Friday, November 29, 2013

Have I Ever Mentioned I Don't Love Change? (Part 1)

If you know me, you know I'm a creature of stability. Of routine. Of not shaking things up too much. Hubby is, too; maybe even more so than I am.

I've lived in the same small town my whole life. Hubby has lived there for almost all of his.

So, we shocked a LOT of people when we sort of abruptly moved 350 miles away from home last month.

Wait, what?  I still don't really believe it myself. Let me back up for a second.

Back in 2003, I went to work for a national company that had a location in my town. I didn't always love the job itself (though most of the time I was happy enough with it), but I loved the company.  I had good benefits and with the exception of one jerkface loser - that's a story for a whole other post - I had good, supportive management, which I'm sure you know can make or break a job.

Until the aforementioned jerkface loser decided that our location wasn't meeting his expectations and he closed it, putting me out of a job.


I was offered a position in the office 350 miles south.  They told me they really wanted to keep me.  They tried to tempt me with a position they knew I'd enjoy.  But we were still trying to adopt, and our families were all nearby, and we just weren't interested in relocating.

Anyway, the timing all worked out pretty okay.  Allie was born a week before my layoff (and they granted me an early layoff complete with an intact severance package).  So I was free from work obligations during that whole ordeal.  That was definitely a blessing.  And I was in my last four months of college, so that was good too.

A couple months later, I went back to work in the same industry but for a different company. I liked it there.  It was really laid back and a good family-oriented place to work.  I really loved that.

But the other place never did stop trying to convince me to relocate and go back to work for them.  At least a few times a year, I'd hear from them, asking if I'd consider it yet.  No, no, and no, I told them.  

Then something happened.

I ran out of money.

And then they called again.  

I had a much harder time saying no.  We almost said yes that time (which was in June of this year).  I approached my current boss and let him know that they were after me and making some attractive offers.  I told him what I needed in order to make it worthwhile to stay.  He was able to get about halfway there, so that definitely helped.  We decided to stay.  It was a big load off, not having to move and leave everything we had and knew.

Then came August, and another struggle to cover the month's bills.  The new salary still wasn't going to cut it through the winter.  I was losing sleep and getting sick over how we were going to survive without doing something drastic.

Then the phone rang.  "How about more money?"

Hmm. Hard to ignore the timing of all that and how it all lined up.  We kicked the idea around amongst ourselves.  We debated.  We argued.  We flat-out fought.  (He was against going; I was terrified but didn't see any other way to survive the winter without some really drastic lifestyle changes that I knew he'd be unhappy with anyway.)  It was agonizing and stressful and I started having headaches because of it.

It took WEEKS of this before we finally came to a decision and both felt... okay... about it.

We said yes.

What happened next can only be described as chaos...

But you'll have to read about it in my next post. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sugar and Spice and... Saliva?

Let me start this post by saying that this is NOT an ad or a sponsored post in any way.  I don't do those.  These are my thoughts alone.

I mentioned here a while back that there were some really cool things happening in our family.  And when I said really cool, I meant really cool.  I had looked forward to blogging about all of this for a long time - like for over two years - but I've decided that because there are some very sensitive people in the mix, it's probably best that I don't.  It's not worth risking hurt feelings.

But I'll tell you this.  It involves my hubby learning he has a ton of family he didn't previously know about.  And finding this out when one is in his early 40s is enough to knock one's socks off!  Let's just leave it at that, shall we?

This has been an incredible thing to watch unfold.  It could have gone terribly wrong, but it went incredibly right, and the benefits of taking the risk and making contact have been immense.  Bigger and better than we could have ever imagined.

But it got us thinking - do most of us really have an idea about our roots?  Do we really know where we came from?  I've always known that I am part Cherokee and that I have some Irish, too.  But how much?  I have no idea.  Hubby always told me he was, in large part, German.  Now that we found out about all this new family, we were dying to know what else might be in his blood.

I was delighted to learn that Ancestry offers a really simple service for this.  You pay them $99, spit in a tube, mail it off, and they send you their best guess as to your genetic roots!  How cool is that?!  We invested in a kit for hubby.  He sent off the sample and prepared to wait the 6-8 weeks that were indicated in the instructions.  Imagine our shock when his results came back 8 days after they received the kit!

Turns out hubby is, according to Ancestry anyway:

Wait, what?  I don't see German on that list (unless it's considered Southern European??).  When we received these results, we were both blown away.  WOW, almost 80% of his background is in that one relatively small area in Northern Europe.  Crazy.  

Truth be told, I had wanted to do the DNA thing myself for a long time.  But with all the new discoveries about his background, I decided he should go first.  (I couldn't bring myself to spend $200 on this at once.)  But seeing his results only intensified my wish to have my own DNA done.  So the next time there was a sale, I jumped at the chance and bought my own kit.

Naturally, mine took longer to come back than his did.  I think they must have known I was waiting and that I am not the patient one in our house!  The results did eventually return.  Remember that Cherokee and Irish??

