Archive | February, 2012

A Leap Year Sort of Post

I went back and looked at what I did for the last leap year and you know what? I did very little. For our last leap year, we had discovered an under-flooring leak in our rental house, which meant there was mold growing there as well, which means we were temporarily evicted. And while that happened, I had a flat tire. It was a bad day in general.

But this post is not like that! Because I realized that I had good news to share about February, and all of it has to do with my ACCOMPLISHING SOME GOALS. That happens about as frequently as leap year!

SO LET’S CELEBRATE, YOU WANNA?

I went a WHOLE MONTH without doing “work” laundry because I saw that Jessica was doing a campaign that she called “Wear Yo Shit” and I LOVED THE IDEA. Um, I don’t think her campaign went so far as to avoid laundry, but if I wash my clothes and put them away, I cannot remember if I wore them or not. So this way, I wore COMPLETELY new outfits to work for 28 days straight. Also? I realized that I have a lot of clothes I will NEVER wear. So I plan to do a big purge before I do this laundry and start over for March. (For the record, she looked SO MUCH CUTER than I ever did during this campaign. My plan is to do this for another month/season and then I can start looking as cute as she does.)(Also for the record, things that DID get washed: denim, pajamas, unmentionables, workout gear. Cause .. eww.)

I really never mentioned this because .. I feel like I am the queen of starting and never finishing. And I thought if I never mentioned it and I failed? No harm done and I wouldn’t have to write one of those all-t0o-frequent “Look at how I sucked THIS time” posts. But .. I did this! It’s called Fab Ab February, and I did it! I did it all! Like, I did ONE HUNDRED SIT-UPS this morning and TWENTY FIVE PUSHUPS. Admittedly, I sometimes did my rest day on Saturday because I have long runs that day, and it made more sense to do my ab stuff on Sunday. Also, full disclosure: I didn’t do the plank after the second week because it made my bad knee HURT. I think I got up to a 45 second plank before I was worried about injuring that knee again. BUT STILL. I don’t have a six pack or anything, but I can DEFINITELY tell a difference in my waistline. I plan to devise my own schedule for March and keep up with it.

(Full Disclosure: That’s not me in that picture.) I started the No Boundaries Running Program in early February and was terrified to go. Like, sweaty-palms-nervous. Debated not going at all. I thought for sure that I would regret spending that money because I’d suck and be mortified and I’d never go again.

Not only have I gone every week, I’ve gotten up early on Saturdays to do a VOLUNTARY LONG RUN. Let me say that again, in italics: I’ve gotten up early every Saturday to do a long run. Ideally, we’re supposed to get three runs in every week, but with Bryan heavily involved in a school show right now, it’s not feasible for me. But I’ve run twice every week. EVERY WEEK. And? AND? I love it. LOVE IT.

The difference is the people. Running with people – which was a huge fear of mine initially – is now WHY I go. No Boundaries has great coaches and mentors there with you every step of the way. And it’s FUN. They’re teaching me the right way to run. I’m learning that everyone has a second wind, but you have to keep going past your first wind to get there. It’s .. it’s just awesome. I love it.

SO. All in all, February has been kind of a banner month for me. I’m really proud of myself for sticking with things for 29 days. Most likely, if it had been the full 30, I would’ve failed miserably. But now I’ve got a good foundation to keep me going for the next month. And if I keep adding a goal every month?

BY CHRISTMAS, I SHALL RULE ALL THAT THE LIGHT TOUCHES.

 

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Please Just Lie Smarter.

I firmly believe this is one of those posts that will make all of you other parents feel so much better about the job you’re doing.

You know, I typed that and then I struggled to think about reading something similar to that thought. I read a LOT of “mommyblogs” – I’m so sorry for typing that – but I very rarely read a post where I just blatantly disagree with some of the points posted there. I did read one yesterday, and it kind of had to do with this same topic.

Okay, if I was aiming to write vague and unrelated paragraphs for this post, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Anyway. So. This is Jack.

I think y’all have met.

Jack is now eleven and it’s been a hard year. That’s an understatement. Since Jack is my stepson, I really don’t delve into his stuff here – I kind of feel like it’s someone else’s story to tell, you know? But, in short, it’s been a difficult year.

And cue the caveats: Jack is a GREAT kid. As you can see, he is Opie incarnate. He’s got a heart bigger ‘n Texas, as we say, and a wild imagination. He is an amazing big brother, and Tony adores him. Also? Jack is smart as a whip. He’s got his father’s gift for trivia and he loves to read and he would sit in front of the History channel all day if we let him.

All of these things add up to WHY the transition to middle school has been so frustrating.

A large issue we’ve been having is that Jack is in the phase of growing up where lying seems like a viable option. We noticed it when he was in elementary school, if we were honest with ourselves. He would come home and spin wonderous stories about ninja-like feats performed in dodgeball. Of course they were SO outlandish that we knew they weren’t true – dude, you trip while walking, so don’t try and convince me you expertly performed parkour – but we listened and cheered him on. (I don’t know if I count this as a mistake. At the time, we were encouraging him to talk about his school day, and we were happy to hear ANYTHING about his day.)

