Archive for February, 2010
Last week, I told BF that I felt like we were parenting triplets. I was referring to Happy’s frenetic energy level. We GO, GO, GO always. Anyway, BF looked at me and said, “Why? Because of his multiple personas. There’s the sweet, happy boy, the naughty, test you boy, and the super energetic boy.”
Also last week, Happy and I went on a playdate with two little boys who are about a year old than he is. When we were leaving the house to go, he took a tumble down the two little steps that lead out our door. His nose came out pretty banged up as were his feelings because he LOVES stairs. We recovered (both of us) and went on to play. Well, wouldn’t you know that instead of ignoring the staircase in the house where we were playing or being scared of the steps because of his tumble, Happy couldn’t get enough of them. Finally, after climb 49,000, I recovered him to bring him back to the living room to play with the other little boys. He was livid and dashed back to the stairs. We did this a couple more times. I’d retrieve him, he’d holler and buck and run right back. Finally, I grabbed a snack to redirect his energies and retrieved him from the stairs. He relented but was so mad at me, he wouldn’t let me open the snack for him. He yanked it away from me and tried desperately to open it himself. When I leaned in to intervene, he ran to one of the other moms, signing for her to help him. I nodded that she could and then, food in hand, he went and sat far from me and eyed me as he ate every bite. I neared him to get a couple bites for the other boys to have. Happy backed away from me, giving me the stink eye the whole time. He was having no part of me. Can you imagine what will happen when he turns 13?
So how are things going in my pursuit of wellness? Mostly well, I reckon. At the beginning of January, I renewed my membership to the YMCA and have been taking Happy Candelas there with me every Monday through Thursday morning. He goes and plays with other toddlers, and I run, ellipse (would that be the verb for what one does on an elliptical trainer?), crunch, and contort (that is certainly the verb for what one does in yoga class). I am not making it to nearly as many classes as I’d like as the schedule doesn’t work great for Happy and me, but, at least, I am moving again and Happy has more buddies to play with which makes him even happier. Oh, and there are stairs at the Y. That puts Happy in a whole ‘nother dimension of Happy. And then Furious when I take him away from them. It is so embarrassing to leave a public building with your child kicking and screaming. Doubt me? I have an almost 18 month old to loan you for the experiment.
In the category of personal victories, here are 4.
1. I am managing my time well enough at the Y that some days I can even get in a shower while there (and, believe me, showering and dressing has been a vexing problem for me since I became a stay at home mom yet still working full-time on three different careers mom). This is not without its mishaps- recently, I forgot an essential garment at home- but there are fewer and fewer of those moments and more and more moments of me running around town looking like I am clean (with all my garments in place).
2. I am running again. I used to be a frequent runner and then a misdiagnosed but chronic and awfully painful hip injury sidelined me in August 2008. Since I sideline myself every winter (really, I just don’t like running enough to be in pain from it AND cold), I sat out winter 2008 and then Happy came and I couldn’t bring myself to wake up before he did to get my runs in. Now, I have a YMCA treadmill and childcare and a race that I have signed up for motivating me. Granted, I am only running in 5 minute spurts (followed by 2 minute walks) and those are five slow, painful minutes, but I am running. I so want to be one of those women who loves running and organizes her life while she runs, but I started running about 10 years ago, and I am fairly certain that I’ll never be that girl.
3. Saying no. I tend to say yes if there is no blatant scheduling reason for saying no. IE: I don’t take into account if I really WANT to do something. I say yes because that’s the kind thing to do. Except it is not at all kind to me, and I am swimming in enough madness as it is. So last week, I said no to three things that would have been big time commitments and really weren’t lighting my fire.
4. I went to the doctor for no reason other than to check in and have him draw blood to do all those tests you should have done every now and again. Why? Because I hadn’t seen him since Happy came home and figured that if I had high blood pressure or something, I’d never know and, as one who is responsible for someone else’s life, I figure that is the sort of thing I should know. Going to the doctor voluntarily and asking him to draw my blood is an especially big deal for me because I am a fainter. I will check out on you in a skinny minute if I am sick (because my blood pressure, as it turns out, is in no danger of being high. It is low, low, low and it further bottoms out when blood is taken) or if blood, vomit, or anything else untoward is involved. If I am healthy, I can power through unpleasantness with a good pep talk and averted eyes which is what I did this time.
In the category of areas where I am still failing, here is one:
1. 9 fruit and vegetable servings a day? Seriously? Even if that’s all I ate, I am not sure that I could get 9 servings in. Must figure out a way.
