Losing Myself

I could turn this into a post about my nearly life-long struggle with losing weight, eating healthy, consistently exercising, etc. But I think there are about five million such blogs out there in the world (and I may not be exaggerating with that number), and many of them have my story.

This post is about where I am now. Which is…not in a very good place.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing the whole “eat well, move more” deal with some success. I’ve also had some days where things have not been so great, which is really disappointing since I thought, at the beginning, anyway, I’d be full steam ahead and completely on board with this change.

But making a change in my life is so hard, even when I have really, really good reasons for making it. And I have lots of people who are supporting me, an infinite amount of resources (hello, Pinterest), and professional help (I started seeing a nutritionist on Tuesday). More than that, this really is, on some level, a change I want to make, though at times I can see why that might be doubtful, with all my hemming and hawing.

I am really bothered by this slow, lackluster start. I feel like, nearly a month in, that more should have been done by now. More energy, motivation, excitement and less of me. I had a goal in mind, a goal which is (or was) quite attainable, but I almost feel like I’ve lost an entire month and the wind has now abandoned my sails.

And while I quietly beat myself up over that lost time, I then turn and berate myself more, because I realize it can’t possibly have been a complete waste, because, for one, I haven’t gained any weight, and for two, I have made some effort, and I can’t dishonor the energy already invested. That would be the true waste. Like unravelling a sweater you’ve worked so hard to knit simply because there are a few little flaws. The sweater is still perfectly good, but you choose to get rid of it because it isn’t perfect.

I guess I can’t do that to myself or my efforts, as tarnished as they may be.

Tomorrow is a new day, another chance to make a dent in my weight-loss goal and any other goals I have in mind. I suppose, more than anything, this was a cathartic post. It’s helping me realize that any little effort I make is worthwhile, but I should also know it can’t hurt to do more.

Advertisements

New Tricks

It all started last Sunday. I was at my parents’ house, flipping through the February issue of Martha Stewart Living (I know she has a love/hate relationship with the world, but I am one of those who are very guilty of loving her, or her aesthetic, at least). Amongst the recipes, tips for cleaning your antique linen, and ideas for you fabulous St. Valentine’s gala, there were some really cute knitting projects.

I looked at the pretty blanket, the arm warmers, and cute bag and thought, “Heck, I could do that!”

It should be mentioned I didn’t know how to knit (notice the past tense, eh?).

I’ve been a hand sewer since I was really little (like, five or six). Apparently, I don’t recall exactly, my mom tried to teach me how to knit, too, but it never caught on, but the sewing stuck. It’s easy, soothing, and I really enjoy it.

But it’s also really expensive. I primarily quilt, though I have made covers for things, pillows, and clothing/toys for Lizzie. If you want to sew a project, particularly by hand, you sort of need decent fabric if you want your product to hold up (and I have no idea how to use my sewing machine…which I should probably do, since I inherited a pretty nice one from my grandma). Decent fabric tends to be expensive, and when you’re going to make something like a quilt, you can spend a lot of money. I recently did the math to see how much it would cost me to make a queen size quilt for our bed and realized it would be somewhere between $200-$250. Granted, to buy a brand new quilt from somewhere like, say, L.L. Bean, it would cost about the same, if not a bit more.

So. While I do plan on starting another quilt at some point (whenever we can scrounge up enough money to buy the initial fabric), in the mean time, I figured I needed to find a cheaper hobby. And I thought, “Knitting must be cheap.”

And this is what led me to the craft section of Wal-Mart Monday night where I walked away with about $13 dollars worth of knitting stuff: a set of needles, a crochet needle (because I figured that’d be interesting to learn too) and two skeins of yarn (a really pretty cobalt blue and multicolored for E.).

Then I went to the once source that would be garunteed to show me proper knitting technique: YouTube (this is a link to the video I used, in case you’re curious). So, I spent an absurd amount of time trying to figure it all out, and this is what I got (well, not exactly that, what I really had looked worse, but I forgot to take a picture earlier in the week):

20120127-073707.jpg

I got a little frustrated, to say the least, so I put it down for the night and the following morning (which was conveniently another delayed start) I tried again. And I finally felt like I was getting the hang of it. By Tuesday night I was feeling pretty good and showed my mom what I had so far. She gave me a few more pointers and even taught me an easier way to cast the yarn on to my needles AND how to do the purl knit. I didn’t knit at all on Wednesday, because I have once again been struck down the plague (also known as the common cold), but on Thursday I picked things back up again. And so, this morning I am proud to show you what I knitted yesterday:

20120127-074117.jpg

I know the picture quality isn’t great, but it’s a distinct difference from what I had before. It actually looks knitted. And, I’m really pleased that it only took from Tuesday until yesterday (and we really can’t count Wednesday because I didn’t do any knitting then) to get from unbelievable bad to pretty okay! I still have a lot of practice to do before I embark on any projects (even something as simple as a scarf), but I’m really glad I’ve got a new skill on the horizon that is actually somehow useful (just about everyone in my family will be receiving scarves next Christmas…just saying).

