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? 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Playing Catch-Up

It's been quite a long time since I last blogged.  I feel as if I can't really start again until I give you the Reader's Digest version of life in the Morgan household for the past six months.  I'll keep it short on words, but long on pictures, if that's alright with you ;-)

I went back to work on 8/1, and Hadley started daycare.  It was incredibly hard to go from seeing her 24/7, down to an hour or two per day, but I pressed on, and so did Hadley and John.   
Hadley rolled over on her three-month birthday, and has insisted on rolling onto her stomach to sleep ever since.  We enjoyed a few visits with friends and family on the weekends, as evidenced by these pics. 
Hadley and her Grandma Morgan

Hadley and Prudence (John and Kerry's babe) at a backyard BBQ

We started getting used to the daycare routine, but we still didn't like it.  I would get home with Hadley in the evenings around 6:15-6:30, and we'd try our darndest to keep her up to spend some more time with her, but she really likes to go to bed around 7:00-7:30.  In an effort to find ways to spend more time with her, I asked my employer if I could work part time.  I had to wait a while for the powers that be to make a decision, so I tried to be patient...
In the meantime, we enjoyed a weekend visit from Nana and Papa, went downstate to see Hadley's cousins Drew and Luke, and celebrated Hadley's Grandma Morgan's birthday with her, too.
Hadley started doing the army crawl, which was pretty cool.
Nana and Hadley, Labor Day weekend
Modeling my cute dress from Aunty M on one of the last warm days in September
Cousin Drew, at two months old
A friend's child's birthday party brought us to the zoo on 10/1.  Here are a couple cute photos:

Hadley was six months old on October 8th, and the month was celebrated in style.  We had visits from both Auntie M and Nana, we celebrated Hadley's Great Grandma Morgan's 93rd birthday, and had fun dressing Hadley up for Halloween.  I know that she won't remember it, but we sure had fun with it.  She had two costumes this year: 1) a motorcycle chick, and 2) an elephant.  Both costumes were adorable in very different ways.  :-)

Watching the Tigers- they lost :-(
Looking Mischievous
Happy half-birthday, Hadley!
November passed in somewhat of a blur, but the main mood in my mind was "waiting".  Waiting for an answer from my employer about whether or not I could work part time, that is.  It had looked promising when I had asked at the end of August, but I still hadn't received an answer either way.  We went to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with my side of the family, and decided that I would talk to the "powers that be" on the following Monday.  We had been teetering on the decision for a while, but we had finally come to the decision that it was either "part-time" or "stay-at-home", because full-time just wasn't working for our family.  So I went to my boss on that Monday, hopeful for a positive answer to my part-time question from three months before.  Unfortunately, they couldn't make it work, and I gave my six-week notice. 
Hadley at 7 months

With the weight of the employment decision behind us, we could finally see the horizon, and our moods picked up significantly.  We traveled to Michigan a LOT...three times in a six week time period.  Because of all those trips in such a short span, John still doesn't want to commit to driving back again any time soon.  We were there for Thanksgiving, then two weeks later we came back for a friend's wedding (congrats to Dan and Angela), then two weeks after that for New Years weekend and to celebrate a belated Christmas with my family.  In between, we saw lots of the Morgan side, too.   It was an incredibly busy, yet happy, month. 
Hadley's first ride on the el: on our way downtown to Christkindl Market

Hadley at eight months

I worked one last week in January, and my favorite coworkers provided me with a GREAT send off.  As excited as I was to be at home with Hadley, there was a big part of me that was sad, too.  I will blog about that another time, though. 
I have now been home with Hadley for about three weeks, and it has been quite blissful!  I have not nearly as much time to myself as I imagined I would have, and this new "job" is quite demanding.  However, it is incredibly rewarding, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 
Cheers to new chapters in life!  Here are a few pics of what Hadley and I have been up to in the last three weeks: