Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mid-pcs — The First Thing to go is The Mind…

I’m about halfway through my month-long PCS journey. (We’re moving across the country again, this time with our two little boys, and the process of selling the house, finding a new house to live in, and getting everyone there has become kind of a drawn out process.) To fill the time between leaving one place (a small desert town recently named “Satan’s Den” by a friend — not so much for any insidious activities occurring there as for the horrible weather and generally ridiculous heat) and arriving in the other, I’ve scheduled a tour of relative’s homes in the state we are leaving, since it’ll be a while before we get to see them all again. And, if I don’t spend too long with any one set of relatives, there’s a chance we might, someday, be invited back. All this has me basically living out of my trunk, calming confused little boys, and doing my best to keep their behavior at a moderate level of chaos so as not to frighten the relatives or have them too worried about the safety of their delicate possessions, carpets, drywall, etc.

Anyway, today is the first time I’ve found myself in front of a keyboard since departing Satan’s Den, and I have regretted not being able to get here to Call Sign Mommy more often. I haven’t been silent due to a lack of postable events!

My first stop has been with my parents, who stay at a cabin in the beautiful mountains all summer. I grew up in that cabin, really, and I’m so happy to have my little boys up there. But they are missing Daddy and they are confused about why we are here and haven’t gone back home, and it’s been a bit hard for all of us. Thankfully, my parents are patient and helpful — which hasn’t always been the case. Our first long visit, with Turbo almost 2, was not as successful. I suppose, when it’s been 35 years since you last spent significant time with a 2-year-old, you might forget why or how to love a being that is so messy, noisy, dangerous, unpredictable and downright illogical all of the time. But they came around. And Turbo is *mostly* a good little guy these days. There are even moments when he’s helpful. But his questions about our current situation are breaking my heart: “Mommy, is THIS our new house?” “Mommy, when can we go home?” “Mommy, when can I see my friends again?”

I’m actually at my parents “real” house alone now. I’ve come back down the hill to attend my *gasp* 20 year high school reunion. The Major is at the cabin and will come down to attend with me tonight. Since this is the first time in weeks that I’ve had a moment (let alone a whole day) to myself, I’m a little lost. And I initially told him not to hurry down to join me (thinking that I’d be reveling in the peace and quiet). But I find myself hoping he comes sooner. I think that when you spend your life catering to the near constant desires of tiny whiny people, all you really need is five minutes here and there to appreciate the silence. And after that, it starts to feel just wrong. (Although, I could certainly get used to it with some minimal effort!)

Anyway, sorry for the stream of consciousness… I didn’t have much of a plan when I sat down. The reunion should be pretty interesting tonight. Hope to see a keyboard (and you guys) again soon!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Harder Than it Looks

I may have misjudged the difficulty involved with taking two kids on the road for a month… It isn’t like taking my “at home” kids along. When away from home, all their stuff, and in many cases on schedules that look nothing like their usual routines, these kids are almost unrecognizable. And making me crazy. Right now, Turbo is watching Barney, who has been outlaws in our house up to now. This is a demonstration of my desperation. also, maintaining a blog from an iPad has been something of a challenge… Apologies for the lack of posts. We will be done with this insane transition in mid-July… But I hope to keep things moving here at Call Sign Mommy in the meantime. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Working on Stuff…

Apologies for my absence. The kids and are on the road! I will figure out some mobile blogging ideas soon…

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Five Pronged Approach — Step 5 Keeping it up

Still with me? Cool. This is the last part of my oh-so-strategic five pronged approach to getting into decent shape before my upcoming 20 year high school reunion (yikes).

The last part is easy — keep doing what you’re doing. Fitness becomes a habit if you make it a part of your life on a regular basis. Since renewing my vow to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve started running most mornings. And while I have hated running most of my life, there’ve been brief flashes where I’ve understood why some people love it. And I’m in one of those periods now. I don’t run miles and miles. I top out at about 4, and that is a LONG run for me. But the other day I ran further than normal, without stopping at all, and got to a point where I actually didn’t want to stop. I made a big loop up a hill behind my house, which I do pretty often. But this time, I ran all the way up and sprinted all the way down. The trainer in me warned against the sprint. I usually don’t run downhill because it’s so much harder on the joints, but this day I just felt like I was flying. I felt like I used to when I was a little kid and I just ran because I could, because it was fun. I felt like a kid again. And in the midst of trying to sell a house and orchestrate a move, leaving jobs and friends and schools, and explaining all this to my tiny kids, it was really nice to just feel like a little kid, running down a big hill without a care in the world.

I hope that you’re finding that fulfillment, too. Keep it up!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Five Pronged Approach — Step 4 Making it Mental

Back on the wagon — how are the first three steps going on your end? I’m actually feeling better, even if my clothes aren’t fitting better and I’m not exactly dripping off pounds… but that’s what step 4 is about — keeping your head in the game.

I tend to fall into an “all or nothing” approach in many things. One of these things is eating. If I’m “dieting,” I sometimes feel like I need to ban all things bad from my diet, eat “clean,” and live a completely pristine life from that point on. Of course, that lasts for a day or so before I feel completely deprived, lust after some kind of snacky sugary thing that doesn’t fall into the category of “clean eating,” and blow it. And once I’m off the wagon, I just stay off and sulk around in the sugary snacky gravel until I get the mental fortitude to re-commit. That stinks.

A better bet — and what I’ve always told my training clients — is to realize that you didn’t put on flab and fat overnight and that it isn’t going to come off faster than it went on. (Well, maybe a little faster if you gained over years and years…) Generally speaking, the way people lose weight and keep it off is to realize that all or nothing will not work. (Usually because we end up right back at nothing pretty darned fast.) Instead, you have to make a mental shift in the way you think about fitness and food. You have to decide that you are going to build a healthier life for yourself, and that takes baby steps.

How do you do that? Here are a few ideas:

1. Add in exercise. If you already do a bit, do some more. Make a change that involves adding just a little. If you already walk three days a week, add a day. If you go for 10 minutes every day, try 20. Make a very small change, but a change for the better.

2. Vow to read labels and focus on foods that offer some nutritional benefit. When choosing between something snacky and tasty that offers no fiber, protein or healthy fat and something that does offer one of these items, go with the latter. Take it choice by choice and try to make good choices.

3. Don’t tell yourself that there is something you can’t have. If there is ice cream in my house, I will eat it. Plain and simple. But I haven’t banned ice cream. Instead, if I really want it, I can have it, but I have to go get it. And that extra effort might give me more time to make a better choice. And if not? Then I can have some ice cream! Not banning it makes me think about it less and enjoy it more when I get it.

4. Think about the way you feel over the way you look. Sure, we all want to fit into THOSE jeans (we all have a pair — the ones that you wore at some critical happy point in your life, the ones that represent the time you looked your best, felt your best.) But what is really important? Being able to enjoy your life. Feeling healthy and energetic. For me, it’s about being a person that my boys will be proud of. Being a mom that can run around with them and roll on the ground and KEEP UP with them. I wouldn’t mind it if some day I achieved the “hot mom” status, too, but that isn’t what this is about. At all.

So, get your head in the game! And if you’re with me on this little journey, feel free to tell me how it’s going!

Moving Day

The packers are here! The packers are here!

I’m a basketcase.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Upsides of Life as a Military Mom

When you’re a de facto member of the military (married in, rather than volunteering per se), there are a lot of things that can take some getting used to. And I think I covered that, but please know that I claim whining as my right and there will probably be more of this down the road.

However, while it isn’t all roses and rainbows, there are a lot of benefits to being a military mom, too.

1) Auto-Friends: Okay, no one is ever automatically your friend, but how many times — in the ‘real’ world — do you move to a new home and find yourself invited to two or three social functions in the first week? How many times have you moved to a town you’ve never been to before (in my case, one you’ve never even heard of) and had not one, but two different families show up on your doorstep with baskets of food and tips about everything from where to get your hair done to where to put your kids in daycare? If you’re an extrovert, the military spouse network is heaven. There are spouses from all walks of life (and though I’m trying to be politically correct here by using “spouse,” let’s face it, they’re mostly wives), and from all parts of the globe. I am not exactly an extrovert, and I still found myself with a full social calendar almost immediately — and that meant a full social calendar for Turbo and Lunchbox, too.

I’ll make one more point about the women I have met in the military spouse sphere — they are not to be underestimated! They are tough, tenacious and experienced. Every time I have assumed that I knew something about someone based on the outer shell (how many kids they have, whether they work, how long they’ve been married — all the stuff we women like to judge each other on), I have been proven wrong in spades. The wealth of experience that this crowd brings to the table is overwhelming, and most of these ladies are humble enough to make you have to work a bit to find out what they’ve seen and done. And it’s impressive.

2) Having a baby? Welcome to your catered dinner menu for a month! When anything about the size of a breadbox comes out of your body, you’re bound to be tired and maybe even a bit crabby. Oh, and sore. And even though you’re probably also hungry, cooking ranks at about 997 on the list of things that you’d like to do in the days immediately following the event. And thanks to the network of wonderful women in the military spouse network, cooking was one thing I did NOT have to worry about. For WEEKS. Both times I had babies, those women showed up at my house in a veritable parade of culinary goodness. My family got used to gourmet cooking, and it was so fun to wonder what would arrive for dinner each night!

If you’re ever in a position to cook for someone who needs it (and these ladies arrange meal service for any reason you can imagine to help each other out), here are a couple tips: Should you bring dessert? Oh, yes please. Wine? Absopositively! And if you happen to have made too much, tossing in another freezable portion so that the new mom will have something on hand later is a great idea!

3) The Commissary and Exchange: (that’s the grocery store and general goods store). While the on base grocery offerings are usually more limited than those out in town, it’s worth stocking up there and hitting the local grocery just for the few items you didn’t find at the commissary. Shopping on base saves money. Not just a little bit of money — bunches. And if you’re lucky enough to be at a base that has a good exchange of a decent size, you can find everything from cosmetics to Coach bags to jewelry tax-free and discounted. That, my friends, is a benefit this shopper can appreciate!

4) Healthcare: While visiting the clinic isn’t always a joy, the fact that it is there when we need it speaks volumes. Vaccinations? Walk in. Sick kid? Call that morning, you can often get in within hours. No appointments? They’ll help you arrange to go to the urgent care, ER or to a doctor in town. It might not be as personal as having your own family doctor, but the doctors I’ve seen on base are largely caring and sweet, and are genuinely concerned about my family and my health. And if for some reason I want to go to a specialist? Referrals are pretty easy to get. Oh, and prescriptions? They’re free.

5) Childcare: This is a system that works well in theory. And for many, I think it works well in practice. I’ve been on lots of wait lists for childcare on base — it is very affordable compared to private local options. I’ve never actually been moved off the wait list, but I think that’s because I have not been persistent enough with follow up calls. (When you need childcare NOW, you end up making other arrangements, and I’ve been pretty happy with what we found off base for our guys.)

I could say so much more — other military moms, please feel free to add other thoughts in the comments! I will add one more benefit of being a military spouse/mommy:

6) Pride: I know most wives are proud of their husbands, and most kids adore their daddies. But when your hubby/daddy wears a uniform to work every day (even though I call the Major’s flight suit a “jumpsuit” which he does not appreciate…), I think it feels a little bit different kissing him goodbye and sending him on his way. That uniform is a reminder that he’s going out to work for your family, but also for a much bigger family — and one that doesn’t always appreciate him or remember to say “thank you.” My boys are still very little, but when Turbo tells people what his daddy does for work, his eyes glitter with pride as he describes the plane his daddy flies. And I admit to feeling a little pump of pride when I tell people that my husband is a Marine. That fact makes us all part of something bigger. And though we sacrifice a bit to be part of the military community, we are all part of something that makes this country special. And it is worth it.

But I’ll still be happy when the Major’s twenty years are up and we can settle down. And I don’t think that looking forward to that time takes away even one little bit from how lucky I feel to be married to a Marine right now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Good Days

Yesterday we signed the final paperwork to sell our house. The house that we poured blood, sweat and tears into for three and a half years, where we had a baby (not literally), and where we went through some very good and some very tough times. And we decided to go to dinner to celebrate. Which, in retrospect, was a bad idea since it seemed that neither Lunchbox nor Turbo had gotten much in the way of rest during the day. Dinner was a bit rough. We were THOSE people — the ones who let their baby scream (in this case so that I could actually get a bit into my mouth… it is actually amazing that I don’t lose weight considering how my children conspire to keep me otherwise occupied during most meals…). Anyway, dinner was delightful, and when we finally got in the car, Lunchbox was in full meltdown mode. He screamed for a few minutes, and then out of nowhere, Turbo started singing to him. His song was quiet, and Lunchbox quieted down to listen. He sang all the way home and though the Major and I were cracking up, Lunchbox sat happily listening to his brother singing him a happy song that went like this:

Lunchbox, Lunchbox… Everyone is your friend.

Lunchbox, Lunchbox… Everyone is your friend.

There was even sort of a tune that doesn’t really convey in this format, and it settled the tiny guy down completely to listen to his big brother paying him such special attention and singing a song that he’d invented just for him.

It was one of the sweetest things I can remember.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Life of The Military Mommy Examined…

There are plenty of folks out there who pay lip service to our military families on a regular basis – at least once every Veteran’s Day and sometimes on Memorial Day, too! And that’s a good thing. But there are also plenty of people who fail to realize the actual day-to-day crapfest that military families plow through.

There are deployments to handle, ridiculous work schedules to contend with when deployment is not on the table, and let’s not forget the ever entertaining moving every coupla years whether you need it or not aspect! I am a very lucky military spouse, in that my hubby hasn’t deployed in a while and we have been in one place for three and a half years (though we’re moving in a month!) But this post is dedicated to all the other MMs out there who don’t have it so easy, and who deal regularly with some of the downfalls of being a military mommy:

1. Doing it all yourself. You came into this marriage happy, bright and maybe the teensiest bit na├»ve… a crisp military uniform will do that to even the strongest and most practical woman (trust me on that one – I am she.) And you thought to yourself, “we’re in love. We can handle anything.” And then he left. And the crap flew. It is a little known fact that things only go wrong when your husband is deployed or traveling for extended periods. During my hubby’s last extended all-expenses paid trip to the Middle East, every smoke alarm in our house went off at the same time at 2am. That’ll scare the night cream right off yer face, let me assure you!

The military member leaves, and often leaves a family behind. For a long ass mutherfurkin time. And the spouse muddles on, managing a house (and all the glorious chores that go with it – including all the ones HE usually does), kids, a job (sometimes – we’ll get to that one) and more. And that time when you get home from work and the kids are just home from school and everyone needs something and the whole world is melting down but it will be okay soon because your husband will come home to distract the crazy orangutans you call your children? Yeah, he’s not coming. You’re on your own.

2. Being considered lazy. We’ve established that the military mommy can be quite busy, particularly if the hubs is away. And yet there are those who call military spouses lazy because many of us do not work your typical 9-to-5 job, and many of us do not work outside the home at all. Hmm… why would that be? Let’s role-play, shall we?

Interviewer: So, you’re new in town? What brings you to (insert name of military town here)?

MM: My husband is stationed here.

Interviewer: Oh. So you’ll be leaving soon then.

MM: We just arrived. We’ll be here at least two years.

Interviewer: Okay. We’ll let you know.

Yeah. So there’s that.

3. Marriage isn’t easy. And when one of you is away, it’s damned near impossible. In some ways it becomes MUCH easier since you get to do whatever you want, make the decisions that you think are right and comfortably settle into YOUR life. But the difficulty comes when big decisions must be made at a distance. Skype doesn’t really replace the face-to-face, side by side conversations that marriage and parenting often demand to succeed. And when my hubs was gone last time I often didn’t hear from him for weeks at a time. So sometimes I just had to do things on my own without his input. And what happens when your beloved spouse comes back home – into YOUR house, where you have been comfortably doing things YOUR way for however many months he’s been gone? Damn tootin. It blows.

Welcome home, dear! Don't touch a damned thing!




4. Your kids didn’t sign up for this. I don’t know about your kids, but my three year old and one year old don’t understand much about the passing of time. Turbo knows that two episodes of Dragon Tales last about as long as it takes Mommy to make dinner and that he goes to bed somewhere near the time that the sun begins to set. He doesn’t know what it means when I tell him that Daddy will be home in two weeks, much less two months or one year. Can you imagine telling your three year old that Daddy will be back when he’s FOUR? I haven’t had to go through this (yet), but women all around me do it every day. And I have no idea how.

With older kids, managing the constant moving is a struggle. Being a teenager is tough. Being a teenager who is the new kid in school every other year is even tougher. And these moms get to explain to, cajole and console their kids with every new town, every new school. Sure, in the long run they’ve built enviable life experience, but does a twelve year old really need to think about that yet?

5. Being a Nomad sucks. When you move to a new town every few years, you go through many of the same routines – figuring out where to shop, where to eat, how to get from point A to point B. And you meet your new neighbors. And the new teachers. And all the other spouses stationed in this new place. And after you’ve done it a few times, it isn’t too exciting to have everything be new. In fact, you just start to want for everything to be old. What a luxury it must be to live in the same house for ten years, or to get to know your neighbors really well, or to feel like you can make friends with anyone you want because you won’t have to experience the lurking sorrow of leaving them. The Military Mommy sometimes just doesn’t bother anymore. It’s too hard to get yourself ingrained in a community time and again only to leave. You start to tell people when you first meet them that you are a military spouse and therefore temporary. You might as well just wear a sign or scream, “I’m leaving soon. We can’t really be friends. Don’t get attached.”

And having said all that, I should probably say something like, “But I wouldn’t change it for the world.” And that wouldn’t be true. The fact is that I dream about having a “forever home,” and a place where my kids can live without wondering where we’ll live next. There are those who tell me, “You chose this life.” And all I can do is shake my head because they just don’t understand. I chose a man, and this is the life that came along with him. I wouldn’t give up the man. But the title of “military spouse?” Yeah, I’ll be happy to hang that one up someday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Five Pronged Approach — Step Three Taking it up a Notch

Onward in the battle to banish the blubber!

Step 3: Taking it up a notch. What the huh?? Yeah, exactly.

Whatever you are already doing in terms of exercise — give it the Emeril treatment. BAM! If you’re walking, add one minute intervals of fast (and I mean, hip-swinging, arm-pumping, gasping for breath FAST) walking. If you’re already jogging, add one minute sprints. If you’re already doing squats, add some squat jumps. Pushups? (Good for you, by the way – for some reason, most women seem to believe that they cannot do pushups…) Try a decline pushup (feet up on a box or curb). See where I’m headed with this?

When you don’t have much time to exercise, you need to make the most of the time you DO devote to it. That means BIG movements that use LOTS of muscles because that will burn LOTS more calories. Don’t do a single arm bicep curl. Do a reverse lunge with a double bicep curl as you lower to the bottom of your lunge. Add an overhead press as you come up and switch legs, and you’re pretty much incorporating every muscle in your body. If you do it right, you’ll be out of breath and sweating for the duration of any 20 minute workout you do. If you’re out for a walk, add curb jumps, walking lunges, tricep dips… strength training is critical because it builds muscle, and muscle burns calories much more efficiently than fat. Ready? GO!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moving Matters

As you can imagine, The Major and I are discussing many important issues right now, as we prepare for an upcoming move and the potential sale of our house. Military moves are a special breed, and I’ll offer more insight on that at another time (gathering tidbits as we head through this one…) I thought I’d give you a glimpse into one of the critical pre-move email conversations we had this morning:

Me:  Hey:  The moving company is coming tomorrow to do a walk through survey so they’ll know what kind of boxes to bring, how much stuff we have, etc. Can you walk me through tonight to make sure that I will tell them correctly which stuff they are responsible for versus what we’re doing?

The Major:  Yeppers.  We need to identify the pro gear as well (yours and mine) and make sure they are aware of the requirement to ID each of ours respectively.  Plus we will need more cookies to make this happen, so that is your job. FK and stinky giraffes are marinating as we speak. (FK is Turbo’s nasty lovie blanket, and the stinky giraffes are a small gang of animals that live in Lunchbox’s crib. This morning I noticed that they are particularly rancid and requested that the Major quarantine them all in the hot wash after I took the guys to school.)

Me:  Excellent. Cookies will not be forthcoming. That is not on my agenda today, sorry.

The Major:  Fix it.

____________________

As you can see, The Major is singlehandedly trying to ensure that I am unsuccessful in any efforts at not eating crap.

The Five Pronged Approach Step Two Move it Around

Continuing on our journey towards fitness, lack of flab and increased mental fortitude (I’ll take one out of three, actually) — here’s number two: Move it Around!

Lots of new moms are hampered by our previous pre-mom notions of what a workout consisted of. We recall the days where we put on our workout clothes, drove to the gym, put in 45 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill and then spent another half hour in the weight room. The total evolution often took at least ninety minutes. And guess what. We don’t have ninety minutes anymore. I’m lucky if I can eek out a half hour to myself in the course of a normal day between work, the kids, the hubby, dinner, groceries, Dragon Tales and everything else!! I know I’m not alone on this. And it’s easy to look at all that and let the idea of exercise slip away to live in the land of “wouldn’t it be nice” right next door to long quiet baths and backrubs with no expectation of sex. However, there is a way to fit exercise into a schedule with no room for anything, but your mindset about what constitutes exercise must change a bit.

It doesn’t take ninety minutes — not all at once, at least. If you can find thirty minutes throughout the day, you’re doing pretty well. And I don’t mean that you have to change your clothes and get all sweaty for ten minutes and then change back, and do this three times a day. Just move more. Ideas:

1. When you walk to the the bathroom at the office/school/house, make the walk longer on purpose. Get up and move as often as possible, even if you’re just taking a longer route from your car to the drug store.

2. Stand up while doing common tasks — laundry, talking on the phone, watching TV. You burn more standing than you do sitting.

3. Fit strength training into empty minutes — a set up pushups can happen using the kitchen counter while you wait for the hot chocolate to heat up in the microwave. Standing squats don’t have to happen in a gym — you’ve got 30 seconds while you wait for your kid to put his shoes on to get out the door.

4. Commit to using the blocks of free time you have to getting healthier — if you do have a free half hour, go for a walk — it clears your mind, boosts your energy and your metabolism.

5. Enlist the kids. Instead of sitting in front of the TV right after school, make a habit of a family walk. So dinner is a half hour later, who cares?

Are you smelling what I’m selling? You’ve got to get creative. And you don’t have to get all Jane Fonda’d* up to make it happen.

* I use this reference only as a widely-recognized aerobicizing symbol. I recognize that she is also a filthy traitor.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Speaking The Truth

I am going to tell you the truth. It’s going to make me look bad, but it needs to be said because I think if I don’t say it, I might lose my freakin’ mind pretty darned soon. Sometimes I don’t enjoy being a mommy. Like, pretty often actually.

Now don’t get all high and mighty and suggest that I should’ve thought of that a long time ago, blah blah blah. I already tell myself that every day, but really — before you had kids could anyone tell you anything that measured up in the teesniest little bit to the crapstorm that actually IS having kids? No. Now keep in mind that I didn’t say — and I will never say — that I don’t like my kids. In fact, I love them and I would never ever give them back, even knowing everything that I know now. So quit eyeballing them. They’re MINE.

What I’m saying is that there are times, a lot of times, more times than I’d like to admit, that I am sitting in the midst of pillows flying, the baby screaming and Turbo shrieking and hurling himself off furniture, and I’m thinking, “I wish this would stop.” The times that I most often disenjoy (yes, it’s a word. I just made it up, so there.) being a mommy are the morning and the evening. The in between part (when I’m usually at work) is pretty okay. Does that make me a bad mommy?

In the mornings, Turbo hops out of bed promptly at the asscrack of dawn and refuses to give me three minutes to shower, put on makeup and get ready for work before he begins telling me all the things he wants. (Hot chocolate, a snack, a movie, not to go to school, not to get dressed, etc.) We have a bunny clock — the bunny is in bed, Turbo stays in bed; the bunny gets up, Turbo gets up! (seems so simple), and it’s set for 6:45am. THAT is what time the bunny gets up, my friends. But Turbo? No. Asscrack. And when I suggest that he goes back to bed until the bunny gets up? Mayhem. Screaming, pounding on walls. More screaming. It is horrible. And it’s not a great way for a non-morning person type to begin her day before she’s even had coffee. And this is most mornings.

In the evenings, the screaming usually begins on the way home from school/daycare. The boys poke each other and Turbo pretty much does everything he can to ensure that Lunchbox will begin screaming. Then we get to listen to it all the way home. Fun. That sets the mood just right for the rest of the night, doesn’t it? I honestly think that having a baby screaming in the backseat should take the same kind of traffic precedence that a wailing siren does. I should get to blow through stoplights and swerve through traffic just to get home as fast as possible to MAKE. IT. STOP. If a cop pulled me over while that was going on, I’m pretty sure he’d let me go just so he didn’t have to listen to it while he wrote the ticket. Anyway, that’s just the car ride home. Then there’s the wailing baby attached to my leg while I try to cook dinner while Turbo demands a snack and a drink within three seconds of opening the front door. He has also become frightfully accustomed to watching “Dragon Tales” or “Scooby Doo” or whatever his Netflix video of preference is at any given point in time AS SOON as he gets home. I know that I am a bad mommy for letting him watch TV right when he gets home instead of encouraging creative play, yada yada yada. I KNOW.

Then there’s dinner. Dinner time is a special kind of hell evidently reserved for people like me who are being paid back for having wonderful fun during our younger more independent days. There is food everywhere. No one of the testosterone-fueled variety will stay in his chair for more than three seconds. There is bribing involved. I am usually told at least once that whatever I’ve prepared “looks yukky” or that Turbo doesn’t like it (whether he’s tasted it or not). It’s just an absolute DELIGHT.

By bath time, The Major is usually home, and I’m pretty close to cooked. I often let him handle it and sometimes bedtime too because I fear that I might snap and send a child flying through the air.

And all of this leaves me with a mess to clean up, a headache, and a crapload of GUILT. For being a bad mommy. For not loving my kids enough. For having so little patience with them. For getting so aggravated. For… everything.

But there are those flashes of brilliance at our house, too. The times when a tiny face looks up at me with sheer love and little arms come up around my neck, and I know that I can try again tomorrow to be the mommy I want to be — the mommy they deserve. At those times I know that I’m doing okay somehow because even though I’m impatient and close to the edge, they aren’t. They’re always ready for a hug or a snuggle. They’re always ready for me to try again. Somehow, despite the bad mommying that I feel they get so often, they’re turning into sweet and loving little people, full of joy for life. As long as I don’t do anything to break that, I think we’ll do okay.

The Five Pronged Approach Step 1 – Write it Down

The last post promised five steps to help us on our journey to fitness. (And inner peace, right?) Here’s step one. This is harder than it sounds: Write down everything you eat.

It doesn’t matter what method you use. I personally like to log food into one of a variety of software programs that can make me pretty charts and graphs to demonstrate how most of my meals are comprised of fat and sugar, thus demonstrating graphically why my pants no longer fit. You may not be such a technophile and might prefer the old pen and paper method. That’s fine, as long as you’re accurate. (A couple to try — www.dietorganizer.com, or www.bodymedia.com — this one is part of a “system” that I use — the BodyMedia GoWearFit. It’s the “body bug” that the contestants on The Biggest Loser wear, and it IS. AWESOME. But only if you’re a gadget geek and don’t mind wearing a somewhat unattractive device on your arm all the time. It clocks how many calories you burn based on like 3,000 calculations per minute. It counts steps, logs sleep time (versus time spent just laying down), and calculates your sleep efficiency. If you use the web based calorie logger, too, it can calculate the crucial “calories in versus calories out” equation, telling you how you’re doing. But expensive gadgets are not critical to success — as I have demonstrated in the past by being enormously unsuccessful despite having this gadget!)

The key is to track every calorie that you put in your mouth. Whether you lick the knife after you make your kids’ peanut butter sandwiches or just grab a few crumbs from the bottom of the doughnut box at the office — it counts. And you need to know what you’re taking in to understand what you need to put out to account for it. This is where most people fall woefully short by radically underestimating what they eat. Things that many people forget to log:

1. Drinks (creamer in your coffee? Milk in your tea?)

2. Condiments (ketchup, mayo, salad dressing?)

3. “non-meal” foods. One french fry here, a cookie or three cheerios there. It adds up. Log it.

Commit to logging your food for a week and see where you end up. If you aren’t sure how to account for calories, useful sites like www.calorieking.com can help. There is no one number that works for everyone, but for your average 145-165 pound woman, a healthy calorie range would be somewhere between 1800 and 2200 calories a day, depending on activity level. For me (at 5’9″ and 150), to drop fat, I need to keep calories below 1800 at my current activity level. We’ll talk more about activity in step 2 — Moving it Around.

Have questions about this? Feel free to ask!