Saturday, October 11, 2008

"I Quit This B!@%#"

[Reposted from my old blog]

I think this happened a few years ago now, but it's still awesome. Have you heard Arnetta the Moodsetta quitting live on the air? If not, you have to check it out.

This is relevant because I gave Fidelity my notice earlier this week, so I am almost a free woman! Woohoo! I didn't do it with as much flair as Arnetta, unfortunately, but it still feels pretty darn good. Mark and I have been talking about this for a while now - we knew this job probably wouldn't be a long term thing, but we had no idea whether it would be a few months or a few years. At first it was pretty easy working and taking care of Claire because all she did was nurse and sleep in my lap while I sat at the computer and worked. But now that she's cruising along the furniture and getting into everything it's become impossible to juggle both her and the job. In trying to do everything and be Superwoman I'm succeeding at nothing.

Her latest adventures involve searching through the kitchen cupboards and pulling everything out to investigate more. So I've been rearranging in a flurry, putting glass and other inappropriate toys in safer spots, and moving tupperware and other plastic items to the bottom cabinets. We also pushed the family room couches and ottomans back to close off the two doorways; it helps to corral her in there with toys while I work, although soon she'll be able to crawl over the barrier. She can already crawl up the entire staircase when I let her (spotting her the entire way, of course). She still loves her perches at the windows in the dining and family rooms. The window ledges are at just the right height for her to rest her elbows on as she scopes out the neighbors - she kind of looks like the neighborhood gossip. hehe The backyard is great because our house backs up to a soccer field and walking paths, and there are always games being played, people walking dogs, or big city mowers cutting the grass. Yesterday there were 3 big mowers with flashing lights racing around, and Claire squealed every time they flew by. I wanted to ask them if they could mow every day, just to keep her occupied so I could get some stuff done. And that's how it's been these last few months - searching desperately for things to keep her occupied so I can quick squeeze in some work. I resigned myself to the fact that daytime work was nearly impossible and relied on the evenings when Mark was home to help, but with him being in school until nearly 10 pm every Monday and Tuesday, and occasional overnight business trips and evening meetings it wasn't enough. Whew, what a relief!

I'm also excited about my Bradley training in a few weeks, especially because it's in Atlanta and we scheduled an extra week to spend with my family beforehand. I miss them so much!

So life is about to change drastically. Only one income, but more time to spend with Claire and keep up with cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. Soon I'll be certified to teach childbirth classes, and maybe next year I can go for Yoga certification again, too. I've been learning more about traditional foods, and recently brewed my first batch of kombucha tea - and this healthier lifestyle has given me more energy so just think of how much I'll be able to accomplish when I have an extra 40 hours to give to myself and my family each week! I'm still a little nervous about the change, but I know it was the right decision.

Gotta run. I need to plan Claire's first birthday party which is NEXT MONTH. Holy crap, where did the time go?!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Is this his first time at the fair?"

[Reposted from my old blog]

Last Tuesday Mark took the day off and we headed to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together", the state fair. We didn't go last year because I was hugely pregnant and my parents were in town to help us get Claire's room ready, and I wouldn't have had the energy to go even if we hadn't been so busy. So we found a decent parking spot about 6 blocks away from the entrance, and as I was tying Claire up in the sling an older couple walked by. "Is this his first time at the fair?" The woman asked with a pleasant smile. heh!

The weekend before last, we were at my friend's house for her daughter's first birthday, and I couldn't help laughing when a toddler ran sobbing to her mom, while pointing at Ava, "that little boy pulled my hair!" And Ava has even more hair than Claire does! Oh, and one more hair thing while we're on the subject. We got Claire's Halloween costume: a MN Gopher's cheerleader. It's the cutest little outfit, and I lamented to Mark that it's too bad we can't put her hair up in pigtails with ribbons. When he suggested, as a joke (I think), that we get her a wig, for some reason I pictured sweet little Claire in a huge Dolly Parton wig and started laughing. Poor kid :)

Claire and I were back at Target today, and after commenting on the sling the cashier made a comment that she sees us in there all the time (which is accurate, because we are there all the time). I don't think I've made one trip out of the house without at least one person asking me about the sling, which Claire is always in. I feel like a celebrity! Well, maybe not a celebrity, as that kind of implies glamour or something. Who knows, to them I may be comparable to the grown man who whizzed by me today on a bike wearing Zubaz and pink tennis shoes. Because I'll definitely remember him if I see him around again. I guess I feel noteworthy.

Wow, I started this post almost a week ago, and haven't had a chance to get back to it until today! And I probably won't have time to come back for another week after today, so I better finish up now. My mom is flying in today and I'll be picking her up from the airport in about 2 hours. I'm so excited! Claire is getting into everything and making the cutest faces and noises these days. I have never been more entertained in my life. She has this fake sounding laugh she does, usually when everybody else is laughing and she wants to be like everybody else. Sometimes she does it after one of us tells a bad joke, almost as if on cue. She wrinkles her nose, opens her mouth, and tilts her head back - it's so cute, I need to get it on video. That, and her new fish face.

Uh oh, she's going for the ungated stairs - gotta run!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"If I were Bionic Woman, what would I wear?"

[Reposted from my old blog]

Numerous people (ok, two, but Mark agreed) have told me that I need to see Freaks and Geeks, and last night Mark and I finally got the chance to watch the first three episodes. Afterwards I was wishing Blockbuster was closer to our house, and that I could somehow stay up later than I already had (11:00! Wayyyy past my bedtime!) so we could watch more. "Everyone" was right - I love that show! I love Bill, and so far my favorite moment from those first three episodes has to be when he's in front of the mirror dressed up as Bionic Woman. I'm surprised we didn't wake Claire up, we were laughing so loud.

"Everyone" is a funny expression. It's used so loosely. That bugs me, yet I do it, too. I'm extra bugged by it right now because of a recent experience, one that is so stupid and petty that I can't even believe I'm bringing it up (or that it bugged me at all), but I need to purge this and move on.

Ok. So I have this friend (another loose term). I should write a whole book about her, as this is probably one of the most dysfunctional relationships of all time. She's pregnant and on bedrest, so Claire and I brought her lunch last week. I was asking her if she had narrowed down her list of names, and she told me what they had decided on, and then she was silent for a moment before breaking out her next statement.

"Everyone is so horrified when I tell them that you like the name Margo, they can't believe you'd consider naming a child that."

What? I was busy wrangling Claire, who was getting into a stash of electronics on the table next to Pregnant Friend's (PF) nest on the couch (Claire loves laptops, cell phones, remotes, etc.) so it took me a mintue to process her remark. All I could say was "really? That's weird, I think it's a fine name." Maybe you had to hear her tone, or maybe you just have to know her. But the way she said it, you'd have thought I said I was naming my baby Satan. And the funny thing is, I'm not even pregnant, and haven't been talking about names for my own family in nearly a year. I told her I liked the name Margo last summer, before we decided on Claire. So where did this come from? And why would anybody ever phrase a comment in such a rude and inflammatory way? Oh yeah, because this is her MO. I don't know why I'm surprised.