What’s your latest new skill? Is there anything you’d really like to learn how to do?

It’s Looking a Little Greener

We’re embarking into new territory at our house today: recycling.

It’s hard to believe we’re just starting to do this in earnest now, considering I’ve been learning about the importance of recycling since my first Captain Planet episode when I was just 6 years old, but I guess all I can say is better late than never.

Earlier I set out four large, reusable grocery bags (I seem to have accumulated billions, so I could spare a few) and got ready pile in the recyclables–three beer bottles and soda can.

Humph.

I guess I was happy I went the grocery bag route, because I’m realizing, despite my excitement about our little recycling center (see below), we wouldn’t have had enough stuff to fill the large plastic bins I was planning on getting.

20120122-103030.jpg

I suppose we’ll accumulate enough waste to begin filling them after a while, but for now I know at least a few bags will remain mostly empty.

In case you’re wondering what each bag is for, I have one for bottles, one for glass (which I imagine will stay the most empty, considering I save most of our glass jars for storage or drinking), once for paper, and one for cans (which will also stay pretty empty since I don’t really buy canned food). This could all change depending on how the recycling center works in our town (I have a pamphlet somewhere that I need to go over again).

The next step in attempting to make our home a little more eco-friendly? Worm/composting bin! I’ve done this before and loved it, but the husband wasn’t willing to travel with the compost bin when we moved in May. Besides, my design was a bit flawed and a found a way cooler way to go about it here.

The Good Things Books Do

 Do you ever look back in your life and say, “Geez, if only I’d known?”

I tend to do that with a lot of things, then promptly remind myself that there is neither a time machine to take me back or any real reason to feel regretful, because my life, as of right now, is pretty rockin’, and might not be if I hadn’t dealt with some slightly more icky things before getting to the rockin’. As the hubs puts it, “If we didn’t know the bad, how would we know the good?”

So. True.

But there is someone I wish I had known about back in the day (also known as high school). John Green. He’s the author of award winning novels such as Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, and I might be madly in love with him (in a completely literary way).

You see, what you might not know about me, because what I mostly write about in this blog and my previous one is mom and house-y stuff, is that I was once both a teenager and a creative writing major. John Green appeals to these past selves a great deal (and are what lead to my eventual change in major to Secondary Education/English, where I could both write creatively and hang out with teenagers…in a non-creepy manner–okay, “hang out” was a poor choice of words, but you get what I mean).

So, I’ll admit that I’ve only read two of John Green’s books (An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grason, which he co-wrote with David Levithan), but I’ve also watched, like, bazillions of the Vlog Brother videos he does with his brother, Hank Green (who is equally adorable and witty and talented and…yeah…I hope my husband doesn’t take this post the wrong way). These videos have simultaneously made me want to do a vlog (despite the fact that I hate my voice and how I look when I talk and that I have absolutely no patience for video editing, nevermind the software necessary), restored my faith in humanity, and allowed me to fully embrace my adult nerdiness (because it sometimes it’s hard to do once you’re over the age of, like, 21). Anyhow, the books that I’ve read by John Green have given the same warm and fuzzies that the videos have (without leaving that pukey after-taste that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition do), because they provide a postive message without being preachy (yay!) or leaving you a complete blubbering mess (and that’s pretty easy to do to me).

In other words, his books make me feel good.

Adorbs, right?

And, in keeping with the start of this post, I wish I had discovered John Green, like, eight or nine years ago (even though his first book wasn’t published until 2005, though I probably could have used him that year, because it sucked), because, from what I’ve read so far, I’m pretty sure he’s writing about me. Or, at least he’s writing about boys who are loosely based on girls like me. His characters are the kids I would have hung out with as a teenager (or did hang out with, because, believe it or not, I had friends back then). Smart, quick-witted, lots of potential, but not always sure what we’re going to do with all that potential. And while some of the scenarios the characters find themselves in are a bit unimaginable  (there seem to be a lot of unauthorized road trips that I know I would not have been allowed to go on at that age), the stories don’t seem false. They ring of truth even if it is unlikely a high school would be able to fund a broadway quality musical about a gay student’s life.

And because the books aren’t hokey and they provide a positive message that an adolescent (or even a former one) can appreciate, I wish I had access to John Green and his books when I was in high school, because, even though I was socially accepted and, over all, a pretty happy kid, I think every teenager feels, to some extent, that they’re alone in some way. I think John Green could have given me some much needed perspective, mainly, that I was far from alone in how I felt and that I could do something positive in the world, even as a virtually powerless, underaged peon.

