Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moving on up...

Hello! I have recently relocated this blog to will also get you to the new blog.

I hope you can follow the trail of chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and nips of gin I left to guide you there...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Week: Progress...

A week ago I committed to joining Pish Posh in her get fit challenge. To that end I have been doing the following:

Getting on the treadmill 5 out of 7 days a week.
Recording my food intake in my handy FitnessPal app on my phone.

I have lost 2 pounds.

I sort of am not rushing to be all HOORAAAAY because honestly, most women will tell you they can gain or lose (or both) 2 pounds in a day. But it IS progress. It helps to maintain the momentum.

Recording my food/beverage intake, as I said last time, isn't so much about restricting what I eat, because I really don't believe in denying myself the things I enjoy. But it does make me stop and think about what I am eating. Do I really want the 40 calories from those chocolate kisses? Yes, yes I do. But I don't really, so no thanks, not this time.

I like that this app asks me what my goal is (lose 20lbs) and then gives me a timeline for that based on losing a realistic amount of weight per week, as well as how many calories I would need to consume in order to achieve that goal in said amount of time. Again, I don't look at it as prescriptive. More of a suggestion.

This makes me think about the quality of the food I am eating. One bagel has around 300 calories. One cup of fruit has 45 calories. Fruit is on the whole better for me, and I really like fruit, so I am going to choose the fruit and some cheese over the bagel this time. I will still eat a bagel every so often. Especially if I happened to have worked out that day.

It is about balance. Finding the balance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Things I can hear...

I came home at lunch today, and when I let the dogs out back, I stopped and let the sun shine on my face, and I listened. It has been a relatively mild winter here in Boston, but it has still been winter. I have not sat out on my deck in months. I wear three layers of clothes every day. There are no leaves on the trees, and I have no plants growing in my yard.

And yet...

I could hear the birds.

I could hear the melting snow trickling in the yards around me.

I think I might have heard a few buds budding.

I think I can hear spring...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On Owning Who You Are

There are many things I am (in no particular order): A woman. A mother. A wife. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A Christian. A singer. Funny. Intelligent. Caring. Sensitive. Strong. Assertive. Human. Selfish. Weak in the face of popcorn or a good piece of carmel and chocolate candy.

I could go on, but the point is there are a lot of things that I KNOW I am, and I am willing to own all of these things, good and bad. No one is perfect, no one is all bad. At least I choose to HOPE that no one is all bad. Let's say we do not have to be defined by only the good or the bad in ourselves. We can always rise above the very worst thing we have ever done or thought, and we will always fall below the very best thing that we have ever done or thought. It is the way of being a human. We are flawed creatures, and if we are doing our jobs, we are on a never ending quest to be better than we were yesterday. Or even earlier today. We will fail, but we cannot let that define us. We need to accept that we will fail miserably sometimes, but also revel in that we will succeed spectacularly too.

The flip side to knowing who you are is being aware of the messages that we are given by others, whether that is delivered by an individual, an organization, or some subset of society. Some of these messages are positive, but unfortunately more often than not it is negative in its connotation.

Messages I have received over my life from others:

- The most important person in my life should be me. Delivered by my viola teacher of a few years, who was an ancient, small Italian man. He was also the first person to suggest that I needed to FEEL the music as much as know the notes.

- "You are a know it all." Delivered by the mother of a boyfriend. Not surprisingly that relationship did not last.

- "Men need to feel needed in a practical sense. You are too self sufficient, men won't feel needed by you so it will be harder for you to find a man." Delivered by a male VP of Student Services at my first full time job after grad school.

- As a woman the most important things I can hope to accomplish is becoming a wife and mother. Delivered in a variety of ways, by a variety of people in college as an undergrad, and in various churches I have attended in my life.

- "You are doing a good job." Delivered by my dad, to me, as he was saying goodbye to me the last time we visited my parents. He was referring mostly to how I am doing with Cooper. And I appreciated the unsolicited feedback!

There have been many other, positive messaged, delivered to me over time by a variety of people. My mother is a constant source of positive reinforcement, as are many of my friends. Many times it is not what a person says, but how they treat you that sends the message. And often the message is not about YOU, but about themselves, and the values THEY hold. When that guy that cheated on me, I realized much later that it had nothing to do with how he felt about me, or even my value as a person. It spoke volumes though about his own self esteem, his own value system.

