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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Running on vacation? Seriously!

I have a lot to blog about and Run #4 was kind of boring, so I'll try to keep this one short... We were away for the weekend at my in laws', and I wasn't even sure I'd run when we were there. I mean really - run on vacation? Also, there is nothing silent or even remotely quiet about their house - the floors creak, the water pipes oh-so-kindly announce to the world when you've gone potty, the stairs shimmy, and the door slams, even when you hold it so it doesn't... My MIL and FIL's bedroom is on the first floor, right near the front door and the above mentioned shimmying staircase, so unless I repelled off the second floor balcony, there was no sneaking out of the house without waking anyone up. That, and the simple fact that I've been in this family for 15+ years and other than the rugby matches they watched in college, they have yet to see me exercise or do anything remotely active. (And really, the jury is still out on whether or not rugby can really be considered exercise. Pure stupidity and foolishness, yes. Exercise, ah - it's questionable.) Why ruin a good thing???

Well, I brought my running clothes just in case. I mean, I had just gotten cute new shirts, so I knew I'd be tempted to wear them! And believe it or not, that was all the motivation I needed! I set the alarm for 7am, and even got up when it went off! In fact, I think I was so excited to run (well, to wear my cute new shirts, at least), that I had trouble sleeping that night. I kept waking up and checking the time, and finally, at 6:58, hopped out of bed with an extra spring in my step because I knew it was go time! I got dressed and was excited to see there was enough light coming through the well-past-their-prime blackout shades of my husband's youth to check myself out in the mirror and see that indeed, my new shirt was pretty dope! I tiptoed to the bathroom (past my youngest's room so I had to hurdle a couch and crawl on all fours in order to avoid guaranteed wake-the-baby-and-end-your-hope-of-any-alone-time creaky spots. I peed, brushed my teeth, and peed again - you know, just in case. I had to do this all with the door open - because as I said, there is nothing even remotely quiet about this house and the squeaky bathroom door might be the loudest offender of all! Nonetheless, I'm working on peeing very quietly and if I do say so myself, have gotten pretty good at it after almost 5 years of having a child sleep right next to the bathroom!

I peeked out the balcony to more fully consider my repelling options, but had to, sadly, decide against it. Had the patio umbrella below not been open, I definitely would have done it. Well, that, and the small fact that I forgot my rope. But next time... So, I tried my best to sneak out of the house, but likely woke up all six sleeping people to one degree or another. I'm certain my most un-Navy Seal-like trek up the long gravel driveway, which is overlooked by all four bedrooms, didn't help with my effort to be stealth... Regardless, I plugged my ears to any potential crying-out-for-me-and-sabotaging-my-run children (or husband) and kept on walking!

Initially, I wanted to take a route up the road that follows the channel out to the lakes. It's not at all a desserted road, as there are houses and camps all along the way, but it is certainly wooded. The view would have been picturesque, but I was afraid I might run across a bear and well, that would just ruin any benefit that would come from the gorgeous views. So, I decided instead to turn left and head into town.

It's a small tourist town, complete with many out of towners who have no idea where they are going, no care in the world that other people might, and that the stupid deer standing in the middle of the road is a) not the first one everyone else has ever seen, b) not a friendly sideshow at the petting zoo, and c) not to be fed, talked to, or invited into your car! (No, I'm not kidding. I've seen them try. New Jersey breeds some weird people, I'll tell you...) So, people watching was sure to be entertaining, even at 7am on a Saturday!

I scared some bunnies off the mini golf course, scoped out the new arts center, and counted the cars in the bar parking lot whose owners had clearly decided to stumble home last night instead of risking arrest by the police, conveniently located across the street with a big bench out front, which I don't doubt they use to rest while waiting and watching for the drunks at closing time. I passed the public beach house and when I saw the "Public Bathrooms" sign and realized the gate was open, had a fleeting thought that I should pee. Really - again? I just went, twice, ten minutes ago. I eventually convinced myself that I would forgo the bathroom now, but if I really needed to, I could circle back and do some cross training by hopping over stray toilet paper pieces, squatting over the sure-to-be-peed-on toilet seat, and maneuvering my way out of the stall and bathroom itself without allowing a single centimeter of my skin to touch any surely-contaminated object.

I have to say, I'm glad I kept running and passed the bathrooms. Not only did I almost instantly forget that I so urgently had to pee, but had I stopped, I would have missed seeing a friend that morning. Yep - I had to go 210 miles from home to see someone I know on a morning run, but at least I didn't have to run all of those miles! My friend Sarah was out running, too, and we passed each other near the tennis courts. Following serious runner ettiquette, we didn't allow ourselves to stop and chat. Instead, we said, "Hi!" and "How are you?" and "Getting your run in before the kids wake up, too?" while each eloquently doing a pirouette and mini-backward run, before continuing on our way. It was good to see her, nonetheless, and it made me feel like I was finally part of "the club." You know the one - the one where serious runners belong - the ones who get up early, even on the weekend, and even on vacation, to run. That one. I know you're jealous...

So, I came to the end of the lakefront, banged a right across an oddly placed cross walk that was well past the intersection but I used it anyway - who am I to attempt jaywalking at that hour of the day, in a foreign land? - and up toward the church I got married in almost 8 years ago. It was interesting to see it from this angle, and by myself. Usually, I'm rushing to it, at least 2 minutes late and dragging 3 kids, that I never take the time to really look at it. It's quite nice, really. And peaceful at this hour, too. Ahhh... I passed the church and continued on to the school. I banged another right and up a short street that runs along the side of the school, then, you guessed it, another right onto the Main St. Some people were beginning to get out and start their day, but truthfully, there weren't nearly the people watching opportunities I was hoping for. Oh, well - it let me zone out and honestly, I can't even remember much else about that leg of my run. I sprinted for the last 1/4 mile, then I was home.

I tiptoed back down the gravel driveway, maybe a little more successfully this time because I was all warmed up and feeling nimble and limber. I found my rope, but if I wasn't willing to repel down, what makes you think I would consider climbing up the balcony? I went in like a civilized DIL - in the squeaky front door. All was quiet still on the homefront, though, so I got myself some water from the fridge (no ice because I knew that would make way too much noise) and tiptoed upstairs. Before the final creak, though, I heard my 1 year old in my room, laughing and playing in bed with my husband. I admit, I had a fleeting thought to pretend I didn't hear her and keep walking to the shower, but then I remembered running past the church and thinking about my wedding so long ago. "For better and worse, in good times and in bad..." I did the right thing and went in to save my husband. And her.

2.6 miles, 29:31 minutes. Not particularly impressive in time, but it's my longest distance yet and I wasn't even dying. Looks like a 5K might not be too far off after all!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Never a dull moment when I'm running

I guess I forgot to post about my third run, probably because I was too scared. On Thursday, after thrice assaulting my alarm clock for only doing its job, I got up at 6:03am and was out the door by 6:15. Although it wasn't such an awful experience when I tried it, my moral compass has since told me that it is not acceptable to leave the house without brushing my teeth - EVER - so it's taking me a few extra minutes to get ready to run now. I roll out of bed, get dressed before I even open my eyes (thankfully there are three holes in my shirt and only two in my shorts, or I might have some problems telling them apart by feel alone), pee but don't flush for fear of waking the kids (sorry if TMI, but you're the one reading my blog!), and tip toe downstairs. Despite knowing where almost every creak is in our 1922 staircase, I inevitably hit one on the way down and stop abruptly and hold my breath to make sure no one makes a peep. Admittedly, even if someone did wake up, I wouldn't abort my plan to run, but I'd feel guilty. A little bit. I'd hurry out the door as quickly as I could so my husband thinks I didn't hear them, but then I'd feel guilty for most of my run, knowing that I know the truth... (For someone who just converted to Catholicism 5 years ago, I sure do have a lot of guilt... But that's another post for another day...) Anyway, I get downstairs, wash my hands, lace up my sneakers, and brush my teeth at the kitchen sink. Of course I wash my hands - I don't flush the toilet because I don't want to wake the kids up, but I still believe in basic hygiene and good manners - I carefully walk down the stairs without touching anything, which is probably why I end up hitting one or two creaky spots, and head straight to the sink to suds up. I do have standards, you know...

So, finally, I'm out the door. I stretch for a second or two - just in case my nosy neighbors peek out it can at least look like I know what I'm doing. Then I'm off - I push the start button on my newly figured out chrono stop watch and briskly walk to the end of my block. By then, my eyes are mostly open, and I push "lap" on my watch and start to run. For my third run, I zigged then zagged around my neighborhood, smelling my neighbors' coffee and catching tidbits of the news as I ran by their open front doors and blaring tvs. I scoffed at their lawn ornaments, tried to decipher their coded vanity plates, and even peeked in a few windows to see what I could see (hey, I'd be lying if I said I didn't, and you would be, too!). I came to the end of my neighborhood and hit High St., which is a partly commercial/partly ridiculously-huge-and-ostentatious-but-I-still-fantasize-about-owning-one-of-them-anyway houses major street through our town. Unfortunately, it's also one of the worst sidewalks in our town, too - I tripped and nearly wiped out at least three times in the 7 minutes I was gawking-I mean running on that street. Guess I should have listened to my mother when she told me time after time to "watch where you're going," but then how could I also people watch??? After drooling over the incredible houses and avoiding being run down by an ambulance backing out of the hospital (maybe it was a slow morning for them and they were trying to drum up some more business?), I banged a right onto Beacon St. I ran past the rectory where my priest lives, feeling embarrassed and somehow improper. I felt almost naked as I passed his house, despite being dressed perfectly appropriately for running. I'm just thankful Father wasn't outside to see me, although who knows - he might have been in his bathrobe at that hour!?! Crap - looks like I'll have to go to confession already for having impure thoughts... Anyway, down the hill, dodging overgrown bushes and weeds on the vacant lot that threatened imminent twigs poking me in my eyes, prickers scraping my legs, or spiders (or worse!) attaching themselves to me as I brushed by. Then it happened. I think I saw a ghost.

I should preface this by saying that I didn't have my glasses on and the building was on the opposite side of the street. My vision isn't horrible but I am at the border of the "you need your glasses to legally drive" cutoff, so I think they probably help a little bit. Anyway - I was running past the Catholic school. It shut down this summer, after 81 years of operation, due to lack of funding. My friend has spent hours and hours there, helping clean out old files, pilfering leftover school supplies, and do whatever else there is to do when a school closes. I imagine when any place that old and especially that religious closes, there's some definite doom and gloom to it. As I disclosed above, I have a habit of looking into windows when I run. (Maybe this experience then serves me right?) Anyway, I was looking in the windows of the school when something caught my eye. In the second floor, there was a classroom that I could see into perfectly. I could see the chalkboard and maybe an easel at the front of the room. Then there was a person standing next to the easel, or so I thought. The person didn't move, though. It looked like a woman, with plain white or off white clothes (like period dress, I secretly thought, but that just sounds too cliche) and maybe a brown or black hat. I kept watching, and it kept not moving. I think that's when the idea of "maybe that wasn't a person, but a ghost!" first crossed my mind. Interestingly enough, that's also the time that I think I picked up my pace a bit. Purely as part of my training schedule, though, and having nothing to do with fear, mind you.

So, I ran the last bit home and got online as usual to measure out how far I'd gone with www.gmap-pedometer.com. 2.4 miles - woot woot! :) I also Facebooked (is that a legitimate verb now?) my friend who was working at the school to ask her if there was a statue or mannequin in that classroom. She is almost as addicted to Facebook as I, so she wrote back in 2.7 nanoseconds (I would have responded in 1.8 on a slow day, but what can I say - she is FORTY?!?) that she didn't think so. A couple of her friends (who I don't even know) saw the post and started chiming in. It turned out to be a daylong discussion with everyone making guesses or hypothesizing that maybe it was some obscure statue the school had of some even obscurer saint, but no one sounded too convinced. One person even drove by to check it out, and she didn't see anything! If I can convince myself to not be too afraid and just put on my big girl panties (you know, under my running shorts that have the underwear sewn in already), I'll have to run by again this week and check it out. I'm not sure I want to know the answer, though...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crushing

Ever since 1998, I have been secretly in love with Matt Damon. I worked at a video store (yes, VHS, not DVD!) in college, and I instantly fell in love with Good Will Hunting. What's not to love - Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Boston accents!?! I had never heard of Matt or Ben before, but I was instantly hooked. I begged and begged and B-E-G-G-E-D my boss to let me have a copy of the movie and one of the movie posters from the store. Thankfully, he agreed before I had to go to more extreme measures and risk losing my job and my (not quite stellar anyway) reputation! I made my sorority roommates watch the movie over and over again, and I endlessly intertwined quotes into my everyday conversation. "Howdya like dem apples" fits in pretty easily, but "Great, or maybe we could go somewhere and just eat a bunch of caramels" wasn't quite as smooth... Regardless, I did my best to make it work and my dear friends did their best to humor me.

Since Good Will Hunting, I haven't found another Matt movie that I loved him as much in, but I will keep looking. I'm sure there will be one out there someday...

I think I also have a secret girl crush on Gwyneth Paltrow. Interestingly enough, it seemed to have started around the same time. I remember working at the video store when Gwyneth's remake of Great Expectations was big - yet another one I convinced my boss to give me, but at least I didn't want the poster, too... Shakespeare in Love was also released around that same time, and I remember dragging my (clearly very tolerant or at least easily persuaded by a promise of anything that got them out of studying or playing yet another round of "I never" with that annoying girl down the hall who didn't take "no" for an answer) roommates to the crappy movie theater in our East Bumblef@*$ town at least three times to watch it with me. The popcorn was awful, the soda flat, and the chairs almost all broken. The projector was noisy and the sound quality from the speakers was probably second only to my grandmother's 1987 hearing aides, but it didn't matter. I was hooked!

Ah, the good old days - when I had oodles of time to just sit around and watch (and rewatch) movies just because I liked to drool over the actors. The plots weren't too bad, but really, I was there for the visuals. How is it that college students think they have no time for anything, but now - twelve years later - I can't remember the last time I sat through a whole movie the first time, much less a repeat viewing! Even when my kids are asleep, I'm up and down to put laundry in, feed the cats, feed myself, etc. I'm usually also on Facebook, my email, reading a report for work, and organizing pictures on the computer. Kinda makes college seem like child's play...

Anyway, next time I come across a Matt or Gwyneth movie, I will try my hardest to put down my ice cream, turn the computer off (okay, well at least I'll try to turn off the "ping" it makes when I get a new email), and tell the cats to suck it up and catch a mouse or something. I owe it to myself (and them, because how can they live without my secret crushes on them???) to give my crushes my undivided attention!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In serious need of some serious kitchen help

I realized today that I'd be a pretty good mom if I just didn't have to make my kids meals. Well, I can actually handle the making of said meals (most of the time), but it's the deciding what to make that's most problematic. Perhaps I suffer from a lack of kitchen creativity because I honestly believe shopping is more crucial to life than eating and let's face it, buying groceries and kitchen appliances is not exactly where it's at! Or maybe my culinary repertoire was stunted in utero because my mom only ate fried eggs and ice cream when she was pregnant with me? Whatever it's called and whatever caused it, my MOD (Meal Options Disorder) is severely impairing my ability to be a good parent. We have to start getting ready for lunch at least 45 minutes before we plan to eat it, because that's usually how long it takes for me to think of a few things to offer and my kids to veto all of them. Then we battle back and forth until eventually, I just give up and make the same thing we had yesterday. That's almost an hour of time wasted - instead, we could have used that time to continue working on our toilet paper roll butterflies with the googly eyes that my two year old keeps dropping and my trusty one year old is so damn good at finding (and eating!). Or we could have emptied out the entire basket of at least 27 pairs of shoes to find just the pair we needed to match our eighth outfit change of the day. Or to chase each other around the house with no shoes on (because we didn't have time to find that perfect pair) while dodging stray googly eyes, taunting our siblings with the laser beam flashlights an unnamed extended family member thought was a great idea to give to kids and that we've warned them "Don't shine it in your sisters' eyes!!!" ad naseaum, to no effect. But no... Instead, we have to use those precious 45 minutes every morning to figure out what the hell to make for lunch...

The sad truth is, not only am I suffering from my Meal Options Disorder, but my kids are, too. Not only do they have to be subjected to my lack of creativity and therefore, often end up eating the same thing every day, but it gets even worse than that. Now, my kids have come to actually only want the same thing to eat day after day. My two year old constantly asks for "noodle soup" for lunch - every. single. day. Once in a while it's fine, but Ramen every day? Julia Child and Dr. Spock are certainly both rolling over in their graves (are they even both dead? maybe I should google that before I hit "submit post." I digress...). My four year old is a girl after my own heart - she just wants peanut butter and jelly (grape, never strawberry) every day, served in her current favorite shape (or at least the one that I can find the cookie cutter for from the abyss some might call a kitchen cupboard) - hearts, stars, Christmas trees (even in April), you name it. My one year old isn't quite articulate enough yet to state her culinary requests, but she seems quite content when I offer her turkey meatballs and pasta day after day after when-will-I-learn-not-to-feed-a-baby-red-sauce-when-she's-anything-but-naked-and-going-to-take-a-bath-anyway day.

Is there something I can do about this disorder? I have tried perusing cookbooks and looking on line for inspiration. It doesn't help that my husband isn't much of a foodie himself and prefers a small ensemble of "tried and true" recipes. Safe is certainly safe, but it's so boring!!! As good as it is the first time (or second or third), who wants to eat Parmesean Chicken for dinner every Tuesday? And Spaghetti Carbonara every Friday (except during Lent, but then my menu selections are even more limited, so don't get me started there...)?

I can handle the grocery shopping, the meal preparation, and even the clean up, but will someone just tell me what to make??? I honestly fear we're going to turn into a family of PB&Js, noodle soup, and turkey meatballs. Well, at least we've (mostly) got the five food groups covered...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Two Days in a Row!

I did it! I went running again this morning! And today I had to get up even earlier - at 6am - so I could be back before my husband had to get up and start getting ready for work in case the kids woke up. And I went even farther - 2.4 miles!!! Of course, I did have to walk for about 1/8 of a mile in the middle there, but that's alright... I still did it! My legs are killing me tonight, but no pain, no gain, right? I was feeling so good and motivated that I even did some arm work afterward. I think it's a bad sign that 1) it took me 3 minutes to find one of my free weights, and 2) said "hiding" free weight was literally covered by a cobweb... But, alas, after a scan under the equally dusty and unused treadmill in the basement and a subsequent quick rinse in the sink (for the weight, but I honestly felt like I needed one, too, after seeing what lives under that treadmill!), the weight was as good as new (well, that and because it mostly is new!).

Of course there is a very steep learning curve to this whole running thing, and in my whopping two days so far, I have learned a number of invaluable lessons. Here goes, in no particular order:
1. Go to bed at least 6 hours before you need to get up to run.
2. Preferably lay out your running clothes the night before, with the lights on, so you can make sure your socks will match in the morning.
3. Brushing teeth before running is nice, but actually not horribly noticeable (at least to me) if you don't.
4. Be careful not to throw a shoulder out while trying to put on your built-in-shelf-bra-running-shirt. Taking it off can be equally as dangerous.
5. Running while trying not to drop or otherwise lose your house key is a royal pain in the tush, so either find a place to stash it outside your house, or trust that your spouse would wake up and save your family if some wacko walked in the unlocked back door.
6. As thirsty as you will be, do not gulp 3 pint glasses of water immediately upon returning from your run. Both your stomach and bladder will thank me for this oh-so-important piece of advice.
7. Don't bother trying to map out your route in advance on Gmaps Pedometer, as unless there are only two or three turns, you won't remember it anyway. It is, after all, the butt crack of dawn that you're out there. Putting one foot in front of the other while not getting run over by eager employees trying to beat the boss to the office or disheveled-and-clearly-wearing-last-night's-date-outfit walk of shamers is hard enough.
8. Learn how to operate all the fancy features on your watch before you actually need to use it. Either that, or just stick with the "start/stop" button and don't push anything else for fear that you'll lose any and all data you may want to later reference.
9. I think the jury's still out on this, but I'm guessing they put those built-in underwear in running shorts for a reason? I can't yet bring myself to "go commando," but essentially, I feel like I'm then wearing two pairs of underwear and that feels a bit excessive, even for a newbie like me. And, honestly, if I go "without," then that definitely means I have to wash my running shorts before wearing them again. I'm just not sure I'm really that committed, to either running or laundry...
10. Pee before you leave the house. Twice.

Tomorrow, I've given myself permission to take a day off. Although I'm afraid even one day without running will thwart my motivation and make my only subsequent running be that which I do on my way across the bedroom to hit the snooze button on my alarm for the 8th time that morning before it wakes up the kids, I know it's also good to give your body some time to recoup. Especially when you're just starting and maybe, might have, perhaps, gone a bit overboard... That, and my kids have an 8:30am dentist appointment and I can't even bring myself to calculate what time I'd have to get up if I were to try to run beforehand! For now, I'll just try to keep myself motivated by thinking of the great new running shirts and shorts (yes, built-in-bras-and-panties-included!) I bought today... I can't wait to show them off on Thursday morning!!!

Runner's High

I went for a 2 mile run today. Okay, 1.96 miles, but who's counting? I have never been a runner. Ever. In fact, anytime I've tried, I've totally T-O-T-A-L-L-Y sucked at it. I have the endurance of a 15 year old virgin boy. I played basketball in junior high and high school, but was not-so-discreetly positioned as a bench warmer because I was really good at sitting still and not breathing heavy. Oh, and I couldn't make a basket to save my life, but let's not mince words... I played softball in junior high and high school, too, but we all know there's no real running in that sport. In college, I played rugby, in which I did, unfortunately, have to run. However, if you know anything about rugby, there's only a need for one of two things: speed or power. I don't really have power, either, but compared to my speed, I guess I was pretty strong! I was in the scrum, and mostly just had to tape my ears down, squeeze my eyes shut tight, plow into a pack of 15 other girls (only half of whom didn't want to kill me), and hope for the best... Of course I had to run in practice, but I quickly learned all the shortcuts through the woods and figured out how to make a mad speed walk look pretty close to a run... And honestly, the vast majority of us were there to push people around in a mostly-socially acceptable manner, then drink beer and sing ridiculous songs with them afterward - running and athleticism were certainly not on our tryout lists.

A few times since college, I've tried to run and did meagerly okay doing about a mile each time, but I never really stuck with it. This winter, though, I finally found some motivation that stuck around for a bit. My husband was running pretty regularly on the treadmill at night, and I thought, if he can do it, I can, too. Nothing like a healthy dose of marital competition to get me going! :)

Well, sadly, when I say I finally found some motivation that stuck around for a bit, I guess I should be more specific. I think it was a whopping total of 3 weeks. Seriously. But for me, that's pretty darn good! Not only do I have the endurance of a 15 year old virgin boy, I have the attention span of a cat in a butterfly garden. Three weeks seemed like a lifetime for me. I didn't actually stop running because I got bored with it, but because life happened - again! We were getting ready for a vacation, and I got overwhelmed with laundry, packing, planning, and other crap that was happening at work. I slacked off on it, and sadly never got back into it. My friend mentioned to me that she was doing a 5K two days after I got home from my vacation, and I was so wanting to sign up with her, but I (for once) had good foresight and decided to say I'll pass. Her goal, though, was to do one 5K each month, so I thought I'd be able to find some motivation to get back on the treadmill and run that next one. Well, who knew there wouldn't be another one for a couple of months??? Ugh.

Anyway, my experience running this spring encouraged me to believe that a 5K could be a reality for me. In the past, I was usually only able to run a mile at a time, and felt pretty winded in doing so. This spring, though, I don't know why, but I was able to run longer and farther. I could run for close to 3 miles, which is just a few extra breaths and strides short of a 5K! Damn that vacation for throwing me off track!!! :(

So, I typically get annoyed by my impulsivity, but this time, it worked to my advantage. Last night, out of nowhere, I decided to go for a run in the morning. I set my alarm for 6:45 am (on a day I had NOTHING to do other than keep my kids from sticking forks in the electrical outlets or making the cats wear wedding dresses and marry each other, again) and actually got up! I got dressed before I could talk myself out of it and headed out the door. Two steps past my driveway, I realized that I forgot to brush my teeth and for a split second, I seriously considered aborting my mission (I had smellevision ideas of how awful my own breath would taste while I was literally sucking wind out there), but the force was with me and the wind was beneath my wings. I was fearless and unstoppable! I managed to run 2 miles, even sprinting the last 1/4 mile! I felt so good while doing it, and I got a whole new perspective on my neighborhood at 7am! Who knew so many people are up at that hour, much less with their front doors wide open and the TVs blaring?

Anyway, starting my day with a run felt great. I felt so good I drank 2 huge glasses of water, took a shower right away, and even ate a somewhat healthy breakfast. It was oatmeal, albeit the instant kind with maple brown sugar flavoring. Hey - it's a start! I got myself and the three kids out of the house by 10am, and had a fairly productive day. I managed to resist the usually unavoidable calling to take a nap this afternoon when the kids finally gave me a minute to myself. I made dinner, swept the whole house (which usually only happens on the second Wednesday of the month following the second Tuesday that falls on the first day of the new moon), and got the kids bathed and to bed almost on time. (I didn't clean the cat litter, put weeks old laundry away, or chip smushed-in-and-now-solidified Eggo waffle crumbs off the living room rug, but let's start small, shall we?) What else can account for this amazing turn of events??? I mean, my iced coffee was good, but not that good...

In fact, I'm even planning on running again tomorrow morning! I've mapped out some routes on line, and even looked up some upcoming 5Ks in the area. I'd love to be able to answer the age old, "What'd you do this summer?" question at our annual work retreat this fall with "I ran my first 5K!" And plus, think of all the new shoes I could buy if I became a serious runner? They say you should get a new pair of kicks every 100 miles or so... 2 miles/day x 3 or 4 x/week = 3-4 pairs/year! Woo hoo!!! Now I just need to find some friends to sign up with me!

Well, if I really am going to get up and go running again tomorrow, I need to get this ever-so-slightly-more-toned-ass to bed ASAP! Let's see if either of those things actually happen!!! Cross your fingers for me and I'll hope for the best!

P.S. Is it totally tacky to wear the same clothes again tomorrow? I'd change my socks at least... I'm sure the people who see me would be wearing their same bathrobes or pajamas, too... I won't say anything if they won't!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Silver" Woes

I have a favorite spoon. There - I've said it. I don't know why it's my favorite, or why I would even have a favorite piece of silverware, but I do. There's nothing spectacular about this spoon. To the average person, it would look like any nondescript, ordinary teaspoon, but it's certainly not! My parents got the set when they got married, I believe, circa 1977. Much like my parents marriage, most of the other pieces of the set have been lost or broken (including the one fork my mom still has in her drawer with bent tines but for some reason, she won't get rid of it). The brand engraved on the back is Servita, and it also says "Nasco Stainless" and "Japan." The bowl of the spoon is shaped just right - like it was made for my mouth. The handle is long and thin, with intricate raised flowers and vines on it. The end of the handle has an almost indecipherable little scoop to it that fits my thumb perfectly. My mom and husband know about my love for this spoon, although they approach it in different ways. My mom tries to understand it and replicate it - she has bought me a few other spoons that she think might do if this one becomes lost or mangled in the garbage disposal (AGH!!!), but there is no comparison. My husband just rolls his eyes and takes the next spoon from the stack in the silverware drawer, even if mine is on top, because he has suffered my wrath one too many times for using "my spoon." I, myself, even pass it up, at times, if I need a spoon for something quick or careless, like an on-the-go snack of a scoop of frosting from the tub. I like to save my spoon for something special, something that I can sit down and enjoy and relish in the fact that I'm using my spoon. I've even been known to take it out of the dirty dishwasher and wash it by hand so that I can use it for just such an occasion... I dread the day when my spoon and I have to part ways, but for now, I take comfort in knowing that it's always by my side.

Forks, now, are another matter. I do not have a favorite fork, but I definitely do have some majorly unfavorite forks. I've never understood why some forks would only have three tines. This is most distressing to me and in fact, when I find myself in a restaurant or friend's house with such flatware, I have to work very hard not to vomit and/or run in fear. Just like my inability to articulate what it is about my spoon that I love so much, I am also equally unable to specify why three-tined forks are so revolting, but they are. I have tried to live quietly with my distaste, but in some settings, I just can't help myself. I have traded forks with friends at a restaurant before, should they have been lucky enough to get a normal one and me the societal outcast. Most of my friends don't seem to have a problem eating with three-tiners, so they willfully trade with me, albeit after a few minutes of teasing. It's worth it - though. I think I would sell my soul if that would prevent me from having to eat with a three-tined fork. (Oh, no - I've just realized what Hell is like - no favorite spoons and three-tined forks. And no shoes. Eeek!) My one friend even gave me a lumpy, sealed, business sized envelope with the words "Purse Fork" written on it. She told me to simply carry it in my purse wherever I go and not to open it unless it's an emergency. I assume finding myself somewhere with a three-tined fork and no one to trade with would be considered as such. I'm so thankful I have friends like her to look out for me!

