Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The New Me (Or Who Flipped the Switch - Take 2)

I published a blog earlier today but took it down.  Why?  Because my thoughts were too scattered.  I read it a few times and thought it wasn't quite right but posted it anyway.  My husband read it and kind of said the same thing.  So I thought I'd give it another try and take it in a little bit of a different direction.  With a new title and all.

I've spent a lot of years treating myself pretty badly.  I think it becomes easy to do when your daily routine is monotonous from day to day.  Although I usually have plenty to keep myself busy, it's all always the same.  I became robotic.  Life was moving all around me but I felt like I was standing still.  Sticking out one arm to do this and the other arm to do that but not really moving.  Getting up in the morning got harder and harder.  Thank God I have Mallory and Quentin to at least keep me from sleeping until noon.  Getting me up before 8 though, not an easy task.  

My kids get ready for school on their own.  Although I'm awake to coach them through the morning timeline, I'm typically laying down passing out commands.  It doesn't help that I wasn't born a morning person either.  It's not much better when they come home from school.  I'm distracted and stressed and easily irritated.

The past few months I've been back and forth about making changes.  Yes I want to.  No I don't want to.  I don't really care either way.  Such an unhealthy way to live... not caring either way.  When I say I was treating myself badly I mean eating badly, drinking unhealthy things, not exercising, allowing the stress to overtake me and not allowing myself to be the best mother I can be.

I seriously would spend all day eating.  It's hard to talk in the past tense about this because this was like last week, but roll with it.  I would get up in the morning and grab a 16.9oz bottle of Coke.  Happy Breakfast right?  I might top that off with a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.  Then I'd snack until lunch time.  Doritos, candy, more Coke... anything that helped me feel like I was staying full.  Lunch time I usually eat a sandwich of some kind.  Bologna or ham.  Sometimes I'd eat ravioli or noodles.  Top that off with more snacking in the afternoon.  Chips and salsa, cookies, cheese... whatever.  Dinner is dinner.  It's usually not that bad.  I might have more Coke though or a beer.  Let's not forget some late night ice cream.  Yea, not the diet of champions.  Only a diet of champions if you favor being tired and moody and like watching your waist change shape before your eyes.

It's been scary watching my weight slowly increase.  I don't consider myself an overweight person, but the shape my body has become has been very unappealing to me.  I'm self conscious.  I hate the way all of my clothes fit.  I only have a few pair of jeans that I can actually squeeze into.  

So my weight and eating joined with my dialed back mothering techniques finally came to a head.  It's been gradual though.  It's like someone has been shaking me gently and whispering, "Cathy, it's time to get up.. c'mon... get up.".  I waved it away for a while but I finally realized someone was talking to me and started listening... even if only half asleep.  

Oddly enough, I think one of my main turning points was when I started rearranging my boys' bedroom.  I do things like this quite a bit on a whim but this time it was driven by more than a need for change.  My children have a difficult time keeping their room clean, as I'm sure many do.  I squawk at them to do specific things to fix it but mostly they keep it the way they want.  Which, sadly enough, is a way that makes me want to pull my hair out.  My first order of business was to pull beds out of there.  If they don't have an "under the bed", they can't hide stuff under there.  Nick, Quentin and Andrew now sleep on strategically placed mattresses in the shape of a pyramid.  (Which we will hopefully build a base for at some point in the future.)  I started to go through the things in their room to decide what they should keep and what needed to go.  I stumbled across drawings and projects and knick knacks they must have kept for good reasons.  And it made me think, "wow, I really have cool kids".  I do, they are awesome kids that are growing up into their own people.  They are talented and interesting and so super friggin' smart.  I should really start slowing down and taking the time to get to know them again.

(Here's what a pyramid of mattresses looks like in case you all were wondering.. and so you don't think I'm a psycho making my kids sleep on the floor!  They love it too.. kind of like a sleep over every night!)

That realization led to me wanting to take the time to really start listening to them and being more patient.  I have such high expectations for all of my kids.  Some of them are very reasonable and some of them are probably a little higher than other kids their age deal with.  They are not me though.  I can't force what I would expect of myself on my kids.  I can teach and guide and hope that someday they have greater expectations of themselves as adults, but as kids?  I can't keep doing this to them.  It stresses them out, it stresses me out and I just want peace.  I'm so glad they are all such wonderful kids and they respond well when I'm more interactive and patient with them.  They are the kings of bouncing back.

