Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sound Advice #tbt

Once upon a time in the summer of 2001 . . .  I was 18 and living at home and working full time and hadn't finished high school.  I was debating moving out of my Mom's house and was battling with my boss at work.  We butted heads on a regular basis but usually resolved things by the end of the shift.  So I am on the phone with my gay best friend ranting about everything and he gives me the best advice ever:  "Hang up the phone.  Put on Alicia Keys. And clean something.  You know that's how you think best."

WHAT?!  He was 100% right.  I put on Songs in A Minor and started packing my room to move out.  My Mom came in and saw me packing and burst into tears and then we had a heart to heart.  Things didn't magically resolve themselves and I moved out at the end of the year - but we were on good terms and I was actually prepared to apartment hunt and be independent.  And my boss and I continued to drive each other crazy and fix it again. Until we stopped working together the following year.

Lots of things followed that summer when I was eighteen - 9/11 happened and shook everyone to the core.  The War on Terror started and my brother left West Point to go to Iraq.  I got my own apartment and my Mom moved to Lancaster PA.  I fell in love with the man I would marry and got my sweet dog Charlie.  I started a new job at a law firm and moved to a new apartment and we bought furniture from Ikea and spent weeks couch shopping.  Tim and I have had a billion ups and downs, 3 pregnancies, buying a house, an autism diagnosis, and countless other adventures.  I've been a runner, I've been depressed, and I have blogged.

Here I am - the summer I am 31 - and I am drawing on the advice from my gay best friend when I was 18.  "Put on Alicia Keys and clean something."  It really does help me think.  What else helps - reading.  Sitting down with a cup of coffee and writing.  Taking the dog for a walk.  Hiking.

I know I'm not the only one who doesn't know where they are going as an adult. The past year I have been trying to read more non-fiction.  I think learning about other people's lives is so interesting.  I read about people like Ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, Olympic Runner and WWII POW survivor Louis Zamperini, Peter Jenkins and his dog Cooper who walked across America to find himself and his country, and John Krakauer who climbed Mt. Everest in 1996 and was witness to a devastating tragedy.  I read about Cheryl Strayed and David Miller aka AWOL and Bill Bryson.  I've learned I do want to thru-hike the AT and that I probably will never want to run 100+ miles in the desert.  I've learned that people can endure more than they would ever imagine and that finding yourself can happen in 1000 miles or at a chance encounter.

Green Smoothie Love
I've learned that I love green smoothies loaded with hemp protein and that searching #veganathlete on Instagram is motivating when I just want to crawl into bed with a beer and a stack of oreos.  I've learned that splurging on a personal trainer once a week is a great decision because it is an investment in my health and wellness.  I've learned that I need to take chances and push myself.  Put a bathing suit on and spend the day at the pool with my kids.  I've learned that a 6am hike on the AT is a great way to start any day - but its even better with more friends than there are bears.
5 miles on the AT for breakfast
I've learned that parenting is such a balancing act and that you aren't going to do it all right all the time.  I've learned that the past is something you should look back on fondly or shaking your head at the decisions you once made.  I've learned that its never too late to start something.  I've learned that its okay to let your blog go forever and then pick up again - just like all those journals I once started.

I've learned that its okay to ask for help when you are overwhelmed and that I have an amazing community here and I just keep finding new people I adore. I've learned that I want open shelving in my kitchen and that I will probably continue to have a stack of pallets in my backyard that may never realize their potential as shelves.  I've learned that I can grow plants from seeds but only when I can forget about them and just let them fend for themselves.

I've learned that the weight comes off slowly when you want to keep beer in your life.  But the weight will come off.  I've learned that I am strong - and I am continuing to get stronger, both mentally and physically.  Someday I will be pounding out push-ups and remembering how hard they had once been.  I've learned that my heart warms when my friends tag me or send me pins because they know me so well.  I've learned that taking chances are scary but that helping myself and others is greater than fear.

A group I really admire, City Fit Girls, is looking for ambassadors who are passionate about fitness, nutrition and wellness.  My darling friend Stacy thought of me and tagged me on Instagram and I immediately completed the form even though I am still so far from where I want to be.  And my meals don't look beautiful and I hate taking selfies and I was terrified to put myself as someone who can motivate others.  But then I remembered my first Biggest Loser program for the MOMS Club of Front Royal.  And how much I loved putting together the program and the challenges.  And I remember how I feel when I work out or hike with friends.  So I don't live in a big city where you hit the juice bar after yoga in the park.  And I don't have any certifications in training or nutrition.  But I do know how hard it is to make time for yourself.  And I know what its like to try and make your own health a priority when you have kids who take so much from you but give you so much more in return.

