Wednesday, August 31, 2011

playground parenting

I started out writing a crazy long post (okay, rant) about how other parents do not watch their children at the playground.  And the truth is that many times when I am at the playground with Lilly I see parents chatting to each other on benches, on their phones without ever looking up and, like yesterday, swinging while their baby was in a carriage near by.  The poor little one kept reaching her chubby hands up as mom swung near her.  I kid you not.

My real question though, is why are parents not watching their children?  The playground is a dangerous place!  I know I may seem a little over the top here, but I am a preschool teacher so I kind of know these things.  Children can wander away in the blink of an eye; so-called strangers who look like the guy with the lost puppy or the person helping the kid on the monkey bars can be not as benign as they seem; children can accidentally (or not) hurt other children; they can knock their teeth out on fireman poles (just ask my brother); they can fracture their legs going down slides...should I really go on?

I have seen parents at parks in Chatham, Maplewood, South Orange and Union do this.  It seems to be a universal thing that parents do not parent at the playground.  Now some of these parents may be looking at me as a hover mom, but I really do not think I am.  I keep an eye and stand near to make sure that Lilly is not doing something above her skill level.  If there is nobody her age there I play with her.  If there are children she wants to play with I help her introduce herself.  If a boy does not wait until she is even halfway down the slide before coming slamming into her, I help her tell him to please wait next time.  ( of many incidents from yesterday) And yes, if you are not doing your job and your child is causing other children to get hurt or pushing in front of the whole line of kids patiently waiting, I will say something.  The first time will be in my nice Mommy voice.  The next will be in my stern, take-no-crap teacher voice.  With a look.  And for goodness sake, or the sake of your child, be a parent at the playground!

p.s. about the slide link, that is about parents going down with their children, but it can also happen with other children doing a "train" down or just not waiting until the other kids are off.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Aftermath

We were very lucky and blessed to have escaped the brunt of Hurricane Irene.  We have a few branches down in the backyard and a little water in the basement.  It is really no more than in a big storm, even though the recorded rain for Newark airport (closest measure) was over 8 inches! 

Some of the towns right next to us did not fare as well.  The rivers were overflowing, some even before the hurricane hit.  Downtown Millburn was hit very hard, as were some neighborhoods in Maplewood, South Orange and Springfield.  Maplewood and Millburn are among many towns that are under a water boil advisory, or may even have no water.  They are saying that those without power or water may be without it for a week.  Considering that we are the first house in Union from Maplewood, I would say we are very lucky!

Here are some pictures on our local message board, Maplewoodonline.

All my storm preparations may have proved to be unnecessary, but I don't think that I went paranoid-overboard.  And seeing how the situation is merely the next town over from me, I think I was right on target.  I ended up falling asleep on Saturday night, maybe about 2am, while Vinnie stayed awake for some time after that.  Lilly slept through it all!  The key there was that we never lost power so her sound machine stayed on all night. 

Thank you for all the prayers and thoughts as we weathered this storm.  I ask for your continued prayers and thoughts for my neighbors and those in the shore communities as they recover from Hurricane Irene.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene, the biggest (only?) hurricane to hit our area in years is upon us.  My friends and family living south of me have tornado watches.  The whole hurricane area is in a tornado warning.  Our ground is already saturated with water.  I went outside about 8:30 for a quick moment and I came in with mud-covered toes and flip flops. 

I am not sure what to expect but I am trying to prepare for the worst.  Okay, maybe not the worst, but the medium scenario?  I have not packed clothes and food in a bag.  I did pack a basket with candles, flashlights and batteries and matches in a ziplock baggie.  I did start putting all our daily meds in a backpack.  I have a tub of water and I filled any and all water bottles and sippy cups with tap water and loaded the fridge, as well as bottled water.  I don't want to be completely paranoid, but the storm outside is very real. 

My initial plan was for Lilly to sleep with us because of the old, rotten tree outside her window.  Now it seems that the worst winds won't start until daybreak so I am wondering if I should leave her in her room.  When I was single I do not remember feeling this scared.  Having a child has changed my fear level.
What to do, what to do??  I am sure people who go through this all the time think I am overthinking this or just a plain nut.  For now I am going to say my prayers and drink this glass of wine. 

Be safe friends...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

losing weight is hard to do

This is from my private journal that I am keeping to keep track of my "get healthy" initiative.  For many reasons I keep it private, but sometimes there are things that I want to share.  So here is the post I wrote yesterday about my frustration in not losing weight. 

day 30
grr...I am so diappointed because when I weighed in I had gained the meager .6 lbs that I lost last week.  I feel like I am exercising like crazy AND my eating has gotten a lot better.  I know that I have not completely changed every eating habit to a healthy one, but my diet is much healthier and I am more aware of what I am putting into my mouth in the past month.  And still, in one month I have only lost about 3 pounds.  I was hoping it was going to be closer to 10!  I am trying to remind myself that I am getting  stronger and my heart is most definitely getting stronger as I exercise almost daily and eat healthier foods. 

I just have to keep on keeping on I guess...

Sixteen Candles

Tonight I was flipping through the channels and came across Sixteen Candles, John Hughes directorial debut.  When certain movies are on, I have almost a compulsion to watch them.  It was a lot stronger pre-Lilly because let's face it...Sixteen Candles in not exactly appropriate for a 3 year old.  But this was long after Lilly was asleep and my husband was also conked out upstairs.  I fulfilled my John Hughes guilty pleasure. 

