Category Archives: writing

First Check-in of 2017

Hey hey hey! We are four whole days into the New Year and I have stuck with my resolutions. It’s not a huge milestone, but let’s just celebrate anyway.  Tomorrow is my planned REST day (from the gym) so today seems like a good time to take a look-back on what has been going on.

January 1: Easy yoga day at home. Let’s not start out too crazy, right? Turns out the easy start was a good idea because the day included a trip to Urgent Care with one of the kiddos.  All is well now, but I was happy to have started the day with a moment of calm and peace.

January 2: Teach Zumba class – Hey-oooh!  Starting the week off with a dance session is pretty awesome. Hop around, shake the hips, get the groove on. Good times. Plus, it’s an added bonus to see some of my favorite people in class too.

I followed up the hour of cardio with the strength training program: the Labrada Lean Body Challenge.  The Challenge is 12 weeks long and includes a detailed schedule for lifting weights and overall awesome strength building.  I’m not planning on submitting any of my information or pictures to try to “win” but I am looking forward to seeing the results and, more importantly, having a legit plan for my lifting.  Today I spent about 55 minutes lifting through three sets of 15-20 reps of a variety of chest, triceps, and shoulders exercises.

The Labrada program is kind of “old school” to me, which I am really enjoying (again, only four days in). In the past few years I spent a lot of time in the Crossfit world …. interested in reading about My Crossfit Experience… or 7 Reasons Why Crossfit is Great for New Moms*…. but I am back at the big chain gym now and it’s bringing back some fun memories of my pre-WOD days.

January 3: Ahhhhhh Leg Day. I began with a quick warm-up and then focused on quads and hamstrings. Again, it’s been ages since I was on the leg extension and hamstring curl machines and man oh man did I feel it!  I had to pause the strength portion of the day’s workout to hop into the barre class. For those of you not familiar with barre, it’s a ballet-inspired class and is awesome. This class was a perfect compliment to my strength plan… just when I thought my legs couldn’t take anymore, I did a bazillion plies! Hello calves. Hello hammies.  Why hello to you too, quads. Oh yeah, and remember my shoulders and tricep work from yesterday, well my barre instructor did some great upper-body focused work too! Hello every single muscle in my body screaming at me right now.

Last but not least, I finished the day with last bit of my Labrada plan – some glute strength work. Done and done and done.

January 4: Well, let’s just try to get out of bed today. The legs! The arms! After walking downstairs like a robot due to that my legs forgot how to function properly…. I put the kids on the bus and finally got to the gym a little later than planned.  Strength training focused on upper-body again, but this time included back, biceps, and abs.  There seemed to be more strength exercises today or maybe it just took me longer because I was jamming to my music and was bee-bopp-ing around between sets. (It helps A LOT to have a lifting buddy who encouragingly laughs at – and occasionally joins in – my impromptu dance moves.) When we finally finished up with abs,  I decided to complete the day with a little bit of rowing, a little bit of inclined treadmill walking (I HATE RUNNING), and then a WHOLE lot of stretching and foam rolling.  All in all it was a good workout but felt a little subdued since I didn’t go to a group fitness class.

And that’s it! So far so good.  Friday’s plan will be a little off-kilter because of parenting responsibilities. I’m guessing I will be at the gym without my lifting buddy and without group classes to super-motivate me. I better get a good playlist put together to keep me going!

FYI – This will be my last detailed daily work-out regimen post until the end of the month when I will compare the difference in weights and number of reps from Week One to Week Four. Yippee.


Military: 7 Signs You PCS’d This Summer

One month ago today we moved into our home. I’m sure there are many military families out there experiencing some of these moments right along with me….

