'll be in just 70 short days. Ahhh..

On a blustery, smoggy, freezing DC day, I can almost feel this:

And hear this:

And see Harper running here:

And she'll smell like this:

And I need a new bottle of this:

And it'll be so hot that I'll be drinking this, but I'll make it a Light:

Stop, stop, wait. No.

Pump the breaks.


Daydream FAIL, but hello, motivation. Down 1 lb, this week.

Oh. And smell-o-bviously, I take no credit for the images and accept no responsibility for the spending spree that may result from this diatribe.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

It should be against the law to flavor anything "maple" except pancake syrup. ..and whoever makes a piece of chocolate with maple-flavored filling should be punched.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This is my dance space.

I'll begin by saying the following:

I like to talk to people, but if someone's not a big talker, I definitely catch myself talking way too much to compensate.

So, I'm my least annoying self with outgoing people.

..Not that I don't like introverts, it's just that it takes longer to find out where I stand with them.

Which, sometimes makes me nervous! b/c for better or worse, I'm an open book.

I especially like people who make me laugh. ..but those are easily found, because I'm generally a cheap laugh.

 So, a few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man at dinner and, for two days, I was stumped.

..because I didn't like him.

He rubbed me the wrong way and I kinda couldn't wait to get away from him.

He seemed nice, he made jokes, he was talkative, engaging, polite. .

. .so, what the heck?

Just when I was starting to feel like a humongous jerk, it hit me.

Personal Boundaries. I haz them. Spongy, but they're there.

According to science, he didn't have a prayer. As soon as he hit the door, he was doomed.

He didn't wait to be introduced. A go-getter, which I normally admire, he introduced himself to Brandon first and shook his hand, and I was poised for the same, when...

he hugged me.

In the .2 seconds I had to react and process, in which I obviously hugged him back, lest I make him uncomfortable, my brain did something like this:  


Before you actually do write me off as a humongous jerk, I'll say that I don't have a problem with hugs AT ALL. It's actually my most frequently chosen and preferred greeting and farewell with anyone I like in a non-professional setting!

Hugs are nice and they're a great way to show people that you like them! O.M.G. I love hugs.

So, the night wore on and he made jokes, seemed smart, talked a lot. . . and so did everyone else, so the awkward greeting was literally forgotten.

...Until it was time to go. Boom. Drive-by hugging.

Under other circumstances, I would have absolutely been OK with a farewell hug from someone I barely knew, but in this case, it must have sealed the deal.

So when the hugging willies were extracted from my subconscious, I started thinking. . .

There are so many freaking caveats to my space bubble, that it's dizzying and annoying and rather Type B.

With regard to the introductory I-don't-know-you-from-Adam's-house-cat hug,

I probably would have felt less like this:

If it had been a woman-to-woman hug.

And if I had even a sliver of background info about him prior to full-body contact.

Or maybe if I had a glass of wine. ..or even a smidge less focus on my toddler.

Also, I think I'VE even been guilty of the first-time-I-meet-you hug, but in the intensely Southern, "Oh mah Gawd, I have hurrd SO MUCH uh-bay-uh-t (four-syllable Southern-speak for 'about') you, I just wonna hug yor neck!" kinda way.  ..Although I don't think I would say those things, I'd probably be thinking them.

But the facts are simple. Edward Hall, an anthropologist, hit it on the nose in 1966 with Proxemics.

So, study up. And I will, too.

If you're gonna be all up in somebody's grill, do it right, lest they spend two days trying to figure out why they didn't like a perfectly awesome and likable you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top of the Muffin, to ya! - Week 5

This week, I didn't exercise like I should, I didn't drown myself with water like I should, but I didn't do anything horrible, either.  I didn't hurtle into the fruit roll-up binge zone because finally, finally, we have a kitchen stocked with really healthy food.

This week, my staples included:

Twinings Green Tea Lemon. That's right.  Can you hear me down there? I'm shouting from the pinnacle of snobbiness. With my pinky in the air.

Sweetening things (tea, coffee) with agave nectar, which, if you've never tried it, is awesome because it doesn't cause blood sugar spikes (..meaning I don't whisper sweet nothings to Harper's graham crackers), it doesn't crystallize like honey, and, for all the Weight Watchers, it has a gram of fiber per serving. Delish.

Boca Burgers. No bun, mustard, pickle. Boom! Vegan-ed. Brandon had a bite and said it tasted like a North Carolina Public School Rib-e-que. Don't lie and say you've never had one of those. ...and with that, I'm off the pinnacle.

Pop Chips. Vegan excellence. Not fried, not baked. The best thing about them is that there are only three servings in one bag, so if you I go buck wild, all is not lost. I'm impressed with all varieties except Salt and Vinegar.. which is strange, because I think I could eat a salt and vinegar-flavored Rainbow flip-flop.

Saving the best for last. Courtesy of our extremely awesome, seriously carnivorous, open-minded friends, last night, I had SoyRizo for dinner. Now, I haven't actually prepared it.  Bless their hearts, our friends went so far as to dispose of the package before I got there so I didn't have to see the nitty gritty, which, they allow me, is quite.. pasty. But, it's delicious, it tastes exactly like sausage and I am DYING to try some recipes with it!

