Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've decided to observe Lent this year. Not in the Catholic sense, but in the sense that I'm giving something up for 40 days. I've decided that this year for Lent, I'm giving up my spare tire. I'm really attached to it, but it's time for it to go.

I recently took this picture of Rosie and myself. My camera confirmed to me what I've known about this mirror for quite some time--it is a liar. This mirror is a skinny mirror, and fools the observer into thinking that they are fine, that outfit is a good idea, and they should have another cupcake. Liar.
The truth is, I think I could deal with being the size I am if not for two things.
  1. So much more of my wardrobe would open up for me if I were 10 pounds lighter.
  2. Fat is squishy. Fat, postpartum tummy is extra squishy. If fat were firm, therefore enabling my clothing to stay where it's supposed to/where I put it when I dressed myself, I could deal with it. If I could just look like I was wearing full body Spanx all the time without risking my elastic line getting infected (thank you Liz Lemon), I don't think I would care what my actual size was. But the fact that currently I could put on the highest waisted pair of mom jeans ever and they would still migrate down my gelatinous middle, lodging themselves right under my marshmallow-ey spare tire repeatedly throughout the day is kind of killing me. My muffin top is not all that.
  3. My fat face.
And while I am (mostly) fine with never looking like this again,
(though I would love to have the time, attitude, and appreciation of my fabulousness I didn't have at that time), I have reached the age where I really need to start making better choices. For instance, I need to trade in my five daily servings of chocolate for five servings of fruits when my sweet tooth needs a fix. Or maybe just four.

I know I could have done this as a New Year's resolution, and I did (sort of) try, but some medication issues got in my way, and also, New Year's resolutions are soooo cliche. Plus I like the idea of a 40 day time period. I'm better at keeping goals with a specific time limit on them. Not that I plan to give up my healthier habits after Easter. But getting back to my pre-baby weight by Easter is doable. I plan on starting Rosie on solids about that time which means right now I need to make the most of my full time breastfeeding Weight Watchers bonus points. Plus, plus, Lent is far enough after the indulgences of the holiday season that there are far fewer temptations for me in the house.

It still won't be easy. I'm very, very tired right now. I find myself telling stories to friends, realizing halfway through that I've told the story before, and deciding to finish it anyway in the hopes that their kids were up in the night, too, so they also need a reminder. Also, despite wearing contacts for over half of my life, I have twice in the last couple months opened my case to find I forgot to put solution in the contacts. And they'd been drying out for days because I had been wearing my glasses because my eyes were too tired for contacts. I tell you about these memory lapses because it proves how hard it is for me to make good food choices right now. Many times I simply forget and put things in my mouth that I shouldn't. Or I forget that "fruit flavored" is not fruit. Or that I shouldn't eat a Fiber Plus bar before going to the dentist, or any other confined space.

Exercising is also a problem. I know that it is key to actually regaining muscle tone, but it is hard. Hard because I don't like to do it. Hard because when I try to do my Pilates, my children think I'm just turning myself into a jungle gym for them. Hard because doing it before my children wake up is next to impossible, both because I'm tired and also because they like to rise before the dawn. And use me as a jungle gym.

However, I did examine my schedule and I found a partial solution. I found that throughout my day, there are many small windows of wasted time. Instead of sitting on the side of the tub, watching the clock while waiting for my children to finish their business, I'm doing my own squats. Instead of banging my head against the wall to the rhythm of my child shouting, "No! I'll do it by my fels (self)!" I'm doing wall pushups. It's not much, but it's something.

So far, my efforts are paying off. I'm down a couple pounds after the first week. And if I make it to my goal, I'm going to Disneyland!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go use my baby as a kettle ball.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rosie at 4 months

Our baby is 4 months old now. She is very cute.
My mom had the most amazing blue eyes. The were so deeply blue you would have sworn they were colored contacts. Several of my siblings got those blue eyes. My blue eyes were more like my grandpa's--more of a piercing blue-green. Addie got those eyes. Chloe's are green/ hazel. Maggie's are brown. I wished for my mom's blue for this baby, and so far, I think she's got them.

Rosie is easily my chunkiest baby. And I love it. I always wanted a baby with "screw on hands" and this girl's got 'em.

She also has the cutest little birthmark on her left breast. Addie has started drawing pictures of herself with a little birthmark. She assumes that since Rosie has one, she must have had one, too, and it's just gone away.

Those are some beautiful lips.

Addie loves Rosie. She is the child I am most likely to find just playing by her baby sister, setting up her elaborate imaginations and sharing them with Rosie.
Rosie has a great grin. We usually see it first thing in the morning, when she is the most rested. Sleeping is continuing to be a challenge for this little girl. She does not like to stay asleep for extended periods, and just when I think we've begun to establish a bit of a schedule, we have a day like today where she throws all that out the window.

Aw. Come on, Mom. No one's going to buy that.

This is Rosie in her most common position--both hands crammed as far in her mouth as she can get them. Fingers are her second favorite thing to eat, close behind what Mom provides. Her favorite activity is wriggling out of her socks. I hate socks. She also loves to "hug" my arms with her legs when I am changing her diaper, which I love.This girl is a champion nurser. She would rather eat than do anything else, including sleep, and has therefore become quite a spitter. We often call her "The Mad Bomber." She is really amazing with the surprise attacks, second only to Addie's skill when she was a baby. And her timing is impeccable. I just went into her room to attempt to put her back down for a nap. As I took her bib off, she immediately spit up, again and again and again, taking out her outfit, the carpet, and the rug. Amazing!

And the drool this one produces! I have had several people ask if she is teething because of the copious amounts of liquid pouring from her mouth. Her shirt is pretty much always saturated, even though we go through multiple bibs a day as we attempt to keep it dry. It still blows me away that every bit of liquid that comes out of her, came out of me first. No wonder I'm constantly chugging water.
But she is so sweet, nonetheless. She loves to be carried in what I call "Co-Pilot Position." I hold her upright in my right arm, and she immediately puts her left arm around me neck and grabs my right thumb with her right hand, like a joystock. And thus we navigate our day. She is very much a Mama's girl. She prefers to be held by me, and if she's not, she's watching me intently. The other night she was having a hard time settling down and Bracken was trying to calm her, unsuccessfully. I walked in and said, "Hi," and she immediately calmed down. Another night she was fussing and I went in to check on her. She looked at me, made eye contact, then closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

She has a great profile. I sure do love those round, round cheeks. She has the cutest sneezes, too. She will usually coo in between each sneeze, as if to say, "Phew, I'm glad that's over." She does something similar when she's tired and doesn't want to sleep. She tries to talk to me while nursing until drowsiness finally overcomes her.
She's great at looking innocent. I've been asked if she's as easy going and content as she seems. I wish that were the case. In truth, she's a bit of a stinker. Most days are a vicious cycle of too short naps/sleep cycles, overeating to compensate for lack of sleep, excessive spit up as a result of overeating, and irritability. With the exception of the spit up, the same goes for me, too.

What? I would never . . .

In fact, I would say these two are definitely the most similar of my children at the point. Heaven help us all.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Something Could Happen

I was going to post a sunny little tutorial about my latest home improvement project, but at the moment, I'm feeling nothing like sunny. Oh sure, I have a bright red glow to my cheeks, and a gleam to my eyes, but that's not sunshine. Neither is it shame, despite the efforts of others. It is anger.

My Chloe has always been a climber. When she was born, we lived in a two story apartment. I'm the oldest of 7, so I was somewhat familiar with the ways and means of children, and knew that despite my best efforts to keep her from the stairs, chances were that there would come a time when she would find her way to the stairs and possibly hurt herself. Rather than wait for the inevitable, I taught her how to climb both up and down the stairs. By the time she was 8 months old, she could easily scamper both ways, and never got hurt on the stairs.

She also loved to climb on the playground. I loved to watch her thought process. She would start with the easiest way to get onto the equipment--usually the stairs--and climb on up. Once she had that mastered, she would try the next hardest thing--maybe a ladder, then a chain ladder. I guarantee she was the smallest child climbing up the rock climbing wall, but she did it. I initially would stand close to the play structure, hovering in case she fell or misjudged her abilities. I'll admit, my heart nearly stopped one time when I saw her long, skinny leg extend out from a high opening. But then she checked herself, pulled the leg back in, and decided to come down a different way. She learned to trust herself, and I learned to trust her. There were two times when she got hurt on the playground, and both times were when someone else intervened because they thought she couldn't do it herself.

Today when dropping Addie off at preschool, I left Maggie and Rosie in the car, as I often, not always, do. As usual, my car was never out of my sight, and I was less than 30 feet away the whole time. The weather was mild--there was no danger of them overheating. I intended to say goodbye to Addie, hug her before she walked inside and then go back to my car. This routine takes less than a minute. But today, her teacher pulled me aside to tell me several of the other parents had voiced their concerns that I was leaving my children in the car. If I didn't stop doing it, they were threatening to call the police, and potentially Child Protective Services. The teacher was kind, apologetic, and offered to help me bring the other girls with me when I brought Addie in. But that really wasn't the point.

I am more than capable (most days) of bringing my children with me when I drop Addie off. I just don't see why I should have to. I'm not going to quote statistics. Here's a link with plenty for you. Or check out Free Range Kids. There's plenty of information there about how safe the world actually is. Yes, I realize that something could happen to my girls while I am away. But it probably won't. The other side of the coin is that something could happen to them while they are with me. In making the decision to leave my children in the car, I weighed my options. And I picked what for me felt like the best choice.

Sometimes kids will get hurt. Sometimes bad things will happen to them. We cannot keep our children safe from everything. Nor should we. I'm not advocating risky or abusive behavior, but I choose to believe that the world is basically a safe, good place. That people generally are good, and most parents have the best intentions for their children. In posting my frustration about this situation on facebook, several of my friends commented that they know I am a good mom and they wouldn't worry about my kids. Isn't that true for most parents? Aren't most of the mothers you know doing the best they can? And why can't the best choice for them be different from the best choice for you? It's not hard to understand why there is such a problem with bullying in our schools when you consider the tactics some parents use to exert their influence over others. How many of you out there have changed the way you do something as a parent, even though your original choice felt right to you, because you felt pressure from other parents?

I'll admit, I've ended my subscriptions to certain parenting magazines because I didn't want to buy into the idea I was never going to be a good enough mother if I wasn't constantly following my children around, policing their every movement, not daring to even fall asleep lest they somehow endanger themselves while my eyes were closed. More importantly, I just don't think that's an effective way to parent. We're here to protect our children, sure, but we also have a responsibility to teach them and guide them and let them have their own experiences so they can grow into capable, functioning adults. I don't want to have four adult children still living with me, wanting me to cook for them, and clean for them, and fix all their problems for them because they never learned how. I don't want my children to be afraid of every little thing because our culture of fearmongering has taught them that they should be.

I can't help but think of this exchange from Finding Nemo (which I did let my children watch, but not too often, because I don't want to damage their little brains with excessive screen time).
Dory: There, there. It's all right. It'll be OK.
Marlin: No. No, it won't.
Dory: Sure, it will. You'll see.
Marlin: No. I promised him I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Huh. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then, nothing would ever happen to him. (Marlin stares at her.) Not much fun for little Harpo.

Not much fun for any kid. Obviously I had a lot more to rant about than just whether or not I choose to leave my kids in the car. As far as that situation goes, I'm not sure what to do. I looked up the law, and it states.

It is illegal to leave a child six years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle when:

  • There are conditions that present a significant risk to the child's health or safety. Example: Leaving a child in a closed car on a very hot day.
  • The vehicle's engine is running, the keys are in the ignition, or both. Children can start or move the car causing injuries and/or deaths to themselves or others. An opportunist may (and many have) seize the moment to jump in and drive your car away, child still strapped in.

Well, I wasn't in violation of either of those rules, though part of me does want to see how long it would take "an opportunist" to hop in my car and drive away with it. I went ahead and called the police station to find out just what they would do if they were called on my behalf. The officer I spoke to was very noncommittal. He said they might have to charge me with negligence because Something Could Happen! This despite the fact that the law itself says it is only illegal if there are conditions that pose a significant risk to the child's health or safety.

I want to stand up for my beliefs, and do my part to end the atmosphere of fear our children are growing up in, but I have to admit, I am afraid. When even the police officers are hesitant to enforce the actual law, possibly because of pressure from parental bullies, I get scared. I don't want to, God forbid, lose my children over standing up for my principles. I'm more scared over what will happen to them when other people step in that I am over what could happen to them if I leave them in the car.

What would you do?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pin This!

We have a surplus of art projects at our house. Left to her own devices, Addie would create something with every sheet of paper in the house EVERY DAY. Plus there are all the holiday art projects the girls make that we pull out to display every year. They usually end up looking kind of messy, and leave the wall with an excess of holes. I've wanted to do something to organize and display them better, but hadn't really found something that truly inspired me. Then I saw an idea to create a bulletin board gallery wall in the November 2011 issue of Family Fun magazine. Perfect.

First I needed to collect some frames. Thankfully, I just discovered a wonderful thrift store in my neighborhood where I was able to get 8 frames for $10.
Next I took everything out of the frames and gave them a coating of spray primer. I've recently learned what an important step priming is for any project. A light coating of primer--it doesn't even need to be even--makes the rest of your painting go so much better. You'll need less coats and will get better coverage. And if you're using certain brands (Design Master, I'm looking at you), it keeps the paint from rubbing or scratching off as easily. A very handy tool to have while spray painting is that clip on handle you see lying below the frames. They retail for about $3 and will save you major finger cramping.

After priming and letting them dry, I painted all my frames. The yellow ones were for my gallery wall, the others were for other projects.

After the paint had dried, and I mean really dried, not just dried to the touch, I decided to antique them. I used Minwax Express Wiping Stain in black and it worked really well. For the frames with finer detail, I thinned it with water. For more helpful hints on antiquing and glazing, you must check out this blog, All Things Thrifty. Very inspirational, and detailed, with videos, which is why I'm not going to take the time to explain the process here.

Once my frames were dry, it was time to line them with cork. I had picked up a huge roll of cork at the hardware store for much cheaper than they sold it at the craft store. Using the glass from the frames as my template and a box cutter, I cut out the cork in the sizes I needed. Since my cork was pretty thin, I used a double layer in most of my frames. Then I reassembled them, using spray adhesive to glue the cork layers to the original backing from the frames. You want to make sure the backs of the frames are securely attached since you will be pushing pins in from the front, but how you do that will depend on the type of frame you're using.

Then I laid out the finished frames on the floor, rearranging them until I found the pattern I liked. I hung them on the wall using a level and two parallel nails per frame. That way I wouldn't have to worry about the frames getting all crooked as they were used, and I could adjust them from side to side if I needed to.

And, voila, my finished wall, complete with monogrammed M for Mannion.

Which will soon be M for Mess as we fill the frames with an overabundance of art. Which is fine, because then it will better blend in the the rest of the house.