Who is this "everyone" she's speaking of, and why is she talking about me with them? It was probably, like, two people who said they're not fans of the name when she phrased the question in a leading way. But it bugs me that she gets such pleasure out of hurting and insulting people. I don't care about the comment itself; I still think Margo is a fine name and I wouldn't let her comment alone sway my decision if we end up considering it for a future daughter. What bugs me is how manipulative she is. She's always trying to stir things up and get some drama going. She probably wanted me to ask who it was so I would get mad and want to gossip with her about them. Sorry lady, not interested.

And obviously if you're reading this you don't know her; I am not trying to be gossipy or start drama of my own. I have been slowly trying to distance myself from her for the last few years, but it's been harder than I thought. Maybe I should just make a clean break and be done with her? Maybe I'm making this harder than it needs to be? Maybe it's only sticky and convoluted because I'm allowing it to be that way. Hmm. I guess I've never broken up with a friend before. I'm not sure what the protocol is for this sort of thing. Do you call them up and say "I don't want to be your friend anymore, so lose my number and don't expect any more calls from me"? Do you just keep declining invitations, ignoring calls and emails, and hope they get the hint? Is there a Hallmark card for this? I've been declining invitations, but feel bad totally ignoring her when she calls or emails - especially since she's on bedrest and in a time of need. I can't just drop her right now.

I don't want to be a total jerk. But why? Because that's exactly what she has been to me for many years. In middle school she always had a mean remark to make, like, "Aidan Brown (name has been changed) thinks you have a really flat chest. He called it a sunken treasure." I didn't even have any classes with Aidan. I only knew who he was, and being that I was one of the quietest kids in the school, I'm quite certain he had no idea who I was. But I was so crushed by this remark, for years I was incredibly self conscious of my entire body and what other people must have been thinking about it. Over the next few years she told me that other people made similar comments, all of whom I didn't know (and again, who probably didn't know of me, either). I was too naive to notice that, although not voluptuous by any means, my chest was probably twice as big as hers.

And the funniest part? About five years ago Mark and I hosted a How to Host a Murder party with a luau theme. PF's character was a hula girl, so she wore a tank top with a coconut bra over it; another friend of ours has a husbande with a distinct/sometimes offensive sense of humor who made a typical-to-him comment about her not quite filling out her coconuts, and she got so mad that she left the party. The party she was supposedly helping me host. And then a few years later she got implants. So it kind of makes me wonder if people were making comments to *her* back then, and she decided to put that on me for some reason. Just to be mean? To see how I'd react? Who knows. Anything involving PF somehow gets really complicated on a consistent basis. There was another time when she made a double date for us to play tennis with these two guys we went to school with, and the more we played, the more pissed off they got. I was kind of the innocent bystander who didn't know either of them so I didn't know how to react. She just told me she had been asked out, but didn't want to go alone so I'd be doing her a favor to come along and make it a double. And then later I learned she had been building me up for weeks telling them I claimed to have a "lightning serve," among other skills. They were pretty good players and were expecting an even match, and thought I was cocky and over-confident about my skills. I wouldn't have like me, either!

It's like she has to put other people down, make other people look/feel bad, in order to feel better about herself. I can think of so many examples of this, and wish I had realized this long ago. It would have saved me many hurt feelings and missed opportunities. And it's pretty obvious that my self esteem took a big hit, for me to put up with this for so long. It's like the classic abusive relationship. "Nobody else will love me; I'm lucky to have her, so I better put up with this bullshit or I'll be alone."

So, short story long. I need to "break up" with this friend. But I would feel like a complete jerk abandoning her when she's pregnant and on bedrest. But then I remember that she's *always* in a state of crisis that would make me feel bad about this. There will probably never be a good time, and prolonging it is only giving her more chances to do what she does best. I can't believe I've put up with this for so long. I need to think about what made me allow this to go on, and do something about it. I need to be a better role model for Claire.

Food, Glorious Food

[Reposted from my old blog]

We've started Claire on solid foods. What an adventure! First it was avocado - and can I tell you, nobody in the history of mankind has ever looked so cute with green paste smeared in their hair, up their nose, inside their ears. It's ridiculously adorable. And watching her eat is so entertaining. We skipped purees and baby food and are going the "baby led weaning" route (weaning as in transitioning to food, not as in weaning from breastfeeding. I think this is a British term. She is still nursing, and probably will for another year or so.) This means that we give her managable chunks of safe foods, the perfect size for her to grasp in her fist, and she feeds herself. No spoons. The theory is that if she's developmentally ready to hold onto the food and put it into her mouth, then she's able to safely swallow it, too. I've read a lot about this and watch her like a hawk while she eats, and so far it's been working really well for us.

So back to the avocado. It's one of my favorite foods, and Mark loves it, too, so we thought it was only natural to make it Claire's first food. Plus it has a nice, bland taste and soft texture, and it's a powerhouse in the nutrition department. She is always interested when I put a few slices on her tray, and immediately picks one up and experimentally squeezes it in her fist. Green mush squishes out from between her fingers, bringing a smile to her face. Then she puts it in her mouth and lightly chews on the end sticking out of her fist, getting little bits of the soft meat in the process. The taste and texture are still new to her, so she makes funny faces that almost make me think she doesn't like it - but she keeps coming back for more, so it can't be that bad. And then she swallows those little bits, shuddering as they go down. What an odd feeling it must be to eat for the first time when you're only used to drinking. It's such a fun and messy process!

Last week I baked some butternut squash, which my mom tells me was Holly's first pureed food - and happens to be one of her favorite foods to this day. Claire and Holly are so much alike, I thought it was fitting for squash to be next in line. So I baked a few small organic squashes and cut them into french fry-shaped pieces once they cooled. They were soft enough to be gummed, but still not quite as mushy as the avocado. Claire did not approve, and after taking several bites started heaving and threw up the few small chunks she had swallowed. I wondered if it was the texture, so I mashed a little bit with a fork and helped her eat with a spoon, but she had the same reaction so I decided to call it a day and wait to reintroduce it some other day. Most recently we tried very-ripe banana slices, which were pretty close in texture to the avocado. She accepted them, but not with the same enthusiasm she had for the avocado.

I cannot wait until she can eat "real" food, I have a feeling she's going to love Mexican! I wouldn't be surprised, because I ate a lot while I was pregnant and she still gets the taste through my milk now. That's the beauty of nursing: babies experience many different tastes depending on what their mom eats. I think once she gets used to eating, she'll have a healthy appetite for lots of different flavors.

Speaking of food, one of my new favorite items is Ezekiel bread. It has sprouted grains, so the nutritional content is much higher. I recently discovered the benefits of sprouted grains, so I've tried sprouting my own as an experiment (just garbanzo beans, so far). I love a few slices of the Ezekiel bread toasted, smeared with several tablespoons of butter - yummmm! And I know what you're thinking, that butter is unhealthy. But I would urge you to do some research (try for starters), and you'll see that saturated fats are NOT as bad as they have been made out to be. They are actually necessary for good health, and it's the rise in vegetable oil consumption that coincides with the rise in heart disease. Isn't that something? All these years we've been told to avoid butter and load up on vegetable oil. Our ancestors had the right idea, and the closer we can get our diets to resemble theirs, the healthier we'll be. It's sad that we have more knowleldge and technology today, yet we're unhealthier than ever. The processed and artificial foods we're eating can't even be called food anymore.