  1. You can still spy one or two (or fifteen thousand, if you are like me) of those pesky moving stickers that never seem to EVER go away completely!
    PCS Summer 1
  2. While checking out at Bed, Bath, & Beyond (because you need stuff for your new bed, bath, and… beyond) you pause for a good ten seconds when asked what your zip code is. Zip code… right. WHERE exactly am I again?!
    PCS Summer 2
  3. The idea of going school supply shopping is entirely daunting because, didn’t we just get here?! Now I need to be organizing myself and family for a new school year?!
    PCS Summer 3
  4. Your bucket list for the summer is ten miles long. You MUST see all the new sites RIGHT NOW! Because you know, before you blink you will be looking at a new set of orders and your bucket list will still be about nine miles long.
    PCS Summer 4
  5. You assume all your neighbors have lived in the neighborhood for ages, until you remember it’s a military community and it’s summer and almost everyone is new too!
    PCS Summer 5
  6. Signing your kids up for summer camps and after-school activities feels like the ultimate test of your Mom-hood. This dance studio or that one? We missed soccer try-outs but will they still allow my child to play? Where, exactly, does that swim team compete? Wait, what time does school get out anyway?!PCS Summer 6
  7. There is a sense of immense possibility with each new person you meet and each new road you travel.PCS Summer 7

To all my fellow military spouses out there who are settling in and exploring new hometowns… may this new adventure be your best! And in the words of Matsuo Basho, remember:
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”


Schooled in Parenting (By My 8-Year-Old Daughter)

classroomThis morning while I was getting ready for the day, my kids rolled into a very intense, very passionate argument. The likes of which I’m sure haven’t been seen (or heard!) since the days of old. Or maybe last week.  Of course, this argument was about, none other than, Minecraft.  From what I can gather from my unavoidable over-hearing, my 4-year old was continually pushing random buttons on his Xbox controller while my 7 and 8-year olds were trying to build something (apparently it was a very important “something” that could not be delayed by random button pushing). I will set the scene for you: To find out what I learned, click here


No, no, you really shouldn’t have… but thanks for doing it anyway.

For the past many years, my husband and I have agreed to not exchange gifts for Christmas. Usually as the holiday approached, one of us (most usually me) would succumb to the commercialized holiday cheer and ask, “No, seriously, what do you want for Christmas?” A discussion, a suggestion or two, a not-so-vague hint and on Christmas morning there would be shiny wrapped presents for both of us under the tree. With a few… maybe one or two… exceptions, the shiny wrapped presents were exactly what had been discussed, suggested, hinted. Don’t get me wrong, the opening of the presents and the thank you’s after were sweet and genuine and appreciated.

I’m not trying to throw my hubby under the bus at all… there is no bus to throw him under really. But those Christmas present exchanges were basically a compromise – a merging of our two very different gift-giving selves. I would love to give gigantic, over-the-top, super-surprise gifts every year! (!!!) I would probably, easily, bankrupt us by my gift-giving tendency. My husband, on the other hand, likes to give practical, logical, budget-conscious gifts. (…) He keeps our budget in line. I love this trait of his, I do. Perhaps, though, it took me a Christmas holiday, birthday, and another Christmas to fully appreciate his gift-giving tendency. (“ooooooh… an… external hard drive… for me.”)

Well, this year. Christmas of 2014… something happened. We barely talked about what we wanted. I suggested an arm band for my phone. Practical, logical, budget-conscious. I was looking forward to it! And I got it. But it was from my son. And this is the shiny wrapped present from my husband this year…..
Continue reading to see the shiny wrapped present AND what I learned…


Getting to Know Me… First Day of School

avatarOh boy. First day of school. I’m starting Blogging 101. Eeeeeeeek. I have on my spiffy new shoes and cardigan sweater. My lunch box is next to me and I’m poised with a set of freshly sharpened pencils lined up in a row.

That’s not really true. I’m sitting at a coffee shop, with my laptop, in my sweaty yoga capris and workout sneakers (neither of which are spiffy). However, I AM starting a new class called Blogging 101. Here we go….. “Getting to Know Me…” Continue reading about me…


The Risk of Raising Independent Children

We recently moved to a very family-friendly neighborhood, which also happens to be a military housing neighborhood. This move has given us the opportunity to live in an ideal setting to take the risk of raising independent children. My kids are ages 8, 6 ¾ (it’s important to him to remember the ¾), and 4, which to me are ideal ages to risk the lessons of becoming an independent child.

