Friday, May 29, 2009

School Is Out For Summer

School starts early here in Colorado. Like August, early. Although this particular academic year, school started a week earlier then normal. But of course there was a big huff and the schedule has changed back, a bonus this particular summer for my daughter. Now she's out of school and gets to go back to school a week later. Growing up I always started school the Tuesday after Labor Day in September. After fifteen years here in Colorado, I still feel like school in August is strange.

But now it's summer. And I haven't made any camp or class plans. Eek.

For the first time ever, I didn't want to feel constrained by camp plans. Granted my daughter is only five, but we have a wide variety of camp options from performing arts to sports to academic camps. There is a part of me that just wants to go with the flow. Anyone want to take bets as to exactly how long this philosophy is going to rear it's ugly head? Sj needs something to keep her occupied during the week, even if it's just a few hours. She needs the socializing, the creativity. It will work out.

In the mean time, I've been busy with the girls doing a craft every morning. I go on line after bedtime and pick out an activity for us to do the following day. This week it was a water activity (yeah pouring and spilling!) and Oobleck. Making Oobleck always takes me back to my teaching days. I enjoy it just as much as the girls. Well except for the washing the floors for the second time in 24 hours. The corn starch tends to make a mess.

Have fun and make some "USHY-GUSHY", if you do make it an outdoor activity. That way everyone will enjoy it. Happy summer....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hitting The Parenting Lottery

Sometimes I feel like I hit the lottery because my daughters get along. I know there's a long road ahead of us, but they are at an age (2 & 5) where they just play well together. I almost fear writing that. Like it's going to throw a switch in the universe and the sibling rivalry will begin!

Like most children they have their moments through out the day, with a squabble over a coveted item or the physical balance gets out of whack and someone gets a push, pull, or tug a bit too hard. But they bounce back fine.

My two year old seems to be most content being in her big sister's shadow. And let me praise my five year old, she has the patience of a saint with her sister. Just this evening, my oldest was having a snack of raspberries that she washed and prepared all by herself (hello, exploring independence). Of course GL asks if she can also have raspberries. Sj stopped what she was doing, which happened to be munching raspberries off of her finger tips, to go into the kitchen, pull out the raspberries, rinse them off, put them in a bowl, and give them to her sister. Yes, GL said, "Thank you sissy".

Beautiful moment.

It's really moment after moment, everyday. I'm not sure how I got so lucky. I predict mornings getting ready for school when they are teenagers, won't be so cute. But for now I'm enjoying these moments because they sure are precious.

Here's a shot of the proud big sister reading to her baby sister.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thirty Days Isn't Enough

When I was offered the opportunity to join a gym for 30 Days, I initially scoffed at the experience. To me a gym was a scene, full of people that intimidated me. Then my thoughts turned to what do I have to lose? Without taking that too literally (I have WEIGHT to lose) I thought I would face my fears and preconceived notions of the gym scene.

Three weeks later and those notions are gone.

Yes, the grunting men that grab their arms as they flex in the mirror exist. Of course there is a handful of long haired women, with full makeup, painted nails, and a perfect tan parading through the gym. But there are more people like me than I could have ever imagined. I've actually become intrigued by all the interesting types of people that I've watched. The best part is, they are all doing their thing and not staring at my every move (oh, the things we can imagine when we are scared).

After the intimidation factor was out of the gym equation, what have I gotten from this experience? First I have to emphasize the huge support three sessions with a personal trainer gave me. My trainer has a fabulous attitude and helped me work through my mental and physical obstacles. I've learned about my physical strengths and weaknesses and am working on creating balance, while on this journey to a new me. Another bonus is the yoga classes that are offered at the gym. They are the most diverse mix of people I've ever experienced in yoga, which to me is a wonderful thing. I love how yoga helps me let go of racing thoughts and just ground myself in being present.

I can honestly say that a month membership isn't enough. When you're on a path to achieving a healthy body through fitness there isn't a set amount of days to get you to your goal, it's a LIFETIME commitment. This past week, I stepped on the scale at 9pm after a workout and it basically brought me to tears. I weighed more then I did when I started. That number surprised me and bummed me out. But I was grounded when a few texts from my personal trainer got my head back to the right place. It's true that it's not about the numbers. Heck, it's only been three weeks and I expect to drop a dramatic number (thanks, biggest loser). I know my weight is shifting and I've lost fat, my jeans are fitting differently. Once again I tell myself, it's not about the numbers.

But my journey doesn't end in thirty days, my journey is a commitment for the rest of my life. Can't wait to see where the new road takes me...

On a related note, I bought this bathing suit last night: It doesn't have a skirt to hide my non-photoshopped thighs, but it's cute. It's fun and best of all, I am determined to wear it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One Of My Brilliant Ideas, A Swimming Pool...

Six and a half years ago we purchased a home in the Fall. Considering it was October when we saw the place, it never crossed my mind to inquire about central air-conditioning. Unfortunately our furnace is metal octopus in a four foot crawl space, so getting central air just isn't an investment we want to make. Our home also has a huge backyard by my standards and a wee bit of a pesky weed problem. I mean we have grass and green stuff that grows, but in one section under our Cottonwood we've battled weeds for years.

Let's recap my situation, no central air, a big back yard, pesky weeds...

Anyone see where I am going with this? I had a brilliant idea that we NEED a swimming pool. Now don't get all dreamy and imagine a real swimming pool with that infinity-edge cascading into a view of the ocean (this is Colorado after all). Or a young handsome pool boy pouring frozen bottomless umbrella drinks. Imagine a yard that is half decent, half disaster and a dream of a pool allowing me to escape all notions of the disaster part.

I found a great deal on a 15' pool, it's 36" deep.

Easy, peasy.

I pick it up, think I'll take it out of the box, turn on the hose, slip into my bathing suit and relax. Or not...

Well the brilliant pool in the backyard idea, has turned into a pool debacle. Why can't ideas to fruition be easy? We took steps to put the pool in what we considered to be the most level part of our yard and ironically enough the most weed ridden. As the pool was filling, it seemed a bit off, but I though it would even out as it filled up. Mwah, ha, ha! When the hose was finally turned off one side was bulging, another was sagging. I knew I couldn't put up with the lob sided pool for the rest of the evening, no less a few months.

So we drained it. And I drained my motivation in the process.

Back to square one. Empty the 1,000 + gallons of water from the wonky pool. Level the ground, digging dirt, filling dirt, making mud. Squishy-guishy mud, as my two year old liked to call it. The following morning we woke early to start filling the pool again.

It worked, not perfectly, but close enough that I could fathom having it up for a few months. Next problem?
The water is 60 degrees! Come on Colorado sunshine, I'm ready to go. Although I don't have a swimsuit yet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who I Was And Who I Want To Be...

Oh my goodness, I've had a funny day. I recently was given a new computer, well it wasn't brand new but it was much newer, faster, and has triple the memory of my old computer. So to me it's new. My old system, which is still sitting right next to me was at that point where I was running out of hard drive space, even though I moved tons of files to a separate drive.

As a result of the new computer, I was able to transfer all of my photos and music back to one place. Yippee! That's a celebration in itself. While poking around transferring files, I came across some pictures I had scanned a while back. Well, I took one of those scanned photos and turned it into my new profile picture on Facebook.

Let the fun begin!

My oh my, what a response was elicited from this photo:

Yep, that's me, when I was young and very self conscious. I have about a hundred photos from that day, just a simple photo shoot in my cousin's backyard for a class she was taking. I received text messages, emails, and responses to the profile photo change. I had no idea a photo would bring back so many memories!

What was my motivation?

Honestly I changed my profile picture for two reasons. The first reason was I have so many old friends on Facebook that haven't seen me since the time the photo was taken, right after I graduated High School. That photo is what they remember. Secondly, I have another group of friends that see me everyday, but never knew me then before the wrinkles and the extra twenty pounds. It was a whim.

Most importantly, sometimes it's nice to remember. I remember that day so clearly in my mind. I remember that time in my life, when I had youth on my side, but I didn't have the confidence. I was uncomfortable in my skin. My 5'11" skin. Yes, back to the height again, but it's true. I can say I didn't feel beautiful then. I look at that picture and think, seriously? Where was my head.