But anyways. It's getting late. I can see lightning in the distance, and I'm hoping for a storm tonight. Time for bed.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Unconditional Parenting

About a week before we headed up north, I started teaching Claire the ASL sign for milk. When I was still pregnant, Mark and I took a class on sign language for hearing babies (yep, just like in Meet the Fockers). The theory is that it improves communication, therefore reducing crying and frustration (presumably with both the baby and the parent ;) Seven months is the recommended age to start, and I figured milk would be a good one to start with. So imagine my surprise after just over a week when she started doing the sign on her own! My mom or Holly actually noticed it first, and it was the cutest thing. I don't know why I was so surprised, she had learned how to wave without my even really trying to teach her a few weeks before that. It's so much fun watching her learn new things, and rediscovering the world through her eyes!

I knew I was going to love Claire before she was even born, but I was not prepared for how hard I would fall for her. Just looking at her makes me grin, and I miss her when I'm away for even just an hour; her safety and happiness are more important to me than anything in this world, and I would do anything to guarantee both for her. Becoming a parent has changed me in so many ways, but one of the most profound has been my relationship with my parents. Their "uncool" decisions, and the times I thought they overreacted when I was growing up - it all makes so much sense now. Sure, sometimes they were overreacting, but I can relate now. I understand why they did and said the things they did, and I see it really was out of love. I wish I could have had this clarity 15 years ago.

I've spent a lot of time reading about parenting this past year, and thinking about my childhood and what worked/what didn't for my family. I love Alfie Kohn and his approach, so I'm trying to learn how to parent "unconditionally", when I was raised miles down the other side of the spectrum. I've talked extensively with my parents about this, to get their points of view and their wisdom, and to make sure they don't take it personally that I'm raising my kids in such a radically different way than I was raised. But they tell me they wish they could have done some things differently, and that they're proud of me for being so proactive and for taking the time to learn so much about my options. I'm so thankful for their support.

One of the tenets of Unconditional Parenting is to avoid punishment and rewards/praise. The punishment business hasn't been an issue for me, as I have always believed that babies are exempt. Rewards and praise, on the other hand, are my biggest obstacle right now. It's second nature to see a baby or little kid do something and respond with "good job!" It's like a Pavlovian response, I no longer feel I have any control over it; the words just come flying out. But in "traditional" parenting magazines and books, so-called experts stress the importance of positive reinforcement, and that's how I was raised. But now that I'm aware of this habit, and why it's not the best approach to take, I'm noticing examples everywhere.

In his book Unconditional Parenting, Alfie talks about the "dangers" of praise citing a study that was done with toddlers and their parents. Now let's see how well I can explain this from memory! (I hope I can do it justice.) They split the group down the middle and gave each toddler a toy to play with, telling one group of parents to praise their children while they played with the toy, and the other half to refrain from doing so. Later, they gave the kids another toy and watched them playing independently with it; the children who had recieved praise didn't have as much interest in playing without the praise, and appeared to need the cheerleading section to even want to figure out how to use the toy. The other kids whose parents had been nearby to answer questions but did not offer praise were able to figure out the toy on their own, and had more fun playing independently. The kids who were praised became dependent upon it, and it actually wound up hindering their ability to enjoy playing without it.

Now obviously, there are worse ways to parent. And I'm not saying parents who praise their kids aren't good parents. But this really opened my eyes. It reminded me of an afternoon a few summers ago that Mark and I spent with a family we know. Noah must have been about 6, and all of the adults were sitting outside watching him shoot hoops on the driveway. He's been a super athletic kid for as long as I've known him, able to make baskets and pitch baseballs better than many kids twice his age. So when he kept making baskets in the adult-sized hoop, we all clapped and cheered and yelled "good job!" But that got really old after a while, and one by one we adults became involved in side conversations and the praise died out. Until Noah turned around, hand on his hip, and said something like "hey, guys..." with a motion to resume the cheering. He wasn't done playing, and seemed insulted that we had stopped. When the cheering failed to sound as loud and exciting as it had been in the beginning, he threw the ball to the side and walked away kind of dejectedly. And the same thing has happened the last few times we've seen him: the first thing he asks is "Mark and Alyssa, want to watch me play video games?" If we don't watch him, he won't play. He needs the cheering section to enjoy many of the activities that other kids enjoy because of the activity itself. And I hate to sound harsh, I think he's a great kid and I love him. But what a perfect illustration of praise gone wrong. Kids should enjoy doing things because it makes them feel good, not because it's pleasing somebody else.

Punishment was a normal part of childhood for me. I wasn't a bad kid, and the punishments certainly weren't extreme. But I was grounded my fair share of times, had privileges withheld, and was scolded at times for not behaving a certain way. My parents were raised in the oppressive 50s, when all of the experts advised parents to control their household like a dictatorship or they would lose control altogether. Parents were looked down upon for not disciplining their children enough - even still today, when kids act out the parent is always blamed for not being in control. But this book has shown me that when parents exert control over their children, they are pushing their kids away and losing it in the process. When I was punished as a kid, I never got the message my parents wanted me to get, I just learned how not to get caught the next time. And it made me trust them less and fear them, and future punishments, more. It's been really interesting reading about this and looking back on examples from my childhood - and challenging to come up with ways to do things differently. Here's a good excerpt from Alfie's website:

"Advice for raising children typically comes in two flavors: threats (known euphemistically as "consequences") and bribes ("positive reinforcement"). Either we make kids suffer to teach them a lesson, or we dangle goodies in front of them for doing as they're told. Rewards and punishments are two sides of the same coin, and unfortunately, neither can buy anything more than temporary obedience. Manipulating children's behavior -- by means of time-outs, contrived praise, privileges offered and privileges taken away -- can never help them to reflect on the kind of people they want to be. Instead of encouraging kids to take responsibility for their actions, it makes them dependent on rewards and punishments. Rather than promoting generosity and compassion, it leads them to focus on the consequence to themselves of pleasing the adult."

I have a lot of reading and thinking to do, and I'll probably never really feel like I've got it down. But I'm also really enjoying this learning process and the challenges of finding better ways of doing things when they exist.

My question to you: how were you raised? Do you think it was effective? What would you do differently/the same?

Friday, May 9, 2008

6 months!

Claire turned 6 months old today! I woke up briefly at 3:00 this morning and thought to myself, "six months ago at this time I was in labor on the couch, completely in my own little world while Mark was installing the carseat so we could go to the hospital..."

Claire is finishing up a nap, so I'm clearing off the memory card on the camera and enjoying "mommy time." And laughing because this morning I dressed her in 12 month pants and an 18 month tshirt. And they fit! She prefers to be called "curvy" rather than "large and in charge." A note to moms-to-be: don't buy too many clothes ahead of time, you never know how big (or small) your baby will be.

Some friends of mine have been telling me about a parenting book by Alfie Kohn, called Unconditional Parenting, so I checked it out from the library. Here's what the book jacket says about it: "Most parent guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?" --and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking "What do kids need-and how can we meet those needs?" What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them." I'm looking forward to diving in, just as soon as I get a chance.

Lookslike it won't be now - she just woke up. Gotta run!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Party time

Mark and I are going to a "will party" tonight. And I use the word 'party' loosely.

