Friday, January 28, 2011

Feel Good Friday – “Thinking of You”

Check out The Girl Next Door Grows Up!

This week started off really good! I did my first guest post for Erika at The Girl Next Door Grows Up. I felt so honored that she wanted me to write something for her blog. Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom, I don’t receive a lot of recognition for much of anything. I mean, I don’t expect The Babes to say, “Thanks for making this delicious lunch of cheese, bread, and crackers with a side of fruit.” Harrington does say things like “Bathroom look great!” or “Wow! You did five loads of laundry in one day? You are awesome!”

Although it’s thoughtful, receiving a compliment on my ability to use cleaning products and a rag does not give me the same charge of excitement as someone liking my writing.

So, thank you, Erika! That definitely put a spring in my step!

I got another little boost in the form of a text this week.

To make a long story short, I have a fear of raw chicken. I am known throughout my circle of friends and family for this crazy fear. (But just so you know, I have devoted these next eleven months to getting over this. Because it was getting out of hand. A post for another time).

So my friend texted me, “Cooking chicken. Thinking of you.”

We went back and forth, and she told me we could practice on the two organic chickens in her freezer and drink some wine.

How sweet is that?! Something about that just struck me as so kind. Friendships become tricky when you add the motherhood factor into the mix, so often times, I (and I assume other mothers as well) don’t get a lot of face time with friends. So when I get a text like that, it means the world to me.

In that same vein, my favorite Anonymous poster (otherwise known as Aunt Diane) sent me the greatest “just because” card. Maybe you’ve seen it. There’s a woman dancing on it saying that when she’s president everything will be decided in a dance-off. Then the inside of the card says, “You’re going to be my vice president so better start practicing your moves.” Then she wrote that she saw this card and thought of me.

For no reason. Just thought of me.

I feel there are some tectonic shifts occurring in the foundation of my support system. It’s sad and happy, scary and exciting.

Either way, when I get little rays of sunshine during this foggy time, I feel a lightness that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My First Guest Post!

Today I am guest posting for The Girl Next Door Grows Up! Can you believe it?! I am so excited!! I am also very honored that Erika gave me this opportunity. I love her blog, especially her Feel Good Fridays. She has a way of writing that always makes me feel happier, and I feel inspired to see the positive in life.

So please follow me on over to read my guest post for The Girl Next Door Grows Up!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Feel Good Friday – California Dreaming

Check out The Girl Next Door Grows Up!

As you know, I have been in a funk. I talk about it here and here. And to add to all of that, I Marie was well enough to leave the house, which sounded like a good idea. Except that it was 14 degrees outside and Thomas thinks coats are a form of torture. He expressed himself to everyone in Macy’s and the parking lot his strong dislike of coats. *shudder*

But this is no time to dwell on this because it’s FEEL GOOD FRIDAY! Yea!

Guess what? In March, I get to go here. That’s right the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana, California! How exciting!! How is this happening, you ask? For the same reason I got to go to Vancouver in the fall: riding Harrington’s coat tails.

*Here's where I would post some pictures, but Blogger and The Babes are not allowing that right now.*
As you know, I had issues with feeling guilty for enjoying the benefits of his work. I didn’t actually *earn* it since it was his gig. But after this week of hardly leaving the house, I’m feeling like I deserve a few days in a spa with an ocean side view. It’s totally worth the awkward feeling I have when conversing with strangers that I have little in common with.

And if the St. Regis sounds familiar, you would be right. It has been the site of several of Real Housewives of Orange County episodes, like this one with Tamara and Gretchen.  How cool is that?!

So that is my happy thought on Friday: another spa-venture in sunny and warm California.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Product Review Coming Soon: How CSN is Helping Me Out of My Funk

So as you know, I have been in a bit of a funk. And what better way to work your way out of a funk (besides yoga and self-reflection) than going shopping? Enter CSN Stores and their generous offer for an opportunity to do a product review. CSN has 200 online stores with ton of different stuff to choose from like a stately leather briefcase or awesome bamboo cutting boards or even super cute wallets. I feel pretty confident that I can have a successful retail therapy session at CSN.

Here’s what I am thinking: maybe some round cake pans. I had intentions of baking and crafting my winter away, but somehow that got derailed. Marie loves Duff from Ace of Cakes, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a real layer cake. That would be all kinds of yummy fun!

