Friday, October 30, 2009

The World of Blogging: Happy Hobby or Part-time Job?

I love my blog. A lot. What started out as a mere "Let-me-dip-my-toe-in-the-waters-and-see-what-happens" idea has turned into a third child (and that is the closest I will ever get to another kid so I guess it worked out). I love that I feel like a writer again for the first time in years. I love that I think about words and phrases and constantly search for blog fodder. I love the fellow bloggers who have actually become friends/cheerleaders/therapists.
But some days, I just don't want to post.
Sometimes I'm too tired.
Sometimes I don't have enough time.
Sometimes I don't have anything good to say.
Sometimes I'd rather watch Cougar Town.
But those who know me know that I have great potential for obsessive compulsive behaviors.
I start to think about the blog. I start keeping count of how many days it's been since I've posted. I start checking other blogs to see how often they are posting. I think of all the "Blogging Tips" I've read that stress the importance of posting regularly. I start to strategically plan clever cheating strategies that will count as posts but not require me to put down anything requiring thought (Guest posts? Picture posts? Contests in which I give away my shoe collection?). In other words, I stress.
So imagine my surprise, delight, and opportunistic relief when I saw that Jane Lively over at Four Jugs thought me "kreativ" enough to grant me this dainty and feminine meme-like award for my blog:
Now, as I mentioned previously, I was never really very popular growing up, so general shout-outs of fabulousness are always appreciated around here (not to mention the joy of watching my sidebar turn into a little charm bracelet of sorts, with all of my little awards dangling...!). Add to that the fact that this has now given me a day off of my self-imposed blog posting pressure, I am extremely grateful to Jane!
The rules state that I am to pass this forward to 7 other "kreativ" bloggers and share 7 things about me you all don't know, but seeing as I just recently linked up to a bunch of you with the world-renowned and highly coveted Zombie Chicken Award and I once shared not 7, but 101 amazing factoids about myself, I will simply refer you here and here.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a couple of taped episodes of Cougar Town to watch...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Those Last 5 Pounds

When you go through adolescence on the chubby side with a sister who was genetically destined to be a size 2 and family members who regularly pointed out "you have a pretty face," it can do a number on your psyche.

It didn't matter that in reality I was never actually "fat." At my heaviest, I was what I now refer to as "thick"...and I was still well below the national average. Yet at times I felt like an anomaly. I didn't see all the beautiful women around me of different sizes. I only compared myself to those who were smaller, smoother, sexier: my sister, my thinnest friends, the women in magazines, the trainer at the gym. I sought out perfection and then when I found it, I pointed it out to myself: "See? Why can't you look like her? That is what a good body looks like."

Then I hit my 30's. You know that stupid cliche you always hear about how there's just something about the 30' women "find" themselves, settle in to and appreciate their bodies more, forgive their flaws, leave the lights on...? Well, there's a reason it's cliche. That's because for a lot of us, it's true. Most days, I wouldn't trade a wrinkle, a dimple, or an age spot for my 20's. Most days.

But, let me just say I am not one of those who says it was all because of motherhood. You know...the women who say the reason they love their bodies so much more now is because they carried babies? They realized the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth? Uh, no. The miracle of childbirth might have given me two beautiful amazing boys, but it also gave me looser skin, a jagged scar, and a whole new set of body issues. It was, however, the pregnancies and time thereafter that motivated me more than ever to finally make amends with my body, to get it in the best shape possible, to bring that number on the scale to a permanent, healthy home and finally end the discord between my head and my dress size. I was determined to have active (and somewhat fashionable) pregnancies, and then was even more determined to lose all the weight afterwards.

"You know, you really should give away those skinny jeans you had before you got pregnant, because there's no way you're ever gonna fit in those again."

Yes, someone told me that. To my face. Don'tcha love family?

And that was the day I swore to myself that not only would I fit into those jeans by the time Ben was one, but I'd need a smaller pair.

And I did fit into them. And they were too big by the time Ben was one. And then I did it again after Aidan, except this time I wanted to lose "just a little more."

The magic number was 125. It was a number I had not seen since my teen years. It was a number that I thought "the chubby sister" probably couldn't hit. It was the number I thought of when I was floating around at 130 as the "If Only Weight" in: "If only I weighed 125 pounds, I could wear that dress." "If only I weighed 125 pounds, I could stop worrying about my weight." "If only I weighed 125 pounds, I'd be just perfect."

And then I did. This week. There it was. 125 pounds. I stepped on and off the scale 3 times just to make sure. 125. The eating right, the waking up twice a week at 5:00 to go to the gym, the miles of running after had all paid off.

And yet, when I looked in the mirror, it was still me. Just smaller. But the parts of my body I never particularly cared for? They were still there, too. Don't get me wrong, I loved what I saw. I love that I'm stronger now than I've ever been, that I can run faster than I've ever run (and in shorts, no less!), that I'm lighter, smaller, healthier. But it's just like that young girl I used to be, seeking out the perfection, finding it, pointing it out, unforgiving, always demanding.

I am sure I'm not alone in this: we spend so much time working towards "those last 5 pounds"...postponing the buying of a great pair of jeans, worrying at the beach about what might be jiggling, stressing, wishing, waiting...waiting for what? At what point do we "get there"? At what point do we make amends with who we are and what we see and what we love and what we don't about ourselves? I thought that point was a number. And then I reached that number and realized This is It. As Good As It Gets. I have arrived. And that magical, cure-all number? Those last 5 pounds? For me, they were realizing that pushing that number down was just an excuse to postpone the real work...the work of accepting myself, of being good enough, of looking around and seeking the perfection in myself, of pointing that out to myself and saying: "See? Look at you. This is what a good body looks like, too."

I think tonight I'll leave the lights on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blog Awards Rock (and so do I, apparently)

I was not very popular in high school.

I know, I know. That's shocking, because really, I'm so damn cool now, right? But no, not then. I peaked late in life, you see.

So it's pretty fun when One Of The Cool Girls thinks I'm kinda cool, too.

That Girl39 of Forty Not Out (who is really fabulous) has awarded me with:
Now I know that my non-blogging friends right now are like: "Huh? The Zombie Chicken Award?!? And how, exactly, is this a good thing?" But trust me on this one...only the cool girls get 'em. I know. I've looked around.

“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.”

So because I would not want That Girl39 to brave a raving pack of zombie chickens in vain, I shall continue blogging so she is able to read my "inspiring words." And in order to avoid the wrath of said chickens myself, I shall accept the task and pass the award on to 5 other worthy bloggers:

~Jen and Sarah at Momalom because they were one of the first I discovered in this blogging world who really inspired me...and continue to do so on a regular basis with their blunt, insightful much so that I have a quote from one of their posts taped to my wall...and because I am sure Sarah and I would be partners in crime if only we knew each other in Real Life.

~JennyMac at Let's Have a Cocktail..., and I don't care if she's already gotten one of these before and just about every other award out there. She's too damn cool not to get one from me. I mean, she has 658 followers, has been published, writes hilarious posts about everything and nothing, and still manages to find the time to check out other little blogs (such as this one) AND comment on them!

~Simone at The Bottom of the Ironing Basket, who I just discovered but whose images inspire me. I am already addicted.

~Becca at Drama for Mama because her mommy stories make me laugh, and I am pretty sure her daughter will end up marrying my son...simply because they both have the same exact annoying (endearing) qualities and quirks.

~Lucy and Jane at Four Jugs because somehow they manage to constantly write about random topics in a way that makes me desperately want to read them (not to mention their nifty occasional 80's and movie-themed quizzes).

So ladies...thanks for writing, inspiring, and making me laugh. Enjoy your chickens. You deserve 'em. Now, if you'll excuse me, I shall have a martini to celebrate my own zombie chicken fabulousness.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Perfect Woman

It seems that creating your "best self" is a recurring theme throughout many of the blogs I follow. So many of us are trying to find/create/recreate/improve/figure out who we are. In my constant quest towards self-improvement, I am occasionally inspired by those unreal women in the fantasy world of Hollywood.

I once played a game with a friend: "If you could be any celebrity, who would it be?" This incredibly shallow and unimportant question became surprisingly difficult to answer and the cause of much back-and-forth:
"Well, I'd like to be Fergie, but with smaller boobs."
"No, I'd like to be Catherine Zeta Jones, but with more sass."
"How about Sarah Jessica Parker with 5 more pounds and a better nose?"

