Sunday, February 28, 2010

You're Beautiful, It's True...

Recently, each time we pass someone; neighbors, burly maintenance men, teen-aged girls going home from the bus, H has one phrase for them. 'You're Beautiful!' The reaction has been fairly universal; the recipient of the compliment smiles and says thank you. That should be a source of pride for me, right?

So, why, after the second or third week of this have I started telling H, 'You know, you don't have to say that to everyone.' Perhaps it's because he's said it to the same neighbor about 400 times now. Or that sometimes, there's a look of confusion before the comprehension of what he said clicks in, or just that I don't want to have the weird kid who gushes compliments to strangers...

When I broached the subject with him, saying that maybe he doesn't have to say that every time we pass someone, he countered with; 'But everyone always says thank you.' You're right, they do. And, maybe, it's the only time somebody will have someone else say that to them, and maybe he really is able to see the beauty in everyone.

What is wrong with me that after four years of drilling into his head to use kind words, I'm suddenly trying to add caveats to the rules? I have to tell you, the first couple times it was sweet, but now it just feels awkward.

Yet another parenting moment when you just have to get over the way you feel about something, because in the end, he really is just saying something nice. Isn't that what I've been asking him to do all along?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Pound of Flesh

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I've been talking a lot of blah-blah-blah about getting fit for how long now? Yep, way too long. As I thoroughly examined my saggy mid-section in the mirror apres shower one day not so long ago and played the 'lets-see-how-things-look-if-I-do-a-gentle-lift-and-tug' game I had the realization that I'm way too young to enter frumpville.

I used to have just the little rounded pooch at the base of your abdomen. I used to have really nice legs. I've never been thin, but in high-school and the first parts of college, I was really strong. I had visibly present musculature in my arms and legs, and any bulk I had was just seen as being athletic, which is so much more fun than being see as, well, obese (according to the medical definition).

I'm an active person, I'm social, I get out and do things, but that does not a fit person make. So, I decided to stop talking about an event in the future as yet undesignated that I would complete at some point, and actually do it.

I signed up for a 5k in April and a 9k in May, then posted my 8week 10k training plan on facebook so that everyone would know what I was doing. Once you announce your goals it's a lot harder to back away from them, right?

From there my sister-in-law told me about a half-marathon in July; Fueled by Fine Wine in Dundee, OR wherein runners traipse through beautiful vineyards and are rewarded with a logo'd wineglass and some vino. I could get excited about that! So, I signed up for it. Then as I was logging my first couple workouts on I noticed that one of my 'friends' was doing a half-marathon training workout, so I asked her what it was.

Lo and behold, there is a network on Facebook for half-marathon training, so she suggested I sign up. Oh, but it's so much more than that; turns out there's a half-marathon in Worcester in June, for which a personal trainer has created a training group with training runs, nutrition information, muscle conditioning and general support. And, did I mention that since I'm already a member of the Y, it's free?! Yes, free. His goal is to motivate a whole group of people to successfully cover the distance, no longer how long it takes them, and to do it in such a way that they've trained properly, will have fun, and be injury-free. As my friends say; complete, not compete.

I'm already amazed at the difference in my endurance. After only one week, my 'Ugh, have I hit five minutes yet?' point came and I looked and I'd been running for almost 20...I use the term 'running' very loosely, as it's technically 'jogging' according to Mr. Treadmill.

In hopes of trying to keep this simple, I'm not adding any new dietary restrictions, other than the fact that whenever I'm exercising, I generally choose better food anyhow. I've already lost four only fifty-six to go.

My family planning is dependant on this weight-loss, because I do not want to get pregnant again until all the weight is gone. I'm setting my sights on Spring of 2011; one short year from now, to complete Operation Fatty Freedom, and I have high hopes that by not doing a crash diet, embracing consistent fitness (read: going to the gym, and not relying on 'chasing my kids) and an active life, and just accepting that this is going to be really hard, I'll be successful.

So, now I have all of you to hold me accountable as well. I am physically signed-up for four runs; one each month starting in April, with the distance increasing each time. I've never run a half-marathon before, so it will absolutely be a challenge, but I'm just plain tired of being fat.

