Monday, February 25, 2013

Preschool Drama

Tonight, as N was getting ready for her bath, I heard her shriek, "You're not my friend and I'm going to kick you in the face."  Based on her tone, she was mad as hell at her father and she said it to be mean.  I ran into the hallway, scooped her up, and put her in the time out corner so everyone could calm down.  I was so mad at this display of anger from her.  Where did she learn such horrible words and when did she learn how to be mean?

After she calmed herself, I sat down with N and asked who used those words. She instantly shared the name of one of her classmates and based on what I've seen from this little girl at after school, I believe her.  She then proceeded to tell me how the same girl won't play with her anymore and said they weren't friends.  Apparently, N responded with a "well, you're not my friend either" comment. For reference, N is 3 and the other girl is 4.  Seriously?!? When did preschool become filled with drama?

N and I had a long discussion about using nice words and not mean words.  She told me all about how some girls won't play with her friends and it's clear that there's some exclusion happening.  We talked about the importance of playing with everyone and making good choices.  She seems to understand, but I'm sure in the thick of things at school, it will be hard to remember.  Any guidance on how I should proceed?  I'm at a loss here...

Update on Goals

We're nearly two months into the New Year, so I thought it was a good time to give a quick accountability update on my goals.   
  1. Write regularly.  Write in my own blog, leave comments on others, and write about N's childhood so she has a record of it.
    • This is going well.  I've posted at least once per week and have been able to leave comments on other blogs as well.  I could probably be better about chronicling N's childhood...most of my posts have been about me (conceited??).
  2. Constantly remind myself that N is not trying to drive me crazy...she's just 3.  Give myself time outs when her behavior starts to upset me.
    • This is going really well for me, but has caused me to notice that my husband could be much better.  I've actually been pretty pissed at him recently because of my frustration about how he interacts with her.  I guess it's time to address that as a secondary issue.
  3. Focus on wellness, not just fitness.  Change my workout routine to include more yoga and strength training to help me feel calm and centered.  The goal here is to help #2 above.
    • I've felt the most impact from this goal.  I've successfully changed my workout routine and my stress levels have reduced as an outcome.  I posted a sample week here in my last Mamavation post and I was able to stick with most of the plan.  I've been so sore from my Pure Barre classes that I've gotten a few days behind on my push-up challenge, but otherwise, I finished everything I set out to last week.  I'm up to 62 uninterrupted push-ups now and I'm pretty proud of it.  I made it through a full hour of Tae Bo yesterday, which is also an accomplishment in my book.
    • I still haven't been able to incorporate yoga because of my schedule.  I have some pre-paid passes to the local hot yoga studio though, so I need to make the time to go. 
  4. Take care of my skin.  I'm 32 years old and all of the sudden, my face is showing it.  This year, I will invest in, and regularly use, skincare products.
    • This is FRUSTRATING!  I've been using a Murad anti-aging and correcting product since the New Year and it hasn't made a difference.  Is this because my skin is beyond repair or because I'm not using a good product?  Regardless, this is expensive and a bit disappointing.
    • Does anyone have recommendations of good anti-aging products to share? I'm all ears at this point!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mamavation Monday 2/18

Last week was mixed for me.  I am still doing well with my workout routine, but I've really struggled with food choices.  I'm feeling very sluggish and I know it's because I'm eating too much sugar.  My carb/fat/protein ratio has been off kilter for a few weeks and I haven't been able to get back on track.  I'm eating too many's those damned Cadbury Eggs!! I've told myself that the sugar splurges are okay because I'm stressed, but frankly, that's bullshit. I know I need to manage stress with exercise and just have to hold myself accountable.

This week, I plan to lower my calorie target a bit. I need to show myself that I have some self control. I can stick to a calorie goal, whereas it's hard for me to cut out something specific.  With less calories,I'm  forced to focus on eating healthy, whole foods and I tend to avoid junk.  Hopefully this approach will work for me.  Most of the dinners I've planned for the week include chicken.  My plan is to make enough to take some chicken to work for lunch each day. I assume that if I eat ,ore protein at lunch, I won't want chocolate at 3pm. :)

As for workouts, I have the following planned:
Monday: Cardio (3miles) and #plankaday
Tuesday: Pure Barre (I've found it to be a great workout and I'm so sore after!). We plank in class, so it also meets my #plankaday goal.
Wednesday: Cardio (2-3 miles), #plankaday, and push-ups for the 100 push-up challenge
Thursday: rest
Friday: push-ups for the 100 push-up challenge and #plankaday
Saturday: Cardio (Tae Bo?) and #plankaday
Sunday: push-ups for the 100 push-up challenge and #plankaday

This should be my last week of the push-up challenge...I'm excited to see how many I can do at the end of it.  More to come on that next week.  I'm also very focused on water intake.  I do really well with the #64ozchallenge during the weekdays, but I've been struggling on the weekends.  I just need to be more conscious of it.

