Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Slower Is Faster Than Never"

Today in our WW meeting, someone said the phrase, "Slower is faster than never" and it really rang true for me.

I don't know if I'll ever be ok with how slowly I lose weight. I mean, who wants delayed gratification when the instant variety seems so much more fun? I know this is something I just have to accept as truth about my body: I'm not going to lose weight quickly. I never have, no matter what changes I've made in my life. I lost 24 pounds on WW once, but it took me just over a year to do so. I will lose weight on WW this time, but it's going to take me a long time to get to my goal. And while I don't know if I'll ever truly be 'ok' with that, I have at least come to terms with it being my reality.

Slower IS faster than never. I just would prefer Faster,because Faster is Faster than Slower. Is that so wrong?


One of my friends is also doing WW, and though we live too far apart to do meetings together, we do keep in constant contact to support each other and check in. For both of us, staying 'On Plan' in terms of eating within our points and meeting the WW Healthy Guidelines is totally manageable, but we struggle with getting in exercise.

I'll admit, I'm the first to make excuses that keep me from getting in exercise. It's hot. I'm tired. I don't have time. I already wake super early, and any earlier would kill me. I don't like being sweaty. We can't afford the gym membership. I don't like to run. I don't like to work out at night.

But you know what? I know those are just excuses. I know I need to prioritize better and make time. Find the energy. Get over my aversion to sweat. Put myself and my health first more often.

So (thanks for the prodding, Anonymous) this week we started a new 'challenge' of sorts, though it's less a challenge and more a fun tool for keeping both my friend and me active. We discovered we both have Netflix streaming through game systems in our houses, so we made a pact. Each week, we aim to work out at least 3 nights a week. To keep each other going, we have a system. At the start of the week, we each choose 2 workout DVDs that can be streamed, for a total of 4 workouts. During the week, we each have to do at least 3 of the 4 workouts, and preferably all 4. Granted, we just started this week, but so far I'm loving having someone to exercise 'with' and being motivated by not wanting to 'let her down'. I know she wouldn't judge me if I didn't complete every week, but I also know how much she's going to encourage me when I do. And it's nice to get a little shove outside of my comfort zone and be forced to do DVDs I might not have chosen that add some variety to my week.

I only lost about a half a pound this week, which was sort of a let-down after working out 4 times. Last night, I laid in bed with my head on my pillow and my mind starting to fuzz at the corners, and a thought came to me: This week has been a success. I may not have a huge weight loss to brag about. No one but me will notice a difference for several more pounds, I'm sure. I'm still far from all my goals. But you know what? I notice a difference. I like the glow in my cheeks when I am done working out. I like laughing with my co-workers the next day and feeling a burn in my ab muscles. Hell, I like being able to tell I still have ab muscles. Working out makes me feel good. Strong. Capable. Healthy. It's not a magic pill. It won't change my body overnight. It won't make weight loss infinitely easier. But it WILL be good for me.

I rolled over onto my (sore) tummy to sleep, and thought to myself, "That's going to hurt tomorrow." And smiled.

Monday, June 27, 2011

After Dinner

"I wanna go twimmin!"
"Me too!"


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Body: Will I Ever Be Happy?

"When in your life have you most liked your body?" my co-worker asked me.

I had no answer, at first. I thought back of the many versions of my body over the years. Me in high school, insecure and sure I didn't have a boyfriend because I didn't have a teeny waist. Me in college, packing on the weight and then picking away at it with Weight Watchers and hour-long sessions on the workout bike while watching Paradise Island. Me now, so uncomfortable and ungainly in my body that I sometimes find myself standing talking to someone and realize my hands have subconsciously gone in the pocket of my jeans and are pressing into the fat on my hips. Me, in junior high, lying on the floor on my back and feeling how my tummy still jutted above my hipbones while noticing that didn't happen for some of my friends and feeling jealous of their concave bellies. Me, freshman year of high school, awkward and chubby in my ill-fitting one-piece, swimming with my tall thin friend in her bikini and my curvy friend in her Speedo with the very high cut legs.