I guess where I am going with all of this is that - I still don't know what I want to be or do when I grow up.  But I have a lifetime to keep learning and growing and changing my mind.

Zac and I on the Woodstock Tower

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Moving forward by looking back

So - I haven't posted in over a year and a half.  Part of it is being "busy" - - but "busy" really means "lazy" - - and the other part is a fear of admitting that I have been stuck in the same place for so long.  So - fresh start!  More than 2 years ago I wrote this post:  Antidepressants and Weight Gain  I stopped taking Zoloft after tearfully visiting my doctor and weighing in more than 20 lbs heavier.  I switched to a lower dose antidepressant, which still didn't help my situation.  Fast forward to January 2014.  I realized, during Sober January, that I hadn't taken my antidepressants in a few days.  I had previously read the amazing book:  The Chemistry of Joy and was really taken with the idea of different kinds of depression, different body types and personalities.  And the fact that the author had actually addressed the forbidden topic of side effects of antidepressants!  He did not recommend taking yourself off of a medication - such results could be very detrimental to your health- but he did discuss the initial euphoria and weight loss followed by lethargy and weight gain - that is commonly experienced when beginning an antidepressant.  It was amazing to me that others had experienced what I had.  It was also amazing to me the difference when I eventually took myself off the meds. . . All of the sudden I was my usual emotional self!  Not only did I tear up at Friends re-runs, but also at touching moments with my kids, interactions with other moms, commercials for iPhones . . . it was an emotion bonanza!  I think it took a while for my body to not be regulated.  Also I was able to very easily drop Diet Coke from my life as well as finally kicking dairy to the curb.  Do you know how embarrassing it is to call yourself vegan and then scarf down half a cheese pizza from Anthony's?

Credit- Buzzfeed

So here I am - now in March of 2014.  I have been really, truly vegan for nearly 2 months.  I haven't touched a Diet Coke nor swallowed a pill.  I am still balancing myself out - I had one of my mom's traditional "Scream and Cleans" today.  Not a proud moment!  But my kids did realize they have awesome toys and pretty spectacular imaginations that don't require batteries or screens.  I am still trying to find my way back to fit.  I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.  I am still thinking a beer is the best way to wind down after a long day and a workout.
Credit - Amazon

I remember from The Chemistry of Joy that my type should take on activities that seem beyond their comfort level in an attempt to keep themselves engaged and motivated.  I would have laughed at you if you had suggested that before!  But I was at my most fit when I was doing two-a-days and when I was running 3 miles a day.  I was at my best taking on Pilates and strength and meeting each with a good attitude.  So that is what I need to do now.  I can push myself on the elliptical, I can up my weights or reps on machines, but what I really need is to take on a hike or a class or a run that I don't think I can handle and to complete it.  Maybe not at first and probably a pretty poor start - but it is a start all the same.  I love tracking my workouts in a little notebook in my bag and I love seeing when I really push myself and leave the gym dripping sweat.  Of course summer is coming!  Can't wait to plan day hikes with friends - those are the absolute best!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday - People are Awesome

I posted yesterday about a collection going on in Fairfax, Virginia to be delivered to those in need from Sandy.  It was so heartwarming and I hope a lot of people take advantage of this time to do something so huge for people so in need.  
While I was trying to figure out screen shots to share the information - I saw something else that just made me so thankful and happy and get all weepy.  My favorite place to go for drinks and dinner, Vino e Formaggio, shared some information on their wall about Thanksgiving:

Doesn't it make you cry?  Its beyond sweet and I can't wait to hear how it goes.  Maybe I can install hidden cameras or something so I can sneak a peak at the happenings while we are doing our own Thanksgiving.

And then my friend Kristin posted this on my wall: 

This was such good news as I wouldn't be able to drive out to Fairfax tomorrow and we really don't have the funds this week to buy extra.  Now I can get into the attic for our extra coats, pull together the clothes I had set aside for donating, and check sale ads for deals on items that are needed.  Yay!  