And a category I am working on…
1. While it might seem that cupcakes are my biggest vice. They aren’t. Coca-Cola is my biggest vice. And Happy has begun to notice the bright red can that I crack into for my mid-day pick-me-up. I ususally hold myself to just one can a day and it serves as my caffiene since I don’t drink coffee, but, still, I am going off the sauce at home because I don’t want my kid liking it as much as I do.
How are you doing with the pursuit of your goals, resolutions, projects, words for the year?
So, I had a guest column appear in the Style section of last week’s Charlotte Observer. It was editted down a bit so, in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I thought I’d share the whole text here. Feel free to check out the Observer version here.
Oh, Kate. Sit down, honey. Have a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Or a salad. Or something. Anything that will keep you quiet for a minute and let you focus on what I am going to say. Asked by Women’s Wear Daily what sayings she keeps in the forefront of her mind to help her achieve success, Kate Moss, the supermodel with many an extra career available for the list, shared this nugget, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
Cue the guttural sound that escaped my lips when I first read this ‘news.’
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is just the sort of mantra that women in leg warmers and side ponytails taped to their refrigerators in the 1980s. And it is just the kind of mantra that did no one any good. Something that pithy doesn’t remind you at your core who you are. It doesn’t inspire you to be your best self. It doesn’t bring you calm in the storm. It simply taunts you, makes you feel less than, wondering when and how and if you can ever reach the promised, undefined land of skinny. You can get here, it seems to tell us, as long as you taste nothing.
And we’ve had just about enough of that kind of message, don’t you think? Today, one out of every 100 women is anorexic. Eighty percent of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Seventy-four percent of all girls – yes, even elementary school girls- say they feel pressure to please everyone. And, yet, this insight: 65% of women say that if they could go back in time, they wouldn’t make themselves any skinnier. They would change the way they felt about themselves. And that is exactly the choice that we can make today.
Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, Moss might say. But isn’t life itself about tasting? Not just food or drink, but adventure and promise and hope and whimsy and joy. Isn’t taste really just a metaphor for experiencing, for doing, for feeling? Doesn’t taste go beyond just being to feeling?
And when we taste life, when we have adventures and experience hope, promise, whimsy, joy, and, yes, even pain, when we challenge ourselves, when we improve, when we face our fears, isn’t that really when we grow, when we become our best selves, when we shine? When we engage in something bigger than ourselves and our reflection, don’t we begin to change the way we think and feel about ourselves? And isn’t the promise of that shining moment the one that should be at the forefront of our mind as we set out to achieve the success of our imagining?
It’s a new year. People have made resolutions that they are in the throws of keeping or breaking. Maybe you resolved to have this be the year that your collarbone rivals Kate Moss’s in its angles, maybe with that thinness you think you’ll finally be happy. But, here’s the truth. Achieving happiness is not about standing in front of the bathroom mirror assessing your collarbone. It is about stepping away from the bathroom mirror and into a life that is so expansive and meaningful that you recognize that the length of your hair, the width of your nose, the curve of your calves are not that significant in the grander scheme of things. Changing your mind so you begin to understand that what matters is how you engage the world, not the way you look doing it, is one of the most important things you can do on your quest to personal and even professional success. Turn a deaf ear to advice that will only make you feel less than, and, instead, step into the life of your imagining. Nothing looks as good as confidence feels.
You only have to be you. We all need room to be who we are at every moment of our lives without excuses, apologies, or anything else. Know that you are being given grace (and if a person doesn’t give grace, they don’t really deserve to be in our lives), and give yourself and others that same grace, too.
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice…
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
From The Journey by Mary Oliver, published in the book, Dream Work
I am a woman who is suddenly aware that I can control my destiny by creating the day that I most wish to have.
For almost a year, it felt like we were on triage. I think that is just what new parenthood feels like (not to scare anyone away). Like as long as we didn’t break the baby, we were doing great. But now, the baby isn’t a baby anymore (even if I still insist on calling him one because he’s my baby) and, well, I can’t use the “I have a new infant at home” excuse for the rest of my life or his now, can I? So now, now I can get back to the living of life and not just the stop gap measure of is this mostly edible, yep, is this mostly wearable, yep, am I mostly presentable, yep, is this more or less readable, yep, and so forth. Because living, I like to think, isn’t just rooted in reaction. It’s rooted in choice and action and growth and embrace and excitement.
And so I am making notes and observations, realizing that there are some things I liked to do pre-baby that I no longer like to do when my time is measured out in seconds now rather than hours and there are things that I liked to do pre-baby that I would still like to do, except I haven’t worked them in.