Blown away once more.  No Cherokee - or other Native American - to be found and only 22% Irish!  Wow!  I didn't know about ANY Scandinavian background at all and definitely no Italian or Greek either.  It's fair to say I was completely geeked out when I got this email.  I was so surprised at the absence of Cherokee that I actually called Ancestry just to ask if there was a chance of a mixup or something.  The guy on the other end of the phone - who was American, by the way - told me that Native American DNA is sometimes a little bit 'off' on these tests.  He used the example of two full siblings who should have the same amount of Native blood.  One sibling's test might say 25% and the other might say 10%.  He also told me that anything under 7% sometimes won't show up at all.  So that's also a possibility.

Cool sidenote, he also told me that Ancestry is constantly improving the way they run this test, so every time they make a new version, they re-run your raw DNA data and send you revised results.  I already got one set that was slightly more targeted than the first.  Pretty nifty.

Now, I know what the cynical side of your brain is saying.  "You can't possibly know if this test is accurate.  You can't expect much from a $99 DNA test."  Yes, I know this.  It's not as if I'm changing the course of my life based on what this test says.  I just find it fascinating.  And, for fun as funds allow, I hope to buy these tests for a few target relatives, like my grandmother.  It would be amazing to see what hers says, since her father was the one who was half (or more?) Cherokee.

I'm posting this now, in the middle of November, even though I began writing it in late August... just before my life turned upside down.  Holy moly, there've been some changes!!  I'll start on that post next.  I might just have it posted by spring.

PS, anyone have suggestions for getting a three year old to spit in a tube for a DNA test?  Ha!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Time for Some Randomness

I'm just going to put a few things out there into the universe.


I can't stand it when people breed animals, especially puppies, for money.  As in, for a source of income.  It makes me crazy.  And sad.  And irritated.

Why?  Why would you intentionally create more dogs and cats when the Humane Society of the United States estimates that 3-4 million are euthanized per year?  That's somewhere between 165 and 220 dogs and cats euthanized every day, in every state in our country.  And let's not even start on the number beyond that who are abused, neglected, used for fighting... it just makes my heart sick.  Why would you deliberately contribute to this problem just so you can make a few extra bucks?

I was asked a while back to share a Facebook post from a friend who was trying to sell puppies.  I thought it must be an accidental litter or... something.  It wasn't.  He bragged to me privately how much money he was making off these puppies.  I didn't share the post and I unfriended the person.  (This was not someone I was very close to in real life.)

I've seen people who breed for money scrimp on things like vaccinations, checkups, deworming treatments, food supplements... and even worse, they have virtually no incentive to screen new owners for the animals.  After all, they make the same amount of money no matter who they sell to.  Unsavory people buying puppies from Craigslist or the backs of pickups for $500 apiece can abuse and neglect to their hearts' content.  When they get caught, the animals end up in shelters and often euthanized.

It just makes me nauseous.  So please, don't do it.  Or you owe me a box of Tums.

So there.

*  *  *

On another note, I miss birthday surprises.

Not gifts.


I started writing about this on my birthday.  Which may or may not have been over a month ago, but hey, I'm just not as prolific a writer as I used to be.  I write a lot in my head.  Less than 1% of it makes it out of my head.  I need to get better about this.

Anyhow, I used to think I wanted presents for my birthday.  I probably did.  But in the last few years, I've realized it's not the presents I really long for.  It's the surprises.

When I was a kid, my parents threw me great parties.  They weren't necessarily extravagant, but I never wanted that anyway, so it was perfect.  My gifts were always big surprises.  Again, not expensive, but they didn't need to be, because the buildup was huge and the surprise was always worth it.

I remember my first bicycle.  It was purple with a white banana seat with a flower print on it.  It had a white wanna-be-wicker basket on the front with plastic flowers on the front.  And the little streamers coming out the handlebars.  I was just about the most excited kid on the planet when I laid eyes on it, because I had no idea it was coming.

I guess I'm that person who loves surprises.

And I miss them.

Don't get me wrong, I always get taken care of on my birthday (and at Christmas, and lots of other special times too).  But there aren't usually surprises in the mix anymore.

And I miss them.

But there's good news.  Ever since I became a parent, my memory has been fairly poor.  I forget where I put things and I forget appointments and people's phone numbers.

So the good news is, I can start engineering my own surprises any day now.  It's going to be awesome.

Monday, June 10, 2013

That Time I Was a Hooker

There are 3-4 other Ambers that use my email address by mistake on a regular basis, and by "by mistake" I mean "because they're idiots."
Over the past couple of years, I have received so many emails that didn't belong to me.  Emails with questions about orders I've placed for outdoor clothing and gear.  Requests for approval for a children's educational website I didn't sign up for.  Lesson plans for a middle school class.  Just last week, veterinary records spelling out in great detail some poor dog's rectal problems and potential solutions.  

