Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lots and Lots

So it turns out that a side effect of eating really good food - and by that I mean real actual food that is unadulterated - is that what passes for many as a good meal out is rather disgusting.  Since we are on vacation, and have been running about as tourists in our own backyard, we have been having lunch and dinner out.  Our tummies were in an uproar the first two days especially (coincidence that we were in the land of biscuits, gravy, and fried, fried and more fried?), but these last two I've been really focusing on my menu choices and have been feeling much better.  Less is more on the menu I think, and it is shocking how much restaurants seem to feel that more is more.   My first chicken salad was gross - the dressing was super sugary and the lettuce was limp.  My first night of shrimp was also gross - tasted like a whole packet of Lipton soup mix was on them.  The next day was better, but still too much food, and a weak too light salad with "veggies" such as cucumber and tomato.  Hmmmm - that's a regular salad.  When you advertise veggies, I think you mean more.  It's amazing what a difference the food makes. Today, we ate at the Museum of Natural History and it was the best chicken I've had so far (and I may have had chicken at most of my meals).  They use real food, and make an attempt to use local and organic when possible.  I am feeling better already with a day's worth of real food in my body. 

I've also noticed that the kids menu choices are all things that I'm OK with the kids eating every once in a while, but certainly not every day.  When deciding what to order, we've been editing our discussion of the menus a bit, seeking good kids options in the appetizers, and finding meals we can eat that they can have some of too.  I'm generally pretending that there is no grilled cheese or pizza anywhere.  Our waiters are getting used to me asking to "replace the F-R-I-E-S with some kind of veggie or fruit please".   I've found it interesting that since our kids usually eat so well, we are able    to use food as a drug.  Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I have used sugar in the last few days to pump up their energy and get a bit more exploring out of them.  But honestly, if they usually ate that kind of thing it wouldn't work!  Using a sugar high to hike up a big hill - I think it's a valid choice. 

Of course the major thing about eating out is the portion sizes.  Who the hell eats all that?  I've had two dinners where I ordered an appetizer as my meal, and one was way too big for dinner and the other was just about right.  The meals themselves are enough for several people.  The 1/4 chicken and two sides I had for lunch today got split between me and the kids and there were leftovers.   Last night, we had the kids split a kids meal, and split a serving of yogurt and fruit between them.  They ate a lot, but still didn't finish it all.  I'm finding that when I order a salad with chicken on/in it, there is more chicken than a portion size - way more.  Maybe you all already knew all this, but we eat out so rarely that this is all hitting me at once.  I can't imagine that I could avoid putting on pound after pound if we continued on this way.  It's clear to me where much of our obesity problem is being created. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

That's a touching good story

We tell a lot of stories here.  I discovered the power of stories when Pumpkin was still very new and Peanut was struggling with all kinds of fears. We had the fear that animals would crawl into the mitten that Pumpkin lost while we were walking at the lake one day.  We had the fear of a fox at the front door and a wolf at the back door.  We had the complete and total non-participation at soccer and ballet class, which I assumed was some kind of fear at the time.  With each of these, I became better and better at the stories. 

Each night at bedtime, Peanut would ask for a story, and I'd make one up for her.  Usually we would make the main character an animal or a little girl, dealing with the same kinds of things she had been having trouble with that day.  We had a story about a fox who came to our garden to eat lettuce, and so we taught him how to grow his own garden in the woods.  We had an alligator who was really worried about playing soccer, and didn't like the gym because he couldn't hear with all the echoing in the room.  We had a nice family of bunnies who used a mitten as their home.  We had some general stories about fun stuff too - a girl named Simone who played in the snow and then came in to have cocoa with her mom.  Lots of stories about preschool...

At some point, she began to ask for particular stories, and then she began to develop the story with me. "Mama, tell me the Simone story." "Mama, tell me a story about Samantha going to school and Max's mommy picks us up."  "Tell me a story about a fox." "Mama, tell me a story about Samantha playing in the sandbox all day."  She'd pick things that she had either struggled with or wanted to do, and I'd start the story asking her clarifying questions along the way - "Did Samantha's mom and brother drive to school too?"  "Did she play in the sandbox and the pool?". 

Often, these stories have shed some light on what was a confusing mash of feelings and behaviors. You know, sometimes kids have all kinds of turmoil about stuff we just don't think twice about.  Last night, Peanut was done with her diner (some food still on the plate) and went to ask her brother if she could have some of his chicken.  She politely asked, he said no, and she asked again.  He said no again, this time not so sweetly.  I chimed in with something about him having already said no, and that she still had some food on her plate if she was hungry.  She turned and with this very angry face started telling me that "You don't say anything!  You don't get to read me books!  I'm going to bed!" and stomped off.  A few minutes later, I went into her room and she was tucked into bed with a sullen look on her face.  I started to tell a story.  "Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a little brother.  She mostly liked him, but sometimes he really got on her nerves.   One night..."  When I got to the part about her being so frustrated that her mom and dad always took his side, her eyes grew big.  When I got to the part about her mom coming into her room after she had stomped out of the kitchen, I got a little smile.  When I got to the part about the little girl being the light of her mom's life, and that her mom was working really hard to make sure that everyone in the family gets what they need and knows they are loved, I got a hug.  

A few minutes of very powerful stuff.  Try it - you might be really surprised at where it leads. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another chapter

Honey has been doing his masters degree at night, and I have filled up my evenings with lots of tasks in order to keep myself busy and not constantly bother him.  Well, he is finally done with school, and I haven't yet wrapped my head around the fact that I will have a husband once again!  I am so used to my routine, that I am not even sure how it should change or what I can let go in order to create more "us" time.  I do some work at night that I could move to a bit earlier, and of course the time spent on random computer tasks can be cut pretty easily.  Some other stuff needs to be thought through - food prep can maybe be done during the day with the kids... But clearly, I will need to streamline my evening to take advantage.  It seems a bit crazy that I'm even thinking about this, but really, I'm worried we will continue to sit back to back at our computers and I'll not want to bother him since he's "working".

