Monday, February 28, 2011

Who Needs a Medicine Ball when, for $3, someone else will watch your baby and you can use a real gym?

Yes, I admit, this post violates the integrity of this blog, the original purpose of which was to demonstrate how to get back your pre-baby figure by using said baby.  However, I can justify this.  Besides, when I weighed myself this morning, I've lost four pounds in the last three weeks, so apparently my exercise regimen is working.

But on to justification:  
Two years ago my husband got all gung-ho when a new gym opened up in our neighborhood.  Super excited, he paid a $250 registration fee and signed on for $15 a month for the life of his membership.  Great deal, right?  But a deal is only great if you're going to use it, and in the last two years he has used it three times, to my count; although he'll adamantly argue that it's been far more than that.  Regardless, I finally got him to admit that it was time to cancel the membership and use that $15 for something that would be used more regularly (ie, a bottle of wine).  He agreed.  Granted, I left out the wine part when I spoke to him.

So I called his gym and a very fit sounding Tomas answered the phone.  I explained to Tomas that I was going to cancel the membership, and, showing his great customer service and salesmanship, Tomas suggested that maybe I wanted to take over the membership for JMahl? No additional cost-- just keep paying the $15 per month.  I laughed and proceeded to explain to a doing-a-good-job-of-pretending-he-was-interested Tomas that I had two young children at home with me each day and would never make it to the gym.  Ah, Salesman Tomas then eagerly informed me that for just $2 a day (wait, did you say 2 kids?  Then $3 a day.) they had childcare available to watch my children for as long as I choose to work out.  For $15 a month, I could have unlimited childcare.  I did some quick math in my head, realizing that would require at a minimum a once a week trip to the gym, and asked him instead if I could just get a job and drop my kids off each morning. He didn't laugh.  Or respond actually.

So instead I asked him to tell me about the benefits of membership, which he happily did- he obviously knows when to turn on and off his ears-  including that I'd get one personal free training session.  Yeah!  I asked him if the personal trainers were guaranteed to be attractive. Again, he didn't respond, but I know he was listening.  I could hear him thinking about how best to answer, and not wanting to put him on the spot in case the call was being recorded for quality purposes and could later be used in a sexual harassment suit, I skipped on ahead to informing him that I only was interested in losing a few inches around my waist and strengthening my neck, shoulder, and back muscles to help with the pain and aggravation of having to carry two very large milk bottles with me wherever I went- could a trainer help with that?  Quick-thinking, and slightly embarrassed-being-forced-to-listen- Tomas had a response to this.  "I think one of our female trainers may be better suited to help you in that regard."  Props to you, Tomas, but I advised him that it was not nearly as titillating to work out with a female trainer as with a male trainer.  (For my mom, my husband, and those of you who may be offended, that pun is not intended.  For those of you women who understand the desire to have an attractive younger man demonstrating strategic work out positions to you even if you never have any intention of being disloyal to your husband, that pun was entirely intended.)  

He, again, did not respond.  Tomas has been very well trained, I do believe; but I'm sure that he was very interested in my potential membership (read: milk bottles), because it was at this point that he suggested I just come in sometime before seven when his shift ended, and he would get me all set up.  Granted, he may have just been desperate to get me off the phone. Perception is key here.  So, saying goodbye and promising to be in shortly, I hung up, feeling very successful in my endeavor and motivated to get on over there and get me a membership.  Good work, Tomas.  Even though I still haven't made it in there...

And there's my justification.  Why pass up an opportunity to work out at a gym for no more money than I'm currently spending on my husband's unused gym membership?  Especially when it includes childcare?  And even more so when conveniently located right next door to the gym is a bonafide Hershey's store?  I think this could be a very good move. And if I take my kids with me-- and watch them in their playroom as I work out on the free weights instead of watching The View--  then technically I think it still counts as working out with my children.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Like a Good Neighbor...

There's a new fad in my neighborhood-- a new fad that I just haven't gotten on board with yet, and I can tell the neighbors are starting to notice and wonder just what is wrong with me.  But honestly, this is just another one of those fads that I can't afford to take part in.  It's like when I was in middle school and all the girls in my class (all being 3) got the same exact dress (in different colors) for the Homecoming banquet.  I wanted that dress so badly.  I think my Mom knew it too, since she actually took me to the store to look at the dress- and we never went clothes shopping.  I wore hand-me-downs until I could afford to buy my own clothes. Now, as a mother on a budget myself, I understand how my Mom must have felt, telling me "we can't afford it".  Then, I was just heart-broken that I'd be the only girl in my grade that wasn't wearing that dress.  

In high school, it was the beeper fad.  The cool guys had beepers.  They may still-- who knows?  And, of course, I was the only (only being relative, of course) person in high school that had to share a yearbook with her brothers.  So I'm used to not being able to afford the cool new thing.  And I'm okay with it.  I got okay with it when I was in college and didn't have the mandatory UVA uniform-- tight black pants and colorful tight shirt with $150 hair cut and the knowledge of how to accurately apply makeup-- and decided instead to embrace being the hippy-chick-- bell-bottom jeans, flannel shirt, and bandana.  It's funny how when you dress a certain way, a certain type of friend automatically gravitates to you. I really wasn't as "hippy" (ie. stoned) as people thought I was, but having an '86 Chevy Nova plastered (literally) with peace and love and dancing bear stickers doesn't really help fight that opinion.  

But now I'm a suburban mom living with my husband and children in, well, suburbia.  Granted, our neighborhood is a little older-- built in the mid '80's, but you don't get much more suburbia than this.  Kids riding bikes in the cul-de-sac; a contingent of mothers and children at the bus stop every morning, and my next-door-neighbors have been known to borrow milk, flour, eggs, etc. on more than one occasion.  Two weeks ago, I borrowed an onion from them, which caused my husband to wonder why I only ever buy the cheap yellow onions as opposed to huge, delicious sweet onions.  And we all know that when you borrow food from a neighbor you are never expected to return it or reimburse for it. It's just the neighborly thing to do!  

So believe me when I say it's a great neighborhood, but the houses are getting older, and that's what leads us to the new neighborhood fad.  New siding.  Specifically, new GREEN siding.  

In the last six months, four neighbors on my street have re-sided their houses with beautiful, sage green siding.  The most recent being my immediate next-door neighbors, who I cursed loudly in my head the day I saw the boxes being delivered.  We can not afford to re-side our house.  And don't suggest a home equity loan.  We're in that statistic of people who bought high, sunk all our money (20%) into the cost of the home, and are now keeping our fingers crossed that one day-- maybe before we outgrow this house (coming soon!)-- we will get some of that money back.  

But with all our neighbors having sexy new siding- well, it's becoming quite apparent how un-sexy our faded, dented, dinged, splotchy, falling yellow siding is.  It is somewhat (read, "quite") humiliating.  And it's insult added to injury when not twenty feet from my front door there are huge stacks of this beautiful new siding, just waiting to be placed lovingly on the walls of my neighbors' home.

As I've already shared, my neighbors are very neighborly people.  We borrow from each other, we share.  I have keys to the homes of some; keys to the shed (where their riding mower is stored) of others, and alarm codes to other's homes.  We feed each other's fish and dogs and water each other's plants.  We are a very neighborly neighborhood-- right out of Leave it to Beaver (or, as some neighbors would suggest: Dennis the Menace).  And knowing this, I know that my neighbors won't mind that for the last few nights, after I see the lights go off next door and all my children are in bed, I quietly sneak over to the next-door-neighbor's front yard where boxes of siding and building materials are stacked haphazardly, awaiting the contractors return in the morning.  And ever so silently, I slide a few pieces of siding out of an open box.  It's amazing how apt a contractor is to just assume he's miscalculated the quantity of siding used and/or needed to side a house.  I have to be careful to avoid the automatic flood lights that sense movement and, occasionally, I've had to duck quickly when their dog starts barking (not that they would mind, but why disturb them late at night?), but over the last week I've managed to gather (and store in my garage) enough siding to cover about 1/4 of my house.  When added to the siding that my cul-de-sac neighbors loaned me a few months ago and the siding the next-flag-lot-over neighbors loaned me six months ago, it looks like I'll be good to start re-siding when just one more neighbor re-sides with sage green.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Like Mother, Like Father

Since becoming a mother, I have found that I am more and more like my own mother each and every day.  I would say this is a good thing in many ways; my husband may not necessarily agree.  For example-- I make up songs to describe just about anything and everything going on. (My kids love this- as long as we are at home and not in front of friends-- my husband does not.)  I bop my brakes to the oldies station.  (My kids love this; the cars behind me do not.)  Of course, the oldies I bop to are not the same oldies my mom bopped to; well, sometimes they are.  

I scream at my children when I'm angry-- yes, Mom, I blame this on you-and I yell up the stairs.  Neither my husband nor my kids like this at all.  To be honest, I don't really like it either.  I'd love to be the kind of mom who smiles patiently while her children destroy the house, but my doctor won't give me a prescription strong enough to create that. And I cry at the drop of a hat-- got this from my mom, definitely.  If I'm happy, I cry.  If I'm upset at the 5:00 news, I cry.  If I'm angry, I cry.  My kids are more concerned by this than my husband.  He just rolls his eyes.  I like to adopt things.  I like to read.  I like to write.   I like to buy presents for other people.  (All traits gathered from my mother, who is single-handedly keeping stationary stores and mail-order catalogs in business.)  I like to correct other people's grammar.  I like to make up cute little games with birth dates.  (Had Micah cooperated and been born on March 27, I would have had my children born on 21, 23, 25, and 27.  She messed it up, but at least I have a child born in each season.... that's close.  Yes, I got this from my mother. Along with constant love, affection, hugs, kisses, and I love yous dropping all over the house.  I'm glad I got that from my mother.  My children take that as normal; my husband is getting used to it and better at it.  

But yesterday, I discovered that I was also like my father.  And, like my mother, choked up about it. Yesterday, I said the following words to my daughter: "That's not an experiment, that's a demonstration."  And as she began to whine- something she got from her mother- I was filled with memories of those years my father guided us through our mandatory science experiments- forcing us to come up with our own purpose, our own hypothesis, our variables and constants- because an experiment must prove one thing against another.  You can't just show something- despite what the overwhelming number of other students did.  

As I began to explain all this to my daughter, bragging about my repeat blue ribbons and describing in detail the different experiments I did each year and what the results were (yes, fuzzy caterpillars DO predict the weather), interspersed with phrases such as "stop rolling your eyes", "yes, you DO need to know this", and "I don't care if your teacher doesn't care if it's a real experiment or not-- I care"-- I realized that when it came to science projects, I was going to be just like my father.  

The teacher wants you to pour bleach in a jar and see if it evaporates?  Not my daughter!  My daughter is going to pour bleach into two different jars, place them in different temperatures (outside and inside) and see which one evaporates faster, keeping a twice daily log, of course.  The teacher wants you to write a paragraph about what happens?  Not MY daughter.  My daughter is going to write a full report including purpose, hypothesis, and conclusion, describing her variables and constants, and showing her daily log of bleach evaporation.  The teacher doesn't think this is necessary?  Well, I'm sorry.  Don't send my daughter home with a so-called "science experiment" assignment if you aren't going to support a full-fledged science experiment (minus the reusable wooden backboards on which we detailed the entire experiment in construction paper, showing just how seriously we took our science projects.)  Because if there's one thing I learned from my father, it was how to do a darn good (and scientifically accurate!) science experiment.

At the time, I thought he was just pedantic about science projects-- a perfectionist, a scientist who wanted his children to share his love for and awe of science.  Now I realize there was so much more to it than that.  It was never just about creating the best science experiment.  It was about coming up with an idea and then determining if that idea was accurate.  It was about thinking through things to find the right solution;  about testing different methods in order to find the one that works best.  Sometimes, it's about proving that what you thought was true was not true-- and having to adapt your entire theory to this new reality... because science- and life-- does not always turn out the way you think it is going to.  It's about seeing things through, not giving up, proving yourself- right or wrong.  Science, like life, may sometimes prove to you that you need to completely reevaluate your way of thinking.  But sometimes-- and, oh, these were the exciting, jumping up and down pleased with yourself times-- your hypothesis was correct.  The experiment came out the way you thought it would.  You proved it. 

And these are the things I explained to my daughter as she sighed dramatically and did her best not to listen while pretending to listen. And I, using my father's words and his ways of explanation, did my best to explain to her the steps she needed to take to get the experiment started; hoping she'd realize just how important this was; hoping she'd learn from me what I'd learned from my father-- because if there is just one thing my daughter is going to learn from me, I hope it is this.  

(As for all the other stuff I got from my mother, well, she's pretty much saddled with that from birth.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Capes and Exercise Capers

Thank you for reading my posts over the last two weeks.  I'm still not sure if I'm doing this for you or for me, but either way, it's fun to be writing again.  What's not so much fun is reading comments over the last few days (most often subtly sent to my email, thank you) asking me if I'm still exercising every day.  Yes, I am fully aware that I pitched this blog as an exercise blog-- and yes, I am also fully aware that the last few posts have not really focused on my exercise plan.  But honestly, how boring would that be for me to, every day, write a list of exercises I did and then tell you how many inches I have or have not lost?  (I guess that statement answers the question of whether this column is for you or for me, doesn't it?)

But yes, I am still doing my non-medicine ball exercise.  Just this morning, in fact, I did some (maybe 3) lunges with Micah sitting on my knee. Last night, while on my back on my super-soft new rug that we refer to as "the mud" because it is so soft and squishy, I bounced her up and down on my belly. Also last night, I wrestled with a tantruming Kolbie... if you don't think that's exercise, you've never experienced a tantruming three year old.  Angry three year olds are freakishly strong.  And pretty much every time I pick up Micah, I toss her into the air.  And I pick her up a lot.  That's got to count for something.  

And I've been playing a lot of Wonder Pets lately.  (Wonder Pets are toddler super-heros, for those of you who don't have young children.)  And since we all know super-heroes are in great shape and you've never seen a super-hero at the gym, then it stands to reason that super-heroes get in that great shape by running around wearing a cape.  Which is what I've been doing.  When it's deemed appropriate for me to wear a cape, that is.