On Saturday, it was a receipt from an Apple store, followed an hour later by an email from some sort of Craigslist-wannabe website where hookers 'escorts' post ads to get, ahem, business.  Even more horrifying, there was a link in the email to edit the ad.

I went on my usual mini-tirade about these people being intellectually deficient and that one's email address isn't something that should be forgotten so easily.  When I was done, hubby calmly said, "So, it's time to teach her a lesson.  Edit the ad to make her really cheap and really ugly."

I married a genius.  A genius, I tell you.  We got a good three days of humor out of that idea.

It would be highly entertaining if I could continue this story with a screenshot of the edited ad and a colorful story about how everything played out, and how well I got revenge on this moron. 


*bawk bawk*

I thought about the kinds of men pathetic losers who would respond to such an ad, and what they might do to her if a money dispute arose during their time together.  What if she ended up in a ditch?  I couldn't do that to a stranger no matter what, but I especially couldn't do it to a lost soul such as this one.

But let me tell you, just the thought of doing it provided so much amusement that I didn't even need to execute the plan.

Maybe next time.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Very Special Visit...

Aidan is now past the 2-1/2 year old mark and, I swear, getting smarter every day.  At least once a day I find myself surprised at something he knows, remembers, or catches on to.  He's big on starting to identify letters, for instance.  Thanks Super Why!
I wrote a while back about a very special moment relating to Aidan and his knowledge of his birthmom.  It was actually while writing that post that I fully realized I had started to slack off on talking to him about her.  Let's face it, at the age of two, there's not a whole lot to say, and it seems silly to keep repeating the same few things over and over.  Unfortunately, logistics make visits a very rare thing these days, so that's not a good venue for me to educate him.

So after writing that post, I made a point of taking things to the next level in terms of communicating with him about his birthmom and family.  I would mention her in passing, usually in the context of, "we should send (her name) some new pictures!"  I would then say, "(her name) is your birthmom, and you grew in her tummy!" and leave it at that.  He obviously doesn't understand where babies come from yet, so he accepts that information and doesn't really think anything more about it.  I point to her picture (which hangs in the living room) and remind him on a regular basis who she is.  I keep it very casual so that he doesn't have to feel like this is a big intimidating thing.

Earlier this week, I got a very unexpected phone call.  It was his birthmom, and she informed me that she would have a short layover in our home town the following day, and did we want to meet up?  OF COURSE we did!!  I was over the moon with excitement.  I asked Aidan if he wanted to go see her.  He said yes - with all the enthusiasm that he exhibits when I ask if he wants to have peas or carrots for dinner.  I didn't make a big deal of it.  After all, he's two.  However, I did start to feel my usual pre-visit anxiety about the possibility that he'd want nothing at all to do with her.

The next day, we picked him up a little early from daycare so we could be at the airport right when she would land, so we could take advantage of every minute with her.  On the way there, I asked him, "who are we going to visit today?"  He thought for a minute and then said her name.  I then asked him, "who is (her name)?"  Again he thought for a minute, then replied, "(her name) birthday-mom!"  My heart melted a little.  Birthday mom.  Fitting, and adorable.  It just might stick.

We made our way into the airport and saw her.  As I approached, I could feel my normally-stranger-danger-ridden toddler start to lean toward her.  I didn't think much of it until he flung himself into her arms for a hug.  About that time, hubby wandered off to use the restroom.  Just to give an indication of the duration of this embrace, it was still going when he returned.  This kid never hugs people like that, not even hubby and I. Not unless he's sick, and even then it's rare.  

It might sound crazy, especially to those outside the adoption arena, but I can assure you that the exchange of joy, love, and healing between the two of them in this moment was palpable.  I can't say for sure exactly what he knows or understands, but I know for sure that he knows she is very special.

Is that not the sweetest thing you've seen in a while?  I had to fight happy tears.  I admit there's sometimes a twinge of jealousy in moments like this, but it is so brief, so fleeting, and so overshadowed by the joy in my heart of knowing what he is getting from having a relationship with her.  Every time we have a visit, I am reminded of all the reasons I love the openness in our adoption.  Seeing him do well is good for her, and getting to know her is so very good for him.  He'll never have to wonder why his eyes are brown or why he's built for the NFL!

The bottom line is that there may be no greater gift I can give this child than the knowledge that he wasn't 'given up.'  He was loved enough to be given a shot at something that she felt was better than what she could provide at that time in her life.  And the fact that I can help him learn and know that is such a blessing.

And to think that when we started thinking about adoption, openness was something that scared the snot out of me and that I was so apprehensive about.  I didn't want to 'share' my child.

And I don't have to.  He just gets extra love in his life, and an extra person who will always be in his corner, no matter what.  How could I deny him that?

I'm so grateful.  So, so grateful.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happiness Smells Like...

It wasn't too terribly long ago that I was rifling through my nightstand, looking for something... most likely an iPhone cable, or some wayward stale chocolate from Halloween or something... and stumbled upon an empty bottle of this.

Isn't it funny how a smell can ignite a million thoughts and feelings in an instant?

