I Wish I Was a Morning Person

How much easier would my life be if I was a morning person? I think I would have a clean house, better styled hair, and rockin’ abs. Of course, no one will ever know…because it will NEVER happen. I mean, never say never, but probably…yeah, never. I’ve tried…a lot. I try to get up early to work out…to get ready for work…to grade papers…to sit and be alone before my kids get up. I can usually do it for a couple of days before I decide my bed is too comfortable. I can even get up at what hubby and I refer to as “the butt-crack of dawn” if we are traveling or something, but I can’t do it for no good reason! Or, I guess the more truthful description would be that I WON’T get up.

I’ve always been this way. I can honestly say that I am more of a morning person than I was growing up. I was never (or rarely) one of those kids that got up at 6am on Saturday. I was the kid who had to be bribed to get out of bed before 10am during the summer. And you know what my grandpa had to use to get me to get up at 10am then?

Full House reruns, baby!

My semester ended today. I gave myself the day off. If live-streaming video of our university baseball team playing for the conference championship hadn’t been online, I would have taken a nap this afternoon. Aside from planning naps, I’m making lists of all the things I need to do this week while I’m not working. It struck me today that I would get a lot more done if I hit my stride before 4pm. I am definitely a night owl. That wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if we had better sleepers and if my husband was the same way. I’m always afraid if I start doing dishes and things after they go to bed that I’ll wake them up…and then where would we be?! Aside from that, evening is when I get to spend time with hubby without kids. After they go to bed is usually when we get to watch movies and have uninterrupted conversations. Hubby is actually a morning person. He only occasionally sleeps in, and he’s usually in a much better mood than I am in the morning. (He would say he’s ALWAYS in a better mood, but his children and I beg to differ.)

I really do wish I was a morning person. I have a very romantic idea of what it’s like for morning people:

Morning people get to workout before they shower instead of either showering, working out, and then showering again or showering, working out, and being dirty the rest of the day. (Or, I guess option 3 is to not shower and just workout…ew.) Morning people get to do yard work and other outdoor things in the summer before it reaches 100 degrees and 90% humidity. Morning people get to enjoy a cup of coffee with Matt Lauer before they have to be anywhere. And morning people aren’t racing to work 3 minutes before their first class starts in hopes that their computer is charged. (I don’t do that…that’s…someone I know told me a story like that.)

That’s probably not what it’s really like for morning people, but a night owl can dream.

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How Hard is Too Hard?

It started this morning while we were getting in the car to go to school: “I can’t do it!” Big Sister was trying to buckle her seat belt and she was having a hard time. She had tried for approximately 12 seconds. I said, “You sure didn’t try very hard. Do it again.” After a few more seconds (literally) of fussing with the belt, she got it. I said, “See?!” She said, “Yeah, but it wasn’t easy.” Wow…from the mouths of babes.

How hard do you push your kids when they are learning new skills?

For the last 30 minutes, I have been watching my 4-year-old battle with herself over doing a flip off the couch. I should mention that these flips are part of her gymnastics practice, not just random daredevilry. She did 3 on her own…and then bent her finger backward. The horror!!! I joke, but I also totally know what she feels like: She lost her nerve. It was very familiar. It was just more evidence that my first born is a miniature version of me in more ways than I can count.

I quit piano lessons when I found out I was going to have to do a recital. I got embarrassed (and quit) as soon as my parents let me in on the fact that they could hear me singing in the shower. I quit my church handbell choir when I couldn’t get the hang of the part I was assigned. I “ran” hurdles in track for about 2 weeks when I was in 10th grade until I got too nervous to jump them anymore.

Because of my personal experience, you would think I would be very understanding and patient with my offspring and her tentative nature. Instead, it pisses me off. I get so frustrated with her it’s all I can do to maintain my composure.

Here is the scene of the latest installment of “You are not going to be like me” Theatre:

All she had to do was flip her legs over. She does it over and over at gym. She did it several times tonight before she hurt her finger. After she hurt her finger she whined and cried and stalled and said she was scared. I got frustrated. Her dad got frustrated. And I started thinking: What are we trying to accomplish here?

We are trying to teach her “sticktuitiveness”. We didn’t yell. I tried to convince her that she had no reason to be scared. She does this all the time. I didn’t give her an option to quit. I told her she needed to do 2 more flips before she could stop. Our original goal was 10, but I thought the reduced goal would be good. She stalled some more. Did them incorrectly several times. Got the point she was in the picture and then chickened out. Then she said “I can’t do it!” Her daddy got mad. I tried really hard not to get mad. I know how people being mad at me makes me emotional rather than productive, so I figured she would feel the same way.

FINALLY, she did one right (almost). She even corrected herself when I cheered by saying “I was on my head”. Then she said the phrase that was music to my ears, “Can I do another one?!” YESSSSS! PLEASE!

She overcame her fear! She did it! Then she kicked her daddy in the shoulder…and started crying again. Oh. My. Word. Seriously?

Triumph was quickly replaced with more irritation and frustration on both sides.

How hard do you push your kids? I probably pushed her harder than some parents would. I threatened her with not going back to gym if she wouldn’t practice. But I wasn’t going to let her quit. I know for a fact that some parents would think I didn’t push her nearly hard enough; but I’ve seen where kids whose parents push them so hard that they break down end up with activities. They end up either hating them or excelling in them to please their parents. They rarely end up doing the activity because they are, themselves, fulfilled by it.

Do I want my kid to be a world-class gymnast? Not really. Do I want her to be able to throw a standing back tuck so that she can be a cheerleader as a teenager? Sure! As long as that’s what she wants too. My main goal is that she find some sort of physical activity that she enjoys doing so that she can stay active and fit. I hope it’s gymnastics. I like her gym teacher. She likes her gym teacher. My other goal is that she stick to something…even if it gets a little difficult for her. Fingers crossed.

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Fat Tuesday Part 3: Fruitful Failure

Yeah so, I didn’t reach my goal. Previous incarnations of my self would have wallowed in the failure aspect of missing my goal and promptly given up. To be fair, I have done some wallowing this time, but it has taken on a different quality:  reflection. Instead of mindlessly engaging in negative behavior, I actually thought about it. Sometimes I thought about it after the fact (like after I ate WAY more at a baseball game than any person should eat…plus a little more), but thinking about it at all is a step in the right direction! I’m also building a support network of people who are figuring out the same stuff I am (like sugar, while tasting awesome, makes you feel like crap). Now, as I’m writing this, I am experiencing the very “crap” feeling I just described. Rather than foregoing the dessert that came with the fundraiser dinner I just enjoyed, I ate the whole piece of pound cake. Yes, it was delicious, but at what cost? Every now and then, that stuff rocks, but learning to turn it down is a skill that I need to hone. On the plus side, I actually threw away a gob of frosting  earlier this week when I scraped it off of my kid’s cupcake rather than doing the easy thing and stuffing it in mouth (seriously…don’t hate me, frosting lovers).

Positive outcomes in the last 2 weeks of April: I walked every weekday (except yesterday) and tried to do some physical activity over the weekend as well; I ate more consciously. Because of those changes I had more energy, fewer afternoon headaches, and became more toned. I also lost 2 pounds…twice! (Really…the same 2 pounds, twice. Does that count as 4?) I really reflected on my choices and thought about what I could do differently.

Less-than-positive outcomes: I didn’t stick very well to my changes over the weekends, and I ate out too much. I also didn’t handle “free food” situations very well. I just ate a huge piece of pound cake even though I was already full…dammit.