Long before I knew about John Hughes I was drawn to his movies.  Some of my favorite movies of all time were directed by him: Ferris Beuller's Day Off; Sixteen Candles; The Breakfast Club; Pretty in Pink; Planes, Trains & Automobiles; the Home Alone movies; the National lampoon Vacation movies among many, many more.  I always wondered how these movies were timeless, yet spoke to me in whatever place I was in at the time. 

Obviously movies like the Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink would speak to the teenage and even college-aged me.  Why do they still draw me in?  I don't believe it is because I am just reminiscing about high school.  There is a timelessness about a movie like Sixteen Candles.  Who hasn't, at different points in their life, felt like the dork or the girl whose birthday was forgotten or the cool kid who wants someone to like him for himself, not because he is cool and has money? 

I know that I am completely doing a disservice to this movie and its director by writing just this short paragraph about it.  Whole college classes have been dedicated to his movies and I am positive that there are hundreds, if not thousands of blog posts out there that have been written about John Hughes films.  I felt compelled to write my own little tribute anyway.

Thank you John Hughes...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The leaves they are a-changing...

Lilly and I walked to the playground today and along the way I saw some leaves that have started changing colors.  It is always a bittersweet feeling for me to see those first red leaves.  I love autumn and the cooler weather.  I hate the sun setting earlier and the impending freezing weather.  But for now, I will be joyful when I see those ruby red leaves hidden among the emerald green leaves, like jewels sparkling in the sunshine against the blue sky.

My Grandma

As many people know my Nanny (my mom's mom) is not doing the best and she is in her end stages of life.  Though, seeing how she was playing with Lilly this weekend I can tell you that she has some life in her yet! 

But this is about my dad's mom, my Grandma.  Thinking and talking about nanny dying has stirred up a lot of feelings about my Grandma.  I am not even sure I can write them all out here in one post because it would be too long yet not long enough to accurately convey my feelings and thoughts.  So for today I will just talk about how I miss her.

I always miss her most in the summertime because she lived down the shore for most of my life.  When I was in college I would hop in my car and drive down to see her for the weekend or for some weekdays when I was in retail (and worked all weekend.)  We would look at old pictures and letters and she would tell me stories.  I wish I had had the foresight to record them because I have forgotten most and, as young people are apt to, I thought I would always have more time with her.  I had no clue that a stroke would rob her of her ability to communicate a story in that way.  She would cook for me...turkey or chicken tetrazinni,  or meatballs are the meals I remember.  It was an easy existence for us when I would visit on those days.  Often she was working during the day and I would go to the beach and come home in time for us to have dinner (along with Aunt Ginny!) 

Grandma had a wicked funny sense of humor.  She was sarcastic, irreverant and maybe more than a little nutty.  I know that her sense of funny was not always nice to other people but for now, I am putting that aside.  She wore animal prints, leggings and glittery painted shirts.  Her Keds were not white but floral, blue or had some other design. She bought me my first pair of satiny panties.  I think I was 14 and secretly thought they were fantastic.  Grandma was raised as a Protestant and knew all her Bible verses and sang "Jesus loves me this I know..."  among other songs in her slightly off-tone voice.  We always went to Mass together when I went down to visit her. 

Sometimes when Lilly does something really funny or has a certain look on her face or dresses in some crazy get-up that includes a twirly skirt and maybe some lip gloss or lips, as Lilly calls it, "lips" I know in my heart that Grandma would have loved Lilly so much.  She would have thought that she was just the funniest, sweetest little girl.  Lilly would have made Grandma laugh and they would have gotten along like 2 peas in a pod.  And then I miss her even more.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

New Daycare???

It is almost time for me to go back to work.  I start the day after Labor Day but I will start to get up earlier next week so that it is not too much of a shock.  Naturally, Lilly has started sleeping until 8-8:30am just in the past 2 weeks.  But what I am really thinking, worrying and obsessing about is where Lilly will go to daycare. 

She has been going to one daycare since she was 18 months old, when I became a working mom.  In that first year there were a few issues here and there, but we generally loved her teachers and all the other people she encountered at daycare.  After she was there a few months she had a seizure at daycare, bringing one of my worst fears to life.  They were amazing in their response - every single person from the teacher who was with her at the time to the director who went in the ambulance with her and stayed at the hospital with my husband until I was able to get there.  In many ways, I excused little things that bothered me because of their response to her seizure.  It always felt like a warm, welcoming place.  Even though I did not know all the teachers, they ALL knew Lilly.  And in the good way, not the Oh, it's Lilly way, but the Hi Lilly!!! way. 

Last September she moved up to a new class called Pre-k 1.  I balked a little at the thought of calling 2 year olds preschoolers, but that is what they called it.  From the beginning I had some issues with the change in how the teachers interacted with the children.  We went from cuddly, hugging teachers to much more detached teachers.  In fact, even though the daycare calls all of them teachers it felt like we went from caregivers to teachers.  The teachers were not cold and did give hugs, but were just so different than the downstairs waddler & toddler teachers.  (The exception being the most wonderful Ms. Gloria.  Yesterday Lilly was talking about Ms. Gloria and described her as the one who gave her hugs.)

