Start, Stop, Start Again

School started up again last week and that one start alone was enough to throw just about anything else I had going into a tailspin. One of the results – no blogging.  One week in we are going great though. Classes, all good, teachers, all good etc…

So this week I’m focusing on getting back to focusing on me. Here’s a list of the small starts I’ve made so far this week:  (yeap bullets – other wise known as blog cheating)

  • So starting to exercise is on my list of things I want to do but I’m attacking that one fairly slowly .. like most parents I’ve realized the only time I can really do this is if I give up some sleep and do it early in the morning. So my start has actually been to start getting myself up at 5:45 just to get used to doing that. I know that might sound weird but my theory is this, waking up and exercising – that’s two mental hurdles to jump. If I can train my body to wake up on it’s own at this time first, I’m only tackling the one hurdle then.
  • Middle School PTA – I’ve been active in our elementary school PTA for many years but it’s time to start moving on and let the newer crowd have some space. I found that the easiest way to be okay with this was to throw my hat in the ring at the middle school, where truth be told, the extra pair of hands is needed much more.
  • Pumpkin Patch Leadership – Our youth group at church runs a pumpkin patch that is so big and local famous that it’s able to fund a great deal of the activities they do for the rest of the year. (Seriously we’re knows as “The Pumpkin Patch Church”) Last year, being our first year in Youth Group there, I just did a few cashier shifts but this year I volunteered for a leadership role because I’m trying to become more connected with the other parents.
  • Today I signed up for the Subtraction Project which technically starts in September. I chickened out last time but I’m jumping in feet first this time around.
  • And then there is the BHAG that is floating around in my head. A scary perhaps life changing project that I’ve been wanting to start but have not told a soul about. Today I told four friends about it for the first time and asked a favor of them to help me get started.  <Holds breath waiting on the reply, hoping they don’t laugh>

Food Rules: Or the lack there of

infinite_food_tshirts-rff85332d577c4af7a7189ac6f4bf40ae_8nfss_512 The food rules in our house are quite different than what I suspect you find in most homes. That’s okay we all do it a little differently.

1. Just because I cooked it, does not mean you have to eat it. (and vice versa)

I grew up in a house where the opposite of this was a hard and fast rule. As a result I spent a great many meals forcing down food I didn’t like. The end result of this was not that I grew to have a varied and sophisticated pallet but instead, what I was left with was a long lasting dislike of food.  I view a meal as something to be gotten through or dealt with and it holds no enjoyment for me at all.

I am the opposite of an emotional eater.

In fact, food in general just pisses me off and stresses me out. It carries expectations and emotional land mines. I’m aggravated that I have to source it, pay for it, and hand it out. I get angry when dealing with it pulls me away from something I’d rather be doing. Food is a necessary evil.

Eat what you want.

2. We do not all have to sit down at the table together to eat it.

Mostly I eat standing up in order to quickly get it over with. I don’t expect others to do that. So by all means eat when and where you want but please do not expect me to stop what I’m doing three times a day and feed you or eat with you. Eat when you’re hungry, get it yourself. I have a great big table, it seats 8 but don’t look for me.

Caveat – I make the kids eat at the table still though, mainly for cleaning up purposes. They are messy eaters and I require them to clean up their mess when they are done. This is easiest for everyone if it’s all contained around the kitchen table and chairs. They are not however required to maintain a three meals a day routine. Surprisingly due to social norms and school routines and probably a little healthy rebellion, they prefer to, therefore I do my best to make sure they have the time and opportunity to do it.

3. We don’t eat junk.

You might expect that given the two above rules, my kids live off waffles and french fries. They do not. It’s pretty simple really – if you don’t buy waffles and french fries, no one eats them.

We buy healthy food and therefore they eat healthy food.

Is there an occasional pizza? Sure. But it’s not a regular thing. Mostly they eat vegetables, pasta, cheeses, fruit, and chicken or pork. I’m not a big beef eater with the exception of having a requirement of ground beef in my spaghetti sauce. As a result they gravitate towards the same.

Since we live in Florida – it was inevitable they discovered seafood. I’m not a fan personally but they are, especially the young one. She loves her some shrimp. I make sure she has a regular selection of seafood as well.

My children have a very healthy diet and zero weight issues. While genetics play a pretty good role in this – it’s also due to the fact that they don’t sit around eating bags of chips and gallons of ice cream. It’s not rocket science.

4. The older you get, the more you learn to feed yourself.

Do I expect my 8 year old to make her own dinner, of course not. But I do expect my 12 year old to  take care of her own breakfast and lunch.  And she’s been learning to cook since she was around 10. Now 2 years later there’s not that much that she can’t safely make herself. She is not expected to cook dinner, but she is allowed to if she wants.

As I see it, it’s my job to prepare her to be able to take care of herself. This includes cooking for herself. As a result she has a much healthier and normal relationship with food than I do. She’s a scientist at heart and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen. She determines her own food agenda.

5. Make your own plate with a reasonable amount of food for someone your size. Adults eat more than kids because they are bigger. Teenagers eat like bottomless pits – pile it on. Everyone’s plates of food should not look the same – adjust to what is appropriate to you.

Since mostly I feed two little girls, this doesn’t come up often. But when family  or friends visit, this rule comes into play.   We eat what will fill us up. If you need more, then serve yourself more. If you don’t need as much then don’t put it on your plate.  Simple.

This rule gets me some looks sometime. When I give my kids the appropriate portion for a person their size. They are smallish girls who don’t need 5 pounds of food to fill up. I’m always surprised when people give adult portions of food to children.

6. We don’t eat from the bag/box/carton/packaging.

Get a plate, a bowl,  or a cup. We may not all sit around for family dinners but we do have manners. If you want some popcorn fine, make it and put a single serving in a bowl to crunch on – don’t sit there an eat from the bag like a horse from a feed bag.

7. Children don’t drink soda.

They just don’t. Water, milk, juice, Gatorade, I’ve got it all. Any soda brought into this house if solely for adult purposes.

    So what are the food rules at your house?

Best of the Internet this week

THIS!!!! This will make you giggle out loud …. – Best Line “In the town where I grew up – If I ever opened up a lunch to reveal a tic tac toe game made out of sandwiches, I would get my ass kicked and my new name would be “Tic Tac” until I graduated highschool…..”

And this ..

She’s a kid from where I live, I don’t know her personally but friends have tought her in school, other friends go to church with the family. We all have decided that she’s hung the moon.

Oh and evidently it’s time to start your Christmas List

Cause there is this

Oh and then I learned this because really… who knew?

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Chris Knight, where are you when I need you (or why I’m being forced into a life of fitness whether I like it or not)

9-19-2013 2-20-51 PMReal Genius is one of the most quotable movies to come out the 80s one of my favorite involve’s Professor Jerry Hathaway asking Val Kilmer’s character Chris Knight, “Do you still run?” to which Chris replies, “Only when chased.”

This is my go to answer about anything exercise or fitness related. And I get asked do I run or ride  A LOT. I am surrounded by runners, bikers, and, triathloners. (Also I judge those people of if they get that reference or not – what can I say 80 geek)

But back to the point. I am surrounded by runners. EVERYONE RUNS. Not just runs, the run till they drop. All around me people are injuried and in need of physical therapy and yet they don’t seem to relate this to all that running.

The 26.2 marathon sticker people – those are the wimps. There’s a guy at work who spent a week this summer in the Marathon des Sables which covers 150 miles of Moroccan desert while carrying his food and supplies on this back. For Fun. No one was chasing him! He finished in something like the top 1/3.

If you don’t have a 50 you’re barely cool, it better have been a kick ass trail run through some serious shit and up three mountains. If you want real cred you need the 100. I have a sign over my desk that says “Only When Chased.” It is my mantra – my high ground. If I don’t complete, you cannot win.

If the don’t run they bike, we have bike lanes and this town is ugly with 40 year old men and women with bad knees and Tour De France fantasies. (Florida is flat people!) They all do crazy things like rides that traverse the state and back and forth and take whole weekends or weeks to complete. Railroads are paved over to make rail trails…  Do I ride? Only when chased. I own the t-shirt.

This year my oldest child out of the blue (or not so blue considering all these influences) decided she wanted to try a youth triathlon. Triathlon? She’s never even run a Fun Run? No 5K, nothing. Straight to triathlon? OK. I’m game. Let’s see how long this lasts I think. You are your mother’s daughter I say…

She loved it. She finished and immediately asked for a better bike. For next time. Ughh.

Shit. I’m starting to feel chased.

I get her the better bike (she needed a bigger bike, better just happened because I found a good deal on Craigslist). And her little sister not to be outdone promptly sheds the training wheels she’s been clinging to for 8 years… Mama can I triathlon too now?

Shit. Is that someone breathing down my neck?

Because a middle schooler can be allowed to ride off for 5 or 6 miles or run for a couple  miles and come back as long as I have a notion of the route. I have no problem with that. But an eight year old? My eight year old who’s not that street savy yet? Who I still have to yell at in parking lots to watch for cars…  Even my Free Range senses are tested with that one at least until she gets her wheels under her a little more. Her four mile route on the bike is a little much for me to be okay with by herself or with her sister alone just yet – bad side walks and one very busy major intersection are in play no matter what.

So now I’m biking  – granted it’s 8 year old triathlon training lengths, and I never even have to shift a gear while she pedals like a little mad Chihuahua still but – biking. No one is chasing me.

At least her runs are short enough she can loop the immediate neighborhood and I’m good with that being done alone.

My only consolation is we stay on the side walk and I can still refuse to wear a helmet because we don’t ride that fast. We just look like a family out for a stroll after dinner. I wear mom capris rather than athletic wear on purpose. I will not dress the part.

That little fact is all that is keeping me from a table full of crow at this point.

I’m in denial.

I’m being chased.

Dear Random Children of the Internet with Blogging Moms:

ImageI’m sorry.

You have been yelled at, threatened, slut shamed, and talked down to  by both your parents and your friends parents ad nauseum on the internet this week.

I’m not sure why, sometimes we just get in a mood. Truth is these letters aren’t about you really. They are about ourselves – or at least about the view of ourselves we want others to have. They have way more to do about the image we are looking to project to our peers than they actually do about any real parenting we’re trying to pull off.

That being said….

I promise to never write an open letter to either my children or their friends expressing my disapproval of whatever pop culture, social media, buzz worthy crap that has me teed off this week.

I realize it will just make me look judgy and kind of ridiculous and would in reality have absolutely nothing to do with actually communicating with or parenting you.

2 Million views would not be worth the inevitable embarrassment these kinds of posts must cause the children of the people involved.

Instead I promise to sit down and talk to you personally about what ever shit is going on. Or even in some cases keep my opinions to myself because  – I kind of give you credit for being pretty awesome people who don’t need to be preached at in person, much less over the internet.

That is all.

Carry On.


p.s. The cats are still fair game.

Let’s Try This Again

I’m all about the fresh starts. My latest fresh start was supposed to happen with the start of the school year two weeks ago, I was going to attack my to do list and tackle all those pesky things I’ve been avoiding around the house all summer. It started off well, we were up, girls were out the door, I sat down for work – then one false move later – I was flat on my back for week. Goodbye fresh start. Nothing got done.

So here we go – fresh off a three day weekend. First of the month, fresh start reboot.

I’m not 100% recovered so it’s going to be a slow start vs the burst out the gate I had planned but so be it. 

Things I’ve done so far: 

  • Written this.
  • Started laundry
  • Picked up around the house before work started

Goals for this week

  • Grocery shop for the whole week, not just one night at a time.
  • Get everyone’s laundry completely done
  • Clean up back to school mess off dining room table
  • Put back all the patio stuff from where I pressure cleaned the weekend (I’m all about the project but hate and will procrastinate the clean up part afterwards)

If I write it all down here hopefully I’ll hold myself more accountable to it.

Flat On My Back – The update

As you might recall, last week I completely ruined my week by straining my back BY STANDING UP.

I spent most of the week either laying flat or walking around because those are the two things I can do. Sitting was not an option. Bending and reaching – might as well have asked me to fly.

This week I’m up to sitting for about 1-2 hours at a stretch. Then I have to lay back down to relax the muscles and I’m fine to walk around quite a bit after that.

Literally 3 seconds of injury – two weeks of recovery.

I. Am. Unhappy.

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But because I’m not happy with unhappy, let’s look for the silver lining. Oh here it is.

This was the final straw with the old desk chair. I took a moment to realize that if I had a regular desk at a regular office or cube at corporate I would not be sitting in such a cheap crappy board table type chair. Just because I’m a teleworker doesn’t mean I should not have what I need. So I went out and bought a reasonably priced but still highly rated task chair that is rated for 8-10 hours of sitting. Who knew chairs were rated for sitting hours.

New chair does not photograph well.

BTW – my temporary desk has been taken over

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Bad Days

So today was a bad day.

Every so often the damn breaks and all the grief, and loss, and bitterness must flow.

And I let it.

Because most days it stays nicely pushed back, and most days I go on as if life is only slightly off center from normal. Most days the people who know me, pat me on the back and tell me they don’t know how I do it, and how amazing I am, and how they are in awe of how good the girls and I are.

Most days.

Not today.

Today the damn broke. Broken unknowingly by someone who didn’t mean to. Someone I asked for help from, but who could not do what I needed them to do. It was not their fault, neither of us knew the crack was sitting there silently waiting to be broken wide open. I should have suspected. I’ve been stressed and short tempered and moody lately. I didn’t know why, I just was. I think I get it now.

The most surprising thing I guess really is the thing that broke it open. People not really being there for you when they are always saying – just tell them if there is anything you can do.  It shouldn’t have been a big deal. People have their own lives, it’s a holiday week, I asked sort of last minute – but there it was. I hate asking for help, and I brought myself to do it and then walked away empty handed – it overwhelmed me.

And then I hated being overwhelmed. 

But I decided if the damn was broken I was going to let it flow. I wallowed in it for a good four or five hours. Wallowed.

And god bless ’em the girls they just went out and played. That’s what we do. We acknowledge when one of is having that kind of day or mood and we let them. We don’t tell them to stop. But we also don’t let it go on. We let it run it’s course and then we move on.

So that was today. 


Tomorrow will be better.

The Summer of Simple is very complicated it turns out

I’ve always hated routines, I don’t like planning, I want to figure things out as I go. I don’t like to speed time and energy fretting over stuff that will probably change as it’s getting done anyway.

Also I have issues with authority and routines and planning always felt like abstract versions of that. Neither person nor paper is going to tell me what to do. Damn it. So there.

But then along came Puddin’. And that child needs a routine. We learned this quickly when she was 2 1/2 weeks old and we dared have a friend come visit to meet her, she became colicky and was that way for six months. We learned fast, give this kid what she expects every day.  Almost 12 years later, she’s still that way, hates surprises, the unknown stresses her out. I have adjusted.

Evidently quite a bit.

If 2012 was a year in limbo, 2013 is supposed to be the year of the new normal. And we are still struggling to find that normal. It was to was to be the Summer of Simple. And for the most part it has been. But simple has meant no routine, because there was nothing to plan, nothing to coordinate and create a schedule around. It’s felt more like the Summer of Chaos. 

Evidently we all need a routine now, even Mama. Or shit just goes to hell.

So now I’m trying to figure that out. A routine for doing nothing, but you know on a schedule. Yeah that’s it.

This is going to be easy.

All Field Trips lead up to this…

The 5th grade field trip to Disney is a rite of passage here in Florida (it happens again as a senior but that is an entirely different story)

It was an amazing day. Seeing these kids go to Disney with 200 of their classmates, children they have known in many cases since Kindergarten. Remembering them as kindergartners… this one cried, that one still ate paste. Now she is taller than me and he looks me in the eye when he speaks finally.



Even as parents it felt like a milestone, a graduation of sorts.

We are the same parents who have been going to The Zoo and City Hall, and the Symphony for the last 6 years.  Sometimes we don’t even know each other’s name – we’re just Sally’s Mom, or Joey’s Dad. We know each other by hat and sunglasses and hairdo.  But we know each other – because 4 years ago you helped me find the lost kid in my group and 2 years ago I took your group when you started feeling bad in the heat. We are not friends but we know each other, we trust each other. We’ve looked out for each other, we’ve had each other’s back.

And this week we jumped off a cliff and took the whole crew to Disney and sat back and watched them run as pack, only supervising them from a distance and we talked and laughed and reminisced.  I don’t imagine that middle school field trips will be be the same. They won’t need us like they did in elementary school. This particular group of parents won’t come this way again.

So here’s to the Field Trip Parents for the Class of 2020. We made it through six years of Florida sun, community theatre, and snotty museum docents , we kept them alive, unscathed, and awake  through Alligator Farms, Zip Lines, and Peter and the Wolf.  

We always made it home with as many as we left with.

They were all good days. Salute.