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Mary had a little…

September 10, 2011

When I told Leo we were having lamb for dinner, he responded…”I sure hope it’s not one of Mary’s!”


SAD Funk

September 3, 2011

WARNING:  If you have more than one of the following characteristics, you may be at high risk of SUN DAMAGE.

_√_Fair skin

_√_Blue eyes

_√_Blond hair

To minimize risk of skin cancer, vision impairments and wrinkly skin, avoid the sun at all cost.  Potential side effects—as a result of low sun exposure—include vitamin D deficiency and The Funk.

The Funk.  Or, more clinically described as Seasonal Affective Disorder—a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall or winter and ending in spring or early summer.

I’m happy because I think I’m SAD!  Common signs you are, I mean have, SAD include:

_√_Fatigue (and I was beginning to think I had mono!)
_√_Increased need for sleep (my self-prescribed therapy for self-diagnosed mono)
_√_Decreased levels of energy (either as a result of my mono or from mental exhaustion caused by 4 y/o chatterbox)
_√_Weight gain (I lost…then gained…then lost…then gained.  Not sure if I’m now ahead or behind?!)
_√_Increase in appetite (so that’s why I ate a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting?!)
_√_Difficulty concentrating (thank God it’s not early onset Alzheimer’s)
_√_Increased desire to be alone (and I thought I was just hankerin’ for a break from 4 y/o chatterbox)

The SUN has officially been out more than two days in a row in Ohio and I feel, well, energized.  I’m not hungry.  I can actually finish a blog in one sitting (assuming this gets posted). I thought about going for a walk today.  And I nearly picked up the phone to call a friend.  I think I might be coming out of my FUNK!

Imagine the possibilities.  I drove home today with the sunroof open, the music cranked up and I envisioned myself running a marathon!  (Mini mini marathon? 5k more believable?)  Oh, wait, I’m supposed to stay out of the sun.

Damn the medical advice, this girl is throwing caution to the sun.  John Denver had it right…”Sunshine…on my shoulders…makes me happy!”

Fallen Rocks

September 3, 2011

I’ve fallen off the proverbial rock.  My rock/commitment to loose weight. Excuse?  Sure, lots of them, let’s see…


Work travel with long, long days.

Kid sick.

Sick again.

Work stress.

Single parenting.

Excuses.  Excuses.  Excuses.  If I’m going to truly achieve “Jen in ’10” I must not fall (so quickly at least) in the face of such adversity.  So, time for self-reflection.

1st Rock Fall: Miserably sick with a sinus infection before leaving for week-long work travel.  Instead of spending time snuggling my son and sipping tea…in one day I ran to the grocery, prepared meals ahead for mom and Leo, organized all Leo’s outfits for the weak, made little love notes for his lunches through the week (and not just simple ones…complicated ones using my scrapbook materials), wrote–and had Leo help write–14 Valentine’s to friends/family, helped Leo make special Valentine’s for his teachers, purchased and mostly prepared Leo’s “friendship day” gift for his secret pal, played with Leo, packed my bags, straightened the house, and made arrangements for neighborhood kid to help mom with any potential snow shoveling.  Oh, and downloaded new music and movies to my iPod to watch during the six-hour travel.

What part of NOT BEING PERFECT did I not get?  Besides grocery shopping so there would be food in the house, packing my bags, and playing with my son…I should have let the rest go.  (Note to self:  I did NOT watch movies downloaded because I was so tired, I slept on the plane.  And the neighborhood kid didn’t end up helping mom with all the snow.  So, that’s at least two things to cross off for next time!)  Clearly still need to perfect not being perfect.

2nd Rock Fall: Gaining back about two pounds following work travel and struggling to get back on the weight loss track.  I did GREAT leading up to my trip and on my travel day.  Then the first work day was long and grueling.  Few breaks in a busy day led to over-eating when there was time to eat.  Then a colleague/friend who is also trying to lose weight and I started to enable each other and justify each treat, bad choice or behavior.  “We’ll get back on track next week” became our motto as we stuffed Heath bars into our mouths.  Seriously, what was wrong with getting back on track that afternoon, evening, next day?  And it’s next week, but I’m not truly BACK ON TRACK.

Why?  Leo was sick and then I was sick.  And after being out of the office for a week, I was stressed from all the backlog of work.  Grrrrr….with the rationalizations.

