Thursday, September 19, 2013

Super Mom Syndrome

I was talking with my Mom the other day about the latest happenings inside our house- Hadley’s potty training progress, Kara’s mastered the art of rolling over, etc.  I can’t remember exactly how it came up, but we got to talking about how I am constantly worrying if my parenting is screwing the girls up.  Am I paying enough attention to Kara?  Am I paying enough attention to Hadley?  What is the magic amount of time that it’s ok to let Kara cry it out, without making her feel abandoned?  Am I being consistent and firm enough with Hadley when I have to discipline her?  If I am, then why is she having temper tantrums at gymnastics?  And why is that judge-y Mom incident still bothering me when I know I did nothing wrong?  Ahhh!!!!  It is overwhelming sometimes.  I asked her if she had felt the same pressure that I am feeling now, when my siblings and I were Hadley and Kara’s age.  She said “no”, without even a hint of hesitation.  “Everyone nowadays seems to want to be super mom,” she said. 
Even though I don’t consciously desire to be super mom, I know that she is right.  It’s a constant cycle in my head.  Maybe it’s because we are all so connected these days, in so many ways, by the internet.  Between my Facebook newsfeed showing all the picture-worthy activities other Moms are doing with their children and the Pinterest pins stacking up the list of things I still have yet to do for my kids, I sometimes feel inadequate and paralyzed.  A typical afternoon spent inside my head sounds something like this: 
“Should I make this salt dough handprint cookie with Hadley?  That would be a fun sensory experience for her.  Or maybe I should be singing songs and dancing with her to tap into her musical side- we haven’t had much music exposure yet today.  Wait, what about Kara?  She needs attention too- I don’t want to mess up this critical connection time.  Maybe I ought to be putting in face time with her and playing peek-a-boo.  Wait- it’s a nice day.  We probably ought to be outside right now, taking in the fresh air feel and let her watch the trees sway in the wind (believe it or not, these are actual activities I get emailed every day from “Productive Parenting”).  So many things to check off the list, I just don’t know what to do!  …Oh crap, Hadley looks bored.  While I am deciding what to do next, I better give her the iPad so she can at least learn a little something on ABC Mouse-dot-com.”
I haven’t figured out the magic combination of activities to produce the best well-rounded and adjusted kid.  I know logically that I never will.  To cope, I find myself drawn to reading parenting blog posts like this one, that appear on my Facebook newsfeed, finding relatable material to allay my fears, reaffirming that I am doing this or that right.
Maybe I need therapy.  Wait, I don’t have time for therapy- I have macaroni art projects to do and tot gymnastics and swimming to attend, lullabies to sing, and diapers to change.  Not to mention paid part-time work to do while the girls are napping.   Ha ha!
OR MAYBE…I just need to force a break-up with the internet for a while to figure out my own parenting priorities.  Easier said than done, but I think I will try it.  ;-) 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A letter to my 19 year old self

I am not sure what my inspiration was for this post.  I haven't blogged in a long time, but I had the opportunity to think about it during a long drive last week.  Something about being on the road sparks the reflective thoughts in me, I suppose.  This post isn't about regrets- that's not the right word.  I don't regret any choices I've made.  Those choices have shaped who I am now, and I like who I am.  However, sometimes I just think back and shake my head at myself, kind of embarrassed, I suppose.  Most of my head-shaking moments happened around the time I was nineteen and maybe twenty years old.  I suppose maybe it was the year before I turned the corner and started to grow up.  I wasn't a horrible person, but I think I hadn't yet gotten my priorities straight.  Anyway, I am rambling now.  So, without further adieu, here it is:
Dear Nineteen-Year-Old Self:
I have a few things to say to you.  Pay close attention.
-LIFE LESSONS, GENERALLY.  "Finding Yourself" is not nearly as dramatic as you might think.  You do not need to move across the country to find yourself.  You do not need to travel long distances to find yourself.  You just need to live your life the best you can.  Dixie Chicks "Wide Open Spaces" is a nice song, but it should not be your anthem.  Rather, Dave Matthews Band's "Pig" should be.  Look for the love in it, and for goodness sake: quit looking for it in the wrong places.  Case in point...
-ROMANCE.  That boy that you are so hung up on?  He is never going to change, and if you are completely honest with yourself (isn't that part of "finding yourself" anyway?), then you'd realize that he is not a good match for you anyway.  Refocus all that effort you are putting towards winning him over, into your family and friendships. 
-FAMILY.  Family is the most important thing in life, and yours is one of the best.  So stop analyzing what was wrong with your upbringing (nothing, by the way!) and start appreciating them.  The more people you meet in life, the more you'll realize how lucky you are.  Some people need a drink after they spend a couple hours with their family.  You will eventually look forward to having a drink with your family- not to escape them.
-FRIENDS.  Drinking buddies are not the same as friends.  If you cannot have fun with them when you are all sober, then they are not your friends.  They are not necessarily bad people, but not your forever friends.  Putting drinking buddies before your family will just make you feel awful later on.  You are not missing out on anything that you'll remember fondly, trust me.
-THOUGHTFULNESS.  Be more thoughtful towards your true friends and family. Send more thank-you notes (very important!), and send them a card just because.   Call someone just to chat.  Do nice things for the people you love.  Do nice things without thinking about what's in it for you.  This will become what people know you for; indicators of what kind of person you are.  People will not remember you for how much fun you were when you were drunken dancing at the bar.  They will remember you for how you treated them when they needed you or when you made time for them.

