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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Resolving & Further Evolving

I was thinking about New Years Resolutions and about how passive that sounds. By contrast, resolving to do something sounds active and somehow more powerful. Therefore, I decided to resolve this New Year, rather than make resolutions.

I further noted the relationship between resolve and evolve. Resolve gives the impression of happening just once. Whereas, evolve communicates an ongoing process. To me, life is more like the latter. You go along, trying new things, keeping what works and what makes you happy. Sometimes there's that eureka moment, but mostly, it's a series of baby steps.

A couple months back I presented my health report card, along with some goals for improvement. Here's a review of my core principles for healthy living, with my scores then & now, and any related goals & notes:

Consume a Plant-Based Diet
Grade then - B; Grade now - A-

  • GOAL: Increase meatless dinners to 3 weekly; Limit meaty lunches to 3 weekly.
  • NOTES: I think I hit the 3 meatless dinners most weeks, if I give myself fish as meatless (which I decided to do shortly after the original post). I would like to see fewer of the meatless dinner involve pasta. I definitely limited my meaty lunches. Most weeks, having only 1 or 2. If I did go over, it was because I needed to clean up leftovers!

Choose Lean Meats & Low-fat Dairy
Grade then & now - A

Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole
Grade then - A-; Grade now - A

  • GOAL: Use a non-rice, non-wheat whole grain once weekly.
  • NOTES: Done. I am surprised in retrospect how modest a goal I set here. I am also unclear why I didn't allow for rice. I was not using much brown rice at the time & have certainly increased that. I've also served barley & bulgar a few times each. I've continued to lean heavily on whole wheat varieties, but I know I have expanded my variety!

Limit Discretionary Calories
Grade then & now - D

  • NOTES: Thank goodness I didn't set a goal here. The holidays after all! I will say that I consumed less in the way of sweets & potent potables this year than in years past. I think we chalk this up to mommyhood!

Move More
Grade then & now - B-

  • GOAL: Increase rower/stretch/tone workouts to 3 weekly.
  • NOTES: The holidays, a minor illness & some time out-of-town were brutal on this goal the past month. I did okay the first month. The past few weeks, I've shifted my strategy to walking the dog instead, though I'd still like to use that rower more!
Write Down SMART Goals
Grade then - C; Grade now - B
  • GOAL: Reassess in 2 months ... just in time for New Years Resolutions!
... and NOW ... for the resolving & further evolving!
  • Plants -
    • Continue to consume no more than 3 meaty lunches. Serve 3 meatless dinners per week, only 1 of which is pasta or pizza based!
    • Choose organic off the "dirty dozen" produce list.
  • Grains - 
    • Continue to experiment with different grains, serve a non-traditional one at least 2 times monthly.
    • Limit refined grains served in the home to 1 weekly. (We all have plenty outside the home, after all!)
  • Moving - 
    • Walk the dog briefly every night after toddler bedtime, unless truly extenuating circumstances.
    • 3 times weekly, do additional activity after walking - rowing, lifting or stretching.
  • SMART - 
    • Reassess in June - why not for 6 months? --- because that's when I finish my masters! I'll be pleased if I can accomplish the goals. I highly doubt I'll have time to write about them while we're working on them!
I also resolve to make a few changes unrelated to my physical health. I resolve to address those in my next post - to be titled "Redirecting" ...

Till then, happy tween week! :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Redefining Everything - with Christmas wishes for all