The next turning point was small.  I had a girls weekend at the family cabin with my sister in laws, my sister and some of their friends.  It took an argument with my sister (which I absolutely hated) to make me see that it's ok to do things the way I want to.  I should probably go about it in better ways but when I have the opportunity to escape my day to day crazy, I can choose how the story goes.  I chose to drive up the day before everyone else.  I left at about 6pm and arrived at the cabin at around 11pm. I did the drive alone... in the dark.  I hate night driving.  But I actually enjoyed it this time around.  The time to think.  The time to reflect.  The time to remember who Cathy is.  That drive was followed by an awesome weekend with an awesome group of ladies and I can't wait to have the opportunity again next year.

When I returned from the family cabin I told myself it was time.  Time to not only choose how I do things when I don't have to worry about kids, but time to choose to take care of myself the right way.  Last Thursday, I got back on My Fitness Pal and started to chart my daily foods and calories.  I set a weight loss goal of 20lbs.  I brought in a few healthier food options.  I swear, it was an almost immediate change.  I've been able to get up earlier.  I've been motivated to get more done in the house.  I've had energy.  I've been less angry about things that used to really burn me up.  I'm working harder to cut my kids some slack.  Helping them fold their laundry and even going in their room in the morning to tidy up a little bit.

I've been eating things that are better for me, like... you know... vegetables.  I'm finding that a healthier diet has a lot of versatility too.  My caffeine intake has decreased by leaps and bounds and I've started exercising.  

Today, with the help of Miss Mallory, I even baked some cookies.  The reason was two fold.  I wanted to help heat the house a bit on this chilly day by baking but I was also excited to see the boys' reactions when they saw a plate of freshly baked cookies waiting for them after school.  Andrew and Jeremiah arrived home first and they were definitely surprised.  Jeremiah even asked me, "Mom, do we have to pay for these?".  The sarcastic woman in me almost told him yes... why not bake some cookies and make a few bucks, right?  I watched each one of my kids and even my husband come home and enjoy a cookie.  They also came home to a nicely cleaned up kitchen and were fed a nice pasta salad dinner.  

After dinner, I hopped on the treadmill.  My past treadmill attempts haven't been great.  I get on for maybe 15 minutes and stop.  Today I had a goal to stay on for an hour.  I knew that was kind of a tall order, but I thought, "what the hell!".  I brought my iPad out with me to watch TV while I ran.  When I finally figured out how the treadmill was calculating my distance, I decided if I reached the 2 mile mark I'd be happy.  When I was about a mile and a half in Jeremiah and Andrew came outside.  (Oh yea, my treadmill is on the sun deck.)  They asked if they could jog along side me.  I said sure.  When I reached the 2 mile mark, I had been running for about 40 minutes.  I walked for 5 minutes on either side of that but 2 miles.... I mean, YES!!!  

I shut the treadmill down and sat down on my yoga mat to stretch.  Jeremiah and Andrew, now joined by Nicholas, grabbed chair pads to use as yoga mats.  They decided they were going to stretch with me.  They also said that we should have family exercise time every day so we can all be "buff".  All I could do was smile.  I felt so supported and I felt like my kids were connecting with me.  It just raises my level of motivation and determination to work my ass off.  

On top of this, I'm super excited that Jeremiah is going to join basketball.  I LOVE playing basketball.  I love that I can be a basketball mom.  I can't wait to support him at practices and games in the same way he's showing me support.  

Life finally feels like it's making some sense again.  It's never going to be easy.  My husband and I constantly have things trying to beat us down and knock us off our games but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can be comfortable.  I can be happy and just enjoy my life and my family.  Because good, bad or ugly... we will always be there to support each other.  This is super cheesy for me, I'm not an outwardly emotionally expressive person, but my heart is just filled with the possibilities for my future now!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Long Weekend, A Cabin and a Birthday...

I waited all summer to finally have a getaway with my husband and kids.  Why do it early when you can wait until the last weekend right before school starts, right?  In fact, we came home yesterday and  most of the kids started school today.  I wouldn't have had it any other way though.  It was a long, holiday weekend and Sunday was also my birthday.  A great way to wrap up year 33 and move into year 34!  Not to mention, I was pretty proactive and tried to have most everything done before we left so that when we came home I wouldn't have much back to school prep work to do.  If only I could teach my boys to be just as type A.... ideas?

Friday morning, we were out the door by 8:10am.  My goal was to leave at 8am, so I was pretty friggin' happy with our timing!  Frank and I left with Quentin, Mallory, Nicholas and Jeremiah in tow while Tyler and Andrew hung back at the house to ride up with Grandpa B.  I actually drove a large majority of the five hour drive, minus maybe an hour for eating a McDonald's big breakfast and a short nap.  When we got there though and walked down that pier it was so wonderful.  We set Mallory down and she was laughing and happy and everyone was immediately relaxed.

 Most of the trip was pretty dismal weather wise.  Lots of rain and chilly temps.  The kids found ways to occupy themselves with costumes and toys  while the adults occupied themselves with... well.. beer.  Just kidding.  Well... almost.  Mallory occupied her time charming the pants off of everyone!

We found what I think will be Mallory's Christmas present though, haha.  She LOVED this little toy!

Quentin learned a new game too, Grandpa B taught him how to play 'Slap Jack'!  It was fun watching him wait for the Jack to come up and say "nooooo...." in between to the cards he knew weren't the right ones.  Not to mention, it was some great Grandpa & Quentin bonding time!

By Sunday (my birthday), everyone was just itching for the sun to come out.  We all watched the weather like hawks and looked up waiting for the clouds to break up.  The kids did some kayaking and fishing and dangling their feet in the water.

The boys got to head to The Bucket to do some fishing and Tyler got to put some miles on his boat at the same time.  Tyler and Jeremiah had a little swimming race.  Which wasn't really much of a race since they could both touch the bottom.  Height defeated all.  I gave Quentin a chance to really test out his life jacket too by swinging him around in the water with out his feet on the ground.  I'm so glad he loved it!  He started shivering a bit once outside the water, but thankfully had his 'Firecan' towel to keep him warm! (Firecan is how Quentin says Spiderman.. for those not yet up to speed!)

It was warming up though and finally we all became brave enough to get in the water ourselves.  There is no photographic evidence of this (I don't think anyway) but the crazy fun started with a game of American Gladiators.  We had those foam noodles and tried to knock each other off the raft that sits a little away from the pier (held down by a kitchen sink.. no joke).  The participants were myself (AKA: The Terrifier), my sister in laws Emma (AKA: Emmakazi) and Nora (AKA: The Diaper Lady... I'll explain later), Emma's boyfriend, Adam (AKA: Head Shot) and my son, Tyler (AKA: Frog Jump).  Let me tell you, foam noodles do no damage.  It's like a really bad girl fight.  But, it was good for laughs and lots of fun!

So, what was 'The Diaper Lady' thing all about?  Well, Frank had mentioned seeing something on the internet somewhere (of course... isn't that where all awesome ideas are born?) that if you flipped your life vest upside down and kind of sit on it you could just bob in the water in a relaxing way.  Nora decided this was worth investigating.  So she flipped it upside down and became the poster girl for wearing the life vest diaper.  Then my kids joined in.  Then this happened.

I can't look at these photos with out laughing!

So, that happened, haha.  Then Quentin kissed a fish.  Grandpa B actually caught it, but let Quentin try to reel it in.  He was so excited!

All of this was before lunch time on my birthday.  After lunch, we finally saw some sun light.  I also got bit by a shark.

Then it was time for some water sports!

I got to knee board, which was totally awesome.  I was terrified, like pee my pants scared, but I was able to get up on the board and stay up for a good amount of time.


There was also some tree climbing... of a 75 foot tree.  I think Adam helped kick our motherly instincts into gear.  I wanted to yell, "you get down from that tree right now, young man!".  But, he's a big boy and he apparently knows how to climb himself a tree!  He's the red head in the center of the tree there.. and he made it pretty much to the top!

My birthday wrapped itself up with a BEAUTIFUL sunset, a selfie with my hubby, a campfire and a selfie of as much of our group as we could get in the photo!

I had a great birthday and a great weekend!  Thank you, Uncle Jack and Aunt Marilou for letting us come up and stay!

Oh, and I wanted to send a special thank you to Emma for the wonderful birthday eggs!  She remembered how I liked them and made them special for me!

And thanks to friggin' everyone who came up... Frank, Tyler, Jeremiah, Andrew, Nicholas, Quentin, Mallory, Dad B, Uncle Jack, Aunt Marilou, Nora, Emma and Adam... it was a really fun trip!!