I definitely had issues with the way that things were going in the pre-k 1 class because they were developmentally inappropriate.  As much as they tried to convince me it was okay, a 30 minute circle time is NOT appropriate for 2.5 year olds.  Making them sit on the rug for 20-30 minutes listening to book after book on tape as the teacher turns the pages, and yelling if they creep off the rug...also not appropriate.  The assistant, in particular was troubling and she and I butted heads several times.  The lead teacher in the room was nice, if not a bit blah and ignorant of developmentally appropriate practice (DAP).  And for those thinking that of course I know about DAP because I have my masters for goodness sakes?  It is actually officially organized by NAEYC (national association for the education of young children) which is for ALL early childhood facilities, even home-based ones.  I let go of a lot of little things (like dittos and cookie cutter art), but not the big ones (like time outs that were too long, and my daughter's arm being stuck and you did not even notice).  I was NOT the favorite parent. 

Anyway, all these things added up to us looking into a new daycare for this coming year. We pulled her out for the summer since I am home, but there is a waiting list for the upcoming year.  There is a new one opening not too far from us that would actually be easier for me to get to work from if need be.  (Since I take Rt. 22 to the Pulaski instead of Rt. 78.)  And theoretically, it sounds like a great place.  But don't they all, theoretically???  My real issue is her seizures.  Thinking about Lilly having a seizure at daycare makes my breath catch in my throat.  There is a comfort level for me in knowing that she has already had a seizure at her old daycare.  They know the drill, what to do.  The hospital that we use, when needed, is about 2 miles down the road.  All her info is there, many of the doctors and nurses have seen her before.  And at her old daycare they were great about checking her temperature at the slightest flushed cheeks or warm head or crankiness. 

In general, I am a bit of a control freak.  In particular, about my daughter, I am very much a control freak.  I think most moms are.  We know that we really don't have the control.  It is just an illusion that we can somehow control the world so that our child has the best possible outcomes in every situation.  I have no control overy Lilly having seizures.  But I can try to put her in the best possible daycare to meet all her needs, especailly if she does have one. 

the good news and the bad news...about my computer

The good news is that my laptop is not completely destroyed, just the hard drive.  And that is where the bad news comes hard drive is no longer.  And unfortunately I had not backed up my pictures and videos and documents onto my external hard drive in months.  Vin is hoping he can rescue them but I am prett sure it is not going to happen.  I am grateful that I have them on facebook, at least, even though there are a lot that are nowhere but my computer.  I had all sorts of movies I had made of Lilly that were only clips that I was trying to piece together.  :(   The bottom line is that Vin will be able to fix it.  For a 5 year old macbook, I will be happy that it will only cost me $60.

So learn your lesson from me: back up your stuff regularly and print out those pictures!!! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the Jersey Shore, baby!

No, not that Jersey Shore!  Well,we could see the Seaside boardwalk from where we were. But for all those non-NJ folks, the real Jersey shore is not about fist pumping.  :0)  Vin, Lilly and I packed it up and took a very last minute daytrip to visit my sister-in-law Gina and her boyfriend Anthony at his family's vacation house (for the week) in Lavalette.  Today the beach was beautiful- sunny, slightly breezy, and warm.  The ocean was just cool enough and the waves started off great.  They did get rough in the afternoon and Lilly got a little knocked around, even as I was holding her.  As she was going to sleep tonight she told me she didn't like the water.  I hope that she is not too fearful the next time we go because she was loving it up until those last few waves.  I love the ocean and I want her to love it too!!  I forgot my camera but luckily I did have my cell phone for at least one picture!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

back in the (running shoes) again

Over the weekend I was not feeling well and so I did not exercise at all.  It was a midol and heating pad kind of weekend.  Yesterday it was pouring in the morning and in the afternoon I was still not feeling great.  Because last Thursday was my off day from my walk/run that means that I had not gone in 6 days! 

I was so not motivated to go today.  I really would have preferred to take a nap or read my book.  But I went.  I even had talked myself into just walking if I needed to.  But I ran.  I was able to more or less keep the pace I had last week. Even with humidity like pea soup.  I felt awesome!
I wish that I could think of something witty and funny to write tonight.  Instead all I can think about is how I lost my temper with my little girl.  She refused to clean up her toys.  I was doing all the right things and saying all the right things and she still would not even pick up one stupid toy.  And then I yelled.  And predictably, she yelled back and then cried and still refused to pick up her toys.  This went on for a few yelling, her crying and still not cleaning and all the while I am.  Somehow we both calmed down and she started to clean up her toys with me.  This kind of thing does not happen that often in our house, but I hate when it does.  I feel terrible.  I wish that I could turn back the clocks and make a better choice.  What would I have done?  I would have sat on the couch and not made the popcorn or put the movie on.  It was raining and that was our after nap treat.  I would have sat there calmly and quietly until she realized that we had to clean the toys first.

She told me later, after I apologized, that I need a squishy ball to squeeze instead of yelling.  Oh, the wisdom of a 3 year-old...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

feeling blue

I think I broke my macbook this evening. I was just saying that I thought I should back up my photos etc. But I dropped it before I could do that.