When I hear fellow moms say how they miss me time or going out as much or whatnot, I try to respond appropriately. But I don’t miss it – any of it. That may sound pathetic, but it’s true.
Part of it is how ready I was for my life to change. I was a happy person before my husband and daughter. But I wanted a loving partner, and I wanted to have a family. I got both. I got both after ample time to sow my wild oats. I was out of oats.
Sometimes I feel like a different person entirely from the Sower Of Oats. I used to occasionally wish she’d sown fewer of them. But I finally understand that for whatever reason, the oats were there. If she hadn’t sown them, I don’t think I would be as happy as I am now. I’d always wonder what I was missing. I don’t have to wonder. One day I’ll make true and lasting peace with that rather large dragon tattoo she left me with. (And yes, I do often refer to past-me as a different person. Henceforth, we’ll call her SOO. Judge if you so wish.)
When I do start to feel a little frazzled with the demands of being a working mom, I find myself thinking back to my early 20’s. My couple years in DC were SOO’s heyday.  But you know what pops into my head most often? Not long nights out on the town. Not hijinx or hoopla of any kind. Nope. Instead, there’s me in my tiny apartment, in my $20 Goodwill chair, with my beloved cat Lali on my lap; I’m watching Star Trek: Voyager and crocheting (badly). The apartment was 300 square feet, in a part of town no one would visit, and its view (through a barred window) was of an alley. What’s the appeal? I had no responsibilities – outside feeding Lali and scooping her box. I held two very easy jobs while I lived there, the kind you do when you have no idea what you want to do but you have a college degree. I did not think about them when I left the office. I had fewer responsibilities even than in college – no tuition bill or grades to my parents, you see. I was farther away from home, and I lived alone. I don’t remember being lonely, though apparently I was, since I got a (totally awesome) roommate my second year there. I remember just being me, doing the lamest stuff imaginable and loving it.

small cool loft
It was this small, but never this cool. And never ever that bright!

All my time in DC was me time. Not because I was alone. Being alone is not necessary or sufficient for true me time. It was me time because I lacked responsibility.  By that definition, no time is me time now. Even when my daughter is with my parents or at daycare, there’s always the possibility of a phone call – with some question or report, be it mundane or dramatic, for which I am to be the final arbiter.

That would be some existence! Fortunately, that’s not how I feel.  For the most part, I’ve simply redefined me time. For one thing, I have bothered to define it at all. And I bother to make sure I take a little on a regular basis. I know I’m getting better at it, because my mind drifts less frequently to that DC apartment.

Everyone has only so much time in a day. I have things I feel I need to do: getting food on the table, keeping us all clean and in clean clothes.  That’s of course on top of working full time. (On top of professional organizations and part-time grad school.) I also need to take care of personal needs, which for me fit into three categories – 1. I need to be social in some way.  2. I need to cultivate my relationship with my husband. 3. I need to do some of the lame things I enjoyed pre-baby.  (Lucky me, 2 and 3 usually go together, since I married a fellow nerd!)

Pinned Image
For the most part, I’ve found the rest fits into one of three other categories – A. It can wait. B. You can pay other people to do it for you. C. It doesn’t need to be done.

Now, I greatly enjoy my mommy time. I have gone completely nuts on crafty projects, mostly due to Pinterest. They don’t always work out quite the way I expect, but that’s part of the fun. I love reading to her, letting her read to me, and watching her little mind work and change.  Being a mom has introduced me to this whole other wonderful world.

The me time is essential though – for recharging as a mom and for maintaining myself as an individual. Being a working mom has forced me to redefine how I truly want to spend my time. I don’t have endless hours just to myself. I have to prioritize. And actually, that’s been a pretty good thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I appreciate this resource of “me time” because it is limited!

I have given myself a few free passes; my C pile is pretty large but small compared to my A pile. I also take me time as I can get it. I make the most of little bits as they present themselves. My commute has become me time. I love my routine, especially my coffee! I love letting my mind just drift. Sometimes I plan out what I need to get done that day at work or that evening at home. I even plan the following week’s meals sometimes! I also get my news while I drive. I love NPR like a dear friend!  Sometimes the love of mind-drifting gets in the way of the news.

I may not get my hair cut or my brows waxed as often as some women, but no less often than I did pre-baby. My last brow-wax was a last-minute decision before the grocery store. I also (usually) have hours after she goes to before I want to, so that’s when I blog, tweet, Facebook, watch a little adult TV, maybe shop online, and so on.

I didn’t consciously redefine. It happened because I redefined my priorities, also not consciously. I’d simply rather come home and make yet another handprint craft with my daughter after dinner (always on bathnight!), watch Finding Nemo yet again, put her to bed, then hang out quietly with my Hubben.

