Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best Time of the Year

Forget New Year's Day. Forget Birthdays. The REAL start of any year is the beginning of the school year. Even now, as removed as I am from the life of an academic, my step becomes more springy as the days gets cooler, the school buses start rolling, and the smell of new erasers and paper fills the air. Chickadee #1 starts kindergarten this year, at our local parish school. She gets to wear a uniform (thank God) and and will get in the classroom of a very loving, and very no-nonsense Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sister. Just what Chickadee #1 needs. Less nonsense. More loving.

I got the chance today to demonstrate the turning over of multiple new leaves -- my imperviousness to shame, my ability to absorb pain, my new found resolution to stick to my guns when it comes to the chickadees, and my refusal to take any nonsense from them. I was proud of myself, but I don't think our local Target will stop talking about us any time soon.

It's a beautiful day here in the center of the Mid-Atlantic region. Clouds marching off into the distance make you imagine fairy realms high in the air. I spent the morning at the doctor's office (full physical -- blood work and x-ray results to follow. We'll get to the bottom of this pain thing I am sure.) After I picked up the chickadees from my friend's house, I softened the blow of them leaving their best friends by telling them that we had to go to Target to pick up a few things, but that if they were good and obeyed the rules, I would take them bike and trike riding in the school parking lot (empty) afterwards. I was looking forward to their playing and my sitting on a convenient stump reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is marvelous.

Before we went into the store, these were the rules I set down:
1. Stay with Mommy.
2. No pulling things from the shelves.
3. No shouting or disrespect.
4. We buy only what is necessary.

If they successfully followed these rules, we would have the rewarding experience of riding and reading. If not, we would leave the store immediately and come straight home.

So off we went. Chickadee #1 was really trying to follow the rules, although she strayed from the straight and narrow a few times (pushing the cart when told not to, for example). Chickadee #2 was bopping along, mostly in the cart. We picked up what we'd come for on the first floor. We rode the escalator upstairs as a special treat (the chickadees love the "cart escalator" in Target) and started to look at books. Then Chickadee #1 had to use the bathroom. We made a successful potty visit and the hand washing reminded me that I needed Purell. So, it was off downstairs again, and another escalator ride. While we were walking towards the pharmacy area, Chickadee #1 pulled away to grab a Sponge bob Square pants watch from the jewelry section -- she just wanted me to see it and put it back as soon as I told her to. But, she broke rule #1 and rule #2.

And MUCH WORSE, she gave Chickadee #2 the idea to check out the kiddie watches. She grabbed a Dora watch and tried to open the packaging. She wanted to buy it. When I said no, she went into full blown TANTRUM mode. Screaming, crying, thrashing about, etc. I said that we were leaving, and Chickadee #1 started to have a fit about the cart we were leaving behind. So now I had two screaming chickadees who absolutely couldn't believe that I was leaving the store without buying the watch and/or buying anything and that we were going straight home.

I managed to get the kids intact up to the fifth floor of the garage (where we'd parked to enjoy the fantastic sky view just twenty minutes prior -- but oh how crucial a twenty minutes it was) and into the car. Then I left them in the car and watched the clouds go along until the roaring and gnashing of teeth had subsided to a dull whimper. When I got back into the car, I warned them that we would stop the car if they started to cry and fuss again. We got down to level 4 of the garage when it started up again. I drove back up to level 5, got out of the car, looked at the sky for a few more minutes, and called my husband for some moral support. He, of course, backed me up completely. He also shored up my wavering (maybe I should give them another chance??? NOOOO!) and asked to speak to a very upset chickadee #1, who felt that the punishment did not fit the crime -- she hadn't started the tantruming, and she put the watch back, after all. He was able to calm both down a little bit -- despite stifled sobbing from the back seat, we drove home fairly well. Chickadee #2 fell asleep on the way, and I was able to have a reasonable talk with Chickadee #1 about the consequences of not following the rules and the unfortunate fact that, if her sister can't go bike riding, she can't go bike riding either.

She doesn't know it, but my husband and I have agreed that, if she behaves well for the rest of the day, I'll take her to ride her bike after dinner while he puts her sister to sleep.

I'm exhausted but happy to have stuck to my guns. I think we'll all be the better for it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Better, I think.

Is it me, or are the last days of summer particularly difficult? In the past two days, I have had to contend with and defuse (or not) multiple (and I mean, MULTIPLE) temper tantrums both of the 2.99 year old and 5 year old varieties. Today, I think the number was five for Chickadee #2 and 3 for Chickadee #1. The big blowout for Chickadee #2 was when I wouldn't let her paint on the dining room rug with the painting set she pilfered from her sister. For Chickadee #1, it was when I refused to take her bike riding at 4:45 p.m., right as I was getting dinner ready. Some days, whew.