It's several couples going to somebody's house for a few hours one night so we can share the cost of the lawyer and use our collective motivation to get us to finish this yucky task. Then we reconvene in a few weeks to sign everything and make it official. It's one of those things that has to be done, but nobody ever enjoys doing it - so why not try to make it a little easier/more enjoyable?

We've been struggling with the guardian issue. If something were to happen to both of us, who would take care of Claire and any future kids we'll have? I hate thinking about it, but there's something I would hate even more: my kids being handed over to a stranger because we didn't choose somebody ourselves. Even when we think of people we know and love, it's tough. Some are single and we don't want to tie them down, others are already busy with a big family and maybe don't live the same lifestyle we want our kids to live. And thinking of somebody else raising your child, no matter how much you love them, is a difficult thing to do. But it has to be done. So we'll see how tonight goes and if we learn anything new that might make this an easier process.

In more uplifting news...yesterday Claire and I went on a long walk around the neighborhood and I happened to find a diamond ring along the way. When we got home, I posted a message on our neighborhood website and called the community center to let them know. It was a really nice ring - platinum, about a 1 carat center stone with a few quarter carat diamonds on the sides - and I knew somebody had to be missing it. About an hour after I posted the message, I got a phone call and the girl described the ring perfectly - I was so relieved! So she came over and picked it up and I got my happy ending and went about my business.

This afternoon I took Claire to a co-op to pick up some veggies and when we got home there was a black van sitting in our driveway. Hmmm, I'm not expecting anybody, I thought. When I got closer I saw that it was from a local florist, but it still didn't click until I opened the attached card. It was from Sara, the girl whose ring I found yesterday, thanking me for finding her ring with a gorgeous bouquet of tulips in a vase wrapped with a satin ribbon. How sweet, and totally unexpected!

Ok, better run, time for the will party!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Misc. update

I'm going to go for it. I'm registering for classes so I can become certified to teach Yoga and Bradley Method (natural childbirth) classes. (Yay!) The only problem, in addition to having to wait a year for both to be complete, is the $4245 combined price tag. If this were a Brady Bunch episode, I could open up the newspaper and find a contest with a $4245 cash prize, but no such luck today. (I checked, just in case)

After over 2 months, I finally received the hospital records I ordered for myself and Claire. My midwife suggested I request them, so I'd have the medical version of Claire's birth story to go along with my more personal perspective. I'm so glad I did. They have our arrival time at 9:00 am, fully dilated, and report that I was in the waterbirth tub and pushing by 9:30. They artificially broke my water at 11:20 and she was born at 11:25. I even have a record of the alerts sent out to the nurse's station when my hemaglobin was found to be in the "critical" zone (7.2; normal range is 12-15). The nurses noted that I was accompanied by my "supportive hubby", too. Neat info to have.

A sign you need to evaluate your life: you run an errand and realize that your neighborhood looks somewhat foreign to you because you haven't left the house in 4 days. Wow, I cannot believe I got so wrapped up in work and Claire for 4 days that I became a hermit for that long. It doesn't help that the weather took a turn for the worse, and we were both a little sick for a few days. I was really enjoying the "heat wave" into the 30s and the walks we were taking outside! But I think I saw a forecast for Tuesday to be 40 (above zero, even!) so maybe we can get outside for some sunshine and fresh air then. *sigh* Hurry up, spring!

I scheduled my trip to Atlanta to see my family - I'm so excited!!! I haven't seen my mom since early January, my dad or siblings since Christmas. I'm a little nervous to be flying alone with Claire, as I don't want to be the lady with the crying baby, but I'm hoping I can just get her to nurse the entire time and that will keep her content. We'll see! Carrying her and our luggage will be another adventure in itself.

I planned to mail one of our carseat bases down so my parents could have it ready in their car when we arrive. I couldn't find a box big enough for it at our house, so Mark ran to the UPS store to check things out today. I couldn't help laughing when he came home still in posession of the base. "They were going to charge $10 for a box, $5 for labor, and another $5 materials fee. And shipping would be another $30," he reported. The base itself was only $40 and we haven't even used this one yet! What a pain. I feel bad asking my parents to buy one, especially when we'll only use it for 8 days, but it looks like that's the best option.

Poor baby is crying, gotta run - must be bedtime!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one

When I woke up this morning it took me a moment to realize that the horrible dream I had just dreamt was not real. In it, my arms had been ripped from my body in a terrible accident and it hurt like hell. My shoulders were still burning with a familiar, deep ache when I awoke. Yesterday morning I was greeted with aching hips, but told myself it was just from overdoing it the day before. Damnit, I thought the arthritis was done with me. I haven't been eating the healthiest these last few weeks, maybe working on that will help. Ugh, what a pain. If my body can barely manage being 29, how will it handle aging beyond 30?

If there is a positive spin to put on this, it's that it made me investigate vaccines before Claire was born. I'm not sure I would have thought twice about giving her the recommended schedule otherwise, and she might be the one suffering the side effects instead. I would gladly take this for her, so until I get this under control again I'll remind myself of that. Just call me Pollyanna.

I'm getting better at reading and responding to Claire's sleep cues, so today was a little easier in that regard. I had a 9:30 conference call for work - those always stress me out because I worry about having a loud baby in the background prompting my boss to ask, "don't you have daycare?" To which I would have to respond, "No! I lied to you in my interview. I don't have daycare so my time is split between work and caring for my newborn, who will always come before work."

But today I noticed her getting tired at 8:45 so I nursed her to make sure she would be full for a few hours, and put her in the sling facing me. After turning on the radio (rather loudly, too - she loves music) I began the laps. Just walking a big circle around the staircase on the main floor gets boring, so I switched it up and did figure eights incorporating the couch, the kitchen table, the center island. When plain walking didn't do the trick, I hit the stairs. Luckily (hah!) the house looks like a tornado hit, so I had plenty of clutter to put away; working as inefficiently as possible, I slowly got some things put away while walking up and down the stairs as many times as possible. Have I mentioned that my pre-pregnancy jeans now need a belt to stay up???

Needless to say, she was fast asleep with her face buried in my chest by 9:30, and the meeting went well. She slept for 2 hours so I got a good chunk of work done, too. Later on she had another good nap, falling asleep almost immediately after I got her situated in the sling. And when she woke up a few hours after that, I flipped her around so she was facing out and together we put away the non-perishable groceries I didn't have time to put away when I got home from the store last night. I'm still living life in increments of about 2 hours, and I pushed my (her) limits last night. By the time I got home she was starving so I had to throw the perishables into the fridge and freezer like I was on a game show being timed, then dash to my little baby bird who was impatiently waiting for me with her mouth wide open. She is so darn cute, even after a frantic day of rushing to get things done and giving her every ounce of everything I have, I have to surrender to the grin that spreads across my face every time I see her.

Yes, I am indeed a lucky one.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Does this purse make my butt look big?