What do you have planned?  Have a great week, ladies!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Multi-tasking is Overrated

I'm writing this while on a conference call.  Not with anyone inside my organization (don't worry, employer!), but still...  I'm multitasking.  This has become the story of my life.  It is extremely rare that I sit down and focus on just one thing at a time.  This dawned on me last night as I was phone interviewing a new babysitter while driving to the gym.  Should I really be screening a potential caregiver for my child while racing to my next location?

I've always been an overachiever.  I've always been busy and thanks to my ADD, I never sit still.  Generally speaking, I do a damn good job of "wearing multiple hats."  That being said, since I've become a mom, I've taken this juggling act to a whole new level.

I responded to work email while I was in labor.  I read parenting blogs and researched developmental milestones during N's 2AM nursing sessions. Rather than "sleeping while the baby slept," I participated in conference calls during my maternity leave.  When I went back to work, I scheduled every moment of my day so that I could fit late afternoon Kindermusik classes into my week. Three years later, my husband and I have our schedules down to a science.  Exercise when N is asleep; laundry and kitchen cleaning while she watches cartoons on Saturday morning; one Saturday afternoon per month as alone time while the other parent does something special with N.  The science part of it is great.  We wouldn't be able to manage our lives if we weren't this organized and methodical.  I am starting to realize that I may be killing myself with all of this activity though.  I'm stressed.  I'm tired (and the circles under my eyes are visible proof).  I'm finding a new gray hair every week.  There are moments when I feel like I'm failing at work.  Can I really do my best and make every project/interaction/experience great if I'm not totally focused?  How many typos could have been avoided in this post if I proofread it without my work IM dinging in the background?

I hung up the phone with the new babysitter last night and realized that I didn't ask her a couple of very basic questions.  I was so excited about her based on the first impression she made on me and so worried about being late for my exercise class that I skimped on the interview.  Good grief, I interview for a living.  How is it acceptable for me to not give it 100% when it's for my child?!  How many other times have I done something similar and not realized it?

So, for now, I am going to find a way to be more focused.  I'm going to block time on my calendar for the regular to-dos and find a way to focus on them.  I'm also going to find time to just focus on my child.  She deserves to have me to read her library book without being distracted by the VIP alert emails from my boss on my phone.  She needs me to help her with trace numbers without running to the kitchen to stir whatever I'm making for dinner.  Maybe we'll start ordering take-out once a week.  I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I need to make it happen.  I'm open to suggestions if any of you wonderful moms are willing to share.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Growing Up: The Reality of Death

I'm 32 years old and IT has hit.  A huge concern about mortality has officially landed square in my lap.  I'm sad and I'm scared.

My best friend found a lump in her breast.  She's been back and forth with physicians about it for two weeks and finally, they acknowledged that something was wrong.  After several mammograms, they sufficiently freaked her out by indicating that the mass was quite large and an odd shape.  It also turned out that she had several other masses that needed to be reviewed.  Several biopsies and 4.5 days of waiting later, she has been told that she doesn't have cancer, but they don't know what's wrong with her.  She'll continue to have mammograms every few months while they investigate the issue.

4.5 days of waiting.  4.5 days of crying and freaking out and speculating and imagining worst case scenarios.  She has a toddler.  She is engaged and will soon have two stepchildren.  Her fiance travels for work 100% of the time.  How would she handle a cancer diagnosis?  She lives an hour away from civilization.  How would she handle treatment?  How could I help her when I'm stressed about my own life and I live six hours away?  Thank God it all turned out alright, at least for now.

I just learned that a colleague passed away last night.  I just saw him last week.  The email this morning indicated that his cause of death is still TBD.  He wasn't sick.  He wasn't in an accident.  He just dropped dead?!?  He has a wife and two kids.  I can't even imagine how awful this must be for them.

I've been very fortunate in that until now, I haven't had to think much about death.  These two events have me thinking though...should I be more concerned?  Should I be contingency planning?  My husband and I have drafted our will, but we haven't been able to finalize it.  We need to do that.  We need to share it openly with our family and those who would be involved in supporting N.  It's incredibly sad to think about and a very grown-up topic.  Although I'm an adult, I don't feel ready for it.

For now, I will put away my tears and add "finalize will" to my to-do list.  It seems such an odd thing to type into Wunderlist...

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Topic of Dieting

Over the weekend, N and I were at a play date with one of her friends. We were over at the friend's house with her mother and father who are amazing Italian cooks. Both parents were born in Italy and have been in the US for since grad school and they’re known in our kids’ friend circle for making amazing meals. They fixed lunch for everyone and when we sat down to eat, seemed surprised by my choices. The parents made a salad with olive oil and vinegar, a bacon spinach quiche, pasta with tomato sauce, and rolls. They also served wine – at lunch. I brought these massive red velvet cupcakes from Costco for dessert because I didn’t have time to bake and I thought they were festive.

I chose a small piece of quiche, half of a roll and a large portion of the salad, with just the vinegar as dressing. No wine for me (I can’t drink and then work out), which was very shocking to them and caused the obligatory “Come on, live a little!” statement. Despite the peer pressure, I abstained.

I decided to have half of a cupcake for dessert. I work out hard and I do so because I like sweets. I never avoid dessert. This was also shocking to the parents. The mother made a comment about how she guessed I could handle having a cupcake because of my size, but she couldn’t.

The lunch conversation then turned to the topic of diets, which I really detest. My child and two other impressionable young girls were at the table. I don’t use the word diet in my house. I talk to my child about how I make good choices and I work out to stay healthy. When I was little, my mom was always on a diet and I know that impacted my view of food, my body, and my image. I don’t want that to rub off on N. I’ve made good choices so that N doesn’t feel that pressure from me as she grows up. The dreaded 4-letter D word came up though.

I’ve pondered the fact that in a few years, N’s friends will start talking about diets. When that time comes, I’m planning to focus my response around fueling and taking care of our bodies and being strong women. I know there will be peer pressure, but I feel as equipped as possible to help her through it – when she’s a little older. I never imagined that the topic would come up so early though. She’s 3 years old…I don’t want her thinking about this now.

We went home and after her nap, I asked N to help me make dinner. I talked to her about what we were cooking and shared how it was a balanced meal, full of protein and good carbs to give us energy and help her grow. For dessert, she had one piece of chocolate and thoroughly enjoyed it. She didn’t ask for more because she was full and satisfied. The topic of dieting hasn’t come up since and hopefully, it won’t for a while.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bye-bye, Baby Fat

Tonight, while rubbing lotion into my daughter's sensitive skin, I noticed something.  The fat rolls on her wrists are no longer there. N was an adorably rotund baby and I was so proud of the rolls that my body created. She was a bottomless pit for her entire first year.  At her demand, I woke multiple times each night to feed her until she was nearly a year old.  I didn't mind because I could see the result of my sleepless nights...that sweet, sweet baby chub.

The creases in her wrists were the last evidence of those delicious rolls and now they're gone.  My baby has turned into a little girl in what feels like an instant.
So, I put N to bed, went in my room, and cried. I know it sounds self-centered, but it's sad to realize there's no more evidence that she was dependent upon me.  She has become her own little human being; a healthy, growing, active little girl.  I know it's all good stuff, but it's still a little sad.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Overcoming Stress

This year, I resolved to change up my workout routine and find the joy in exercise.  I'm doing well overall and feel like I'm keeping the resolution.  At this point, I've finished 33/300 miles for the year, kept on track with the 100 Push-Up Challenge, done #plankaday almost every single night, started the #64ozchallenge, and added in a few new types of exercise.  I'm signed up for a Pure Barre class on Tuesday and I've started back with Tae Bo.  I feel stronger and I know I'm working muscles that I've previously ignored.  

I've previously shared that things are a bit stressful at work right now.  I'm used to stress and as a problem-solver, I tend to thrive in it.  This stress is a little different though.  This stress had me a little worried and caused me to doubt myself.  That's not a good scenario for me.

On Friday, I worked from home because I had several heads-down tasks that needed to be done and I wanted to focus.  I planned to spend the lunch hour with Billy Blanks and my Tae Bo DVD.  I was going out to dinner with my husband on Friday night and wanted to burn some major calories so I could indulge in wine and dessert.  My lunchtime workout was interrupted by work.  My IM kept flashing and email kept coming in and my cell phone was ringing.  It turns out that I didn't do a great job of communicating a project with my team and as a result they were worried about it.  I felt like I goofed and that didn't help the self-confidence that was already wavering.  