Adding to the general cheer, I started the day very discouraged. It's my practice to get on the scale at home prior to going to the WW meeting. That way, I am clued in to the general direction things are going in -- I don't like surprises. Well, this morning, I didn't like what I saw on the scale, and spent all morning and the drive to the meeting excoriating myself -- "Well, it's no more than you deserve -- you didn't track at all this week, you didn't drink milk, you didn't drink water, you didn't exercise. LOSER!!! (but only in the metaphorical sense)." But, still, I hauled myself to the meeting and stood in line, waiting to be given that pitying, condescending look by the woman behind the desk. Imagine my shock when she smiled and said, "Good job -- you lost .4 of a pound." Now, four tenths doesn't sound like much but, believe me, when you are expecting to have gained two pounds, it feels like a lot.

So, hooray, hooray for me. Imagine what I coiuld do if I actually did everything I'm supposed to be doing?

Now, if only there were a meeting for how to lose the temper tantrums.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bad Day Yesterday

Yesterday was an awful day for me. While I had lunch with a friend (Chick-fil-A salad and sandwich 10 points total), which was nice, Chickadee #2 took my question, "Do you have to go to the bathroom?" a little too literally and peed all over the floor of the mall food court. She's "almost" potty trained, so it was not a huge deal -- except that I, having left the house unprepared AGAIN, didn't have anything to put on her. Luckily for us, the secondary purpose of going to the mall, after meeting my friend, was to go to the Hanna Anderssen store to buy another 3-pack of their training pants. They're lovely, soft, organic cotton and cost only 10 dollars each, LOL! So, we high-tailed it to the bathroom to take off her wet things, Chickadee #1 bringing up the rear. When we got there, I did some quick thinking and told Chickadee #1 to take off the shorts she was wearing (under a dress that is a tad too short) and hand them over. I slapped them (way too big) onto Chickadee #2 and went in search of Hanna Anderssen.

As we walked through the mall, it became more and more apparent to me that I am actually falling apart. Not figuratively -- literally. Every step I took made me feel as if the ground glass in my left hip was shifting around a little bit more and the hot poker running down my leg was heating up to the melting point. By the time we got to the store, I was almost in tears. We quickly bought the training pants and I put them on Chickadee #2, tucking the waistband of the too-big shorts into the waistband of the training pants. We'd planned to also buy school shoes for Chickadee #1, and we did stop by Stride Rite, but the way I was feeling, coupled with the $55 price tag for a pair of Mary Janes, cut our trip short.

On the way home, I became more and more depressed. I'm at the point now where the small things that I need to do are becoming ever more difficult. I can't seem to get a handle on pain -- first from my foot which, after a year and a half, has become a constant companion, to the sciatica, arthritis, whatever the heck it is, in my left hip and leg, which has been with me now for months, to the arthritis in my fingers. The most frightening and most depressing thing for me is to think that I am now only in midlife. If I survive to old age, I will be crippled. Whenever I begin to envision things being better for me physically, my body, this body which I've never really liked, shows me that it's my enemy. "You think you're going to start walking for exercise again -- do a 5K race (which I did actually hobble through)? Ha effin' ha. I'll make it so you can't walk for locomotion."

I don't want to be a mother so wrapped up in her own physical limitations that she can't do things with her children but that's the mother I've become and it makes me so sad. An example -- after getting home from the mall, I took the chickadees to the pool. During "safety break", when the big pools are closed to children, we decamp to the baby pool. At its deepest this pool is 6". From the pool deck to the bottom of the pool can't be more than a foot. But I, instead of just stepping down into the pool, found myself walking around the the shallow (depth 0") end of the pool and walking to the 6" deep side before sitting down on the edge to watch my children play. I did it without really thinking about it. I did it because that's just what I do now; those are just the "accommodations" I make to manage the pain.

After I made that little accommodation so unthinkingly, I looked back down to the current issue of Weight Watchers Magazine, which I was reading. The cover article is an interview with Jenny McCarthy (one of my heroes, actually). The question was, "Why do you think it's healthy to invest in yourself?" Her response, "On an airplane, they say to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before putting it on your child. I've constantly been training myself to think that way. I say I can only be the greatest mom alive if I'm the healthiest, happiest mom alive," (WWMagazine, Sept/Oct 2009, pg. 114). In the bright, sunny mid afternoon heat, I started to cry. I'm not that mom. I'm just not. Not the healthiest, not the happiest, not the greatest.