This week is final exam week (AKA: “Oh crap, I should have managed my time better this semester so I wouldn’t have so much to grade now” week). Generally, I give myself a pass on pretty much everything during finals. In the past, I have rationalized it by telling myself that I can do whatever it takes to get through the week. I’m not going to do that anymore…starting tomorrow. It’s already too late for today (or yesterday), but I can start again tomorrow. To quote my favorite narcissistic heroine, Scarlett O’Hara (be sure to read this in your best Vivian Leigh, fake Southern accent): “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

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Fat Tuesday…On Wednesday

About 2 months ago, I made a sweeping declaration that I was going to get it together and finally lose my “baby weight”. It was around Fat Tuesday to be exact. Well, it went sort of ok for a couple of days after that sweeping declaration was made, but then it went downhill. I actually ended up back-tracking, feeling bad about back-tracking, and then I stopped thinking it was worth trying at all. Needless to say I have not made it to my goal dress yet…oh the dress. Wanna see it again?!

Ahhhhh. But, this was one of those stupid Pinterest posts that didn’t actually link to the dress itself, so I have no idea where to find it, who the designer is, or how many bajillion dollars it might cost, so I’m sure I’ll have to settle for another adorable dress…oh well.

Anyway, I digress. I remembered the dress [drool] and thought “I’m 31, I’m seriously not giving up on this that easily.” Last week, I made another sweeping declaration, and this time I made it internally…where it counts. Now, I’m actually 9 pounds down from where I was at the beginning of Lent, and I’m walking every day. I’m keeping my food diary religiously, and I haven’t spent a dime on workout DVD’s, gym memberships, diet food, or anything else. I’m just eating less and moving more. Novel approach, right?!

Have I had moments of weakness? Absolutely! But, I’m getting better and more in tune with where I was the last time I successfully lost this much weight. My short-term goal is to lose 11 more pounds by April 30. That is 12 days from now. I wouldn’t make this goal if I was smaller than I am now, but I feel I can safely, without starving myself or overexercising, lose weight that quickly right now. Once I hit that milestone, I’ll make another goal, but right now, I’ve got my eye on the horizon…or in my case, the mule that I pass everyday on my walk(s). Shout out, Molly Ann!

I may not hit my goal weight by the date I had originally set which was around the beginning of the Fall semester, but I could definitely be close. I will do this. That dress (or a reasonable facsimile) will be mine. It might be stupid to be motivated by something so superficial, but I say, use what works for you. I know I should be thinking about being healthier (which I am), being more comfortable (which I am), and showing a good example to my two small daughters (which I absolutely am), but the clothes are a very nice secondary motivator.

If you need an accountability partner or group, let me know! I would love to start something!

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Let’s Go Camping!

Big Sister has been begging to go camping for months. We’re not particularly outdoorsy, but we’ve been known to camp from time to time. I mean actually camp too, not drive an RV to a hook-up or sleep in a cabin. Actually set up a tent and a campfire and stay outside…on state sanctioned camp grounds (come on, we’re not animals). Well, with Spring Break this week, I decided this might be a good time to have a quickie campout (or camp-in) as a test run for what a real one might be like with two little girls. Although I have been called “prissy” in my lifetime, I’m actually pretty good at roughing it as long as I’m not in danger of someone seeing me peeing outside…I don’t handle that well. I’m worried about the girls deciding in the middle of the night that they don’t want to sleep outside when we’re an hour from home, so practice campout it is! Plus, it’s hubby’s birthday, so that will make the campout extra special…and gives us an excuse to make 2 desserts!

We borrowed a fire pit from some lovely friends, got a tent, and set out to camp in the great, just barely outdoors.

I did some pre-camp out work yesterday by making my second batch of homemade graham crackers. After making them twice now, I believe I will make some tweaks to the recipe next time. If you embark on making these graham crackers (and believe me, you should), add more flour. Increase the flour in the batch to 2 3/4 cups and some for dusting. When the recipe says dusting, I think they incorrectly use that word. To me that means it should be ready to roll out. I had to knead a significant amount of flour into the dough to make them roll out and be in a fit state to move to a cookie sheet. The crackers taste amazing, and if you add more flour and roll them out thin enough, they really taste and crack like graham crackers. If they are too thick, they are more like graham cookies…which are still delicious.

