Wednesday, April 30, 2008

everyone needs friends ...

I have never been good at making friends. It's usually because I really couldn't care less. For the most part, I just don't want to make the effort. I've always figured that if someone wanted to be my friend, they'd call. If the phone never rang, oh well.

This is not to say that I don't have friends. I do, some of the best friends one could ask for.

Let's start with, K. She is my oldest and dearest friend. We were born in the same hospital, 17 days apart. We met when we were three and by sheer luck, two years later, ended up in the same kindergarten class. That was it right there. Fate had intervened and we've been best friends for 23 years. She has been there for me through thick and thin. K basically lived at my house at times. She was my maid-of-honor, and I her's. In fact, she is so tight with my family that most of my aunts and uncles were also at her wedding. As we have aged, we have grown apart, but in a way that is fine with both of us. We are still best friends and always will be. But we don't talk all the time and only see each other once or twice a year, but when we do, it's like how it's always been and I have never doubted her love and friendship, even for a second.

In high school, I met C. She was actually my little sister's friend. We hit it off instantly and over the next few months, we became beyond tight. We survived the "periwinkle blowout" and recovered with a better understanding of each other. She too lived at my house at times (apparently my parents didn't mind house guests) and when I went to college, she followed me to Philadelphia the following fall, staying at my dorm for days on end (odd, especially since we went to different schools). But like with K, our relationship has morphed. We are both married with children, and rarely see each other, yet I know if I needed her she'd be there. And I'd do the same for her.

Next came college, and while I lived with a group of my friends and teammates (whom I love), H and I have always been the closest. We are alike in more ways than I can measure, she even resembles me (it's a little strange). Of all my friends (outside of my sisters), she is the one that I stay in closest contact with. I'm not really sure why either. She is separated by as much distance as the rest of my friends, but for some reason life hasn't gotten in the way of our friendship. And although she is the older one, I often act as her sounding board and I quite enjoy being that for her.

Then there are my sisters (that includes you too, Sianna Lee). They are truly my best friends and I am thankful for them everyday.

Of my six best friends (yes, they are all BEST friends), I was almost destined to have friendships with all of them. I didn't have to have an icebreaker or really even try to befriend them, they were in places I couldn't avoid them. K, C, and H either went to school with me, lived with me or both. And my sisters - they are family. I had no choice.

But things have changed since college, when you lose the common denominator (school, clubs, roomies) that bring people together when you are younger and it becomes harder to make (and keep) friends (at least for me). That was until I had children. Because once you have kids, you always have an icebreaker (especially with other moms).

This is how I have met most of my current friends. L was my first "mommy friend." We met in Erie, while both of us were pushing our daughters in their strollers through the neighborhood. Dizzle sneezed. L said, "Bless you." and that started our friendship. We were together nearly everyday for the next three months, until our family moved to Virginia. We still talk and keep up with each other's lives, and I believe that we always will. She was exactly the friend I needed as a new mom - someone who really understood what I was going through.

When we moved, I was left once again with no friends (at least in a 200 mile radius), but almost immediately joined Stroller Strides and since have gained a group of friends (and training partners) for whom I am truly grateful. They are amazing women and it pains me to think that at some point we will move again and I will have to leave them (especially since I will be left with no friends yet again!!)

But regardless of what happens (or where we live), I'd like to believe that I will always be able to count on my friends, whether we've known each other for three months or 23 years. Because while I still suck at meeting new people and making any effort at all, the women in my life give me strength, inspiration and companionship. And I need them more than they will ever know.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!!

I know what you are thinking, "Does this girl ever stop talking about her birthday? Wasn't that like three months ago?" Yes, you are right - on both accounts. I am obsessed with my birthday and it was nearly three months ago. But we are celebrating (at least I am) today. Because, drum roll please ... I finally got my GPS watch!!

If you have no clue about what a GPS watch is, let me fill you in. Simply put, it is an amazing way for the government to track you. (Personally, I like this - What if I was abducted? or dead? You would be able to find me). But, once you get past that whole "Big Brother" thing, it's a really great piece of equipment for a runner, cyclist or outdoor enthusiast to have. Basically, by using satellite signals, the watch records how far and fast you are going. An excellent thing to know if you are training for a race, or like me, in a personal quest to be faster than all of your friends. (If you haven't figured it out yet, ladies, slow down).