"Never," I answered her. And instantly I felt like a failure. For never loving my body. And for never doing something to really change it. "I came close, once," I said, "around the time I got married. I was ok with my weight, but I needed to tone up. It never happened."

Me, 3 years after our wedding and about 15 pounds over wedding weight. Honestly? I'd settle for being that size right now, and at the time I thought I needed to lose about 20 pounds.

How sad is that??? How awful is it that there's not a single point in my life when I can remember really, truly loving my body. Aside from the few months around my wedding day when I was almost to my goal weight and working out 3-5 days a week, the only other time I liked my body at all was when I was pregnant with Luca. I was a bit self-conscious as my boobs grew a cup size in the first 6 weeks and my belly looked more 'too much burrito' than 'cute little baby' for the first half of my pregnancy. But I also really, really loved being pregnant. I loved that belly, and I felt pretty good about what my body was capable of doing.

Just about done with my pregnancy with Luca. This was probably about 37-39 weeks, and other than looking super exhausted I feel good about that body.

The thing is, this co-worker? She's 5'6" and a size 4-6. She is adorable and has almost no fat on her body. And when I posed the same question back to her, her answer was almost the same as mine. "Never," she said to me. "When I was skinnier I wanted more curves. When I was in high school I hated being pale and flat chested. Now, I wish I could get rid of my thighs and tone up."

I guess I forget, that somewhere deep inside most women have body insecurities. Sometimes I struggle about talking openly about my journey to get healthier and lose weight. I worry what people will think of me. I worry I am opening myself up for other people to criticize and analyze. And then I remember: I'm no different than the average woman, whether that woman is a size 4 who longs for more womanly curves, a size 14 who wishes she was her high school size 10, or a size 24 who just wants to be able to ride coach in an airplane without feeling the armrests pinch into her hips and the scorn on the faces of the people in her row. We all struggle, in our own unique ways.

This week, I decided to do something just for me. Something that will make me feel better about my body. After everyone is in bed at night, I spend 30-60 minutes working out (THANK YOU streaming Netflix on my hubby's X Box!), and then I spend 10 minutes or so just reading quietly, in a quiet house. It's only been a few days, but already I'm remembering how much I really DO enjoy spending time caring for my body and waking up the next day feeling it in every muscle group I forgot I had.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hello, Lover!!!

There are few material things in life that can make or break my happy mood. My camera is one of those few. I live with a camera attached to me almost all the time, and have since I was little and my grandma bought me my first camera for Christmas. It took 110 film, which is going to be nothing more than a relic in some photography magazine by the time my kids are old enough to ask about it. Grandma would save her stamps from the store all year, and at Thanksgiving she'd ask us each to go through a catalog to choose what we wanted. When I was maybe 10, I chose this little guy:

And I must have gone through hundreds of these little rolls of film in the several years I had this camera before it stopped working:

My parents knew I loved recording life in photographs, so they eventually upgraded me to a 35mm film camera they bought used and refurbished. I learned that camera inside and out, and used it up until something with the shutter broke and I couldn't justify the expense to fix it. It was something like this, a Konica:

After that came digitals of varying degrees of awesome, though making the leap from real film to digital just about broke my soul. I just was opposed to letting go of the actual medium of creation provided by film. And if there's one thing I still really miss about shooting in film, it's the day you take your roll in to be developed and wait anxiously to see the pictures, tearing into the envelope as soon as you get to your car and viewing them over and over. With digital, there's instant gratification, which is fun, but it's kind of like a nice date without the flirting to lead up to it.

Either way, I've been shooting with my Nikon DSLR for over 3 years now, so I guess it was to be expected that at some point it would need some serious repairs. One day, it froze up on me while I took pictures of my kids in the park. I panicked, then hit Google for advice. The advice all pointed to one at-home remedy, but when it didn't work I knew I needed a professional. So off it went to get fixed, and here we are almost exactly 3 months later and I just got my baby back.