We had dogs, chips, fruit, pork ‘n’ beans, s’mores and pineapple upside down cake and were ready to rough it. The hot dogs rocked (highly recommend Oscar Mayer Selects Premium Beef Franks…so delicious), the Doritos were…Dorito-y and made for lovely color when mixed with dirt on my children’s faces, the fruit was ripe and yummy, the beans were beans, and the “Snores” were ooey, gooey, perfection. We didn’t make it to the cake, so Hubby will have some eating to do over the next few days, but I’m sure he’ll manage.

I’m just going to say it, part of the inspiration for this camp out was the graham crackers. I wanted a reason to make S’Mores with homemade graham crackers. I love a good S’More. I have definitely been known to make one with a candle lighter or, in the much more hazardous way that my husband taught me, by briefly touching the marshmallow on the stove (the electric stove that is) and lighting it on fire. I blacken my mallow. I think it’s partially out of impatience and laziness. I don’t like standing over the fire “toasting” a mallow. Just set the thing on fire…it’s so much faster and totally scrumptious. Hubby and I both had the S’Mores scene from “The Sandlot” running through our heads while we assembled ours: “First you take the graham. You stick the chocolate ON the graham. Then, you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flamin’, you stick it on the chocolate. Then, you cover it with the other end.” Ah, Sandlot, good times.

I’d say the camp out was definitely a success. The weather was great, there were very few mosquitoes (yes, we already have mosquitoes), and the outside dog didn’t drive us totally insane. Big Sister got to make “Snores”, Little Sister got to climb in and out of the tent, and Big Sister and Hubby got to sleep outside. I actually felt a little left out of the last activity, but we thought it would be too cold (mid-50’s for a low) for Little Sister to be outside all night, so I slept in the house with her. After Little Sister went to bed, I went out to check on the campers, and just like any good, 21st century camper, they were busy with camp out activity…watching Cake Boss on the iPad. I said, “You’re really roughing it, huh?” Hubby said, “Who said anything about roughing it?” Touche….

MORNING: The campers stayed all night in the tent! I was very proud of Big Sister for sticking to her plan and not making her daddy get up in the middle of the night to bring her in. She had so much fun that she asked if we could do it again tonight. The answer was no, but we can definitely do it again soon! I slept later than they did, so I didn’t get a picture of them emerging from the tent.

They did apparently have a small encounter with a wild animal who actually devoured part of our extension cord (AKA: the iPad power source):

Hubby and I tore down camp so that the “animal” didn’t eat our new tent.

This is the stuff childhood is made of…and it’s fun for adults too! When you have a 33-year-old man saying that this was a great way to spend his birthday evening, that is pretty high praise (and a pretty awesome man). We will definitely camp-in again…and might even camp-out pretty soon. To quote my baby girls’ favorite band (The Fresh Beats…of course) “What a great day!”

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Menu Monday: Spring Break Edition

By “Spring Break Edition” I mean late. I was busy enjoying a lovely botanical garden with my family yesterday. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been that consistent anyway, but I’m trying.

This week is special because we are on Spring Break…sort of. I still have to work, but I don’t have any classes, so my schedule is much looser. We’re doing some special meals that we probably wouldn’t do during a regular week because we can be up a little later and not get up quite as early in the morning.

Monday: Ate out in Hot Springs after 4 hours at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Tuesday: Homemade pizza and garlic rolls (the little girls will get to make their own personal pizzas too)

Wednesday: V8 Tomato Basil Soup (if you haven’t tried this soup, do…it rocks) and grilled cheese sandwiches (it’s supposed to rain all day)

Thursday: Backyard camp out! Hot dogs, chips, and S’Mores made with Homemade Graham Crackers

Friday: Smorgasbord (AKA: Clean out the fridge)

Saturday: Pasta with diced tomatoes

Sunday: TBD

I’m really looking forward to this week! Big Sister is particularly excited about Thursday. Let’s hope the weather holds out for us. We have a tent and everything, so we’ll see how the “Campout” goes.

