With Effort…

Hi friends.

Did you miss me?

I sure missed you. I haven’t written one blog post during my summer break. It feels weird but it was intentional for several reasons. However, the main reason was due to the fact that there was something that I’ve been needing to do but have been putting off.

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You see, I’ve had this project burning in the back of my head, a book that I’ve wanted to write for over 6 years. It was something that scared the crap out of me because…

1.) With effort comes the possibility of failure.

2.) Some of the content required me to dig deep and address the insecurities I had growing up in order to make my character authentic.

I knew that if I got into the swing of writing blog posts again, I would justify not finishing the book because I was writing something else. The blog has been my excuse for a few years now. For some reason this summer I knew that I couldn’t use the blog as a crutch anymore. In order to be happy I needed to fulfill a promise I made to myself. I needed to finish this book.

So I created a routine that allowed me the creative time that I needed to finish my project but also the down time I needed to enjoy with my family. My daily routine mainly consisted of a variation of the same thing. Waking up early enough to watch the sun rise, drinking my first round of iced coffee and soaking in the moment the world seems to come to life again…

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Then I would go to the gym and listen to music that matched the tone of my story and imagine all of the adventures my characters would have that day when I had the time to write it all down.

After the gym we always went on some sort of random adventure. Sometimes it was just Penelope and I since Bridget was working at a summer camp and Brent was busy checking things off of his list for Paramedic School. And then sometimes we all got to do things together.

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No two days were exactly the same. Usually after our daily adventure, and after I was assured that Penelope had been thoroughly worn out, I would either put her down for a nap or let her watch a movie and rest. While she was preoccupied, I would take the time to sit outside in the shade of my back deck, drink round 2 of some home made iced coffee and write.

And that is where I proceeded to write, and write, and write.

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I wrote more than I ever felt possible and the process didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. I started the summer with 40 pages already complete and by the time I was done I had completed over 300 pages. The completion snuck up on me and when I was done I was in awe of myself.

I actually did it!

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I couldn’t be more satisfied with myself. This was probably one of my greatest accomplishments. Not because writing a book is hard (which, sometimes it is), but because I was so scared to do it. Once I committed to finishing it, the process was surprisingly easy. The book just seemed to write itself. The characters just kind of took over and took the book into a direction I never could have planned out in advance. It was like they had been waiting all this time for their story to be told.

Last year was rough. I was physically maimed, not able to even bathe myself or walk and I was battered and floundering mentally and emotionally as well.

So for the summer, my goal was to take care of myself (both mentally and physically) and it ended up being the best summer I’ve had since I’ve started my teaching career. I set some goals based on who I wanted to be. I created a routine that was both productive and fulfilling. And through it all I found that elusive balance that I’m always looking for, even if it was only for a fleeting moment.

Now that school has started I have to create new goals, a new routine and a new type of balance. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I’m getting there.

And so goes the theme of my life…

It’s here! It’s Really Here!

It’s here! It’s really, really here… Summer!

Last week Bridget and I took our last day of school photo to commemorate the occasion.

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(After we got into a fight over how short her last day of school shorts should be…. I won.)

I thought this day would never come. During Memorial Day weekend I ended up throwing my back out and was bed ridden, all dreams of frolicking in the sun were banished. I still had a week left of school to survive and I couldn’t even get off the toilet without screaming.

On that Saturday I had backed my car out of the garage to take Penelope for a bike ride. I had let her sit in the passenger seat for the ten foot journey because that’s a super awesome thing to do when you’re three. I tried to lower her out of my car while I was still seated and the next thing I knew both Penelope and I were on our hands and knees in the driveway. The twisting, lowering motion caused something in my lower back to shift and pop. I didn’t realize just how high up I was in my SUV and in one swift moment I ruined my life.

(Yes, that’s a bit melodramatic, but that was the thought that popped in my head as I watched an ant make its way toward my hand on the pavement, mocking me.)

I totally thought I was screwed for summer, but by Wednesday of my last week of school I felt just fine. (FALSE ALARM!) I was a little sore but I was walking normal, and I no longer looked like I was 98. And thankfully I didn’t have to endure grunting every time I moved in front of a room full of middle schoolers. At this point, I didn’t really have time to think about all of the things I was going to do when I was free for summer, I was still swept up in the hustle and bustle of ending the school year.  Summer still felt like a distant dream.

Then Friday came around and I found myself standing in my empty classroom with nothing left to do. For the first time in ten months I allowed myself to take a deep breath.

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I did it… I survived my first year of teaching!