Week 4 Result - Down 1 lb. What else is new. Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

There's toolery afoot.

We live on a rather picturesque street in a quiet little enclave.  Thanks to old oak trees that line our street and grow throughout our neighborhood, we're nestled away from the loud, obnoxious traffic of DC.

To walk down our street and look into the homes of my neighbors, you'd never know you're in a metropolitan area and you'd never know the city's crime rate is high.

We have a street of hard workers - they briskly walk down to catch the metro each morning and trudge home after dusk.

In a day and age when necessity precludes such antiquities, three families on our street have only one car.

Each week, the aged need not worry about their trash cans or snow or grass - They're all taken care of by the able-bodied.

Looks can be deceiving.

I hear tales of fellow stay-at-home moms making cookies and treats and valentines and Christmas presents for their neighbors and sometimes I wonder what that might be like. . . but I squelch the fire as soon as it begins to smolder.

I live on a street of tools.

To my right lives a family whose patriarch banged on our door like an officer of the law 6 months after we moved in because our friend was parked roughly 6 inches into their driveway. 

On my best day, I could not do justice to the altercation that took place between a 6'5 twentysomething former college athlete and that 5'6 bald, pale, angry little man.

All I remember was my neighbor's last line, "I'm not asking your ass nicely!"  he said over his shoulder as he darted across our yard, at a quick clip that gave away his nervousness.

To our left lives a very nice nurse who works the night shift at a local hospital. Unfortunately, her brother just moved in with her, who smokes cigarettes in the back yard all day with no pants on. ALL DAY.

..but, I've persevered. Not by actually acknowledging the no-pants guy, because he is dead to me - but I talk with the others.  I wave when a car passes, I shovel walkways when necessary, I make our home look inviting and we have the very best Halloween candy on the street.

So, after a week of watching our across-the-street neighbors' front yard get torn up with a backhoe and watching them become the owners of a brand new sewer line, my heart hurt for them.

Unfortunately, we're all too familiar with how much it costs and in this area, it's no less than $10,000.

While Harper was enjoying the construction from our couch every day, I could only think of how sick they must feel.

So yesterday, when the coast was clear of No Pants, we ventured outside to do a little chalk drawing on our driveway and saw them outside, admiring the progress of the construction.  Since a backhoe in a front yard is pretty hard to ignore with a simple "Hi! How are y'all?," I thought it might be a good time to acknowledge the recent events.

Here's what I said:

"We've been watching every day from the window ((gesture to enormous hole/huge hunks of concrete)) and I know it must be so awful for y'all ((sincerely touches heart..sad look)), but Harper is really loving all of the action!"

Without emotion, without flinching, without hesitation, the man looked me right in the eye and said, "Well, that just makes it all worth it, now doesn't it?"

If someone writes obscenities in the new walkway being poured today, wasn't me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Tattoos and personalized license plates: Think long and hard.  When you think your sure of either, think some more. For less than $100, you're flirting with an extremely high failure rate.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Top of the Muffin, to ya! - Week 4

On a blog I read regularly, the author suggests that you make a list of reasons why you think you can't lose weight. She says that what you'll have at the end is just a list of excuses & that the only thing stopping you is you.

Without further adieu:

Reasons it's cool to stay fat - winter edition:

1.This weekend, when we went snow tubing at Ski Liberty, I got some major air. Hang time, if you will. I felt like a jet engine was strapped to my inner tube, but nope. That's just my huge butt and my good friend, gravity.

2. When I bundle up for c25k runs, I don't look easy to kidnap.

3. Stranded in a snow drift in Chicago on Lake Shore Drive? I won't starve or freeze to death. I'll just be hitting my stride on Day 3.

4. If I take a little spill on black ice, I probably won't break my coccyx.

While I welcome any excuse to inject Uncle Rico, that's just what they are. Excuses.

Sure, there are more believable ones, like:

1. It's too cold - I do not own enough clothing to keep me warm outside, right now.

2. Harper hates the stroller and screams so loudly that I'm afraid people will think I'm abusing her.

3. I'm too tired.  I'm falling asleep by 8:00 p.m. on an easy day.

4. With all of our playdates and classes and errands, I just don't have time! ((eyeroll & Scarlett O'Hara faint))

That last one is the worst of all.. the Stay at Home Mom Excuse.

I can, however, think of one really, really huge reason to work hard to make my life as long and as healthy as possible.  It's funny, because the reason is small - only 27 lbs - and also fits in an inner tube.

This week, I lost 1 lb. No excuses, next week.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I heart you.

((steps up on soap box))

Y'all, it's American Heart Month. Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack? Learn them. Do you know basic first aid and CPR? Learn it. Are you at risk for heart disease? Find out. Do you think you might be at risk for high blood pressure? Take a quiz.

You don't want to be caught with your pants down if you or someone you know has the big one.

Go to the doctor.

Go Packers.