Now, I'm sure you are still wondering why it took so long to actually get the watch ... and here is the saga.

I ordered the Garmin Forerunner 405 (the newest model) on my birthday. It had an release date of February 28th, just in time for the marathon. But then suddenly, on release day, Garmin pushed back the launch until second quarter 2008. I was mad. And rightly so. How was I ever going to stay on pace without it? Looking back now, I am sure that my ankle injury and subsequent time in the marathon were actually caused by the postponement of the 405 release and not a cyst like my doctor said.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. Never getting a straight answer as to when the 405 would actually be released (looks like August). Seeing no end to the waiting in sight, I started to research both the 405 and the older model, Forerunner 305, a little more in depth. And all the reasons for getting the 405 (smaller size, wireless sync, ability to wear it as a watch) were losing their validity. It turns out that the 405 isn't much smaller, and you can't really wear it as your primary watch (it's battery life in training mode is only 8 hours). So I cancelled the order, and bought the 305 that afternoon (for a hundred dollars less!!), and it arrived here today. It's charging now. I'll be running with it in the morning.

What did I learn from all this?
1. Don't trust "release dates" - they are like due dates ... only accurate 20% of the time (ok I am making that up, but you get my point).
2. GPS is GPS, regardless of the packaging - the older model will do just fine.

Friday, April 25, 2008

perfect moments ...

After dinner and baths this evening, I went into the kitchen (like every night) to clean up the mess we had left. As I swept the floor, J grabbed the girls and took them into the playroom.

He has been working late recently, often only seeing the girls for a few minutes in the morning before he heads out the door. But today was different, J left work early (something he NEVER does) and actually got to spend a solid two hours with them before bed. Their time together started with Dizzle running back home from across the street yelling, "There's Daddy's truck! There's Daddy's truck!" And instantly I thought, "I wish she reacted that way when she sees me."

After 30 minutes of yard work, which Dizzle quite enjoys, we all came inside to eat dinner together (another rare occurrence in our house). And it was wonderful. The girls made a mess, Dizzle retold the events of the day and we bonded. Nothing fancy. We simply connected.

Then the three of them headed off to the playroom. Almost instantly the room was filled with happiness. Playing "Daddy Tunnel," as Dizzle calls it, the girls climb on, crawled under and rolled around J, with an endless stream of laughter behind them. It was so simple, but they loved it so much.

As I listened on, I couldn't help to think how perfect this moment was and how I wish that 5 years (or even 5 months) from now that the girls would remember it. To be honest, they probably won't. For them it was a fleeting moment, for me it was more. It was a meter of how much we have grown as a family and how much I wish I remembered more moments like that with my father.

It has been nearly six years since my father passed away and like anyone would, I remember the big moments with him, the silly times we shared, both alone and with our whole family. I remember the big picture, but it's the small things that I forget. Those moments like the girls had tonight. I know there were many of them, but as I get older and the time without him gets longer, the harder it is to hold on to them. It makes me realize how much I miss him and how much I wish he could have a part in my children's lives too. Because I know that no matter how many pictures I show them and how many stories I tell them, it will never be the same as if they had their own memories of him. But as sad as this realization makes me, it also makes me want to cherish every memory with Dizzle and Doodle. I want them to remember the small things. I want them to have perfect moments, however few and far between. Because even as an onlooker, as I was tonight, those moments can affect you for a lifetime - even if you don't remember them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

raising a future stunt woman ...

I'm sure that you have put two and two together from my previous posts and have realized that Dizzle has found her calling as a future model/actress. And I'm also sure that if you ever meet her, you will quickly become 100 percent aware of her drama-queen and all-around attention-seeking ways. She belongs in front of a camera. This fact was proved again today when a friend of mine (who doubles as a photographer) came by this afternoon to shoot some pictures of the girls. Dizzle jumped and twirled and posed her little butt off, loving every moment of it.