It wasn’t until yesterday rolled around that it really hit me. It was Sunday and I didn’t have to scramble to get everything done in preparation of  the next week. It was true… I was free!

For the first time I actually took a long hard look at myself. My once taught legs are speckled with cellulite (a new development) and I’m soft, flabby and pale. I looked over at my kids and somehow they look older. Where have I been?

I’ve been so focused on surviving my first year of teaching I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten to live. So many things have gone neglected. Sure, I was a great teacher who took really good care of her students. But somewhere along the way I stopped taking care of myself and so many little moments with my kids and my husband have been missed.

It hit me, I have a lot of catching up to do.

So I did what any self-conscious, flabby, pale 30-something would do. I put on my bathing suit…

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…and I went outside to play!

(Notice I didn’t take a picture of me in my bathing suit. Ha!)

So far we’ve gone on bike rides…

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have been hunting for frogs…

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we’ve picked our first home grown strawberries…

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and of course we’ve been gardening…

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So far we’re off to a great start. I’ve resumed my healthy eating schedule. I’ve marked every fun festival and free activity on my calendar. I’ve planned outdoor movie nights at my house. And I’ve arranged a summer job for Bridget walking an elderly neighbor’s dog.

I can’t quite run yet due to my back but I’m on a mission to find my muscles and a sense of balance before we return to school in the fall.

In the mean time, I plan on getting reacquainted with the blog and myself in the process. You can expect two to three blog posts a week. Just like the old days 😉 But as for now… I need to put on some sunblock in preparation for a bike ride to my friend’s house for a coffee date.

Have a great day everyone!

Worth It

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It’s over… my time at home has come to an end and now I have to go back to work. And surprisingly, I’m okay with that.

When I first started this blog I was a stay at home mom looking for an outlet. I felt a lot of guilt for not being one hundred percent content with staying home with my kids. After all, it had been a suburban dream come true to have the opportunity to do that.

This is my first year back to work since having my youngest and I’ve learned that I actually enjoy going to work. I like being somebody other than Mom. I like wearing different hats and exploring the parts of me that have nothing to do with the kids that I’ve given birth to. I find fulfillment in it and I no longer feel guilty about it.

That being said, I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with my kids this week. It will fuel me through the next few months as I teach my way through the rest of the school year and into summer. Then I’ll be able to go back to frolicking in sun with my kids and soaking up all of the quality time with them that I can until they start to get on my nerves again.  Then, magically, it will be time to go back to work.

It’s all about balance my friends.

In the mean time, I’ll bask in the joy that I’ve felt the past few days. I’ll file it away into my memory bank to be retrieved when I’m old and in the mood to reminisce about the good ol’ days. It’ll be filed under “that one spring break when I managed to actually cram everything in that I actually wanted to do and didn’t feel one bit of stress during the process”.

So here it is, a list of things that we did for the remainder of spring break…

1.) Play dates that included backyard romps, iced tea with lemon and mint along with some garden planning.

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2.) Post weed pulling picnics that included strawberries, sugar snap peas and green smoothies.

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3.) A picture book inspired trip to The Butterfly Pavillion so that we could be just like Fancy Nancy!

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Even if being surrounded by a million butterflies turned out to be less glamorous that we initially thought…

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“Ahhhh!!!”

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“Whyyyyy?!?!”

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(She didn’t mind touching the creepy crawlies as long as they didn’t touch her.)

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“This place is wack… but kind of awesome.”

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She ended up talking about it non-stop when we got home 🙂

4.) A trip to The Denver Zoo…

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…with smoothies provided by our friends.

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We heart smoothies! And cars that are big enough to tote our friends around in.

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I also heart leg hugs from sleepy toddlers. (Please stop growing:( )

I think Penelope’s favorite part was probably the carousel…

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even if she had a hitchhiker ride along with her.

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“Hey… so uh, do you think I can catch a ride?”

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“Well… only because you are my best friend’s little brother.”

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“This is awesome!!!”

5.) Long Runs with Sir Scout…

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I mean long hobbles… Scout and I both seriously need to get in shape before bathing suit season and he is long overdue for a good waxing.

6.) A mommy play date that included red wine, tapas… 

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and Flamenco dancing!

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And a friend who is probably currently nursing a hang over.

Yep, I would say it was a pretty great break.

Now, it’s time for me to gather all of the papers I didn’t grade and pack them up for my return to work tomorrow. I’ll go back feeling rejuvenated. It’s good to hit a restart button every now and then, get out of the funk that you were in. Who knows, maybe I’ll even ride my bike to school in order to keep in the spirit of things.