Well, off to bury my favorite spoon in the stack of the underachievers so my husband or kids don't mistakenly (and rather inconsiderately) take it for themselves in a moment of haste. No - I'm not kidding - I do this everytime I put it away. One never can be too careful with the things they love.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Space matters

Maybe I have an exceptionally large bubble, or maybe other people have an exceptionally small personal space rule? I don't know, but either way, I think space definitely does matter. I just don't understand why people feel the need to sit on the same bench as you when there's plenty of other empty benches to choose. Or why someone sits at the end of your pew in church when there are a ton of other empty ones. Or why the hostess sits you at a table right next to another group when the restaurant is mostly empty. Or why someone chooses to go in the bathroom stall next to the one you're in when there are plenty of other open ones... I thought there was some reasonable (albeit unwritten) rule that says, "Give others space." I guess, though, that the word "space" could be a little vague and confusing to some people. Like those who live under a rock, maybe...

While I vehemently hold my position that these above preferences are totally normal and reasonable, I do admit that I might be a little rigid and "off" in some of my other preferences and behaviors. For example, when deciding where to sit in a doctor's office waiting room, I choose my seat based on a couple of critieria: 1) not sitting next to someone else, 2) leaving no more than 1 empty seat between me and myself if the office is small and/or crowded so that new people coming in could have more open seats not next to anyone (wouldn't be the case if I left 2 open seats between me and someone else), and 3) trying to leave large groups of seats open so that couples/families/friends could sit together. Nothing stresses me out more than having to find enough seats for everyone I'm with and seeing that people have left groups of 2 or 3 seats open, but that's not enough... When choosing a bathroom stall, I prefer to pick one on the end, but if that's not available, I try to pick one that's one stall over from any that's occupied. When we go to church, we tend to sit at one end of the pew and leave as much room at the other end open for people who come later and need a seat. (We would sit in the middle so people could fill in from both sides, but now that there's 5 of us, we take up a good portion of the pew in most churches!) If someone comes and the only thing they can find is in the middle of our pew, I move in rather than make them climb over all 5 of us. I get so annoyed when we get to church late (which is almost always!) and all of the pews are empty in the middle but taken on both ends by singles or couples. Then they roll their eyes at you when you ask them to move in so you can sit down... I also don't understand why all the elderly people sit in the pews directly in front of the crying room. This makes no sense on two levels: 1) wouldn't it be more logical to save those seats for families, so they can quickly bail to the crying room if/when their kid starts ripping pages from the hymnal, continually dropping their sippy cup on the hard wooden pew despite repeated parental threats of time out, and screaming "Church is yucky!!!" (hypothetically speaking!) and 2) although the crying room windows are mostly sound proof, nothing is 100% effective against the piercing screams of little wannabe athiests, so wouldn't these old folks prefer a quieter section of the church? Anyway, I digress...

I like to have my space and give other people theirs, but I don't want to be rude or totally weird and position myself too far away. One of my biggest difficulties comes when going out to dinner with a big group of people - I can never decide where to sit. I hate being in the middle of a group, because then people talk over me and I have to lean back awkwardly and pretend not to care that I'm not involved in this conversation, or I have to turn my head back and forth and wonder if my profile is really as awful as I thought it was when I was a teenager. But I hate being on the end, too, because then sometimes people might talk to each other and I'm left out. I have a lot of trouble when some people are already sitting down and I want to sit next to the people I came in with, but there aren't enough open chairs together. How do I decide? And do I do the nice thing and sacrifice myself for the group? Then I inevitably get stuck next to the weird guy who no one wants to sit next to... Basically, I think I'm a little bit socially awkward. Some of my closest friends have told me that when they first met me, they thought I was a bitch and standoff-ish. Ultimately, I've come to realize that I'm just not good at starting conversations with most people. I have a horrible memory so chances are, if I do know anything that we have in common or could talk about something funny that we both know about, I've forgotten about it. Also, I'm not all that interested or informed about generic conversation topics (the weather, sports, politics, and which celebrity cheated on their spouse with whichever other celebrity's personal trainer while avoiding x amounts of jail time by attending rehab). At the same time, though, I love to plan parties and events and will maybe even be an event planner in my next life (but I'm not so sure about the working nights and weekends thing...). I guess, though, that gives me a role and a function, and I could make seating charts and always put myself next to the cool people. Hmmm - I guess this becomes more appealing the more I think about it.

If I taught 7th grade health class, I would have an entire segment of the course focused on personal space and social etiquette. For now, though, I'll have to stick to teaching my own kids not to lick other people's faces, modeling appropriate behavior to strangers - even if that means running through my seating choices and stall preferences out loud, and using my time wisely with that weird guy at the work dinner to educate him on appropriate conversation topics. Sometimes it is like the blind leading the blind, but if I don't do it, who will???

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

The word "naughty" has only sexual connotations for me. I don't know why. I don't think I've been overly exposed to porn (no pun intended, honest!) or underly (is that a word?) exposed to Santa stories, but anytime I hear someone call their child "naughty," I have to stop myself from picking up the phone and speed dialing Social Services. Images of whips, handcuffs, and adult diapers come to mind, and that's just not something that's so easy to shake off. Although I don't think calling my kids' behavior "bad" is much better, at least it keeps my mind out of the gutter and allows me to describe what I mean to them without turning red in the face!

Another word that has a strange and equally idiographic connotation for me is "nice." In college, in my sorority, we had to select future members based on their performance in Rush and whatever else we might have known (or, to be fair, thought we knew) about them. There were some pretty strict and senseless rules to the whole process, one of which involved the word "nice." Really, "nice" was code for "this-girl-is-a-skanky-bitch-and-I-vote-never-to-let-her-in-my-house-and-if-you-do-then-you-are-all-total-back-stabbing-disloyal-bitch-ass-hos." It could also mean "she-hooked-up-with-my-boyfriend-but-that-was-before-we-were-even-dating-but-it-still-counts-anyway," as well as "she-looks-better-in-black-hot-pants-and-has-a-deeper-sorority-girl-chain-smoker-voice-than-I-do-so-there's-no-way-in-hell-I-want-her-in-my-house-to-compete-with-me-at-all-parties-and-ruin-my-chance-of-hooking-up-with-the-hottie-of-the-day." If you really didn't want this girl in your house, you could say she was "really nice." And if you really REALLY didn't want her in, you could stand on your chair and say she was "really nice." Seriously? Could we not just be allowed to say, "I don't think she represents the qualities we are looking for in a future sister?" It's not like we wanted to take out a billboard and plaster campus with flyers that said, "This girl sucks! Everyone hates her!"