I'll get there, I pray, but it's such slow going and is so frustrating. I'm going back to a Weight Watchers meeting today, after being away due to vacation, and I'm hoping that I haven't done too much damage, and I am starting some resistance training today (I have the resistance bands and tubes, and think I should actually USE them), and I have finally made an appointment with my doctor for a physical. I've got to write all this down so that I don't forget to mention anything on my catalogue of woes. I hope I can gain some momentum going forward. Please pray for me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Body Image Blues

A word of advice, Dear Reader. If you have body image issues, as I do, DON'T GO ON VACATION to a place that has as its main attraction a huge indoor swimming pool and accompanying "attractions". Great Wolf Lodge is a lot of fun for children but, in addition to the normal -- ahem-- headaches associated with being in a 4 acre room full of screaming, running, excited children and multiple water features, I spent our mercifully short 24 hours there in excruitating comparisions between myself and others. As much as I hate to admit it, I looked at other women with an assessing, comparing, critical eye. Although I mostly found myself on the deficient side of these comparisons, it kills me that I did it, and it kills me to know that other women are doing it to me: "Whew! At least I don't look like that!"

Comparing ourselves to others is, I think, a natural thing for human beings to do. "How am I doing in comparison to my peer over there?" "Is he smarter than I am? "Is he more handsome than me?" "Does she make more money than I do?" "Is she better looking than me?" That it is natural doesn't mean it's a good thing. I've never been competitive with other people -- I was comfortable with the idea of competing with myself, striving to do and be better with each iteration of a task. I find myself appalled, then, that I am doing all this comparing, which is just another form of competitiveness.

And, of course, it makes me feel so much worse. Sigh.

Menu Plan Monday

I've been planning menus for about a year now - it's a simple way to plan grocery shopping, it helps me be in control of our grocery budget, and it helps to run by the week's selections with my super-picky husband. I've mostly stuck to planning dinners, but this week, in an attempt to rein in our rampant spending (vacation was SO expensive), I've planned every meal. I've also been a big fan of OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday for almost as long as I've been menu planning. So it makes me happy to be able publish my very first Menu Plan Monday post. Next week, I'll do my best to calculate WW points for all the meals.

Without further ado:


Breakfast -- Vanilla Yogurt with frozen berry medley and granola parfaits
Lunch – 99 cent macaroni and cheese at IKEA
Dinner -- Leftover Pasta Meatball Soup (garlic bread and salad)


Breakfast – whole wheat waffle sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and banana
Lunch – ham and cheese sandwiches, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, chips or Peanut butter and jelly, chips, fruit
Dinner -- Roast Turkey Breast, Stuffing, Corn, Gravy, Green beans,Rolls


Breakfast – frozen berry medley smoothie with vanilla yogurt, English Muffin bread
Lunch – kids (hot dogs speared with spaghetti and then cooked) and peas, Mom (green salad topped with leftover turkey, asian dressing, edamame)
Dinner -- Cheese tortellini bake

Thursday – crockpot day

Breakfast –oatmeal with cranberries and almonds
Lunch – on the go sandwiches for Chickadees
Salad with leftover roast chicken and asian dressing for Mom
Dinner: Applesauce chicken
Frozen Peas


Breakfast – cereal of choice or egg white omelet
Lunch – Sandwiches at pool
Dinner -- Fish sticks (kids) or Chile Lime Fish Fry, Corny Polenta, Peas with lemon zest


Breakfast -- Cereal with bananas
Lunch – pack a picnic lunch to take to Brother-in-law’s house (we’re helping them move), Ham and cheese sandwiches, Coleslaw, Spicy noodle salad, Lettuce and tomato
Dinner: Leftover Applesauce Chicken, Buttered egg noodles, green beans, corn


Breakfast -- vanilla yogurt with berry medley and granola parfaits, english muffin bread
Lunch -- spaghettios with broccoli (kids), sandwiches or leftovers for Mom and Dad
Dinner -- Ham Steaks with peaches and apricot sauce, rice, green beans, salad

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So how am I doing on vacation?

All I can say is, thank God, Thursday starts a new week of tracking for me. I thought I was doing pretty well, but I was a tad mistaken. Every week, I get the regular amount of daily WW points, plus 35 extra points that I can either use or not use. Most of the time I don't use them. This week, I used 37 of them (oops).

What really sent me over the top was the flatbread pizza at Uno Chicago Grill last night. Why I thought flatbread was a better choice than say, a salad, I don't know. I just know that I was in a foul mood because the skies had opened up (4 to 7 inches here last night) and we were soaking wet. We'd been driving up and down the "strip" looking for someplace to land, and I knew that the rest of the family would enjoy pizza. So, that's what we chose. I got the vegetable soup (2 points) and a flatbread pizza (24!!! points). Thank heavens I didn't eat the entire thing, but really.

Today is a new day and the beginning of a new week. Vegetables. Water. No more Chicago Grill.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vacation, aahhh. Hunh?

Here we are on vacation near a beach and some naval installations. I've tried to prepare for at least not gaining and, I hope, losing some weight while here. Our hotel provides breakfast -- I've stuck mainly to toast and hard boiled eggs. Not the tastiest, but the eggs are the only protein on offer and I'm trying to ensure that I start my day off correctly.