New goal for the week…stop the AVALANCHE and re-commit. (And stop beating myself up.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

Not so simple changes…

September 3, 2011

I’ve yet to write about my new year, new resolutions…it’s because this is not only a new year, but a new decade so there is much pressure to get it right (yes, I’m type A).  However, after reading a few “resolution” articles offering lots of advice, I’ve decided to try a few “simple” changes and see how it goes.

Change 1:  It’s not a bargain unless it’s free.
I’m Scottish and true to the stereotype, I’m a sucker for a bargain.  Tell me I’m getting more value and I’ll buy more.  Going to COSTCO and reading online ads enticing me with 30% off + free shipping is my pitfall.  Particularly when it comes to clothing for my son.  I mean 10 items from Gymboree for $100…it’s like wining the lottery, right?  Problem is, I “win the lottery” too often.  So, I need to “just say no” to bargains, unless they are free and make better financial choices in 2010.  But all these after Christmas sales are really testing my will-power.  I could unsubscribe from my favorite retailer’s email alerts…but then I wouldn’t know about the bargains…

Change 2:  Give my hair a break.
One article I read suggested it’s actually not healthy to wash your hair everyday.  The physician suggested “just rinse it” every other day.  Tried it this morning.  I rinsed with all my might and felt very optimistic about the experience.  I mean, wouldn’t it be great to have both healthier hair and help support change #1 by spending half of what I now spend on shampoo and conditioner?  In addition, it would justify my addiction to expensive Aveda hair products.  Alas, I’m sitting here feeling like there is grease dripping down my scalp.  Don’t think it actually is, but still feels like my hair was styled with Vaseline.  And therefore the rest of my showered (and washed, not rinsed) body feels dirty.  Why is it if my hair feels unclean, the rest of me does as well?  Will give it a week; I’ll try to remain optimistic.

Change 3:  Find the calm.
Meditation.  Everywhere you read meditation is recommended to bring peace and tranquility to life.  I practiced it when I was younger, had fewer responsibilities and no kid.  So, will try again.  But when will I carve out those precious five extra minutes to “practice meditation”?  Alas, I think I’ve found the perfect time.  That required “15 minutes” that I need to lay with Leo as he’s trying to go to sleep.  How perfect could this be?!  I must be still and quiet…yet not fall asleep!  So, I breathe in “peace and tranquility” and breathe out “chaos”.  I’m getting into the groove when I feel a poke and hear “mommy, why did the baby bird fall out of the nest last spring?”  I answer on exhale, “I don’t know Leo, go to sleep.”  He responds on inhale…”but did he ever find his mommy.”  And on exhale I decide this may not be so peaceful and tranquil after all.

Hmmm…beginning to wonder who actually thought these changes were simple?

Pride & JOY

September 3, 2011

This past advent season my son participated in our church’s Christmas Pageant.  This was his second year playing the role of a donkey and his age group’s song was Away in a Manger.  Leading up to the event his gramma and I would practice and practice with him.  We would encourage him to “sing out” so everyone could hear him.

My son loves the song, particularly the second verse (that few of us have memorized) that goes “…the cattle are lowing the poor baby wakes.  The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes…”  My little sensitive soul is concerned when a tear is shed; let alone that of baby Jesus.

The day of the event, I wasn’t sure who was most excited.  Leo, mommy or gramma.  However, as a single parent I usually struggle to be “in the moment” and absorb it.  Although gramma helps A LOT, I’m busy adjusting the costume, juggling video and digital cameras, giving the reassuring smile and thumbs up.  By the time his part is over, I’m generally frazzled.  This year was no different.  Though a bit distracted, Leo did a great job, and between my mom and me, we got video and photos so I could enjoy later.

Before I could watch the video came Christmas Eve.  We attended the children’s service of my cousin’s church and most of the service was composed of music, scripture and movie clips.  It was a great service and our family–taking up an entire row–enjoyed the rare opportunity to worship together.

Near the end of the service we sang Away in a Manger.  Leo, sitting next to me, sang along.  I could tell he was very proud to know the song.  Then with the start of the second verse, he sat a little taller and just gave it his all.  What a moment.  This was it…my moment to sit back an receive the pure joy Leo was offering me, my family and all those around.  His intentions so pure, my heart and soul were filled with such pride and joy.  The kind that makes your body warm and brings tears.