I swear, I almost cried with relief when I put the memory card back in and shot my first picture in 3 months. Pictures mean the world to me. I am a visual person, and a single photograph can make a moment come to life for me. I can look at a picture of an old friend and hear her laughter by looking at her smiling, head thrown back. I can look at a picture of newborn Luca sleeping beside me on the couch while I worked and feel the quiet calm that had eased over our house as we settled into our new life as 3. I can look at a picture of my wedding day, and remember seeing my husband at the front of that aisle and remember the smell of my bouquet like it was yesterday. I can look at a picture of me, sweaty with red cheeks and rings of mascara below my eyes, clutching a newborn Rohan to my body and crying tears of pure triumph and joy, and remember how it felt to know we'd done that together.

Pictures are my story-keepers, so I welcome my long-lost lover back with open arms. Now, we're ready to get back to the work of capturing my sweet, sweet life.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy Day.

To My Husband,
You have changed countless diapers, held a crying baby more times than either of us can count. You've rocked and shushed and kissed sweet candy toes and apricot cheeks. You have tended to boo-boos of both the real and the imagined varieties. You've perfected the crafts of ice pack making, Butt Paste applying, dinnertime coercion, bedtime story reading, and fun making. Our kids admire and adore you. They hear your car when you come home, and their eyes light from within. You come after them with 'tickle hands' and their belly laughs get louder and louder.

We celebrated you today, for all you are and all you do for our family. I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband who is a true partner in life and in this journey we've chosen to creating our own family. Everytime I hear you soothe tears or sing songs or read the same book for the millionth time, I silently thank my lucky stars to have you in my life and theirs.

We love you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anger Managed.

Remember last week, when I was mad as hell (at myself? at the fates? at scales? at cake?) that I'd maintained? And I vowed to use that anger and frustration to propel me forward this week?

It worked. I'm not condoning anger or anything here, but the truth is that I lost 2 pounds this week. And I did it the old-fashioned way: I watched the hell out of every bite that I ate and stopped eating when I was satisfied rather than stuffed. I had salads for dinner or lunch (sometimes both) most days. I ate a light but healthy breakfast. I didn't overdo it on desserts, but I did eat 2 pieces of chocolate cake and a bowl of Hagen Daas over the weekend. YES! I ate them and I STILL lost. And I'm so happy the scale moved for me this week, but I'm not quite willing to let go of the scale grudge that helped bust my mini-setback just yet.

A good friend of mine is also on WW, and when I told her I maintained last week and I wasn't happy, she tried to soothe me off the edge and remind me that, in the world of WW, maintaining is a success. After all, it's better than gaining, and sometimes maintaining is harder that any other part of the journey.

But here's the thing: I won't be happy about maintaining. I won't be happy about the status quo. Being satisfied that 'at least I didn't gain anything' is not part of my weight loss journey because that attitude is what has me here, on WW having started out at the same weight as I've been since a few months after Rohan's birth.

Rohan turned 2 in March. MARCH! Being happy not to have gained any weight in the past 2 years is not ok with me. Accepting a maintenance week very rarely would be ok, but accepting maintenance is like saying I'm ok with my weight. And I'm not. Believe me, I sometimes wish I could be fat and happy and eat cake with abandon, but in the end being fat makes me miserable.

It really struck home with me this weekend because we're finally starting to get 'summer' weather in Arizona, and all our family and friends with pools have been inviting us over. I LOVE water. I LOVE to swim. I would rather staple my face to the floor than put on a swimsuit in front of anyone aside from my husband and kids. And yet...the water calls, and so do those sweet little monsters who love swimming (by swimming I mean being chauffered around the pool in floaties or arms since neither of them actually knows how to swim yet). So far, I've been able to sit on the sidelines and put in my feet while everyone else swims, but this summer Luca's onto my game. And she's not having it. Every time we go swimming somewhere, she asks me to get in the wate with her, and when she does that in front of people, how do I say no? I don't mean that as in 'I can't say no to my Princess'. I mean it as in, I can't so no in front of other people because then she will ask why and am I really supposed to say, "Well, mommy's ass is so big she'd prefer not to embarass herself by wearing a swimsuit in front of people."?? I can't say that, partly because it would be embarassing as hell and partly because I don't want my daughter to be the victim of my personal insecurities.

So, twice this weekend I went swimming. In front of family. Most of it, skinny family who I was sure love me and yet whom I have no desire to bear my fat thighs and gross belly to. Faced with the choice, I had fun with my kids, but I covered up while doing so. Not in some cute swimsuit designed to hide all 'problem areas' (which, I have a problem with those suits too because not much screams "Look at my thighs!" than a swimsuit attempting to look chic while covering said thighs). Nope. In one of my husband's huge shirts.

It was shameful, really. There's a certain shame attached to being the person wearing the big t-shirt in the pool. Everyone knows it's not really to block the sun. Everyone knows it's really to block them from seeing you. And much like the swimsuits with skirts, it probably serves to call MORE attention to my discomfort with my body than if I'd just walked out in a swimsuit, dropped the towel, and pretended not to care that I'm fat.

In a way, it's a good thing I had those 2 experiences this weekend. They reminded me, sharply and painfully, why I'm trying to work on transforming my body and my health. They refocused me. They gave me something to work toward. Someday, a swimsuit in public with no big t-shirt. Someday.

Which brings me back to today. I'm beyond proud to have lost 2 pounds this week, but I'm not letting go of the frustration that helped me get there. I'm going to hold onto that feeling because it helps me stay on track, focus on where I want to go, and avoid falling into a state of not giving a shit anymore. That state only got me where I am today, and I'm not interested in staying here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday Night Talent Show.

Today I had to go to a small town about 30 minutes south of my house for an all-day event for work. Sitting at a display table bored between visitors, I decided to catch up with a few people via text.

First, I texted my friend who is also on WW:

"I've always heard a tomato is a fruit since it has seeds inside. Does this make pumpkins, bell peppers, and squash fruit as well?"
"I guess so?"
"Sweet. So I can eat an entire pumpkin and it's 0 points."

Then I texted my brother's wife who is due with Baby #2 on July 4th. This baby is a boy, and an active one in the womb. I jokingly call him Seamus, though my daughter has nicknamed him Bingo. In fact, when we learned she was pregnant with #2, we asked Luca what nickname she wanted to give it. "Bingo!" she answered. We then asked if it was going to be a girl baby or a boy baby, since she was 2 for 2 with guessing the sex of her other baby cousins. "A boy of course, Mommy. Bingo is a boy!" And she was right...about the boy thing, anyhow. About the name Bingo? Not so much.:

"Any baby news? When do you see your Dr next?"
"Still officially due on 7/4. See the Dr. next week. Unofficially, I am a planet, can't walk, and am having random contractions here and there. I am soooooo done!"

Seeing as her baby was still in her belly and not on his way out, I kept searching for someone to give me an excuse to leave the event early. So, I texted my other sister-in-law, who is also due with her second in December. Luca has also proclaimed this one to be a boy, and I wanted to know when we will find out if she is right:

"Is today your ultrasound?"
"Monday is the big day. Your kiddos are coming over to swim. Leave early and come over!!!"
:::Ding Ding Ding:::

(My husband is in summer school, but has Fridays home with the kids. They had arranged for a post-nap 'borrowing' of my brother- and sister-in-law's pool.)

Never one to turn down an invite, I headed home around 3, fed the dog, grabbed my things and headed over. We spent some time in the pool, the kids playing and splashing and having fun (my neice, who is 1, and my daughter have matching swimsuits which was just too cute for words). Somewhere along the line, I noticed Rohan pulling at A lot. At first I chocked it up to boy obsession with the penis, but then I noticed he was looking around the pool area sort of anxiously. Turns out, he had to pee. He was wearing a swim diaper, but didn't want to pee in it (HOLY amazing!!!!) so I had him get out and I stripped him down, staying in the pool myself. Then I pointed to the plants by the edge of the pool decking and said, "You can pee on those."

