Parenting Confessions: Rotten Days Suck

Those days. You know the ones. You’re out of creamer, you oversleep and everyone coordinates the day to get out of bed on the wrong side. They then proceed to bicker and argue and antagonize each other (and the dog) until the moment they walk out the door to go to school.

Yep, that’s me. Right now. Right smack dab at the end of a really rotten one. I’m sitting on the couch calming myself down so I don’t scream. I hate being screamed at. But that’s what my first instinct is to do. I hate yelling. I hate being angry.

My dear daughter decided it would be funny to put her pajama pants in the toilet to pretend she had peed her pants. This was after she’d put half a tube of toothpaste into the sink to see what an “ice-cream swirl of toothpaste” would look like. For. The. Second. Time. Today. It’s not like I’m not paying attention. I’m not sitting on the couch watching TV. I’m doing homework with one kid, while the other one is “going to the bathroom”. Or so I thought.

I was given a bit of parenting advice when my first was just a few months old. It was that “whatever you do, you have to live with the consequences; good, bad, or indifferent.” At the time, the issue of our days was whether or not to co-sleep. With our son – it’s worked out beautifully. He is now six and sleeps like a champ, often going to bed on his own. We thought the day would never come when we were in the midst of mattresses on the floor and playing bed-switcharoo for a few years. We have friends whose kids (the same age) say, “I’m tired. I’m going to bed. Goodnight!” and will promptly walk upstairs and go to bed. Our kids have NEVER done this. Some may say we created this with our choice to co-sleep. But now, while he likes someone to lay with him until he falls asleep, he goes out very quickly and without a big to-do.

Our lovely little girl, on the other hand, is having a real rough time of it. We do our normal routine, dinner, baths, teeth brushing, stories, etc. But once it’s time to head to dreamland, she throws the biggest fits – needing a drink, needing something more to eat…anything to prolong the actual act of sleeping. It’s wearing on me. Big time. We then usually receive a wake up call around midnight or 1 a.m. We’ve been walking her back to bed, and she’ll go back to sleep, but it usually involves tears and crying.

I have patience (and have learned not to pray for more!) and most days it’s manageable. We are going on about 2 months of this. Looking at the big picture – we’ve had some big upheavals in our world (moving, starting 5-day a week preschool, etc.) and I am sure that has a lot to do with it. But with no real basis of comparison (Jake being entirely different) I wonder if some of her behavior is just normal 4 year old girl stuff. Either way, it’s rough.

Parental confession: Rotten days suck. It makes me question everything. I know in my head, it’s just a bad day. I know that there will be better days. When these days occur, I tend toward thinking that the volume and quantity of tantrums is directly correlated to my parenting skills. It’s not rational. I know that if a friend confessed this to me, I would instantly remind her that we ALL have bad days – even our little ones. So I remind myself that in fact, this too shall pass. It’s just a bad day.

What is your parental confession? How do you cope with the life stuff that drives you bonkers and makes you want to scream? Please share, raise a glass of wine and we can toast each other’s rotten days!

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The Story I Keep Telling

There’s this story that keeps playing on a continuous loop in the back of my mind. It’s the one where I lost some weight, got fit, discovered passions, strengths, and gifts I didn’t know were there. And the beginning of this story took place in paradise. Once we moved, I still maintained the passion, but over time it slowly became more and more difficult to fan those embers into a full-on fire. That’s when the story first started taking root. The one that said, “Used to…”

“I used to be really into fitness”
“I lost 50 pounds while living in Hawaii. But we don’t live there anymore”
“I used to run races. I even ran a marathon once”
“We aren’t surrounded by fitness people. It makes it harder”
“I ran 300 miles in one year a few years ago. I set a new goal, but I’m doubting whether it’s do-able…”
“I’ve lost some of that strength I used to have”
“I don’t run as fast as I used to”
“We’ve been moving all summer. Then unpacking, getting the kids settled into their new school…”
“I don’t have time”
“I’ll get back there…someday”
“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to run at those paces again…”

On it continues as the “I used to…” storyline grows deeper, more entrenched and with longer roots. Here’s the thing; that ellipses … where the story trails off into the unknown – that is the point where I have control to change the story, to take it in whatever direction I choose. I get to choose. I have the power to write that story with whatever ending I desire. As long as I’m willing to put in the effort, hard work and time – the story is mine to create.