I guess that’s what I love about John Green the most. He reminds me of why I wanted to go into secondary education, why, in the long run, I want to work with teenagers. They’re so incredibly interesting and excited about things, even when they can act so frustratingly jaded and know-it-all-ish. It’s that confidence in themsevles that makes teens and young adults (and, yay, I still get to be one of those) so great at making a change in the world. While his books are written for teens, I also think he’s directing much of what he has to say at those who directly affect teenage lives, the adults who raise them or teach them, reminding us of what is boiling underneath that thin veil of I-don’t-care or I’m-too-cool.

Also, on a final note, he did say this (see below), and I think it’s something all girls need to hear, like, constantly and it’s something I with I had got when I was in middle school/high school. I would have saved me so much misery.

Welcome to the Pit

It snowed last night, so we have a two hour delay (side note: I delight in the fact that the 4-5 inches that fell last night only resulted in a delay for us while across the country this would have shut an entire state down–I’m talking to you, Washington!). With the delay, I’ve been given some time to wallow in my misery and question whether or not Friday is turning out to be a worthy institution in my life.

Last Friday, with miserable weather and completely unreasonably slippery roads (and no delay), I went off the road while on my way to work. Some other crap went down, too, but with busy-ness related short term memory loss, I don’t remember what. But last Friday sucked.

This Friday I woke up at 5:15, realized I had a delay (i.e. I could sleep as late as 6!!), and promptly couldn’t go back to sleep. So I got up and ate breakfast…in this mess:

20120120-074355.jpg

Now, I feel comfortable showing you this because, believe me, my house never looks like this. I’m not saying that my house is usually perfect (because, if it was, I wouldn’t be the kind of person who would let this happen), but it’s usually…livable? Not disgusting?

This is, in case you’re wondering, is a result of what happens when I am fully exhausted from work, the husband has work off for a couple of days (the whole “pick up after yourself” concept is a wee bit foreign to him), and, in keeping with horrible Fridays (though, technically this started last night), when your husband and father are cutting holes (again) in your ceiling because your shower leaks every time you try to take one, and you really don’t feel like cleaning when there is more destruction to come.

I had thought, after last night’s adventure of watching Dad and Husband cut a hole in my ceiling and try to fit a pipe back together (Dad: Move it a little to a left. Husband: Is it in? Dad: More to the left and move down. Husband: Is it in yet? Dad: *Sighs* Nope. Me: That’s what she said.), I had hoped (okay, assumed) the problem was solved, if only temporarily.

Oh, how wrong I was.

After I ate breakfast in the pits of hell (a.k.a. my kitchen table), I went up to take a shower. As I started the shower, I went to go grab a couple of towels from another room. I came back into the hall as I heard E. yelling, “MAMA! The bathtub is leaking again!” I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it. How on earth could this be happening again???

But there it was. A massive puddle of water pooling underneath my tub and slowly making it’s way across my bathroom floor.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that multiple, highly inappropriate words came tumbling out of my mouth. I immediately called my dad and told the husband. I cried. I ended up having to take a little “bird bath” in my sink, because I still have to be to work this morning.

And, after I got cleaned up, dressed, got E. breakfast, cleaned off my car, and cried a bit more, I sat down here and started to write this post.

I don’t feel any better, to be honest, though I had some hope this would be a bit cathartic. My house is still gross. I don’t know what the outcome will be with the bathroom. I feel fairly defeated. The only thing I can take comfort in is the fact that I look pretty rocking this morning, despite everything else (had a picture, but it was embarrassingly awful, so I had to take it down, BUT I did look great!).

Update 1/21: I did mention previously that my husband doesn’t do that whole picking up thing. Well, yesterday, I came home and the downstairs was spotless. This is why we’re still married. Because he’s awesome.

Apartments Gone By

Joining Mama Kat’s blog today to do the following writing prompt –

You stepped into your first apartment and thought:

This. Is. AWESOME!

It was January 2007, and my boyfriend at the time (now my mister) and I were looking for apartments. While I’d been in class he had scoped out the apartment fair on campus, gone to see a few places (including a super creepy place possibly run by Natasha and Boris of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame), and now we were attempting to make a final decision.

The last apartment we look at was, in our eyes, perfect. It had roughly the same square footage as a shoebox, with three rooms: the surprisingly roomy bathroom, the kitchen/living room/dining room, and the bedroom with a ceiling so low and sloped you could not fit a real bed in there, just a mattress (and, in our case, an air mattress).

It was dark, dirty, nearly windowless, cramped, and had a hallway that periodically smelled like rotting fish, but we loved it.