Or maybe I could get something for my office that I am slowly putting together. I feel that if the space was little more done, I might want to spend some more time in it. And you know, after being cooped up in the house all day AND taking care of a sick Babe, a nice place to be alone for an hour or so would be kind of nice.

Or maybe I could upgrade my wallet that is falling apart. I’ve been carrying around my Plain Jane wallet around for almost a decade. A decade!! I think I could use some fancy in this department.

And as soon as CSN sends some sunshine and happiness my way (in the form of a $35 credit), I will tell you all about it. Let’s hear it for retail therapy!

See? Now I am all giddy with excitement! So what would you get from CSN? Something fun? Something useful? Something practical? With all this exhilarating anticipation swirling about, I am having a hard time deciding and could use some guidance.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hermy the Elf is a Genius

I’m in a funk.

It started out first as wanting to rest after the holidays.

Well, that was three weeks ago, and I still don’t want to get off the couch. This cozy-let’s-drink-coffee-and-hot-cocoa-and-cuddle-and-watch-tv-all-day feeling has turned into I-think-my-brain-might-be-turning-into-oatmeal-and-not-the-hearty-old-fashioned-oats-kind-but-the-nutrion-depleted-instant –kind feeling.

And because winter’s cozy feeling is so cunning and sneaky, I can’t quite remember which came first: am I sad because I am not doing anything? Or am I not doing anything because I am sad.

I think I can say both.

The holidays and all their shenanigans totally sucked my will to live. So I think what started out as recovering from a rough couple of weeks has turned into a self-reflection marathon in which I have had to come to terms with a few things.

Relationships can be a bitch. They can be messy, difficult, and confusing. But when they start to be more frustrating than supportive . . . what do you do?

And why should I care if it’s not with the three people with whom I am legally bound (that kind of sounds like I may be talking about sister wives, but I am talking about Harrington and The Babes. Note to self: you may be too emotionally invested into Big Love).

And then I read this in Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Committed, in which she quotes psychologist Carol Gilligan, “Women’s sense of integrity seems to be entwined with an ethic of care, so that to see themselves as women is to see themselves in a relationship of connection.” Banks goes on to talk about how this “fierce instinct for entwinement” can cause women to “make bad choices” for the “greater good.”

Now the context of this passage is marriage, but I can totally apply it to my life and choices I have made in other relationships. I mean, who hasn’t put their self-worth aside or done something that they felt was in the complete opposite direction of their inner-compass in order to keep a relationship from derailing?

Me. Anyone else?

If so, then let’s all meet on the Island of Misfit Toys from the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie. Because Hermy the Elf? You know the one who dared to follow his own happiness? He speaks such sweet truth:

Why am I such a misfit?
I am not just a nit wit!
They can't fire me.
We may be different from the rest
Who decides the test
Of what is really best?
We're a couple of misfits
We're a couple of misfits
What's the matter with misfits
That's where we fit in!

So screw this feeling of ickiness. I’m supposed to be on the Bringing the Happy Back World Tour Bus. And this is not OK.

So today I got my ass out of bed early and did yoga and even left the house to go to Target. And you know what? I feel better.

And then I found this status update that totally inspired me:

In life there's gonna be times when you're feeling low...and in your mind insecurities seem to take control..we start to look outside ourselves for acceptance and approval. We keep forgetting that the one thing we should know is...Don't be scared to fly alone..Find a path that is your will open every door..Don't hold back and always know...All the answers you will unfold
Christina Aguilera
I rather be a misfit than a dead, heartless robot that goes about pins her happiness on others. That. Never. Works. Ever.

So what demons are you wrestling with today?

Tune in tomorrow where I have a light and fun post about a review I will be doing soon! Yea!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Feel Good Friday: When Life Gives You Snow, Make Snow Angels

Be sure to check out The Girl Next Door Grows Up for some Feel Good Friday Fun!

I have been sluggish and tired and kind of grumpy all week. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not the cold, snowy weather that makes me cranky. It’s having to *go* somewhere in the cold, snowy weather. I would be happy as could be if I could just hibernate on the couch and put off my To Do List until spring.

But I live in Michigan. Spring could come as late as May. And I just don’t think that would be any one’s best interest.

So instead, I shifted my focus. Yes, it snowed more. Yes, I could have stayed in the house. But on this special Thursday, I took this winter by the snow balls and showed it who was boss.

Oh, yes I did . . . when we eventually made it outside.

By the time I put each Babe in heavy clothes and snow pants and boots and heavy coats and hats and mittens and scarves, forty minutes had passed. FORTY MINUTES!!

But we did stay out for a whole twenty minutes. Here are the pictures to prove it:
Thomas does not like wearing hats and mittens. At all.
I’m not sure if you are able to gather that from the
expression on his face. I think he would rather stay
on the couch and watch his shows.
I’m not sure where gets that from.

“WTF! What are these things?
Get them off my hands now.
 I’m sure this is a form of torture.”

Thomas: “Who thinks that this a good time?
There is nothing fun wearing clothes that prohibit my movement
 and restrict my hands. Nothing, I tell you!”

Marie: “Seriously?! He’s ruining this sled ride.”

Me: “OK, Babes! Look this way! Yeaa! This is fun!
We are outside! Isn’t this awesome!”

Finally I let Marie do her thing. Then I proceeded to cave and let Thomas take off his hat and mittens.

Where can I pick up my Mother of the Year award for
letting my toddler play outside in the snow with no hat or mittens?

Marie loves the snow.

I mean, LOVES it!

So when life gave us another snow storm, I decided it was time to make some snow angles. I know it was a lot of hard work, and it was cold. But in the end, I felt really lucky. Lucky that I am able to have these fun, spontaneous moments with The Babes. Lucky that on some random Thursday, we were able to make some memories.

Not a bad way to spend Friday’s Eve, if you ask me.

How was your week? Were you able to find some spontaneity and fun in your week?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Evils of Play Dates and Other Western Indulgences

I am sure that many of you have heard of Amy Chua and why she thinks Chinese mothers are awesome. I saw her on the Today Show, ironically after the Snooki novel interview.


She’s a hardcore, no-nonsense kind of mama. Not the kind where you feel all cozy at her house while you sip coffee during a play date. Oh wait, that’s right. Because there were no play dates for her girls. Or TV. Or anything fun. Because according to Amy nothing is fun unless you are the best at it. (No wonder I like to watch TV; I am damn good at it)!

I thought Amy would just be a blip on my radar, but then my uncle sent me the article in the Wall Street Journal.

Wow. And yikes again. (And thank you)!

My favorite part was when she describes the battle of epic proportions in which she would not let her daughter quit until she got this piano piece exactly right. Sounds great, right? What kind of mother would she be if she just gave up on her daughter? Except that she called her seven year old “lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic” to show her love and support that she could do it.


I am all about perseverance and hard work and success, yet not at the expense of self-esteem. But Amy says that the Chinese parent is not concerned with self-esteem because children will get that from doing a good job.

I disagree. I think that bullying a child for good results is the opposite of good parenting. But that’s pretty typical of Western thinking in general: we believe in the individual and fostering a strong sense of self-esteem. We believe that we are all special in our own way.

I’m pretty sure that Amy would disagree with that. According to her parenting model, her kids’ performance at school is a reflection of her job as a mother. She’s all about micromanaging and domineering. Which, if it’s working for her, that’s great. But I wonder how these kids learn to make any decisions on their own when they aren’t under the careful watch of the prison warden, I mean mother.

But I did agree with her on one thing: Many Western parents don’t put the blame on the students for not doing well in school. They call the principal to argue how the material is being taught and the teacher’s credentials. I was the victim of that plenty of times when I was teaching. And it was horrible. So on this, I will agree. Often Western parents don’t put enough heat on their kids to take responsibility for their actions. And with that, there is a sense helplessness that comes along with not feeling empowered by making your own choices and feeling the weight of their consequences.

The sense of entitlement can be just as debilitating as being micromanaged by your parent. Which is kind of ironic, don’t you think?

But here’s the thing, her kids are not adults yet. Isn’t it a little preemptive to say her parenting model is full of the awesome and her kids haven’t even gone to college yet? What happens if they get a taste of beer freedom and go bat-shit crazy? Wonder if all those years of saying no to school plays, she wants to be a drama major?

And I’m not saying that I am doing everything right. I’m pretty sure I have given Marie plenty to talk about with her future therapist such as when I told her that she disappointed me by lying about jumping on the bed. Thomas will probably talk about the times I didn’t give him attention when he pouted that I would not give him a brownie until after he finished his dinner.

As mothers, we follow our inner compass and do our best that we can. My inner compass says that raising healthy, balanced babes is my priority. If Amy wants to bully her kids and call them pathetic in the name of raising successful kids, then that’s her priority. (And success if pretty subjective which is a post for another time).

But I can’t say that, if our kids were the same age, that they would be friends.

Mostly because a play date was not on the list of approved activities for her girls.

So what do you think? Where are you on the spectrum of parenting? Are you a bad-ass, crack the whip call-your-kid-fat-to-her-face-because-I-love-you kind of mom? Or are you I-Can’t-Believe-The-Teacher-Gave-You-A-Failing-Grade-How-Can-That-Be-You-Are-A-Genius-That-Teacher-Is-A-Moron kind of mom? Or do you fall somewhere in between? Let’s hear it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Post That Snooki Inspired

It’s late. But it could be the after breakfast. Or even afternoon.

I. Want. To. Hibernate.

I have this big, fuzzy blanket that strongly suggests anything on the To Do List can wait until spring. My friend, who lives near Sault St. Marie, Michigan, said to me that I can’t hide from winter. I told him that there is a fine line between hibernating and hiding. He replied that I should be careful which side of the line I was on. I laughed.

But you know what? He was right. I would have been totally happy to snuggle up on the couch all afternoon and watch TV. And I have been for big chunks of the afternoon. And at night. And if I am lucky, while I drink my morning cup of coffee.

Am I hiding? Am I hibernating?

I think it’s both. It’s cold and snowy out, so of course I want to stay inside. But there is also a part of me that’s working through a few things that happened during the holiday, so I guess I do kind of want to hide out for a bit, too.

I am still working out. I am still eating better. I mean, I couldn’t totally check out and make these yummy dishes:

Roasted celery, carrots, and beets.
Here's a lesson learned: roasted celery is too stringy.
Roasted sweet potatos, butternut squash, and apples
with cinnamon
Vegetarian black bean chili - AWESOME!!

So yes, I am taking care of business, but I would rather not.

And I don’t even think I would be writing this post if I hadn’t seen Snooki on the Today Show promoting, not her show, but . . .wait for it . . . wait for it . . . HER NOVEL!

A novel, for Christ’s sake! If she can write a novel about a “gorilla juice head,” I can write a 300ish word post. Seriously!

I’m sure she’s a nice enough girl and all. I could see her promoting her slipper line or anything else to do with her look and lifestyle. But a novel?! Not even a memoir but a novel?!

And don’t even get me started how she dodged Matt’s questions about drinking. Ironically enough, while watching last week’s show, I posted on facebook that I thought Snooki would be the cast member most likely to become a patient of Dr. Drew on Celebrity Rehab.

Anyone else thinking the same thing?

(And I realize that I am contributing to the problem as to why this show is number one on MTV right now and the culture of rewarding bad behavior. It’s just so hard to look away).

Well, that’s all I got. Snooki’s book is probably better than this post. So sorry for that.

Well, anyone else hibernating and/or hiding? How can you tell which one?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whole Living 28-Day Challenge: The Stress Log Assignment

Alternatively titled: Finally, Something I Can Do Without Feeling Like a Big, Fat Failure!

Here’s another update of the Whole Living 28-Day Challenge. (And in case you missed my report of the first day, read this). We have to keep a stress log of all the things that stress us out. Clues to this would be muscles tightening, breathing quickly, etc.

At first, I thought, “How silly! Of course I know what stresses me out! I’m a vent-er, not a bottle-er.”

And then I remembered last year when I woke up and couldn’t open my mouth because I had been clenching my jaw so tightly at night.

And then there was the time I broke out in a huge rash, and the dermatologist asked me if I was allergic to anything. I giggled nervously and answered, “My life.”

He didn’t laugh.

And then there’s all the times my mother tells me to stop hunching my shoulders up all the time.

So, OK, there may be a *few*things that get me all keyed up.

Instead of droning on and on and on, I think it can be boiled down to one word: relationships.

Nothing stresses me out or makes me loose more sleep than relationships.

I’ve discussed my mission here many o’ times about personal boundaries and healthy relationships.

And for the most part? I am doing better. Much better.

But it still stresses me out because I think I assume too much responsibility. Not in a I-want-to-control-EVERYTHING-I-will-make-this-work kind of way. More in a relationships-are-important-to-me-I-want-them-in-my-life kind of way.

So the issue lies somewhere between what I want and what people are able to give.

So this year? This is the year I make peace with that issue. Because my goal is to find more Happy. And I can’t find Happy if I am still hanging out with Frustration and Disappointment, now can I? And even though Frustration and Disappointment are not fun to hang out with, breaking up with them is hard. Remember that boyfriend that you knew was no good, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to make the break official because you rather be miserable than be alone?

Well, I know miserable. And miserable can, in the wise words of Kathy Griffin, suck it!

But this kind of change takes time and a lot of work. So thankfully, this challenge has built in some time for yoga and breathing. Hopefully, by the end of the twenty-eight days, it will be a new habit.

And besides, when I take a good look around, I’m not really alone.

So let me ask you: What kind of misery are you hanging on to? What do you do to find happiness?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things I Have Learned About Myself Thanks to the Whole Living 28-Day Action Plan

Alternatively titled: How I’d Cut a Bitch for My Afternoon Cup of Coffee

So I am trying the Whole Living 28-Day Action Plan. It addresses eating whole foods, exercising, and mental well-being.

I shopped for Week 1. It took me over 2 ½ hours. At two different stores. But because I am not easily deterred, so I persisted.

I made three meals on Sunday to kick off the week. My kitchen looked like this:

Yikes, right?
Guess what?  All those pots and pans needed to be washed, too.
Aside: Does that new stove look sharp or what?!
It does not look tasty, and I didn't clean up the bowl
before I took the picture.  But this Amond Chicken
Soup was awesome!  And everyone liked it.

Again, I am not quitter. I drank that hot lemon water. Twice. Like it was my job.

Monday, I drank only one cup of coffee in the morning. I was eating the little meals all day. I drank herbal tea when I wanted my afternoon coffee or a glass of wine at night. I ate The Millet Bowl. I even ate millet with honey and sunflower seeds for breakfast today.

And then it happened.

The shakes.

The cold sweats.

The dizziness.

I couldn’t do it. I had to break down and eat something. For real. And for real, I mean protein.

So I broke the rules and had a piece of toast (all allergens were off the list, like wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, and soy) with the suggested almond butter. But instead of water, I had the forbidden juice. That’s right; I washed my indulgence down with five ounces of sugar water, otherwise known as orange juice.

Don't even get me started on how I failed big time on the media fast either.  (I justified this since I neglected reading my favorite blogs and writing on my own for the last month).

So here’s what I learned about myself and my family:
- I need protein.
- I do not like millet. In fact, no one in this family likes millet.
- Thomas will eat oranges.
- Marie like sunflower seeds, but not pomegranate seeds.
- Cutting my semi-regular afternoon cup of coffee is not worth it to me at this time.
- Harrington does have my back, seeing that he ate the millet with me. (Although I am sure he snacked it up at work).
- I think if I exercise 3-5 days a week, that’s not so bad. (The plan suggests a little every day).

So effective today, I have modified this action plan so I can effectively parent my children and not become a floppy pancake that needs to be scooped up off the floor. Although Marie does know how to dial 911, I do not think I want to see if she could do it in a real emergency.

And how embarrassing would it be to explain to the EMS that I passed out because I chose to eat disgusting millet instead of peanut butter toast for breakfast.

And that afternoon cup of coffee? It’s not like I am freebasing crack or drinking my lunch out of a bottle. Not to mention, I can’t go around wanting to cut people because I want a cup of coffee. That would not be a good example for The Babes, now would it?

So I will continue to try new foods and exercise and take some time to recharge since those are in line with my goals for 2011. But so is happiness. And this? Not making me happy. In fact, the lack of protein was making me so lethargic, I thought maybe I was depressed.

And that is the opposite of happy.

A few years back, I would think that I was a quitter. But since this is about Whole Living, I think it’s better to look at the whole picture (who is going to take care of The Babes when their mother is zoned out due to low blood sugar?) (meal times are crazy enough without making two dinners) (personal happiness)

And I can’t go around acting like this, right?

Hope your 2011 is getting off to a good start!