Not only am I feeling sad and embarrassed but I am feeling a little lost without it.

So tonight I am blogging from my phone so this is it for now. Boo...
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Raising children with manners

Children without manners make me cringe.  As a preschool teacher I insisted on manners being used in the classroom.  We all sat together at 2 tables in the classroom and please and thank you were part of my curriculum, even if it was not part of the formal one.  I remember walking into another classroom during lunch and hearing the students speak to their teacher in an appalling way.  When I commented on this and told the teacher that she should insist on good manners, her answer was that was the least of her problems.  fyi I was the head teacher and it was part of my job to help the newer teachers.  I wasn't just being a control freak.  About that, anyway.  My belief is that if we teach children manners first, the other stuff will follow.  Sometimes it won't, but I don't think that the opposite is true.  Children can learn to say please before the learn that hitting is inappropriate.

I was at the Castle playground today with Lilly in Chatham.  We had tons of fun and met a very nice little girl and her mom there.  But there were some issues with the slides, as is apt to happen at playgrounds.  There is one slide there in particular that was very popular and there was a long line of kids in line.  This one boy, about 4, was repeatedly pushing past kids to the front of the line.  After the 3rd or 4th time I (very sweetly) pointed out the line.  He smiled at me and went down the slide.  And the next time, he stuck his tongue out at me as he went down.  At that point I decided that it was time for Lilly and I to eat our lunch at the picnic tables.  

I was really aggravated at that kid, but even more so that NO OTHER PARENT/GRANDPARENT SAID ANYTHING!!!!  There were about 6 other parents/grandparents standing around the slide waiting for their kid and this kid cut in front, pushing his way through at least 6 times while I was standing there.  I was the only person to say something.  What does that teaches a child when the parent stands by in this situation?  I think it could teach them that it is okay to act like that themselves or that they don't have to defend themselves to bullies.  Maybe I am reading too much into the situation, but I don't think so. 

From a very young age I have taught Lilly manners.  When she speaks to us in an inappropriate voice I model the correct way and ask her to repeat it.  She is getting to the point now where I can just ask her to say it again in a different way.  She is not perfect by any means.  She is 3, after all!  I am proud of how polite she is and how considerate she is of others when we are on the playground.  A small reminder to look out for the little ones was all she needed today to be aware of the younger and smaller children playing alongside her.   

What do you think?  Did I over think this?  Are manners going by the wayside?

Friday, August 12, 2011

high school can be torture...

...and it doesn't always end when you graduate.  At least it did not for me.  I switched schools before my junior year from a tiny private, ultra-conservative Catholic school to a very large public high school.  I definitely did not feel that I fit in at the Catholic school.  I was much too progressive in my thinking for my teachers (sorry Mr. Weyand), the school's philosophy and probably for the parents of my classmates.  I was always questioning things, which I was always taught by my parents was a path to learning.  In high school I was already 5'11" and not a skinny-minny, ever.  I was probably a size 6 when I was in the 4th grade.  I felt awkward about my body and my own sexuality, which was only exacerbated by the ultra conservative teachings.  Yes, I was taught that I should not tempt boys by wearing pants or jeans.  'Nuff said.

When I finally got up the nerve to leave that school to go to the big public high school (CHS), I was like a lost soul in the beginning.  I was lucky enough to have a few friends from working at the library in town and I knew kids from youth group.  I was also fortunate enough to test into the higher track classes.  I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I am still so glad I was able to be in classes that challenged me, both intellectually and socially.  I made friends with some people quickly enough, but I had come from such a strange, dysfunctional "friend" base at the other high school that I am not sure I knew how to be a good friend.  Now if you are a former classmate of mine from the 1st high school, you might be offended reading this.  But I am not really talking about us, but more the way that the organization and school were shaping us and how things were very unnatural.  For example, 11 girls in our sophomore year class?  Really hard if everyone starts pairing up as friends and one person (me) lives 30 minutes away.  But I digress...

I believe that if I had one more year at CHS the friendships I was in the midst of developing would have become firm friendships, not ones that faded as we went off to college.  I was just coming out of my shell when we graduated.  I wanted one more year - to join some clubs, get involved in some activities, to learn how to be a better friend, to date.

I went off to Montclair State and decided before I stepped foot on campus for my orientation that I was just going to be the me I wanted to be.  I acted as if.  When I told college friends that I was shy in high school they were shocked.  Most people who know me now don't believe it.  I never joined a sorority in college, and maybe I should have at a school like MSU.  Being a suitcase school and a commuter student was challenging in terms making of a lot of friends.  But I made one amazing friend at orientation, Michelle, and she was the person I was visiting in NC a few weeks back!

But how was I still tortured by those high school years?  I am not sure I realized it during college or even shortly thereafter.  It has been more of a slow realization through the years that became very clear with the facebook explosion.  When I first started to get friend requests from high school friends, I was happy to see some names, and frankly, annoyed to see others.  Why did these people, who were not even all that nice to me in school, want to be my "friend?"  Why should I let them into my life?  I did anyway, mostly because I was curious to see what they were up to.  How did life turn out for them?

