Monday, February 08, 2016

Popular



The other day Lindsey was telling me about the "popular" kids at school. Lindsey and her friends don't describe themselves as popular, and she clearly has that "I wish I were them" and "I hate them" kind of thinking that kids this age have about the in-crowd.

It seems that everyone grew up in a school where there was a "popular" group; doesn't matter your generation, class size, big town (or small) or what state you grew up in.  I just don't get it.  I decided to ask her some questions to see what's changed over the years, and perhaps impart some wisdom.

Q: So what does it take to be popular?

A: To be popular you have to be nice, wear really, really nice clothes, have neat handwriting, and have a smartphone.

Q: How do you know who the popular kids are?

A: You can just tell. They dress really nice and care about how they look. Boys too. And they're nice one-on-one, but if you come up to them as a group they're really mean.

Q: Really? Have you seem them do that?

A: Well one time my friend came up to a popular girl and asked her a question and she just turned away from her and wouldn't talk to her, even though they hang out together because they live on the same block.

Q: Maybe she didn't hear your friend.

A: I doubt that.

Q: Do the popular kids hang out with unpopular kids at school?

A: No. They all sit at the same lunch table and joke and laugh with each other.

Q: So what would happen if you came up to them, sat down at the table and joined in?

A: Are you kidding, Mom? They would look at you like "What are you doing here?" and would probably be quiet until you went away.

Q: What do you and your friends do at lunch?

A: We have a blast. We have such an awesome table, we spend the entire time trying to make each other crack up. We have so much fun.

Q: Wow, that sounds like something other kids would want to be a part of. What would happen if someone you didn't know sat down at your table and asked to join in?

A: We'd probably look at them like "What are you doing here?" and....oooohhhh!

We talked for a bit longer and then I gave her the same message I've been giving my kids for years: Be Yourself! Be your own authentic self and you will attract the kind of people you want to have in your life. It won't matter if you're popular or geeky or musical or anything else, because you'll be happy.

And then I told her not to smoke or do drugs ever or have sex before 18. I got the eyeroll AND the big sigh.

Bonus parenting points.


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Sleepless No More



I am sitting in a darkened house with a cup of coffee, looking out at a winter wonderland, piano music softly playing from our living room speaker. I am finally doing one of my favorite activities that has been absent for too long: writing.

These quiet moments are rare.  For years I have suffered from insomnia, which means that on weekends I "sleep in" until 8 or 9 sometimes, catching up on the sleep I missed earlier in the week.  Weekends I finally get a full 8 hours of sleep, even though it takes me 12 hours to do so. Usually by the time I'm up the girls are up and the day's activities have begun.

Today, they are still in bed and it is quiet. I began writing at 6:30 a.m.

I had been in a slump this summer and part of this fall, though others couldn't tell. My Fitbit that I got for my birthday in the spring informed me of how very little sleep I was getting, yet at the same time how much. I would awake in the morning thinking I'd barely slept 3 hours, only to find that I had slept more than that but hadn't thought so.

But really, what's the point of knowing you got seven hours of sleep when you feel like you got three? Knowing that I'd gotten more sleep than I thought would energize me for a time, until physical fatigue set in. I'd convince myself that I really should be able to function; after all, I got seven whole hours of sleep! But I still felt exhausted because the sleep was so disjointed. I would wake up around 2:00 most every night. Some times I fell right back asleep, but most nights I would lie awake until at least 4:00 if not 5:00. Occasionally I was up for the day.

Morning meetings are a bitch when you've already been up for 8 hours by the time they occur, much less afternoon meetings. People at work thought I was a morning person, but that was only because morning was actually my afternoon considering the time I got up for the day.

My wise husband, who has talked to me over the years about my sleeplessness, finally convinced me to do something different about it than what I'd been doing before, which was, really, nothing. I had read every resource about getting good sleep, followed every recommendation. I went to bed at about the same time, have a bedtime routine, used lavender,  tried melatonin, insert well-intentioned person's advice here. I had tried over-the-counter sleeping pills but they made me groggy upon waking. Despite all attempts, like clockwork my eyes would pop open at 2 a.m.

My doctor informed me that if I hadn't been waking up in the middle of the night previously that I would start to do so, as women in "my stage of life" often have hormones fluctuate mid-sleep cycle and for some it causes insomnia.

What kind of walking zombie was I going to become?

I finally tried something I had never done before, something that was always a last ditch effort for me: a prescription sleeping pill.

What a novel concept, right?

Sleep aids are one of the most commonly prescribed medications, and I only finally decided to consider them.

My mother has always been hesitant to take prescription medications. Her life's experience led her to have no trust in pharmaceutical companies, and her skepticism is not unfounded. Just like any parent/child relationship, her values have rubbed off on me.

My mother expressed concern that sleep aids cause long-term memory loss and confusion. But guess what else does: lack of sleep. And here I was, wasting hours of my life attempting to sleep while not having the energy to get my exercise in, being cranky with my family, masking my fatigue at work, and never trying a sleeping pill.

After discussing options with my doctor and expressing my hesitation at taking Ambien, which was his recommendation, he finally convinced me to try it with one caution: Never, EVER take it if I've had any alcohol at all. Yes, sir. (And then he and I compared our favorite wines.)

The first night I took one I let my husband know to be on the look out for any weird behavior, and that if the kids needed something in the middle of the night he was on-call. I dutifully took a sleeping pill and went to sleep.

I woke up with my alarm at 6:30.  I was refreshed, not groggy. I cannot describe to you the feeling of having a full night's sleep for the first time in what felt like eons. All day I walked around with a giddy smile on my face. I couldn't believe how good I felt!

It's been a few months now since that first experience, and I am a changed woman. I sleep through the night. If I awake in the middle of the night I fall back asleep usually within 30 minutes.

I started doing my fitness routine again, first just on weekends (when I used to get my catch-up sleep), and then rising earlier during the week as well. I'm back up to exercising three times a week, and I feel AMAZING. Exercise gives me strength and energy, and I'm thrilled to be getting the rest needed to be back at it.

I feel like my life is back on track. It's incredible what sleep can do for a body.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Still Here

Christmas Ever 2015
It's been a while.

Life is busy. Life is good.

Life is blessed.

I'm still here, have so much to say and so little time to say it. I am re-prioritizing exercising over blogging, which means I'm not up late at night to write. I miss it, but I miss sleep more, and am happy to be back to my fitness activities. I have several ideas burbling in my head and will get them down eventually.

Thank you for following along.

Cardio kickboxing, anyone?

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Halloween Festivities

We hosted a Halloween party at our house this year, with each girl inviting up to 7 of her friends.

There are a few missing guests, but this was most of the party-goers.
The girls didn't have school on Friday, the day of the party, since it was the quarter break, so Lindsey's friend Ava came over and helped decorate. They put together a pretty amazing haunted house in Lindsey's bedroom.
Had to turn the light on to take the pic, but it was cool when it was pitch black.
The party was a blast, and the haunted house a huge hit. Marissa and her friends would gingerly step into the room, then one of them would scream and the others would join in and they would all run out. Then they would laugh and say, "Let's do it again!"



They played ghosts in the graveyard, despite the light rain, and nibbled on snacks.

The next night was Halloween. Lindsey planned a group costume with her best buds. They call themselves the Four Musketeers, so they decided to dress the part.



The four of them trick-or-treated a route that went between all their homes, ending at her friend Ellie's house, with stops for hot chocolate and cupcakes on the way. I didn't see them all night until Lindsey got home after her festivities.

Marissa dressed up as a police woman and I took her trick-or-treating with her friend Erika, the vampire. Erika's mom and I visited along the way while the girls hit house after house.


It was a beautiful evening with a bit of a chill in the air. The two girls took in quite a loot. The trading continued into the next morning.

Marissa's candy is in the shape of an "M."
They have to decide which ones to keep and which ones to turn in for money. They get $4 for each pound of candy they turn in, a pretty good deal for a kid.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wanna go for a run?

My family had a dog when I was a child. I was 5 when we got him and 19 when he died.  He was pretty much my childhood dog.

He was a golden retriever named Captain and was the nicest, sweetest tempered dog. My dad wanted a golden because he wanted a hunting dog, and Captain happily obliged. They went grouse and pheasant hunting, sometimes catching the occasional rabbit.

The night before a hunting trip my dad would pull his hunting gear out of the closet, the blaze orange hat, heavy overalls, the gun in the gun case. Captain would circle him and leap for joy in his excitement. When Dad would get up at some ungodly hour Captain would already be up waiting for him -- my dad joked that Captain didn't sleep all night he was so excited to go.

My dad and Captain out in the field
This memory came to me today as Wayne was preparing to go for a run. He disappeared downstairs to stretch for 30 minutes as he always does before running. Within minutes Beauty had trotted downstairs to join him. She licked his face when he got down to her level to stretch, she circled him and leaned against him, knocking him off balance as he did one-legged squats. I finally took her upstairs so he could finish stretching in peace.

Eventually Wayne re-appeared in running gear and with her harness.

"Hey girl, wanna go for a run?" he said, and Beauty leaped for joy.

He leashed her up and off they went for 50 minutes and 7 miles. Yes, 7 miles in less than an hour, meaning they were running an average of a 7:10 pace. One of the miles they clocked a 6:30 pace, and that was when Wayne said she finally began "running" and not "trotting."

"That girl is too fast for her own good," he said when they returned, both of them hot despite the 45 degree temperature, and a little breathless.

I think Wayne has finally found someone in the family as fast as he is, and Beauty has discovered that she's a runner.

Beauty circles the chair while Wayne gets his shoes on. He's not leaving the house without her.

Getting her harness on.
Ready to run!


Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Fart Story

My dad loves fart stories. He has his whole life -- he has never outgrown the idea that fart are absolutely hilarious. This trait may have been passed on to his daughters.

The other day, when dad was having a particularly bad day from the side effects of chemo, I told him the following story:

Last weekend we had our first fire in the fire place for the season. We don't know if Beauty's ever been around a fire, and she seemed quite anxious. We were accustomed to our sweet dog Dax, whose dog bed was perennially placed right in front of the fireplace, where he could be warm and cozy when a fire was roaring.


Beauty, on the other hand, was quite concerned about the fire. She did not want to go near it, even into her cozy dog bed. We pulled her bed several feet into the room, then throughout the course of the evening pulled it closer and closer to the fire, until she was finally right in front of the fire grate.

She snuggled down and seemed content.

But then we learned she was not.

I was sitting in a chair right next to the fireplace, and let out quite an audible fart.

At the sound, Beauty leapt up like something bit her, her tail down, ears back. She glanced back at the fire, then scurried up the stairs.  She spent the rest of the evening sleeping on Lindsey's bed.

Clearly she believed my gas was from that ominous fire. We all laughed uproariously. Tears rolled down our cheeks and we clutched our guts in laughter.

I told this story to my dad, and he responded in kind: He dropped the phone in laughter. It was perfect. Clearly the best remedy for a day when he wasn't feeling his greatest.

I think I'll hold on to all my fart stories until the days he's not feeling well.

Friday, October 23, 2015

PsychoKiller Dog

We have a killer on our hands. A psychokiller, to be exact.



A decimator of fluff. Of squeakers. Of yarn and string and rubber.

A toy killer, to be precise.
She looks the part, doesn't she?

This dog goes through toys like water.

Wayne and I had both had forgotten what it was like to have a young dog, a playful, energetic dog who leaps, bounds and runs to her heart's content.

If we don't have squeaky toys and chew toys at hand, we must prepare to have other items chewed to satisfy her need.

Stuffed toys last approximately 2.5 days -- or an hour, depending on the quality. Wayne decided to buy an expensive "indestructible" toy, which lasted all of one evening. Fifteen dollars down the drain. Or rather, strewn across the living room carpet.

Several of the girls' stuffed animals have seen their last days, thanks to Beauty's sharp teeth.



The other evening I came home from work to find that it had snowed in our living room. A fluffy, sparse snow that covered our carpet in eclectic little pieces.

Merry Christmas! Kind of.

I believe that was the $15 toy. Or maybe the $7 one. I'm not quite sure which amount of money was destroyed that day.

If we don't buy toys, we need to know that other items in our house will see their end. Like her more expensive dog bed. Or a beloved stuffed animals meant for little girls.  Or the couch.

If anything, it's finally teaching the girls to pick up after themselves, unless they don't want to see their prized possessions in one piece again.


Un-stuffing the turkey. It didn't make it to Thanksgiving.
She's a killer all right.