Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Only Child

Phew! After a four day cleaning marathon, I can breathe a short-lived sigh of relief. We are officially on the market, so now we just have to focus on keeping the house as clean as possible. That's no small task when you have a 2 year old that likes to pretend he is Cookie Monster, dump out his toy boxes, and "cook" with our tupperware and plastic utensils. . . tons of fun

Anyway, this blog post is NOT going to be about cleaning up after JJ, but I wanted to get a memory (however absurd) jotted down before I forget. It came to me when I was cleaning up some dishes today. I'm not sure what made me think of it, but I kinda laughed to myself just at the thought. Lissette, if you're out there, you will appreciate this one.

I have always thought that being an only child is kinda sad. I don't know too many only children, but I have a clear memory of one that went to Colgate with me. We'll call her Helga in the spirit of her equally German-sounding name.

I met her as a pre-season freshman, which just means that we were both on campus before most other students since we both had pre-season for 2 different fall sports. We lived right across the hall from each other and strangely, we were from the same hometown (which is well over 500 miles away from Colgate). We met but neither of us was really interested in getting to know the other, so that was the extent of our relationship for about a year.

By sophomore year, we were still living across the hall from each other just with different roommates. During the first two years that I knew Helga, I had learned she was eccentric, very cheap, quirky, not especially concerned with personal hygiene, frightenly promiscuous, and very outspoken. Her roommate and I were friends, so we had quite a bit of contact. Usually, I just had to hear the Helga stories from her, but every now and then I had the bad luck to witness them myself.

During my sophomore year, my roommate and I shared a bathroom with her and her roommate. The bathroom had 1 shower, 2 sinks, and 1 bathroom stall. We rarely had conflicts with showering schedules, so overall it was a pretty good setup. This particular incident started innocently enough as what looked like some clothes sitting up on a ledge facing the shower somewhat close to the ceiling. It was high enough that I could not see what exactly was on it but low enough that I knew it was some type of clothing. I didn't think anything of the clothes at first since 4 of us shared a shower. I just figured that someone had forgotten to take them out after their last shower.

Days passed and the clothes were still there only it looked like now there were more. I ignored it. The days became weeks and the pile of clothes was now crowding the ledge. I asked my friend Lissette, her roommate if she knew anything about them. She said, "Yeah, it's Helga's underwear." I asked what they were doing there. She responded, "I told her to get her dirty underwear off of there, but I don't know what she's doing." Our conversation pretty much ended there, and I'm sure I made some comment about how strange she was.

Another week or two passed, and I remember Lissette coming out to see me in the hallway and saying I had to come see what Helga was doing. I walked into the bathroom and there stood Helga with a large plastic tub full of cloudy water and her dirty underwear. She was holding a large pair of scissors in her hand and using them to stir her makeshift laundry tub.

I said, "What are you doing?".
She responded, "I'm washing my clothes."
I said, "Yeah, I know, but why there?"
She said, "I don't want to pay $3.00 for a load of laundry."

I know I laughed pretty heartily and probably made some additional comments about her being crazy, but I just ignored it after that.

Another week or 2 passed, and again, Lissette came to see me to tell me how Helga still hadn't finished her "laundry" and it was still sitting in the tub of murky water growing mold. Apparently, it had taken on a pretty nasty odor after sitting there for a few days, and Helga didn't know what to do about it. I'm pretty sure she spent those $3.00 to do her laundry, but I don't know if she ever got the odor out of her clothes.

I know not all only children are as strange as Helga, but I remember her very clearly since she is one of the few I have known. For some this story may be funny, for others probably just too much information, but for me, just another college memory (and a reminder of why I wanted to have more than 1 child). I have many, many more Helga stories only some of which are appropriate to share.

Last I heard, Helga was a member of our fine military working in something like weapons development or something I found equally frightening to be under her control. I am sure she is quite competent in her job, but I hope she spends some money now to do her laundry.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parents are Funny

I was thinking about our kids tonight and how proud I am of them, and I started thinking about how most parents have this thing in common. I stress MOST because I know not everyone is fortunate in the parents department. Anyway, I was thinking how parents are often proud of the dumbest things their children do. Usually, you're the only one that is amused. I know because I've seen it and done it.

One really good example of this is potty training. Think about it. If you're a parent whose been through this, you're so proud of your kid when he/she finally decides to go on the potty. If you step back and think for a second, it's kind of silly, isn't it? Sweet . . . my kid doesn't poop his pants anymore! or whatever you may celebrate to yourself. It's silly, but I will still be stoked once Jameson decides he is going to stop being stubborn and just go already.

As a teenager, I remember playing club and high school soccer, and thinking how annoying parents can be. Parents can get especially obnoxious when it comes to sports. Everyone wants their kid to be good at something, and dads usually want that something to be a sport. I knew a lot of kids who played soccer mostly because their parents wanted it for them. If you've ever watched ANY high school football or soccer game, you can watch parents fulfilling or hoping to fulfill their sports aspirations through their children. I pray to God that I don't become one of those parents. Of course, I won't deny that I will be ecstatic if any of them chooses a sport I know anything about, namely soccer.