Thank you God.  Thank you Jesus.  That you Leo for giving me that moment.  I had no video camera or photograph to document the moment.  But it was so amazing, it will not be forgotten.  Nor will the reminder that I need to slow down and simply enjoy…in the moment.


September 3, 2011

I never considered myself a vain person.  Of course I take pride in my appearance, but I’m not shy about dashing to the grocery store with bed head and an old pair of sweats (that I might just have slept in the night before).  And I don’t spend hours in front of the mirror.  I consider it a good day when I’m showered, dressed, hair/makeup done and out the door in twenty minutes.

So, why did I subject myself to 15 minutes of discomfort and a black and blue swollen face to improve my appearance?  Yesterday I had my “first” cosmetic procedure.  As I now look at the frightful sight in the mirror, I wonder if it will be worth it?  My procedure (laser) was to remove the cluster of tiny veins in my face caused by rosacea.  Was this life threatening or would it diminish my earning potential?  No.  It’s simply a reaction to years of people asking me “are you feeling ok, you’re flushed,” or “boy, you sure got some sun over the weekend” (generally in the dead of winter).

Yes, I have succumbed to the pressure to look like a 20 something 41 year-old.  The price tag and temporary consequences had me postponing this procedure for months.  The tipping point came as I was reading a recent People Magazine where they reviewed female (note: not male) celebrities and analyzed their appearance through the decades.  According to someone at People, Demi, Jennifer, Courtney and Halle all look better in their 40’s or 50’s than they did in their 20’s.  I just knew if I kept this month’s appointment I was bound to look better too.

Alas, it seems I’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out.  Right now I look like a chipmunk with her cheeks stuffed full of nuts.  When I tried to apply my mascara this morning my bottom lashes were resting on the top of my cheeks.  And then there’s the constant sensation that someone is right next to me…oh yeah, that’s the side of my cheek in my peripheral vision.  Not only are my cheeks swollen, they’re bruised.  It’s not just a large bruise where I can pretend someone knocked me out over the latest holiday toy craze at Toys ‘R Us.  These are about a hundred purple dots all over my cheeks from where the laser fired.  It looks like I’ve taken my son’s purple magic marker and given myself a bunch of really bad freckles.

So, my vein problem has rendered me vain.  Though I’ll never look like Jennifer or Demi, I’ll be thrilled to have my face back.  And next time I’ll take time to appreciate all my (many) flaws before jumping on the cosmetic bandwagon.


September 3, 2011

Without question, Christmastime is filled with more “tradition” than any other time of year.  Traditions we formed as children that we’ve carried into our own families.  Or traditions we began with our children.  We become so tied to these traditions it hardly seems like Christmas without them.

Traditions generally cultivate fond memories, bring joy and Kodak moments.  Sometimes they warm us with memories of family or friends no longer with us.  As mothers, we become rather protective of our traditions.

This year my extended family is celebrating Christmas together.  What an amazing opportunity to have all 16 of us together on the actual holiday.  For months, we’ve been talking about how great it will be to see the excitement reverberate between the kids.  We’ve been planning meals, games and even decided to see which of us could make the best Christmas cocktail.

Then, a week before we started getting down to the brass tax.  And a few innocent texts later, we had hurt feelings and knee-jerk reactions threatening to halt our holiday jubilation.   The tradition in question…when do we open Christmas presents.  With our blending of traditions and families, we had some with older kids who preferred to open gifts Christmas eve.  Me, on the other had am at the beginning of a few good years (I hope) of “the magic of Santa.”  And I didn’t want to give up my tradition of opening presents Christmas morning and the experience my son would have.

Yes, it’s important for Leo (and me) to celebrate Santa and experience that magic.  But does it really need to be on Christmas morning?  Why was my first reaction to be so protective of my tradition?  Why were we all so protective of our respective traditions?  Isn’t the point that we will be together.  And aren’t we gathered to celebrate Christ’s birth, not just open presents?

With a few deep breaths and time, I was able to think out-of-the-box and offer alternatives with the family.  We still decided to open Christmas morning…but it made me think.  Yes, traditions are important.  But I think it’s time I enjoy a new Christmas tradition.  Flexibility.  And with that, I might even be able to suspend some of those traditions that cause me more stress than enjoyment.

Merry Christmas!