You cannot make a person believe something, you cannot make them feel something. You can however, live your life according to your own values, bearing witness to your own belief system and own your own power. If people get who you are and value that, BONUS. If they don't, it is their loss. But mostly, we need to own who we are and be proud of what we have accomplished.

Recently we have been hearing a lot about the debate around whether or not certain organizations should be required to offer coverage for contraception when it is in direct contrast to their religious belief system to use contraception. The current administration in the oval office has mandated that all insurance companies must either carry it as a covered expense, or make it available to women free of charge if the company for whom the woman works refuses to offer it as a covered medication.

In 2012 we are actually having this conversation. It baffles me. Back in 1992, when I was working for the state of New York at a college, contraception was not a covered prescription. Not because the state of NY had any religious or moral stand against it. I perceived it as one of those medications that society was only beginning to acknowledge as medically necessary, not an arbitrary, whimsical choice made by only loose women looking to satiate their carnal instincts. As an employee of the state, I was also a member of a bargaining unit, or union. I would attend the meetings for the staff union, and one day the meeting involved discussing medical coverage. The gentleman who was our union rep said if anyone had any questions or concerns about what our insurance did or did not cover, to let him know and it would be taken to the higher ups and possibly negotiated into our coverage.

In looking back, I feel a little badly for this guy, who was my senior by easily 30 years and who most assuredly did not want to have a conversation about birth control with this 24 year old woman. But to his credit, he did have that conversation. I did not bring it up in the meeting, I caught him afterward, and explained that I felt very strongly that he advocate on behalf of all of the female employees that oral contraception be added to the prescription coverage. I explained that the cost to the insurance company, and consequently to the state and college was far less for the medication than it would be to deal with unexpected pregnancies or other physical ramifications of not being on the pill. I explained that I took this medication for reasons other than pregnancy prevention, which were legitimate and medically diagnosed reasons. My doctor prescribes this medication for me, it should be covered.

He did his job as a union rep, and before my 3.5 years were over at that particular job, oral contraception was added to the prescription medication coverage. TWENTY YEARS LATER I cannot for the life of me understand how we have come back full circle to this conversation.

I understand that from a religious stand point, some organizations, like the Catholic church, do not condone the use of contraception. But that should have nothing to do with whether or not an insurance company covers it. If you as a priest believe that your flock should not be using contraception, it is your job to preach that message, to counsel and advise your community. And then it is up to the individual to decide what to do based on their own relationship with their God. It is not something that should be regulated via the insurance company.

This discussion is disturbing to me because it says a lot about how far we have NOT come as a society with regard to how we view women and women's health concerns. The Catholic church does not have any problem covering Viagra as a prescription, but won't cover contraception. Men get to have their medically induced, church sanctioned hard on, but women are not allowed to have a medication that will allow them to prevent pregnancies after having to deal with those hard ons. Women are being told that if you need to be on oral contraception to prevent ovulation so that you reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, too bad. Ovarian cysts, so what. PMS? It is all in your head anyway. Oh, you might die from the HELLP syndrome or pre-eclampsia? TOO BAD.

As women we should be PISSED OFF. We should be raging mad. We should be demanding equal and fair consideration for all of our medical and health concerns. And above all, we should not tolerate people suggesting that the only reason a woman would want contraception is because she is a slut and a prostitute. People also need to be clear on the kinds of contraception available. Most that are used regularly prevent ovulation, which means that fertilization is not possible because eggs are never released. Taking oral contraception is not akin to abortion. We are not baby killers.

It is astounding to me the anger and hostility this conversation brings out in people. But we cannot stop the fight because people get nasty. We know who we are. We know that we deserve equal and fair treatment. We need to own that.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Things I Don't Want To Deal With...

I have said before I never intended to become a mother. I didn't get married for the first time until I was 34, and that was to a man who didn't want to have children because of health issues he had. That marriage ended when I was 39, and I didn't marry The Bob until I was 40, and he had 2 kids already so we were of the same mind that children were not part of The Agenda.

The universe laughs when you make plans.

There was also this little thing about kids that, quite frankly, I did not need to experience. A little thing I like to call The Pain and Agony of Dealing with Other Kids. You see, I have already done my time. I have already BEEN a kid, I have already experienced the basic nastiness of other children, survived the teen years filled with hormones and angst. I have earned my stripes. This self confidence, this ability to be happy in my own skin, it is the result of years of dealing with both making good friends and feeling loved by others as well as being disappointed by people over and over again. Because that is life.

It is one thing to experience these things for yourself, to say OK, that sucked but I am still here and I am a good and worthwhile, lovable person. At 47 years of age I have learned to make different choices than I did at 7 or 14 or 24 or even 34.