I have been on facebook for over 3 years now.  I joined when I was home on maternity leave waiting to give birth to Lilly.  I admit that sometimes it's a time suck...drawing me in for no good reason!  But I also had the chance to get to know some of those high school kids all over again.  It took me a long time to put aside my own prejudices and thoughts of who I thought people were.  The short status updates, links posted, and even comments on my status updates and pictures started to give me pause.  I began to see people as regular human beings who have troubles and difficulties of their own.  Nobody is living some charmed, perfect life with the perfect spouse, job and children who don't throw tantrums in the middle of Whole Foods.

That in turn was the AHA! moment of realizing that their high school life was not perfect either.

Blaming others for my experiences of being teased and excluded was poisoning my outlook and memories and keeping me from being open to renewing these friendships.  If you are still reading this long blog post, please know that not all my memories were bad and I did not feel negatively about everyone.  There were probably only a few specific people that left such an impression; it was mostly the general idea of high school that affected me so.  And if you were one of the people toward whom I had some lingering negative feelings, please forgive me for my shallowness.

So why am I writing about this now?  I just felt it was time.  I have been reconnecting with old classmates for awhile now, most via facebook or email.  Some have helped me with job stuff, supporting me in my exercise quest, letting me know I was normal for losing my cool with my toddler. I am happier knowing that I can run into someone and rather than feeling fear of "What will they think of me?" I can just ask them how they are doing and be happy for their successes.

And hey, if you live near me or are just passing through, send me a message and we can meet for coffee or a playdate with the kids!   If you made it this far, thanks for reading friends!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

sorry friends...

I am in the middle of Jen Lancaster's My Fair Lazy.  She makes me laugh out loud.  Disturbing in the doctor's office and only slightly less so as I lay in bed.  But that is what I am doing tonight instead of writing a blog post.  Buona notte!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My hand, revisited

Wow!  I wish I could let you know how wonderful I feel after reading all your comments and messages about your support for me.  It makes me feel even stronger!  

Speaking of feeling stronger, there is one area in which I am still very much left hand.  My recovery from the first carpal tunnel release surgery on my right hand was awesome.  It was relatively fast and easy and, though it still has some weakness and the scar is still a little tight, it is absolutely normal and has been doing better than expected from day 1.  

As easy as the right hand was, the left hand is difficult.  I still have swelling, scar irritation and sensitivity, a lot of weakness and pain.  In short, I still have a lot of work to do.  I really want to be able to clap my hands, hold a pot while I am washing it, pick up stuff heavier than a couple pounds and do yoga.  I did some modified yoga today, just eliminating any pose that involved me putting my hands flat on the ground.  I tried to do plank on my forearms, but my whole elbow and forearm are irritated from doing too much with my hand.  My hand therapist called it Golfer's elbow.  I am really trying not to let it get me down, but it is extraordinarily frustrating to me.  

Lilly asks me every day if my hand is better.  Every day I tell her, almost, and then she kisses it.  That makes it better for sure.

Monday, August 8, 2011

To 5K or not to 5K?

I was visiting a friend recently, who had just celebrated her year anniversary of running her first 5K.  (you can correct me if I'm wrong Steph.)  My sister-in-law Gina started running 5Ks recently, as well.  An old high school friend does triathlons!  My world is full of inspiring women who show me just what is possible.

Stephanie had told me that I should do this 5K in the fall that her brother is organizing.  I immediately thought that I could never do that.  Times, they are a-changing.  If you have been reading along, you know that I decided last week, to stop thinking, and just do.

I have been following a plan, mostly based on the couch to 5K program, of walking and running intervals.  I am not overextending, but also not stopping just because I feel like I am not a runner.  I always believed: that running was something you were good at or not; that people who run feel great the whole time; that people who run are thin.  All of those are not true.  Maybe some people are better runners than others.  Maybe some people are actually bad, but I don't know.  I do know that because I am following a plan and only pushing myself a little more each time I go, I am feeling better about it.

Stephanie put the seed in my head that yes, I could run this 5K, even if that means that I walk/run it.  I had basically put that aside though, even as I started running.  And then.  Yes, here it is...a completely different friend sent me a message when she saw my cardiotrainer run time and distance pop up on facebook.  She said that she knew about this 5K, the same one that Stephanie told me about, and wishes that she could do it. (I won't out you unless you out yourself.  xo)  Huh.  Now I want to run this 5K.  Seriously!  Did I ever think in a million years that I would want to even register for such a thing????  

Thank you friends for getting me thinking that, YES I can!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My bedroom, my nemesis

My bedroom...the catchall for, well, everything.  I often start to organize it only to stop and say that I will finish the next day.  But then it doesn't ever get finished and we have another party or whatever and MORE stuff gets put into the room.  I am so tired of the clutter.  It is not restful and my clothes are always wrinkled.

I have employed a different system this time in tackling the clutter.  I have realized that it will take more than one day, especially since I have a 3 year-old "helping" me.  ahem.  I have out away in one bin all clothes that are not the right size right now, but that I will wear again.  If, for whatever reason, they are not clothes I will wear again (trend over, too short, too ugly) I am dividing into Vets bag and possible consignment bag.  I have never sold anything through consignment, but I know lots of people who do.  While you may not be making tons of money, there is potential to get some gas money or maybe a new lipstick.  :)  I need to use my dresser and my closet more efficiently.  That involves actually folding the clothes and putting them in the drawers after they come out of the dryer.  I know, it seems like the normal thing to do and I am probably making people cringe right now.  Unfortunately, I tend to live out of my laundry baskets.  It's not a great way to live.  It is probably the main reason my room gets out of control.  And plus my clothes get wrinkled and I "lose" clothes only to rediscover them at the bottom of the basket.   So the goal is to get all the clothes put away and keep it that way.  And every time I do laundry, the clothes get folded and put in the drawers.  I can do it.