Just strive to be better with each day.  Some day you will have a beautiful daughter who looks up to you.  Have fun, but be good to yourself and to other people.  See you in 13 years.
Your Thirty-Two-Year-Old Self.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Yikes...I hope I haven't scarred her for life

Hadley's hair has been growing kind of crazy.  She has what we call her "Donald Trump" on the top of her head.  Before I take pictures, you'll often hear me saying, "okay Hadley, let's take care of your Donald first."  Or, "we need to tie the Donald up with a bow before we take the picture."  In other words, her hair grows fastest in the middle top of her head, so we generally have to comb it over, a la Donald Trump:
Ok, so maybe it's not QUITE as bad as the Donald's, but it did seem to be getting a little unruly, and she had some random strands of hair that were way longer than others, some were hanging in her eyes, etc. 

Long story short (pun intended), I decided to cut her hair myself, because I figured it would only be 3-4 snips of the scissors, and I just couldn't see taking her somewhere for that.  I thought I did a pretty good job, until I realized something.  I hope she doesn't hate me, because now she resembles Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber:

She still looks pretty darn cute to me.  :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Love Affair with Carbohydrates

For my birthday one year, my friend Kerry bought me a little tiny pin for my jacket, with a picture of a cartoon chef that says, “carbohydrates”.  It was a simple little gift, yet I have grown quite attached to it- there aren’t many things in this world that I love more than carbohydrates.
I love the way the starchy bread or pasta melts on my tongue, turning so quickly from flour to smooth delightfulness.  I love the way French fries start out salty, and melt into a satisfying goodness as I chew.   Hmmm…you may be thinking, “Jill- you and carbohydrates need to get a room.”    Ahem.  Excuse me.
It’s true.  I love carbohydrates.  However, I also understand that too much of them are bad for me (too much of anything is bad for me, but I digress).  I am told that this lovely, almost euphoric (for me, at least) taste comes from my body’s breaking the carbs down into pure sugar.  That can’t be good, right?  Well, while I don’t think that I could ever go for the Atkin’s diet, I have been trying to teach myself that there are some healthier substitutes that I can swap in sometimes. 
Whole grains are an obvious and easy fix- I think that we all know that, now.  That helps.  However, today’s blog is about another substitute.  It sounds so crazy that I almost sound like I am shilling for the Atkins Diet, but I am not.  I am talking about cauliflower. 
I would like to share with you a couple of recipes that I have tried recently, and loved.  They seem to satisfy some of the carbohydrate cravings very well.  They aren’t necessarily Weight Watcher recipes (although I would be curious to know the points values), but they are definitely healthier than their carb-laden cousins.
1)      French Fry Alternative:  Cauliflower Poppers
Easy and simple, this recipe from "Delighted Mama" simply asks you to cut up cauliflower into small bite-size pieces, coat with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake.  They were absolutely delicious.  The website claims that they taste like French fries.  I am not going to pretend that they taste just like French fries, but they most definitely calmed my craving for French fries, without the added calories.  John liked them too.  Try them and tell me what you think.  I can’t wait to experiment with more spices.  I am thinking a little garlic would be delightful…maybe some Cajun spices, too. 
2)      Pizza Alternative:  Cauliflower Pizza

This reciped from "Eat.Drink.Smile" is not quite as easy and simple as the first recipe, but worth the extra effort, to be sure.  I thought that I was going to have to eat a lot of it to be satisfied, but I was pleasantly full after only one small piece.  Again, I am not going to say that this pizza tasted just like a carb-crust pizza, but it definitely didn’t taste like cauliflower, either.  It was uniquely delicious. 
There you have it.  I am officially intrigued, Cauliflower.  I will be experimenting a lot more with you in the future.  I found a recipe for mashed “potatoes” using cauliflower, and another for cheesy bread (probably similar to the pizza crust).  I will keep you updated, Blog.  J

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hadley is Nine Months Old

Today, Hadley is Nine Months Old.  I just can’t believe it.