I'm horomonal and all I wanted was salt.  The last phone call was the beginning of my potato chip fueled downward spiral.  Before I knew it, I had eaten 800 calories worth of kettle chips while reading and rereading my notes from my project plan.  I managed to put the rest of the chips away and pull myself together.  I was still frustrated and dinner out with the hubs wasn't great.  I ended up being over my calorie goal for the day, which stressed me out even more.

Yesterday was more of the same.  I was feeling stressed and just wanted chocolate and salt.  I ate too much bad stuff but kept pounding water for the #64ozchallenge.  I was so full that I felt like I could vomit. This is my natural reaction to bingeing.  I don't even have to gag...even after 10 years, my body still naturally ties to purge when I eat way too much.  I found myself in the bathroom, trying not to vomit and realzied that I've quickly hit a breaking point.  I've lost control because I'm stressed and I need to kick myself in the ass.  

Stress is, well, stressful.  But this is life and life is full of stressful events.  I have to get over it.  My family shouldn't have to deal with my weird moods, poor food choices or ultimately, poor health because I'm stressed out.  I have an obligation to pull myself up by my bootstraps and move forward.

So I have.  I scheduled a massage for next weekend.  I woke up and drank lots of water.  I fixed a healthy breakfast for my family and then went outside to shovel snow.  I shoveled our driveway and sidewalk and just kept going.  I listened to upbeat music and shoveled three of my neighbors sidewalks and I felt much better.  I came inside cold, but sweaty and invigorated.  I've finished a work project, meal planned and cleaned.  I feel like the Energizer Bunny and that's when I thrive.

I'm going to keep focusing on the positive and try to stop stressing because it's not healthy.  I'd like my Mamavation sisters to help.  Please check in on me via Twitter occasionally over the next few weeks and ask me how things are going.  I know that things will be tumultuous this month and I'd love to feel your support.  Let me know how I can support you too!  

Saturday, February 2, 2013


We are in the early stages of a massive restructuring at work.  As a result, I'm not sure who my boss will be, what my role will be (if I'm still employed at the end of this), or where my office will be located. We've been told that we will all need to interview for the new roles in the new structure, but those haven't been finalized yet.  I have great faith in my current boss and since learning this news two weeks ago, have been confident that both he and the rest of our team will handle the new structure well.  Most of the time, I have good thoughts and believe that I will have a solid role in the new structure, but there are moments when I'm not so confident.  I've been told that I'm valued and that I don't need to worry about finding a job outside of our company.  That being said, there are moments when I worry that they're just hinting at the fact that I will likely have a role, but there's no guarantee that the role will be at my same level or compensation.

I just blogged about how wonderful N's education is and then literally, two minutes after scheduling the post, I checked the mail and discovered her 2013-2014 school contract with a due date of late February.  I'm afraid to sign the contract and jinx myself.  If I sign it, am I being overly confident in my employment situation?  What happens if I sign the contract and then my work life falls apart?  I won't know what's happening with my job for a couple of months, so I'm freaked out.  

After opening the mail, I came upstairs to get some work done while N played.  I was sitting at my computer with her behind me, playing on her keyboard.  Given my stress level after opening the contract, the noise of her banging on the keys was driving me berserk and I was trying really hard not to snap.  I turned around to look at her and she smiled and asked me to play with her.  Then she squeezed my face and said "Mommy, let's do something fun."  I crawled on the floor with her and started spelling out names with her letter blocks.  After a few minutes, she pulled out her toy helicopter and asked me to help because she couldn't get it to turn on.  I simply flipped a hidden switch and it started working.  She responded with "You fixed it! Mommy, you always fix things."

This child has faith in me that I don't always have in myself.  She's right though - I do always fix things.  From her perspective, that means cleaning up messes and fixing boo boos, but I am a naturally a problem solver.  If I end up in a difficult employment situation, or worse, if I end up unemployed, I will find a way to fix it.  I'll prove myself and be promoted or I'll find another job.  I'm going to trust her comment and follow the confidence she has in me and just sign the contract. 