That is the plan, for now.  I just took a little break so that I could sit for a minute.  Back up I go!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

quick note say that I am so tired I am going to sleep!  But also a little update:  I loved the doctor.  She seemed exactly who I thought she was.  Plus she is about my age.  I know some people don't like that, but I did with her.

Good night!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Going to a new doctor is like going on a 1st date

My beloved primary care physician is not covered by my current health insurance.  She has not been on there all school year, in fact, but I kept going to her and paying the whole thing and then getting the reimbursement for 80%.  I really love her and trust her and to me, that was worth it.  I went every few months so she could check in on any ongoing issues.  I have been to doctors who were on the mean side about losing weight or who had little bedside manner.  If I am on my deathbed, bedside manner goes out the window.  But when I am working with a doctor in a long term relationship, I want to be comfortable.

I did a lot of research, starting with Maplewoodonline to find someone who came highly recommended by my peers.  Then I dug a little deeper (thank you Google!) to find someone who I thought fit with my sensibilities.  I believe in using a mix of both modern and Asian medicines and my last doctor was all for it.  I found someone who I will be seeing for the first time tomorrow morning. I am, of course, a little nervous, but it is something I need to do.  I need and want to be responsible for my health if for no reason than for Lilly.  So I have 1st date jitters tonight.  It's a good thing my appointment is for 8:30am!

World Breastfeeding Week

******************For the squeamish, this may be TMI*********************

Okay, now I remember what I was planning on blogging about all day.  This week is World Breastfeeding Week.  I know a little bit about breastfeeding because I did it for about 32-33 months.  With one child.  Why yes, that is just a few months shy of 3 years old.  In the attached parenting (AP)  and breastfeeding circles and maybe in others it is called extended nursing or now long-term nursing.  There are many bloggers I follow who have done a great job of explaining what it is and why they still breastfeed their toddler or preschooler.  One is the Crunchy Domestic Goddess.  La Leche League is also an amazing resource for breastfeeding help of all kinds.

For those of you who may be freaked right about now:

World Health Organization
"The vast majority of mothers can and should breastfeed, just as the vast majority of infants can and should be breastfed. Only under exceptional circumstances can a mother’s milk be considered unsuitable for her infant. For those few health situations where infants cannot, or should not, be breastfed, the choice of the best alternative–expressed breast milk from an infant’s own mother, breast milk from a healthy wet-nurse or a human-milk bank, or a breast-milk substitute fed with a cup, which is a safer method than a feeding bottle and teat–depends on individual circumstances.”
The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, after which "infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond."

American Academy of Pediatrics
"Extensive research using improved epidemiologic methods and modern laboratory techniques documents diverse and compelling advantages for infants, mothers, families, and society from breastfeeding and use of human milk for infant feeding. These advantages include health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychologic, social, economic, and environmental benefits.”
The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.  Furthermore, "breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child."
I copied the above from the wikipedia page.

The average age of weaning worldwide is 4 years old.  Lilly would have been in heaven!

I did not start off with a plan to breastfeed a preschooler.  I was always a little on the crunchy granola side without the "no antiperspirant" aspect and I was raised by a mom who was a La Leche League leader, and nursed all of us.  Breastfeeding was part of my normal everyday life with young babies.  I also can be very determined.  Sometimes that is a good thing, and sometimes (like when arguing with my husband and I know I am wrong but can't admit it) it is not.  But I had decided that I would be co-sleeping and breastfeeding exclusively, even before I was pregnant.  I also had planned on giving birth with no medical intervention but that's a whole different story.

When Lilly arrived, my milk came in beautifully.  I actually was an over-producer for a while until we got  in sync with each other.  We had some issues with thrush that did not resolve easily or without pain on my part.  She cluster nursed.  She used me as a pacifier.  But we made it through those first few crazy weeks, not without some significant support.  My mom called La Leche League and asked them to call me because I could not.  Speaking to someone else helped.  I do regret not getting involved in a regular meeting.  I was involved in my local Mothers & More chapter and received so much support from them.  I had told my husband that he could, under no circumstances, suggest I give up because I needed him to be strong for me.

I am not sure exactly how old Lilly was, but she was about 6 months old when I was nursing her (covered) in front of someone.  Someone who I am close to, even.  She asked me how long I was planning on doing that.  Something inside me snapped.  I was so angry that someone would suggest, in tone if not in words, that what I was doing was not acceptable or right.  Especially when the opposite was true.  I was doing what was best!  Even if I weaned at 6 months, she would need formula.  WTF???  I flippantly, without even thinking about it, said about 2 years old.  HA!  That shut her up rather quickly.  I am sure my mother was questioned about it and my mom, of course, supported however long I was planning on BFing.