 

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NYT: Violence Against Women Act divides Senate – politics – The New York Times – msnbc.com

NYT: Violence Against Women Act divides Senate – politics – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

Really?! Again?! I’m finding this less and less funny as the weeks go on. This legislation would extend the existing “Violence Against Women Act” which began as bi-partisan legislation in 1994, and expand it to include new programs for underserved populations including rural areas (like where I live) and Native American tribes (where violence prevention education is SORELY needed). The sticking points seem to be the inclusion of same-sex couples in the definition of domestic violence (because a man or woman could never beat up their same-sex partner…) and the allowance for battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas. Really? That’s the issue? So, “Conservatives” (and I put that in quotation marks as a signal for irony because I hate those blanket words and because I find it very difficult to believe that Phyllis Schlafly speaks for all who claim a conservative stance) don’t like gay people and illegal immigrants. I think that has been well-established through other bills and repeated shouts for a return to “family values”. (Notice that was in quotes too.)

I’m calling bull-sh!t on this. On what planet does it make sense NOT to give sanctuary to an immigrant, legal or illegal, who has been beaten on our soil? Does the bill say that they will automatically be given citizenship? If so, I sort of see the problem. We wouldn’t want people committing “anchor beatings”, now would we?! But, odds are, if someone who is an illegal immigrant was a victim of domestic violence so heinous that they would seek medical attention or police intervention at the risk of their status being discovered, they probably need it!

As far as “the gays” go (there are those pesky quotes again), regardless of one’s personal views on homosexuality, gay people are people who deserve the same protection as any other person. So basically, by excluding same-sex relationships from domestic violence coverage, the government (state or federal) is saying “We don’t really care if you get beaten up by your gay lover, we only care about victims of brutality when they are in normal, heterosexual violent relationships.”

When will “Conservatives” begin to understand that people are people and that being inclusive is a POSITIVE thing? How does being inclusive “dilute” the focus on domestic violence? How does protecting women from domestic violence in any way vilify “all men” and make “all women” victims? (Thanks for that, Janice Shaw Crouse. She supposedly speaks for “Concerned Women for America”. She definitely doesn’t speak for me.) How does being inclusive and protecting women “promote divorce, breakup of marriage and hatred of men”? (We have Phyllis Schlafly to thank for that. I’m sorry, Phyllis, if a woman is beaten by her husband, I think she has every right to divorce him and hate him. Of course, Phyllis doesn’t think that marital rape exists, so there’s that.) I’ve never been a victim, thank God. But the fact of the matter is, many women have been and will be. In political and economic climates like the current one, domestic violence tends to increase in frequency. Men’s power structures are being threatened, and that is often met with violence and frankly, stupidity (did you hear what Rush Limbaugh said a couple of weeks ago?!).

It really bothers me that many of the more outspoken opponents to bills like this work for organizations that have the word “Christian” or “Women” in the title. I am both, and I find this blatant attack (and believe me I don’t use that word lightly) on women’s health, rights, and well-being disgusting. If there were parts of this, or any bill that genuinely included earmarks for things that were unrelated (i.e., if you sign this you are also legalizing gay marriage), I would better understand the reticence of Republican hold-outs. But, I think if that were the case, they would shout that from the rooftops. Many Congresspeople on both sides of the aisle don’t seem to have a problem with sneaking earmarks into bills all the time, so what is it about the current Congress that is so damn stubborn and unwilling to yeild?! Apparently the Congress of 18 years ago could work together enough to pass progressive legislation protecting women from domestic violence, and they have since re-upped. Why now is this such an issue? Why is the expansion of coverage to underserved groups met with such hostility? Expanded government? Not really…the coverage group is expanded, not the government.

Come on, Republicans, wake up and grow up. This is an issue of human rights and a chance for the US to stand up to institutionalized oppression and patriarchal power structures. A chance for the US to protect the weak, no matter their sexual orientation, citizenship status, or regional residence. I know we can do it. If we are the “greatest country in the world,” let’s act like it.

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