After however many years of finding pleasant euphamisms for my current shape, I'm just gonna own it, and be done with it. I'm a fatty. Does that make me any less fun, or smart or vivacious? No. But, it does make me less healthy. And, I really want to finally be able to pull together all those outfits that are dancing through my head, feel the fabric slide over my head and onto my body, turn around, glance in the mirror, and smile at what's reflected back.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Crimson Rooms

Today I posted my review of the new period novel The Crimson Rooms for MotherTalk over at Knitty Reviews.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Is a Very, Very, Very Fine House

I know that I've talked about the house we're building, but have I shown you yet? I'm so fortunate to have a realtor that's willing to attempt to achieve the stalker status with which I'd surely be rewarded were I to live in the same town as that in which my house is being built.

I'm flying out to make the choices for flooring, counters, light fixtures and all the fixin's and it's made me really step back and realize where my priorities lie. I will have an eating area that's carpet free. But, does it have to be tile or can it be something else? I've kept my eyes open to alternatives to the flooring choice of my dreams ever since realizing that granite did not have to be my immediate counter top of choice, and deciding to get laminate with a glossy finish and nice edge.

Lo and behold, a couple of the recent kitchens I've really liked have had either laminate hardwood or laminate tile. I've found a couple of laminate tile options that I really like, and with little kids and a future canine friend, it may be just what the doctor ordered. Oh yeah, and did I mention a limited upgrade budget?

I do want hardwoods throughout the rest of the main living area, so think the laminate tile may be a great concession that will let me get high-quality wood in the living room, den, and possibly our bedroom. So many choices to make, but I've surprised myself by not becoming to emotionally attached to any one option, and looking at a lot of alternatives. I've been dreaming about owning a home for so long; watching HGTV and DIY with abandon, collecting tips and making lists. You can bet there are a number of projects that I won't be asking the contractor to do, because I'm confident I can take a class at Home Depot and do it myself for a lot less...Hello, tiled back splash, how are you today?

I've also been reading The Not So Big House, by Sarah Susanka, which is amazing and talks a lot about making the most use of the spaces you have. If you're designing a house, this is the book to read because she talks all about having every inch of your house be livable space, since so many houses today are built to be show-houses. We're not in the price bracket for rooms that we won't use, so instead, I'm embracing the 'small' (such a relative term since my family of six grew up in a 900 sq. ft. house).

The top priority thus far has been to have a back-yard that is ready to simply pull up and unleash the beasts. I will sacrifice granite and tile if it means I have underground sprinklers, sod and a fence for my kids to enjoy a backyard that they (and I) have lived far too long without. H is already making a mental list of the hippo pool and slip 'n slide shenanigans that will ensue!

On top of the short list (which is actually not so short anymore) of furniture, appliances, outdoor accessories and other fun stuff to buy once we are homeowners, I've added a Schwinn cruiser and the coolest stroller/bike trailer+ contraption I've ever seen.

It seats two kids and converts from jogging stroller to bike and ski trailer. Of course it's super spendy, but I'll be on the lookout for a used one first. I am so ready for sidewalks, bike lanes and riding to the farmer's market with my kids!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Victoria's Secret Children's Department

On Valentine's Day, I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I fired up the old crackberry, there was an email from my friend Vicky, letting me know that my husband had sent me an eGiftcard. He also cryptically asked if we'd be going anywhere that day before he left for work.

I love getting gifts. Does that make me shallow? Maybe, but I really appreciate when someone takes the time to show me that they thought about me. It doesn't have to be anything expensive, I really do hold to the 'thought that counts' addage as long as it's something the person truly thought I'd enjoy.

I say all this because the main reason that he was so Johnny on the Spot was that a few months ago while we were dining with friends and I was a little tipsy, I accidentally-on-purpose brought up the hospital gift shop leftovers arrangement of carnations I'd gotten the previous year. Really, that's just as bad as stopping and getting the droopy crap from the grocery store on he way home because as you were at work and everyone talked about it, you realized what day it was.