Am I shocked that she has turned out this way? No, not really. Although my tendencies are pretty close to the complete opposite of Dizzle's, her behavior does run in the family. You see, my gorgeous, younger sister, who just happens to be Dizzle's Godmother (Coincidence? I think not!) has always been that way, and as a former beauty queen, has every reason to be. In fact, they are so much like each other that at times I have asked A, "What exactly are you teaching her when you are together?"

And while I have long known where Dizzle's strengths lie, Doodle's didn't become apparent until today. Like her older sister, Doodle is also headed towards a future in entertainment, just in a slightly more dangerous way. She is without a doubt, destined to be a stunt woman!

How do I know? Well for starters, she is 13 months old and is already attempting to climb out of her crib. On more than one occasion (this afternoon alone), I have had to remove her from standing on the back of the couch. Need more evidence? Well, during our previously mentioned photo shoot, she had to be taken down from the top of the train table (once) and the coffee table (four times). And here comes the kicker. While getting our house back in order after the photo shoot, she managed to pull out a chair and use it to boost herself onto the toddler table in the playroom, where I found her about half a second away from cracking her skull open. And while it scared the crap out of me, Doodle thought it was hilarious.

So basically I am left with two choices, either NEVER leave Doodle alone (which means no potty breaks for me or Dizzle) or plan on spending many afternoons in the ER. And for some strange reason, I feel like the ER is going to become like a second home to us. Who knew that raising a stunt woman would be so hard?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

my incredible shrinking husband ...

In our house, J and I have always had a silly rule about a combined house weight. Basically, the members of our family are not allowed to have a combined weight of over 500 pounds. The crazy thing is that while I was pregnant with Dizzle, we actually exceeded this limit!! As I have mentioned numerous times before, this is no longer the case. While I have written endlessly about how I have downsized my frame, I have never mentioned J's battle against the bulge.

But let's just recap ... Here's what I looked like one year ago - Doodle was two days old.
And this is now.
Yeah, there's a difference. I see it. I'm sure you can see it. And the fact that I fit in a size 2 jeans (yes, they are the forgiving stretch jeans, but still the tag says "2"), is the real proof. But any gains I have made since Doodle was born are pale in comparison to those that my amazing husband J has made. This is him in January of 2007 (I know he is going to hate me for this picture!)

And this is him now! Pretty amazing, right? He is down nearly 50 lbs from his heaviest and is at his lightest weight in the six years we have been together. I am so impressed by him. How did he do it? Simple. Portion control and exercise ... shocking, I know. Like I've said before, all it takes is for you to eat less and workout more (are you listening to me all you serial dieters?) There are no quick fixes, no magic pills. Just hard work and lifestyle changes. We even cheat ... J and I eat ice cream EVERYDAY!! It's all about moderation!!
And what about that silly rule? Well, it looks like we will stick with it for a while. It helps keep us in check and we even have a little wiggle room. Right now, the four of us come in at 479 lbs.

and we wonder why we are the fattest nation ...

When I go to the grocery store, I am notorious for keeping to the perimeter - home to the freshest and least-processed foods in the store. And when I do venture down the center aisles, it is usually for cereal, pretzels and canned beans. We don't really have traditional junk/snack foods in our house. There are no cookies or cakes, candies or fruit snacks (which are really candy in disguise). When I do purchase chips or cheese doodles, they are either organic or all-natural. My kids think that Fiber 1 bars are candy bars. M&M's are a HUGE treat, and when they get those it's only two or three at a time. My downfall - ice cream. I eat it EVERY day and the girls would do the same (if I let them). This is not to say that we won't or don't eat crap (because really it is nutritionless crap). We just eat it on special occasions and in MODERATION!!

But seriously, how can anyone question why we are the fattest nation when there are so many unhealthy options out there (and so many people who eat them)? And trust me, you don't need to eat at the drive-thru to eat poorly. It's just as easy to do at the grocery store.

Just the other day while I was in the checkout lane, I looked at what the person in front of me was purchasing. It was ALL processed crap!! With the exception of bananas, there were no fruits and even fewer vegetables. The only meat, Tyson breaded (and fried) chicken strips. The cart was full of snack cakes, chips, ice cream and boxed mac-n-cheese. And what really made me laugh was the diet soda to go along with it!