Kolbie has some very specific ideas about her Wonder Pet-super hero play time.  For example, I'm only allowed to sing the opening line of the theme song, before she picks up the refrain, and I'm only allowed to voice the animal that needs rescuing AFTER she's determined which animal needs rescuing.  I'm not actually allowed to wear a cape very often. I am, apparently, too big.  Also, I am apparently not cute enough.  Nor do I sound the way a Wonder Pet sounds. Kolbie sure does know how to make me feel good.  The voice thing doesn't bother me so much.  I don't mind not sounding like a squeaky four year old.  I mind that I'm seldom, if ever, allowed to wear a cape.  

When I was a kid, my brother Jared and I had this game that we'd play every summer when the bathing suits came out, because with the bathing suits came our beach towels. And our beach towels were actually our super hero personalities.  Similar to how Clark Kent takes off his glasses and is suddenly Superman-- or the ugly girl in the movie takes off hers and is suddenly the hottest girl in school  (no wonder my children hate to wear glasses)-- well, we'd tie the end of our beach towels in a knot around our neck, and suddenly we were California Girl!  and Surfer Boy!  (based on the pictures on our towel, of course).  Chasing imaginary horrible things and climbing trees and, well, I think most of what we did was just run around and yell: "California Girl! to the rescue!' or "Here comes Surfer Boy!".  I know our brother Trent was occasionally allowed to play with us, but I can't remember his super hero personality.  (Sorry, Trent.  For that, and for the corn, and the tree.. and many other things.)  We would spend hours in our super-hero identities, often because the doors were locked.  (My mother's favorite saying was "you have 43 acres to play on- outside NOW!"  I feel you, Mom. I really do. But saying "you have one-third of an acre to play on" doesn't have the same power.)

So when I am allowed to wear a cape (ie, a blanket) and chase Kolbie around rescuing a stuffed animal (normally from the jaws of Dugan), it brings back some really fun memories.  Granted, often Kolbie will allow me to put a cape on Micah (she is apparently small and cute enough to warrant a cape) and run around holding Micah in front of me while her cape flaps in my face, which is close to the same thing, right?  And wait-- that counts as exercise, doesn't it?  See?  This IS an exercise blog after all.

I just wish that I could wear a cape on a more regular basis.  It's freeing.  It's relaxing.  It's FUN.  And if you can't wear a cape with your three year old, when can you wear a cape?  I guess I could try introducing it into my "alone time" with my husband, but unless I've got the whole Wonder Woman thing going on, I don't think it's going to fly.  (pun intended!)  And if my husband came home and found me wearing a cape as a normal part of my day, he's likely to question how much I've been drinking and/or if the Alzheimer's has hit extra early.  So, I guess for now I'll just accept that my cape-wearing days are over- and live vicariously through my little girls- unless Kolbie is in a gracious mood. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Woman Should Submit to Her Husband-- and Ignore Her Mother's Phone Calls.

We've had absolutely beautiful weather the last few day- so beautiful that little green stems are starting to shoot up in my garden-- and this has inspired me to spring clean. The problem with spring cleaning, however, is that I have to do it.  This means my inspiration died almost before it was fully born.  I have, however, started opening windows.  Fresh air blowing through a house just makes you feel clean, even if you're not.  But opening the windows opens the door to another set of problems-- well, not a set.  Just one.   

On a beautiful summer day eight months ago, a few days before my husband's 36th birthday, I received a phone call from my mother.  I wonder now how different my life would be if I hadn't answered the phone...  The first words out of her mouth were "Guess what I just did".  Knowing my mother, this could be any number of things-- but knowing my mother as well as I do, I was able to narrow down pretty quickly to "You bought a rabbit."  Nope.  Another chicken?  Nope...  A donkey?  I know you've always wanted a donkey...  Nope.  Not a donkey.  Your father would kill me.  (No, he wouldn't- -he would just roll his eyes, sigh, then proceed to make friends with the donkey.)  Just as I was beginning to think maybe I did not know my mother as well as I thought I did, I was validated.  "I got a puppy!".  And then she went into a detailed description (ie, justification) of this dog and why it was necessary, essential, humane, etc to rescue this puppy from the pound.  The justification began with "Jagen (her 13 yr old dog) is going to die soon, and Amos (her 6 yr old dog) will be lonely." It ended with "He was all alone-- his mother and siblings had all been adopted already, except..."

And here it was. The REAL reason she called.  Oh sure, she was excited and wanted to share her good news with me.  She knew that I, being her daughter and very similar to her in very many ways, would be thrilled at the idea of a puppy.  She was also relying on me to give her the courage to share the news with my father- because she's always convinced he's going to be angry, and yet I've never seen him react in any way other than the above-mentioned display.  In case it's not obvious, this happened many many many times throughout my childhood.  Chicken orders aside, there was Courtney, Scrumpy, Majesty, Jed, Jagen, Amos, Kayla... none of which had my father's pre-approval.  And now, Jasper.  Oh yes, she had the name picked out before he was officially hers.  (There have been a few approved acquisitions:  namely, Leiben... and, oh, my father was present for two kittens- Paris and Ashby, but I'm quite certain he was not present when the promise was made that I would get one cat (not two).  So, suffice it to say, if my father were asked, he only ever approved of Leiben.  And I think the original goat-- definitely not the herd my mother has had since then.   Obviously, my mother is doing something right, though.  JMahl would never put up with this menagerie.

But back to the phone conversation:  "His mother and siblings have all been adopted (and I've already been told the whole sad story of how they came to be impounded), except for one other little brother."
And there it is.  


I'll save you the specifics as to the conversation I had with my husband immediately following this phone call.  It started with "Mom got you a birthday present" and then was a mix of "NO" and various statements such as "you love dogs!", NO, "it's just for the summer, then mom will take it back", NO, "the kids need a dog", NO.  It then progressed to guilt-infested statements like "but I get so scared when you travel for business", NO, and "don't you think I deserve this"... still mixed with "NO"... then I actually went to "what are you going to do?  Leave me if I get a dog?".  That at least got a "No, but..." and false promises such as "you won't even  know he's here. you won't have to do anything!".  Still No.  I still have the email trail to prove it.  

Sometimes I wonder why I tried so hard.  He, at least, put up a good fight, and actually tried to bribe me with things such as "I'll say yes if you say yes to XXX".  And yes, that XXX is accurate, but I'm just as good at saying No. 

And eventually, I got my dog.  (Remember prior post? My husband never says No to me.)  Well, my dog by proxy.  He is technically my mother's dog, since she officially adopted him and the paperwork is in her name.  Therefore, she is technically liable- and can be blamed- for what has ensued over the last eight months.  Because a dog has ensued.  A dog who destroys everything he can get his teeth and paws on... my quarter-round trim, my black leather knee-high boots, JMahl's dress shoes for work, various other sneakers (never both of the same pair-- only one of each), toys galore... for a while I kept a list, then it became too time-consuming to keep the list up-to-date.  He's a destructo-dog. Nothing satisfies his urge to chew, to run, to chase, to wrestle. He's got more energy than I and my four children can put up with... or maybe the problem is that he has so much energy that the children can't do much with him.  Letting the kids walk him normally turns into a two hour tramp through the neighborhood, tracking a trailing leash, while nursing an arm that almost got ripped out of the socket.  The bright side is that when I'm torn between keeping or getting rid of something, I just leave it on the floor and let Dugan make the decision for me. 