In one of the journaling workshops last year, I had my attendees write a twenty five word (or less) descriptor of themselves that was not rooted in physical description. Who were they if they were not what they looked like? What were they about? And that sentence above is what I came up with… I am a woman who is suddenly aware that I can control my destiny by creating the day that I most wish to have. Except I wrote that at a time when our nights were so fraught with wakefulness that it felt impossible for me to do much that was inspired during my days. I was waiting to sleep again at night so I could make my day what I wanted it to be. Recently, we went through another months long spell of very little sleep (we were averaging about 3-4 hours per night because that’s what the little guy was averaging). Things are a bit better right now, but we’re not entirely out of the woods yet. I don’t know that we’ll ever entirely be out of the woods and my awareness of that possibility has actually made me return to that sentence I wrote so optimistically months ago.
In so many ways, we wait to live life, don’t we? We wait until our hair is long enough or we’re thin enough or we’ve learned enough or we’ve met the right life partner or until we sleep enough. And the thing is life doesn’t exist in a vaccuum of perfection. Nope, it exists everyday with our hair and weight just as they are, with a partner or without a partner, with sleep or without sleep. I cannot force my child to sleep more. I can’t will my hair longer in the next 24 hours (well, I guess I could with $1500 extensions). I can’t dramatically alter my body in just a day (or maybe at all). What I can do, instead, is LIVE the life I imagine as much as possible in the midst of the life that I have right now. Maybe I won’t be the most well-rested novelist in the life I have right now, but I could still write a novel if that is what I choose to begin doing with my days. Maybe I won’t be Frida Kahlo, but I can still paint. Maybe I won’t be the fastest runner, but I can still run. We wait. We put off so much. We talk our way out of our dreams. As spring approaches (and please tell me spring is approaching despite the snow I can see outside my window right now), I am no longer talking my way out of things. I am talking my way into things; I am finding my inspiration. What’s yours?
Every Friday in class, a student presents a “current event” in the world of body image. This past Friday, one of my students told the class about Operation Beautiful, a project whose mission is to end fat talk one anonymous post it a time. The idea is that people everywhere ambush public places with Post-It Notes that remind the reader that he/ she is beautiful already. People from around the world can participate by posting a note, taking a picture, and emailing it in. One group of girls wrote in that they were covering their high school with notes– a nice positive message at a time and place when girls don’t always feel beautiful. Lest you think that this project is just for the young, college students and adults are participating, too (imagine how great it would be to find a post-it declaring your beauty at the ATM). Want to get in on the action? Visit the web-site for details.
He did it again. I kid you friggin’ not. What is wrong with this man that I have been married to for a very long time that he forgets the one thing that drives me bonkers– dipping into my sugar stash without permission? I mean, seriously. It’s not like I don’t share. I do. The other day, I bought a chocolate truffle and a peppermint patty from the local chocolate store (yes, I live in a town with a chocolate shop. Love. Sweet Love). And I ate exactly half of each so that he could have half. I share. I am generous. But I do not like being stolen from. Especially not my sugar stash.
BF knows what I am talking about and I am going to spare you all the details of Sugar Feud 44.0 because, seriously, it is so predicatable now if you know the Sugar Feud’s Origin tale. So instead of boring you with Sugar Feud’s latest iteration, I am taking you to the source of the great sugar war as a Valentine’s Day toast. And what I want to know is… who is in the wrong? Because I told this story to one of BF”s best friends tonight and he thought that BF was NOT in the wrong with Sugar Feud 1.o. He did, however, think he was in the wrong in Sugar Feud 44.0. Seriously, is there any way that BF could possibly not be in the wrong in the below tale… here we go…
I love cake. Grocery store cake to be specific. Give me some Harris Teeter (Can I get a shout out for the Dirty South’s grocery store of choice?) vanilla cake with vanilla icing and you have a girl who doesn’t need any other sustenance.
Anyway, for Valentine’s Day 2007, BF’s aunt gave us two cupcakes. Grocery store cupcakes. With a lot of icing. I was so psyched about the cupcake that in the car, on the way home, I was talking about when I was going to eat my cupcake. Yes, I am simple. I know this, but I don’t ever get grocery store cake or cupcakes and so a little part of me was dancing inside from the impending sugar rush. BF looked at me nonchalantly and said, “You can have my cupcake.” “Are you kidding me,” I asked. “Because if you are, that is just cruel.” “I am not kidding you,” he answered. “I don’t need to be eating that.” He actually said that line with a hint of self-satisfaction, as if he were mature enough to rise above the cupcake trance that I was so clearly in. But I ignored him because I knew that I needed the cupcake– both cupcakes.