It's Dave's cologne. He was wearing it the day we met. He wore it the first time we ever hung out together outside of work (and all the other times, too). He wore it when we went fishing and when we went to the movies. He wore it the day we got married. He was wearing it when we had to give Allie back and when Aidan was born. I can't even tell you how many times I've buried my face in his neck for a hug, a laugh, or a cry, and smelled this scent to the point that it's intoxicating to me.

Not only is it a scent that I really enjoy, it's become the smell of comfort to me. The smell of home. The smell of love and acceptance and safety.

I didn't know it would ever become any of those things, when I stole that bottle from his house over 15 years ago. (Give me a break, it was empty!) I was a 19 year old kid who accidentally found herself enamored with an older guy. I didn't in a million years think that I would actually catch him. That we would end up married with a beautiful little boy. To this day, I feel like the luckiest human being alive. No, really. I do. What did I do to deserve all this goodness?

I doubt he realizes that I still pull that bottle out from time to time, close my eyes and breathe in the smell just to bring me back to reality. As the years march on, I hope that I remember this feeling of gratitude and sheer happiness. Sometimes I have a tendency of getting really wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff and forgetting just how lucky I am.

And then he puts on his cologne, and everything is just right again.

And when it's not, I have a 16 year old empty bottle that I can sniff anytime I want.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Dream Environment

I mentioned back in this post that I've been nagged recently about not blogging more.  I enjoy it, I really do.  But I'm a victim of chronic writer's block.  I need a little nudge to get me writing, most days.  But I do need to make more of an effort.  If I'm going to write a book someday, I can't let my writing bug die!

To that end, I found a few sites that offer daily (or almost daily) "one minute" writing prompts.  I have no intention at all of only writing for a minute on these, however they do provide just the starting point that I so desperately need lately in order to start writing.

Here goes my first one!

"If money, work, and family ties were not an issue; and you could choose any kind of natural environment / climate to live in that you wanted, what would you pick? A desert villa, beach hut, a cabin in the woods? Maybe for you the best kind of nature is an urban apartment?"

Ahh, this prompt brings me to a happy place.  I would choose a large house in the pacific northwest on a lake.  I love the pacific northwest because the air is clean, the weather isn't too hot nor anywhere near as cold as I'm used to, and you have a chance at a white Christmas but probably won't freeze to death within an hour if your car breaks down in January.

As far as the house itself, I don't require (nor really enjoy) luxury per se, but large and only somewhat shmancy would make me very happy.  The house would have wood siding and a pretty dark green color trim.  There would be windows everywhere.  I'd have about 8 bedrooms; one for us, one for the kid, one craft room, one computer room, and the rest for all the people I would demand to come visit me.  Ha!  The kitchen (also large) would have beautiful oak cabinets with my son's artwork plastered all over them, just like mine are now.  The living/family room would have vaulted ceilings open to the upstairs, a fireplace, and a ginormous TV on which to watch football and HGTV.

The house would also have a lovely, manicured front yard, immediately past which would be the lake.  Dark blue water with fish jumping everywhere. I wouldn't be able to hear traffic from my yard.  Only the fish jumping. In the backyard would be a little shed to match the house, and my garden.  I want a BIG garden so I can grow healthy food and save myself tons of money while also eating right.  I also want beautiful trees in the backyard for shade and yummy smells, like crab apples or chokecherries or whatever my in-laws have in their yard.  Maybe an apple tree or two, too.  It IS the pacific northwest, after all.

Best of all, this house would be situated only 20 minutes from a quaint little city that's small enough that I can feel safe there, but large enough to have a Target.  (See?  I told you I don't need luxury.)  Oh, and maybe an Olive Garden, for those days when my garden food won't cut it.

What's your ideal environment and why?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Today I Read Something Amazing

One of the hardest things to get used to as an adoptive parent, specifically, is the questions that you get from strangers.

It's no secret that adoptive families (and foster families and step-families and blended families and I'm sure even traditional families)... all face comments and questions from the general public from time to time that are... well, unexpected.  I was going to say 'unwelcome,' but that's not always the case.

Most of the time, I consider these comments and questions to be 'teaching moments.'  Yes, sometimes the cashier at the grocery store looks at my son, smiles, looks at me and asks me, "where did you get him?"  Undoubtedly this is mostly because our son is a different race than we are.  I usually kindly reply, "his birthfamily is from ____."  I remember, years ago, reading a post somewhere talking about humorous replies to this question.  Replies like, "Oh, I saw him sitting outside Walmart and couldn't help myself," or "he was out on the curb on trash day!"

Sometimes I even have the impulse to say "straight out of the chute, thanks for asking!"

Again, most of the time these questions just present themselves to me as opportunities to educate someone about adoption and I love that.  On the days when I'd really rather not get the questions, let alone attempt to formulate answers, I do it anyway, to be polite.