Source -

So besides being thankful for these people in my life and in my town who want to pull together to help others, I have spent a lot of time this week thinking of how thankful I am for the little things that others might not have had with Hurricane Sandy and then with the Nor'easter Athena. 

I am so thankful for my home, my 75 year old furnace that heats my home, my silly striped socks that keep my feet warm in my boots, my favorite blankets that I keep in each room ready for snuggling.  I am thankful for my old wood floors that don’t ever seem cold on our feet.  I am thankful for my coffee maker that brews my favorite organic, fair trade coffees for me. I am thankful for my not so creepy basement that has a french drain and keeps it from flooding.  I am thankful for neighbors who look out for each other and my great location so we can walk anywhere.  When I was 9 months pregnant with Liam, Tim was out of town and we got the first of two huge snowstorms. We had 2 feet of snow on the ground and I was home with the 2 boys thinking that if I went into labor - I could just walk to the hospital!  

I am thankful for old friends and new friends and knowing that I can count on people if we need anything.  I am thankful that today I got to have lunch with Tim and Liam and Kyle at Kyle's school.  We even stayed for recess and got to see Kyle keeping an eye out for Liam and Liam hold his own with the big kids.  We got to get lots of hugs from Kyle in front of his friends.  And once we got home Liam brought me a teddy bear that was scared of a raccoon and we worked it all out.  I am thankful that the Angry Birds people made a Star Wars edition because it has made my kids so happy from the moment it was downloaded.  I am thankful to be here and to get to enjoy all of this every day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to help after Sandy - really really help

Today I read this awesome Facebook status update from some awesome, crazy women I adore. 

I am so not on top of this screen shot stuff but I wanted to get you all the info.  Please help in any way you can!  Something as simple as picking up an extra $10 worth of groceries (things that are ready to eat would probably help most.  We don't know if cooking  is an option).  Coats that you or your kids don't wear (seriously - you know you have some you won't fit in, don't like the color of, don't wear often, is so last year).  Towels (Target and Walmart have surprisingly nice towels that are inexpensive).  Imagine needing diapers or formula or hand soap.  Think of things that you would bring to be comfortable camping:  those facial wipes (I love Simple brand), granola bars, toys and games to keep the kids busy and to keep you all sane.  These people need us.  Please help however you can. 

Check out Rants from Mommyland's awesome blog here.  And enjoy.  You're welcome.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday - After Halloween and the Hurricane

Let's start with the most obvious on this dry Thursday afternoon.  I am thankful that my friends and family were largely untouched by Hurricane Sandy.  I was trying to not obsess about the storm but wanted to stay on top of storm coverage and be completely prepared to lose power for several days with 3 kids under the age of 7.  So of course- with all that - obsess I did.  I shopped and shopped to make sure we had battery-powered light sources, dog food, diapers, water (even though we don't lose water when we lose power), boxes and boxes of Cheez-its and Triscuits, and tons of hummus and peanut butter.  Plus fruit and soup and vegetables to saute for wraps and sandwiches.  I watched NBC 4 and checked Twitter every 30 minutes.  I worried about the dog next door who's owner moved the dog in although he and his family haven't moved yet.  This poor dog spent a cold, rainy Monday shivering and curled up in his half doghouse.  I finally called Animal Control after noticing the owner's truck come and go several times throughout the day without taking the animal indoors.  Animal Control came and then the owner came and put the dog in the shed or garage.  I felt like I could breathe again!  I was so relieved that this poor dog wouldn't have as miserable a night as he would have exposed to the elements.  Definitely thankful for the animal control officers who must have some of the hardest jobs ever. 
Poor dog! 
My two younger boys ended up falling asleep early in the evening on Monday so I played Battleship with Kyle and then Go Fish with Star Wars cards.  He creamed me.  I bowed out and asked Tim to take over and Kyle destroyed him in War.  I read to Kyle from The Hobbit at bedtime and gave him a headlamp and flashlight in case the power went out.  I assured him I would wake up and camp out with him if it did.  I tried to relax knowing I had my family at home and that we still had power and no trees on our house.  I had an IPA, texted with some friends and went to bed early.  Tuesday brought us light rain and cooler temperatures but we didn't get snow like some friends in the mountains.  So I spent that day checking Twitter and seeing the devastation north of us.  I checked in with my family and was so thankful that everyone from Richmond to Brooklyn was doing fine and hadn't even lost power.  

We were able to move on from Sandy unlike those north of us.  We sent the boys to school on Wednesday and met at a friend's Wednesday night for a gathering where the parents got to have a beer and the kids got to run around outside before we set out trick-or-treating.   The kids had a blast and were ready to head back home about the same time as me.  Tonight is Cub Scouts and we will be touring the Government Center and learning about the changes in our town from 50 years ago.  
Iron Man, Jango Fett and Peter Pan heading to a Halloween party.  Peter Pan refused to dress up.

Spending 4 days cooped up inside with my boys (with the exception of a great Halloween party on Saturday night) means that there is a little too much TV, a little too much bickering, and too little space.  I should have planned some fun activities for us to do, but Tim was in NYC over the weekend and I was still getting over my strep and some days I just get the bare minimum done.  One thing that I was able to enjoy was Zac's voice!  He was singing so much, reciting songs from You Tube videos that he started watching in preschool and reading books aloud.  He also surprised me on Tuesday by saying "I want to have milk please."  I was so excited I jumped up and hugged him like the maniac mom I am!  Its so exciting to hear him make a sentence without prompting.  And its not even one I ask him to use!  He used it again later asking for peanut butter and I was just the proudest Mom ever.  It makes me realize once again how lucky we are to have the amazing teams he has had at school these past 3 years.  From his bus drivers and aides to his teachers and therapists.  Everyone works so hard for my child each day and I get to enjoy all these little moments because of that.  

And I am also thankful for moments like these:  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday - only late - but with a doctor's note!

So I was all un-me and making lists of things I am thankful for as they come up in preparation (not procrastination) for these posts.  And then I got strep and spent a couple of days thinking that rest and fluids will magically fix me (didn't happen)  So I caved and called my wonderful Doctor at Skyline Family Practice and today I am thankful for the one remaining antibiotic I am not deathly allergic to as I am almost back to functioning normally.  

I am also thankful for my friends - there are so many people in my life who surprise and amaze me every day.  Just being sick brought friends offering help and food and asking what I need from the store.  My friend Martha took Kyle to Cub Scouts last night so I could veg out and half watch E News and not infect our pack.  Especially since my doctor's son is in our pack and he would call me out.  

Even when there are letdowns - which are so common as a Mom - why do we plan anything? - I try and remember that things are still pretty awesome.  I had plans to go hiking with my friends last week.  I was bringing Liam and Charlie to Andy Guest Shenandoah River State Park and we would hike and be merry!  And I thoroughly enjoyed the drive there and refrained from stopping along 340 to take pictures every 500 feet.  But only because the inside of my windshield is remarkably dirty.  And I only once said: "Yeah - we get it. It's pretty.  Speed limit people!" 

We get to the park and this is what we see:

 And these were my guys I was going to hike with:
But the cute one in the stripes?  He decided to sit down in a muddy puddle.  And soak his shoes, socks, pants, and sleeves.  Because it was a foggy, cool fall day and what better to be than wet?  So after searching the car and realizing I could redress him several times - if  he just wasn't concerned with pants and shoes - we headed back out of the park to go home.  Liam and Charlie both cried on the way home but I kept playing the It Could Be Worse game.  We got home and had lunch and went for a walk downtown and all was well.  The mountains will still be there next week if I wish to tackle them again.  Hiking with a 2 year old isn't really all that great - but I enjoy the challenge.  And the park is only 20 minutes away. And Skyline Drive is 5 minutes away.  So I really can't complain.  I can - instead - be thankful.

And I hate to say it but I am so thankful for social media and my smart phone.  If I wasn't on Twitter - I wouldn't have known that Virginia State Parks has an app that has lots of great features for people who can pay attention to their phone without a child sinking into a mud puddle.  Or for people who are traveling and want to stop and visit a State Park.  Or for people planning a trip and want to camp or kayak or hike.  Or who know how to use a GPS.  Its probably all over my head right now but someday I might figure it out.  
And if I hadn't been searching for that app - I might never have found the Virginia Tech Tree ID App which can help me answer "what is that thing Liam is squishing in his fat little palms?" (Answer: Persimmon).  And if I remember to bring my phone on a walk at a friend's house I could identify the thing I found on the ground instead of sending it out on Instagram.  

And because I am getting my appetite back - I am thankful for food porn.  People share these incredible things they cook or eat and post them online and even though my food never looks like that - it gives me (an incredibly indecisive person) an idea about what to cook for dinner.  And I can make it vegan and leave out ingredients and I don't get stressed out by too many steps or specific measurements.  So tonight I will be making black bean salsa to toss into fajitias with vegetarian refried beans and sauteed peppers and mushrooms.  And whatever else might sound like a good addition.  All because someone had a picture of something similar somewhere in my scrolling today and its sounds like what I want.

So I am off to make salsa and be thankful and not at all paranoid about Hurricane Sandy.  Have a safe weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Thanksgiving is approaching!  I am so excited because I get to watch the Macy's Day Parade and football.  We make something gooey and terrible for breakfast and enjoy being together on a crisp fall day.  I have visions of games of football in the yard when my kids are a little bigger and love when family comes down.  My kids were never big eaters on Thanksgiving and this will be my second Thanksgiving where I am not eating meat.  Luckily Vegetarian Times has some amazing recipes so I won't be stuck with Tofurky (I always thought that was just a joke).  But Thanksgiving is still 6 weeks away and my intentions of posting about it today are to start on my Thankfulness journey.  

I have been reading books on decluttering and streamlining my home (The Joy of Less by Francine Jay) and books on finances to curb our spending and get a handle on living beneath our means (The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey).  I am also constantly trying to get a handle on eating right, drinking minimally and exercising.  All the concepts are pretty easy:  
  • Do you really need to keep that huge box of Dean Koontz books when you can get them all from the library and you have read them all at least twice?  Do you really need 22 saucer plates?  Do you need to hold onto 75+ DVDs when the only time you watch them are when they come on cable?  How many extra sets of sheets can one queen sized bed use?
  • Stop spending money you don't have and then wondering why you don't have money.  Write a budget and stick to it.  Don't use credit cards.  Use cash.  Cut back on extra expenses (like eating out - there aren't any vegan options around here anyways!).
  • Eat mostly vegetables and whole foods.  Go for a walk.  Pick up your weights - and use them!  Take the kids outside to play.  Beer is a treat - not a thirst-quencher.  Drink water.  
I know what to do and how to do it but find myself turning to other sources to hear someone say it in a way that will make it click.  Plus there could be some secret magic formula that I don't know about (right?  There could be!)

So after turning 30 last week and thinking self-improvement thoughts - I know I need to balance out making changes with self-appreciation.  While I was heading out for a meeting on a cold day - I decided to treat myself to my free birthday soy latte from Starbucks.  I enjoyed every sip and sat in my car with my warm boots, my oversized cardigan, and my heated seats and I thought - I am so lucky.  And then Wild Thing came on the radio and Liam was dancing and singing in his car seat and I thought - I am really really lucky! 

I have always been a "look on the bright side" kind of girl. I want to save the lobsters from the fish tank at Red Lobster and comfort the crying baby at the grocery store.  I want to take any animal home with me who could possibly need it.  I give the crazy lady who cut me off in my quiet neighborhood the benefit of the doubt - she could be heading to the hospital with a sick kid.  When everything is falling apart and I can't get the kids to leave the playground - I think - it could be worse!  They had a great time and I got to enjoy it with them.  Now we get to go home and finish reading the Spiderwick Chronicles.  The problem is keeping those thought from being drowned out by negative thoughts.

I am going to do Thankful Thursdays up to Thanksgiving as a way to remind myself that I am lucky - each and every day.  I have 3 beautiful boys who love me and love each other.  I have a husband whose adores me and who I look forward to seeing when he gets home from work.  I got to spend the day at the pumpkin patch with just my Zac (and pet baby cows!!!).  I get to go hiking tomorrow with my friends and Liam and Charlie.  I get to experience the Shenandoah Valley in the fall just walking out my door!  I can spend the morning drawing on a chalkboard with Liam and listening to his stories of crocodiles and Peter Pan.  I get to build Star Wars Legos with Kyle and listen to his dream of Storm Troopers taking my car without asking!  I have the best dog in the entire world and a fish who dances for his dinner. 

Isn't is amazing that this is my life?  Losing weight and making a budget doesn't seem like such a downer when I have so much already.