I know it can be expensive to eat healthy. But there are inexpensive choices that you can make that can make what you eat a heck of a lot healthier. Switch from white to whole wheat bread. Drop the fat content in your milk by switching to skim. Eat beans! They are full of protein, low in fat and super cheap! Small changes can make big differences.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

babies on parade ...

My girls (and several of their friends) are officially supermodels. OK, they're not supermodels, or really even models, but they did all partake in their very first fashion show on Friday. Talk about cute. Decked out from head to toe in some seriously adorable outfits (which we got to keep), they walked the runway joined by their smokin' hot mamas (you know who you are!)

Dizzle, the little ham that she is, couldn't get enough. She had to be bribed off the stage, not once but twice. As I told her we needed to get down, she told me, "Not yet!" All I could think was, "How do I get her off the stage without a tantrum?"(The answer. A lollipop.) And all she could think was, "I am so pretty. Look at me some more!" Seriously, I am really going to have my hands full when she is a teenager.

But this brings up a really good point. Dizzle has tons of self confidence and a really good body image. She constantly tells me that she is the cutest, and who am I to dispute. The question is how do I keep her (and Doodle) that way?

I face that question everyday. I want my children to feel good about the skin they are in. I want them to enjoy exercise and to eat as healthy as they can. I don't want them to ever have to battle their weight like I did. But how can you do that in a positive manner without becoming obsessive? How do you stress the importance of health without putting too much emphasis on weight?

It's a hard balance. I can honestly say that after years of being overweight, I finally am at a place that I am happy with my body. It may not be perfect, but I am comfortable. I feel and look strong. Sure, pregnancy has stretched out my skin, left me with absolutely no chest and stretch marks that resemble the scars of a Freddy Kruger victim, but I am ok with that. I have adopted a healthy lifestyle, and I never intend on going back to my lazy, fast-food eating ways. I just hope that being a good example to my children is enough to make them want to adopt the same habits. I hope that it is enough to help them become the strong, beautiful women I know they are destined to be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

just another example of my cheapness ...

So now that Dizzle is fast approaching the ripe old age of three, I am often asked, "Where are you sending her to preschool in the fall?" And what is my answer, "Nowhere. She's not going to preschool." I know, I know. Please lift your jaw off the floor. It's really not as shocking as it seems. There are two simple reasons that J and I have chosen not to send her (or Doodle for that matter). 1. It is MAD expensive. 2. We don't really think it is necessary.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think preschool is evil (maybe unnecessarily competitive, but not evil). I went to preschool. J went to preschool. But that doesn't mean our kids have to. Seriously, I used to ride in the back of pickup trucks when I was young, but there is no chance in Hell that I am going to let them do that either. Simply put, times change and just like everything else you have to do what is best for you (and your family).

Most people do send their kids to preschool, and that's fine. And I'm sure there are lots of good reasons as to why. Maybe it's to give their kids a head start (socially or academically), to give themselves some free time, or just because that's what you're supposed to do. But whatever the reason, I'm cool with it. It's just not what I want to do.

And though I have made my choice, I do not want to continually have to defend it. It really is simple. My girls get plenty of social interaction. We have play dates. They take classes. I'm all about them trying new things and stretching their imaginations. And honestly, I'm not the slightest bit concerned that they will somehow be "behind" when they start Kindergarten. Last time I checked, for only speaking three words when she turned two, Dizzle has quite the extensive vocabulary now and quite a fondness of using it endlessly. She can count to twenty and knows her ABC's and can identify most letters by sight. I'm not saying she's a super-genius. I'm just saying that she is by no means "behind," nor will I let her get that way. I read to my children constantly. We play "school," where we learn the basics in a very similar way to that of a traditional preschool. I feel that I take all the necessary steps to enrich their lives.

So there it is, all laid out for you to digest. But if you still can't figure out why I don't want to send my children to preschool, then just blame it on the fact that it is MAD expensive and I am super cheap!

Monday, April 14, 2008

there should be a warning label ...

