Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How Do You Manage It All...

I was asked recently at a college picnic/kayak race "How do you manage it all" in reference to being a mom and holding down a full time job.

My response: To look at her blankly and say "Uuuuummmm, I just don't know...I guess I just DO." The truth is, I make this shit up as I go. I expect most of us in this circumstance do, mom and dad alike.

And right here, right now, in front of God and all the assembled masses, I fully acknowledge the awesomeness that is The Bob. Oh he has his shortcomings, I mean, who among us doesn't. But all in all, he rocks as a husband and a dad. We were reminiscing just last night about the early years, the ones that involved being up in the dread of night (that is not a typo, it is what I call being up at unspeakable hours of the AM), hanging with the Coop. I said I have very vague memories of those first years now. I have snap shot pictures in my head of moments, but most of that time is just a blur. Possibly that is because The Bob did much of the midnight duty. He doesn't seem to suffer for it as much as I do, and it offered him the chance to watch Poker After Dark while giving Coop a bottle.

The Bob also does 99% of the laundry in our house. The 1% he doesn't do involved clothing of mine that require settings other than REGULAR. And he walks the dogs for the most part, and does the garbage and lawn duties. I was sharing some of this with a coworker from another department, who happens to be female and Indian, and recently married to a very traditional Indian man. She had to tell him that if he wanted things done a particular way around the house, he might have to consider helping out. She was blown away by how helpful Bob is. "You are SO LUCKY" she said to me. Yes, yes I am.

And we pay a lot of money for full time day care/preschool. We are fortunate that we can afford to do that, although some months it doesn't feel like we can afford it. But it is TOTALLY WORTH IT. Cooper loves being there, the teachers have all been great, he is learning as well as socializing all day. Not having to worry about that is a huge benefit. I am already stressing about what happens when he transitions to regular school and we still have a year. I keep hoping they will magically create an elementary school wing at The Barn, and I will just have to work here for the next 6 years and keep him in it. A girl can dream.

But in answer to the original question, how do I manage, I don't do it alone. Sure, we don't have family in the area we can turn to like our neighbors do, but we have our network of people who support us in different ways. And I don't dust or vacuum or put things away very often. OK, maybe I wasn't very good about that BEFORE Coop came along, but it really doesn't get done as much as it should, and I am OK with that. Maybe once we are not paying for day care we can channel some of the funds into a once a month cleaning service. I really hate cleaning bathrooms. It would be worth it for someone to come in just for that.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And then I figured out exercise was going to kill me...

Bootcamp. I had heard tales of people doing horrendous and terrible things like running, uphill, in the rain, with 50lbs packs on their backs and then doing 20 things called Burpees. It seemed like something I would NEVER do. But then my friend Bill's wife, the Lovely Lecia, completed a personal trainer certification process, and decided she would start a bootcamp. So I said to myself, Self, you need to challenge your overweight, out of shape self. Surely the Lovely Lecia would not try to kill you. So I signed on.

And surely she only tried to kill me a bit. It was one hour of activity a week. I figured I could almost anything for an hour, and I was right. I was by far the oldest person in the group DOING the exercises (Lovely Lecia and myself are the same age) and definitely the most out of shape. But I did it. I was jogging, doing push ups (the girly kind), and the dreaded Burpee. For the uninitiated, and I was or I would not have signed on, the Burpee is something from real bootcamp. The Bob was intimately familiar with these from his Marine Corp days. You drop into a squat, then you are supposed to jump your feet back into a plank position, do a push up, jump your feet in, and then JUMP to an upright position. MidLyfeMama did things at half pace. I walked my feet back, did a sort of push up, walked my feet in and stood up. I don't jump. Unless there is a spider involved. Then there is a lot of jumping and possibly screeching. It is my Achilles heel.

That was like, 4 months ago. No so coincidentally, I have come to figure out, 4 months ago I began really struggling with IBS issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It was also a time that was rather stressful at work, so I thought it had to do with that. I changed my diet, eliminated the trigger foods. Nothing helped. Saw my doctor, ran blood tests, found nothing of consequence, except maybe a wonky thyroid, which will be addressed, but nothing to explain the gastric distress. And it was B.A.D.

Then by virtue of a crazy schedule and a random migraine, I had two weeks off from bootcamp. And my symptoms abated. But then it was back to bootcamp last week. And LO AND BEHOLD, symptoms, back.