Next thing we know, Luca jumped out, stripped off her swimsuit, and stood beside him. Both kids, completely naked, butts to the pool, faced the wall. She reached over and patted his back, leaned in to say something to him we couldn't hear (I love that. Nothing is sweeter to me than the relationship they are building with each other.) and then smiled over her shoulder at us.

The next thing we knew, twin streams of urine started to flow. Oh, yes. My son and my daughter stood side by side, peeing into the rocks. It had to have been the cutest and most hilarious thing we'd ever seen. I mean, I guess I sort of knew girls could pee standing, but to see her do it with such expertise was seriously amusing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sabbatical for Mary Sunshine.

I'm taking a temporary hiatus from optimism. Not in general, in life holistically, but when it comes to weight loss. God, I am so flipping SICK of talking about weight loss. I have been struggling and struggling to lose weight for so much of my life now that it makes me physically repulsed to think about it. How much more time am I going to spend obsessing over my body and the scale and the size on the tag and what I am eating vs what I am not eating? And, probably more to the point, how much time am I going to spend doing all that obsessing and still not seeing the results I think I should see?

I went to WI today, and I maintained. Now, the world of WW would tell you that maintaining is a success, because to maintain > to gain. Sure, sure, I get that. And of course I'd rather stay the same than gain. But does that mean I have to be happy to have maintained? Because, you know what? I don't want to be happy about maintaining. I am feeling pissed and frustrated, and rather than burying those feelings under false positivity and optimism, I want to embrace pissed and frustrated.

If I hadn't been trying, really truly trying, I would be more accepting of no loss. But this week? This week I counted my points, stayed in range ocassionally using a flex point or two (you get 49 for the week, which can be used in 1 day or over the week...or not at all). For fuck's sake, I even ignored National Donut Day even though a boston creme and an apple fritter (yes, I said AND) from the best donut place in town sounded like heaven (warm, soft, chewy, golden, delicious, frosted heaven) on a plate. I went out for Mexican food and ordered a SALAD. Where is my reward for that?!?!

Don't get me wrong: I am not quitting WW or throwing in the towel and diving into a gallon of ice cream, tempting as those options may be. I'm just taking a break from trying to put on a happy face, and using my piss-poor outlook on this whole endeavor to my advantage. How? Well, if you didn't already know this about me, you should know that nothing propels me quite like blind fury. And blind fury is what I am feeling (toward myself? toward food? toward the scale? toward the fates that handed me this body instead of this one or this one or even this one who is ROCKING the body confidence despite being a 'bigger' girl). (PS: Did you know if you Google image search 'full figured women in Hollywood' Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson come up? Is this for real? Now I am even MORE pissed.) So I'm using it to make myself do better, be better, and get these stupid pounds to go away for good. I WILL hit my goal, dammit.

But in the meantime, I'm done with mantras about how any loss is a good loss and it takes time and this is the healthy way to do it and nothing tastes better than skinny feels. It's not that those things are untrue, it's just that they are not helping me. Want me to win at bowling or pool? Piss me off. Want a clean kitchen in 15 minutes or less? Pick a fight with me and leave me steaming mad. Here's hoping this same thing works for weight loss, because I am pissed off and not giving up on myself without a fight.

Bed Stealer.

He's taken to sneaking into our room and climbing into bed uninvited, pulling the sheets up away from the corners, making the bed into a tangle of blankets, pillows, long sturdy limbs, and sweet fat cheeks.
I'd be a liar if I claimed this bothered me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Future Free of Diapers May Someday be Mine.

If it wasn't happening to me, I'd hardly believe it was true, but Rohan has started to potty train himself. He's just over 26 months old, and he's POTTY TRAINING HIMSELF.