“They” weren’t kidding when “they” said that time flies so fast when you’re watching your kids grow up.  I feel like it was practically yesterday when we were in the hospital.  I can still vividly remember when they first placed Hadley in my arms.  She was quite calm, and just looking all around her, taking it all in.  She still has that “exploratory” personality.  She cannot be contained.  She is forever finding new and exciting things to get into.  Who cares that new and exciting to her right now is the dog food bowls and the under-stove drawer with pots and pans?  Ok, I do- but I get over the annoyance pretty quick, I swear.

She started pulling herself to standing around Christmas, moved on to “cruising” the couch and with her walker a couple weeks after that.  Now, for the past few days she has been working on standing on her own.  She can go about 10-15 seconds before she freaks herself out and falls on her butt.   Nothing can contain this kid, and I would not have it any other way.  She amazes me every day. 

Just look how much she's grown in nine short months!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lazy no more!

The other day, I was texting back and forth with my sister.  After one of her texts, I found myself looking for the “Like” button, of the Facebook variety.  I laughed at myself (who wouldn’t?), of course.  It’s kind of like the dozens of times I was in the car listening to the radio, and when I missed a little something, I looked for the “rewind” button, only to realize that radio does not have DVR like my TV does. 

Anyway, as a result, a little later on I started to lament the ways in which I have become kind of lazy.  I mean, we have all these technological tools to keep in touch, and I was just too lazy to type a four letter word- I wanted a short cut.  It was a funny thing, but I need some improvement.
In the spirit of my last blog, I am owning up to my laziness.  Yes, today, I have decided to blog again about weight loss- I apologize for being boring and redundant, but this is what’s on my mind lately.  And hey- it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want!  ;-)
I have been trying to take things slowly [i.e. lazily] in the weight loss department.  I kind of eased my way into this [and by “eased”  I mean that I started, stopped, started, stopped, gained even more weight, started, get the picture], and continued to talk myself into reasons why it was ok for me to continue on the path I was on.  Basically, I have been taking it easy for nine months, and if I am completely and totally honest with myself, it really hasn’t gotten me anywhere but full of excuses and ill-fitting clothing. 
I finally feel like I am finding my groove this last week or so[“How Jill got her groove back” is not that interesting of movie, but I am a blogger- not a screen writer].  To keep the groove going, I am going to share my goal with “the internet” (and my one faithful subscriber- thanks Peggy):

GOAL:  I will get back to my wedding weight.

That’s not an uncommon goal, I know.  It's such a common goal that it probably sounds cliche.  However, I want to get there in twelve weeks.   I have set my deadline for Hadley’s first birthday party, which will be the first weekend in May.  It would be even better if I could reach the goal a week prior to that, in time for my cousin Laura’s wedding in Portland, but I won’t push it. 
Side note:  My Mom has been on her own little journey, and recently found herself back very close to the skinny minnie that she was at my wedding.  Her accomplishment has inspired my current goal.  Props to you, Momma. 
Anyway...While I am too much of a chicken to go broadcasting my actual weight to the world, I do feel some sort of sick need to shame myself into submission.  So, I will also tell you, my lovely Reader, that this goal means that I will need to lose about 17% of my body weight since I started.  Thankfully, I have already lost a little.  Not so thankfully, my weight loss thus far has been extremely meager. 
This is an aggressive goal, but I think it is an attainable one.  I won’t have to go all “Biggest Loser” crazy to do it.  I can lose the weight in a healthy way. 
Here are the ways in which I plan to make it happen (anyone care to add some suggestions?  Help a sister out!):
  • I will eat well and control my portions.  For me, the portion control is the hardest tackle, by far.  Here is a “pin” that I found, which I am going to follow. 