So I started planning, aloud, when I would eat each cupcake. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I exclaimed, as if he had given me something gold and shiny. But this was better than gold and shiny. Sugar is my gold and shiny. Back home, I dropped my cupcakes off in the kitchen and then retreated to my office to work on whatever deadline I had approaching, and BF went to bed. Finally at a good stopping place a couple hours later, I walked through the kitchen on the way to our bedroom. My eyes darted to the cupcakes that I had so lovingly wrapped in tin foil. Panic struck. Even through the tin foil, I could see that one of the cupcakes was missing. I opened up the foil. Just one cupcake looked back.
Mercury rose through my spine. I marched into the bedroom and noisily opened my dresser drawer, stomped my way into the bathroom, threw on every light, hummed my way through my bedtime routine until BF woke up with a jump. “What?” He asked, as he always does when he is aroused out of a deep sleep. I turned to him, put my hands on my hips, and said “I can’t believe you would do something so tacky as to eat my cupcake without asking.” ”It was my cupcake,” he tried to reason. “No it was not,” I said. “And that doesn’t matter because this is not about the cupcake.” “It is too about the cupcake,” he insisted. “It is not. This is about you offering me something and then regretting the offering and rather than coming to ask me if you could have it back like an adult, you just did what you wanted. That is no way to be in a partnership,” I sneered. ”You’re just mad that I ate MY cupcake.” “This is not about the cupcake,” I fumed and ranted and raved until we both just went to sleep.
In the morning, he looked at me when I hopped out of bed. “I am sorry that I ate your cupcake,” he offered. “It’s not about you eating the cupcake,” I tried again. “Don’t you get that?” ”Yeah, I do,” he answered before leaving for work. But I wondered all day if he really did get it. Sure, I love cake, and I love the anticipation of cake. But I also love sharing things I love with people that I love, and I would have been happy to give the cupcake back if he had just asked. That night, he walked into the house with a six pack of grocery store cupcakes. “What’s that?” I honed in, my cake-dar on high. ”A peace offering,” he answered. “Now, you have five cupcakes all to yourself.” I did a double take, clearly counting six cupcakes in the container. “But there are six cupcakes,” the greedy little cake hoarder in me said. “And one of them is mine,” he smiled before walking into the kitchen, opening the case, and savoring his cupcake.
The bad news… I still have not figured out the best way to do my own hair.
The good news… it only took us six months to figure out the best way to do Happy’s hair. At least a lifetime of trial and error with these curls…
has taught me how to know when something is working on (or not working on) these curls…
So, probably the most common question I am asked these days is how do we do Happy’s hair. Since we finally have a strategy that works well, I am happy to share it for anyone else looking for some hair solutions for their curly-doed little one. That said, hair texture, thirst, weight, etc vary so these solutions are not one size fits all. My sister and I have totally different curls and can’t style our hair the same way. A little trial and error testing goes a long way. The products we use are sold at the mall and so we tried the final product on Happy at the counter and then walked around a bit to see how it affected Happy’s hair over time before making a purchase. If that’s an option for you, try it. If not, buy small quantities until you have your formula/ approach worked out.
Step One: Shampoo and Condition. We don’t shampoo Happy’s hair every night. It gets a once a week scrub with Johnson and Johnson’s original shampoo (yep, the goldenrod yellow no tears stuff that our parents probably used on us. Happy has eczema and that’s the only shampoo his skin can tolerate). Every night, however, it gets conditioned with Carol’s Daughter’s Dream Big Conditioner. While it’s conditioning, we gently pick out the curls (which come down to Happy’s shoulders when wet).
Step Two: Hair Milk. Out of the bath, we saturate Happy’s hair with Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk. Love this stuff. Will try it on my own hair soon. Anyway, Happy goes to bed with his hair drenched in Hair Milk.
Step Three: Detangler. In the morning, there are some frizzies where Happy laid his head so we “start over” in those spots by spraying them with Carol’s Daughter Detangler.
Step Four: Hair Butter. Finally, we scoop up some Carol’s Daughter Hair Butter and put it on the spots that need some extra TLC. In an effort for full disclosure, this step is not my strength. I am all about the hair product and have WAY too heavy a hand with the butter. So BF handles the butter application as often as possible so that baby’s hair doesn’t dry looking like it has powdered sugar in it (we learned the hard way that the excess butter dries white and powdery).
So that is what we do for now. It could change as his hair gets longer and, who knows, we might even loc it one day but we love the curls and they so suit our boy’s personality.
The To Be Read Bookshelf in my closet (yes, my closet.) is two rows deep and begging for attention.
Here is what I have cracked open now:
Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Here is what I should have open:
The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp
The World Has Curves by Julia Savacool
Here is what I recently closed:
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Here is what I will soon open:
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Here is what I think I must buy soon:
Staying True by Jenny Sanford
Lift by Kelly Corrigan