It started a few months ago, when my mom decided to buy him big boy undies for playing in the sprinklers at her house. His diapers would get too soaked, but she didn't want him playing in just his shorts, so she comprimised and got the undies. He didn't potty train at that time. In fact, he had pretty much zero interest. We've had the baby potty out in our great room for months now, and though he ocassionally would ask to sit on the potty because he thought it was funny, he never did anything while sitting there. Well, nothing aside from getting completely naked, which I hear is a boy thing, this desire to be completely nude to potty train.

We were not worried at all, mainly because I have always heard that boys tend to potty train later than girls and I should not expect Rohan to even be interested until he was closer to 3. Luca was just days past her 2nd birthday when we told her 2 year olds are big girls and big girls don't wear diapers, and for her that worked so well that within the week she had turned 2 and completely potty trained during the day. (Funny side note: she was in the midst of potty training at her birthday party, which was at our house. In the middle of the party, she moved her potty into the middle of the room and proceeded to use it in front of a room full of guests while I was upstairs nursing Rohan.) However, she'd also shown interest at a younger age, telling us when she was wet or dirty when she was only 15 months old, and vocalizing that she needed to 'poop' by 18 months. Add to that me being home on maternity leave and able to dedicate the entire day to running her to and from the potty and it really wasn't difficult. But no one is home full time with the kids right now, which means they move between home with Darrick to over to my mom's to back home, and all that movement means less opportunity to just focus on potty use.

And then, about 2 weeks ago, I took him to Target with me and let him pick out some big boy undies for home (he picked Yo Gabba Gabba), and sometime last week he started saying no to diapers and asking for the 'big boy ungies' instead. Then on Thursday afternoon my husband called as I drove home from work and told me he'd gone pee in the potty all by himself, with my husband not even in the same room. We were excited but figured it might be a fluke.

I no longer think it's a fluke. Since last Thursday, he's been using the training potty to go pee, although he still hasn't quite figured out the 'other' use for that potty. He won't even ask...just strolls over and says, "I need to pee pee" and takes care of business. When he's done, he hops up and points, clapping and saying, "I did it!" or "I went pee pee, mama!" or (my favorite) "I win!!!".

And so it goes. We're crossing our fingers and hoping this is it and he'll soon be fully potty trained. And, as always, we're in awe at how seamlessly our baby is turning into a big boy.

But that's not all. I mentioned Luca's ease with potty training, but what I didn't mention is that nighttime potty training for her just wasn't happening. She's been completly accident-free during the daytime, save for the rare ocassion where she's playing so hard she doesn't make it to the potty on time, for over 2 years. We tried various things to help her potty train at night, including:

- trying not to let her drink much after dinner so she wouldn't go to bed with a full bladder
- switching her to Pull-Ups so she can easily get them up and down on her own
- waking her a few times a night to try to get her to go potty
- putting the little potty in her room so if she woke at night it would be close by and she wouldn't have to go into the bathroom alone

None of these tricks worked. Waking her was the silliest, because the kid sleeps like a log. I would have her go potty before bed and then wake her to go when I was getting ready for bed. After two nights of carrying her sleepy body into the bathroom and holding her on the potty as she slept through the whole adventure, I decided it was madness. Parents spend months and months trying to get their kids to sleep through the night, and here I was waking her on purpose when she didn't want to wake?

So after much discussion about the physiology of little kids, we decided to let it happen in its own time. Which meant, at 4 years old, she was still wearing a Pull Up to bed and waking up with it full every morning. It didn't bother me because I knew it would happen in its own time and the last thing I wanted was to create an issue about nighttime bed wetting. But, in time, it started to bother her and she started to complain about the Pull Up, telling me it was uncomfortable and she wanted to sleep without it.

So, we made a no-pressure deal. I sat in her room one night last week and told her that if she woke up 4 nights in a row with a dry Pull Up, she could start to sleep without one. And if she didn't have any accidents, we decided together she can get a new pair of jammies and some slippers. I don't know why slippers had to be part of the deal, but she insisted so I agreed.