  • I will find a  way to work out every day, even if it just involves doing floor work and Hadley-lifts/lunges at home in front of the TV (that’s harder than you’d think, I’m telling you…but a great idea for some of you Moms out there who feel guilty leaving the baby - the baby loves it).
  • I will set some intermediate goals and rewards.  For example, when I can once again fit into my “kinda-fat” jeans (as opposed to my current “really-fat” jeans), I will use the gift certificate from my wonderful former co-workers and go to the spa for a massage.  Another pinterest inspiration find:

  • I will sign up for, and stick to, a free group fitness class at the YMCA.  Preferably something that sculpts/tones (I am a cardio queen when I am on my own, but I have a hard time finding motivation to do the strength-building exercises).  I will use my Dailey Method gift certificate to workout, but also as an excuse to go see Michelle's new studio (Hi Michelle!). 
  • I will try to get a second workout in, 2-3 days out of each week.  I don’t want to do that every day- that seems kind of crazy.  However,  I think that a couple times a week is a reasonable goal, and a good way to speed up the weight loss.
  • I will not deprive myself of all the “good stuff”, but I will make sure that the “good stuff” is eaten in appropriate portions, and that I do what I need to do in the workout department to make up for it.
  • When a craving hits, I will wait at least ten minutes (preferably 20+) and distract myself with something constructive.  If the craving is still ridiculous, then I will let myself have it, provided I follow the rules from the previous objective.
  • I will not use any of the excuses that I fessed up to in my previous blog entry. 

Like my latest “Pinterest” find says:  No one said it would be easy, but it will be WORTH IT.
Here goes nothing…

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Excuses, excuses...

I am no stranger to weight struggles.  I have never been a tiny girl, and have always had to be careful of what I eat, lest I gain too much weight.  I am incredibly jealous of those people who can eat whatever they want and never gain an ounce.  It's too bad they can't bottle their metabolism- I would be willing to pay a pretty penny for it.  Using my busy schedule as an excuse, I have let myself go for an embarrassingly long time (and I can't even use Hadley or pregnancy as an excuse- this started long before).   
Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I feel like I can use some of it to focus on myself and my health.  I want Hadley to have a healthy Mom, not only so that I can be around for a long time, but also build healthy eating habits of her own.
I want Hadley to be comfortable with herself, and be healthy at the same time.  The last time I remember being truly comfortable with myself was years ago.  I remembered that healthy and comfortable feeling, randomly, when I came across this old photo.  It's not even the best picture of me, and I have plenty more pictures from when I was thin...but for some reason this picture brought all those feelings back.  Maybe it's because it was taken when I was about to complete the Chicago Sprint Triathlon, and I was in great shape.  I am using this picture as inspiration to get myself back to that fit person again (although I have no plans or time to train for a triathlon again). 

That said, I am going to virtually "throw out" all of the excuses that I have used before, to fool everyone (namely myself) into thinking that it wasn't my fault that I have gained weight.  Here they are.  If any of you ever hear me utter these words again, please call me out on it. 

"I start my diet next week".  This would be all well and good, if I weren't using it as an excuse to binge in the present time.  I have used this excuse, and truly believed it, a million times over.
"I can eat whatever I want if I just workout."  Untrue.  I recently started exercising (strenuously, at that) almost every day of the week.  I have seen little to no difference on the scale as of yet, because I haven't truly embraced the diet. 
"I don't need to use the scale- I'll just go by how my clothes fit."  This may work for some people, true.  However, for me, I just start reverting to my "fat clothes" and convince myself that things just shrunk in the dryer, or blame John for putting something in the dryer that he wasn't supposed to (sorry hubby). 
"I fell off the wagon today [Tuesday], so I will just start fresh next week [Monday]."  This is kind of in the same vein as my first excuse, but it's a little bit different.  It's one thing to fall off the wagon- we all do from time to time.  However, why on earth was I thinking that it would be better to wait nearly a week before getting back on?   This, I think, is the main reason why I am where I am today. 

There you have it.  I have made countless excuses over the years, but those are my most common. 
I am trying to adopt a new way of thinking: One day at a time.  I have a long way to go to get to my goal, so I need to take it slowly. 
Can I really give up burgers, french fries and cookies for the rest of my life?  No, I can't.  However, can I hold off on those tasty treats for today?  Sure I can. 
Can I really run 3 miles a day for the rest of my life when I hate running?  No, I can't.  Can I fit in a run today?  Sure I can.
One day at a time.  Starting now. 
Anyway...What excuses are holding you back?  Care to fess up?