Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm surviving summer

Today is July 1 and not quite at the halfway point of the summer but I think I'm going to survive it, maybe I shouldn't say that yet. Riley does not begin 1st grade until August 20 and Mallory's preschool does not begin until after Labor Day, yes Labor Day. The idea of having the children all to myself all summer in the past, well, it scared me tremendously. Now, it just gives me pause, and the stamina to begin planning camps, activities, and summer Mother's Day Out (God Bless summer MDO). Yes, I'm a stay at home mom and that's my job, but have you ever stayed with young children around the clock, day in and day out with a husband (God Bless him) who works all the time. (You know people die if he doesn't show up when the beeper goes off) My charges just whine and cry and think they are going to die, if the goldfish aren't in the bowl fast enough.

I really don't want to say that I'm surviving, out loud, because it may curse it. I think I'm just excited because the family vacation is right around the corner. I will not be alone with my charges for an entire week and by the end, my husband is ALWAYS ready to go back to work and there is a certain sense of validation for me. See this is hard. Cutting people open and keeping them alive, piece of cake!

Vacations are exciting, and exhausting. This one will not be different especially as we are going to pick up and move three times. At least at Disney, we stayed parked in one hotel room the entire time. We all wish for a beach trip, I think the girls are now prime ages to really enjoy that but we are headed to Chicago and then Wisconsin for a family wedding. Chicago is going to be fabulous as there is an American Doll Store, a fantasy land for my eldest daughter, and the reason why she has done chores and behaved reasonably so far this summer. She has seen THE website and seen what she can save her money for while Mom and Dad are buying the doll and paying for lunch.

Now the little one, not so much. She is three, and exerting her independance and also her crankiness when I least expect it especially in the middle of the Bluebonnet library, at least three times now. We didn't do camps when my older daughter was this age, so with each new activity, swim lessons, yoga week, and now cheerleader camp, Mallory announces the week before she does not want to do said activity at all . Do I pay for the said lesson? Will this pass? I will not drag her to swim lessons and create fear as I did Riley at 3 and a half. But so far, she ends up loving whatever it is I'm dragging her to.

I digress. It's July. I'm still standing! I might make it through.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tap Dancing, Slowly

I am letting go. This entry will not be witty, or eloquent. It will just be. This blog is for me and it doesn't have to be perfect. I have had a lot on my mind and wanted to write about it but I can't really be brutally honest and put it out in the blogosphere. But I can tap dance around it.

I am coming to grips with who I am and how I came to be because I am an information seeker and have had a fair amount of personal turmoil in the last couple of years. I'm fascinated by what makes people tick and who is more fascinating than myself??? I have had therapy and continue to do so and have learned many things and keep learning. I have been very critical of myself for as long as I can remember. And now I am in the acceptance zone. A few months ago I wrote about this very thing of accepting myself for who I am. Back then, it was just a notion, a game plan. Notions are easy to flippantly write about but actually doing the work is a SLOW reality. And this slow is really sloooooow, but it is forward motion and that is progress.

One of the hurdles is the acceptance of my body, the body that is up a few sizes and has curves where I would rather not have curves, and I'm okay with some curves. And in our society where at least in the media, gaining weight can garner national attention of a negative manner and losing weight is an endless obsesssion. The exercise I was given by an expert, is to stand in front of the mirror and say "I love my body." Okay, I'm speechless about this exercise but I've got to try it. I have lots of thoughts about this but none of them going in the right direction. I guess the place to start is with what I like. There are many things I like about my body and then move on slowly to those I don't like so much. A habit takes 21 days.

And moving on from the body issues. I am accepting my personality for what it is, those pesky self esteem issues. Yuck. But that is coming along as well. Upon Michael Jackson's demise, someone in the media commented that you spend your whole life trying to get what you didn't get in childhood. This is true and profoundly so for me right now. For Michael (from what I hear and read), it was his not having a childhood and his dad sounded like a real piece of work. For me, it was acceptance as a child. So now the journey is to accept my childhood & adolescence for what it was and move on. As an adult, I have to do it for myself, and it is slow. I have to let go of worrying about what other people think, even those who played a large role in my life growing up. But this is going forward as well, slooowly but forward.