The very next morning, her Pull Up was dry.

Last night, I had to work late at an event so I wasn't here to put her to bed. I got home about 10, and when I went to check on her, she was in a pair of her brother's new undies. I decided to let it go. Her Pull Up had been dry by then for 3 nights, and on that 4th night she woke with dry (although boy-style) undies.

Tonight, she went to bed in her Disney Princess swimsuit. Worst case, she wakes wet. Best case? We're well on our way to saying good bye to Pull Ups and investing in some new jammies and slippers!


I would be remiss if I didn't say this: potty training is tough. Everyone has their own methods for it, but I took the advice of some amazing moms I know whose kids potty trained fairly seamlessly (looking at YOU, Linz). Here's what we did:

- Made a big deal about Luca being a 'big girl', since at 2 hearing she was a big girl was a compliment unmatched by any other. (We planned to do the same with Rohan, but he was actually the one who initiated the 'big boy' thing)
- Told her big girls wear undies, not diapers, and went cold turkey. (Again, with Mo we'd planned the same thing, but he was the one who asked to wear undies instead. With Luca it was easy to push this, since I knew she needed the push and would respond. With Rohan, he didn't show any interest in potty training until HE was ready - such as dry diapers for extended times or asking to sit on the potty or watching us go - so we followed his lead.)
- Kept them both home as much as possible in the early days, allowing them to be naked or in undies all day and providing frequent and easy access to the potty.
- Responded only to the successes, and quietly cleaned up any mistakes without reprimand. We want them to have only positive feelings about potty training, and scolidng or punishing for accidents isn't productive and could jeapordize that. If they have accidents, we aknowledge them by saying, "Accidents happen. Let's clean this up and next time let's try to make it to the potty, ok?" Both of our kids really respond to this positive reinforcement.
- Speaking of positive reinforcement, we give candy early in potty training. The irony of giving chocolates for THAT doesn't escape us, and normally we don't reward with candy for things they are 'supposed' to do, but in the case of potty training, a treat is a positive reinforcement of a job well done. We also make a big deal out of hugging and cheering them on once they used the potty successfully.
- Once they are pretty much accident-free at home, we go diaper-free on short trips in public. Bring extra clothes and wipes just in case, and dress them in something that: (a) contains messes as much as possible (i.e. shorts that fit well for a girl, not a dress) and (b) can be soiled without you caring.

We're not experts. If anything, we are extremely lucky that so far both our kids have been 'easy' to potty train and are interested in doing it. And we're so happy it's come this easily for both of them so far.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1.

I can hardly believe it's already June 1 and the year is nearly half over. May was here and gone too fast to process, and between a new project and a grant proposal at work, Luca's birthday, a dance recital, and the end of the school year, I barely made it out with my sanity.

Nine months ago, this little girl faced her first day of preschool: shy, reserved, nervous, and excited. She slung a Princess backpack over her narrow shoulders and walked into the classroom holding anxiously to my leg. I was nervous. She was nervous. The first two weeks, she barely spoke and didn't want to play directly with the other kids. I agonized over whether or not we'd made the right decision.

I need not have worried. Not only did she get nothing but perfect report cards like the one above every day, she flourished in preschool. She learned to write her name. Learned to identify letters and numbers. Began to display some really solid reasoning and rationalizing and imagination, and all of it was amazing to observe. She kissed her first boy. She made new friends. She wowed the teachers, all of whom repeatedly told us how loving and kind and amazing and helpful she is, only serving to make our parenting egos grow exponentially each time and make us breathe a sigh of relief. She loved preschool, and I know next year she'll be so excited to go back!

On her first day of preschool, I walked out of the classroom with tears burning my eyelids and cried in my car.

On her last day of preschool, her teachers started to cry as soon as they saw me walk up to the door to get her. It really touched me to know she touched them so deeply.