To help make the transition, we are taking a whole week for just our family.  We'll be doing some day trips and touristy things around the area - things that we have been talking about for a long time and never gotten to do.  It should be great fun and very exciting, but since we have never really done this, I'm a little apprehensive about all of this togetherness.  It's too early in our children's lives to have gotten so wrapped up in their stuff that we completely forget about ours - like empty nesters who no longer have anything to talk about when their kids move out.  On the other hand, we have had a project of some sort (together or individually) for most of our marriage, and this will be the first time that we are project free and are just living.  I wonder if we will get back to those deep conversations like those late nights early in our relationship.  I think I'd like that.

So this week, we have crazy plans - all kinds of dinosaur related outings, zoos, hiking, butterflies... we are trying to cram it all in, have fun doing it, and continue our potty learning journey (day 5 I think of underpants!) with Pumpkin all at the same time.  We even have a night out just for us planned mid week.  I think we are asking for a lot, but as long as we can all relax and remember that this is a vacation and if we just don't make it to all of the planned stops, it's totally OK.  We've already decided that if we miss some stuff we really want to do, that we will actually plan it for another time.  I think it just seems like we have to get everything done in this week since we never have had any other time to do these kinds of touristy stuff.  I need to remember that we will not have the issue of Honey having to get home and write a paper or whatever.  It seems crazy to be stressed about all of this - OK, it doesn't seem crazy - it actually is crazy.  I'm going to go lie down and breathe and relax about our vacation!

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This morning during Bikram yoga class, I had a little revelation.  I was in Savasana or corpse pose, and the instructor started talking about how in the pose the urge is to scratch the itch, wipe the sweat, fix your hair or clothes or mat, and tuck and pull and reorganize, but that you are supposed to just be and rest and allow all of the urges to go unchecked.  For whatever reason, at that moment I understood that unconditional love is just that.  Accepting all of the things you have an urge to fix, and loving what is instead of what could be with one more little nudge.  Cognitively, I knew this already, but today it hit me at a deeper level, and I've been thinking about it all day.

Why do we try to be perfect?  Where does the idea come from that it is at all possible?  I know I am a perfectionist in some (OK, many) ways, but is it just inherently who I am?  Did I learn it somehow?  Can I change it?  Can I accept myself and love "what is" perfectionism and all?  I'm struggling a lot with this lately not just for myself, but for Peanut.  She has a tendency to want to "do right" and becomes pretty tiger like when something goes wrong.  I wonder if I am helping her become that way.  I wonder if she will be 40 before she understands that it is not necessary to be perfect or right all the time.  I'm hoping both of my children know unconditional love, and can move beyond perfect to be themselves. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We do an awful lot of eating around here.  For two pretty small kids, Pumpkin and Peanut can really pack it away.  So it's no surprise that their favorite games are all food related.  We usually have a few baby dolls joining us at the table for real and pretend meals.  Very often, there is something being brewed in the kitchen downstairs that we all must try. We now have a restaurant called "Restaurant Peach".  I had a lovely meal and the service was excellent, although some of the meal preparation practices are questionable.  Do try it if you are in the area. 

Proof that it gets better

A friend with a 4 year old and one on the way recently asked me if it was really hard at the beginning.  As I began to answer, I realized that I was really downplaying the troubles, and when I first started talking, I even said that it wasn't too hard.  Mid sentence, I had waves of memories washing over me, and had to start my answer all over.  It was hard.  So hard that I am just now coming out of the fog, and feeling like I am begining to have some fun again.  So hard that I still cry over the things I said and did in those early days.  So hard that I am amazed we are all intact and loving one another.  So hard that I still have trouble forgiving myself for not having enough love to go around, or enough patience, or enough time, or enough energy, or enough...anything. 
The thing is though, that while I wanted to tell her it would be fine, because it will, I didn't want to gloss over it all.  So I did say what was hard for me that I hadn't expected, and what I think I would have done differently if I could go back.  I wish I'd had more of that, and I wished I'd listened and understood.  I just don't think you can though until you are there.  I had a pretty easy time with just one child - really - it was all roses and rainbows.  Yeah there were hard moments, but overall, I was a competent mom with a great kid, a fun flexible job, some time for myself, and time with my Honey.  Who knew that once we added another bundle in, I'd become so stressed, un-fun, overly emotional, overly protective, and just generally blah?  Some people seamlessly glide into having multiple kids.  Maybe my friend will be one of them - I sure hope so. 

The silver lining here though is that my first response to her was that having a second child was not that hard.  I never thought I'd be in a place where all of the difficulty faded enough to allow me to remember the positives first.  Well, here I am and thank goodness for that.   

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Our sun room will be awesome someday.  Right now, it is a very hot, not at all insect proof mess.  We have all kinds of animals show up in there.  We've had several sparrows, some hummingbirds, lots of bees and wasps, moths of course, a butterfly or two, and plenty of interesting spiders. 
Recently, we have been noticing (how can you miss the really?) cicada killer wasps flying around in there.  I haven't yet found their nest, but there is at least one by our windows every day.  I think they are getting stuck or else they are already on their last legs since it seems that they drop dead within 24-48 hours of being in there. 

This week, there were two or three in the sunroom at once, and it seemed that they were attacking a butterfly that had gotten waylaid as well.  The drama outdoors makes for interesting viewing - thank goodness it has given us something to do when it is super hot in the afternoons!