Today, I read a post all about this very topic and it really cast a new light on this whole subject.  You should go READ IT.  The author makes a lot of good points, but the one that resonated most with me is the importance of always handling these situations positively and with grace.  There is a way to answer the question, kindly and positively, without giving away your child's personal history.  

Furthermore, Aidan is now the age where he is picking up on things when I don't even realize it.  

He will be watching my reaction from now on when these questions come up.  The way I answer them could actually shape how he feels about his adoption and, by extension, himself.  I want him to be proud of where he comes from, both genetically and environmentally.  He's a beautiful child inside and out, and a miracle walking around in human skin as far as I'm concerned.  I don't ever want him to feel like less than that.  On the hard days, when I wish people would just keep their mouths shut, I still need to remember that he's paying attention.  He'll learn how to handle these questions by watching how I do it.

Suddenly I find myself almost looking forward to the next time the grocery store cashier asks me, "how old was he when you got him?"


Sunday, February 17, 2013

By Jove, I Think I've Found It!

I know I've written several diatribes lately (and yes, 'lately' is a relative term!) about my health and discoveries I've made about food and how to nourish my body better. Now that that's become more second nature for me, I finally decided it was time to do something about my lack of meaningful movement.

I have a desk job. Granted, I'm up and running around a fair amount some days, but other days, I'm stuck behind my computer for hours on end. Along with learning more about food and nutrition and such, I've also been reminded that the human body was not designed to sit on its butt all day. We were designed to be hunters, gatherers and fighters.

Sure, everyone knows that sitting on ones butt too much causes said butt to become larger. But in a lot of cases, mine included, it also contributes to all sorts of other stuff. Not only have I gained weight, but for the past year or more, I've felt my overall anxiety level skyrocket. I notice I get winded a lot easier than I used to. My resting heart rate is at least 10 beats higher than it was a few years ago. Sometimes when I get up in the morning and jump immediately in the shower, it feels like my heart might pound out of my chest.

These are not good feelings! I have long abused my body and forced it into sedentary habits and it's showing me that it's not happy about it. Our bodies are nifty that way - something's wrong, it'll try to tell us. But we have to be willing to listen. For a long time I've been turning a blind eye because it was more rewarding somehow to sit on my butt.

No more!

Oh, who am I fooling. I still spend a good amount of time on my butt. BUT (get it?), I finally came to terms with the fact that I can't seem to climb on the treadmill I have in my house. Nor the exercise bike. For many years, I've thought it would be silly to pay for a gym membership when I have some equipment right in the house. But the truth is, there are so many other things that need to get done, or that I would rather be doing.

So with a knot in my stomach, I signed up for a one-year contract at a local gym. Hubby and I decided we'd get a couples membership and then take turns, alternating days and going after the kid is in bed. I was so nervous that this would be a waste of time and money, and just one more failure in my attempts to get healthier.

We decided that the day we signed up would be 'my' day - I'd go first. With the kid safely tucked into bed, I donned my workout pants (yay Old Navy!) and hopped into the car around 8:00. The gym is only a 5-7 minute drive, which is nice. So by 8:10, I was sitting in my car, outside the gym, trying to convince myself to go in. I hadn't belonged to a gym since high school and the thought of going at all - let alone all by myself - absolutely freaked me out.

I could see the skinny bodies running on the treadmills inside. My brain went into hyperdrive: "Geez, I'm going to look like a walking stereotype in there. Here comes the fat girl who made a new year's resolution (even though this was early February) and she'll be gone in a week." "Wow, what is she doing here, she's a lost cause." "Yuck, no one wants to watch that." "Her poor husband."

Why do our minds play these tricks on us? Here I was, ready to make a commitment to myself, my husband, my son, my family, my LIFE... and my brain was pulling out all the stops to try to get me to give up before I even started. I even found myself dwelling on the fact that I didn't even know how to turn the treadmills on. What if I got in there and everyone laughed at me as I stared at this machine, bewildered?

I texted three different members of my support system looking for something to push me over that edge and compel me to head inside. They are all wonderful. They all said things that really helped me. Hubby offered me an 'out,' saying to just come home, he'd take his turn the next night and then come home and fill me in on how everything worked so that I wouldn't feel so anxious. I told him I wasn't giving up. It was a work night, but I told him I was going to sit there a bit longer and find a way.

I ended up sitting in my car for over 45 minutes fighting with my own brain. Suddenly, I don't know where it came from, but a wave rose up in me and I decided to override the messages my brain was sending me and just DO IT. I marched in there like I owned the place (heart racing, stomach in knots), I walked over to a treadmill and climbed on. I might add at this point that they are remarkably easy to figure out. Ha! I just started walking and decided I'd just go easy on myself the first time, get used to everything, and then I'd have two whole days to build up the courage to do it again.

I rarely made it longer than 15 minutes on my treadmill at home. Like I said, too many distractions. Too many excuses. No real incentive to do it. I turned on the TV monitor on the treadmill at the gym, tuned out everyone around me (I'd forgotten my earbuds, oops! No music!) and just walked. Next thing I knew, I'd gone 15 minutes and was feeling really good. I could feel my stomach starting to un-knot. I started to smell victory (or maybe that was sweat??). I went for 30 minutes my first try. I even gave the elliptical machine a whirl - made it about 5 minutes and decided not to over-do it.