So, there are two important take home lessons today:
     1. The words "naughty" and "nice" are not allowed to be said in my household, for fear of conjuring up some rather unpleasant and grossly inapplicable connotations, and
     2. If I ever slip and tell you "You are so nice," especially if I just so happen to be standing on a chair to reach some obscure item from the cupboard above the fridge, you better look out!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If only...

Many times, I find myself wondering, "What the hell is wrong with you???" Like just now, when I picked up an errant chocolate chip from the kitchen floor, diligently following the internationally renowned and fully vetted "5 second rule," and put it in my mouth. No attempt to blow it off, no glance over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching, no second thought that this might be a bad idea. Needless to say, I mostly swallowed the dust bunny well before my brain could tell my tongue to just sacrifice the damn chocolate chip (there were at least 20 lint-free ones waiting for me in my ice cream!) and spit it out...Or last week, when I made myself a wonderful steaming much anticipated fresh cup of coffee, only to then realize that I never actually put grinds in the coffee filter. Ugh!

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about something else. So here goes... If I was richer, smarter, and/or more focused, here are some of the things I'd invent (in no particular order):
     1. Systemic Sunscreen: Like a pill you can take or a vaccine so you never have to apply greasy grimy sunblock ever again, but can rest assured that you will not get skin cancer, age spots, wrinkles, or sunburned. Okay, maybe it wouldn't prevent wrinkles, but 3 out of 4 isn't bad.
     2. Strapless and racing back nursing bras: Why can't lactating women have fun, too? Seriously - the strapless one would take some creative engineering, but I think it can be done. To wear my bridesmaids dress in a couple of weeks - I have two options: either wear a traditional strapless bra and likely subject myself and anyone unfortunate enough to witness it to awkward Houdini-like moves, full frontal nudity, and a screaming and very impatient baby; or to let the girls go free. That might be fine and dandy when you're the perfect size, but when you're on the small side like me, the girls need all the help they can get. If you've read the previous post, you'll understand my need for padding and underwire...
     3. Flavored glue strips on envelopes: Of course there would be a price differential for lower end flavors like vanilla and cotton candy versus more exquisite ones like dark chocolate and pomegranate, but I believe in safety for all and I would never promote the cutting of costs by using toxic flavoring additives. I'm still mad at George for that one - his poor fiance!!!
     4. Craft supply consigment shops: Forget stained clothes, outdated and recalled baby gear, and brown and orange colored couches that smell suspiciously like cat piss and throw up. Craft supplies are where it's at! I have attempted so many crafts and art projects, only to spend many dollars and hours before realizing that it's just not my thing. I can't return opened packs of beads, partially used jars of paint, eyelet placers that I don't really even understand why I'd think I would need, or 249 sheets of cerulean paper because it only came in a reem but I really only needed one.
     5. A Roomba-like machine for personal grooming: You know, that automatic vacuum that travels around your house, sucking up hairballs, dust bunnies, cheerios, and single earrings that you've been missing for months until it bumps into a wall and then just gently backs up and goes another way? I'd like there to be one that will shave my legs, armpits, and, ahem, *other* areas for me. Automatically. As in, while I do nothing at all. Well, maybe I would sleep.  
     6. Some kind of alarm that discreetly alerts you when you have food in your teeth: What's not to love about that? After 2 years of braces and an undying love for broccoli, corn on the cob, and blueberries, I have only too often found myself in the bathroom mirror shaking my head and saying, "I thought they were my friends!" This is clearly too important of a job to be left to amateurs - let's cut the crap and just call in the professionals!
     7. An app for the TV that would automatically change the channel when a preview for a scary movie comes on: This would be so much easier, more efficient, and more socially appropriate than my current tactic of sticking my fingers in my ears, squeezing my eyes shut, and loudly singing "la la la la" until I dare to take a peek. For an additional fee, one could purchase a deluxe version that even changes the channel back when the preview is done.
     8. Outdoor event high heel savers: These are little clear discs that can be snapped onto the end of one's high heels so that you don't sink into the grass while attending outdoor weddings, funerals, or just taking a casual stroll across the front lawn in your favorite stilettos. Mesh half shirt, cutoff jean booty shorts, and hot pink scrunchy optional.
     9. A breast pump/pacifier device that allows you to breastfeed your baby from a distance: Essentially, it's a long hose with a pacifier at one end and a breast shield at the other. Baby sucks, milk is released and travels down the hose to baby. All is right in the world. This could come in especially handy while driving 72 mph on the interstate alone in the car and trying to comfort a screaming (and might I mention rear facing?) baby for just two more minutes until you reach the rumored-to-be-an-anonymous-gay-sex-meet-up-spot-but-who-cares-because-it's-the-best-option-available-at-the-moment-and-you're-really-desperate rest area.
     10. Body pillows that somehow support you in all the right places but don't make it seem like there are 3 people in the bed. It's a close call, but I'm not sure who I love more - my husband or my body pillow. Truth be told, the pillow is a little more agreeable and never has roaming hands, so I guess maybe my preference is becoming clear. I don't want my husband to feel ousted by an inanimate object, but I guess I can only hope that he's secure enough in our relationship and in his manhood to recognize that I've got a good thing going on here. It's not you, honey, it's me. And really - at least he's not being ousted for *other* inanimate objects, right?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Blog Entry

I've waited for this day for weeks. Maybe months. Maybe even years. I've been thinking about blogging since I first heard of (and then subsequently googled) the word. However, I know myself and I know my flaws. I know that I like to start new things. I know that I do NOT like to stick with most things. I was worried (and truthfully still am) that once I start blogging, two sad and bad things will happen: 1. I will neglect other things that I should and/or want to be doing (see my blog name and time of this post???), and 2. I won't stick with it. However, I also know something else about myself: my willpower is about as strong as a newt's. I guess it was only inevitable that I would one day start blogging.

