Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy New Year

The trouble with New Year's resolutions is that there is too much I want to do. Too many areas for improvement. I want to take better care of my health, save money, be a better housewife, a better Christian, a better mom. I need to spend more time writing, more time reading, more time cleaning, more time exercising - and yet there aren't any more hours in the day. My biggest task is trying to decide how to make some resolutions that are both realistic and doable. So here are my biggest areas for improvement and some free thinking about how I might achieve change while still maintaining some level of sanity:

  • My personal time. I want to spend more time in personal devotion, prayer, and Scripture. I want to set aside a chunk of time every day for silent meditation, prayer, and reading. Now the only time there is silence in my house is when I first get up. 5:00am is when I have some time all to myself - but I'm usually on facebook. I think I'll need to make a facebook-cutting resolution in order to achieve half of my resolutions.
  • My health. I need to be much more aware of my body and it's needs. I turned 38 last week and I am reminded of how close to 40 that is. And I keep hearing and reading about how once you hit 40 everything is that much harder. I hear the metaphorical clock ticking... two more years to get myself in shape... two more years to lose the weight, gain the muscle, lower the BMI... I'm not an idiot - intellectually I know how it's done. I know I need to cut back calories, get more exercise, eat more fiber, drink more water, avoid trans fats, more veggies, less fried foods. I know I need to get more aerobic exercise and I know not to neglect the weight training. Sometimes I feel like my whole body is just falling apart - my physical therapy isn't working anymore so my arthritis is coming back in leaps and bounds. And I know carrying this extra weight is not helping me. I have this new, strange pain in my hip - sudden and piercing it comes randomly and stops me in my tracks. And I know it's a combination of getting older and carrying way more weight than my hip joints can handle. And I'm not morbidly obese or anything - how do those people who have 100 pounds to lose feel? How do they walk around and not feel pain? In my mind I can visualize being slender again, limber and graceful, feeling lots of energy and being happy with how I look. So somewhere in here is a resolution. But how to make it manageable... that will be another post altogether.
  • My house. Ugh - my house. I am a terrible, terrible housewife. My house is cluttered and unkempt and I spend way too much time looking for things that have been lost amidst the chaos. Now a good place to start is my good friend's blog, Organizational Management for Moms. She's a full time stay-at-home mom and I am in awe at her skills. One of her posts on that blog was about a cleaning calendar that you can get to keep your house clean by telling you what to clean every day. I'm planning on downloading the calendar to see how I like it. I'll let you know how that goes. My thoughts for this resolution is something like "I will spend an extra thirty minutes every night cleaning the house." That might be doable.

Think I have enough work to do? Sigh. It's a lot, right? And it shows how unsatisfied I am with myself, which may be another post altogether. But 2010 is a whole new year - a clean, fresh slate. A slate on which I can write my own changes. And with God's help, maybe I can make some good changes and be that much happier with who I am. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Brief Health Scare

I haven't written blogs for a while. I just haven't had the energy to address my brief little health scare that came on with no warning and consumed half my life. It all started when I was reading a magazine one morning...

I read an article about a woman who, while drinking a glass of wine one night, discovered that she had intense pain in her lymph nodes. 'Hey,' I thought, 'That's just like me!' You see, I, too, experience pain in my jaw and neck lymph nodes when I drink alcohol. I don't drink very often, so it really was not a big concern for me. But here's this article, and I figured I would keep reading and find out why I would have this pain. Turns out this woman discovered that pain in the lymph nodes when you drink alcohol is a symptom quite specific to Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Wow. Interesting. 'Okay,' I thought, my heart racing, 'Surely there are other reasons for this. Surely I'm not walking around completely healthy except for some lymphoma!' So I googled it. And I got a million sites that talked about lymphoma. So I re-googled. And googled again. I phrased it in all different ways: "pain in neck with beer," "lymph nodes hurt wine," "alcohol and lymph nodes," and so on. And each and every time my computer popped up a screen with a long list of lymphoma sites. Ugh. And so began the doctor visits.

I went to one doctor who didn't even feel all of my lymph nodes or run the one blood test that might indicate lymphoma (sed rate). He just told me to come back if I felt any lumps. I talked to a nurse friend of mine who set me up with her best friend, who happens to be a wonderful internist. I had a complete physical, an abdominal ultrasound, a round of x-rays, and one more round of blood work. All of this to tell me I have absolutely no signs of cancer! Whew! Excellent!! But meanwhile, in the month it took me to have all these tests, I faced the very scary thought of cancer. On the one hand, Hodgkin's Lymphoma (HL) has one of the highest cure rates of any cancer. Caught early it has something like a 95% survival rate. On the other hand, someone has to fall into that other 5%, right? I thought about going through chemo, radiation, biopsies, and such. I thought about telling my kids, who already lost an uncle to lymphoma a few years ago. My husband was scared, I was scared - we knew the chances of me having it were slim, but still - every time I googled, I came up with HL, HL, and more HL. When the results came in that everything looked normal, the whole family took a collective sigh of relief.

I am so thrilled to know that I don't have it! I still don't know why I have the pain when I drink, but since I'm not a big drinker, I'm not that worried about it. And now I've got the heads up - I check my lymph nodes in the shower at least once a week. The doctor suggested I do it every month when I do my breast exam, but I'm still too paranoid to wait a full month - I can't help but check myself. So, I know that I will know immediately if there are any changes in my lymph nodes. And, I also have 2 complete sets of blood work so if I do need more blood work in the future, I will have something for comparison. Again, HL has a wonderful outlook when you catch it early, so I'm comforted to know that if I do get it, it will be an early prognosis. And hopefully I'll die when I'm 100 years old, having never had HL, and I'll probably die with one hand on my lymph nodes, living forever in paranoia! And that's okay. Sometimes a little bit of worry is a good thing.

In the meantime, all this stress has soured my stomach a bit and I've lost 8 pounds! Woo hoo!! I'm hoping to keep it off, and with the cooler fall weather, I plan on resuming my walking/running again. Here's to getting fit before the holidays hit!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

America, America, God Shed His Grace on Thee

Where has true patriotism gone? I am on facebook quite a bit, and am getting discouraged at all of the snide and negative comments about our country and it's politicians. I love being American. I love the freedom that comes with that honor. I love the fact that if I disagree with a politician or a policy that I can voice my opinion, cast my vote, start a grass roots movement - or anything else I decide I'd like to do. I am not trying to take away anybody's right to free speech. I just miss the days when once the election was over, you were respectful of the President. Agree or disagree, people were respectful. I miss the days when soldiers held the awe of children who saw them. I miss when everyone took their hats off when soldiers marched by, when you put your hand over your heart when the National Anthem came on. And when the opening notes started to play, nobody was texting or chatting or answering calls. Nobody was laughing or jeering Congress. Nobody did anything except put their hands over their hearts and tried to swallow that lump in their throat.

I wish everyone felt as passionately about their country as they do about their cell phones. I wish as many people voted for Congress as voted for American Idol. I wish God and country meant as much today as it did 100 years ago. My grandparents taught me a lot about patriotism. My parents taught me a lot about being outspoken for your views, and staying politically active. I hope I can pass all of that and more along to my kids.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
And to the republic, for which it stands,
One nation, Under God,
With liberty, and justice for all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coupons, coupons, and more coupons!!

Almost every single one of my Alabama friends can be found clutching coupons these days. Why? The Bargain Buggy has started the craze, and it's paying off BIG TIME. I must admit, I'm not an avid couponer. When I was in college I was - my roommate and I would collect coupons from every friend and family member we could find, sometimes even grabbing them out of the recycling bins. Back then the Super Big Y had double coupons every Tuesday, and triple coupons every so often, too. We would make our lists, scan the ads, use the coupons, and boy, did it ever help out our grocery bill! Of course, back then we spent any saved money on beer. But that's a blog for another day...

These days, with children and a household to run, coupons are even more precious. And yet, I'm skeptical. Couponing is, after all, time consuming. I need to make the decision - is the money I save worth the time I spend? Is it worth the gas to drive to Publix in Fairhope? Worth the extra hour on the road to get there? Given some of my friends' results, I'm thinking yes. JS spent $85.00 at Publix yesterday, saving $125.00! Her list of groceries purchased is amazing - my jaw almost hit the floor! And ES regularly shows me her receipts with savings galore. Don't believe me? Click here to check out The Bargain Buggy for yourself - you'll be excited to start couponing, too! For those of you who cannot come to the Fairhope Publix because you live too far away, I would encourage you to call your local Publix and ask about their coupon policies - it's worth a bit of a drive to save 75% off your grocery bill, don't you think?

Alright, time to stop writing - I need to go to the store to buy a Sunday paper!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday Morning Mayhem

Friday morning was worse than any Monday by a long shot. Looking back now, it's pretty comical, which is why I'm writing it down for your amusement. I should explain that Monday through Thursday I am at work at 6:50am and the C-man takes the kids to school. My work is done once I get the kids out of bed, get them started on their breakfast and give them the usual reminders we moms don't trust the dads to remember: "Brush your teeth! Your backpack is right here, snack in the front pocket!" My husband is not an idiot, so I don't really know why I feel the need to give the same reminders every day, but let's face it - moms and dads have different priorities, so I need to make sure the kids get to school relatively clean and orderly. And so it goes throughout the week. Until Friday.

Friday is my morning of bliss. I get to sleep a bit later, get to drop the kids off at school - a task I really do enjoy - and arrive at work a bit later, feeling rested and ready for a busy day. Wait a minute, am I dreaming? That's how Fridays are supposed to go. They don't always. A few Fridays ago I had gone into the living room in the middle of the night so I could get some sleep. The C-man is not a fun person to share the bed with - he tosses and turns and even kicks his legs up and down on the mattress like he's running a marathon. All while sleeping peacefully. So I choose the couch. But I digress... This Friday several weeks ago C-man decides to get up early - about 5:30 - which never happens. He came into the living room and woke me up to ask if I were oversleeping. Very considerate of him. Really. I quite politely ask him to remember that Friday is my one day to sleep in. He apologizes and moves into the kitchen. Our kitchen and living room are only separated by a half-wall, so it's all open. He proceeds to grind coffee. And grind it, and grind it, and grind it. Whrrrrrr, whrrrr... Whrrrrr! Whrrrrr!!


Every time I thought he was done he would do it again. I honestly thought, 'If I cram it up his behind will it keep whirring??? At least it would be muffled...' He got a good wifely evil glare and I moved into the bedroom, where it was impossible for me to go back to sleep due to my seething. We had a little talk about my Friday mornings, and I had a run of about three Fridays that were wonderful. Then, a few days ago, my Friday bliss broke down altogether.....

Things were going so well that morning - I got up at 5:45, which is a bit late for me. I took HRV's school folder out and took out yesterday's papers. That's when I found her homework. The homework she told me she didn't have. I woke her up and gave her a few minutes to get up and get going. When I presented her with her homework, she commenced to pitching the fit. Wailing and moaning, flailing her arms, throwing her body on the floor - all over three minutes worth of homework. I was very patient and kind - after all, it was Friday! My good day! - until her flailing arms caused me to get stabbed with her sharp pencil. Oooo, that hurt! At this point I was steaming mad and tired of the fit. I finally got her to finish the work and get dressed. I barely got them out the door on time, but no worries - I saved a good 5 minutes by throwing a couple of muffins at them and telling them to eat in the car. I'm so smart!!

Off to school we go, arriving first at the elementary school. HRV hops out and the principal and teachers wave hello. Kisses and hugs and promises to bring home a "G" for the day, and WMV gets out to climb into the front seat. That's when I saw it.

W. had sat on his muffin.

His chocolate muffin - yes, that's right, chocolate - muffin had been squashed and smeared all over the butt of his khaki shorts. "W!!! You sat in chocolate!!!" I shrieked. Behind me I could here the teachers laugh - they all have kids, too. Now I'm losing my mind. "Get in the car!" I cry. We pull away and W. is saying, "I'm sorry, Mom, I'm sorry!" and I'm ranting and raving, "How did this even happen? How do you get half a muffin underneath your bottom while you're strapped in and sitting down??? How? HOW???" Now he's almost crying. "I don't know, Mom, I'm sorry!" I'm trying to calm down, but it's very, very difficult. We're racing back toward the house and I'm trying to figure out what to do. You see, WMV only had one pair of clean uniform shorts. Why would he need another? It's Friday! I explain his options: a clean pair that's a bit too small or a dirty pair that fits just right. He opts for the small pair, followed by a tangle of shorts and shoes and I'm snatching the shorts off of him with a bottle of Spray 'n Wash in my hand. I'm begging him to hurry, and evaluating the shorts - are they too small to wear? He assures me they're fine, so we sprint back to the car. It's now 7:31 and I'm due at work at 7:30. *Sigh*

Okay, so I'm late. I'm the boss, so who's going to yell at me, right? But I have this thing about being late - it's almost OCD in it's intensity for me. Nothing stresses me out more than being late. I worked one job for 8 years and was only late ONCE. I still remember that day... I'm digressing again...

I finally arrive at the middle school and drop off the boy. I smile and tell him it's all okay, I love him and I know accidents happen. I am successfully squashing the urge to push him out of the car and mow down the car rider traffic director in my attempt to get to work. I'm already late - adding a felony will do nothing to improve the situation. At long last I pull away and am headed to work.

That's when the gas light came on. I'm looking forward to Monday morning. I'm not sure my nerves can take another Friday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Push Ups

I've started doing push ups. I used to do 50 of them every morning, and man, did I ever have some beautiful arms! Very defined, but not overly muscular, slender, tan - I loved my arms. I used to even have people comment on my wonderful, strong arms. Now... not so much. The fabulous is now flabulous - my arms are jiggly and saggy and, well, just plain yuk. But all that is changing.

With the help of my children, I am keeping track of my progress by using a sticker chart. I really don't need the stickers, but my kids love them they are reminding me every morning to do my push ups. I can't let them down, so dutifully I drop to the floor and do my allotted amount. I started with 15. After the first day, my entire rib cage area felt like I had been beaten with a bat. I've been doing some crunches, too, and my lower stomach was BURNING!! But I felt good - not hurting, just pleasantly sore. This morning I upped it to 18. Now that almost killed me, but I persevered and did them. By next week I'm hoping to be up to 20.

What surprised me is how inadequate I felt. "Only 15 push ups!" I moaned on Monday. "I'm pathetic!" My friend TT answered "MAN push ups???" Now I have lived in the south for 11 years now, but I am by no means a southern belle. My feminist side growled like a bear when I heard her say "Man push ups." I mean, really - push ups are only done one way, or they're not push ups. And women can do them just as well as a man. So yes, TT, I did MAN push ups. She assured me there was no way she could do even 10 - maybe not even 10"girl" push ups (I'm growling again!). Other people - even one of my guy friends!! - said they couldn't do 10. So I started feeling better about the 15. But when I write it - 18 push ups - it sounds so weenie. But I'm working hard and doing my best, and as long as that is true, I am happy. Maybe 6 months from now when my arms are remarkable again I'll post a picture!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Well-Intentioned Saboteur

Warnings are often given to the dieter: watch out for those who will try to sabotage your diet! I always thought that was a bit silly - who would deliberately try to screw up a good, healthy thing? Then I realized - it's not deliberate, but it is sabotage for sure.

My husband is a sweet, wonderful, kind, and considerate man (okay, okay, it's the same guy in a previous post I threatened to rip his head off and shove flowers down his neck. That was a bad day...). Seriously, despite a few faults - and don't we all have a faults? - the C-man is a terrific husband. He often does nice things for me, which I love and appreciate. But sometimes... those nice little gestures are sabotage city!

Yesterday I was in the shower getting ready for church, thinking about the fellowship dinner that would follow the service. I was making plans to skip the 50 different pasta and potato salads and go right for the green salads. I came out of the shower and smelled it. Bacon. Oh my. But it's okay, the kids can have some bacon and I'll shut the bedroom door and get dressed. A good plan, eh? Too bad my husband greeted me with my very own plate of bacon and a fried egg along with buttered toast. Sigh. See, here it is - the sabotage. And yet, unintentional. So sweet, so kind and thoughtful, and yet... gulp... oh the fat and calories! But I ate it. I ate every bite. I know, I know, I've read the articles that say, "Tell your husband, 'Thank you, sweetie, I really appreciate your kindness, but I am going to stick to my diet and pass on this plate of food!'" Clearly this article was written by a single woman who keeps wondering why she's not married. I could have said something along those lines - I could have hurt C-man's feelings, felt guilty about it, then eaten twice as much as the guilt overcame me causing me to go an emotional roller coaster of an eating binge. Well, maybe it wouldn't have been that dramatic! But you see where I am going with this - when the C-man goes out of his way to do something nice for me, I respond by being gracious and accepting because I love him.

So where did I go wrong? I could have done a few things differently and still been gracious and kind. I could have eaten half of everything. I could have eaten only the egg then shared the bacon with the children - they would have loved it! And yes, I could have been mature and honest and told C-man that the plate of food he had just cooked was doing nothing for my self-control so please take it away! But again, I just can't help but show appreciation when he does something nice for me. Spineless? You betcha. Happily married? Oh, yeah.

So what can you do when that well-intentioned saboteur crosses your path? Try to identify the problem before it arrives - C-man hardly ever gets up before I do and therefore hardly ever cooks breakfast for me, so this caught be a bit unaware. But I know for next time to eat half the food, or skip the bacon - I have a plan. If your husband, mother, friend, co-worker repeatedly offers you food, dessert, drinks, etc., come up with your own plan to jump that hurdle. Handle it with humor, with grace, with a few good avoidance techniques - whatever works for you and your situation. But be as prepared as possible and when someone throws one at you unexpectedly - do your best and remember: tomorrow is another day.