I rocked it.

I went to the gym, by myself, and worked out next to skinny people. And not only did I live to tell the story, I felt like a rockstar.

I've been to the gym every other day since, with the exception of one day that my stomach was really upset. I am slowly but surely increasing my workouts. Every time I go, I'm reassured that no one is watching, no one is judging, and we're all in this together. There really isn't an adversarial relationship between me and the skinny people. Most of them seem quite nice. I wish I had realized this 15 years ago. Ha!

Here we are, two weeks into my gym membership, and I'm already starting to 'cross over.' Last night was my night, but I had a horrifically annoying day. Just one of those days when you want to rip your hair out. All day I tried not to think about having to go workout that night because I didn't want to think up any excuses not to do it. Then, gym time came. I was shocked to discover that rather than dreading it, I was actually looking forward to it. My anxiety was up, but I just knew that time on the exercise bike (or something) would remedy that much better than popping a pill. And I'd rather not take the pills anyway.

I could feel my brain tugging at me, trying to convince me that I shouldn't go.

It pulled out all the stops.

I gave it the finger and got in the car.

An hour later, I felt amazing. And the next day, I'm still in shock. I'm becoming a gym person. If you'd asked me a month ago if that was possible, I would've laughed in your face.

Gym people seem to be healthier and happier than I've been in a while.

I can't wait.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Jerk Parents

One of my biggest pet peeves is parents who are jerks to their kids. It's hard for me to wrap my head around how people think it's okay to speak to their kids like trash. Actually, this has always bothered me. But now that I have a child, it makes me really angry. It's not unusual for me to really struggle with keeping my mouth shut at least once per grocery shopping trip, for example.

But I just never know if it's my place to say something.

First off, while emotional abuse is just as damaging (or more so) than physical abuse, there's not the same sort of immediate danger with a jerk parent that there is with one who's physically harming their kid. (Those people aren't jerk parents, those people are... well, I can't use that language on my blog.)

Secondly, though I'm generally optimistic on most subjects, I also think that some random stranger in the grocery store making a comment about how that person is treating their kid really isn't going to change their behavior at all. The jerk parent doesn't care what strangers think, and I always wonder if I say something, if that'll just make the parent more angry; if so, that'll undoubtedly be taken out on the child. Lose-lose.

So, I just keep my mouth shut and hope that someday, something gets through to that person. And that the child manages to avoid being permanently damaged.

Last night's trip to the grocery store was certainly no fun in the jerk parent department. In a less-than-30-minute shopping excursion, I saw:
  • A woman with children ages 1-ish, 6-ish, and 13-ish shopping for frozen pizzas. The baby was sitting in the cart screaming his head off. Screeching, really. He wasn't upset, I guess he just thought screeching would be fun. Mom didn't care in the least. Meanwhile, the 13 year old was eyeing a display of Doritos while the 6 year old politely complied with Mom's snotty requests to hurry up and choose a pizza. Mom screamed at all three kids at least three times in the less than two minutes I was near them. Finally the 6 year old says to Mom, sadly, "I can't deciiiiide!!" to which Mom replies, "God, you never like anything, I guess you're just screwed for dinner then, go hungry!" Seriously?! How about helping the kid decide instead of berating him?!
  • A woman appearing to be... what's the diplomatic way to say this... a fan of mind altering substances?... making a huge scene upon coming around the corner of a display of Valentine's candy to find her son, who looked to be about 10. He was on one side of the 2-foot by 2-foot square display, she was on the other. She proceeds to totally flip out on him, crackhead style, and scream, "How many (bleep) times have I (bleep) told you to not (bleep) wander away from me in the (bleep) store?! You're such an idiot!" I gave her my best dirty look as my stomach churned. She promptly led him outside, I assumed to rush to car to be somewhere important. Because, you know, I can't think of any other explanation for her behavior... but no, she rushed outside to her friend, they each lit a cigarette, and she snidely told this child, "go play in traffic if you're gonna wander off." She and her friend laughed. The child hung his head and kicked the ground. My heart broke.
  • And okay, this isn't a jerk parent case, but I'm putting it in this post anyway because sometimes I just don't get people. When I went to check out, there was a woman at the checkstand whose last few items were just being scanned. When they were all bagged, the cashier asked her if she had her store loyalty card with her. She replied that she didn't have one. He politely said, "okay, no problem" and just gave her her total. She quickly said to him, "no, I'm not letting these points go to waste, I want to use my friend's card." The cashier asked her for that person's phone number so he could put it in the computer to get that person the points. Oh, but the woman didn't know what phone number her friend's loyalty card account would be under. Rather than let it go like 95% of rational people would do at the busiest grocery store in town on a Friday night at 5:30pm, what does this woman do? Right, she gets out her cellphone and calls the friend to ask what number the card is under. The person on the phone is obviously confused, so she explains that she doesn't have a card but doesn't want the points to go to waste. Rather than give her the phone number, the person on the phone proceeds to ask her what she's buying. She tells them... one... item... at... a... time. The cashier shoots me an apologetic look. I smile and gesture that it's no big deal. (Because really, what would be the point of getting upset?) Eventually the person on the phone convinces the lady in front of me that they don't know what number it's under. They finally hang up. Whew, finally! ...No. She calls someone else to get THEIR number. Oh boy. They're probably on the phone 3-4 minutes before she finally gets the number and hangs up. The poor cashier obviously wants to deck her. Somehow he maintained his composure. My hat's off to him, and when it was finally my turn, I told him that. But really, her friend probably got a nickel worth of rewards for this purchase. Why booger up the whole line, especially during rush hour, for that?! I have no idea.
So there you have it. My grocery store rants for a Friday night.