So that is basically how I started off but really, Lilly and I chose it together.  Lilly loved nursing.  She loved everything about it and when I first tried weaning her, she became so upset that I realized it was not the right time for her.  I would say after 20 months or so it truly became an act of love for her.  Before that I think I got out of the experience as much as she was getting.  At the 20 month point, I was still getting something out of it (snuggle time, closeness and bonding) but she was really getting so much more.  There were other factors that played into the longevity, as well.  I was thinking maybe 18 months would be it and then I got a full time job and she was in daycare for the first time.  I did not want to take this away from her.  She has febrile seizures at very low temperatures and we have had many ER visits.  Getting a lethargic-from-seizure toddler to drink is difficult.  I could nurse her while she slept (and when she awoke it comforted her) and we were able to not have IVs, etc.  It seemed every time I was thinking I would start the process she would have a seizure and so I wouldn't.

I hit one point last fall where I really just did not want to nurse her again.  I was tired of being awakened in the night.  I wanted my body back (HA!) for me.  Lilly would not go to bed without nursing first.  I decided it was time to wean.  I gradually cut back on how long, etc.  We talked a lot about it.  A lot.  Every time I mentioned it, she would cry.  Hard.  She was truly sad about the thought of not nursing.  I decided the time was not right.  One day, I think it was in February, (I can't believe the date is not ingrained in my memory) she nursed a lot during one afternoon after work.  This was unusual and then I was basically empty still at nighttime.  I knew if I let her, she would make more milk but I decided against that.  She tried and told me there was no more milk.  She was sad and cried.  I distracted her by singing about 10 songs.  She fell asleep.  The next day, and the day after that I gave her the same was all gone.  I had been prepping her for weeks with the same line...that it would be all gone when she drank it all.  I slept with sports bras on so that she could not come in during the night.  And then she stopped asking but only for awhile.  To this day, 6 months later, Lilly asks about nursing and if she could put milk in my nursies.  She has come up with some very clever ideas of how we could get milk into them.  She likes to lay on my chest now as her comfort.  Even after more than 32 months of nursing I was still a little sad when she stopped.  

One of the hardest parts of long-term nursing for me is the stigma attached to it in our society.  I felt that if only I could talk about it with someone, then maybe the other hard parts (night nursing, for one) would not be as hard.  I had strict boundaries about nursing once she was able to ask for it.  We did not nurse in public, in part because it was not necessary at that point and also because I was sick of nursing bras.  A lot of my friends did not nurse, or at least not for longer than a few weeks.  I was lucky to have a few friends who did nurse through the first year, but not much longer.

Anyway, now that I have rambled on a bit, I really just wanted to write something for World Breastfeeding Week.  So if you are out nursing in public and you see me looking at you (mom at the library or the music festival), I am just sending "good for you" vibes your way!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

summer rain

I was having trouble thinking of something to blog about tonight.   I am sitting on my couch with the back door and front windows open (I <3 cross breezes!)  and listening to the rain.  There is really nothing like it in the world and the only thing that would make it better would be if I was sitting on a screened porch.  It is peaceful and relaxing and just what I needed tonight.  The rain is nourishing my soul as well as the earth and for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I think I can or I know I can?

I have spoken about trying to lose weight and eat better in this blog before.  It has not happened.  For various reasons that I could go on and on about, I did not lose, but gained weight.  I became out of shape, not in better shape.  I made poor food choices and blamed it on many outside things/forces/whathaveyous.
Little by little in recent months, I began to see what I looked like and did not like it.  Not necessarily because I looked bad, but because I felt like the extra weight was my costume so that I could hide.

I have tried weight loss programs in the past and I would be marginally successful.  There have been two times in my life that I was very successful in losing the weight: once in college and when I was pregnant and then gave birth.  The latter has the easy reason of having morning (noon & night) sickness until about 4 1/2 months.  I had a 2 week reprieve and then for the remainder of the pregnancy I still had aversions (Chinese food and yogurt - blech!) and the added pleasure of throwing up every day.  Until I delivered, basically.  Within 18 months I gained back all the weight I lost while I was pregnant and directly after.  And then some.

The previous time that I lost a lot of weight was when I just made a decision one day to live a healthy lifestyle.  I literally went to bed one day deciding to change the next day; and I did.  The problem was that I was ultra strict with myself and it was very sudden.  I know some programs (OA) can be like that, but you have the support then.  This was just me, on my own.  It did not last long because it was not sustainable.  At least not for me.  I did not want to watch other people eat birthday cake.  There is a lot more to that story, but that is a story for another day, maybe.

Okay so back to the past few months...  I started to see my weight as a costume or shield.  From what, I still have to figure out.  I also started to take responsibility for my weight.  Yes, there are lots of reasons that I could say, "I gained weight because..." but nobody force fed me.  I put the food in my mouth.  Most of the time I even bought the food that I put in my mouth!  There is a freedom in accepting that I did this because it also means that I can undo this.  My recent focus has been away from dieting and on healthy eating and living.  Eating healthier, finding relaxation techniques that work for me and exercising are becoming a priority in my life.