I think most people look back at their first apartment, either on their own or as a couple, fondly. And, when I think of those first months living with my husband, having my own space, being truly independent of my parents or any other adults for the very first time, I can’t help but smile. Sure, the place was totally gross and our landlord turned out to be a huge jerk, but that was the place where we had our first Christmas tree together, where we brought home our daughter from the hospital, and where our friends would come to hang out when they couldn’t stand the dorms or parents’ homes any longer. Heck, if it weren’t for that place I wouldn’t be able to tell my favorite pregnancy story about turtle syndrome, which is when a very pregnant woman finds herself stuck on her back in a very low air mattress and can’t seem to roll over quite far enough to actually be able to get up and her husband has just left for his over night shift and she has to call her friend to come over and pull her up.

True. Story.

By the time we moved into our house this past May, we’d lived in three different apartments, each gradually getting better than the previous one (the one we left this spring was a two bedroom apartment with hardwood floors and a dishwasher–waaaaaay nice). And while I never would have wanted to or even really been able to stay in our first apartment, for some bizarre reason, even with our beautiful hardwood floors, non-mean landlord, and dishwasher of our last apartment, I did miss the “character” of our first apartment. And the $400 rent. That was nice, too.

Rethinking What You Think

I was talking to my best friend the other day. She’s single and childless, works three jobs (this girl is a machine), and there are things that she and I don’t quite get about one another any more. Which is fine. The fun thing about having friends is that, hopefully, on some level, they’re different from you and you’re constantly learning new things about one another and how to work with and love all sorts of different people.

But this isn’t about how to be friends with people who live entirely different lives from you. It’s about not comparing your entirely different lives.  

I don’t exactly look at BFF’s life with a wistful eye. For all the “freedoms” she might have because she doesn’t have to worry about anyone besides herself, there is all that single girl drama that I am more than happy to avoid (and, am frankly naive about, since I’ve not been single since I was a teenager). Plus, I love the fact that my husband is mine and we are a team. And, above all, I have a wonderful kiddo in my life who makes things all the more rich and exciting. BUT, I have a hell of a lot of stuff on my plate. And I don’t get out much. And I’m fairly sheltered from the outside world. I also don’t have much time to hang out with friends and dish about the stuff that goes on in our lives.

As I was chatting with the BFF the other day, I found us both agreeing that I have no life. And, I think there are lots of moms out there (or other people who just find themselves incredibly busy all the time) tend to think or say the same thing. And when I first said this, I felt okay about it. But as I heard my BFF agreeing with  me, I felt a little pang, and that pang has been gnawing at me for days now.

Who decides what a life should look like? Just because I am not living the life that has been ascribed to vaguely middle to upper class, white, educated 23 year olds does not mean I’m not living. Damnit, I’ve done more LIVING in the last five years than most chicks in their early twenties. And that’s awesome.

What’s more–what an incredible insult to my child and husband, to say these two fundamental people who shape my life, are completely inconsequential. If they are what my life currently consists of, and then I go on to say, “I have no life,” then I’m really saying, “Hey, you two, shorty and beast-man–LOSERS!”

And if all that’s the case, then what about my job? My job, to some degree, is important and it’s a huge part of my life because I spend a heck of a lot time there. And I’m not sitting at some desk filing my nails. I’m working with kids who have special needs, and I’m trying to help them work their skills and be better students. It’s not, like, being Mother Theresa, or even being that Freedom Writer teacher, but it’s a job to be proud of, and if I say I have no life, then the work I put in and the people I work with suddenly have no meaning (in my universe, anyway).

Now, I’m not saying that if I’m feeling a certain dissatisfaction with how things are going in my life, like I’m feeling a little stir crazy and need to get out with the hubs or some friends, or I’d like to read something other than Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, or I’m kind of down because I’ve yet to travel outside of the country, despite our ridiculously close proximity to Canada, it’s not okay. We’ve all got things we want to do, and we should make time or try to find a way to do those things. But we can’t look at others who are maybe getting more of a taste of that particular side of life and feel like we’re doing something wrong or there is something “bad” about our lives, or, worst of all, that we’re not living one. If you can look at your world, as a complete whole, and feel proud, feel happy, and feel content, then even the busiest, biggest, and most naive shut-in of a mother (a.k.a. me), can confidently know she is living. It. UP.

Future Careers

I may have found South Park’s next animator.

20120112-082910.jpg

Is it just me, or do E.’s people look remarkably like Canadians in South Park?

20120112-083308.jpg

Sorry the picture is sideways! But, if you kind of tilt your head you can see what I mean. And, it leads me to to only one conclusion–either E.’s a secret comedic/animating genius (I love South Park) or the hubs is letting her watch South Park. For the sake of my sanity and marriage, I’ll go with genius.