Intelligence - here's another common source of parental pride. I know we all swear up and down that we have the smartest kids in the world. Resisting the urge to compare our children's intelligence to other kids' is a difficult thing to do. I don't know if we want validation or if maybe we think that our kids are smart because we're smart. I can't figure out why so many of us care if our kids are any smarter than the next kid. Maybe we just really don't want to be ordinary. Yes, I think maybe that's it. We don't want to be just like everyone else. We want to be special, so we also want our children to be special. Who knows.

One thing is for sure. We all have our hang-ups. Mine involves all things health and safety - my kids health and safety, that is. Yeah, I would be okay with having a few dummies if it meant they would be healthy dummies. James thinks I obsess about our kids' safety, but I can't help myself.

For example, tonight we had a St. Patrick's Day party at James's aunt's house. At some point in the night, while I am busy with a baby upstairs, Jameson decides he is going to take a fake leprechaun beard and chase a couple of his cousins around the house. I hear the commotion (which had been going for about 5 minutes) and come downstairs to spoil the fun. Did I say that the fake leprechaun beard is attached to a long sturdy plastic handle? Yeah, well, I had images in my head of Jameson tripping and stabbing himself in the face or stomach with this plastic hazard. Okay, he wasn't exactly running with scissors, but not too horribly far from it. I'm pretty sure I felt like a leper at that point because I think everyone else in the room thought I was crazy for spoiling their fun . . . everyone, including James. Go on and admit it the rest of you . . .Amanda? Hannah? Emily?

Anyway, the point is, we all have our neurotic ideas and habits as parents. If you're not a parent yet but plan to be, don't worry. You'll discover yours when you have your children. Don't judge me for mine.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What am I doing?

I am asking myself this question as I begin this post at 3:23 a.m. on a Sunday. Prior to this post, but after midnight I was feeding a baby, talking on the phone, doing some work (yes, real work), completing a Lending Tree application, reading random blogs, and doing some paperwork when I decided I should do a post. For some reason, I seem to do my best work after midnight. I guess I enjoy the quiet and total lack of disruptions. I know I will not enjoy waking up at 8 a.m. with a toddler anxious to start his day.

There's my cue though . . . crying baby! This time I should probably go to bed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Road to Hell . . .

You know how it goes. I don't need to finish this one. We've all been here, and it's no fun because we usually have no one to blame but ourselves. More importantly, we're usually the only ones that can get ourselves out. Here's my dilemma.

I found myself here about 23 weeks into my pregnancy with the twins. I was in the hospital with some early contractions, and a standard blood test found my blood sugar was elevated. They determined I was a gestational diabetic. I wasn't completely sure what that meant for me, but immediately, I began to wonder 'how did I get here?'

I had always been a healthy 115 - 120 lbs. during college, even though that's technically on the heavier side for my height (4'11"). Yet, with my thick build, anything smaller than that would probably be a bit unhealthy. I was content to be a size 4 or 6. After James and I got married, I weighed about 130 lbs. I'm pretty sure we had a fairly gluttonous honeymoon where I packed on another 5 pounds or so (not healthy, but it was fun).

Then I got pregnant with Jameson . . . talk about using pregnancy as an excuse to eat a lot of crap. Here's where the whole "road to hell" part comes in. I think I had actually convinced myself that by eating a lot I would meet all my nutritional needs as well as the baby's. Well, eat is what I did, and I packed on 50 lbs. I did not help though that I believe I probably was a gestational diabetic while pregnant with Jameson (swelling, tingling hands, excessive fatigue & weight gain), which would explain the insatiable appetite. Diabetes is a strange beast. When your blood sugar is elevated, for some reason, you actually get hungry when you don't really need to eat.

Thinking back all the way to high school, I never USED to have to watch what I ate, but there was one major difference now. I guess I was in denial or something, but I had yet to adjust my diet to compensate for the fact that I was no longer an active kid or a collegiate athlete. I guess I kept telling myself that I would get back to playing soccer again and lose the weight later. Yeah, that never happened.

So here I was pregnant with the twins, already at about 170-some lbs. at about the halfway point in the pregnancy when they gave me the diagnosis. They had me meet with a dietician, and they made me change my diet. It was hard at first, really hard. But, as I continued with the diet, I started to feel better, and it got easier and easier.

Work, motherhood, and family life gave me a lot of good excuses for not making better lifestyle choices. All of my bad decisions in the past were now staring me in the face. What had I done to myself? I remember thinking that I was at a crossroads. I could either come to terms with the fact that I was no longer a competitive athlete (nor was I going to be) and change my eating and exercising habits, or I could regret not having done so and cut some years off my life with my family.

I made the obvious choice.