To end, one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs, written by Glen Ballard & Siedah Garrett:

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
Without Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere To Go
That's Why Now I Want You To Know

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na, Na Nah)



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Learning in their own time

We are having a couple of firsts this summer. At six and a half, Riley has learned how to swim. I took her to lessons three years ago, and as the first child, I thought she would learn that summer...ha ha ha. Three weeks ago, she was so scared to jump in, she fretted, fooled with her goggles, and the anxious agitation was palpable to me. And then she did it. She jumped.

She is also an "emergent reader." Two of life's basic skills, she is mastering slowly with practice. I'm so proud and she is so excited. It is so wonderful to watch her bloom in her own time. Not mine.

Mallory is exerting her independence as a three year old. I'm proud of this as well(!). It may be frustrating on a daily basis but a necessary step. She is growing up as well. She is doing great at swim lessons although she is not signed up for them. She was signed up for them two weeks ago and she made it 6 out of the 10 days and then got tired of the instructor telling her what to do and didn't want her face in the water so she quit and I allowed it. Riley was doing so well and was so ready for this, we added another week but she was the only student for that time block so the instructor told Mallory to bring her swimsuit and just sit at the edge to cool off.

This is what happened yesterday. Mallory swam. Okay, here comes the sap. These beautiful beings that George and I brought to life, just surprise me in unexpected ways and make my heart so full. I know there are many more surprises down the road, good and bad, more independence that will test me to the very core I'm sure, as they get older. Yet I am thrilled to be able to experience all of it, and the degree of difficulty makes the good times feel even greater. This is a fantastic journey, this thing called parenthood.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

They are just not that into me

I need a new cleaning lady. The last one gave notice last week as she is moving to another state. I watched the movie, "He's just not that into you" over the weekend and I really liked it. It was really well acted for what it was and it made me think back to my dating days. And why, was I so stupid to wait around for guys to call but that's another story. This IS related to my need for a new cleaning lady. This is the point, why when you finally are on the phone with the person that you desperately need to talk to does your three year old absolutely positively screams about the NEED for you to sew Princess Jasmine's necklace back together that second?

Back to the movie, I called a couple of house cleaners that I got numbers for and I've been waiting for them to call back and I could not help but think that I'm experiencing the movie. They just must not be in to me, right, but herein lies the problem, they are not calling back but I've never met them so how can they not be in to me?

I did meet up with one, and was completely and utterly shocked at how much she wanted me to pay them, and then I had to digest it, talk to their references which were very good and accept, that this just might be what I have to fork over. And there are not that many good house cleaners that are dependable, trustworthy and do a good job. (And more importantly these other ladies aren't calling back!) So I call back three times and leave three messages and the last message I sort of begged, "let's just give it a try!"

Finally, she calls back on my cell while Mallory is falling apart about the necklace and I can't hear a thing the lady is saying. The lady just keeps talking and how she thinks that I can hear what she is saying with the noise in the background, I don't know? I ask her if I can call back on my home phone. So I get Mallory squared away, with a little threatening on top, and I dial the lady's number and it goes directly to voice mail. Aaarrrggghhhh! I leave another message! but think again and call right back and this time she answers and what she says is, "I did get your messages, can I call you back again this afternoon when I'm finished with work" Smaller Aarrgghh! (Right when I will have both of my children in my car getting them dressed after swim lessons and I won't be able to hear her again)

So I'm in limbo, waiting for the phone to ring, but that is okay, if she really wants to be with me, she will get in touch with me and I have to believe that if it doesn't work out, there are other fish out there in the sea for me and I will meet the right one.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nightmare in Muscle Works 2008

Last year, I attended a muscle works class at the Y. It was a horrible, horrible experience, so horrible I can still recount it all these months later but yet haven't mailed the letter of complaint that I wrote after I regained full use of my mind and body days later. Years ago, I took that same class on a regular basis with a different teacher and a nice group of friends. It was a pleasant experience. The workout was hard but it was manageable. Shoot back to the near present and my stab at Muscle Works 2008.