I bet you wish you could get the last 5 minutes of your life back.

So did I, after that lady left the cash register.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Step Toward Becoming 'One of Those People'

A couple months ago, I wrote this post about an epiphany I had about food, nutrition, general health, PCOS, feeling good, and how all of those things are connected.  I knew that 2012 represented a corner I was turning in terms of the way I think and feel about food.

Truth be told, the holidays were hard.  They always are.  Here I'd spent all this time educating myself about the things I should and shouldn't be putting in my body.  Then, as I learned, there was the whole other process of implementing all of these changes, forming new habits, detaching myself from the comfort of my old ways.  Those things are hard anytime, but they're especially challenging when you're bombarded by sugary treats everywhere you go.  Add to that the rush-rush-rush of the shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, baking and so much more that comes with that time of year, and it's REALLY tough to turn away from convenient processed foods and drive-thrus.

Considering all of that, I haven't really lost weight since I wrote that post.  However, I have continued to educate myself and to make small changes in the direction that I want to go.  I buy more organic fruits and veggies than non-organic.  I've always loved salads, but now I make them with organic spring mix instead of regular old iceberg lettuce.  I make Blueberry Buckle Oatmeal from my PCOS Diva meal plans almost every week for a quick and easy breakfast I can eat at work.  It's gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and I'm being totally honest when I say it beats the pants off the sugar- and salt-laden instant oatmeal I used to eat each morning!  And it's much more filling, too.

Point is, it's a process.  In my case it's a loooong process.

Then, last night, I did something I've been meaning to do for a long time.

I watched Food, Inc.

Oh my goodness gracious.  If you haven't seen this, you really should, for education value if nothing else.  Even if you don't feel compelled to change your habits as a result of what you learn - heck, especially if you don't feel compelled to change your habits after watching this - you really should see it anyway so that you are an informed consumer.

When the movie ended, I was more than a little horrified.  I thought about all the things in my pantry - and especially in my freezer - that are chock full of hormones, chemicals, and... cruelty... for the sake of the almighty dollar.  Argh.  The things happening on some conventional beef and poultry farms should definitely be illegal.

(While we're talking about things that should be illegal, did you hear that the FDA has issued a preliminary approval of GMO salmon?!  The fish you buy at your supermarket might not only be a fish that has never actually seen the ocean, but might actually be a fish that was invented in a laboratory?!  How is this okay?!)

The unmistakable message at the end of this movie is that we control these practices by creating - or removing - demand for these products.  And although I have never been in a tighter financial situation than I am now, the truth is that I just can't afford to put myself or my family at risk anymore by buying this junk.  It's time to insist on organic meats for sure.  It's even hard to find them here sometimes, but I just have to put that extra effort in.  If it means my son isn't ingesting hormones and antibiotics and fecal matter and carcinogens and who knows what else, then it doesn't matter what it costs.  Now that I have this education, it would be really neglectful of me to continue feeding him the things I am used to buying.  I just won't do it.  (Not to worry, I'm not going to be that mom that forbids my kid from ever touching a chicken McNugget.  Moderation in all things, after all, but I can at least ensure that the vast majority of what goes in his mouth is really good for him.  Or, you know, at least not covered in poo.)

Crap.  I'm becoming one of 'those people.'  Slowly, it's happening.  It's a box that can't be un-opened, a hill that can't be re-climbed.  I've passed the point of no return.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find one of those bumper stickers about farmed fish.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Terribly Overdue Kid Update

It has been entirely too long since I've talked in any detail about what Aidan is up to these days and where he's at, developmentally.  This will probably be a boring post, but I want to have it for later since I have been terrible about starting keeping up on a baby book for him!

First off, the nuts and bolts.  At roughly two years and four months old, he weighs around 35 pounds and is 33" tall.  This puts him at the 75th percentile for height and the 90th percentile for height, or so.  He's a big, healthy boy!  He's grown into his cheeks - somewhat - and is currently outgrowing his size 3T pajamas.  I just ordered a bunch of 4T's from Carter's.  (Wait, what?  A barely-two-year-old in 4T jammies?  Yup.)  He's in 3T shirts and just now moving up to 3T pants.

