Monday, October 5, 2015

Double Dipping

My 7 year old introduced a new term to the family last week, when we were talking about how his little brother is about to turn 2 - "double dipping."  In his words, "Double dipping is when you feel two feelings at once.  Like how I feel about Colin - I'm excited for him to grow up and play with me, but I'm sad because he won't be a baby anymore.  I feel both things."

Double dipping.  Probably the best thing he has learned in school thus far.

Double dipping was on my mind when I exchanged some texts this weekend with one of my dearest friends.  She is pregnant with her first child, and due in just three weeks time.  She was describing her angst with the last few weeks of pregnancy - her eagerness to get the baby out, her nervousness about how exactly she will do that, her stress about childcare and maternity leave, and all of those things that occupy your mind when you're in that final stretch.  At one point during our conversation, I sat with the phone on my lap, closed my eyes, and smiled - remembering.

"I am jealous of you and so glad I am not you at the same time," I wrote.

It's a weird thing to say, but so incredibly true.  I feel both emotions deeply.

I am jealous of her because she is experiencing something that one only experiences once - the first time.  The first pregnancy, the first delivery, the first baby.  I think back to August of 2008, when I was in my last month of pregnancy with my first child.  I was huge, I was uncomfortable, and I had no idea what was coming to me.  How could I have?

I love the innocence that I had - the nervousness, the apprehension, the excitement.  I was about to experience a transformation that I intellectually knew was coming, but could not fathom in a spiritual sense.  And spiritual it was - after three hours of pushing, I came face to face with my baby and literally could not believe he was real.  It was the most incredible moment of my life.  For all three of my children, I can remember with clarity what their faces looked like the first time we locked eyes. There was disbelief and the purest of joy each time.

I am jealous of her because she will have a newborn - a time I now recognize as terribly fleeting.  I can filter through memories to the precious, cherished ones, with all of my three children as infants. The way they smell, the way they purse their lips when they are done nursing, the way they stay all scrunchy and cuddly and almost purr in the crease of your neck.  The way they are connected in a primal way to you, how they fit perfectly in your arms and on your chest and how their breath and yours almost feels like one and the same.

I remember amazement and wonder and joy and so much love.  What I wouldn't give to experience it again - to relive it over and over.

But then there's the other side.  The side where I am so glad I am not in her shoes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Netflix Binge for the Month - Narcos

It's been a while since I've had a good Netflix binge.  And by binge, I mean watching episode after episode like a drug addict.  It's not too late - I can watch just one more.  Just one more!  (And then around 2am I finally go to sleep).  

I've done the binge with several excellent series on Netflix:  Orange is the New Black (all 3 seasons), Breaking Bad (all 5 seasons), House of Cards (all 3 seasons), and The Walking Dead (all 5 seasons), among others.  When I'm in, I'm in.  It generally takes over my life for as many days as it takes to watch the season (which I usually do in record time), and my husband has learned accept the fact that he will be ignored until I'm done.  

It's not a healthy way to spend time, to be sure, but it's oh so fun.  It's relaxing and mindless and entertaining.  This past month, when I was immersed in Whole 30 madness, I needed the distraction. Thank you, Netflix, for giving me Narcos.

Narcos is a Netflix produced drama series based on the life of Pablo Escobar.  Embarrassing fact - I didn't know who Pablo Escobar was.  I mean, I kind of knew.  Some drug king pin from the the 80s? I had no idea about his story or his rise or his fall or his impact on Colombia (and the world).

It's one of those stories that seems too bizarre to be true.  And notwithstanding the inherent dramatizations, the bulk of the story portrayed in the series is actually true.  I know this, because I found myself googling throughout each episode.  That can't really be true.  No kidding?  It is true.  

The story follows Escobar from his humble beginnings to drug lord to his virtual hijacking of the country of Colombia.  In the process, he became the 7th richest person in the world (in 1989), and subsequently ran and was elected to public office.  When his drug connections were made public, he was forced to resign, and subsequently waged war on Colombia - bombing airplanes, assassinating politicians, and holding prominent figures hostage (including the daughter of the former president of Colombia, who was killed).  Ultimately, he turned himself into the authorities and went to prison, but it wasn't just any prison.  It was a prison that he built for himself, where he was the only inmate, and Colombian authorities weren't allowed on the premises.  (Picture gambling, women, a soccer field.).  When Colombian authorities eventually stormed the "prison" (because two people visiting were murdered there), Escobar went on the run.  He was killed approximately 18 months later, after authorities were able to track him via his cell phone.  

Already knowing the history of Pablo Escobar doesn't make the series any less compelling.  In fact, the first season doesn't end at the "end," which allows a second season to follow, and will presumably end the way we all know it ends.  But the events were so unbelievable that watching them play out is fascinating.  It also does the really weird thing of, at times, making you root for the bad guy (a la Breaking Bad).  At certain points, my emotions got confused and I found myself questioning who is good and who is bad and if that determination can ever really mean anything. The mark of good television - it makes you think.  

As an aside, right after finishing Season 1 of Narcos, I decided to watch a documentary featuring Pablo Escobar's son, called Sins of my Father (also streaming on Netflix).  In it, Escobar's son tries to make amends with the children of two government officials whom Escobar assassinated decades.  Not only did it give a different perspective of the events portrayed in the series, but it was also strangely uplifting to see the power of forgiveness.  

Netflix has renewed Narcos for a second season (yay!), but there's no release date yet.  In the meantime, anyone have any books to recommend about Pablo Escobar?  I'm weirdly obsessed!



Disclosure: I received a free iPad as compensation for being part of the Netflix StreamTeam.  All opinions reflected are my own.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Healthiest 18 Days of My Life

This summer was one of excess.  Too much food, too much drinking, and too much fun.

It was absolutely fabulous.

We took trip after trip after trip, to see family, to go to the beach, to celebrate good weather and childhood and the freedom to be carefree.  I consciously decided to let go, and then some.  I didn't use my hair dryer once between Memorial Day and Labor Day (summer hair, don't care).  How freeing is that?

Freedom doesn't necessary lend itself to a healthy lifestyle, however.  My summer of leisure and nightly ice cream runs and daily cocktail hours left me feeling like a lazy blob.  I noticed the flab coming on, but I didn't really care.   I shall trash my body for the next six weeks, and then clean it up in September!

Trash my body I did.  And then September came.

After three months of creating bad habits, I needed something drastic.  Weight loss was not the only priority - though it would be nice.  What I needed was a complete cleanse.  A reset, if you will.   I wanted to be healthy.

Enter the Whole 30.

I had heard of the Whole 30 before, and was intrigued by it.  It's 30 days of clean eating.  There's no calorie counting, and you aren't supposed to weigh yourself at all (weight loss isn't the goal).  The idea is to eat clean, whole food, and see how your body changes.  The book makes the grandiose claim that this diet "will change your life."

As September approached, I started to prepare.  I bought the book "It Starts With Food," along with the corresponding recipe book.  As I read, I got nervous.  Turns out clean eating cuts out pretty much everything I like to eat.

There would be NO: sugar (of any kind, aka honey, stevia, vanilla, agave nectar, etc.), alcohol (AAAAAA!), grains, legumes, or dairy.  To break this down a bit, that means no butter.  Soy sauce. Most any salad dressing.  Cheese.  Corn.  Rice.  Bread.  Beans.  Yogurt.  Wine.  Did I mention wine? And did you know sugar is in pretty much everything? EVERYTHING?

That leaves: meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit.

This would be hard for anyone, but it was especially daunting for me for the following reasons - 1) It is basically impossible to go out to eat.  2) We always go out to eat.  3) I hate to cook.  4) Now I have to cook.  5) Did I mention wine?

But I was bound and determined.  I made a commitment, and when I commit to something, I'm all in.

The weekend of August 28th, I started planning.  I researched recipes and made a meal plan and went to Whole Foods and spent an embarrassing amount of money on foods I had never even heard of, like ghee and rutabaga.  On the evening of August 31st - my last "normal" night, I opened up a bottle of wine, ordered in Indian food, and spent the night cooking food for the upcoming week.

Days 1 and 2 were fine.  What's the big deal?  I thought.  I got this! I can't believe people think this is hard!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lucky Number 7

Seven has always been my favorite number.  For weird, childhood reasons, like the fact that I was born on a day divisible by 7.  And that my first, middle, and last (now maiden) name all had seven letters.  Whatever the rationale, I just love 7.  It reminds me of happiness and aqua blue and daisies.

And now I love it even more, because my baby boy is 7.

In my 7 years as a mother, I have noticed that certain birthdays entail subtle changes, while others feel like huge leaps.  Obviously tons of changes happen between 0 and 1, but I've always felt like going from 3 to 4 is a huge step up, from toddler to little boy.  And now, I'm realizing that 6 to 7 is a huge step too.  From little boy to kid, perhaps?  I suppose the semantics don't matter.  Braden just feels so grown up to me this year.

He's now embarrassed when I sing.  He is learning that it's not "cool" to play with dolls.  He is learning to ride a bike and use public bathrooms by himself and order his own food at restaurants. He has lost four teeth and can easily catch a frisbee and write me a note.  When we were in Bethany Beach, we let him take the elevator by himself and he did it over and over again, so pleased with his independence.  He wants to do things on his own.

Yet, he still has glimpses of being a little boy.  At times he still cries when he doesn't get his way, and he throws the occasional tantrum (to which I usually say something like, You're too old for this!). He still sleeps with his Pluto and climbs into our bed in the mornings.  He still lets me put him to bed, and cuddles with me after I read him a book.  I still nuzzle his neck like I did when he was a baby.

Each night, around 10pm, my husband or I wake Braden to take him to the bathroom.  He is usually very groggy, and occasionally, I will actually carry him there.  A mirror faces us as I enter the bathroom, and last week I was struck by Braden's sheer size.  I can still hold him, but his feet dangle past my knees and his arms hang past my elbows.  This boy - my baby - is so big.

There's that saying - one day you'll pick them up and it will be the last time.  I've been a bit haunted by that saying ever since I heard it the first time, and yet, the last time I pick Braden up may well be very near.  There's the physical aspect obviously - soon he will be too big for me to lift.  But perhaps sooner than that will come the time where it's not something he wants.

On the evening of Braden's birthday, I told him that for a treat, I would sleep with him in his bed.  I would get in bed with him at his bedtime (at 8pm) and stay with him the whole night.  He was so excited all day, and we stayed up past 8:30 chatting about school and soccer and vacations and birthday parties.  At one point I started to get sappy and tell him that seven years prior I had done this very thing - slept with him next to me all night long, but he interrupted me to ask about the playground at his school.

Once he fell asleep I stared at his little boy face for a while, thinking about what I'd said aloud to him just minutes earlier.  Seven years ago I had slept with him by my side, all night long, marveling at his very existence.  Here I was, seven years later, doing the same thing.  And how lucky that I could do that, because how many more years will he let me?  

Braden is 7, and he's a little boy turning into a kid.  And while he is in the process, I want to soak up every moment of his little boy-ness that I can.

Happy 7th birthday to my baby, Braden.  I couldn't love you more.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

What the Kids Can Watch on Netflix (When Everyone Else's Kids are Back in School)

My Facebook feed has been flooded with first day of school pictures.  Tis that time of year! Everyone is heading back to school, dressed in their first day best, holding a chalkboard marking the occasion and smiling for the camera...

Unless your kids go to my kids' school which does not start until September 8th!!!  That's 8 more days (not that I'm counting).  Eight long days with nothing planned and daily temperatures in the 90s.

So we're doing a bit of parks.  A bit of pool.  And a bit of Netflixing....

Specifically, this month the kids are into Dinotrux.

The subject characters are a combination between dinosaurs and mechanical vehicles.  For two boys 4 and over WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE BETTER?

(Oh, maybe your own Dinotrux toy to play with.  Thanks, Netflix!).

From what I can gather from my eavesdropping of the kids viewing, the plot is simple.  Good guys versus bad guys, dinosaur best friends, and an evil Tyrannosaurus, among others.  But at the end of the day, does it really matter?  The boys love watching hybrid dinosaurs, and with 10 episodes of around 23 minutes each, I love the break.

Eight more days...  Sigh.


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Summer of Indulgence Ends with a Run... for Wine

Summers are for relaxation.  For swimming.  For breaking the rules and abandoning a schedule and flying by the seat of one's pants.  Summers are for ice cream and sunshine and family and vacation; for dance parties and friends and overindulging.

I love summer.

This summer has been fantastic.  We've been in swimsuits nearly every day.  We've traveled up and down the east coast.  We've had our moments, believe me, but overall the good times have far outweighed any tantrum filled evening or dime swallowing incident.  It's been a fun-filled, laid back summer - one I'm proud to have added to my kids' roster of summer memories.  We did good.

And now it is coming to a close.

As I write this from our last summer vacation - on the balcony of our rental in Bethany Beach, I am coming to terms with the fact that reality is about to set in.  September brings first days of school and an onslaught of birthdays and commitments and appointments.  The lazy days of summer are coming to an end.

And I hate to admit it, but it's time.  Time to get healthy again.

I mean, lets face it - it's not such a great idea to stuff one's face with boardwalk fries on a regular basis or have a glass of wine at 2pm on a Monday afternoon.

(But it sure is fabulous).

The vacation's over.  It has to be.

September is my month of cleanse and detox.  I will be doing the Whole 30 (which I am sure I will blog about if I can summon the energy in the absence of carbs).  I will be training for a half marathon.  And I will be incorporating vegetables back into my children's diet.  (Unless tomato sauce counts - if so then they have been in the clear all summer long).

I am kicking it off by running a 5K at the National Harbor in DC next Sunday- the day after we return from vacation.  Welcome home!

But this isn't any ordinary 5K, it's the Chardonnay Run!  That's right, we run.  Then we drink wine. At 9am.

So who's coming with me?  It's not too late to register (click here to do so).  You also don't have to run the race.  You can just go and drink wine.  No judgment here.  It's not September yet.

I figure this is a perfect way to ease into my post-summer health.  Run.  Drink wine.

Baby steps.

I was provided complimentary registration for the Chardonnay Run.  All opinions reflected above are my own.  

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Waiting for the Dime to Pass (Literally)

As a mom of three boys six and under, I am well aware that in some ways, I asked for it.  I asked for the stress and the chaos and the mess and the overwhelming noise and discord and pandemonium that is my life.

So I hate to complain, but I think that even the most stringent of observers would agree that the past seven days of my life have been a bit much.

It all started last Thursday, with this:

Well isn't that a weird thing on Colin's finger, I said to myself last Thursday while sitting at Starbucks with my one year old.  A first time mom may have panicked and run straight to the doctor, but I am seasoned.  Cool, calm, collected, and pretty sure that it was nothing that some anti-fungal cream from CVS wouldn't cure.

But in an abundance of caution, I did what any seasoned mother would do - I texted the picture to every medical professional I can call a friend or acquaintance.  The universal consensus, unfortunately, was that it was not something that would be cured by anti-fungal cream.  Instead, I needed to haul ass to the ER to get the infection drained and treated.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Big Questions Begin

Children come into this world ignorant.  And what a beautiful thing!  Ignorant of war and prejudice and pain and death and all of the yucky parts of being alive.  If they are lucky, they are in a world of family and fairies and forever.

Slowly but surely, reality creeps in.  Shots at the doctor.  Mean kids on the playground.  Being left with a babysitter.  Wondering how the baby in mommy's tummy actually gets out, or what would happen if an airplane's engine stopped working mid-flight.  Pain, shame, abandonment, curiosity, fear.  It comes gradually, but it comes early.  And as my six year old has become more aware, the questions have begun.

The innocence of these questions tugs at my heart.

Last year he asked why it is that some people have "brown" skin and some people have "yellow" skin.  And why it is that some people's mommies and daddies live in two different houses.  And why some kids have two mommies, or two daddies.

These questions are typical, and I tried to answer them in a simplistic, honest way.  People have different skin colors just like people have different hair colors.  Sometimes mommies and daddies decide they don't want to live together anymore and that's okay.  And some girls marry girls, some boys marry boys, and some girls marry boys.  Anyone can be parents.

But the death questions tend to trip me up.

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Kids, the Dragon Slayers (courtesy of Netflix)

We rely heavily on Netflix during the summer months, with all of the travel and staying at locations without Disney Jr.  (how dare they!).  We've (I've) ODed on Caillou, Octonauts, and Curious George, so we've (I've) been looking for some other shows for the boys.  So when we received some swag from Netflix for their new show, Dragons: Race to the Edge, the boys were super excited.  And so was I.  (Have I mentioned how much I hate Caillou?).

The show features Hiccup and Toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon movies.  My kids haven't seen the movies, but they didn't seem to mind.  Dragons?  Yes, please.

They've been racing around the house with their knight gear, swords, and navigating the map of the dragon world (also courtesy of Netflix).

They love the swag, and they also love the show!  It is a bit darker and scarier than say, Caillou, but my older kids (4 and 6) are ready for something a bit older.  So far they've watched 6 of the 13 episodes, and I'm hoping to get the last 7 in before school starts.  Because me thinks I'm going to have to institute some screen time rules once vacation is over...


Friday, July 24, 2015

My Happy Place

I'm a big believer that happiness comes from within - that external factors - surroundings, circumstance, money - should only have so much bearing.  But I have to say, there's something about just being in Cape Cod that lifts my spirits to new heights.

I mean, how can you not be joyful when you're surrounded by this:

Cahoon Hollow Beach

Cahoon Hollow Beach

Wellfleet Town Harbor

Gull Pond

I've been here to Wellfleet, a small town on the Outer Cape, every year of my whole life.  That would make this trip my 37th.  And yet, every time I come - even more so the older I get - I am awestruck by the beauty.

I've been extremely fortunate to have travelled to many absolutely beautiful places.  I've snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, I've taken a cruise through the Norwegian Fjords and the Nile in Egypt, I've seen fluorescent blue water in the Blue Grotto in Capri, I've paraglided in the Swiss Alps, I've hiked mountains in Scotland, I've jumped off cliffs in Wales, I've toured historic walled cities in France, I've seen ancient temples in Cambodia,  I've trekked through caves in Vietnam, I've stared at the Taj Mahal, I've biked past fields of tulips in the Netherlands, and I've relaxed on the sand of amazing beaches in Thailand, Malaysia, Hawaii, Greece, and throughout the Caribbean.

(God, my life used to be way more exciting).

But nothing holds a candle to the tiny town of Wellfleet in Cape Cod.  This is my happy place.

I've been here for five days so far and I'm completely settled in.  I've gone to almost all of my favorite restaurants, I discovered a cute little fitness studio where I've been doing pilates, I've finished one book (One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson which I highly recommend), I've tried out stand up paddle boarding, and I've managed to keep all three children alive.  (We have had one ER visit, but no stitches required.).  I haven't used a hair dryer once, and I've taken every shower outdoors (despite it being unenclosed - I am once again risking flashing neighbors and passerby's).

I really don't care much what the weather is like when I'm here, but so far each day has been phenomenal.  Barely a cloud in the sky and hovering right around 80 degrees.  Needless to say, we've been having fun.

Here's wishing you a happy summer from the Cape!

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