It is an entirely DIFFERENT thing to experience it all over again through the eyes of my child. Now when disappointment strikes, not only do I get to feel the annoyance and frustration, but I get to watch my 5 year old experience it, and begin to figure out how to navigate these treacherous waters of life. And that SUCKS.

I love being his mom, don't get me wrong. There are so many awesomely astounding milestones and it is truly mind boggling that these little people grow and figure things out and become fabulous people. But the flip side of this is that they have to deal with other people. Specifically other kids. And if you have spent any time around more than 2 or 3 kids in your life, you know that kids can be mean. They are just condensed versions of grown ups and have even fewer filters than most adults.

Recently Cooper has been experiencing the disappointment of someone who has been one of his best friends at school being mean to him. It is not unusual for alliances to shift at this age. You spend a few months being best friends with one kid, then all of a sudden this other kid is the only one you want to play with. But this is different than that. All of a sudden this small fry began teasing Cooper, specifically by calling him names and telling him he is stupid, or can't play with him and this other kid unless he behaves a certain way.

The names are nonsense. He calls Cooper things like ballerina and pawpaw and tells him he has to have googly eyes in order to play with him. Cooper doesn't even know what that means. But it is a distinct shift in attitude toward Cooper. I don't think there is a particular intention to hurt Cooper, but I do think this kid is testing boundaries and much of it he is learning, I believe, from his older brother who is almost 8. That kid is someone we have spent some time around, he is someone who borders on being a bully. He always wants to be in charge, he looks for opportunities to make fun of someone or say something slightly hurtful. I think our friend deals with this brother at home, puts up with all of his bossiness and then tries to assert some control in other places in his life, like at school, with my son.

Cooper is not a fan of this behavior. Coop is just about playing and acting out super hero stories and riding bikes and having a good time. When he tells me that this kid called him names at school, or told him he couldn't play unless he did something, I can see the hurt and confusion. I can tell it is changing how he feels about this kid, because I asked Cooper if he wanted to set up a play date with him, and there was a very long pause, and then a distinctly ambivalent "Okaaaaay..."

The thing I cannot decide is should I do anything about it. If this was someone who lived in the neighborhood, someone we saw all the time, I would probably be able to help Coop negotiate this as it happened, because I would be likely to witness it, or I could have a conversation with a parent and ask if something was going on that was bothering the child in question and making him behave this way toward Cooper. But this is someone he only sees at school. They live in another town, and at the end of August they won't go to school together ever again. The only way they would see each other is if I make the effort to arrange getting together.

I could talk to his mom. We exchange emails to set up play dates periodically, we have spent time chatting during these play dates. She is approachable. But the question is should I? I would need to find a way to say "Hey, your kid is acting like a little shit" without saying it that way. I would want it to be productive, not hostile. But there is a good chance that no matter how I said it it could be perceived as hostile.

I have been telling Cooper that if he doesn't like what this kid is saying, tell him he doesn't like it, that it is mean and he is hurting his feelings. And if he doesn't stop it, he won't play with him. There are 15 kids in the class, there are other people to play with. I tell him I don't know why this kid is being mean, but he does NOT have to put up with it.

Right now that seems like the best we can do. Give him the tools to deal with crap from others and console him when disappointed by other people. Because that is never going to not happen. We can just hope that there are plenty of people who come through as true friends to offset the other stuff.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shape up all around

Via The Simian Idiot, a blog that is irreverent, sparkly, and at times just a HOOT I found Pish Posh. And Miss Posh (or is it Miss Pish?) has launched a very courageous and necessary campaign in her life, to GET IN SHAPE. And not just in the physical sense. She wants to get in shape physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally. She has set for herself quite the challenge. And she has invited us along for the ride.

I will admit to needing to get physically in shape. It is an endless and forever and always campaign. So for that and that alone I will hitch my wagon to hers, and try to be diligent about working out, eating right and blogging about it.

To that end I am putting this little app back on my phone called MyFitnessPal. It helps you keep track of your food intake and your energy output. It tells you how many calories you should consume daily based on your weight loss goals. It also tells you if you have ridiculously unrealistic weight loss goals. It has a humungous database of food already in it, so you can put in what you ate and it will help you calculate the calories for that item. This is the part that is hard for me, judging an item I prepared myself in terms of calories. Is my roast beef and potatoes the same as the one someone put into the database already? We shall see. At least it is an IDEA of how much it might contain, so it keeps you on target.