J and I just have very different values that we place on gifts; call them 'love languages' or whatever you want, but we have always felt differently about it. I know that he was not intending to hurt my feelings, but tell that to my emotional self.

What he didn't/tried but couldn't understand was that this was not so much about him being thoughtless as it was about me feeling like an afterthought. Yes, he worked that entire day...but did he also work so much during the week leading up to it that he couldn't have entered his information in a website, get me a coffee card, or even make a card for me out of the billion pieces of construction paper we have at home? I would have been happy with any of these. Unfortunately, there's just no way to come out of that conversation without sounding like a total spoiled brat and ungrateful bitch.

He left for work after my glistening eyed, surprised thank you (I truly was not expecting anything) and I busted out the laptop and started perusing the mom-approved section of Victoria's Secret which, for me, was a pretty large selection of very pretty, comfortable-with-a-hint-of-the-sexual nighties. I didn't look at the selection of what's become my uniform of pants and tops, I'm not that bad, but to be realistic, when you have a 4 year old who still climbs into bed with you more nights than not at some point, you can't be wearing a dominatrix boustier with matching thong to bed. Well, you could, but a call to Children's Services may be in order. I understand that that above-described outfit is not actually worn for very long when it is utilized, but I'm making the most of my lingerie dollars, so mom-approved section it is.

H came out from his bedroom as I was flipping through some of the pictures and he instructed me that I could not wear this selection because it was 'way too long!'
Um, excuse me? Who are you?

You want to know what he did think would be 'so beautiful' on me?

Yep, that's right. I wasn't sure whether to be incredibly flattered or stunned that even a four year old would pick a ridiculously impractical piece of fly-away gauze. Um, sweetie, the belly and thighs aren't mommy's best features right now, but thank you for thinking I'd be pretty in that! Oh boy, I've got my work cut out for me.

In the end, I picked this one; much more Madonna, (as in Madonna/Whore complex; thank you Sex and the City) but as we enter the Season of Lent, also much more appropriate.

When J came home, H had stayed up to give J his Valentine...the decorating session which resulted in not a card but a sticker-bedazzled face, because 'these stickers are wicked cool, Mom!' After I thanked J for the flower arrangement that had been delivered to my door while he was at work, H presented me with a Lego creation that he then pronounced 'cost four and-a-half hundred of thousands of dollars!'

I quickly corrected him, saying that presents don't have to cost a lot, they just have to be thoughtful, and I loved the Lego fighter plane he built for me. I felt very smug in my 'life lessons taught' moment, until J smugly quipped from the corner 'Unless you think about flowers from a hospital gift shop, H. Don't ever do that, or you'll never hear the end of it.'

Okay, okay, mea culpa.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Knitting Olympics Day 1:

Last night I completed the first sleeve of the sweater. I wanted this to be an elbow-length sleeve as opposed to three-quarters so that it could be worn in spring and fall due to the cotton fiber.

If I can do a sleeve each day and start on the body by Monday , I think it will be no problem to get this done…after all, isn’t the Olympics all about hoping you have what it takes and believing in your abilities?!

sleeve 1 of radiant sweater

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Want to engage in the Olympic Challenge of knitting? The competition has technically already begun, but I think you'll be fine to start late, you're competing against yourself and the clock.

Find a project that would be challenging for you to finish in 17 days (well, 16 now) cast on and complete it by the time the flame goes out at closing ceremonies and you'll be eligible to win a fun prize, plus you'll get to add a gold medal button from The Yarn Harlot to your page!

This contest couldn't have come at a better time. I recently ordered, and received, the yarn for a project that I have specific time restraints on...pretty much the same timeline as the contest.

Ms. Pearl-McPhee has even given a great pledge in order that all will take this as seriously as need be...or not...

The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success....
but on my trying.

So cast on those stitches and join in the fun. You can click on the Yarn Harlot above to be taken directly to the link on her page with all the specifics. It must be a project that you think will be challenging for you to complete in the time allotted.

Here's mine:

The Radiant Sweater on LionBrand made with Cotton-ease for great drape and washability without losing it's shape. It's listed as a skill level of 'experienced' but it's knit in the round and there are no crazy cables...unlike my other sweater that I'm sure is destined to remain a really sweet dickie...because that's all I've completed of it.