I have always secretly wanted to be a runner, but I could never really get there.  I can walk pretty darn fast, but running makes me want to puke.  But I want to!  I have researched running programs, tried to figure out how I could do this.  But I never took that figurative first step to becoming a runner.  Last week I started walking again.  I had started right before and in between both my hand surgeries but now I really have nothing in the way.  Today I started running, a little bit, just to see if I could.  I always think that I can't.  That I am not a runner.  Yet today, I just did it.  I stopped thinking and did.  I walked as needed, but then started again.  This was already after 20 minutes of walking, so I knew I was not going to injure myself.  I felt powerful and graceful and like I could be a runner.  That momentum carried me through my day.  It made making healthy choices easier.  It cleared a lot of fluff from my head.  I want to run more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sometimes I don't feel like a bad mom

I can learn a lot by watching other moms with their children.  Sometimes I learn good hints and techniques.  Sometimes I learn what not to do.  Sometimes I learn about the children, sometimes about the mom.  Sometimes I learn about my daughter and sometimes about myself.  Today was one of those days that I learned a difference between being a preschool teacher mom and not being one.  And I realized that for all the times that I feel like the bad mom, today I was not.

Today Lilly and I went to the preschool story time at out local library.  There were many children and their caregivers: moms, dads and grandparents.  The librarian, though kind, is also a bit stern which is okay in my book.  She is fun when it counts - when she is reading stories and dramatic story telling with puppets!  The stories today were about elephants in one way or another.  So the craft, naturally, was to make an elephant out of paper plates, construction paper cut outs of ears, trunks, legs, etc and decorations.  The librarian showed all of the children the finished product and then taped it to the wall so that we could all see it.  It was right behind me.  Lilly and I did not so much as glance at it after the initial look see.

What was shocking to me was how every single parent looked at that elephant and then guided their 3 and 4 year old children in making the proper elephant.  They all had the ears, eyes ( 3 part eyes!), trunks, tails, and legs in the proper position.  I did help Lilly glue the paper plates and ears together because, frankly, it was not sticking.  But Lilly added everything else, wherever she wanted.  She knew what it was going to be and had a vision of what it was going to look like.  I saw a couple looks from other moms and then from the librarian.  All responses?  Oh, very nice - said in a very bland sort of way.  Between the lines?  That is not what an elephant looks like!  One remarked that it was colorful.  What 3 year old wants a plain gray elephant when they can create a sequined, colorful elephant?!

I think it is a beautiful elephant!

Lilly's elephant.  She wrote her name on the left ear

p.s.  I did say at one point that I was a preschool teacher and so I believe in letting children create in an open way and express themselves.  But I did not want to come across as snooty.  Maybe just seeing Lilly's will be the push they need to let their children create.


I was reminded this evening as I was scrolling through my facebook feed that August 1, 2011 is the first day of Ramadan for my Muslim friends.  I had the opportunity to work with three Muslim women at different times.  This was barely post-9/11 and I was working in Hoboken, across the river from Manhattan.  All three were so different in so many ways, only one of which was their faith.  One was very strict and did not let any part of her hair, arms, legs, chest, etc. be seen.  Another was more casual about covering her hair and arms, especially in the classroom.  One was kind of in between.  I became really close to the woman who was more casual; she is a great friend.

All three women fasted during the month of Ramadan.  I understood it from a religious perspective because of my knowledge of Lent and the importance of fasting within the religious experience.  But from the hungry girl inside me perspective, it is almost unfathomable.  I am not a very nice person when I am hungry, and, for instance, right now I am trying to work on eating healthier and I am hungry!!  I had a great dinner and even had a piece of fruit right before I came upstairs.  And all I can think about right now is food.  These women were working in a preschool classroom.  We had morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack! There was no avoiding food, yet they never wavered.

I have respect for people who can make a sacrifice like that in the name of their faith.  It makes me want to be a better person and a better Catholic.  I know there is a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment out there.  I can understand the why and how of that, as well.  I just believe that it is misguided to denounce an entire faith because of it.  When I speak to my friend about faith and life issues, our thoughts are more aligned than not. She reminds me to pray.  She reminds me to pray with and for my husband, my marriage and my child.  We share similar taste in clothing, jokes and food.  She has made me food that is different and delicious and decidedly out of my comfort zone.  It all comes back to food!

I wish blessings upon my Muslim friends this month.  I am reminded that sacrifice plays an important role in faith.  I think of it in this way: you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?  What can I do to walk the walk of my faith?

Added 8/1/11 @ 9am:
Last night I was reading my bible (Catholic Women's devotional bible) before I fell asleep.  Every few pages they have writings, devotionals, meditations, etc, written by a variety of authors including Mother Theresa, Catherine of Siena and Maria von Trapp.  I was flipping through looking for a particular one on marriage when I found an article on fasting.  Interestingly enough, it starts off about fasting in relationship to our weight-obsessed culture.  I actually have a private blog in which I write about my daily struggles to get healthy so that really spoke to me on a deeper level.

However, the meat of the article was speaking to fasting as a work of mercy.  It is presented in scripture as part of a holy trio of penitential practices that also include prayer and almsgiving. (Tobit 12:8; Matthew 6:1-8)  A 5th century Doctor of the Church, Peter Chrysologus said: "Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy (almsgiving) is the lifeblood of fasting.  let no one try to separate if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy."

Huh, I write about fasting and a few minutes later I happen to open the Bible to a writing on the very subject.  God speaks to us in all different ways; I am glad I was listening.

My apologies for the paraphrasing of the text from The Catholic Women's Devotional Bible.