My kids are learning the importance of being accountable for themselves. No one else can answer for the choices they make. This accountability is teaching them to think through their choices first, act second. They are testing their nerve and finding out how far they are willing to push themselves, whether it’s the speed they ride their bikes or how high they climb a tree. With that test of nerve I believe they will gain self-confidence as they realize they can do new things because they pushed themselves, not because Mom or Dad told them to try it. They are building a frame of reference on rights and wrongs. They are getting better acquainted with their morals and listening to their own conscience instead of Mom and Dad’s voice. Continue reading about the challenges of raising independent kiddos…


Minecraft: smelting by day, crafting by night

minecraft

Earlier this summer, while we were still living on the West Coast, a friend convinced me to download Minecraft for my kids. Since then, we’ve had an obsession in our house. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Can I play Minecraft?” I would be… many nickels richer. I could probably buy my very own crafting table, in real life! My son admitted the other day that sometimes when he looks outside everything looks like squares to him. On occasion I hear “Stampy’s” voice in my head when the kids aren’t even watching him. Friends don’t let friends download Minecraft.

That’s probably a little harsh. In fact, Minecraft afforded my husband and I sanity during our cross-country drive from California to Rhode Island. We were, in fact, that family. The two bigger kids each had a new Kindle Fire, and the littlest had our old iPad (decorated with dinosaur stickers to make it seem fancy and cool even though it wasn’t new). Our Odyssey was decked out with an extension cord, a multi-media plug-in thing that has a WHOLE BUNCH of outlets…. And…. the piece de resistance… a Hot Spot. Boom. The kids were set. More Minecraft goodness here…


7 Reasons Why Crossfit is Great for New Moms*

This was taken the day our box held "Barbells for Boobs" - a fundraising event for breast cancer research.  I was nervous about participating but it was AWESOME.

This was taken the day our box held “Barbells for Boobs” – a fundraising event for breast cancer research. I was nervous about participating but it was AWESOME.

1. If you find Crossfit intimidating, now’s the time to try it: Many people find Crossfit intimidating. That’s normal. The best time to face that intimidation is when you are somewhat starting from scratch. You’ve got nothing to lose! You’re starting out as a new mom… it’s a great time to become a new Crossfit athlete too. Remember, you can always (and you should in the beginning) modify the WOD and skills. There are always ways to make adjustments to meet your needs and your current skill/strength level. If the heavy bar is too heavy, try the lighter one… if that’s too heavy, you can literally use a PVC pipe! Starting light is the best way to establish good form and good muscle memory. Also, remember…. No matter how advanced anyone else is… it’s a difficult workout for them too. We’re all just doing the best we can.

2. You have all the motivation you need: Your new little bundle of joy can be just the motivation you need to get through your WOD. For example:

  • “This deadlift is soooo heavy…. But… if my little baby were stuck under this bar, could I lift it?!” Oh yes you could.
  • “I don’t want to row another 30 calories! But…. if I were in a row boat with my baby and a crocodile were chasing us, I could totally row her to safety – even if it was more than 30 calories!” Go.
  • “Pull-ups? You gotta be kidding me… my chin can’t get above that bar! But…. if baby’s most favorite lovey which ensures a good night’s sleep were up above that bar and it was almost nighttime… you bet your bottom dollar I would be able to pull myself up there!” Heave-Ho!
  • “This is not running… this isn’t even jogging… this is… slowly trudging… but… if my husband came home and said, ‘why don’t you go run out and have a pedicure while I watch the baby?!’ I would sooooo be running a lot faster than this. Baby’s gonna need to eat in three hours!”
  • More of My List of Reasons…


Writing 101: Day Five (day one for me)

I am starting this Writing 101 a few days late.  Hopefully I will find to catch up on the four days I missed. If not, I’ll just go from here.

Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.
**** I totally tried to work on brevity. It didn’t work. I’ll try again another day.****

pen and paperAs I step out of my apartment I notice a piece of trash by the elevator. Why am I the only one who feels the need to keep this place tidy?! What, do they all think: ‘Let’s just leave trash in the hallway… the girl in 6B will clean up after us.’ Convenient they leave the trash right by the elevator which happens to also be right in front of my apartment. As I stoop to grab the paper, I notice neat handwriting on the inside. Well, if I have to be the one to clean up the mess, I might as well snoop a little. The paper read:

“I AM SO DEEPLY SORRY FOR THE TROUBLE I CAUSED YOU. I CAN’T SAY THAT ENOUGH. I CAME BY TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU IN PERSON, BECAUSE THAT IS THE VERY LEAST YOU DESERVE. BUT YOU AREN’T HOME – OR YOU AREN’T ANSWERING YOUR DOOR. I WANT YOU TO KNOW HOW MUCH YOU MEAN TO ME AND ALL THE WAYS YOU HAVE CHANGED ME FOR THE BETTER… I DON’T KNOW WHY IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO SEE THAT WE SHOULD NEED TO BE TOGETHER.  THE THING IS, I HAVE LOVED YOU FROM THE MOMENT I SAW YOU. I LOVE YOU. I WANT TO SPEND MY LIFE WITH YOU. I CAN’T BELIEVE I AM JUST LEAVING THIS ON YOUR DOOR BUT I CAN’T WAIT ANOTHER MOMENT. I WILL WAIT ANXIOUSLY TO HEAR FROM YOU. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.”

My heart begins to race as I think about the argument I had two days ago with my long-time “guy friend”. We haven’t spoken since I walked away from him… me fuming and crying over all the things he had said to me; him with his arms flung out to his sides, head tilted to the sky, calling after me “That’s not what I meant.” His words had been unfair and unkind and completely uncalled for. This trash… this note… must be from him! It must be. I had, in fact, taken a much-needed nap yesterday, so it makes sense that he stopped by and left a note when I didn’t answer the door. He loves me? He loves me? He… loves… me. !!!!!!!! He does. And I do too… I love him. Holy moly. This is happening. This is the best day of my life! This is the moment I will remember always. This is the story we will tell people when we get engaged… when we get married… when we have kids and grandkids. This. This is the moment my life where my life changes and gets back on track.

Just as the elevator opens and deposits me on the ground floor, I pull out my phone and call him up. This conversation is call-worthy… I will not do this over text – although then I could screen-shot it and keep it for forever! – wait, it’s ringing… ringing….

Him: “Hey…. So…. Are you still mad?”
Me: “I was. I really really was. Until two minutes ago.”
Him: “Oh?”
Me: “Yeah. I saw the letter. I almost missed it because it fell off my door and I       almost threw it away… I don’t know why people think they can litter in the build-…wait. No. That’s not why I’m calling. I’m calling to tell you I got your note. And I forgive you. And I appreciate the apology.  And… well, the truth is, I want you to know I love you too. I do. I love you so much and I always have… just like you said – or wrote. Whatever.”
 Him: “Uhhhh, yeah. I don’t….The thing… I, uh.”
Me: “You. You didn’t? You didn’t write me a note?”
Him: “Uh. I was waiting for you to… no. No, I didn’t write a note.”
Me: “Oh. Okay. Ha. This is. Awkward. Ihavetogo.”

I hang up. Or I try to. My fingers are very sweaty all of a sudden. I didn’t know my fingers sweat but they are definitely sweaty and it makes it hard to hit the “hang up” button. Somehow our conversation is disconnected… either by my sweaty fumbling fingers or his not-loving-me self. Either way, we are disconnected… so completely not connected. I find a seat on a bench. I don’t think I ever noticed this bench in front of my building before; how long has it been here? I don’t know but I don’t really care because I’m glad its here now to support my unsupportable body. I sit and I try to breathe and I try to catch up with my brain. Did all that really happen? Did I just picture my entire future with a man who doesn’t love me? Did I just profess my love to a man who doesn’t love me? Yes. Yes I did.

As I sit and stare at my feet and the stupid, stupid letter in my shaking hands, I realize I’m holding someone else’s future. I am holding the future of someone else with a man (it really does look like masculine handwriting) who loves that someone else. This is their story. The story they will share when they get engaged and married and have kids and grandkids. I have got to find the person who needs to read this letter. Really, their future depends upon it.