With Christmas around the corner, it’s hard not to think about what you want or need. I quickly redefined wants & needs upon entering motherhood! I can’t claim that there’s nothing I want that I don’t have. I certainly have everything I need. And, I have the things that I want most. That’s an amazing gift indeed. My grown-up Christmas wish this year is that everyone could say the same.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Simple Solutions

Sometimes (okay, often-times) I over-analyze.
Sometimes (not as often as I'd like) this works out well.
Sometimes (too often) it just drives me crazy and doesn't bring a solutions.

Lately, I've noticed that sometimes, the best solution is the simplest one. And, lucky for my budget, a cheaper one.

Here are some examples:

  • Clutter 
    • We have an open layout home and an open construction coffee table in the living room. We store toys under the coffee table. 
    • Problem: our common area looks like a play room.
    • Solution: I'd been searching for a storage ottoman for months. I kept objecting to how pricey they are. This weekend, I had the earth-shattering idea to move the toys into my toddler's bedroom. It's right off the main room anyway, so it's not like I'm banishing her to Siberia to accomplish this.
    • Added bonus: (I'm hoping) doing things in her room more often might get her to like sleeping there better!
  • Crazy Dog
    • We only had our dog for a year before our baby came along. Still, you'd think we disrupted some long-existing arrangement for him. (Granted, he was 4 when we got him and had lived with a bachelor before that, but still.)
    • Problem: he acts like she is the plague despite her adoration for him. It drives me crazy. I show it. He gets more & more neurotic.
    • Solution: After a brief break from him (a few days away to visit friends), I felt better toward him. I capitalized on it and started taking him out for walks after kiddo's bedtime. He's feels comfortable; he behaves better. I like him better, and I show it, and he behaves better .... and so on!
    • Added bonus: see below.
  • Exercise
    • I've tried a few different ideas. The rowing machine & weights after kiddo's bedtime was working out pretty well till I got a sick a couple weeks ago, and I just haven't gotten back into it.
    • Problem: I think we all know the challenges of establishing a work-out routine.
    • Solution: See above!
    • Added bonus: happy dog! :)

My point? Solutions don't have to be hard. Maybe they do require lots of thought. After all, I came to these after thinking through and trying other, more complicated ones.
In the future, when something's a little amiss, I'm going to think: is there something totally obvious that I'm overlooking?
We'll see if it keeps working!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Birthday Reflections

Tomorrow. The sun will come out.
And I?
I will turn 35.
Do you know what that means?
It means that IF I ever want another child, I will have to have a "high risk pregnancy."
That. Sucks.

Now I am 90% certain that I don't want another child. Not because of the high risk pregnancy label, but because the reason that most frequently crosses my mind for wanting one -- is so I can name another one. Kind of a dumb reason to bring another child into the world. The next most frequent -- all my friends are doing it. Also a pretty dumb reason to do anything. The reason that most frequently crosses my mind for not wanting one -- I have never been happier. Just ... why mess with it, you know?

So, I've never been happier. I don't want another child right now. Why the eff do I care that I'm turning 35 and passing into some arbitrary risk group? Because. That's right - because. Because I hate being told what I should or shouldn't do. Sure, no one says you can't have a baby after 35 and certainly more & more women do. But it's that "You can, buuuuut ..." - it's almost worse than just a black or white.

Then there's the "what if's" --- We don't want another child now. But what if someday we decide we do want another baby? Like when D's 4 or even 5. Will I feel too old then? Will I be too old then?

I used to say I had no regrets. If you go back and fix one thing in your past, how do you know what else it would change? For example, if I went back and met my husband sooner, and started a family sooner, sure I'd have more time for a 2nd child, BUT would I have gotten the amazing little girl I have now?
Now? I say - screw that, I want to pick & choose. I want to have exactly the life I have now, except be 3 years younger. (I feel like 5 or more years would be asking too much. Doesn't 3 sound reasonable?)