Bottom line? We came to the conclusion that there are many facets to a woman that make her who she is, and the Perfect Woman is more a combination of ingredients than just one simply perfect person.'s my combination of celebrity ingredients to make the perfect woman. Yes, I realize these are just celebrities...they are not heroes or our mothers or our closest friends. And yes, of course, I have fabulous women in my life--real women whom I admire and respect and emulate. But this is for FUN, people, just fun. So without further adieu, here is my version of
The Perfect Woman...

1. Scarlett Johansson's Body: That girl manages to be petite and voluptuous at the same time. Everything about her screams "Sex." Even in a t-shirt and jeans, she's the picture of Woman. No, she's not runway thin. No, she's not 5'10". But I don't really care to be either of those things anyway.

2. Drew Barrymore's Overall Quirkiness: She has this adorable lightness about her...this effervescent personality...and I admit I love that side-of-the-mouth thing she does when she talks.

3. Pink's Badass-ness: I know, she's kinda scary, but I sorta wish I were too, sometimes. I mean, you definitely get the impression there is no messing with this girl. She's the reason I often find myself singing "So what? I'm still a rock star..." really loudly inside my own head when someone pisses me off. For real.

4. Jewel's and Alanis Morissette's Writing Talent: Have you ever really paid attention to these women's lyrics? Brilliant for very different reasons. Jewel is soft and sensitive. Alanis is ironic and insightful. Some of their lines have gotten me through the toughest times in my life.

5. Shakira's Hips: Watch the video. 'Nuff said.

6. Sarah Jessica Parker's and Gwen Stefani's Style: If I can not have any of the qualities listed above, this one alone would make me a better person, I am sure of it. The frills and elegance of SJP's red carpet style and the everyday glamorous rocker-chic look of Gwen? Fashion Perfection.

That's it. All I ever wanted to be...with a dash of ME mixed in.

What about you guys? If you could be any celebrity, who would it be?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lysol, anyone?

Goings-on at our house...

1. One ear infection, left ear--Ben
2. One cold--Mama
3. Second ear infection, right ear--Ben
4. One cold--Dada
5. One all-over body rash diagnosed as hand, foot, mouth disease (yes, it exists for those of you who don't have kids)--Ben
6. One lost voice--Mama
7. Three cough-filled nights--Mama & Dada
8. Three rounds of antibiotics--Mama & Ben
9. Three vomit clean-ups--Ben & Aidan
10. One stomach virus--Ben

Fun & frivolity abound here! Anyone wanna come over?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Further evidence that mommyhood sucks the COOL right out of you...

So this weekend, Hubby and I had babysitting. Babysitting always means cocktails. A lot of them. So 5 1/2 hours and 3 wine bottles later (What? We were on the beach. It was hot. We were thirsty. Really thirsty.), we ended up on South Beach. We head over to THE pizza place...this place is synonymous with South Beach, clubbing, and the IT scene. Now you have to understand, this is not a chic place, really...more like a greasy, noisy, crowded hole in the wall with a gazillion delicious pizzas you order from behind a glass case and then stand around and try not to tip over in your drunken exhaustion as you thank the heavens that this place exists and wonder how in the world a place this greasy can mass produce pizza this good.

So we're standing in line and I am not even caring that we are finishing our night up at 8:30 while the South Beach-ites around us are just starting to ponder which uber-chic club they will go to before ending up right back at the same pizza spot. I am feeling pretty happy...the kind of happy you can only get with a bottle (or three) of wine, a day on the beach, and uninterrupted time with Hubby. This is when I get the uncontrollable urge to pee.

I saunter on down the long dark passageway of patrons and pizzas towards the bathroom. I yank on the handle, but nothing happens. I read the blurry sign on the door. Yep. Ladies Restroom. I pull again. Nothing. Within my drunken near-stupor, I notice an intimidating-looking brass contraption at the top of the door. I can not for the life of me figure out what in the world that is or how it functions, but I know, with every passing second that I must get into that bathroom. Turning over to the end of the pizza counter, I spot an employee...picture: toothless trucker/homeless guy who happens to run a ridiculously lucrative pizza joint in South Beach. Yeah. I can't figure it out either. But there he was, raspy voiced and greasier than the linoleum.