((steps off))

Friday, February 4, 2011

the hulk redecorates

Oh, the ebb and flow of life. The yin and yang. The salty and sweet.  The good and plenty. ..Ok, that last one doesn't work... or maybe it does.

So everyone has heard stories of humans acquiring super-human strength in scary situations.  You know -  A lady lifts a 2000 lb car to get her child out from under it, an unconditioned person runs faster and longer than would be cardiovascularly or muscularly possible to.. I don't know.. get away from a tiger.

Whatever.  I buy it.  I believe it.

..because it's happened to me.

When I was 16 yrs old, I got in a wreck (ok. extremely small fender bender with a 900 year old lady who ran her boat of a Cadillac into me on McPherson Church Road) and it scared me so badly that when I reached over to turn off the radio, I tore the knob off.  Yes, I tore off the knob and it felt as smooth as a hot knife through butter. Effortless. ..The jury is still out on whether or not that knob was actually loose.

Yesterday, I got all kinds of shook up about some moderately crappy news (that's really not all that bad) and Harper and I were trying to get out of the house to go to Gymboree and she was screaming baby obscenities because she didn't get to play in the sink long enough after lunch and I ran into the bathroom to grab the some lotion before we left - lest I be ashy, even under duress - and I pulled a 85 lb cabinet off the wall onto my head, which, just seconds previous, had been anchored by enormous sheet rock screws.

Pan-ic (n.) - When you're stuck holding something extremely heavy and you have no place to put it down or no ability to do so gingerly without wreaking mass havoc

Its contents began toppling out in a slow drizzle, bottle by bottle onto my head and shoulders as I balanced it in a brave, Atlas-esque attempt to keep it from crashing onto Harper's noggin (who was standing at my feet, still yelling at me), so then I had to yell at her as loudly and scarily as possible so that she would get out of the bathroom.

This didn't work.  Clearly, she thought we were practicing for the Spivey's Corner Hollerin' Contest because she just yelled louder and looked offended. Finally, I had to take a foot and sort of.. gently..kick her out of the bathroom and slam the door with my foot. She took extreme exception to this, yelled louder and came back in (when did she learn to open that door?).

As I contorted my body in ways I didn't think possible, the cabinet landed with a crash on the toilet.  Breakables flew and crashed. the bathroom.  Harper's still yelling - with reason, this time, because I think she got bonked with a sizable bottle of body wash.

When the dust finally settled and the glass was swept, I looked up to view this -

Nice color choice and subsequent paint job, previous owners (..?).

Anyway. Here's the flow. The yang. The sweet. The plenty.

I'm overjoyed.

The bathroom looks so spacious and after I patch holes, sand, buff and paint,  I finally have a place to hang this enormous coffee filter wreath.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Instead of complaining about how your GPS got you lost or made you late, maybe you should.. I don't know.. learn how to read a map and actually understand where you're going?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Happy Joy Joy

We just got home from Gymboree class. Harper had an absolute blast and made so many cute, sweet friends. The moms and nannies I met were wonderfully nice.

The absolutely raw and unbridled joy experienced by 10 toddlers is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

Is there anything (besides watching your child experience it) that brings as much joy to an adult?

Dr. Brene Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston.  For the past 10 years, she's been studying vulerability, joy, shame, courage and authenticity.

Yesterday, I watched one of her talks on vulnerability and how everyone is fighting so hard to lose it because  it's not accepted in our society.. and how it's mistaken for weakness.

Rarely do things stop me in my tracks, but I find this beyond interesting and I've been thinking about her theories since I watched it.

Dr. Brown says:

"We live in a culture that tells us that there is never enough. That we are not enough, that we are not good enough, that we are never safe enough, that we can never be certain enough, that we are not perfect enough and maybe the one we don't talk about that I think, perhaps, is the most dangerous, is that we are not extraordinary enough. In this world, somehow, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life and so often, we are missing what is truly important because we are on the quest for what is extraordinary."

She believes that our culture of scarcity causes us to lose our vulnerability. You brace yourself for the worst - automatically, subconsciously - so that you won't be disappointed when things don't go your way.

What's most interesting - to me - about her theory is that when you brace yourself for the bad and don't allow yourself to feel "dark emotions" like disappointment, rejection or sadness, you numb the joy because you can't selectively numb emotion.

She goes on to say that research has been done and concluded that for people battling addictions, an intensely joyous event can trigger a relapse in addictive behavior just as quickly as an intensely negative event.

Luckily, for me, this probably means that when something awesome happens, I want a huge piece of cake. . . but imagine what her theories might mean for others.

"If vulnerability is a sharp edge, maybe nothing is sharper than joy."


Since I've become a parent - which is an exercise in vulnerability from your first OB appointment..HELLO - I've definitely been guilty of mentally preparing for the worst. . . and I think I'm done with it, at least consciously, because..

Life is short, and for my whole short life, I want to do everything I can to feel the joy that Harper feels when she chases bubbles or gets hugged by a new friend or jumps into a ball pit.

If you've made it this far, I totally didn't do her justice. Unhand your red Swingline staplers and TPS reports, because it's totally worth a few minutes of work time:

The Price of Vulnerability