For all of you who missed the memo on how constipation is evil ... read up. We need fiber!! Not only does it help to keep you full longer (hint, hint dieters), but it keeps you regular. Something that has eluded me my entire life. So in my feeble attempt to meet my (and my family's) fiber quota, I have become a HUGE Fiber 1 fan!! Seriously, I mean HUGE!! We are stocked up on three varieties of granola bars and cereal, as well as Apple Cinnamon Fiber 1 muffins.

I love the stuff. All of it. But come on, who forgot to put the warning label on the box? Listen to me now, and listen to me completely - No matter how tempted you are, and how much your children are asking for it, DO NOT by under any circumstances give your baby more than one serving of Fiber 1 in any 12 hour period ... they will explode!! Ok, well they won't literally explode, but you will be cleaning up one seriously messy poop. I learned this the hard way ... twice.

The first time Doodle had an apple cinnamon muffin, it resulted in a complete poop-explosion. But, at least that time it was contained (mostly) in her diaper. Incident number two was a completely different story. Due to my own stupidity, Doodle had two apple cinnamon muffins in less than 12 hours. What was I thinking? Ok, what I was thinking was, "If a little fiber is good, more is better!" So not true in toddlers!!

After said fiber overload, we gave Doodle a bath. When she was all clean, J called down to me to come get her and as I lifted her out of the tub it happened. The pressure of my hands on her stomach sent diarhhea all over the bathroom floor (and walls). Corn and black beans were everywhere! Oh and of course she wanted to crawl through the mess. I mean come on, who wouldn't? Then about three seconds after she erupted, we realized that Doodle had left Dizzle a present in the tub as well. Two jumbo-sized nuggets floating right on top! That ended the bathtime fun real quick.

And who had to clean the mess you ask? It was that idiot who fed the kid all the fiber in the first place. Oh, why couldn't there have been a warning label?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hormones Suck!!!

There are several times in your life when having normal amounts of hormones racing through your bloodstream is a great thing. Case in point - Puberty. Yeah, I know you're thinking, "Puberty sucked." And you're right, it did. But without it, you would have never gotten all those womanly curves or (in my opinion the best outcome of puberty) the ability to have children. And of course, having a child is my second example of when hormones rock!!

I know, I know, you're thinking it again, "Pregnancy sucked." And you're right again, it did. But think of what you got out of all of those raging hormones ... a beautiful baby! So actually, I'm right again ... hormones can be a great thing.

With that being said, I hate them right now. At 13 months postpartum, I am feeling their wrath. I was fine until I stopped breastfeeding, then it all went down hill. For the first time in three and a half years, I resumed my menstrual cycle (Yeah, LAM!) Oh, and did I mention that I have had said period for nearly three weeks now?!?! Add to that, the hot flashes at night, the sudden onset of acne - everywhere (which I somehow avoided at 16, but is in full-fury at 26) and my incredibly short fuse and I'd say I am about half a second away from locking myself in a closet, never to come out. (Seriously, I'd do it, but who would watch my kids?) Alas, I am left with nothing to do but sit here and wonder, "What totally awesome thing with I get out of this batch of hormones?" I'm guessing, NADA ...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

rainy 10K ... sweet!

So J and I ran our 10K this morning in very wet and humid conditions. How did it go? Pretty awesome. I ran a 53:17, over a 7 minute PR from my first 10K. Despite being one of the slowest of my friends, I am pretty happy. I finished 4144 of 24055, which is cool and averaged 8:34 miles. Overall, I have improved and what I need to keep in mind is that I need to compare myself to myself and not to my quicker friends!

J did awesome too!! He ran a 1:05:17, which may not seem fast, but for a 6'7", 275 lb man, it is!! He beat some of his co-workers, which he is excited about. I'm not sure how soon I'll get him to race again, but it was definitely fun having him there competing with me.

So what's ahead on the running front? Nothing until May, when I am competing in an 8K, a 5K and a 10K in a matter of 14 days. After that, it's the Rock-N-Roll half marathon on August 31. All-in-all I am excited about today's run and all the chances I have coming up to improve my times and race with my friends ... even if they are faster!