Wish me luck, I'm going for the Gold!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some Assembly Required

Last night J and I were driving home from a nice dinner with friends, the kind where our children curled up in the hosts' bed while we chatted in front of the fire, when we heard from the backseat that muffled sound of liquidy loveliness that no parent wants to hear.

Yeah, for some reason, Charlie just barfed all over himself, then looked at us with a puzzled expression the rest of the ride home as I tried to reassure him through my own checked gag reflex that he would be alright. There didn't appear to be any real reason for the up-chuck, no fever or other sickness, it was just a one-time fluke. Try telling that to the uber-porous nylon straps of the car-seat.

When we got home, I completed the revolting task of disengaging him from the seat and thanked my lucky stars I'd packed a fluffy blanket in which I could swath him for the trip upstairs. Safely deposited in the bathtub, cleansed and rinsed, he chitty-chatted in the fresh, warm bath-water playing with his toys, bright-eyed as can be.

Meanwhile J was wrasslin' with the carseat in the kitchen, balancing it on the edge of the sink trying to use the spray nozzle to clean it out. He sure gave it the old college try and we made apologetic looks at one another as we performed the herculean feat of disassembling the seat without getting debris all over the kitchen. Thank goodness for washable covers, that's all I'm saying. I sprayed Clorox Anywhere everywhere on the seat that wasn't already in the washing machine but alas, this morning there was still the pungent reminder on the straps. There must be a solution for this out there, but I've yet to find it.

Seat re-installed in the car, and the false hope in my head that the smell would dissipate, I sprayed the straps with a citrus disinfectant/deodorizer, and we were off to a Valentine party. At that point, I heard my dad's voice in my head telling us 'The only thing air freshener does is make it smell like you pooped in a pine forest.' Light a match, open a window, air it out. But in February in New England, what's a girl to do?

Later that day when it became clear that the stink was here to stay, I seized the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade at Babies R Us, where they're currently running a promotion for you to turn in your old baby gear (strollers, carseats, basinets, etc) and you get 25% off the price of the replacement. I had been planning to get a new seat for Charlie in the next 3-4 months anyhow as he's almost at the weight limit of his front/rear-facing convertible (which was handed down from H), so it was all in good time.

I really like the Graco Nautlilus 3-in-1 that we bought for H, but he recently graduated to using it as a high-backed booster sans harness so I got the genius idea that I would re-install the harnesses, pass that seat to Charlie and just buy H the Graco TurboBooster; problem solved, money saved (about half the price of the 3-in-1), voila!

Oh, did I mention I didn't go to the store until after Charlie's nap ended and I'd delivered dinner to a friend, placing us in the parking lot post-purchase at 5:45pm? Or that turning in a car seat means you have to assemble and install the new ones before you can be on your merry way? Or that I realized mid-install that I forgot how I got the harness out a month ago, hence wasn't at all sure I could get it back in?

One would think a person would run several scenarios through their head and plan such a trip accordingly, giving thought to the ways in which you could combat some of the bumps in the road. Like, that maybe you should wear a jacket. Or that during the period of installation you'd have a rowdy toddler strapped in the cart next to the car in the dark, wind and cold, along with an unruly 4 and-a-half year-old (the and-a-half is crucial these days) bouncing in the interior space of the car. All while you force your cold fingers to manipulate and 'Click!' (yes, the directions really say "Insert the armrest into the base until you hear a Click indicating it's securely inserted; 'Click!'") the pieces of the car seat into their proper position without pinching your skin, losing your temper, yelling at your children or threatening to spank them in a public space. Because nothing makes you feel better, or more trailer-fabulous, about the behavior you model for your children than a good old-fashioned temper tantrum.

Take a breath, you are smart, you are strong, you will make this work. Just. Push. A little. Harder! Ahh, it finally 'clicked'. Well, after 30 minutes which isn't bad for two seat protectors and two the dark. Best of all, my big four and-a-half year-old is mighty proud of his new 'cozy' (thanks to 'GracoPedic' foam padding) seat; and that just makes it worth all the fuss.