Oh! I almost forgot! I managed to lose two pounds this week too, but that was before the red wine and tapas. Worth it.

Head Start on Spring Break!

Let’s do some math. Tons of exercise + eating super clean and healthy.

According to my calculations that should equal about a twenty pounds weight loss this week.

Unfortunately, I’m horrible at math… and super impatient and entitled.

What?! I did what I was supposed to do for five days, so that means I should get what I want. Right?

I weighed in this morning feeling deserving of the calculations above. Instead, I weighed in at 198.2… exactly what I weighed last week.

Upon further reflection I realized there may be a slight difference between what actually went down and what went down in my head. I exercised five days in a row. I mostly ran, and ran, and ran… only my run isn’t quite what it used to be. Instead, it was more of a run, and then a hobble, and then a walk. Repeat that process over and over again for about three miles and that’s pretty much what I did.

Eating wise I made healthy recipes, some of which my family deemed as questionable but ate anyway, because they love me. I was prepared for work, bringing well thought out breakfasts and left overs for lunch. And if I drank coffee I opted for no sugar.

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Then on Thursday I had the brilliant idea of making rice crispy treats for my students in celebration of the impending spring break. I followed the microwave recipe in order to save time and ended up making rice crispy bricks. It took ingesting about six treats to figure out that they were inedible.

It didn’t matter because even if they did turn out, I wouldn’t have been able to share them with the kids anyway.

I was halfway through my first period class on Friday when I got a call from the babysitter alerting me to the fact that Penelope got bit by her dog.

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The babysitter felt horrible, but Penelope wasn’t even phased by it. I got my classes covered and picked her up to take her to the doctor right away. She didn’t cry when she got bit by the dog but cried when I came to get her because she wanted to stay. (What a little weirdo.)

After the appointment we stopped by the school so that I could make sure everything was set for the sub for the rest of my classes. When we walked in everyone crowded around her with concerned looks on their faces. At first Penelope was confused as to why they were coddling her. When they asked her how she was she simply said, “Good.”

Then she figured out what they are fussing over and when they asked her she would say, “Not good! I got bit by a dog!”

When they asked if it was a big dog or a little dog it started off as a little dog and then she got into the art of exaggeration, “It was a big dog!”

Before I knew it she was making announcements in the hallway, “I got bit by a DOG!”

And of course they gave her all of the attention she was craving, she roamed the halls giving fist bumps and high fives. After her moment of celebrity she insisted that I take her to the “worm factory” to make her dog bite better. The “worm factory” is actually a burger joint that serves ice cream with gummy worms in it.

So that’s what we did.

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… and I helped myself to a burger and fries too.

Yes, I was eating my feelings. Because lets face it, this dog bite was more traumatic for me than it was for her.

The silver lining was that we got a head start on our Spring Break! Spring Break is my dress rehearsal for summer.

SUMMER!

The next morning we started our break off with the cutest birthday party ever. Penelope’s best buddy Lucy turned three and had a Curious George themed party. Seriously… Cutest. Thing. Ever.

It was everything you envision when you decide you want to have kids. I just love this age!

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Later that after noon it was time to celebrate Lucy’s mom’s birthday. Andrea had Lucy two days before her own birthday and decided this year to treat herself to a spa day. She invited me to come along. I couldn’t justify an entire spa day but I did offer to pop by for a pedicure and provide some company.

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Andrea was still getting her facial when I arrived at the fancy shmancy hotel. So what did I do? I found happy hour in the adjacent bar of course!

It was the perfect way to kick off Spring Break. Andrea and I giggled and talked in the dark ambient light. Then I left her to enjoy her hair treatment and makeover while I went home and played in the yard with my kids.

For me, perfectly painted pink toes in green grass is a true sign of good things to come. Sure enough, as we dug around in the garden clearing the way for the new season we found a little surprise.

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A little head of lettuce that somehow rebirthed itself from last year’s crop!

It’s just the beginning of good things to come. We have exciting plans make for the week ahead… family coming to town, kites to fly, picnics to be had, frolicking to be done. You know… the usual.

So if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go ahead and get started on that 🙂

Turf Wars and Mom Fails

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Can we please just take a moment to talk about how I’m a failure as a mother before we discuss my weight?

M’kay? Thanks…

Lets start with the first transgression, Girl Scout cookies.

I hate them. I hate them with all of my being. When Bridget was little I thought it was the cutest thing, bundling her up and taking her door to door.

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I mean… look at that cute little face. You would do it too.