I will not describe my particular symptoms, but I really wanted the angry badger that had moved into my colon to move out. And I finally put two and two together. The intensity of the bootcamp workout is causing my issues. There is some documented basis for this idea, as I found when I googled "Exercise causing gastrointestinal distress". Something to do with the intensity of the lower body exercises, and the prolonged increased heart rate.

So I had a talk with the Lovely Lecia, and I am off bootcamp for now. We will work together on making my 30-40 minute morning workouts more effective, but not too intense, with minimal lower body stress, i.e. no damn Burpees.

The moral of the story: Exercise is bad for you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Three More Years!

Me keeping cool in the summer of 1965

Today I turn 47. Which means I have three more years until I turn 50. Which I find amazing and startling with a dash of WTF when did that happen thrown in.

It is interesting I was born in July. I hate being hot. It is hard to be joyful and birthday exuberant in the hot humidity of New England, where I was born and have lived a good portion of my life. It seems more appropriate that I would have been born a child of Fall, which is my favorite season. But you don't get to choose those things.

During much of my childhood we would visit my paternal grandparents in Minetto NY for the 4th of July, which meant we were there for my birthday too. Most years I remember my grandmother baking an angel food cake for me, which was not a particular favorite of mine, but is a refreshing dessert with strawberries. So I have fond memories of that cake, even if I really prefer pie. With ice cream.

One year while visiting I got to ride an elephant. I think it was either my 7th or 10th birthday. Thinking back on it now I have to feel really sorry for the elephant, who was made to stand in a hot parking lot in July, giving rides to kids for hours. It is the only time I have been that close to an elephant, and I remember being startled by the coarseness of the hair, the roughness of the skin, and the way I bobbled up and down as it walked around the parking lot. You don't realize how much swaying you will do until you are sitting right behind the ears of this majestic beast and it begins to take those big lumbering steps.

Another memory I have of visiting my grandparents at this time of the year is celebrating the 4th. I have this vision in my mind from these visits of the quintessential 4th of July celebration, which involves parades, bands, Sousa marches, flags, balloons and at night the most amazing fireworks I can remember. Things seem so much bigger when you are small.

One year I got a balloon at the parade, which was two balloons in one. It had a pink Mickey Mouse shaped head inside a clear round balloon. I managed to hang onto it until we got back to the house, where I lost my grip on it and it floated away. My grandfather stood there with me and watched it rise out of sight, telling me he could see it go past the moon, and on to Mars, where he couldn't see it anymore. I cannot see a balloon floating in the sky now, without wondering if there is a small child sad to see his or her balloon float away, and hoping there is someone standing there describing how the balloon is floating past Mars on a grand adventure.

This year we decided to acquire another treadmill for my birthday. Cooper suggested that his father buy me a new computer. Somehow I think his plan was that via the trickle down effect he would gain control of the iPad, or Super Toy as he refers to it. Since I am not in need of a new computer, his plans are thwarted. Otherwise, today will involve dinner out, nothing fancy, and I imagine cake and a swim in the pool. If you have to have a summer birthday, you should at least have a pool.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

To Snerkle, perchance to swim...

This was a somewhat lazy and mostly uneventful holiday weekend. It began with a short overnight trip to visit Big Ma, also known as Sylvia, The Bob's mother. Since she lives in a small apartment, we stayed overnight in a hotel. One with a pool. Cooper is perfecting his swimming technique and in less than 48 hours he was in that pool 3 times.

But before we got there, we had to stop to say hello to this guy:

He hangs out at the state liquor store just over the line in New Hampshire. There is no tax on liquor in NH, so when one finds oneself in the neighborhood, one stops to procure some beverages.

While in Maine we finally got in a full game of put put.

Cooper cannot for the life of him stay standing during any kind of physical activity.

Is there some sort of diagnosis for this? Oh, being 4 years old you say? That is the official diagnosis? Fine.

Because we stayed in one room at the hotel, we ended up all going to bed rather early, after a final swim of course. This also meant that this face was in MY face, at the bright and cheerful hour of 5:30am:

Of course this meant we had 3 hours at least to kill before we could show up at Big Ma's apartment, since she does not rise early. What did we do, you ask. Well of course we went swimming, silly.

And upon our return to our own home, much more swimming took place. The pool is still too cold for The Bob's liking, at a whopping 65 degrees, but Cooper and I manage. Having a "snerkle" as Cooper calls it, helps immensely.

Snacks are always better with a Snerkle, which when deployed with the proper skill set, doubles as a voovoozela...