But since then, the lies have gotten more devious, but just as unbelievable. To the point that his dad and I pretty much discredit anything that leaves his mouth. And I totally get that it’s a phase – Bryan and I both discussed that we did the same thing, in a way – but he is KILLING OUR SOULS WITH THE LYING.

Mostly it’s homework based now. “The teacher didn’t give us any.” So Bryan instituted the homework notebook, which required him to have a teacher sign off, every day, what the homework assignment was. “Oh, they told me they didn’t have time to sign it today.” So Bryan started talking with the teachers directly. “I left it in my locker.” or “I can’t find it.” or “I let a friend borrow it.” Lies, lies, lies. All lies, all the time.

THESE ARE ALL STUPID LIES. I CANNOT DEAL WITH STUPID LIES.

And so we sat Jack down and told him this. We told him that lying is wrong. Fundamentally, black and white, WRONG. Don’t do it.

.. but if you’re going to do it, can you please be SMARTER about it?

(If you’ve been reading along, waiting for the Audience Superiority portion of this post, NOW’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE!)

After discussing it between ourselves, we’ve decided that our job as parents is to prepare our children for the world at large. And .. maybe .. maybe the world at large is not such an honest place, you know? So we’ve decided that our job for middle and high school is to teach our kids how to work the system.

(Wooooboy, I just saw some heads spin on that one.)

I think of it like this. All through middle and high school, I had teachers that made us turn in assignments the hard way. Right? We all had those teachers. And it’s good to have those basics learned. You NEED basics. You need study habits and organizational skills and time management and all that. But beyond that? I distinctly remember my high school senior AP English teacher showing us how to do a research paper .. the smart way. It wasn’t exactly cheating, but it was being more efficient. It meant cutting some corners, but figuring out which corners were safest to cut. It meant learning how to manage your time SMARTLY.

So we’re kind of steering Jack in that direction, be it right or wrong. Look, we can’t STOP him from lying. We CAN encourage him to fix the lie before he gets caught. Lie about homework being assigned? Fine, but STILL DO IT AND TURN IT IN. Otherwise, we get a progress report that has Ds all over it because you DIDN’T FINISH THE LIE OUT. Lie about a teacher making you stand in a corner for two hours for talking just because you were bored at the grocery store? Fine, but MAYBE DON’T MAKE IT A CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OFFENSE. TEACHERS GET FIRED FOR THAT.

Just .. be .. smarter. That’s all we’re asking here.

And while I’m totally open to suggestions from y’all about how to work through this, I’m inclined to remind everyone that .. um .. my personal reach on this problem is severely limited. And we’ve already encountered several obstacles that have made me want to pull my hair out. So there’s that, as vague and open-ended as that is.

He’s just such an awesome kid. We’d like to let him live to see twelve.

(Jack decided he wanted to have dinner undercover on Saturday night. I couldn’t say no, seeing as how we have a framed picture of Batman visiting Santa in our house. I was amazed that he kept this persona all night – he called it The Lorax’s Evening Look.)

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Credit Where Credit is Due

I can’t remember whether I’ve talked at length about them or not, but this is about to be my love letter to Express Oil Change. Prepare yourselves.

I’ve always been .. I don’t know, a car girl? Like, I like cars. I don’t know a whole lot about them – I can’t change my own oil or anything – but I like cars. I like figuring out how they tick and I dated a street racer for a long time in my youth and so I’ve always kind of .. I don’t know. LET’S JUST SAY I’M A CAR GIRL SO I CAN MOVE ON.

As such, I’ve done a fair share of car shopping and car repair in my time. And I’ve come to dread it.

One time, I stopped in at a car dealership (that is no longer in business –  SURPRISE!) to look at a very specific model of car. I was 22 or so, single-ish, and a guy met me when I got out of my Mustang. He did the basic 20 questions that any salesman does, and I specifically said, “I’d like to look at a gas-efficient four door.”

And he led me to a station wagon. Which, technically, has four doors .. but it was just me. No significant other to cart around, just me and Mabel, my dog. And he said, “But you’ll need room for a stroller.”

…?

I said, “I’m not married. I have no children.”

And he said, “But you will!”

…!

I still get angry about that.

I also had – while shopping for said Mustang – a guy turn me away from a 5-speed because I’d “need a free hand for applying lipstick”.

So .. as much as I hate it, I know that stuff like that still happens. Even today.

There is an Express Oil Change down the street from my parent’s house, which is also incredibly convenient to my office. I started going there with the Mustang, mostly because I was too lazy to get out of the car. But when I bought my (piece of CRAP) Suzuki Forenza, my loyalty to the shop was forever cemented.

I can’t tell you how often I’d have some issue come up and not only would they perform diagnostics (often for free), they would also teach me how to fix it myself. When I had an a/c line clog and leak water into my cabin? They showed me how to clear the line. FOR FREE. When I learned that the model of car had a systemically bad throttle-body? They showed me how to get a cheap maintenance procedure done that would temporarily fix the problem.