I think, in a way, my past few years of Facebooking has kind of been like blogging. People comment that my status updates are pretty funny and more than one person has told me to write a book someday. I tend to call it like it is, and I spend way too much time thinking about (perseverating, really) on things that most people don't even notice but find pretty humorous and true when they do. Friends have suggested I start twitting or tweeting or whatever it is, but obviously I have no idea what that really means, so that's not happening. Recently, on my "mommy board," we've been talking about blogging. I've been inspired by these women's blogs, and encouraged by them to start my own, so here it is - my very first ever virgin (gulp) blog post...

I think it's only right to start by talking about something very important in my life - shoes. Looking back, I realize I've always had a thing for them. I remember having at least three pairs of jellies when I was a pre-teen (think late 1980s) - sparkly clear, hot pink, and teal! Then I morphed from awkward pre-pubescent girly girl to a confused wannabe hippy chic. I must have been about 13 or 14 when I convinced my sweet grandmother to buy me these awesome clogs - they were maroon and made a great loud "click click" when I walked. Then, as I progressed even further into my alternative-hippy/wannabe-grunge-girl days when I wore boys' jeans and swore off bras, my love for shoes continued to flourish. At 15, I wore Birkenstock sandals with colorful wool socks (yes, I am sweating with embarrassment as I write this!). At 16, as I moved further into the "I don't need to follow the rules" attitude, I had five pairs of Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers - three low top (green, black, and deep purple), and two high top (hot pink, and red and grey flannel plaid). The plaid ones were sent to me by an older boy who might or might not have had a little thing for me when we met that summer, but either way, he clearly understood my need for self-expression through shoes! :) He was cute, and the shoes were cuter, but truthfully, they couldn't hold a candle to the purple ones! At 17, my fashion sense continued to morph faster than that questionable jar of applesauce in the back of the fridge. I remember working at my first "real" job at a trendy women's clothing store, wearing brown lace up military style boots with ankle-length flowery dresses (oh, god - is it hot in here or what???)! Somehow, I managed to keep my job, and even got complements from the customers and my bosses (more for my guts than actual fashion sense, I'm sure!).

Sadly, in college, my love for shoes took a backseat to my love for booze, so I didn't really have any money to buy memorable shoes (or if I did, said love of booze precluded any possibility of remembering them!). In grad school, I didn't have any money for shoes OR booze, so I was one sad, thirsty, and boringly dressed girl... I do remember, though, my one splurge - replacing the plain brown laces on my brown boots with bright red ones! I was really living on the edge - I know! After a lot of hard work writing papers, reading texts, and hiding my ho-hum shoes under tables, I finally got my degree and a real job. I had a paycheck and an audience to support my habit, and I finally had a job where it was expected, acceptable, and even appropriate to wear nice shoes! In the past eight years, I am proud to admit that my shoe collection has grown faster than the clump of cat hair at the bottom of the basement stairs.

Despite years and years of unabashed shoe love, I never really realized I had a problem until my first staff retreat at my then-new job four years ago. We had to anonymously provide a fun factoid about ourselves for a cheezy "get to know you" game with the new staff members. My creative juices were so not flowing, so the best I could come up with was "I own 38 pairs of shoes." Apparently, this is a bit more than most people, but how was I to know? Since then, when I had to reveal my identity to my coworkers and was quickly referred to more 12-step programs than I care to admit (remember, I work in a mental health clinic!), I have become known at work as the shoe diva. I have fierce competition each year when we have trendy young interns, but overall, I think I hold my own. Truthfully, I appreciate the challenge from these "kids," because I am definitely the youngest senior staff member and one of the few straight women, too. I don't think I'm letting the cat out of the bag when I say that most lesbians have no idea about shoes - essentially, what I have learned from my dear gay friends is that if it's flat and black and comfortable, it goes with anything. Oh god! Thankfully, though, these new interns come every year with new styles and trends and not only encourage my love for shoes, but also give me something interesting to look at and think about during staff meetings! But, I digress...

Since that overly revealing day four years ago, my collection has grown to 52 pairs (54 if you count my ski boots, but I think that's kind of cheating). Some of my favorites are my red patent leather heels (which are a smidge too tight since pregnancy but I still wear them anyway); faux purple crocodile skin heels (which don't really match anything I own but I try them on at least once a week in the hopes that they magically will); black, white, and pink lace kitten heels (which I wear all the time, so much so that they will likely need to be resoled soon but it would probably cost more than the shoes themselves!); and my at-least-12-year-old permanently stained and dingy green Old Navy flip flops (that I couldn't possibly have paid more than $7 for!). I still fantasize about a marvelous pair of shoes I bought last summer and made myself return (thanks to that good old Catholic guilt!). They were pewter crocodile skin heels and they were gorgeous, but I knew I had nothing to wear them with. Funny though - this spring, I bought a pair of pewter flats - not crocodile skin and not heels, but shiny and soft all the same... Anyway, despite owning 52+ pairs of shoes, I found myself shoe shopping today! I honestly do need a pair of strappy silver sandals for a friend's wedding that I'm in in two weeks, but I also managed to thoroughly convince myself that I need (yes, NEED) a new pair of black sandals and a new pair of brown sandals. Fortunately for my bank account (and my marriage), I couldn't find either the black or brown sandals. Unfortunately, though, I also couldn't find the silver sandals, so my quest will continue. I have a slight suspicion that my, ahem, need for the black and brown sandals will continue, too... Don't worry - I'll keep you posted...

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did start wearing bras again. Turns out, push up bras do so much more for flat chested girls like me than civil disobedience and burn parties do.