Claire and I met a few friends for lunch on Wednesday, one of whom has a girl about Claire's age and the other who just announced she's pregnant. Yay, another mama-to-be in our group! We already knew about the one due in early July, and now this one is due at the end of September. How exciting :)

The newly pregnant friend and I had arrived at the same time, and as she held the door open for me I noticed her "purse". If you could even call it a purse. It was more like a coinpurse or Polly Pocket accessory; cute, but tiny. I mentally compared it to my own purse, roughly the size of a 2-slice toaster, and diaper bag. Maybe she'll be able to use it as a binky holder in the diaper bag once Junior arrives? When we took our coats off, we each revealed similar purple sweaters (we have a way of always showing up in the same color, somehow), only she pointed out that mine had a little dried spitup on one of the shoulders. lol

I remember when I used to leave the house in clean clothes every time, not just on lucky days; I remember when I used to wear accessories without having to worry about them scratching or being yanked on by the babe (heck, I'm so sleep deprived now that I'm lucky if I remember that I even own wedding rings, but it takes noticing them on somebody else when I'm out to spark it). And I'm perfectly happy with all of this; I'm 100% satisfied being plain (if not a little messy at times) for now so I can focus on Claire. Her clothes are a lot cuter than anything I could buy for myself, anyways.

Heh - Claire just woke up, and I decided to weigh myself with and without her - her diapers have been getting a little small and I was having a hard time believing that she was about to graduate to the next size already. Is our scale right? Does she really weigh 16 pounds?! My little baby is growing so fast :)

Speaking of the scale, I have to admit that I once broke it. Yes, I broke a scale, and I wasn't even pregnant (although I did gain a lot of weight with Claire, about 60 lbs)! Before I got pregnant, I was doing a new weight routine when I overdid it a little. I felt great walking out, maybe a little sore, but by the time I got home my legs felt wobbly. I went up to the bathroom to shower, and figured I'd step on the scale since I hadn't weighed myself in a while. When I lifted my right leg to step onto it, I realized just how sore I was because my left leg started collapsing. I grabbed the wall to steady myself, but my foot still landed a little hard and I heard a loud CRACK! I had stepped on and broken the little plastic window. I still prefer the mental image I get when I think of breaking a scale, of springs flying every which way, but the real story wasn't that exciting. It still works (at least I'm pretty sure it does!) and now I have something funny to remember every time I use it. Now if only growing out of clothes could be this amusing to me.

70% Cacao, 30% Nerd

Another long day, but it was a fun one. Claire is figuring out how to work her hands, and has been bringing toys up to her mouth - and she loves the sound of her voice, sometimes sounding like she's deflating because she'll make a sound and hold it for a really long time, lowering her voice slightly as it tapers off. What a nerd (I think that's a paternal trait! haha) Still mostly smiley and cheerful, even though I can tell her teeth are hurting her.

Mark went ice fishing with his brother and a buddy today, so Claire and I had a girl's day. We even took a few naps together! That's something for the record books. Then I met some friends for dinner, which was a much needed break. That was the first meal in several weeks that I've eaten warm food and have not had Claire in my lap or over my shoulder. The good news is that I'm getting pretty good at maneuvering with her in one arm, and can even prepare almost an entire meal while holding her (I put her down to use the oven or a sharp knife, but get pretty creative with everything else). I've even learned how to open tightly wrapped chocolate with one hand.

This is a new addiction of mine. I never really used to like chocolate - I put up with it in candy bars if there was caramel, peanut butter or nougat inside, but until Claire was born I'd rarely eat a hunk of pure chocolate. And then she arrived. Within the first hour or two of her birth I was served lunch, and I will never forget the chocolate cake that came with it. It was SO GOOD, I think it was the gateway to this terrible addiction I've acquired. I have to eat chocolate every day now. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but my favorite is dark chocolate - and I don't want it muddled with those pesky fillers, caramel, peanut butter or nougat. How things change!

On Wednesday I woke up thinking about this new obsession of mine, and told myself that I could quit if I really wanted to. Before hopping out of bed, I decided that I would go the entire day without a bite of chocolate. So I ate oatmeal for breakfast and put in 5 hours of work before heading out to lunch; on the way I found myself thinking "See? I can totally do it - I've gone the whole morning without chocolate. So now that I know I could go a whole day, I can have just a little when I get home." Umm, doesn't that defeat the purpose of going a whole day? Is this how addicts think? I think I'm officially a chocoholic. In case you were wondering, I abstained from the chocolate fudge pie that Kelly ordered and ate in front of me, but I did have a chunk of dark chocolate when I got home. I am firmly in the grip of this new vice.

I told the girls about it, so what does Kelly turn around and do? She told the waitress at dinner tonight that it's my birthday (next week, actually), and suddenly their famous Death by Chocolate cake was sitting in front of me. I suppose things aren't so bad, because I shared it with everybody at the table...if it were a serious problem I would have scarfed it all down myself. Right? (Denial, isn't that an element of addiction?)

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I was going through my journal to get some info to update Claire's baby book with, when I came across this entry...

My name has been put on all sorts of mailing lists from various sources (mostly home- and baby-related stuff), so I'm usually not surprised when I get a random catalog or pamphlet in the mail.

I was surprised, however, when I checked the mail today and got a catalog from It showcases books such as Nappily Married, Thug-A-Licious, Thong On Fire, and Gold Diggers. Oh, and don't forget Girls From Da Hood 3. How did they get my name, I wondered? Then a thought hit me, what if it was addressed to Mark? That would be even funnier, seeing as how this company is geared towards women of color.

Apparently there's a woman a few streets down who is missing a catalog. I'll have to thank her - if it weren't for this catalog, I never would have heard of Thug Matrimony (description: An uninvited guest crashes Angel's wedding with a gun. Will she make it to the altar alive?)

Friday, February 1, 2008

You’re not fully dressed without a smile

Oh, the emotions! And in just one 24 hour span...

On Wednesday when Mark got home from work, I ran out to the grocery store. One great thing about shopping on a weekday evening when it's 9 below is that you get a great parking spot, and the store is virtually empty. I can't stand crowded stores, especially grocery stores with carts and people clogging the aisles. I'm the type who wants to get in, get out, and go home. No lollygagging or dodging indecisive people.

But when I brought the groceries in, I accidentally woke Claire who was sleeping on Mark in the family room. She hasn't been sleeping the greatest lately, and was pretty cranky about it, so her fussiness turned into crying (which she rarely does, she usually stops at fussing.) She was really frustrated, complete with the lower lip hanging out - it was so cute, but I felt awful! Every time she inhaled, her lower lip sucked in...very dramatic. If she could walk, she would have tripped over it. And that's when Mark announced that there was a tear on one cheek, her very first tear, and I felt awful because I had caused it. Welcome to motherhood, right? Thankfully she got over it and life went on.

So last night I got home from the gym around 9:00 and Claire was ready to nurse and hit the sack. She fell asleep in my lap when she was done, which she usually does, and I was comfy in the rocking chair so I sat and watched her sleep for a little bit. She's so cute when she sleeps; in the light sleep cycle she kind of twitches, and big smiles flash across her face (involuntarily, I've read, because her nervous system is still immature; I like to imagine she's having good dreams). Last night was no different. She was curled up on her side facing me with both hands near her chin, and a big smile appeared, and then she started *giggling*!! Her first laugh was in her sleep!! It was the most adorable thing, she looked and sounded like a little girl on a playground, laughing at a joke with her friends.