I think I've mentioned that back in October, he moved from the 12-24 month class at daycare to the 24-36 month class.  I was pretty nervous about this transition, because the one a year before was not any fun at all. I anticipated him fighting this through the whole two-week transition period, not sleeping, acting like a turd at home, etc etc.  Much to my surprise, he didn't really need an actual transition at all!  The first day they took him to the new room, he stayed there most of the day and never really looked back.

The teachers and other parents in the new room told me to just wait for the developmental explosion to happen once he was in there for a couple of weeks.  They were right!  When he moved up, just three months ago, he was talking, but only one word at a time, not two- or three-word sentences like some of his peers.  He would most often just repeat the last word of whatever was said to him if the answer was affirmative, or deliver an unmistakable "NO!" if that was the appropriate answer.  It was pretty cute, but I had begun to worry if he might be falling behind, at least partially due to the Cody fiasco.

These days, not only is Aidan talking, he's stringing multiple words - multiple thoughts - together at once.  It is so amazing to watch.  Here's an example from this morning, when he was playing with his Woody doll (action figure?!) and its hat fell off.  I said to him, "Uh oh! Better put Woody's hat back on so his head doesn't get cold!"  I wasn't really even thinking about what I was saying to him.  A few minutes later he was in the other room and I heard him exclaim, "Uh oh! Woody hat off!  Woody head cold!  Hug Woody? ... Happy Woody!"

Yup, he's figured out that hugs make people happy.  I love this about him.  If we're wrestling around and he knees me in the... well, pretty much anywhere... and I get that pained look on my face, he stops immediately and says, "Mommy owie, hug!" then throws his arms around me, looks in my eyes to check on me, and says, "Mommy happy!"  Of course, this also means that he feels the urge to hug strange babies and children in the grocery store when THEY cry... but it's still so sweet.

One of my favorite communication-related developments lately is the new ability to use 'yes' and 'no' appropriately.  "Aidan, would you like a sandwich?"  "Yes please."  SCORE!  No more guessing, trying to coerce him to eat food he doesn't want, etc.  Sometimes I can even ask him what he wants to eat and he'll tell me.  This makes life so much easier!!

Favorite pastimes lately are building toys, like his Legos and bristle blocks, and of course his various trains, trucks and cars.  (Grandma and Grandpa got him THIS ginormous Lego train set for Christmas! He's definitely all 'boy' that way.  However, he still does occasionally become stricken with the sudden urge to swaddle his 'baby' (a Cabbage Patch doll that I bought for him after I saw him caring for one at daycare).  It's the cutest thing.  He takes her out of the receiving blanket she's in, throws the blanket in the hamper, then goes to his dresser, points to the top drawer, and says, "new one?"  I get a new one.  He meticulously spreads it out on the floor, removing all folds and wrinkles.  He then 'changes the baby's diaper,' which requires a real baby wipe of course, then lays her carefully in the blanket.  He wraps her up (think sloppy swaddle), picks her up, holds her up to his shoulder, pats her back and says "shhhhhh."  Cue Mommy dying of cuteness.

The grocery store is still a challenge some days.  Most of the time he's really good, but other times it's not a whole lot of fun.  He can't stand to sit nicely in the cart for very long on those days.  He has to stand up and turn around and put his legs back through, so he's facing the same direction as the person driving the cart.  Other times he has to sit sideways with his legs stretched out.  And then he alternates between these three positions every 30-45 seconds throughout the shopping trip.  I have a terrible fear of him tumbling out and cracking his head open when he goes to stand up, so it's hard to concentrate on shopping when he's doing this!!  On the good days though, it's pretty enjoyable to take him.  He likes identifying items on the shelves and especially in the produce department.  Especially at high volume.  "MOMMY!  APPLLLLLLLESSSSS!!"  I used to blush when this happened.  Now I'm proud.  Maybe I've finally lost what was left of my dignity??

Speaking of dignity, potty training has begun!  I probably would not have started this conversation on my own until he was about 2-1/2, but when he transitioned into his current classroom, they recommended we started using pull-ups (but of course it was ultimately our choice).  They take him to the potty several times a day and it wasn't a week until he started picking up on what the potty is for.  He's warming up to the idea more each day!  Last week he went pee in the toilet two nights in a row.  You would've thought Mommy won the lottery.  In a way, I'll sort of win the lottery as he progresses with this.  Not only will we save dough on diapers, he gets to move up to the next classroom at school at his third birthday if he's potty trained, and that alone will save me $200 a month.  Score!

Let's face it, I could go on all day about this kid.  I think that about gets us caught up for now.  I know everyone says this, but I really cannot believe how quickly he is growing, changing and developing.  It is truly frightening!  I just know that next week he'll be asking for the car keys.  At the same time though, unlike some other mommies, I don't wish to freeze time.  I am so enjoying this journey - even the tough parts.