I know this will pass. I have always loved celebrating my birthdays. Those divisible by 5 in particular. There are 3 full days of festivities planned. Outside the concrete gifts and the external celebrations, there's the best gift I've given myself lately - acceptance. I accept who I am; I actually like myself a lot. I accept turning 35, but I don't have to like it -- at least not tonight.

Linear time, you are a cruel master.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Working with Style ... catching up ...

Phew! Where have I been!?!?!

Well, not taking better photos of my outfits. Let me just warn you at the outset. All photos will be self-portraits, utilizing a mirror & a Blackberry. My husband is more than willing to photograph me, but I'm always rushing to get out the door in the morning --- then rushing to get out of my work clothes in the evening!

Last weekend, we were in South Bend, IN - having a kick-ass time with a great friend from college & her family. Even though there was no snow, it was considerably colder - worthy of sweaters, boots, and the crocheted outerwear from the craft show we attended.

Here's what I wore the day before we left. I called it "Black'n'Tan" --

Sweater & black pants by Merona - from Target. Black pumps by Naturalizer. I love them so much, I actually polished them. My honeymoon opal around my neck. And, yup - my side bangs debut! I think next I'll go for real bangs, but this was a big step for a life-long ear-tucker.

Here's an outfit from earlier this week ---

Two new items. Sweater by Loft (online, on sale). Turquoise beads by Stella & Dot, courtesy of a friend's recent party.

And here's what I wore yesterday. (Yes, YESTERDAY, as in - Saturday - to work.)

Another new Loft sweater. My standard Target navy slacks. My standard floral Sam & Libby flats. Plus, a multi-gem necklace from hubben for last birthday. (BTW, he wanted to know why I was shopping so much with my birthday & Christmas coming up. Answer: I have no idea.) Here's the story behind this outfit. It feels like jammies, a robe & slippers. When you have to work on a weekend, you should at least be deliciously comfy. If my face looks fuzzy in the picture, don't blame the Blackberry; blame my face.

I'll try to get better shots this week, but it's nice to see all the LWM crew again. Check out the link up!

Liberating Working Moms Button

A Time for Joy ... and for Finding it in Smaller Stuff

'Tis the season ... and that jazz.

This time of year is full of wonderful "stand-out" moments. Special events, parties, Santa photos, decking the halls, making/decorating/consuming cookies ... making memories & starting/continuing traditions.

But don't forget the joy in the smaller stuff too. Give yourself time to find it.

This afternoon, my mom brought over sugar cookies she'd baked. She'd made her special icing and brought along sprinkles. When I was young, we used to make literally hundreds of sugar cookie cut-outs. One year we topped over 1000. Her cookies are world-famous. We've recently discovered it's all about the icing & started using the store-bought dough. Anyway, we passed the tradition down to the next generation today. My daughter had a blast, and we all delighted in watching her. (Each time we weren't watching she managed to sneak another extra cookie!)

This evening, we drove to a nearby touristy town with a great lights display. We stopped for dinner at a favorite brew-pub, then strolled around the square. (Stroll = take turns chasing a 20 month old)

These were both completely awesome times. Wonderful wonderful memories. What I think made them enjoyable was that none of us had had too much.

Earlier in the day, we did nothing. We stayed in our jammies till just before my parents got to our house. The height of excitement was playing with the dog. And guess what -- that time was awesome too. Wonderful wonderful memories. Apparently, my kiddo's butterfly PJ bottoms are also bossy pants. She arranged her Daddy & me just so, "sit sit" and tried to tell the dog just want to do too, but he has yet to accept her as Alpha. The dog is just a funny funny oaf. It is seriously too easy to fool him as to the whereabouts of his toys - good thing we never call on him for the purpose for which he was bred - you know, retrieving game.

We had plans on the horizon, excitement to anticipate, but no reason to rush all morning. Now that's a gift worth giving your family & yourself!

Do you ever feel like you're at a sprint from Thanksgiving to New Years? What ways have you found to slow down?