I stand up and give myself a little shake. I will have to grieve the future I had imagined for myself later. I will have to figure out if the friendship I thought was really a loveship is worth awkwardly fixing later. Right now, I need to go knock on the twenty-six doors on my floor. One of those doors belongs to this letter and to this story… and I guess that I will get to play a small part in their story too.

 

 


Motherhood: A Chapter at a Time

ChaptersMotherhood is hard.  We joke about it, we moan about it, we (I) write about it, we sometimes can’t get over it.  The fact that motherhood is messier, stickier, and smellier than you ever imagined is no hidden secret.  We have all heard or told stories about spit-up on clothes, boogers wiped on walls, trips to the ER, milkshakes dumped in laps, diapers removed during nap time, carpooling to activities, chaperoning field trips, and so much more.  Those moments are tough.  They can beat us down until we are searching the house for a clean white rag to wave in surrender.  But maybe those aren’t really the hardest moments of motherhood.  Maybe the hardest moments are camouflaged as our most triumphant; the moments we eagerly anticipate and countdown the days for, until at the last moment we realize the chapter is closing and we can not – will not – be able to open it again.

I spent so many moments throughout the night feeding my little ones.  The house was quiet, my body was exhausted, but my little one and me awake and sharing a quiet moment.  I knew I would be tired in the morning and maybe begrudge this little alarm clock that I snuggle in my arms for the missed moments of sleep. I would complain and tell my husband how many times I was up throughout the night.  I would wish for a full night’s sleep and  wonder if I would ever feel well-rested again.  And then… after months of waiting, I woke up a full 8 hours after I fell asleep.  My little one no longer needed to eat in the middle of the night and no longer needed to snuggle into my arms while we both drifted between sleep and wakefulness.  Just a few weeks later I realized that the little one not only had grown past our night feedings but also my body had grown past nourishing my little one.  The secret quiet moments we had shared came to a quick end.  My little one had tickled me under my arm during a nursing session, he had cooed me to sleep, he had smiled the sweetest smile for my eyes only in the middle of the night. We spent so much time so closely wrapped into each other that distinguishing where one of us ended and the other began was nearly impossible.  The moment came when I realized that this chapter was finished for us.  The moment was a triumph for my sleepy self but so hard for my mommy-self.

Then the little ones grew and became “slightly-bigger” little ones.  We would play together and work together.  I would sing the ABC’s under my breath while I cleaned up magnetic letters off the kitchen floor only to realize there were no “slightly-bigger” little ones around to hear this lesson of literacy.   I would count in English and count in Spanish. I would sing songs about cleaning up and not biting our friends.  I would make sticker charts to encourage good behavior choices and try to use my kind words at all times.  I would be in full teacher mode and many times feel like I was more in I-want-to-poke-my-eyeballs-out-if-I-have-to-repeat-myself-one-more-time mode.  Life as mommy to a pre-schooler is hard.  My patience stretched and my nerves frayed. I worked hard to teach the little ones smart things and kind things, but all the while I wondered if my brain would ever function in grown-up mode again.  And then… after weeks of registrations, doctor check-ups, and school supply shopping, I walked out of his Kindergarten classroom and knew while my days of teaching him will never truly end, the days of me being his teacher were finished.  Another adult will help shape him, his mind and his character.  He would not look only to me for answers to his many questions, for encouragement when he doubts himself, for guidance on how to handle a difficult situation with his friends.  His world was expanding and my role in it was shrinking.  The moment came when I realized yet another chapter was finished for us.  The moment was a triumph for my college-educated self, but it was oh-so-hard for my mommy self.

Motherhood is hard.  The beginnings and the middles of each phase and each chapter have their challenges.  My “slightly-bigger” little ones have only grown into “quite-bigger” little ones… but still, they are little ones… so I haven’t had too many chapters to close behind us and for that I am grateful.  During the messy, sticky, and smelly days that seem to be one long chapter with a very dry, rather pointless, and completely redundant storyline that I would prefer to skim through and get it over with… I will know deep down that the end of the chapter won’t be easy either. Maybe, just maybe, if I remind myself that the triumphant end of each chapter will most likely come before I am truly ready for it, I will be able to slow down and appreciate each chapter for what it is…. another piece of my little ones’ great and unique stories.


%d bloggers like this: