Hot-lanta wedding

This past weekend, Chris and I drove to Atlanta for my cousin Cici’s wedding.

After the last two weddings we’ve gone to – my sister’s and my cousin Renee’s – I had decided that as much as I love my kids and enjoy hanging out with them, I really didn’t want to bring them to another family wedding unless I had to. I felt like I never got to have a real conversation with anyone because I always had one eye on the lookout for the girls, making sure they weren’t getting into any trouble. Either that, or Catie was whining she was hungry, Lucy needed someone to take her to the bathroom, that kind of thing. And we always had to leave early because the kids had to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

This time, I managed to trade off weekends with Dave, so he kept the girls with him for the weekend. I don’t think Chris and I have ever taken a road trip together, just the two of us, and it was really nice. We enjoy each other’s company a lot, so it was nice to just drive down on our own timeline, no major rush, and no worrying about nap schedules or potty breaks or anything. We got to Atlanta Friday night, checked into the hotel, and met up with some of my family. (My aunt and uncle hosted an informal get-together in their suite.) My family is made up of crazy loud talkers, but this time we had our first noise complaint from the hotel management by 9 p.m., which may be a record even for us.

My family is also large enough that we took up pretty much the entire floor of the hotel. Chris and I later joked that we couldn’t leave our room without bumping into one of my relatives – I went to the hotel gym on Saturday to work out, and I saw my sister and brother-in-law on the way there, and saw my cousin Renee on the way back. When Chris went to the hotel gym about an hour later, he ran into my dad.

Pre-wedding selfie (we clean up good).
Obligatory pre-wedding selfie.

The wedding was on Saturday evening at an old plantation home in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. It was an unusually chilly day for late March in Georgia (high in the low 50s), but the ceremony was outside in the sunshine, and it was just perfect. My aunt Michele was the officiant, and they kept the ceremony short and sweet.

Cici’s younger sister, my cousin Teresa, died about 10 years ago of cystic fibrosis. She was 19 years old when she passed away. Teresa was the baby of the family, the youngest of all us cousins, and it was emotional and hard on all of us when she passed away, but nowhere near what it was like for Cici to lose her baby sister. During the ceremony, besides the traditional vows, Cici and her husband Chuck exchanged vows in the style of Doctor Seuss (“I will love you in a house, I will love you with a mouse, I will love you here and there, I will love you everywhere,” etc.) as a tribute to Teresa.

And you know, I never cry at weddings. But there was something about that, that was so sweet and touching, it really got to me. I know I was not the only one there who teared up.

The reception was inside the plantation home, and it was really beautiful.

Mr. & Mrs. McCourt

We danced, we ate, and I actually got to have conversations with people in my family, where I could focus on them and not worry about where my kids were at that particular moment. It was lovely.

After the reception was over, Cici and Chuck had planned to have people meet up at a restaurant across the street from the hotel where all of us were staying. Chris and I went, and I had way too much to drink (which isn’t actually a lot, I just don’t have much of a tolerance level since I almost never drink anymore). It was kind of odd to be drunk in front of my aunts and uncles, and realize that I’m now old enough that I don’t have to pretend to be sober in front of them. I’m not a teenager sneaking wine at a family reunion, they don’t really care how many vodka & cranberry juices I’ve had.

At some point that night, Chris took this picture of me with Cici and my cousin Ryan.

My beautiful cousin Cici got married yesterday & I have no idea what is happening in this picture, but it seems about right.

I don’t even know what exactly is going on there (note the groom in the giant cowboy hat in the background), but I think this sums up my family pretty well. Buncha goofballs, all of us.

Every time we have some event that gets all of my family together, I’m reminded how lucky I am to be related to these great people who I really enjoy, and I wish we all lived closer so we could see each other more often. This was another one of those occasions.

And I’m just so happy for Cici. Even though she totally threw me under the bus 15 years ago and told her dad that it was my idea for her to get a tattoo when she was 19. (Long story, but it WAS NOT my idea!) Even still, she deserves all the happiness in the world, and I’m so glad we got to be there for her.

recovery week

The past few days have been a little rough for me while I recover from the half-marathon. I wasn’t expecting to be in as much pain afterward as I was. I assumed that if I could run 10 miles, 13.1 wouldn’t be much different. I was so wrong.

A few weeks ago, right in the middle of training for the half-marathon, I developed plantar fascitis in my left foot. My doctor is also a runner, and between him and all my running friends, I felt pretty ok about dealing with it. But despite all the precautions I took (ibuprofen, ice, stretching, sleeping with my foot in a really awkward brace contraption), it flared up with a vengeance after the half-marathon. I couldn’t put my left heel down when I walked, I had to walk on the tip-toes on my left foot. (Awkward, to say the least.)

So I’ve been taking it easy, doing some yoga/strength exercises to try to stretch my muscles out. I’ve gone on a couple of short runs this week, and I feel… ok-ish? My left foot still hurts if I’m on my feet too much (like last night when the girls and I went to the grocery store), but it’s manageable.

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Other stuff that’s been going on this week:

I had a parent-teacher conference with Catie’s teacher this week. Which was not particularly eventful, but there was one major surprise there: he mentioned that Catie is reading ahead of her grade level.

This is the same child who, 1 year ago, was so far behind her peers that the school had her working with a special ed teacher doing a “reading intervention” program. The same child whose first grade teacher told me that no matter what we did with private tutors, she was going to be behind the curve in second grade too. (I’m still angry at her first grade teacher for saying that to me and Dave. What the hell, lady?)

And now she’s ahead of grade level. Not by much, it’s not like she’s reading “War and Peace” or anything, but STILL.

I mentioned to her teacher that it surprised me because I still have trouble getting her to read at home, and he said, “Oh, that’s a shame, she’s a beautiful reader. That’s all she really wants to do in class is read.”

I’m still a little bit stunned by that. Although I shouldn’t be, Catie has made a lifelong habit of surprising me when I least expect it.

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On the Lucy side of things: I think most parents say that the “terrible twos” are really nothing compared to the “treacherous threes,” and based on my experience with Catie, I would have been inclined to agree. But man, Lucy is just hilarious and delightful and so… easy. Like, way easier than any toddler should be.

I keep half-waiting for her to turn into some type of toddler demon hellbeast, but maybe her daytime personality is easygoing to make up for 3.5 years of waking me up at night? Kids have survival skills and all.

And because I’m always worried that I’ll forget this stuff someday, these are a few recent Lucy gems:

* When something bothers her, she says, “it makes me annoying!” (I will never correct her.)

* Most mornings, she climbs into bed between me and Chris, and goes back to sleep for a while. There was one day that she had missed her nap and was up past her bedtime, so she slept HARD all night. It was a weekend, and around 7:30 a.m., the whole house was sleeping quietly, and suddenly a tiny voice yelled, “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!” Chris and I were like, “Oh ok, guess Lucy is awake.” I don’t even know how she learned C&C Music Factory, since that song came out about 20 years before she born.

* When we went to see Cinderella last week, one of the plot points of the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie was that Elsa caught a cold, and every time she sneezed, her ice powers would go crazy and tiny little snowmen would pop up everywhere. So, on Monday, when Catie came down with a fever (she’s fine, it was a fluke 48-hour thing), I told Lucy that Catie was sick. Lucy said, “I think she might make tiny snowmans when she sneezes.”

I said, “No, that’s silly, Catie doesn’t have ice powers.”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Maybe instead she make tiny Steves.” As in the main dude from Minecraft.

I was impressed with how clever that was, because she knows Catie doesn’t care about Frozen, so she took the general concept and applied it to the thing Catie loves, Minecraft.

* She can spell her name, and I don’t know if that’s normal for a 3 year-old or not, but Catie didn’t spell her name until closer to kindergarten, so it seems impressive to me. (I take no credit, that’s all daycare.) She likes the trailer for the Scarlet Johannsen movie “Lucy” because they flash the name at the end, and she says, “L-U-C-Y spells Lucy, dat’s me!”

* Dave texted me the other night when the girls were with him, Lucy had her iPad and was trying to look up Frozen videos on YouTube. Catie will often ask for help spelling the names of whatever she’s looking for (like Skylanders videos), so Lucy was obviously copying Catie when she said, “How do I type Frozen?” Dave thought it would be funny to just tell her the letters and see what she did with it. She managed to get the keyboard open and she typed all the letters correctly except the N. It’s both amazing and a little unnerving when you realize that your kids will be more tech-savvy than yourself sooner than later.

* She sings, “Meeeeee in the skyyyyy with diamonds!” Dave taught her that one, and while I have never been a Beatles fan, I have to admit that it’s pretty damn cute.

March 20, 2015Permalink 4 Comments

princesses, geeks, and runners

I was thinking that the weekend leading up to my half-marathon would be lazy and involve eating lots of carbs. Turns out, I was only right about the carbs.

Friday, Lucy’s daycare was closed for a teacher workday. It just so happened that the same as last year, the teacher workday was also the day of Catie’s school Fun Run. So Lucy and I went to watch Catie and her classmates run around like tiny maniacs.

Catie at her school Fun Run.

Selfie with Lucy. And Elsa.

Lucy had to get Elsa in our selfie (of course). After the run was over, I was able to get a picture with my big kid.

Me & Catie after her Fun Run.

I love it when I get to go to school functions like that. I often feel like I’m phoning it in with school-related activities, because I have to let the stay-at-home moms do all of the classroom volunteering stuff. Just from a practical/work schedule angle, it never works out. So I get super-excited when I get to show up for something for her.

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After the Fun Run, I had promised Lucy that we would go see the new Cinderella movie. To be fair, though, Lucy didn’t care much about Cinderella, the only thing she really wanted was to see the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie. Like, she had to do a costume change between the Fun Run and the movie theater, so she could wear her Anna dress to the movies.

Daycare is closed, so it's Mommy & Lucy Day. We're waiting for Cinderella to start. But really, she only cares about the "Frozen Fever" short before the movie. ("How many more minutes?" every 10 seconds.)

It was fun, especially since she and I don’t get a lot of “Mommy and Lucy” outings, just the two of us.

As far as a movie review, “Frozen Fever” was cute, not as funny as the movie, and a lot shorter than Lucy would have liked. But hey, apparently they’re making Frozen 2, so I guess she’ll be set when that comes out.

As for Cinderella: I really liked it, and it made me cry more than once (damn Disney), but I’ve always had a few problems with that whole story. Cinderella is basically the girl at your high school who came from an abusive family, who married the first guy she could get as soon as she turned 18, just so she could escape her awful family. Those stories don’t usually end with a “happily ever after.”

And, I don’t know, there’s something that rubs me wrong about Cinderella’s “have courage and be kind” motto. Let’s face it, Cinderella is a total doormat to her stepmother & stepsisters. So sure, “have courage and be kind” is an admirable ideal for your life, but you don’t have to be (and probably shouldn’t be) kind to people who treat you like shit, and I think that’s a potentially damaging message to send little girls. It’s basically saying that you don’t have to stand up for yourself as long as you play nice, and that’s, frankly, a total crock.

Hey, what do you know, feminist beliefs conflicting with a Disney princess movie, how original am I? Honestly, the movie was fun, and I’d venture to guess that the vast majority of little girls grow up knowing that princess stories are make-believe and are smart enough to distinguish between them and real life, so whatever, let’s move on.

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On Saturday, Comic-Con was here, and I knew Catie would love it, so we went. I asked Chris to come along to help me wrangle the kids (I was worried Lucy would get overwhelmed or scared of some of the cosplay people, and it helps to have an extra adult there to tag team with). Chris isn’t the type who requires a lot of arm-twisting to get into nerdy outings, so he was game.

I had shown Catie pics of other Comic-Cons and people who dress up for them, and she decided that she needed to wear a costume as well.

Catie wore her Spyro (Skylanders) costume to Comic-Con.

She went as Spyro from the Skylanders video game that she loves. She ended up not wearing the feet part of the costume (made it too hard to walk) or the mask (too hot), but even still, a surprising number of people there knew exactly who she was.

I’d never been to any type of Comic-Con event before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was pretty fun. And it led to this, which may be my favorite picture of all time:

Catie and the stormtrooper. I am the proudest geek mom you ever did see.

Proudest geek parenting moment to date. (Lucy was a little freaked about the stormtrooper, but she high-fived him from a safe distance.)

The main thing (or, uh, person) Catie wanted to see at Comic-Con was David Tennant, who played Doctor Who. Unfortunately, getting a photo or autograph with any of the celebrities at Comic-Con is a separate charge from the general admission fee, and his was somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 extra. I might have considered forking that over, except it sold out before I could even make a decision. So, nevermind then. Catie can pay additional Comic-Con fees when she’s an adult and has her own disposable income to spend.

(It was only $80 extra to get a picture with William Shatner. And although it seemed like a bargain compared to David Tennant, I didn’t pay for that either.)

We kinda-sorta got to see David Tennant, because his VIP Q&A session was shown on a big projector screen in the main hall, so we camped out and watched that for a while.

Listening to the David Tennant Q&A session. (We didn't get in, but they had it on a big projector screen in the main hall).

It’s not the same thing as getting to see him in person, but oh well. I bought the kids their souvenirs (Olaf & Elsa toys for Lucy, Pokemon for Catie), and they left happy.

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Now for the half-marathon!

Saturday evening, I dropped the girls off to spend the night with my parents, so I could get to bed extra early and not worry about Lucy waking me up. (She’s a lot better, but still sometimes hit-or-miss.)

Sunday morning, I headed to Laura’s house, because she had a parking pass and offered to carpool with me.

As for the half-marathon bullet points:
* These things start stupid early. It was still dark outside. Why are there no half-marathons that start at, like, noon? You get up at a normal time, have a light brunch, then go run. That would be great!

* Did you know port-a-potties don’t have lights? So if it’s dark outside, it’s dark inside them? Let me tell you, if hell exists, some part of it will probably involve having to use a port-a-potty in the dark. That several hundred other runners have used. OMG. I just… I have no words.

* Related: one of my fears with this half-marathon was that I’ve never personally experienced the phenomenon of runner’s bowels, but I figured that with my luck, the first time it happened to me would be when I only had access to port-a-potties and there were several thousand witnesses around. As it turned out? It wouldn’t have mattered, because all of the port-a-potties smelled so horrifically foul that nobody would’ve known it was me anyway. (For the record, I was fine. I had to stop to pee somewhere around mile 8, because I’ve had 2 babies and my bladder is lame. But no horror stories.)

* The people who run this marathon are so incredibly nice, and the whole thing is set up really well. There were people cheering for us at various points, with big posterboard signs: “run like it’s the beginning of the Hunger Games”, “you run better than our government,” “the faster you run, the sooner you can get drunk”, and my personal favorite, “run like your iPhone is at 1%!” I was also impressed with how friendly all of the other runners were, with each other and with the volunteers. I had to get off the trail at one point to re-tie my shoe, and a couple of people asked if I was ok or needed help.

* Turns out that Sean Astin was in town for Comic-Con, and signed up to run the half-marathon at the last minute. Laura said she passed him and almost yelled “RUDY!” but didn’t. I didn’t see him, probably because I was not thinking about looking at other people’s faces while I was focusing on just getting through the run. If I had seen him, I was thinking about telling him my name was Frodo and asking him to carry me the rest of the way to Mordor. Either that a joke about The Goonies. Oh, missed opportunities.

* I gave my parking pass to Chris; he picked the girls up from my parents’ house on Sunday morning and brought them to meet me at the finish line. That was pretty awesome.

Ran my first half-marathon. Didn't die. Chris & the girls met me at the finish line. Pretty great day.

My final time for the half-marathon was 2:40. Which is probably not impressive by most people’s standards, but whatever. I finished. And that’s all that really matters to me.

(Even though Catie totally stole my medal for herself the minute we got in the car.)

March 16, 2015Permalink 2 Comments

old house, old life

My half-marathon is a week from today. Yesterday, I had my last long training run, and ran 10 miles. The town I live in has a pretty great system of connecting greenways, and yesterday I took a route that ended up in my old neighborhood.

The house we live in now is only about 5 miles from my old place, but I never go by that house anymore. It’s not that I intentionally avoid it or anything, I just rarely need to go anywhere in that direction.

One of the weird things about long runs is the way that my mind can sometimes wander. I started thinking about how different my life is now, versus then. And man, if that wasn’t a lesson in gratitude.

Almost exactly 5 years ago, I tried to start running for the first time in my life. I remember starting the couch-to-5K program, when the idea of being able to run for 20 minutes without stopping was just unimaginable. I can now run for 2 hours, which is not something I would’ve believed I could ever do. (I mean, ok yes, I do still take some walking breaks here and there, particularly on really steep hills. Even still: TWO HOURS.) I’m really proud of myself for the progress I’ve made with that.

I also started thinking about how at this point four years ago, I was pregnant with Lucy, and my marriage was falling apart. Everything I thought my life would be – husband, two kids, pretty house in the suburbs – was vanishing in front of my face, and I was terrified. I remember telling my mom that my due date felt like a countdown to a death sentence, because my life as I knew it was ending. I cried at every OB appointment. I actually had to find a new doctor for all lady-parts related issues, because just walking in the door there, even two years later, gave me a lump in my throat and that horrible stinging-behind-your-eyes feeling when you’re about to cry.

It’s weird, I was so scared to have Lucy, because I was essentially going from a married mom of one kid to a single mom of two kids. But I can’t imagine life without Lucy, and watching how her relationship with Catie has developed is one of the greatest joys in my life. Also, I’m now in a happy, loving relationship with a man who accepts me completely, never invalidates my feelings, and never shuts me out. That’s pretty different than my life four years ago. (I don’t mean for that to sound like a slam on Dave. He’s not a bad person. But the two of us as a married couple were not a good match.)

So while it’s true that it’s not the life I thought I would have, it’s actually so much better than I ever thought it would be.

And now: half-marathon in 7 days. I’m a little nervous, of course, but after that run down Memory Lane (see what I did there?), I’m ready to go rock this.

March 8, 2015Permalink 1 Comment

winter weather, week 2

The crazy snow/ice stuff we’ve been having lately has resulted in this: Catie has been in school for 1 half-day in the past 2 weeks. Last Monday – 11 days ago – the schools had an early release day because of inclement weather. It was closed the next 4 days. School was open this past Monday, but Catie was sick, so Dave kept her home with him. School has been closed due to weather every day since then.

One half-day out of 10 school days. That seems insane. But, same as last week: Dave and I are juggling the childcare stuff back and forth, daycare has been open a few days this week (which has helped significantly because they have a school-age program for kids on break, so Catie can go there too), and generally, we’re fine.

I mean, of course it’s always frustrating to have your routine thrown off, but compared to a lot of people, I don’t have much to complain about. Our power stayed on, and nobody has been sick (other than the colds we all get this time of year), so it’s been ok.

Catie likes an audience when she plays Wizard 101 on my laptop. (And yes, they're both sitting on Chris's lap. Again.)
(Side note: I hate the wallpaper in my office, which is why it’s covered in kid artwork. If this house wasn’t a rental, I would tear it down so fast.)

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I will admit, however, that I am not at the top of my parenting game when the kids are home while I’m trying to work. They get way more screen time than they should, because it’s the easiest way to keep them quiet and happy so I can concentrate. Catie has played more hours of Minecraft this week than I can count, and Lucy’s new obsession is the movie “Aladdin,” which she probably watched at least 20 times.

And I mean, on the scale of annoying Disney movies, there are far worse options than “Aladdin.” Robin Williams as the Genie is pretty brilliant. But good lord, if I ever get the song “A Whole New World” out of my head, I will dance for joy. I would rather hear “Let It Go” all day than that song.

At least she’s moved on from her brief “Snow White” obsession, though. I had forgotten how high-pitched and screechy Snow White’s voice is. That movie was going to break me sooner than later.

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On one of our recent snow days, the kids were starting to get restless and whiny, so I suggested we do a Family Movie Night. I know, I know, more screen time, just what they need, but we were stuck in the house and I was dead from working all day.

We got “Big Hero 6″ on pay-per-view, since none of us had seen it. Lucy was bored because there’s no princesses and no singing, so it wasn’t her type of movie. Catie liked it, even though it made her cry. And Chris and I both really enjoyed it, probably more than the kids.

I will say, my favorite thing about the movie was that there were two nerdy, science-loving girls who were totally badass and just as tough as the boys, and I kind of want to make Catie re-watch the movie every day just to reinforce that message. For a kid who already thinks of herself as weird for not liking “girl stuff,” I don’t think she can see that too much.

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Random and off-topic, but since I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time around my kids lately:

My favorite recent Lucy-ism is when something bothers her, she says, “it makes me annoying!”

Also, anything that happened in the past is “last earlier.” As in, “We went to the mall last earlier.” It could’ve been yesterday, could’ve been something that happened a year ago. It’s all last earlier. I have no idea where she got that, but I’ve heard it so many times that it kind of makes sense to me.

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While this winter weather break has been manageable, I would really like some warmer temps right about now. Not just because my work productivity plummets when the kids are home or because I’m worried about all the school they’re missing, but also because I am tired of running on my treadmill since the sidewalks and greenways are all covered in ice. A little nature would be nice. Hopefully it’ll be back soon.

February 27, 2015Permalink

haircuts and snow days

The last time I got a cut and color was close to six months ago. I’ve been long overdue for a while, and lately I’ve been really itching for a big change. I texted my hairdresser, Kim (who’s also a friend of mine), and set up an appointment.

In the past, when I’ve mentioned making major changes to my hair, Kim usually advises against it. And since she always makes my hair look great, I usually defer to her advice. This time, I was planning my argument in advance: my face has gotten less round/more oval with the weight I’ve lost, and I feel like the long hair is sort of dragging it down and making it look even longer.

Instead, as soon as I walked in, she looked at me for a minute and said, “So! How adventurous do you feel today?”

And this is why I love her: she gets me.

So. I kinda went and chopped many, many inches off my hair today.
The before and after shot.

She also re-did the color, with a few dark red panels underneath that only peek out if I’m in the sunlight. Nothing too severe or crazy, but enough that I felt like I got a major change (at least by my relatively tame standards).

I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it already, and Chris loves it. Funny story: way back when we first met, I remember that his dating profile said something about how he liked girls with short hair, and I kind of joked that if that was the case, I clearly wasn’t his type. Yesterday, I had told him that I was going to get a haircut, but I didn’t tell him how much I was taking off (I would normally just trim maybe a 1/2 inch), so this was kind of a surprise. And based on the way he couldn’t stop touching my neck last night, I’m going to venture a guess that he seems to be a big fan.

As for the kids, Catie said she liked it. Lucy gave me the backhanded non-compliment with, “Wow, Mommy, your hair sure is… different!” Um, thanks? But, you know, this is a child who says she wants “long hair like Rapunzel,” so I’m probably not taking my fashion cues from the three year-old.

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Completely unrelated topic jump!

This week has been insane, weather wise. The schools let out early on Monday because of snow in the forecast, and they’ve been closed all week because of icy road conditions.

I was kinda bummed that the kids are at their dad's on their snow day, so I didn't get to take them out to play. I'm glad he texted me these. (Catie looks like she's meditating on the ice, but she was just mad about having her picture taken.)
The girls liked the snow the first day. After that, they were just kind of over it. (JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.)

And really, I’m incredibly lucky because our daycare has been open a lot of the time that the schools have been closed, and even when they closed early (during the worst of the weather), my parents helped out, Chris has helped out, and Dave and I have managed to divide up the time with the kids, so we’re both able to meet our deadlines and not go crazy.

Making silly faces.
Well, ok, maybe a little crazy.

It’s been a stressful wrench thrown into our routine, but we’ve gotten through it fairly easily. I don’t know how other families with less of a support system manage when these things happen.

Really, though? I mainly want the snow to melt so I can get back to running without worrying about slipping on ice. And yes, I know that by comparison to other parts of the country, the amount of snow and ice we’ve gotten here is nothing. (Sorry, people of Massachusetts, but there’s a reason I only lived there for a year, and then moved at the first opportunity. Southern girls don’t do snow.)

And I also know that in another 3 or 4 months, I’ll be complaining about how hot it is when I run. The thing is, I don’t really mind the cold all that much, I can bundle up and still run. It’s just the ice. The cold weather can stick around as long as it wants, as long as the sidewalks and greenways are clear.

Oh well. I’ll stop whining now, go lace up my sneakers, and fire up my tablet so I can watch a movie on Netflix while I run on the treadmill. There are worse things in life, I know.

February 20, 2015Permalink

how I talk to my kids about diet and exercise

This past Sunday, I went for a run while Chris stayed the girls. The half-marathon is in 6 weeks (yikes!), and I try to do my long training runs on the weekends when I have more free time. The kids are with Dave on alternate weekends, but when it’s my weekend, I usually leave them with either Chris or my parents while I go for a run.

I’m very careful with how I talk about diet and exercise with my girls. And a lot of that is because of my own baggage: I picked up a lot of negative body image feedback from hearing my mom complain about how fat she was when I was a kid. Back then, she was maybe a size 8 or 10 at the most, so she was most definitely not fat, but I know I internalized a lot of what she said. I don’t want Catie and Lucy to pick up any negative self-image issues from me, so it’s something I approach with extreme caution.

Since Catie is older, I can talk to her a bit more. We’ve talked about how Mimi has back problems, and how I want to make sure I don’t end up in pain like she is when I get older. My emphasis is more on health/strength, not the number in the back of my jeans. We’ve talked about how she gets enough exercise because she gets recess every day, but grown-ups don’t, and my job means that I sit at a computer all day, so I have to make my own recess time.

With food, we talk about how it’s important to eat healthy foods that are good for our bodies, and how some foods are treats that are only “sometimes foods” – all the normal stuff, I guess – but I don’t really talk to them about my food habits. They eat their food, I eat mine. Unless I point it out, they aren’t going to notice that they’re eating mashed potatoes and I’m not. So I don’t make an issue of it.

But even still, they pick up on stuff. Catie once made a comment (and I cannot remember the context of how it came up) that she was “glad everyone in our family is skinny.” I kind of did a mental record-scratch, and said that “skinny” isn’t necessarily a good thing, because if you’re too skinny, you won’t be strong enough to do the things you want to do. The point is whether or not we’re healthy, not whether we’re skinny or fat.

(And we’ve talked about how we don’t talk about other people’s bodies because it might hurt their feelings. She’s friends with a little girl at school who gets teased by other kids for being overweight, and it upsets Catie a lot, so it seems like she gets it.)

And then there are stupid things that come up, like when “All About That Bass” came on the radio for the 37,000th time, and Catie asked me what it meant when she said “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” In that case, I just said that it was kind of a grown-up joke that was inappropriate for kids, and she didn’t press it.

So, I get that they’re going to pick up on body image expectations from society no matter what I say, and that the best I can do is basically damage control.

Lately, Lucy has been fascinated with my exercise habits. If I’m doing a strength training workout at home, she tries to join in with me. She’ll say, “Lookit me! I do my essacise too!” Then she’ll do a dramatic pratfall and land on her face, and I basically die because you really shouldn’t laugh when you’re doing push-ups.

This past Sunday, when I was getting ready to go for my run, as soon as I put on my workout clothes, the questions started:

Lucy: You all sweaty now?
Me: No, baby, not yet. [I hadn’t even left the house yet.]
Lucy: Why you wear that headband?
Me: It keeps my ears warm when it’s cold outside.
Lucy: Why you wear headphones?
Me: Because I like to listen to music when I run.

And the one she asks the most often:
Lucy: Why you go running?
Me: Because you keep growing and getting bigger and stronger, so I have to be strong too, so I can keep up with you.

A couple of hours later, after I’d run over 9 miles, I walked in the house sweaty and exhausted. The girls were on the couch with Chris watching a movie. Lucy saw me, and hopped up and ran to me.

She said, “You do your essacise, so you strong now? You can carry me now?”

And all I could think was, oh, my sweet girl. I’ll carry you as long as you’ll let me.

Me & my Lucy.

February 3, 2015Permalink