How and why did I decide to go to muscle works? I ran into another mom heading there and she issued an invitation. I was looking to do something different with my exercise routine anyway, looking for some interaction with other adults while I worked out. Okay, I'll give it a try. Big mistake. These are the things I learned from attending the class:

1-I'm forty now. I was in my early thirties when I did the class on a regular basis. Those years evidently make a difference. I thought I was in reasonable shape. I had completed a mini-triathalon a few months earlier yet I realized the skills of swimming, biking and walk/jogging do not translate to a muscles works class. Each sport/activity uses it's own set of muscles and you can expect soreness whenever you try something new. And even within the same class.

2-The teacher happened to be a mean person. After I joked out loud about taking a break, she noted that I could take a break at 10:30 when the class was over. Alrighty, I have now determined you are a bit**. (And let me tell you it is a rare occasion when I use that word, I don't like the word one bit) She referred to me as the one in the pink shirt, and towards the end, she joked about the likelihood of any of the new people coming back. I spoke up again (!) and said I would probably not and she didn't understand this and said I wasn't optimistic. I said I was optimistic about a lot of things in my life but THIS class was not one of those things. As we lunged the entire parking lot about four times, the invitee said that usually there was a group of ladies who would just walk around the lot instead of lunging. They weren't there that day. My friend who invited me said the teacher was from the north and that was just her personality. I am married to a Yankee, I lived in the north for a couple of years, and this was more than just a north/south personality difference.

3-There were no modifications for a beginner to the class. I now know that I have to make my own modifications. There is something in me and a lot of people, who will just do the whole class at the level of all of the other participants because that is what you are supposed to do, because of our Western competitiveness and then never set foot in the class again because it was too much. I had an informative conversation with an exercise physiologist friend of mine who lives in another state and works in a fitness center and she said the problem is widespread. Persons who are new to exercise, walk in classes and those classes are taught at the level of the instructor and the people who have been attending for months or years. There are no modifications offered and then the newbies never come back.

After the class, for several hours, I felt like throwing up and very weak. My muscles rebelled for an ENTIRE week and it hurt whenever I moved anywhere. I swore I would never do another class. The next week, another friend invited me to a Pilates mat class and I went(!) The experience wasn't as bad, I knew to take breaks and not say anything out loud. The instructor wasn't mean, she wasn't very encouraging either, but in the end she did say in a nice manner, that she hoped I came back. I have since found yoga. I had an aha moment while waiting for a yoga class out in the lobby area where the front desk is. The receptionist commented about how quiet we were while waiting as compared to some of the other classes. I realized while looking around at the waiting participants, that generally speaking everyone was grounded, calm and reflective. This seemed to be an obvious contrast to other classes. When you go in there is no competition, it is within yourself, and that just seems to be the nature of yoga practice and it fits me right now.

In the end, I'm glad I wasn't a beginner and did not walk away from exercise classes all together. I'm glad I kept pursuing it until I found the right fit. I still see the mean teacher as the pilates class I take is right after her muscle works class. But even as she is preening and not paying any attention to those around her, I am thankful to her because I learned a lot from that class and not just that I will never go back. It really wasn't a big mistake, it was a good learning tool to help me find MY fit.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Does Oprah make you sick?

On the most recent Newsweek cover was none other than Miss Oprah and the title was "Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures and You" and on the inside is an article stating that if you follow Oprah's advice it might make you sick. I had read the article online and was quite intrigued by it. The authors are very critical of Oprah and her pseudo experts that she has had on lately.

I have written before about Oprah and I have said I generally always get something out of her shows (find a nugget of information or wisdom). I'm not a cult follower though I do DVR the show and watch most of them. I do believe that she has a calling to help people but she's not perfect. I don't read all of her books, or buy her favorite things. I just have found that generally there are things one could learn from the show that other shows just don't touch. (And my personality is one of information seeking, and Oprah does disseminate some information...) Yet this doesn't include her celebrity shows - they are generally just fluff, yet I do realize there are a lot of hours of showtime to fill!