And that brings me to today's post.  I sat outside in the beautiful warm sun this morning-- and all I could see was my dog's last eight months of destruction.  Holes pitted throughout my yard.  My flower bed nothing but dirt, my cherry tree dead and abandoned behind the house  Decorative border stones-- strewn about my yard and bed like they are nothing.  Pieces of sleds and bike helmets still laying where they died.  My lanterns-- all broken and toppled.  My wooden bench- chewed.  My grass.. dead. Dirt everywhere.  My yard looks like something out of a hillbilly movie.  All we are missing is a few cars on blocks.  A few chewed cars on blocks.  It's depressing.  Sad.  Almost hopeless.  But ahhh.. a few green shoots were struggling through the dirt where my flower bed used to be.  In the midst of the dirt and crumble, small green plants (couldn't tell you what they are) are persevering.  I will get a flower or two this Spring.  

After admiring the perseverance of my little flower bed I came back inside, bringing the dog with me.  Dugan, making his typical mad dash through the house to check on the status of food dropped by children and toys left on the floor- caught a scent on the breeze coming through the open dining room window--   and, with a bark, went right through it.  Luckily (depending on how you look at it) I caught him right before he made it all the way through the window.  It's a 10 foot drop to the back deck from here, and my screen made quite the clatter as it fell.  I imagine he would have made a similar bang.  (You can't blame me if there's a small bit of pleasure in the imagining.)

So I shut my windows, trapping myself back inside the winter-musty house, and sat down to write-- dreaming of the Spring flowers growing in my garden.  Until Dugan chews them to shreds, that is.  

Who Needs a Medicine Ball When You Have a Baby?: A Married Woman Should Cleave to Her Husband-- and...

Who Needs a Medicine Ball When You Have a Baby?: A Married Woman Should Cleave to Her Husband-- and...: "We've had absolutely beautiful weather the last few day- so beautiful that little green stems are starting to shoot up in my garden-- and th..."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweatpants and Genes

Yesterday I did a favor for my husband, to which he said "For doing this, I will never ask you to get a job again." No, no, get your mind out of the gutter.  It wasn't that type of favor-- although I'm sure that type of favor done more often would get a similar reaction.  It was a work-related favor that I won't go into detail about in case down the road I somehow get famous, the media gets a hold of my blog, and it somehow falls into the hands of his upper management and they discover that I (not technically his secretary) did the work for him.  

Now, we all know that at some point he's going to forget this promise-- but I won't.  The thing is, I don't mind getting a job, I just mind him bugging me about it.  I actually liked working and can't wait to be back in my career again.  Oh, sure, it's a relief not to have to get up early every morning, shower, dress, and then try to maneuver four kids into clothes, breakfast, lunch, backpacks, coats, and out the door- all on a strict time schedule; but I did enjoy wearing something other than sweatpants, and discussing something other than how much we like the new Fresh Beats song and whether to have peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese for lunch. These days, I actually put on makeup and jewelry to go the library and the grocery store, since those are my only opportunities to dress up.  But you've got to live the life you have, and my life right now does not include "a job". (And before you start justifying and trying to make me feel better by saying "you DO have a job- taking care of your family", you know what I mean.  Sure, being a stay-at-home mom doesn't mean I get to eat ice cream and watch soap operas all day, but it also is not the same as being 40 hours a week high-energy, political face on, desperate to draw a bigger paycheck at your next performance evaluation.  The only performance evaluation I'm going to get is when my husband chooses my Alzheimer's Home (see prior post:  The Morning After)

But, having not worked full-time in three years and not worked part-time for the last six months, I am ready to get back into the swing of things- outside my home.  My husband is ready for it too, although we have different motivations.  He wants the extra income.  I want an excuse to not do laundry and to hire a maid.  Plus, the Fresh Beats don't come out with songs often enough to keep me entertained on a daily basis.  

The problem with re-entering the work force is, well, the re-entering part.  Sure, economics are tough these days... but I've also got a very specific list.  In order to afford daycare full-time for two children and part-time for two more, I've got a financial requirement.  Then, because I insist on enjoying my job if it's going to take me away from the children all day, that narrows down the pot even more.  And then, well, say I find that job that I love and that pays what I want (most of the jobs I want do not pay what I want, by the way), then I have to convince that employer to hire me.  And there comes a problem, because, as you may know, I have a big problem.  At the risk of offending some of you out there, I'm going to say it anyway.  I am a DeMeritt.  (capital "M", one "R" and two "T"s- or, as my Grandma would say-- "a rump and two ti##ies".)

Now, to clarify, being a DeMeritt is not a problem for most DeMeritts.  In fact, the DeMeritt men have a strong history of career success, as do most DeMeritt women (although there are fewer DeMeritt women), but it is a problem for me.  You see, there is this "thing", coined by people who have married into the family and are therefore DeMeritts in name, not blood, which they call "the DeMeritt gene".  The DeMeritt gene, normally said with an eye roll by some wife of a DeMeritt man, is code for "they think they are smarter than everyone else.  And they think they are always right".  

Well, these in-laws (or "out-laws" as they've also coined-- the people we DeMeritts marry are big on coining code phrases) are wrong.  The DeMeritt gene is not that we think we are smarter than everyone else or that we think we are always right.  The DeMeritt gene is that we KNOW we are smarter than everyone else and that we KNOW we are always right.  And this is not to be confused with "knowing everything".  Most of the DeMeritts I know are open to admitting when they don't know something.  Of course, that ignorance seldom lasts for longer than it takes to find a dictionary or encyclopedia (although, in the last decade these books have been exchanged for Google).  We just know that when we DO know something, we are right about what we know- because we are more intelligent.  Other people may call this being stubborn, obstinate, know-it-all, conceited, etc.  But those words only apply to when you think you are right and you are wrong, in my opinion.  We DeMeritts are actually always right.  Granted, this leads to some very interesting family get-togethers, since we don't all agree on major things like, oh, religion and politics-- and since none of us are wrong... well, hey.  Obviously the gene is stronger in some than in others.  You can tell who has the weaker gene by, say, who voted for Obama?  (kidding! :-)

You may now be wondering what this gene has to do with my career?  Well, you see... my problem is compounded by also having the Benner gene-- not a phrase that has been coined, but one to which I must refer.  The DeMeritts are very intelligent and are always right.  And the Benners like to talk.  Which puts me in a position in the work place of having a strong tendency to tell my employers (most often my direct managers who are no where near as smart as I) that they are wrong and that I am right.  And what I have learned is that even when I AM right (which I always am) and even when I have proof to back that up (which I always do, since I'm too smart to go into a fight unprepared), managers (especially the higher up in the organizational chain they are) don't like to be told they are wrong by their subordinates.  It's a shame my big-mouth Benner gene is stronger than my smart DeMeritt gene that reminds me it would be smart to keep my mouth shut sometimes- especially when dealing with upper management.

Side Note:  This is why I take to parenting so well-- I can tell my kids how smart and right I am all day and they can't do a thing about it.  This is also why my husband just rolls his eyes and says "can you try being political?"  He's too smart to tell me to just shut up.  Of course he is, I'm too smart to marry a stupid man. 

So, what it comes down to is that both my husband and I know that when I do get a job, I'm going to be excited. I'm going to do great.  I'm going to be at the top of my game.  I'm going to have a three inch file folder full of printed-out emails from various people within the organization saying I'm the best XXX they've ever seen and I've turned the department around, etc. (this is all true, actually, if I must toot my own horn.  I am very good at what I do, which is not surprising, considering how smart I am)... and then, one day, maybe 6, 8 months, a year down the road, I'm going to be forced to tell my boss that what he/ she is doing is wrong, unethical, illegal, okay.. stupid... and I'm going to be out of a job once again.  

So, if anyone out there knows someone who is willing to pay a good salary (and flexible hours would be nice) to a super smart employee who is right about everything....the good news is, I've got plenty of time. My husband has promised to never again tell me to get a job.

Who Needs a Medicine Ball When You Have a Baby?: Sweatpants and Genes

Who Needs a Medicine Ball When You Have a Baby?: Sweatpants and Genes: "Yesterday I did a favor for my husband, to which he said 'For doing this, I will never ask you to get a job again.' No, no, get your mind ou..."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A back-ordered gift does not break any rules.

JMahl and I agreed that we would not be buying presents for each other on Valentine's Day.  We do this every year (agree not to buy presents), so you'd think that by now it would be a given; but I think we both still feel the need to reaffirm the commitment, just in case.  Since the present I ordered him was on backorder, I actually followed the rules this year.  Of course, he still showed up after work with a bottle of wine (which is more of a staple than a present) and gave me a full-body massage (should be a staple, but is not; therefore, I didn't mention the lack of flowers), and I provided him with a clean house, quiet, well-behaved children, and a fabulous dinner and desert.  (like every night, of course).
Granted, the house was a few steps further than just "clean", because in the spirit of Valentine's Day- and since the gift I bought him was on backorder, remember- and "just in case" he decided to buy me something anyhow (which he did not), I felt it necessary to, oh, just get a few things for around the house.  
By a few things, I do mean a relatively large purchase of a 3 inch pile area rug for our living room, and when I am going to spend a large sum of money, like a good wife, I run it past my husband first. 
Our conversation yesterday morning, then, went something like this:
JMahl:  What are your plans for the day?
Katryn: I'm going to take the kids to the park (a beautiful day for February), and maybe stop by Home Goods.
JMahl:  What are you planning on getting at Home Goods?
Katryn:  We need a rug in the living room.  Every time Micah falls she bumps her head--it's dangerous.  (See?  This isn't about me, it's about the children.)  Besides, it's Valentine's Day. 
JMahl:  I thought we weren't getting presents.
Katryn:  We're not!  (item on backorder doesn't count, obviously)  This is for the house.
JMahl:  Do we have the money for that?
Katryn:  Of course we have the money!  How could I pay for it without money? The cashiers at Home Goods are all women, so my cleavage isn't likely to get me far.
At this point, JMahl rolled his eyes, sighed, and kissed me goodbye. End of discussion.

Now, had JMahl actually put his foot down and told me no, I would have listened, but I've come to a realization over the last few months.  My husband never tells me no.  I would like to say this is because he loves me so much and can't stand to see me unhappy (which I'm sure is what he would say), but I think what it really comes down to is that he has no idea about our money.  He makes all the money, but I handle the budget, pay all the bills, and pretty much make any and every financial decision.  He knows this, I know this... the only ones that don't know this are the home estimate people who insist both of us be present in order to give us a free estimate.  I've tried telling them countless times that if I say we are going to get new windows and siding, we're going to get new windows and siding, but they don't want to believe me.  "I'm sorry, we need both spouses to be present."  (and there's no way JMahl is going to talk to a salesperson after work-- not since that incident with the Kirby vacuum girl that he won't let me forget.  But it wasn't my fault!  I grew up in the country- we didn't get door to door sales people! I didn't know!)  So they insist on husband being present, and at first this really annoyed me, and I would get in arguments with the sales people.  NO, my husband does not have to be here!  Just give me the free estimate already!  Now I use it to my advantage to get rid of them-- oh, you require my  husband to be here to make the financial decision? Well, it's unfortunate, but he's out of town on business for the next 12 weeks.  No, that's not my husband you just saw ducking under the window.  That's..his... brother.  Yeah, his brother.  And no, he's not authorized to make financial decisions for this household.  I'm sorry.  You heard the kids call him Daddy?  And me Mommy?  Well.. it's a sensitive subject, and now I'm offended.  Good day.  
I've also started using this method with Jehovah's Witnesses.  I do admire their evangelism, but I am solid and secure in my faith and have no need to be converted to another.  Unfortunately, I've found that they (and the local Baptist church, oddly enough) don't agree with me on this.  So, I'm now telling them that No, I can not make any religious decisions without my husband present.  Last time I did I ended up with a sister-wife and a ban on birth control, and neither of those were as fun as I was led to believe.  
I also don't give to charity, buy from door-to-door meat packers, or buy orange glo product anymore (that stuff does not work!), but since I'm horrible at saying no to these sales people, I've now adapted a "scared face, pull my shirt closely around me, and edge the door shut with a quick glance behind me, saying with a whisper "my husband won't let me talk to people... "  It works.  The only thing I will buy door-to-door are pizza and cookies.  JMahl and I have a mutual understanding about those items.  
But back to the point-- I don't want you to get the impression that my husband does not wear the pants in the family.  He most certainly does.  He, ultimately, does what he wants to do, regardless of what I say about it; while if he were to ever tell me not to do something, I would most assuredly listen.  It's just that he never has told me not to do something, while I, on the other hand, have told him not to do many many things-- which he just goes ahead and does anyway.  So, he really is the boss around here.  Which brings us back to yesterday's conversation.  He never told me not to spend any money.
So to Home Goods I went to buy the most wonderful, thick, soft, ahhhh! rug I've ever felt.  And some new pictures for the wall.  And they are lucky that Kolbie was begging to go to the park, or I would probably have spent quite a bit more.  I'm actually surprised that stores haven't realized yet that they would double (at least) their profits if they provided coffee and daycare the moment a woman entered the store.  WalMart is close- they have a greeter at the door and an arcade.  But they don't have the greeter handing out coffee, and they don't have a babysitter in the arcade.  If I could shop undeterred and undistracted for an hour?  What joy!  Some one really needs to get on this idea, and I prefer it be Home Goods, since I happen to love that store. Although, I'll be honest and admit that it's not so bad shopping with my kids since I can expect at least one compliment every other person I pass, and Yes, I am vain.  I love receiving compliments on my kids.  
So, I have to say that for Valentine's Day I made out pretty well. Beautiful re-decorated living room (and a rug I could (and will) walk barefoot on for hours)- see my FB for photos-, a bottle of wine, a full-body massage, quiet kids, good dinner and dessert.  My husband?  Well, his Valentine's Day present will get here when it gets here.  They say March 2. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's only bad to drop a baby if they hit the floor.

This morning's exercise session was short and to the point.  I began with kid flips, which can be done successfully with kids of any size and age.  Typically when I do kid flips I've got a chain going, with one child going over my head as another child is climbing onto my legs and a third is running around to take up position again.  The more kids involved in the chain, the more exercise you get.  Also the more fights break out (my turn!) and the greater chance of an injury.  But since I determined that Micah is too young for this exercise, my chain had only one in it-- Kolbie.  And I think she was a little shocked at the intensity of repeat flipping.
Kid flipping, as you may have figured out, is when you lie on your back with a kid across your shins, holding on to your knees.  After a pump up of one.... two... three! (lowering and raising your legs), you throw the kid over your head with your legs, catching them around the waist, and lowering them, quickly, into a standing position.  The more you practice, the smoother the flip goes.  It's quite a bit of fun for both you and the child and a good workout for your tummy.  I was tired after ten.  
It didn't help that Micah was smacking me in the face wanting to get in on the fun.... so at some point I picked her up and started tossing her in the air while Kolbie continued to rock gently on my shins. I think she was prepping for a nap.

Once I managed to pull my self off the floor, I decided to end my extensive (we were going on three minutes now) morning workout with my favorite-- and I've never met a child who didn't love this-- Drop the Baby.  
Drop the Baby is simple and easy-- can be done in public; in a doctor's office;  in line when a kid starts to get ancy-- works to stop crying in about three seconds, most of the time. In fact, Drop the Baby should be included in any book about parenting in the first year or two.  Kolbie's a little big for it now (by big, I mean heavy), but I've still been known to do it.  I've actually done it to Mason once in the past year, but that didn't work out so well.  The point of Drop the Baby is to catch the baby before they hit the floor. That should be a given, but I figure I should put it out there anyway. Just in case.  

I'm pretty certain that Drop the Baby- like the name "Daddy"- was invented by a man.  Has anyone ever found it very coincidental that the first sound most babies make is "DaDa"?  All mothers (and most fathers, even if they won't admit it) know that that baby is not talking to his/ her father.  She's just making the sounds she can, and some Daddy out there one day decided to one-up his wife.  He was probably feeling a little left out from all the new parenting fun...feeling a little bit abandoned and ignored, and not really having any connection to this thing that came out of his wife, changing her body AND her personality.  So one night while his wife was sleeping, he was rumbling around his house looking for something to do to occupy his time since his wife used to stay up late and count stars with him or something like that- and now that the baby was here, she was going to bed whenever.  And you can't forget, this is well before the time of internet and tv and even radio... I'm not sure if there was electricity.  I haven't done any research on this subject, if I must be honest--  And as he's looking for something to do, he hears the baby wake up, so he goes and looks at this thing he's supposed to call beautiful even though she looks like a frog (but the wife did not appreciate him saying that)... and the baby looks up at him from the bed and says "DaDa".  And he thinks... awe... so cute... wonder when she'll start calling me Father?  Then, because he's feeling a little resentful toward his wife, he thinks "I hope she says Father before she says Mother... that would serve Wife right for being so baby-centered..."  But as he stares down at this child, he begins to think about his own father and how they didn't really have that great of a relationship, and how the word "Father" just evokes some feelings he doesn't like to dwell on (this was WELL before the era of man sharing his emotions).  So he decides he doesn't want his daughter calling him "Father", which means he then has to figure out what his daughter should call him.  As he's mulling this over, stroking his whiskers, his daughter looks at him again and says "Dada!".  And that's that.  Of course, he then has to deliver this news to his wife-- and he can't risk the baby saying "Dada" in front of his wife before he's had the chance to tell her his decision, or else he'll loose the power of having the baby say His name before Hers.  So he quietly slips over to the bed where his life is sleeping, snuggles up behind her, and as she half-way opens her eyes and turns to him, he says "Honey, can I tell you something?" and proceeds to tell her about his feelings toward his father and his fear of fatherhood and the name "Father"-- and how he'd like the baby to call him something else... like, say "Daddy".  His wife is so touched and overwhelmed by this sharing of emotions that she agrees without question.  And then, as they lie there-- he pleased, and she wondering at the depths of emotion in this man-- the baby cries.  And the father, never one to miss an opportunity, leaps to get her, saying "It's okay, sweetheart... Daddy's got you".  And the baby smiles sweetly and says "DaDa!".  

Thus, three traditions were born in one night:  Fathers being called "Daddy"; Men using whispered words and sensitivity in the night to manipulate women; and little girls doing anything they can to please their Daddy's.  

But that doesn't explain how Drop the Baby came to be.  The much shorter story of Drop the Baby- perhaps invented by the same Daddy or by another equally inventive one-- began when a father (new or old, doesn't really matter) dropped his baby, narrowly catching him before he hit the floor.  Before his wife could scream and rescue the child, the quick-thinking Daddy said "I meant to do that!  See?  He likes it!"  And Drop the Baby was born.    

Now, the thing about Drop the Baby is that half the fun is the anticipation.  Sort of like a roller coaster.  The fun part is the ....wait... wait... wait... NOW!  But with Drop the Baby I do a sing-songy... "I'm going to.....DROP the Baby!"  And at "Drop", well, you Drop.  You need to temper your dropping based on the age of the baby, of course.  A newborn should not be dropped- period.  A three month old, you drop slowly, but never separate hands from head... so they are more being "lowered" than dropped....  but "I'm going to LOWER the baby" just doesn't work as well.  Micah is at the age now where I can really drop her.  And the further I drop her, the more she laughs.  It's a good drop when my fingers skim the floor as I grab her.  She will actually tense up her body as I start singing, and a second before I say "Drop!" she'll throw her body backwards as hard as she can.  The first time she did this was a little frightening, so I'm putting it out there so you can be prepared in case your child is similar.  
The worst part of Drop the Baby is stopping the game.  For some reason, the kids just won't tire of it!  And you will.  Believe me, you will.  

Now, I'm sure some people are going to be greatly concerned about my mothering and the safety of my children, but I promise you-- this is a safe game, if done correctly.  Just don't let the baby hit the floor.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yoga Bare

No, no... before you start wondering if this is "that" type of blog, I was not naked.  My husband insists that I could make quite a bit of money if this were that type of website, but I tell him we should revisit that subject at a later date when my body is back to its former stellar form (My memory is surely biased.)  And by "revisit this subject" I do not mean to imply that there will ever be such a website out there-- especially since my mother, brothers, and various other relatives out there may be reading this-- but sometimes with husbands I've learned that a "maybe later" (especially in the realm of husband-wife exercise) is a lot better received than a resounding "No!"... often followed by a "Who do you think I am? What type of woman do you think you married?  I'm your wife, not some girl you picked up at a college party."  The things we do for love (in this case, let them believe there's a slight chance out there that that particular fantasy might come true...)

So I was not naked, but both of my exercise buddies were.  (and are, as I type this).  Kolbie is going through a phase (if phase can be defined as going on two years now) in which she likes to be naked.  Oh, she'll put her clothes on, but slowly, throughout the morning, they start to come off. Then, after a few hours of me: "Go get dressed, Kolbie" and her: "No, Mommy.  I don't want clothes", she'll put a new outfit on, only to begin slowly shedding it over the next hour or so.  
This morning she started out in a cute little pink dress with purple stockings, but by the time we started our exercise, she had used the bathroom once (and who wants to put back on your stockings after taking them completely off to use the loo?) and within twelve seconds of exercise she discovered that her cute pink dress was getting in the way of her flexibility.  So off it came.
I wish I could strip naked and have increased flexibility, but I think that only works at her age...

Being the good mommy I am, and recognizing that you may be getting bored on day three of the same old exercises, I asked Kolbie what exercise she wanted to do.  Her answer:  eat cereal.  So that we did. Hey, breakfast is important.  By this time Micah had already eaten four breakfasts, so she was impatiently waiting for us.  So I distracted her by giving her breakfast number 5.  But she got distracted during the feeding, turned her head, and breakfast landed all over her pjs.  Which explains why she was naked.  She, at least, was wearing a diaper.

After Kolbie had eaten the standard four bites of her full bowl of cheerios (I will never learn), I repeated my question.  She actually thought about it for a second before opening the game cabinet (which is really the bottom half of the $1100 tv cabinet that my husband fell in love with and insisted on buying about six years ago before middle-class-peons such as ourselves could afford flat screen tvs.  Soon after the purchase, flat screen tvs became affordable, and I have since listened to JMahl complain constantly about why we can't get a wall-mounted flat screen for the living room- to which I reply "because you insisted on buying an $1100 tv cabinet and, by golly, I'm going to get my money's worth!)  and settling on, of all things, yoga.  And before you question how yoga fits in the bottom half of my tv cabinet, I will explain.

You may be already aware that our seven year old son, Mason, was born with bilateral clubfeet.  (Bilateral means Both).  We discovered this via ultrasound when I was 20 weeks pregnant.  If you've been through something similar, you will understand the immense pain, to which little else compares, of knowing that the child you are bringing into the world will be crippled.  All the doctors telling you that "this can be corrected" does not make up for the crushing fear and pain- and guilt- of knowing your child is hurt in this way. You know how when your baby is born you can't help but do the cliche "count fingers, count toes- Perfect!"?  Well, with Mason we didn't get to do this.  Within an hour of his birth (and due to his prematurity, he was whisked away after a quick peep to prove I had a son) his feet were in casts- starting the journey of his lifetime. Literally.

Fast forward through years of casting, minor surgery, bending, braces, more casting, more bending, etc., when Mason was five, we decided to go ahead and try some physical therapy.  We checked with our insurance company and found a local pediatrics PT clinic.  I'm going to name neither the clinic nor the PT, but suffice it to say, it was quite a waste of my 3 day a week, $20 copays.  But, before learning this, I was in the throes of "this is going to help him!" and when the PT suggested we try yoga, I went out and purchased Yoga Pretzels flash cards.  Now-- for the purposes of yoga, well, I guess that's more my fault than the fault of the cards.  But for a fun game with the kiddos- yoga pretzels is the best.  Basically, we take turns picking out brightly colored flashcards of fun yoga positions like "Warrior", "Lizard on a Rock", or "Plank", and having the other person do that position.  Kolbie loves this.  She has better flexibility, but I'm the only one of us that actually follows the step-by-step instructions on the back of the cards.  We intersperse the stretches with relaxing cards like "Elephant Breath" and "Like a Rainbow", and don't really get much exercise or stretching done.  But for the purposes of this blog, it counts! 
(If you prefer exercising with your spouse and don't have yoga cards, the Kama Sutra will work just as well.)

While Kolbie and I opened our minds and released our bodies according to the instructions on the card, Micah crawled around gleefully throwing the flashcards this way and that.  I think her exercise was called something like "scatter the cards as fast as you can before Mommy can get out of that position and pick them back up".  Made for quite the fun time... and messy living room.
Yup- -still some cards under the couch.

In conclusion, I did take some measurements this morning (two days down, I was optimistic), and I have lost 1/2 inch around my waist.  Or maybe I was sucking it in...

P.S.  Since the time of the waste-of-time PT, Mason has gone through major corrective surgery on both feet-- determined to be successful by Dr. Stephen Tuck of Shady Grove Orthopedics-- Strong recommendation!  -- and has been undergoing non-waste-of-time Physical Therapy with Mr. Kelly Sykes of Touchstone Therapy and Wellness.  If you're looking for a great PT, give him a call-- although, he has not yet recommended yoga as a cure for clubfoot.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The morning after...

I was surprised to wake up this morning with a sore stomach.  Yes, I know.  You just realized that I only did 2.5 minutes of exercise (and that's 2(point)5,  not 25) minutes, and I am sore.  This should serve as your reminder about quality over quantity-- or at least give you more proof of just how out of shape I am.  So my stomach muscles were sore, but I consider this a good thing, since that means my 2.5 minutes were beneficial.  Yeah!  

It took me a while to get around to my exercises this morning.  Primarily because I was reading a relatively good book (L. Pitts, Jr. "Before I Forget"), about a man struggling with his diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's and trying to get things right with his family before he forgets (see where the title comes from?  such smart people write books.)  Alzheimer's, as most of you know, hits home for my family. Some people have cancer, others have diabetes and heart disease-- we have Alzheimer's.  And it's a B$#TCH, I tell you.  Less so for me than for my mother, her siblings, and my grandfather, but not easy at all.  To see a person you love forget that you love them... that they love you.  That they even know you.  It's a hard thing to watch, and I constantly remind my mother that she'd better be good to my father now.  She in turn reminds me of the same.  I believe JMahl (my husband) is taking notes and at some point down the road will sit down with tea and gold-rimmed reading glasses.  He will have grown out a full beard at this point because he thinks it makes him look distinguished.  He'll remove a thick binder of notes from his mahogany desk drawer and, speaking mostly to himself, say "ok, she made dinner every night, but no credit for experimental recipes.  Deduction for not ironing my shirts with starch the way I like them, but credit for me always having clean underwear.  Credit for sex and for children... deduction for four children total.... The nagging costs her some, but overall, she was a good wife... so....I think she's earned a moderate to nice Alzheimer's home... wait, not covered by medicare?  Well, she did constantly throw my socks in the big basket with all the kids socks which I told her not to do... so I can definitely justify putting her in gov't assisted care."

This reminds me, I need to start cleaning as soon as I'm done with this post...
But back to my exercise regime.  I finished the book and immediately took up position on the floor with the kids.  Micah was already giggling by this point; Kolbie just wanted to play Scrabble.  (By play, she means take turns reading the letters on the tiles and putting them haphazardly on the board-- where SHE wants them of course.)

First exercise was bum crunches.  Feet up on couch, Micah placed giggling on my belly, and I began to lift.  Reps of 14-11-15-5.  Because that's how many I could manage each time.  Sometimes because I was tired; sometimes because my baby was falling off.  50 total.

Next exercise was crunches.  Still on my back with my knees touching my chest, I lay Micah across my shins, holding onto my knees, and I did 30 crunches.  To do this exercise properly you have to either kiss the baby's head or stick out your tongue or yell boo or something to that effect every time your face approaches hers.  Which, if you are properly crunching, should happen.
That was fun.  But tiring.  I have a feeling I held my neck wrong and will probably have a sore neck in the morning.

Last floor exercise was a double whammy.  I placed Kolbie on my shins (where Micah was previously) and lifted Micah in my arms. I extended my legs out as far as I could (keep in mind, Kolbie is almost 30 lbs) while extending my arms over my head-- while holding Micah.  This one is fun for the two kids to kiss and head butt and yell boo at each other.  Keep in mind, though, the more excited the kids get about this exercise, the more likely the chance of A/ one of them falling and B/ you getting a mouth full of happy drool.  Be prepared to move quickly either way (in which case the drool will just drizzle down your cheek and neck) or suck it up.  Literally.  Not recommended.  
I can't remember how many of these I did- I think only 15.  I was tired.

And then, because we all know that you can only firm up so much-- sometimes you've got to get cardio involved, I decided to go for a jog. With Micah held longways, snuggled against my chest.  
Now, for some reason I've found that the house shakes less if you jog on your tippy toes.  So, for three minutes, I jogged around the downstairs, on tippy toes, holding Micah with both arms tightly against my chest.  Holding her this way accomplishes three things:  1/ it fulfills the unstated necessity to have a child involved in each exercise; 2/ it removes the risk of shaken-baby syndrome; and 3/ I was not wearing a bra.  
Now, to the third point, this may have not been ideal, since she was being held in breastfeed position with only a thin t-shirt separating her from the source of life's purpose (to her).  This meant that I was constantly pulling her little hands away from my shirt, which was moving upward at a miraculous speed, and trying to remove her nose from beneath my shirt- little pug nose that knows how to get where it needs to be-- all while jogging on tip-toes.  But I don't include THAT as part of this exercise- unless, of course, some hoity-tv doctor comes out and says that nursing while exercising will quadruple your rate of weight loss.  In which case, you heard it here first!  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten months out...

I am a 32 year old wife and mother to four children, ages 8, 7, 3, and 10 months. Five, if you count my 10 month old dog.  Six, if you count my 36 year old husband-- which I do at times.  I have a Masters in Management, a Bachelors in English, and career experience-- but these days I pretty much do nothing that I couldn't have done for $60k less straight out of high school. Heck, who am I kidding?  You don't even need to go to HS to have kids, do laundry, and make dinner.  Ahhh... one day... one day I'll be back in business suits and using big words (without having to define them)... 

But to the point of this blog:   I am tired of hearing people say (in an entirely complimentary way, of course) "You look great for having four kids!"  OR "Don't be too hard on yourself, you have had four kids, you know!"  (Yes, I know.  I was there for all four of them.)  So, I'm ready to work toward "looking great (period)".  Ie,  I want to hear someone say "There's no way you have four kids-- you look like a supermodel!"  Oh, not because I really want to be skinny.  I haven't been skinny since I hit puberty and my breasts decided to try for a marathon without any prep or warm-up before hand.  And not because my husband likes the supermodel thin body.  He actually prefers me with some cushion for the... baby's head to lay on.  No, I'm doing this because I can not afford to buy a whole new closet of larger sized clothes and, darn it!, I like (some of) the clothes I already own and can no longer fit into.  And because muffin tops just aren't cute, no matter how much cushion your husband is into.  

So I'm starting this blog as a motivator.  And as a record of my weight loss plan.  Which includes my kids (if you read the title of this blog, you've probably already figured that out.)  And no, I am not going to get rid of some of the kids, although that option does cross my mind on occasion.  

All right.  So, introductions complete, let's have at it.  My two oldest children go to school every day, therefore they are mostly exempt from the activities that will be discussed on this blog.  It is, therefore, my 3 year old and my 10 month old that have the luck to be used in place of a medicine ball.  And let's start off the honesty here by saying they love it!  Heck, what kid doesn't like being tossed around by his/ her mom?  (unless the tossing lands them into a wall, but I've learned my lesson since then)

And I do need to insert in here a quick comment-- after my second child (my only son) was born, I was at a great weight.  Probably my best/ healthiest ever.  So it's only fitting that my two youngest children get used as barbells, since they are to blame for the current state of my body.  
And use them as barbells.. and medicine balls... and hand weights I will indeed.  And they'll love it. They'd better.

Another quick comment before I start giving stats:  I'm too cheap to go to a gym that offers childcare, I don't use strollers-- besides the price of a double stroller, I can't go for a walk without my dog (feel guilty about that) and I can't manage a stroller and a leash, and it's often too cold, snowy, wet to take two kids out-- so walking is out.  I don't have an indoor gym system, other than a bike that annoys me, and while I was persuaded to buy a pilates video from tv once, I can't do that (or yoga) without being climbed on by one or more of the kids... which leads me to my current exercise plan called 
"Who needs a medicine ball when you have a baby?".  Also known as "medicine baby" and "baby ball" and "who needs a baby?" and, by 8pm, "who needs medication right about now?".

This blog is going to keep track of my measurements, and I'm going to describe just what I did each day in the form of exercise (with my kiddos).  
Please don't expect results and don't swear by this plan until we see results.
And I will be honest.  To prove how honest, I'm going to post a naked picture of myself right now, and again in six months.  Just joking.  That would violate my terms with Google Blogger.  But I did take a very unflattering underwear picture that I will hold in reserve until we have an "after" picture to compare it to.

But, to prove my honesty, I have taken my measurements as of 9:30 this morning.  Ten months out from baby #4.  

32 years old
5 feet 8 inches tall
167 pounds naked

waist 33"
hips 42"
thigh (just one) 24"
chest (under the breasts) 32"
chest (over the breast/ under arms) 37.5"
breasts (breast-feeding breasts) 41"
upper arm 12"
around bum 43"

Now, some could argue that those are perfect hourglass figures, but when I'm still trying to squeeze into a size 8/10, that hourglass gets a little bumpy.

After taking all those measurements (nothing motivates you and depresses you at the same time like taking your measurements), I lie down on the floor with the kiddos-- one hand holding my 50lb tension weight (our 10 month old black lab puppy, also known as "Dugan") who thought this was daddy-dog wrestle time-- and started my exercise regimen for today:

30 leg lifts-- flat on back, with 3 year old (28lb) child sitting on my feet and hugging my knees, I extended my legs out as far as I could, then brought them back into my chest.  I ended this exercise by flipping her upside down over my head and onto my couch.  From here on out, we'll refer to 28lb, 3yr old weight as "Kolbie".  She wanted me to do more, but I physically could not. 

Then, while holding Kolbie in the same position, legs partially extended (since that's all I could manage), I did 10 presses with my 10 month old, 16lb weight, who we will refer to as "Micah".  I would have done more, but she started to squirm.  

Last exercise of the day was to schooch on over to the couch, put my feet on it, Micah on my belly, and do 50 bum-lifts.  I actually did 30, then took a break for a few seconds, then 18 more.  Then two more.  Micah loved that.  She continued to bounce up and down on my belly as I gasped on the floor.  

Keep in mind that these were all done with one hand holding Dugan back from the party.  So that's day one of this agenda and post one of this blog. We'll try to make it to 2-2 tomorrow!