Mark had just gone downstairs, so he missed it. I scooped her up as gently as possible and brought her down so I could tell him, but she woke up in the process - and thankfully there were no tears this time. So I tried singing to her and doing what usually makes her smile, but she was pretty tired so we just got a few smirks. I can't wait to hear her laugh again. What a beautiful sound!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tick tock

Mondays just got a bit more challenging. School started back up for Mark again, and he has class on Monday nights until 8:30. That means that he takes off for work around 7:45 (unless he has a 7:00 conference call with China or Europe, which has been more frequent lately) so it's just us girls until after 9:00 pm. That's a long day for one person to be with an 11 week old!! Don't get me wrong, I love it and we have fun, but between getting my 8 hours of work in while she nurses and naps on my lap (the only place she will sleep these days), keeping her entertained when she's awake, trying to make and eat quick meals here and's exhausting. And this teething thing is adding another dimension to the mix - sometimes she cries because she's in pain, and nothing I can do will fix it. Sometimes being a mom is heartbreaking! And then she looks up at me with a big smile, as if I'm the most important person in the world, and everything in the world seems right. We'll make it through this teething and through Mark's school just like we somehow made it through the colic (I seriously thought that would never end). And then I'll complain that I miss my baby, and where did the time go? heh

I just joined a local walking group for babywearers. They meet at the Mall of America and the skyways downtown (and local parks when the weather warms up!) which will be a really nice excuse for me and Claire to get a change of scenery. And it will be nice to meet some more moms who think and parent like I do. Most of my current friends are on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to a lot of parenting issues, or they don't have any kids so they don't even care about my views on vaccines or co-sleeping.

I better go and relieve Mark. He's been walking around and bouncing Claire since I left for the gym a few hours ago. Now that I've had a little time to unwind, it's time for a shift change. I cannot wait for summer...I think we'll both have more energy when the sun doesn't set at 4:00, and we can spend time outside.

Maybe tonight will be better than last...Claire and I went to bed at 8:30 (before Mark even got home - we were tired!) and she woke up about every hour to nurse and/or fuss until 4 am when I put my arm around her and felt a wet spot on her back. She had wet through her diaper and her little outfit was damp. So I fumbled in the dark and found another one in the clothes basket (full of clean clothes I haven't had time to fold or put away...). It was a footed onesie/pajama number that I snapped from the feet up to the top, but when I got to the top set of buttons I realized that it was too tight and wouldn't reach. The rest of it fit fine, so I left it and we went back to bed. When I woke up this morning and saw her laying there, grinning, with the ill-fitting outfit I couldn't help laughing. The collar had folded out and was laying flat like an adult button-down shirt - she looked like Career Claire, as if she just needed a strand of pearls and a blaser and she was ready to head to the office. I guess we'll need to get some more 6 month outfits, as the 3 monthers are getting too small! Mommy's little chunker... :)

Ok, really, time for bed!

Real quick

I needed a quick protein boost after my workout, so I grabbed a handful of Planter's sunflower seeds. I happened to look on the jar while I chewed them and noticed the ingredients.

Who's bright idea was it to put MSG in sunflower seeds?! Yes, msg, it's right after the SUGAR.

For crying out loud. I didn't even think to read the label at the store because I thought it was just sunflower seeds and salt. Guess I need to be more diligent when I grocery shop.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vaccine rant

I started this entry on Wednesday, and it's taken me this long to wrap it up. Work and Claire have kept me insanely busy!

Claire is "pre-teething". She'll be 10 weeks on Friday, so it's a little on the early side. I don't expect to see teeth any time soon, but things are definitely moving around underneath her gums causing her some pain. Poor baby :(

In a moment of desperation, I called our pediatrician's office to see if we could give her infant acetaminophen if things got really bad. The pain seems to come and go, but when it's bad she gets so frantic; she gnaws on her fists, her entire body stiffens up, and her face turns bright red. So after a sleepless night I was starting to anticipate a rough day ahead.

I got an emphatic "NO" to the infant Tylenol, or any other medication for that matter. The nurse went on to explain that babies under three months are in an especially high risk category and cannot take any medications.

So then let me ask why it's ok to inject babies with up to 5 shots, most of them containing 3 vaccines each, at the 2 month "well baby" visit? I know why they do it: because parents bring babies in for regular visits so it's a convenient mass-coverage plan. Parents don't normally bring older kids in regularly, when they could possibly better handle the overload to their immune system. Knowing why they do it this way is one thing, understanding why they think it's OK is another.

The fear that Thimerosal (mercury, a neurotoxin), a preservative in some vaccines, causes autism is just the tip of the iceberg. They may be phasing it out of vaccines now, but what about the chemicals that are still used? What harm are they causing? Aluminum, known to cause brain damage (and has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease); formaldehyde, a known carcinogen; chick embryo cells, which are commonly contaminated with avian leukosis viruses. You may be thinking that an avian virus can't transfer to humans, but I just read that early Polio vaccine experiments in Africa may have transmitted an AIDS -related monkey virus to humans, beginning the AIDS epidemic. You just never know.

Viruses can only be detected in vaccines if researchers know what they're looking for...I don't want my child to be part of an experiment - which is what vaccines are - only to find out down the road that "oops, we didn't know X was in it and happens to be harmful to humans." That's what happened to me with my Rheumatoid Arthritis after I received MMR, DT, and flu shots. I won't put Claire through what I've been through these last 5 years.

Instead of mass vaccinations, why not teach and encourage better nutrition? A strong and healthy immune system is the best defense against illness. In high risk populations where the possible benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risks, it makes sense to utilize them as long as parents have informed consent. But it makes me so mad when doctors make parents feel like they MUST vaccinate according to schedule, and that side effects NEVER happen. Many states, including Minnesota, allow parents to decline vaccinating their children with some or all of the recommended doses; parents also have the option of delaying the schedule. We declined the HepB vaccine when Claire was born because neither of us have Hepatitis and the chances of exposure are incredibly slim. It would have been like putting casts on her legs "just in case she breaks them". No thanks.

I also wonder about the chickenpox vaccine. It is not guaranteed to guard against the disease, and it only lasts up to 8 or so years, max. So what happens after that? It surely doesn't give immunity in adulthood, when chickenpox become serious and sometimes life-threatening. So why prevent kids from getting it when complications are rare and they're in turn guaranteed lifelong immunity?

I better end this entry now, or I'll go on forever. Long story short, I'm interested to see how our pediatrician reacts when we take Claire in on Thursday for her 2 month visit - the visit she's supposed to be getting her first round of shots at. I've already told our doc that we're not interested, and he was respectful (unlike other pediatricians I interviewed when I was pregnant) but he did ask me to do extra research on a few in particular. I did, and am armed with reasons why I'm still not interested. I'm sure I'll have another long-winded entry after the appointment. Aren't you lucky!

Ragin’ CAJN

CAJN. Those are Claire's initials, and sometimes Ragin' Cajun is a fitting nickname. Poor thing is still fussy on and off, and I still think it's teething (or pre-teething) pain. I took her to a La Leche League meeting on Thursday and had to stand and bounce her almost the whole time. I was meeting a few friends there, and one of them has a 6 week old who is already visibly sprouting teeth. And although it's rare, some babies are even born with teeth. So I don't think it's too early for that to be the case with her at 10 weeks. I just hope it stops soon, because I hate seeing her in pain. At least between the painful periods, she's her cheerful and smiley self. I live for her smiles and coos.