The Application of Knowledge in PreK

 The tuition for N’s school is increasing next year.  I’m not surprised…when we began the process of selecting a school, I quickly learned that it was going to be expensive and continue to become even more so.  This is what we signed up for.  However, when my husband saw the tuition increases, he pretty much flipped out.  The expiration of the Bush tax cuts definitely impacted our wallets in January and it was a little scary to see how that will track through to our attempts at saving.  We’re now feeling like any annual merit raises we receive will go straight to the cost of N’s education and we’re worried about how we save up enough to do all the things we hope to over the next few years. 
The saving grace in our house this week was the regular newsletter from the Director of N’s school.  My husband saw the newsletter and immediately texted me to make sure I read it right away.  The theme was “Cultivating Understanding Through Learning by Doing.”  Here’s a snippet:
Recently, the parent of a Pre-K student shared with me a conversation she had with her daughter about artists.  The parent was telling her daughter that her favorite artist is Matisse.  Her young daughter responded enthusiastically, and proceeded to tell her mother about Matisse.  The parent was amazed her young daughter knew about Matisse and knew specific things about him.  It is a true mark of understanding when a child can take information and apply it in a new context.   I was not surprised when she shared this story with me.  Her daughter learned about Matisse in the context of learning about shapes and color.  She made connections with things she was very familiar with and she created her own designs, in the same way that Matisse had.  She is developing an understanding of what it means to be an artist and how artists convey ideas from their minds to others through their art.  As Einstein said, understanding something deeply allows us to convey information in a simple, direct way.  When we truly understand we can express ourselves clearly, and we can apply what we know to new situations.  Developing understanding is critical in learning.
I’m the parent she’s referring to and N is the daughter.  The story is 100% true and when I shared it with the Director, I was expressing my gratitude for how broad N’s learning experience has been this year.  I am wildly impressed by the things she tells me.  This morning, for example, the first thing she told me was that it’s Groundhog Day.  She then asked me if we could watch the groundhog because she wanted to know if he was going to see his shadow.  She sang a song about the holiday and knew all about dear Phil, including the words from the annual proclamations!  After breakfast, I checked the news and told her that Phil didn’t see his shadow.  She responded with “That means that Spring will be here soon.  Yay for warm weather and the sun!”  I let her watch the video of the event online and understood it.  She’s three years old, people!  It’s amazing to me that she fully comprehends these concepts.  The school Director is right, it’s because they allow the students to learn by doing and apply their knowledge. 
Between seeing the mention of our daughter in the school newsletter and hearing her go on and on about Punxsutawney Phil, I think that both my dear husband and I are over the tuition hike concern.  J

I've Lost My Spark

I’m fortunate to spend time with executives from my company on a regular basis.  Although I experience the typical ups and downs of (being a mom in) the corporate world, I work for a great company and we have some very strong leaders.  There’s one in particular, who I really connect with and see as a mentor.  Last week, I sat down with her for our monthly touch-base and decided to be candid with her.  I shared that I was feeling like a doormat.  I want people to get along and I’ve let myself take the blame for things that were in no way my fault. She responded with a comment about how she feels that I’ve lost my spark.


Then she told me that she empathized.  Things have been difficult within our team and as a woman, it’s easy to focus your energy on other things outside of the office.  She guessed that because of work frustration, I’ve been focusing my energy on my daughter.

Even bigger ouch.

It’s one thing to assume that I’ve lost my professional spark.  I understand that and can see where she’s coming from.  It’s another to assume that my focus is torn between work and family.  I hate that this topic even comes up.  I’m mad at myself for being upset that there’s a perception that I’m not completely focused on work.  Most of all, I’m really disappointed in myself because I care. 
I’m a good mom.  I should be happy that she assumed that I’m focusing on my child.  I just don’t want her or anyone else in the workplace to think that.  I want her to think that I can take everything in stride and excel in all my roles.  I appreciate her persepctive as a strong female.  I appreciated the honesty of her comments, but they cut me to the core.

I came home from work and snuggled with my child.  Then, in typical three year old fashion, she started acting up.  Secretly, I wished that I could go back to work and focus on something I could control.  Spark or not, in the office, I have control over my world.  If I ask someone to send a contract out or call an employee or whatever, it gets done.  I don’t have to ask twice.  I don’t have someone saying, “Mommy, say it as a sentence” or "no, I don't want to do that."

I want to be and think I am a good mom.  I’m proud of my daughter and love showing her off.  I also want to do well at work.  I want my child to see me do well at work so that I can be a good role model.  I want the women on my team to see me as a strong leader who achieves balance.  At the same time, I fight the perception that I’m working to find that balance.  It's a tough emotional struggle and I'm not sure why I do this to myself.

I'm working to reignite my spark and I know I'll be successful.  Just in the last few days, there have been some good changes in the office.  Things are feeling positive and the kindling is ready to help make a flame.  I am going to focus on nurturing that spark instead of trying to change the perception that I'm focused on my child.  A good mother can do both, and that's what I am.