It took a few years for the fun to fade and the realization that it isn’t really my Girl Scout selling the cookies but me.

Wait a minute…I’ve already got a job, thanks.

I know, I’m such and asshole.

Every year I can’t help but envision rivaling minivans filled with moms wearing their game faces speeding off to pick up the cookies so they can beat the other troups in sales. I see girl scouts having turf wars and all of a sudden something that started out innocent and adorable had turned into something ugly and distasteful. (Even if it is tasty.)

I soon realized that standing outside of grocery stores, knocking on doors, hustling on Facebook and hitting up my co-workers wasn’t really my thing.

Sorry…

Okay, so maybe I’m not really sorry.

Once I started to come to this realization I would feel guilty for not pulling my share of the cookie sales so I would buy a butt load of cookies for the cause, and then I would eat them.

But I’m not even doing that this year, and it makes me an even bigger asshole. (Even though my ass may end up smaller due this decision.)

Bridget is sorely disappointed in me and I understand that. My suburban street cred has seriously taken a hit due to my lack of girl scout cookie selling participation. I’m sure if I were to walk into a PTA meeting I would be shunned, but I kind of don’t care. And I’m still debating on whether I should feel bad about that or not.

I’m still on the fence on whether I’m just being lazy or drawing a healthy boundary.

The jury is still out…

The next transgression is swim team.

Bridget is not the most athletic of children. She has inherited the clumsy gene. It’s so bad that I actually thought she had an inner ear problem or something.

I always wonder where she got this from and then I’ll think of my sister. She’s tall, lean and beautiful. She’s also known for her fantastic fashion sense. In high school she would wear stilettos with her size tiny jeans. She would park her car at school (even though we lived three blocks away) and strut her stuff across the parking lot only to trip and find herself bleeding on the asphalt.

So… apparently it’s a family trait.

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(Actual picture taken from my sister’s Facebook page… love you Aly!)

 Bridget has tried many sports, but they were never quite the right fit until she stumbled upon swimming. She is literally a fish out of water. As soon as she slips into the pool she is graceful and powerful. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

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Swimming for Bridget has been a labor of love. She has tried to quit several times, but we wouldn’t let her. She’s shied away from the competition and has only participated in a few swim meets over the past few years. Recently, she has really started to get into it and was signed up for her first swim meet in a long time this weekend.

I completely failed today because I didn’t take her to it. The meet was supposed to take place during a massive snow storm that they have been predicting all week long. Swim meets take about half a day to complete and I was concerned that the drive home would be treacherous. (In other words I’m a wimp.)

I’m from Texas. Snow and Texans don’t mix. My husband however, works in the mountains. He spends 9 months of the year navigating through snow. We would have been just fine.

Bridget grasped on to my lack of enthusiasm for going and decided not to participate in the swim meet. I felt horrible. I completely lead her astray. I derailed everything she is supposed to have learned from sports- team work and dedication.

We woke up this morning and there was barely a dusting of snow.

I regretted my decision instantly. Then Bridget’s girl scout troup leader, whose daughter is a good friend of Bridget’s and also on the same swim team, texted me asking if we were coming because the coach was looking for her.

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I felt even worse. The prediction of an abundance of snow had prompted our local school district to close down all of their facilities for the weekend. I thought there was a possibility that the swim meet would be canceled as well. It wasn’t.

PARENT FAIL #2- Someone please take my mom card away from me.

I felt so bad I woke Bridget up to make her take a walk with me in the snow to talk about how I’ve taught her horrible lessons on not following through with commitments. But she didn’t want to go for a walk. She had cramps. Turns out my decision to not take her to the swim meet saved her from the embarrassment of having to endure the curse of womanhood in a bathing suit surrounded by spectators.

Mom card returned.

So Penelope and I went on a walk together instead.

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I’m currently working on mommy transgression number three, my lack of enthusiasm for potty training…

Phew! Now that we have established that I will not be invited to play bunco with the other moms let’s move on to why we are all here. We all want to see if I can actually get my shit together and lose some weight.

Because according to this “suggested post” from Facebook, I’m fat.

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Can you believe the insinuation!? I’ve slapped a hoe for less. Just kidding, I don’t know any hoes. In fact, I’m not even sure I know how to spell hoe.

Anyway, I am proud to say that when I stepped on the scale today I weighed in at 199.2. This is exactly three pounds down from last week! We’re going to ignore the fact that I weighed this a few weeks ago but gained it back. In fact, let’s forget I even mentioned it.

Damn it Facebook! You know me so well!