I'm looking forward to attending a baby wearing meeting sometime in the next week. I have a sling and a wrap, and have tried both with her a few times, but she hasn't liked either yet. I think it's because she loves looking out at the world, but doesn't have the required neck strength to be worn facing out yet, so she squirms when I wear her facing me. Maybe in the next month or two it will get easier when she can face out. Or maybe it's because I'm still new at this, and she's uncomfortable while I fumble to get her situated. I'm hoping I can figure it out at a meeting with women who are pros at this, or maybe I can try a few other types of slings/wraps to see if another style works better for us. Either way, I really want this to work out - I love having her close AND having both hands free!

I've been emailing back and forth these last few days with Karen, the other woman who just started at work and trained with me. So she was there the first day and a half when we didn't have computers, and she's endured our trainer's motormouth with me, and she also sat in her car outside of our boss's house the day we trained there together when our boss was late to her own house. Neither of us have ever worked for a company quite like this before, so it's nice that we have each other to talk to when something happens. I told her about my latest experience on Tuesday.

I trained at our boss's house again while Karen went somewhere else to train. My boss told me to arrive at 8 (which required me to leave my house by 7 because of rush hour), and when I did she was still getting her kids ready for school. We didn't get started until around 9, and then she told me that she had a 1:00 coffee date with a friend that she had forgotten to cancel, and would I mind hanging out at Target one exit up the highway for a while? I would have just gone home for a bit, but my house is a good 45 minutes away without traffic.

Being new and wanting to make a good impression on my boss, I told her "no problem!" and headed to Target. I pulled into her driveway at the agreed upon 2:15, noticing only one set of tire tracks leaving her garage stall. She wasn't home yet. So I sat in my car on her driveway - again - with the heat blasting for 10 minutes until she rolled up. Pretty tacky when she's the one who planned this training session, and it was her second time making me wait outside her house for her.

So then Karen told me about her latest experience. Since we're WAHs (work at home employees) we were given computers. Unfortunately, that's about all we were given. We had to remind the several times to give us log-in info and passwords, and then when we got home we had to figure out how to set everything up and find the necessary programs on our own. Karen was having trouble with her router at home, so she called the help desk. Apparently the guy she talked to was so impatient and unprofessional that at one point she could hear him banging his phone against his desk. Nice! I have such a hard time believing Fidelity is as succesful as it is, and that it's a Fortune 500 company. How is anything accomplished when nobody knows what they're doing? I just hope they'll give me a break and flexibility if I ever need it, because I've certainly excused enough from them these last few weeks.

Ok, time for bed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho

Lately I've been waking up wanting chicken for breakfast. Forget eggs, yogurt, or oatmeal; this morning I threw a chicken kiev in the oven at 8 am. Must be all of the physical activity and the nursing that are making my body crave more protein. I've also been drinking enough water and tea to make my eyeballs float. Maybe I'm singlehandedly responsible for the drought in Georgia because of my water consumption. (I apologize to those who are suffering from the watering ban and recommendations to reduce the number of toilet flushes...) Nevermind the logistics, it could be possible that my home in Minnesota somehow draws water from Lake Lanier in Georgia.

I got to take my new work computer home yesterday. It has the largest monitor ever made, and I'm not talking screen size. The thing is easily like, 2 feet deep. And I don't have a real desk yet, so it's sitting on a flimsy card table in the living room. I keep imagining the entire thing collapsing into a cloud of dust, and having to explain to my boss why they should give such an irresponsible person a new one.

But the cool part is that I also got what they call a token. It's a little plastic thing with a digital screen; it has a 6 digit number that changes every minute or so. In order to log onto my work server, I have to enter my own 4 digit pin followed by the number displayed on the screen. The way it works is pure magic. I had never heard of such technology until this week, so I'm still really impressed, can you tell? I was talking to one of the IT guys, and he said it's an almost foolproof security measure, and it may be introduced in the world of online banking someday but it's too expensive right now.

Mark and his brother can be such stinkers sometimes. Today Mark and I were at Erik's house hanging out with his family - his three kids LOVE Claire and had been asking to see her again. They're 4, 6, and 8. And, like most kids their ages, they have too much energy to contain. So while we adults were talking, they were chasing each other and running around. Meanwhile, Claire was having trouble falling asleep, so Mark was standing and swaying with her when he got an idea and said something to Erik. After the kids ran by again, Erik grabbed a doll off the floor and handed it to Mark while Mark slyly handed Claire to me. Erik stepped in front of me just as the kids came running back by us, and Mark joined in yelling "YAYYYYYY!!!" as he made a big show of dropping the doll on the floor.

The looks on their faces before they saw Claire, safe in my was actually pretty funny. They're used to these sort of shenanigans, and as always started begging him to "do it again, Uncle Mark!" If Claire is anything like her dad, I think I'm in for it :)

I wish I had a desk, I'm so excited to get my home office set up! ("Wish? Did somebody say wish?")

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I met with Jeff, my trainer, tonight for the first time since Claire was born. It feels so good to be getting back into a routine again! I started working with him about a year and a half ago because I was having trouble dealing with some major pain issues. It seemed like one day I was teaching Yoga and Pilates, taking Kali classes 5 times a week, and leading an active lifestyle, and then the next I was crying in my car at a gas station because my hands hurt too bad to squeeze the pump handle. I was miserable at work; it hurt to type and was next to impossible to flip through folders in the filing cabinet, both of which I had to do for 8-10 hours a day. And I think all of the aches, pain, and resulting stress (and anger - who authorized this disease to take over my life?!) were changing me. I was beginning to feel cranky and act like an 80 year old woman. And Mark was beginning to call me Arthrito-Girl (which actually helped, because it made me laugh)

One day I was about to cancel my new gym membership, because after 3 months of paying dues I had only managed to frustrate myself by taking it too easy (fear of hurting myself) or actually hurting myself because I didn't know how to work this new body of mine. And the blow to my ego didn't help matters. It hit me that I had lost a lot of mobility that I may never recover, and I mourned my active lifestyle. Out of the blue, somebody from Lifetime Fitness called me to see if I was maximizing my membership; was I happy with what I was paying for? No, actually! It felt weird admitting that I needed help when not so long ago I had been the one helping other people, but the girl on the other end of the line was an angel. She said she had the perfect trainer to help me.

Long story short, I made excellent progress with Jeff's help. The dozen or so meds I had tried were all a big waste of time and money for me. The side effects outweighed any benefits, and I worried about long term usage when they weren't even helping. I was lucky enough to find a "cure" in exercise when I learned how to modify what I was doing.

I backslid a little while I was pregnant, especially towards the end when my growing mid-section put too much strain on my pelvis. I would have been fine going through life not knowing what or where the sacroiliac joints are, but mine are arthritic and cause problems when I'm not active enough. Thank goodness I have the gym to escape to, because I always walk out feeling strong and healthy.

Tonight was no exception. It was my fourth visit this month, and I can tell I'm making progress. I'll be back to my old routine again in no time. No mom jeans for me! As for Mark's nickname for me, I'll keep it. It reminds me of the obstacles I've overcome. And I kind of like being a superhero.