Working out has brought out deep emotions in me. I now have the confidence inside, but I can't quite grasp the beauty that I see anymore. Lately, I rarely have a picture taken of me that I like. There's always a flaw glaring back at me, so I delete them. I stepped on the scale which was a mistake. I'm just taking the progress one day at a time. Hoping the changes I am working on will eventually make a difference.

When I remember, I want to know where I came from and embrace where I am going. The aging and wrinkles don't bother me one bit. I just want to have a happy glow about me, one that shows I'm committed to taking care of myself. Rumor has it being healthy isn't about being skinny (that would be another quote from my trainer who responded to my pity-party text message). Convincing myself otherwise is the hardest part.

Oh and just because I am all about being REAL, here I am today, the work in progress:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coldplay, Send Me A Postcard...

Music. Live music... It's getting to me right now, summer tours. In the Fall when I saw Coldplay in Denver, I was left wanting more. Isn't that always the case, never satisfied? Seriously, my expectations were surpassed greatly with their live performance. Our seats were good, but could have been better. I don't see many large venue shows, but that night Coldplay played to tens of thousands and it felt intimate and alive. To my delight Coldplay is now back in the States touring. And to my dismay all in the same breath they aren't coming to Denver/Colorado.

But they are playing in Nebraska.

Last week, I got all wrapped up in the idea of going to see Coldplay in Nebraska. Heck, it's the closest I can get and it's a seven hour drive. I updated my status on Facebook looking for company:

" is in search of wonderful company to drive to Nebraska with me on June 13th...There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it's British Blonde Gold..."

Yes, British gold at the end of the rainbow. In Nebraska. Did Coldplay forget about one of the most beautiful venues in the United States, world renown Red Rocks Amphitheatre? Alright, I am over they aren't coming here. Which means phase two planning.

Girls' road trip?

It could be fun, little adventure, some live music. Wait, wait, some fabulous live music. I've been fortunate to see some amazing shows through out my life and I am not lying when I say that Coldplay is definitely one of my top five favorite shows of all time. Take that Phish New Years Shows in 91/92, The Grateful Dead, Madonna, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper at the Fox Theater...

I am hoping the stars align, I score amazing tickets near the stage, I find some wonderful company to join me on the drive. I get to see Coldplay and more importantly Chris Martin's hands playing the piano. My weakness, piano playing and beautiful hands. Sigh. Chris, Jonny, Guy, and Will just create the most magical music. I can't stand the thought of missing them on tour this summer, even if it's going to take some true effort to make it happen.

Please universe, let this happen. Bring on summer adventure.

Well, this is what I am seeking... video quality,not great...but feeling wonderful (Green Eyes)!

In case you didn't know, Coldplay is offering a FREE DOWNLOAD of some live songs. The mix is just beautiful, I wouldn't have chose any differently. My favorite composition is Postcards From Faraway which bookends Hardest Part. Amazing.

Time for actions to have a result...Coldplay in Nebraska?

Related Posts, Made With Love Project & Artist (check), Left Handed (check), Blue Eyes (check)!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Key To a Successful Workout, Music...

I sort of just chuckled when I wrote the title. I don't always write the title first, but today music is my inspiration so the title came first naturally. But what made me laugh was the title hinting at my in depth knowledge of working out. You know because I've been visiting a gym for two weeks now, of course I know the key to a successful work out. I have all the answers.

That's a joke, I definitely don't have all the answers or many answers at all. If I did, I wouldn't be scared of some lycra fashioned into something we refer to as a swimsuit.

The key to my motivation is music. I first connected the importance of selecting the right music when I started running last year. In the moment, I slip my headphones on, select the music to get me going, maybe midway I'd have to change up my music to push me through to the end. Listening to music through headphones creates an intimacy which doesn't compare to listening to music over speakers in my home or car. That intimacy is a time I cherish, deepens my connection with the artist. Hey lets admit it, lyrics are the most accessible poetry to us, especially if you are listening to the right music.

So when working out, what music am I listening to? This is funny to admit, but I have the widest range of music I listen to when working out. I downloaded some Missy Elliott, Black Eyed Peas, and N.W.A. to get me through my cardio on the elliptical machine. I even created a playlist that ended with some mellower Coldplay for when I would be doing the cool down portion.

Speaking of cool down, did you know it's an essential part of cardio? When you are aerobically exercising your veins expand pumping blood through your body. If you just hop off the treadmill or elliptical when your heart rate is up, without a cool down you may feel light headed. The cool down is essential to get your heart slowing down, your veins constrict backdown, and blood flows normally. Don't skip the cool down! *I learned that from my trainer, Adam.

Back to the music. If I'm feeling like a good happy upbeat song with lyrics I dig my first go to is Michael Franti & Spearhead. Hands down Franti puts a smile on my face when my mind is telling me to stop right now. Yes, my mind is the biggest obstacle to a workout, before I know it, I'm convincing myself to slowdown or cut it short. My 35 minutes on the elliptical is becoming less of a mental challenge because the music pushes me through, every single time.

This is my current Work It Out Playlist:

Get Ur Freak On (Missy Elliott)
My Humps (Black Eyed Peas)
Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.)
We Don't Stop (Franti)
Rock Your Body (Justin Timberlake)
Boom Boom Pow (Black Eyed Peas)
Work It (Missy Elliott)
Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake)
Lost+ (Coldplay With Jay-Z)
Lost Ones (Lauryn Hill)
F**k tha Police (N.W.A.)
Hung Up (Madonna)
Postcards from Far Away (Coldplay)
Blower's Daughter (Damien Rice)

I know this list is, umm eclectic and interesting. But it's what works for me. Don't ask me why NWA from back in 1988 helps me work it out, but it does. Obviously we all have music to help us. I will admit when I am listening to this particular playlist I am smiling, sweating, and the majority of time catching Mama Bird Diaries hubby on the television. The combination of my smiling and grunting probably scares some people at the gym, but you know what it doesn't bother me one bit. It's a beautiful thing, a good sweat coupled with music that puts me in a happy place.

Now you can help me, Please, please, please, share some of your favorite music to work out to because I NEED the motivation. New music will be my motivation.

Until next Friday....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

To Gift or Not To Gift...

It seems to be birthday season around here. In the past four weeks my daughter has been invited to six birthday parties. SIX. Some of the parties even coincided on the same Saturday literally back to back. Most of the invites were from classmates. While I appreciate parents inviting "everyone in the class", sometimes I just think seriously everyone in the class?

It just so happens that for four of the parties, we were out of town. I declined the party invitations.

To be quite honest, my daughter doesn't really hang out with many of the kids in her class outside of school. They are school pals. I also agree parties can be a way to better get to know one another outside of school, but in general I think the all class invitations are just out of politeness. I believe in having parties with friends. My daughter is lucky enough to have good friends from a childhood playgroup and others that she's grown up with. We are still figuring out the balance of school friends and lifelong friends.

Which leads me to our recent dilemma. After declining the party invitations I wondered if I should give gifts to the kids or not give gifts. Due to the number of parties we declined, I decided to not send gifts to school for the kids we didn't attend their parties. I figured, no party no gift. I always buy gifts for Sj's friends even if we miss a party, but four gifts for classmates, I couldn't justify it. I didn't think much of it.

But then one day, Sj came home telling us of a problem that arose at school. I guess one of her classmates, "Greg" asked her where his gift was. Of course, Sj responded, "I didn't come to your party or buy you a gift. Didn't you get enough?". But the discussion at school escalated to a point where my daughter had to actually ask the teacher to have Greg leave her alone, as he wouldn't drop it. It made me sad to think that a six year old child would have a party with twenty some kids and still be asking for more gifts.

So did I make the right decision, decline an invitation and not buy a gift. Or would you have sent a gift to school for the four kids?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ok, Maybe It's Not About the Bathing Suit, It's About ME...

One week ago I announced I was ready to wear a swimsuit this summer. I also admitted it's been quite sometime and several excuses since I've faced the reality of actually wearing a swimsuit. Funny enough the truth is, it's not really about the bathing suit. The bathing suit, the pool, the lounging, and splashing pool side aren't the obstacles. Would everyone at the swimming pool stop and stare when I disrobed, umm no. Deep down, do I really think people would judge me? I don't. It's just another mental obstacle I've created.

Facing myself is the problem.

I haven't quite come to terms with the body I envision myself living in. I just know how I want to feel. I long to slip jeans over my hips with out a little extra tug at my upper thigh and to be able to button them with ease. I hate having to figure out which t-shirt is going to be long enough to cover over the waist of my jeans by a few inches. Lately I just haven't felt comfortable in my skin. Maybe it's an extra unexpected jiggle here, a shirt that's not long enough, or pant legs that are a bit snug in the thighs. But I am recognizing what I need to do, working on the mental obstacles and the physical ones.

And most importantly, one week ago, I walked into my local 24 Hour Fitness. My eyes initially bulged out of my head a bit as I took in the surroundings. I smelled the fear and felt my heart beating a little faster. I was truly out of my comfort zone. The first day, I put on my headphones, found a cardio machine, and did a thirty minute work out. As I worked out during what felt like the longest thirty minutes ever, I started to see people I never noticed at the gym before. Most of them were average people, on the same path as me. They had flaws and I could tell from their eyes and a few smiles that they also had goals. I walked out the door that day, feeling less intimated and a bit more confident in myself.

Over the next few days I ran into some obstacles at the gym. I had a couple of personal trainers cancel on me, just shortly before my appointments with them. After the second cancellation I walked into the gym and said, "Here I am, find me a trainer". And they did. I've met with the trainer twice the past week. The trainer helped me become familiar with the equipment and has helped me build my confidence in a place where I have never felt like I belong.

The personal trainer also helped me look at myself straight in the eye. We did measurements of my arms, legs, torso. He took a four point body fat analysis. Gulp. He punched numbers into a formula gave me the facts. My body fat percentage, my weight (with shoes on, Double GASP!), my resting heart rate and target heart rate. My BMI has always put me in the normal range, so seeing all those other numbers helped me face reality. The reality is my diet isn't really the problem, but needs some adjusting. Living a sedentary lifestyle isn't working for me, working out is the link. Wanting to achieve my goals is going to take work.

Through the past week, I've visited the gym six times, even twice in one day! I attended a yoga class at the gym as well. I enjoyed the class (hello overcome obstacle #1,0001) and embraced the opportunity to allow my racing mind to free some thoughts and just be grounded in my body. I am already feeling stronger. I did a work out dvd one day and went for a run last night, just a short one. The run also included some brisk walking when I felt the need. Most importantly, even though I didn't get to the gym everyday I felt the need to be active in some way. Those small mental changes are guiding me on the path to a more healthier body. With that, maybe even a swimsuit come June.

By the way, thank you for your comments and for your honesty last week. I've had email exchanges with some of you that just made me realize we need support to help us achieve our goals. I know this momentum is just growing, hopefully the inspiration will spread to others. Speaking of inspiration, I just have to say, best of luck to Tara on the Biggest Loser as the finale coming up this week, she deserves the win! You know what, so do we. Maybe this week, you can find a time to go for a walk or walk into your local gym for a trial membership. It just takes one step to make the change.

Until next Friday...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Come Home Mama Bird...

Last week I barely was through the front door when my daughter came running towards me. She was demanding I immediately go to the backyard and see the discovery she made with Papa! I walked through the house and out the door to find, this: A bird's nest perched on a wooden peg rack we have attached to the back of our house. I hadn't noticed the nest because it was built underneath our kid sized table umbrella.

What a discovery!

We love birds, so of course it was instinct to check and see if there were any eggs in the nest. I ran and got a mirror, but there were no eggs. What a disappointment. For the last week, Sj has been hiding behind trees watching every bird that enters our yard. She peeks around from the backside of the huge trunk of the cottonwood, watching American Robins gather small pieces of dried up grass and watches them fly away.

Why are they flying away?

The birds we've been observing are busy building nests in other places. Turns out we haven't found the bird that built the nest. At this point I am anticipating the nest was built, but for some reason abandoned. Oh, how delighted we would be to have our very own birds to watch grow from egg to little wet feathered chirping babies!

Not impossible at this point, but highly improbable.

Yesterday I gathered a bunch of tiny branches that had been falling off of our cottonwood all winter. I put them in a pile to recycle when I had an idea. I decided to make a big nest for my big baby bird to sit in and chirp. We haven't quite decided how to make little pretend eggs, but I'll be sure to share if we do. In the mean time I'm enjoying my very own little birdie:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here's The Swimsuit I'm Going To Wear...

Of course you want to see what kind of swimsuit I have dancing around in my head, don't you? I've had my eye on this Juicy Couture Swimsuit over a year now. Yeah, I'm buying it: I'll take the windblown hair and photoshopped thighs as well! Find it here.

Desperately Seeking A Bathing Suit Body, A Confessional

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I find myself doing a double take trying to fully experience what my body has evolved into over the past thirty some years. Don't get me wrong it's unmistakably me, with a few extra pounds and newly appearing wrinkles. Who knows what exactly a few extra pounds is quantified as, I am one of those silly women that don't own a scale, I just go by the way my jeans fit. Currently, those jeans are a bit tighter in the thighs then I care for. Honestly, I could probably stand to drop twenty pounds easily. And if you asked me last month (Operation Good Bye Muffin Top), I would have said I could stand to drop twenty five pounds. Oh and if we are just playing around with weight and numbers for kicks, I would drop thirty five pounds to have the dreamy stick figure I once rocked in my youth.

For years I've often wondered what I would look like, how my body would transform if I actually tried. And by tried, I mean worked out regularly. It's funny because regularly is the word that often kicks me in the ass because I am good at trying things, but staying with them, now that's the problem. That work out DVD I was recently all jazzed about, I used it regularly for a few weeks, but not faithfully. Now I kind of use it, when I'm in the mood. Dun, dun, dun, dun. I'm lame.

Now it's confession time...

I hands down, have used every silly I'm-in-denial excuse in the book to avoid swimsuits/swimming pools in the summertime (or heck anytime for that matter). Right now if I close my eyes, scrunch up my already wrinkled forehead and ponder the last time I was in a bathing suit, I'd be at a loss. I'm thinking it was in June of 2007 when we went on vacation to Steamboat, the Grand has an incredible pool. Yes and if you recall we were just there Easter Weekend, I forgot my suit, oops. Why? I hate bathing suits. Why? I have a very deep love hate relationship with my body. The same body that I am sure could look fabulously bathing suit ready, if I just worked out regularly.

You see, my jeans fit much better when I am not adding my girls' leftovers into my daily caloric intake. Or when i'm not baking up a storm in a pms fog, hello resist temptation. Butter just makes baking better. I've given serious thought to my chai habit with all those extra calories and now have a lower calorie alternative, just a chai tea bag made with water and no sweetener. It truly isn't the same as a frothy sweetened milky delightful beverage, but it definitely fills a craving. So why don't I just go on some trendy diet? It's not my style. I take pride in the food that I put into my body, we eat the majority of meals at home, it works for me. It's balance, when I am not active the balance is off.

Today is May 1st. But today is a new day for me. Today is the day I start a 30 Day Challenge to get into the gym and give my body a chance. I am a huge fan of the Biggest Loser (Tara in particular). I watch faithfully every week and my daughters are quite familiar with Jillian from the workout DVD, which I think is very sweet. I don't think a week has passed when I haven't teared up watching The Biggest Loser. I truly am inspired by how the contestants have transformed their bodies with hard work and dedication.

Most importantly, what I've taken away from Tara is that she has learned to believe in herself. I'm ready to believe that I can be strong, beautiful, and healthy. With building confidence I am sure comes breaking down all those barriers that I've created in my mind, that my body is not bathing suit worthy.

I'm saying right now, so I can start believing it. By June 1st, I want to be on a path of fitness with the ultimate goal of buying myself a new swimsuit, so I can hold my head up proud and take my girls swimming. Details will follow...

For insight into my previous attempts, check out my Attempting To Move posts.