Archives for December 2010

Just This

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.  -Martin Luther King, Jr

Mamavation Monday: Week 1

So, after reading Heather’s Mamavation posts for a year, I’m jumping in.  I hope I’m doing this right!

Last year somewhere in the middle of January, I decided to get serious about my health.  I wanted to eat better, exercise more, and feel better overall.  I made a few changes and got myself a journal and everything.  I was at the right place and ready to feel better.  Then, about 4 days later, I started to feel yucky.  Really yucky.  All day long.  At first, I thought I was getting sick.  Then, after feeling so yucky with no other symptoms for about a week and a half, I took a pregnancy test.  I was pregnant!

The “morning” sickness started at about 3 weeks pregnant and stayed with me well into my 24th week of pregnancy.  During that time, I ate what sounded good when it sounded good.  I didn’t cook much.  I did alright with exercise, but most of the plans I’d had for myself last January flew out the window.

I had my beautiful baby boy in October.  That was about two weeks after moving into a new house.  I also have three and five year old boys.  To this point, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job modeling healthy eating behaviors for them and giving them healthy viewpoints of eating, exercise, and taking care of their bodies.  But, right now I have to be honest and say that I worry about the example I set for them in being overweight.

Right now, I’m not so concerned about what the scale says.  I’m nursing right now.  Also, in the past, I’ve found that if I’m making healthy choices and exercising my body generally responds by letting go of extra weight.  It’s not easy for me, but I wouldn’t describe my body as “hanging on to the weight” or anything like that.  I do have a 2 month old though, and I would love to do all that I can to minimize our chances of being sick during cold and flu season.  Increasing fruit and veggie intake, decreasing sugar intake, and exercising are three keys to that goal for me.

Historically, I am able to identify some fairly consistent areas of strength and weakness when it comes to making healthy living choices and losing weight.

Strengths:

  • Fruits and veggies-  I like them.  Lots of them.  I don’t have a hard time finding either fruits or veggies or recipes for them.
  • Water-  I like water, and I drink quite a bit of it.

Weaknesses:

  • Sweet tooth-  I have a major sweet tooth!  I am one of those people who could eat like Will Farrell’s character on Elf.
  • Moderation-  I’m not great at moderation.  I’m great at avoiding something completely, but then when I go back to eating or drinking it “in moderation,” moderation generally means more than what I should be having.

My goals for this year:

Lose 20 pounds at which point I will reassess and determine a reasonable goal weight.

Run a 5K.  I would love to do this in May, but in the past I’ve had a hard time building stamina past the 2 mile mark.  My goal is to do this in 2011, but if I can do it by May that would be even better.

Schedule myself time to exercise 5-6 times a week.

I Am Worth It

I Am Worth It

Photo via Redvers on Flickr

Yesterday I relaxing after our Christmas celebration, and for some reason a co-worker from many years ago popped into my head.  He was someone I worked with before Jason and I got married while I was going to college.  During the time I worked with him, I alternated between thinking he was funny and enjoying his company and thinking he was annoying and counting the days until either he or I quit.  We didn’t have much in common, and he had a way of saying things that got on my nerves.  We were not close friends by any one’s definition.

One day, (I have no idea why) the conversation turned to whether or not Jason and I were “shacking up” before we got married.  We were not, and I told him that.  He was something near incredulous when I told him that.  He said something like, “Jason is missing out on a lot of fun!”  I remember looking at him and saying, “He’ll wait.  I’m worth it.”  He didn’t have much to say after that.  Needless to say, I’m guessing the conversation didn’t go at all as he had expected.*

Jumping back to the present, I am now married to Jason (for 8 1/2 years), and the mother of three amazing boys (5 years, 3 years, and 2 months).  I got to thinking about whether or not I still believe that I’m worth it, not so much about waiting for the shacking up now but for putting my own needs and some wants at the top of the list.  If I need to schedule time away from my husband and kids for exercising, am I worth it?  Am I worth it if I realize that I no longer have any pants that fit and just a few shirts?  If I decide I want to work on getting more fruits and veggies (which are more expensive than some of the other options at the store) into my diet, am I worth it?  Eight and a half years ago, I would have smiled and told you firmly that of course I am worth it.  Now, I’ve slipped completely into mom/wife-ness, and I will tell you I’m worth it as long as it doesn’t affect my husband or children too much.  Of course I’m worth it, but…  If you’re a parent or a spouse, I’m guessing that most of you will admit you’ve been in this place at one time or another.

This isn’t a New Year’s resolution post.  This is more of a post-baby, life is settling down in the new house kind of post.  So, as it happens to be New Year’s Eve in less than a week, I guess that this is a fine time to start some new habits, right?  I am going to start posting regularly about my efforts to take care of myself.  In the near future, I see these posts centering around two main areas.  One is my physical health.  The other is living a life of intention.

Taking care of myself physically is something I tend to overlook.  I had a (nearly 10 pound) baby just over two months ago.  Before I got pregnant with him, I was not at a weight I was very happy about.  I haven’t been exercising regularly for a while, and in addition to affecting my weight, I think that I get sick more easily and more often.  I’m tired of getting sick!  To do this, I’m going to be participating in the #Mamavation Twitter campaign.  This is a weekly blogging carnival in addition to regular interaction with other like-minded moms on Twitter.

Living a life of intention is something that’s been on my mind for quite a while.  I’m really excited to be a part of Amber Strocel’s CraftingMyLife upcoming course.  I’m sure I’ll be talking about it, and I can’t wait for her to solve all my problems and answer all my life direction questions.  🙂  (Just kidding.  I’m really only expecting her to answer *some* of those questions, not all of them.  Kidding again…kind of.)

So, as I move into 2011, I’m looking forward to the changes that putting myself on the list of priorities will bring.

A Mind Like a Steel Trap or My Dad Was Right

A Mind Like a Steel Trap or My Dad Was Right

Photo via John-Morgan on Flickr

I’m 31.  When I was in high school (1994-1998) it was right at the time Bill Clinton was being investigated and impeached during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  I don’t remember much about it.  To be honest, I really wasn’t paying much attention.  What I do remember is thinking that Bill Clinton was bad.  Republicans were moral.  Democrats were immoral, irritating, and excusing Clinton’s behavior.  I think this might have been the beginning of my movement to the right.  The political right.

In college, I fell in with a pretty conservative crowd.  Many of my friends were self-identifying evangelical Christians.  Many of them had grown up in both the church and conservative families.  This was not my background.  My parents are Methodist, and they are both social workers.  They tend to lean left in political matters.  One time when I was in college, I was trying to explain something political from my point of view to my dad.  He in turn was trying to convince me that my viewpoint may not be empirically correct or the only side of the story.  Because I was 19 (or so), had a different point of view than my parents, and saw things pretty black and white, I was pretty sure he was wrong and didn’t have much interest in thinking through what he was saying.  After the conversation, he was talking to my mom and said something like, “She has a mind like a steel trap.”

I assume what he meant was that I wasn’t willing to open my mind to let any new ideas into it.  At the time I was sure that he was wrong.  He was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Of course he was wrong.  Wrong, right?

Whenever I didn’t know much about a candidate, I went back to abortion.  If I thought that abortion was wrong and there were thousands of abortions every year I had to vote for the party who was working to prevent that, right?  So, even if I wasn’t quite on board with the Republican’s thoughts on taxes, education, or another issue it somehow came back to black and white and abortion.  Even now as I explain, I’m having a hard time getting it out clearly.  I think at the time it wasn’t nearly as clear in my head as I wanted it to be.  (I got stuck at this point on the post for several days.)  Now, several days later, I still can’t do any better at explaining that thought process than I could then.

Gradually, my views began to change.  First, I started thinking about the death penalty.  I had been in favor of the death penalty, and gradually I realized that I had begun to believe it to be inconsistent with my values.  While I realize there are times in the bible when the death penalty is instituted, I think that there are so many things wrong with the way our society has instituted it, I cannot support it.  From the chances of executing an innocent person to the racial disparity in its use, I have many oppositions to it.  After I changed views on the death penalty, I began to think about other issues.  One by one, I found myself realizing that the core of my being did not believe the views promoted by the Republican party and particularly the Tea Party movement of the GOP.

From the GOP’s movement from a pay-as-you-go philosophy to a cut-as-you-go philosophy to their opposition to any sort of universal health care to their view of climate change, I realized one day.  What the heck!?!?  I am not anywhere near a Republican.  Gulp, in fact, I might be a…Democrat, and my dad might have been right!

I’m not trying to pretend like I suddenly think the Democratic party is perfect.  They have their share of people I’m not thrilled with.  They make decisions I don’t agree with.  They make mistakes.  I’m hesitant to label myself as anything right now, but I have to say my beliefs do fall much further to the liberal side of the spectrum than to the conservative side.

Don’t tell my dad.  🙂

Why We Are Reading “And Tango Makes Three”

I am a book lover.  My husband is also an adamant reader.  For our birthdays this year, we both got Kindles, and we love them.  We have tons of books.  I only recently managed to get rid of my last (out of date) college text book.  The kids also have a lot of books.  In addition to the books we have at home, we frequent our local library.

Although, I have to admit to say that “we” frequent the library isn’t 100% accurate.  Jason frequents the library with the boys, and I usually go by myself.  A few months ago, Jason decided that as an opportunity to get some one on one time with Kael, he would take Kael to the library on Sunday afternoons.  Somehow that has changed from a one on one time for the two of them to a time for Jason and the two older boys to do something together.  They often spend well over an hour there picking out books, and they come home with the book bag absolutely stuffed.  It’s not unusual for our family to have over 20 books checked out from the children’s area.

One of the reasons that Jason takes the boys and I don’t is that he picks better books than I do.  I was a teacher before Kael was born, and I’m stuck in a rut of picking out my old favorites.  Click Clack Moo, Stellaluna, Henry and Mudge.  They are great books, but I have a hard time getting away from books that I know I’ve read and liked.  Jason does a great job of exploring several different areas of the children’s library and picking out a mix of fiction and nonfiction on a variety of topics.  He also talks with the boys about books they’ve liked in the past and might want again or topics they would like to read more about.  Occasionally I make a suggestion, but for the most party I just enjoy what they bring home.

The last time they went to the library, I did make a suggestion.  I suggested that if it was available Jason check out And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.  If you haven’t heard of it, this is a children’s picture book about two male penguins who hatch an egg from another pair of penguins and raise the resulting baby.  It talks about how they wanted to be a family and did things that other penguin families did.  It also tells how zookeepers gave the two male penguins an egg to care for.  The result was a baby penguin they name Tango.

Why?  Living in ND, we don’t get a wide variety of cultural experiences.  It occurred to me one day that perhaps there is something similar in the lack of exposure to other races and lack of exposure to other family situations.  This was probably brought on by the blog posts I read on Ask Moxie this summer about the book NurtureShock.  Chapter 3 of NurtureShock (which I have not read but have on my to be read list) is called Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race.  The gist of the chapter (which I am summarizing based on this blog post) is that if we don’t teach our children about the differences among people they make their own assumptions.  Also, putting them in a diverse environment (which I feel unable to do) is not enough.  This chapter is primarily about race and differences that children are able to see clearly and easily when looking at others, but what if this extends to other areas?  It is not okay with me for my children to form their opinions of homosexuality and what it means based only on what they see in popular media or hear from those around them.

For many people this might be a no-brainer.  Of course you would talk to your children about this.  For some people this might be somewhat controversial.  Not just talking about homosexuality but talking about it in a factual way, attempting to normalize it for our children, and addressing it in a way that allows our children to explore their own thoughts on it and continue the conversation over time.

Both my husband and I are Christians.  We are raising our children in the Christian church.  It’s obviously not a big surprise to anyone that there are differing opinions in the church on homosexuality.  We want our children to know a few things very clearly about homosexuality.  If it turns out that one (or more) of our children are gay, we will love them.  Not we will love them anyway.  We will love them, period.  We also want them to know that people are people.  We are called as Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves, and some of our neighbors may be gay.  We love them as ourselves.

I started writing this post several weeks ago.  It got put on the back burner as life got busier with the new baby, but even though this next paragraph isn’t as current as it was then, I still think it is appropriate and applicable.

When I started writing this post, there was a lot being said in the media about the recent suicides of children (some gay and some perceived as being gay) and college students.  This is actually what was on my mind when I wrote my last post about sharing opinions that might be more controversial.  The primary reason I wanted to write this post was because I don’t ever want to be faced with a situation like the families of those kids and feel like I stayed silent when I had a duty to be unsilent.