Monday, January 7, 2008



Training has been a nightmare. Day one we had no computers, so we sat around all day chatting and waiting (they never came). Day two, one computer was brought in around 10:00 (after they made us arrive at 7:30), and then it took a while for our trainer to get everything set up and logged in. And then she talked about herself and her family so we probably got 2 hours of learning in but had to stay until 3:30. That was last week. Fast forward to today.

We were scheduled to attend a meeting at 9:00 with somebody from HR to go over the Fidelity company structure, bankruptcy and foreclosure processes, dress code, etc. But our original trainer asked us to come in at 7:30 again, since we didn't get anything done on day 1. We did, but she was 20 minutes late, and then still had to log in and ended up chatting so we didn't accomplish anything before 9. When we walked over to the conference room for the HR meeting, we were informed that it was delayed 15 minutes so it was back to our original trainer to hear more about her personal life.

Fifteen minutes later we tried the conference room again only to find the HR rep buried in piles of papers, frantically shoving them into three-ring binders for us. Way to be prepared. Her computer wasn't set up, so she started the presentation sans Powerpoint; she had included printouts of it in the binders, but they were 3 slides to a page and the text was too small to read. She finally got Powerpoint up and running, and I noticed that she was simply speed-reading the slides and moving on without adding any information of her own (or leaving room for dialog or questions.) Not surprisingly, she admited that this is the first time she's done this presentation, so she's not sure what she's doing. This was especially irritating, though, because she's the one who sent the email invite to us all a week ago. Wasn't that enough time to at least make a quick run-through on her own? I always did that when I lead training sessions at Wells Fargo. (and I had my handouts ready several days in advance...)

Afterwards she handed out a three page test filled with multiple choice questions. But each question had one answer in bold font; she had given us all the answer key.

When is this place going to get their act together? The original plan was to have us on our own by the 16th, but it doesn't sound like our computers will even be ready by then, so we may be stuck with our trainer for another few weeks. Ugh!

I have to just keep telling myself to hang in there...once I'm trained in, I get to work from home and never see or hear these people. I'll be able to take my laptop with me wherever I want, including Atlanta to visit my family, without having to use any vacation time. I'll get to work very flexible hours, and spend more time with Claire. This could be a dream job, if I can survive this incredibly frustrating month.

Can you tell I'm cranky? Time for bed. I'm going to need some rest to deal with this at 7:30 am again.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Knee deep in the hoopla

Whoah, did Claire really just sleep from 10-5? She's never slept longer than 5 hours before, and even that's not common. That sleep sure helped after my long day yesterday!

I went to bed last night thinking about the gym, and drifted off with Def Leopard's Hysteria playing in my head. That was one of my favorite songs to run to before the morning sickness kicked in. I was doing heart rate training, running on the treadmill in intervals. I'd run at around 80% of my max heart rate, about 145 bpm, for five minutes and then take a minute to work up to 100% and hold for a minute. It was so difficult, but I always felt so good afterwards that I would push myself to make it. After holding for a minute I'd take another minute to lower it back down to 145 for another 5 minutes, and so on.

Listening to my exercise playlist while running helped me focus and kept me motivated. But I always kept a secret weapon for when things got really tough.

When I was in elementary school, our favorite unit in gym was the jumprope unit. Those plastic beaded ropes that made the cool clicking sound against the gymnasium floor. Most of them were red and white or blue and white, but there was one that was red, white, AND blue and it was the perfect size for me so it was always my goal to get it before anybody else. At the end of each gym class our teacher would hold the Skipper of the Day contest.

She would wheel out the cart holding her record player (yes, a record player) and have everybody stand up. The anticipation was intense. When she started the song we'd all start jumping rope, sitting down on the floor when we tripped. The last one jumping once everybody else had messed up was crowned Skipper of the Day, and got a certificate with their name posted outside the gym door. It was one of the highest honors one could achieve at Southview Elementary, and I was always determined to win. Of course, I never did. I think Chris did regularly, but I was not even close to athletic until I hit my 20s.

But back to my secret weapon. The song she would play at the end of every class during the jumprope unit was We Built This City. One of the best songs ever. I loved it so much, and remember being so determined each time I listened to it as a kid, that I saved it for the end of each workout when I wasn't sure I could make it just a few more minutes. It would renew my spirit and give me the boost I needed. Isn't it funny how things like that will stick with us? I mean, that was probably about 20 years ago. Wow, I just realized what a nerd I am.

Time to get ready for work! Hopefully they'll have computers for us today...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

First day back to work

Whoah, what a day. We had another long night with Claire (not too surprising, considering she'll only be 8 weeks old on Friday) and when the alarm went off at 6 am, for the first time in several months it was meant for me, too. I was so tired I felt numb. But I was also excited to be starting my new job today, and a little nervous, so I snapped out of it and got down to business. I was loaded down with stuff: my pump since I'm nursing Claire, my purse, a notebook, and a lunch that reminded me of elementary school. When's the last time I had pb&j with a cut up apple? Now that I know I'll have access to a fridge and microwave, I can bring something better, like leftover beef stew. Pb&j was pretty boring today.

Ironically, the new office is just 5 minutes from my former job (20 miles from my house). I made it there before the other new girl and the trainer, so that made me relax - I hate being late. And both women ended up being super friendly, so it made training very pleasant. The only problem: the IT department failed to have computers for us in the training room. So we spent the entire day, from 8-4, talking about what we were missing out on. "There's a screen in the system that does this....and then there's a button that does that...and this part turns blue when this happens, you'll see tomorrow." I'm an auditor and work in a queue, my entire job is done on the computer, yet they couldn't train us on a computer today. Why didn't they just let us go home?

The woman who was training us is one of those people who doesn't need to take a breath for 8 hours. And her segues were worthy of an award - she talked and talked all day long, somehow finding her way to new subjects without letting either of us get a word in about the last one. I finally had to interrupt her after 2 hours of solid talking to remind her that she offered to give me a tour of the building and show me where I could pump. Things were starting to get painfull and I needed to take care of it.

So now I know her life story, and those of her daughters and the kids she babysat after high school. I also learned that vinegar and baking soda are very effective cleaning agents, and that I need to see the movie Chocolat. But I was so tired from our long night that my eyes started to get dry. And the training room was really warm, and when she started talking about what the computer system would look like, I felt my eyelids getting heavy. I was sitting across a small table from the other two women, trying to stay awake and look interested when my head snapped up and woke me up. Woke me up?! That means I was sleeping!! But the trainer didn't even notice, she was still talking a mile a minute and laughing in her good natured way. I tried blinking and squeezing my eyes shut to ease the dryness, but I was too tired and the hypothetical topic too boring. I fought hard to keep my head from falling onto the table. Somehow 4:00 rolled around and I was set free with the promise of actually learning something tomorrow.

I woke up completely when I stepped out into the 7 degree weather, and picked up some dinner on the way home. And then I somehow had energy to run to the gym - another first since Claire's been here. It felt good to stretch and move around, but it was incredibly frustrating not being able to do what I used to do. I listened to my 'exercise' playlist, the one containing my most motivating songs that I used to LOVE working out to, and it only made me long to push myself harder than I knew I should. Maybe I should hold off on those particular songs, as the Pavlovian response is just too strong.

Aaaand somehow it's 11:00 and I have to get up in 7 hours to do it all again. Good night!