My husband often huffs that I’ll drive to this one shop for repairs – even though it’s 45 minutes away from our house – but this week is a perfect example of why. Plagued with a squeaky turn-radius AND a check engine light, they performed the diagnostics, a smoke test (to test for evaporation issues, which is what spawned the check engine light), and gave me several options on how the squeak might be fixed. They ended up comping the smoke test altogether when we learned it was a faulty gas cap.

Y’all, I cannot put into words how nice it is to have MEN in an AUTOSHOP treat me like an intelligent human being. Sure, I don’t know the ins and outs of car repair, but I know enough about cars to understand them. And I never, ever feel like I’m being taken advantage of or being swindled. In fact, I often feel incredibly lucky to know they’re there.

To Bear, Brandon, Casey, Corey, and Jody – y’all are an amazing team, and I swear I tell everyone on earth about your store. Keep up the good work!

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One and Done?

Gah. I feel like I write this post about three times a year.

First of all – I  feel the need to caveat all of this. Yes, there are TWO boys that live in my house. Bryan has TWO sons. Of COURSE we count both of them. But for the sake of my ovaries, I count the number of children I pushed out of my birth canal. So. That.

I am of these two very distinct minds when it comes to our family.

1) The Practical Mind

Okay, people who tell you to NOT consider financial aspects or real estate aspects or whatever aspects of your life when you debate having a baby are crazy, in my book. If we were all unemployed in mountains of debt? I would feel irresponsible having another baby. THAT’S JUST ME. But we’re  not unemployed. And we’re not under mountains of debt. We’re actually .. good, even. We can even see the end of Preschool Payments.

We live (rather tightly) in a three bedroom house. Every child has their own room. We could STAND a bigger house as it is now; having another baby would necessitate moving. Couple that with “new” car purchases in the last year that lock us into a two-kid capacity, and we’re suddenly car shopping as well. Also throw in my AWFUL and UNBEARABLE breastfeeding situation in the last round, and we’d also be back in Formula Land. (Which? Look, I would happily do again. Breast is best, but happy baby and happy momma are ACTUALLY best.) And we’d just be lining up ANOTHER preschool payment.

So another baby? Would necessitate: a new house, two new cars, a new daycare payment, and all the requisite baby stuff that we’d literally have to buy because we got rid of all of Tony’s stuff.

This is not practical.

2) My Heart

I liken it to finding your strength through exercise. The more you realize your body can accommodate, the more you want to challenge it. You’re always striving to better your time on that lap, or best your weight for the next rep. Having a baby stretched my heart so incredibly much, I wonder how much more it can accommodate.

I think Tony would be an amazing big brother.

I don’t feel done yet.

Deep down in my heart, I want another baby.

****

So there we are. Or I am.

And because we are practical people, that’s where we are. Hearts be damned.

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Tony’s Sister and Her Adventures

When I was pregnant, I thought I’d read up on all of the awful worrisome things I’d have to fret over when my child was a toddler. Yes, it would make sense that I would read about infant issues, but I didn’t. I thought I’d skip ahead.

I’ve always been a read-the-last-page-first kind of gal, much to the chagrin of .. no one, really.

Anyway, one of my favorite topics because it made no sense to me whatsoever was how people worried SO MUCH about their kids having imaginary friends. They worried about the social ramifications, the emotional ramifications, and just a whole bunch of gobbledegook that often led questions about the need for therapy.

I kid you not.

Well, here we are, in reality about five years later, and you know what? I FIND IT SO CHARMING.

Around six months ago, Tony began telling us about his sister. Which, admittedly, bothered me initially. I would love LOVE love another baby, but .. we’re just not there. I’m having to (unwillingly) give up on that. Anyway, the stories he began to tell us got more and more detailed and I LOVE THEM.

Here are some details about his sister.

  • Her name is Beekey. I’m not sure how it’s spelled, because he spells it L-L-I-L-E, but it’s pronounced as if you were trying to come up with an affectionate term of endearment for Beaker on the Muppets.
  • She lives in a castle far away, which he has often pointed out to me as we drive home from school. (It is, at best, a three bedroom ranch house from the outside, but maybe the inside is roomier.)
  • She plays basketball in the league that Jack plays in, because she is ALWAYS playing in the girls’ game before Jack’s. The number on her jersey usually contains a 4. She is REALLY good, but she doesn’t always win the game, because sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t.
  • She goes to school at night, which is why we never see her there. She likes school at night better because she likes stars.
  • She is anywhere between five and seven years of age. It’s hard to keep up with, because she has about two birthdays a week.
  • She loves salad. She also loves lettuce. She really likes lettuce IN her salad, too.
  • She likes beans, which is good, because Tony doesn’t. He often wants to save his beans for Beekey.
  • She is really good at Mario Kart and she also has a Buzz Lightyear suit. As such, Tony often bemoans that he can’t visit her more often.

It really is ridiculous how much I love hearing these stories. We’ll often prompt him when he’s nearing a meltdown or getting upset about something to tell us about Beekey’s day, and I love watching him glance upward and he spins a yarn about what Beekey might have been up to.

This kid, man. He may look nothing like me, but he has a talent for the tale just like his momma.

Comments { 14 }