She didn't cry until we got to the car. When I asked what was wrong she said, "I will miss Miss Katie (her favorite 'teacher', Miss Katie is off to college in L.A. next year). She's really special."

My camera is still away being repaired, so the pictures of her last day weren't as clear as the first, but nonetheless I love the comparison of Then vs. Now.

(She dressed herself for her last day)

Before that last day, though, the preschool hosted a banquet, which included dancing and food and cake and lots and lots of candy. Each kid even got to walk across the stage and get a bucket made for them and a certificat of completion. A year ago, I think she would have shrunk back and insisted I walk with her. This year, she strutted right across and gave a sweet smile.

(With favorite teacher Miss Katie in the skirt she gifted Luca for her 4th birthday)

She makes me proud every single day.

In other news, my New Year's Resolutions have been a mixed bag as far as results go. I'm on week 3 of going to Weight Watchers meetings, but almost 6 months into following the plan online. 'Following' is a loose term as I've had more 'eh' weeks than great ones, but I am proud that I'm still going. One of my resolutions this year was not buying new things unless I HAVE to (i.e. diapers, toiletries, etc.), but I broke that rule for a good reason. Before the end of 2010, I bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy for a ridiculous clearance price, but in a size too small. They now fit (!!!) so earlier this week I celebrated that small success by buying another pair in the same size. Granted, it was only $10 for the jeans (gotta love clearance!) but I had a little guilt about breaking my 'no new stuff' streak. Regardless, I think it's necessary to reward myself and it had  been so long since I'd bought myself new jeans that the 2 pairs I had in constant rotation were starting to wear dangerously thin in some non-G-rated places. So I am now the proud owner of 2 pairs of cute new jeans in 1 size smaller than I was wearing when the year kicked off. I'd love to be in a place where my weight loss successes were celebrated with a new swimsuit I could comfortably wear in front of other people, rather than 2 new pairs of jeans in a size I still don't really love, but it's about celebrating where I am right now.

We've also been working on our plans to get rid of debt and spend less, though that's going even more rough than the weight loss resolution. April and May were tough months financially, but we struggled through them and came out at the end of May with a solid plan for the rest of the year. And then, we got a notice from the IRS that we'd been audited and miscalculated our 2009 taxes. We had an investment account we cashed out early in 2009 and we never got the tax form for it. By the time taxes were due in April 2010, we forgot entirely about that and didn't claim it. Sadly, we're now $573 poorer for the mistake. In addition, our van failed emissions testing. It was not exactly shocking given the van is a Kia and has over 98,000 miles. What was shocking is how much it's costing to fix. It's currently in the shop and we're expecting it to be close to $1,000 to fix. We don't have much of a choice, since it has to pass the emissions test and we can't afford to buy another car right now, but it's a tough pill to swallow spending that much to fix it when we can't be sure how long it's going to go for once that's done.

The good news is we were able to plan these expenses into our summer budget, which is different than the rest of the year because my husband doesn't work in the summer. He gets a big check at the start of the summer, and we don't pay daycare or preschool, so we should be ok, but it sucks to watch that chunk of money disappear from our account in a snap of the fingers. Either way, we're on the same page financially and as stressful as money can sometimes be it's nice to feel like we have a plan to move forward. I'm excited to share how we've decided to address our finances in a way we think will be easy to manage and to self-regulate, but that's got to wait a few weeks until all our June bills are paid and the car and tax payments go through, so we know where we are starting from.

The next 6 months promise to be busy and crazy and fun. We have a vacation planned at the end of summer, which we're looking forward to. Darrick is taking a class to help work toward his Masters, I got a raise at work, and our family is happy and healthy. Here's to the rest of 2011!

When They Are Older.

I hope when my kids are older, they look back on their summer vacations as sweetly as I do my childhood summers. I snapped these pictures on Tuesday morning, the first 'official' day of summer break in our house, and to me they just capture the beauty of siblings easing into a long, hot summer of fun together:

An apple fritter, a big soft blankie, and puppy cuddles in the morning? Yes, please.


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