Some of her shows have been profound for me and have made me not feel alone, such as the ones on motherhood, either talking seriously about how hard it is and the very real dark side of it or the funny ones about mom secrets that you don't want other people to know you do. Or when Brooke Shields came out with her book, "Down Came the Rain" about Postpartum Depression which took away some of the shame that one feels about experiencing PPD as I did. Or the time a few years back when a mom, whose son was in the car, while a carjacking was occuring. The mom had tried to get him out as the person was stealing the car. She watched her son die a horrible death and I will never forget that episode. The lesson I learned was never leave your child or children in the car alone and even also if something horrible happens to you, life can go on. Another episode was about a mother who knew she was dying and recorded videos for her young children to watch at specific milestones to give them the advice she would have wanted to. What foresight and it made me think, I'm still here and I need to work harder at sharing with my children what I want to impart to them.

She has everyday people on who experience extraordinary life experiences and how they get through, rise above. Most of the time, I feel she gets it right but not always. The question that was raised by some of the "Crazy Talk" article readers who commented online was what is Newsweek's connection to pharmaceutical companies that would benefit from slamming Suzanne Sommers and now Oprah who has embraced and is taking bioidentical hormones? I don't know the answer but money and politics are never far behind some people's motives. And people love to go after Oprah and try to take her down a notch.

When I read the article it just reminded me of feeling dismayed by Oprah and some of the guests on her shows. Such as when Suzanne Somers was on the stage sitting next to Oprah touting her bioidentical hormones with the medical experts sitting down below in the front row. Oprah just cut the M.D. off short as she was explaning a complicated medical fact about the dangers of giving one hormone unopposed and Oprah didn't want to hear any of it. I did.
One recent show was Kirstie Alley revealing she had gained weight and all she did was flip her hair and crack jokes about it and say she was going to lose weight, but with the help of a "supplement" that she was developing and then going to make money on??? What was the point? How about learning what is behind the addiction to food?

I think she really does want people to live their best life, but I also think she is caught up in her own celebrity and with celebrities at times. I was disgusted that she interviewed Tom Cruise for two solid hours many months back. (Did I tell you how much I like him now??!!!) The interview was huge for him to improve his badly tarnished public image, but he is a powerful celebrity and Oprah needs the celebrities to do her show. They are juggernauts of ratings and that is how the entertainment business works.

These and other recent shows, I had fleeting thoughts and gut reactions that I had not brought to the forefront of my mind until I read the article. Okay, it is just Oprah and does it really matter, but in the bigger picture of my life, I am learning to listen to my gut, more and more. I can't go wrong with my gut, I'm learning to trust it. I'm letting go of worrying about what others think more and more and it is freeing. So thank you Newsweek, thank you Oprah. I can read and watch, and pick and choose what I want to believe and listen to my gut more and more. If I learn something along the way, great, and if not I can turn off the show or find my own experts.

Monday, June 8, 2009

No yoga for Mallory & Who doesn't love an A/C repairman?

George and the girls camped out Saturday night in our backyard but it wasn't without incident. They invited me to also sleep in the tent and I said no but promise that I will camp out with them one day and that is true. During this stage of our lives, I need my downtime when they go to bed. This is the story of how the camping experience played out which is related to why Mallory doesn't want to go to yoga and I love the A/C repairman.

Saturday morning, George, Riley and Mallory found a 7 person tent at the mark down aisle at Walmart. This must have sparked the camping out idea. They had tried it once before months ago when it was cold outside but the scary noises got to them and they ended up sleeping in the living room on their blowup mattresses. And now it is Saturday night about 7:30pm and we realize the house air conditioner isn't blowing cold air anymore. It is 80 degrees in the house and it seems to be getting hotter.

Now Mallory is three and a half (don't forget to say half or you will hear about it) and really needs to go to bed at 7 (if she has been really cranky) or 7:30pm. She no longer naps on any kind of a regular basis, even though she may need it, and she fights it tooth and nail so the cure that I have found is to put her to bed earlier. And since I am with her 24/7 and deal with the tantrums and crankiness when she is tired, it is I who am adamant that she go to bed at her designated bedtime.