I am not interested in massively dieting or depriving myself. Life is too short and annoying on so many other levels, I do not need to eliminate ALL the foods I love and adore. Like CHEESE. I think just being aware of what you are putting in your mouth, and making the conscious choice to do so, is a good place to be. I already eat pretty well, but this will help refine that.

This app also gives you the chance to plug in any exercise you have done for the day, giving you a few extra bonus calories to play with. But I will tell you this - you do not burn off as many calories as you think you do doing most of the stuff you do to burn off calories. Which is why, GOD HELP ME, I am trying to RUN on the treadmill more these days. Some days are better than others, and basically most days I am just happy I got my 2 miles in. The more I can run the more mileage I will cover. But my knees do have a way of reminding me I am not 24 anymore.

So to Miss Pish Posh, I say I see your challenge and I join you in your quest. If we can be of support to each other, excellent.

Tally Ho.

Monday, February 27, 2012

And then my kid went to school and talked about hell fire and the devil...

Today I had to give my son's preschool teacher a heads up. Because the life of a preschool teacher isn't fascinating enough, isn't fraught with all sorts of difficulties, what with the having to negotiate all manner of arguments such as "He called me a ballerina!!!!" and "She won't stop LOOKING at me!!!", I needed to tell these particular teachers that because of a certain obsession of late, Cooper might talk about the devil and hell fire.

No, we have not gotten all evangelical here at MidLyfeMama. No, Cooper has been watching the Ghost Rider movies.

For those not in the know, Johnny Blaze, brought to life on the big screen by the toothsome and never overly dramatic Nicholas Cage, is a stunt motorcycle rider with a circus. In an effort to save his father from death by cancer, Johnny makes a pact with the Devil, played by a somewhat creepy but not terribly scary Peter Fonda. In exchange for Johnny's soul, the Devil will cure dad of cancer.

Note: Pay attention, this may come in handy in the future - when making a pact with the Devil, make sure you have read between the lines on the contract. Chances are Mephistophiles will, given the opportunity, screw you over.

Not surprisingly, Johnny does get screwed over. Dad is cured of cancer! YAY! Dad dies in a fiery crash during the show the next day. Boo.

Time passes, Johnny doesn't hear from the Devil for quite some time, but then the Devil needs to reign in one of his sons, Black Heart, who wants to destroy life as we know it. The Devil shows up, tells Johnny he has a job to do, and suddenly Johnny's head and hands and motorcycle are on fire with Hell Fire. He is the Ghost Rider. The Devil's bounty hunter. He turns into this dude at night, any time he is in the presence of evil. During the day, he is just plain ol' swaggering, slightly befuddled Nick Cage.

The rest of the movie is not important, unless you would like to know that Sam Elliott is in it, and I love Sam Elliott doing what he does best, COWBOYS. His character was once a Ghost Rider too, only his trusty steed was a horse, who turns into a fire breathing stallion when he becomes the Ghost Rider. Which looks really cool.

So. My beloved boy watches not one but two of these movies this past weekend, and then is acting out the Ghost Rider all over the house, in the car, everywhere. And he is freely talking about the devil and hell fire. And then I realize that this might not end when he gets to school Monday morning.

Awesome. In my head I am imagining Charlie and Will, two of Coop's favorite people in the world, going home to their lovely parents and telling them about how Cooper was talking about the devil and hell fire and a horse that breathes fire. Cancel all future plans to make plans for play dates. Check.

I did attempt some damage control. I explained that if Cooper talked about hell fire, he would get in trouble, because it might be too scary for some kids. I suggested if he HAD to talk about it, he call it ghost fire. Then I made him call it ghost fire for the rest of the day yesterday.

And I explained it all to his teacher in case it came up in conversation. You would think that these movies were too scary for Cooper, but they were not. He certainly asks a lot of questions about what is going on while watching them, but since good wins and evil loses, he walks away from them feeling the world is a just and fair place. He has had very little personal contact with evil in his own life, THANK GOD. Literally. I would like to think he will be able to live his entire long life never questioning that this world is a just and fair place. The chances of that are about as slim as getting a fair deal in a contract with Mephistophiles. Until then it is not such a bad thing that he learns you can take a bad situation and make it better if you try. The Ghost Rider rids the world of Black Heart, and then tells the Devil that he will use this curse against the Devil. He will use it to right wrongs against the innocent. A curse becomes a blessing. You are never too young to learn that lesson.