Yesterday, we brought the lunch I prepared to the beach. It was HOT and very sunny -- almost uncomfortable. We stayed on the beach for a few hours, then, as it got really hot towards noon, retired to find a shady spot to have lunch. Unfortunately, that spot happened to be our RAV4, in the parking lot. Evidently, this town has no parks at all. I suppose they think that the beach is all one could need -- but we prefer our children to remain unlike lobsters and our sandwiches as free from sand as possible. It wasn't too bad -- the chickadees thought it was exotic to eat lunch in the car. My husband was less enthused, but he troupered along.

After lunch, we went on a harbor cruise to look at the naval base that's here. Do yourself a favor -- don't take a five year old and a two year old on a two hour cruise, or you will be praying for a tidal wave to come and sweep you (just you) away. We were shoehorned into the very full cruise at the last minute, so we couldn't find seats (in the air conditioned bottom deck) together. Daddy and the chickadees had three seats (2 side by side and 1 in front), while I had a single seat 4 or so rows behind, across the aisle. Chickadee #1 spent the entire cruise running between her seat and mine. Chickadee #2 followed suit, and added lying over the escape hatch in the middle of the floor to the repertoire. The highlight of the cruise (for the horrified, watching crowd) was when Chickadee #1 tried to get in front of Chickadee #2 -- a little too enthusiastic, she pushed a bit too hard, the boat went over a wave, and Chickadee #2 fell backwards into the side of a seat across the aisle. The wailing and gnashing of teeth began, in stereo.

Afterwards, my husband said, "You know, we really have to rethink these vacations. We just have to resign ourselves to the fact that we have to only do things that the children will enjoy, not necessarily what we enjoy -- this cruise was a disaster." Yep. Next.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shopping, menu, trepidation, vacation

So yesterday, as I do every Monday, I planned our menu for the week. I got most of the groceries from Harris Teeter, since I can order them and then pick them up. Staff there shops for you, bags the groceries, charges your account, and puts the packed bags in your car when you arrive to pick them up. Not having to shop with the chickadees in tow is worth the $4.95 service fee I (which has been deferred almost every time I've used the service for one promotional reason or another). I did, however, have to stop at Trader Joe's to pick some other things up.

My menu plan for the week, you ask?

Monday: Grilled Tilapia, fish fingers for the chickadees, homemade french fries, green beans, applesauce. We didn't do that -- instead, I had the Pesto-cheese-tomato burger, 1 cup of fettuccine with grape tomatoes, and the chickadees and husband had hot dogs with ketchup and/or mustard and a side of fettuccine and marinara sauce. My dinner came to 9 points for the burger (including everything, including the roll), and 5 points for the pasta (4 for the pasta, one for the tomatoes which were cooked in a spray of olive oil). That wasn't too bad, particularly considering that lunch consisted of a salad and lemongrass chicken sticks from Trader Joe's, for a total of 5 points, and breakfast was 2 small bananas (4 points) and a cup of coffee with milk (1 point).

Tuesday: Dinner at sister's to celebrate sister's birthday My beloved older sister is holding a party for herself, 'cause she's just the kind of gal who can think of nothing more lovely to do on her birthday than to gather her family around her. We're having steamed crabs, a Maryland tradition, which is a bit yucky but oh so yummy. As long as I stay away from the beer (which I hate anyway), I should be fine -- a little punch drunk from all the sodium in the Old Bay seasoning, but crab is very low in calories and fat.

Wednesday: Chicken Parmesan Fingers over Garlic Spaghetti

Thursday: Pesto-Cheese-Tomato Burgers, salad Not sure what I'll do here -- the burgers were very good, so I might make them again for the whole family, but I also might just substitute Monday's meal here.

Friday: Cheese Tortellini with tomato sauce for chickadees and husband. Tortellini veggie salad for me

Saturday: Hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill for chickadees and husband. Grilled chicken for me. Leftover tortellini salad

Sunday: Leftover buffet -- clean out the fridge before vacation day.

Ah.... Vacation. Should be fun. Beach, sand, nature reserves, bird watching, Great Wolf, restaurants.

YIKES. We are going to be stuck for five nights in motels/hotels with no kitchen, a family that loves to eat out, and a "carnivale" attitude (all rules are suspended, we are in "extra"-ordinary time). That could spell disaster. I'm coming up with a game plan (eat mostly fruit, with English muffin or toast at the continental breakfast, keep lunch things in the room refrigerator and take to the beach with us in our cooler, choose wisely at dinner, stock up on healthy snacks, etc.). I've asked for advice in the WW meeting and on the WW community website, and have submitted a question to Any suggestions would be welcome. I already know to stay away from the Boardwalk fries (which are too greasy for me anyway) LOL.