It is now around 8:15pm and the decision is made for George to go out and purchase a room air conditioner unit as it will be until the morning when the A/C repairman can come (and we need a unit for our hurricane preparedness anyway.) It is not pleasant to be in a house in South Louisiana in June (or about 8 other months of the year) without A/C. I am now hot, bothered, and waiting for George to come home and put the A/C in my bedroom. My job is to get the girls ready for bedtime in the tent. And they are bouncing off the walls with excitement. Our energies are not matching at all.

It is now 9pm, and George is home and working on installing the A/C and it doesn't work. For some reason the fan portion of it doesn't blow, but I am about to blow. I try to not lose my cool because the girls have been so excited about this since the morning time and had talked about it all day. They had made smores outside using a portable grill. They had glow sticks and were bouncing up and down on the mattresses while I was trying to read their stories. It is way past Mallory's bedtime and way past the time when Momma needs her downtime after I have put the children to bed. Whose idea was it to camp outside? Not mine.

George gives up on the non-working A/C and comes outside and I can finally go inside to my hot house and Ga Ga (my mother in law) and I each have a fan blowing directly on us in addition to the ceiling fan to make it through the night. I toss and turn all night but the girls have made it outside all night this time!! George stays at home to meet the A/C repairman, and the rest of us go to church. It is now 11am, and we are leaving church, and I realize that Mallory is super duper cranky and repeating over and over that she wants McDonald's and not to go eat out at a restaurant as we had planned. She also states that she is "not going to yoga." I want to be amused by this but it is beginning to get on my last nerve as we are trying to walk out of the church and she is whining, crying very loudly and anybody who is coming to the late service can hear us. I have signed us up for parent/child yoga this week and have talked it up now for about two weeks. And in her crankiness and sleep deprivation, she repeats her mantra over and over, "And I'm not going to yoga."

In the end, I make the executive decision to drive around until
Mallory falls asleep because I cannot live with this child in her current state or mine. George is sitting at the restaurant waiting for us, and Riley is about to blow because I keep driving past the route that she knows will take us home. After three phone calls, George finally deciphers what I'm quetly trying to tell him, and he does pick up lunch and meets us at home. Mallory does fall asleep (Yes!!!) and I feel the cool air of our newly fixed air conditioner as I carry her to her bed and she takes a well needed two hour nap.

I now have to remind Mallory that we have yoga later this morning??!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Breastfeed until Menopause??

I will be forty one years of age in August, and I will say it out loud and proud. My mother has never been ashamed of her age or her grey hair which she has never colored. Yet I will draw the line at the hair. I will not let my hair go grey, but I am a dirty "blonde" and the highlights tend to cover what has begun springing up anyway. So I have no real problem with aging, except for one little tensy thing. When the heck is my face going to stop breaking out???

This is not a pretty topic and I stopped using the word zit back in my twenties, a long time ago because I thought it was an ugly word. I began referring to them as blemishes or spots which to me sounds less ugly but the reality is still not a pretty one. And anyone who is my age and still has this problem knows what I'm talking about. You get older, way past the teenage years and one thinks, it is supposed to stop happening but the dermatologist will tell you the truth, acne is not just for teenagers.

I know when I have a breakout, it seems to be cycle related. And these days, I happen to be having some form of PMS while this breakout occurs. It is a lethal combination if there ever was one. Sometimes, I am late leaving the house because I don't want to deal with putting makeup on my face and trying to cover up those "spots." I do know they are hormonally related, because when I was pregnant and for the year afterwards while I was breastfeeding and had no periods, I had not one breakout. I didn't realize how freaking good I had it. No periods, no breakouts, no mood swings (the around the clock breastfeeding every 2-3 hours for 6 months, oh yeah that was also easy!!!) So therefore, I must deduce that this will stop when I'm in menopause? Everything will dry up then? I guess, then for me, that is something I will look forward to about the big M. one has to dream!!

Or I could get pregnant again (because it was so easy the first time!) and breastfeed until I'm in menopause. Vasectomies can be reversed right???