Hello, my name is Julie ____ , and I am a recovering sugarholic. It has been 8 hours since my last donut (although it was just a bite) and 2 hours since my last chocolate-covered marshmallow. I continue trying to make good food choices, but I have to constantly remind myself of my long-term goals. Despite my daily diet blunders, I try to focus on my overall diet choices.

Okay, so I'm not perfect, but I am making headway. I will say that I am at least getting my "5 a day". My overall diet has significantly improved, but breaking the sweet tooth is no small task. Everyday I find more willpower to avoid making bad choices. I have been able to find pretty good substitutes for my high-fat, high-sugar treats.

Nonetheless, like any recovering addict, I continue to be in the habit of sabotaging myself, or I can usually count on my mom to bring home something not on my list of good-for-me foods.

1. I made a Carrot Cake about 2 weeks ago, and guess who ate most of it. Yeah, well, I was able to replace most of the oil with applesauce, and I used pineapples in order to reduce some of the sugar. I used whole wheat flour, and cut the frosting sugar in half. Still not a health food, but I have to be able to eat something that feels decadent.

2. This is a Laura's Cookies from Dorothy Lane Market. They are heaven in a cookie (if you like sugar cookies). They were one of my many guilty pleasures when I was pregnant. I remember thinking everytime I ate one that I probably needed the extra calories. I was carrying a baby after all.

These days I try to avoid Dorothy Lane Market (or at least the bakery section) because my willpower is no good when I have them in the house. My mom brought Jameson a few a week ago, and she says she is not trying to sabotage me.

3. Tonight, I watched Unwrapped on the Food Network. The show is all about food (usually mass-produced junk food) and how it's made. Don't watch it if you're hungry.

Here's the treats they featured tonight. They do, of course, show you how they're produced, so it's very tempting to see tons of creamy frosting, or velvety chocolate, or worse, creamy ice cream (my absolute achilles heel).

1st Episode
Cinnapretzel - a gluttonous combination of a pretzel with a cinnamon roll set into the twist (comes with a side of cinnabon frosting)
Oregon Chai Tea
Sparx Spicy Cookies - specialty spicy cookies made with real chili peppers
Cinnamon Sugar - how it's made (duh!)
Sugar Artistry - using sugar to make art
Billy's Bakery - "a bakery with homestyle flair" (specialty is Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing)

2nd Episode
Snickers Candy Bars
Fran's Chocolates - sellers of gourmet chocolates & other sweets
Potato Chip Cookies - yup, just what it sounds like
Jeni's Ice Creams (just a short drive to Columbus) - the Roxybury Road sounds DIVINE
Snyder's of Hanover Pretzels - Chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel sandwiches (that's a mouthful, in more than 1 way)
Wolfgang Candy Company - feature White Chocolate Pretzel clusters

I think I like to live vicariously through the people I see on the show (and other Food Network shows) eating all these treats.

I have many more just like these, but this blog must come to end at some point. So now, I will do what I told James we should do to stay motivated to lose weight.

Post a couple of "skinny" pictures of ourselves to stay motivated. We don't expect to look like we're in our twenties again, but I do expect to do everything in my power to be around for my kids for as long as possible.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. I have less than 30 lbs. to go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Got a New Camera

I was looking for an excuse to buy a new camera. Well, I thought taking daily pictures of the kids seemed like a good one. Here's some to share.

Jameson after his first snow adventure. He's freezing and boogery, but he had a blast making snow angels and throwing snowballs with dad.

Unfortunately, I have spent a lot of time doing this for the last 2 weeks. Poor kids picked up 2 viruses back-to-back. We're still getting over the last one.

My cousin came in to town for a few days and begged me to take pictures of her with Amelia. She already has a favorite, and sadly, she was not afraid to admit it.

My sleepy bunny - if only all babies were as easy as Truman . . .

Here's JJ in one of his many pictures with his babies. As he puts it, he "loves them too, too much".

Couple of close ups

JJ exhibiting his nightly routine of gathering ALL his books and piling them on the bed for me to read.

Amelia being a "big girl", looking so proud

Abuela con Amelia

Abuelo con Truman

JJ showing off his "mad face" for the camera.

Kids Say . . .

yes, the darndest things. . .

Just a quick post because he made me laugh tonight (not that he doesn't every night).

Jameson likes to watch cartoons in bed with me at night and/or have me read him books before bedtime. Well, tonight I had been doing some work on the computer, so he had not seen much of me in the evening. Whenever I do this, when I finally do go downstairs, he always acts really clingy.

Well, tonight when I finished my work, I went downstairs to tell James I was getting in the shower and taking Truman with me. Jameson immediately comes over to me and grabs my hand. He starts walking up the stairs, and I tell him that I need him to wait with his dad because I'm going to take a shower. He says, "I want to take a shower with you." He's already had his shower at this point, so I say, "No, JJ you've already had your shower. You don't want to take another shower." He persists and while pulling me by the hand says, "No, I want to take my clothes off with you and take a shower together."

I know. He's only 2, but I had to laugh. I am sure he'll enjoy hearing this story when he's older.