"Hi!" I bubble over to him. "How do I get into the bathroom?"

Without even looking over at me, he grumbles, "Ya' gotta put a coin in."

I blink.

"A coin? What do you mean? Do you have a key or something?"

Unable to be bothered by the likes of perky, confused, sloshed li'l ol' me, he shoves a gold circle into my hand. "Here," he grunts.

"What's this?"

"A token." Still grumbling. Still not looking at me.

"A token?"

"Yeah, a token."

I look down into my palm. I blink rapidly. Confused. I stand there, frozen, my alcohol-saturated brain trying to make some sense. Then, suddenly, it dawns on me. My face lights up.

"Ooooooh!" I squeal, smiling. "You mean like at Chuck E. Cheese?!?"

Raspy-greasy-can't-be-bothered-pizza-guy finally looks at me. Now it's his turn to blink rapidly and look confused. After a long pause, he responds: "Sorta."

I skip merrily to the bathroom, token in hand.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mommy Runs 5k in Tears

Most of the athletic events I've participated in have had some sort of psychological meaning for me. I can't remember even one race I have done "just for fun" (even when I said I was). I'm just not real big on the whole imposing physical punishment on myself for fun. I mean, don't get me wrong. I go to the gym religiously. I sweat. I strain. I run. I mountain bike. And I like all of it, but it has to have some other kind of purpose for me. I mountain bike because it scares the crap out of me. I run because it clears my mind. I go to the gym because I like how strong it makes me feel...yeah, physically, but in my head, too. That's where it counts for me. All the physical stuff has to have a mental pay-off for me.

When I did a 5k last December, it was to prove to myself that I could do one right after having a baby (okay, not right after, but as soon as my doctor gave me the OK). It turned into what I called my "3 in 4" in "3 miles 4 months after delivering via c-section."

So when I did a 5k this past weekend, it wasn't just for fun. I said it was, initially. I said I was "just curious" to see if I'd gotten better over the last year. But really, I wanted to see if I could beat my best time, back before I'd delivered 2 human beings. And guess what? I did. I even came in 6th in my age category...a total first. But the best part wasn't that. The best moment happened at the starting line.

Now you all know that I'm not particularly mushy about motherhood (most of the time), but I definitely had a mushy moment at the beginning of that race. Just a few seconds after I started running, I looked over to the sidelines and spotted them: My Boys. All of them. Daddy, camera in hand (as if I had not done about 20 of these in the past few years). Ben, his 4-year-old face scanning the crowd of runners. Even Aidan Kai, content in his stroller, eagerly watching the crowds and commotion.

I saw them before they saw me, so I had the chance to watch them for a few seconds. There they were, all 3 of them, looking for me. Me. And when they spotted me, they started yelling: "Mama! Go Mama!" Even Aidan's little face lit up and he started giggling and flailing his whole body when he realized who that particular runner was.

And I was shocked to discover that I was moved. Moved! Me! I even got teary. I mean, seriously, what the heck is that? Didn't you read my last post???

But yeah, I have to admit that the sight of these three "men"--my men--standing there, looking for me, cheering for me, there for moved me. And I was immediately reminded of another race in my definitely taken on for mental and emotional reasons.

Before I had Ben, Hubby and I had spent almost 2 years trying to get pregnant. And when we finally did, we miscarried. It was the single most devastating moment in our lives. And I knew, right then, that if I did not turn that into Something...if I did not Do something with that would consume me and I would crumble. So I chose to run the Disney Half Marathon, simply because it gave me something to do, something to think about, something to plan, and running was my escape. Running is what makes me feel strong. And I needed, desperately then, to feel strong.

So this past weekend, while I ran my little 5k for best time but disguised as fun, and I looked over at those boys...the one who got me through all of that devastation then...the one who dropped onto the bedroom floor and cried with me...the one who has been at every single one of my Important Moments cheering me on from the sidelines...standing there with these two little boys we made together...well, it was enough to make even a non-mommy-type like me go soft.