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I ran a quick little run with my dog this morning. No music, no agenda, and no checking my pace on my watch. The only thing I looked at was my heart rate monitor. During a strenuous bootcamp workout, a cardio burst will elevate my heart rate to 155-167 bpm (beats per minute). That’s where I’m breathing heavily out of my mouth, gasping and can only maintain that level of activity for about a minute. It’s full out exertion. I was running along quickly and felt like I needed to slow down to walk. I started walking and checked my heart rate. It was at 92 bpm. I was hardly exerting myself. Ding ding ding!

The story that I couldn’t run as fast as I used to has been playing repeatedly for so long I hardly noticed it anymore. I had just accepted it. Seeing that puny 92 flipped the switch – I ran. I ran quick (stopping of course to let the dog pee!) but I ran. And ran. When it felt like I “should” slow down to walk I reminded myself that I wasn’t dying. Yes I was breathing heavily, but why stop? I wasn’t gasping, panting or ready to pass out.

I set an aggressive yearly mileage goal. Moving in the middle of the year and January-June feeling as if I had all the time in the world, I procrastinated. I was setting myself up to complete the bullshit story.  Am I having to push now at the end of the year to get the miles in? You bet. It’s just evidence that I am in control of the outcome. Hard? Sure. Impossible? Nope. Not a chance.

When I plugged in my watch to update my mileage I saw paces I used to see all the time. 7:33, 8:45, 9:30….many sub-10 minute mile paces. Today I let go of that story that says I used to, that I can’t do it anymore.

Because I’m doing it.

Big Time Small Town

As a mother of military kiddos, I often marvel at the idea of living in a small town, putting down roots, and having them grow up from kindergarten through 12th grade in the same school district. Does anyone do that anymore? It seems like it would be idyllic in some ways, a nice idea, but hardly a possibility given our active duty status.

I always thought I’d grown up in a small town. That was until I met my husband and he showed me where he grew up! No locking doors, everyone know everyone else. Friendly midwestern peeps who are genuinely interested in the answer when they ask, “How are you?” These travels have been repeated encounters of small town life.

While in some random bathroom in Wyoming, I sneezed and heard a random “bless you” from out of no where! (It actually quite startled me as I thought I was the only one in there!) Usually not a chatty kathy in the stall, I had to laugh to myself and offer my thanks in return.

While visiting my husband’s family in Minnesota, I jumped at the chance to run a 5k with my niece! (You can read her awesome blog here!)

Me and Missy after our race! (Photo credit goes to her! I liked her selfie better than the one I took!)
Me and Missy after our race! (Photo credit goes to her! I liked her selfie better than the one I took!)

When we headed out for the run, I asked her, “I don’t need to lock my car, do I?” She shook her head no, it wasn’t a big deal. I tossed the keys in and off we went to the starting line. The race was fun, humid and she ran a PR! (I on the other hand ran with my hands clutching my chest due to starting out way too fast (as usual) and couldn’t breathe in the humidity! I felt like a beginner all over again!) After the race and pancake feed at the local fire department, we returned to discover my keys are in fact locked inside. It’s an auto-pilot habit. Crap! What do we do? I can’t call the hubby because the phone is locked ever so securely in the car.

“Let’s go find Ralph!” she suggests.

Huh?! Who’s Ralph?

Of course. Ralph is the chief of police. Apparently unlocking car doors is something they do for free! Who knew?! Where I grew up, I locked my keys in the car on a fairly regular basis, but the cops didn’t come to help you but would instead would refer you to a locksmith. (My particular locksmith and I were on a first name basis. Yes, it happened that often.) After Ralph finished his pancakes at the firehouse, he popped by to help me out of my predicament! While regaling us with stories from the job, his cell phone rang. It was the theme from the show COPS. Seriously. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

In addition to my niece being on a first name basis with the chief of police, we discovered that she is also neighbors (literally) with the in-laws of a milspouse friend of mine from Washington! Talk about a small world!

While I was doing all of this, the hubby (who was one of those kids that went to the same school from K-12th grade) took the minions fishing where he went as a kid. We attempted to fish during the salmon run in Washington, but we didn’t catch anything. Luckily the fish were biting in Minnesota! They caught 17 sunfish – and they were delicious!

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I often think a small(er) town life would be great. Then, I think about how much I would miss Target. And Starbucks. And museums with the kids. And giant grocery stores, And, and, and…

I suppose there are pros and cons to both like anything. I often vacillate between being a hermit in a tiny town, living off the grid, shutting out all social media, being completely isolated, and living a more anonymous urban life in some bustling city. I’m not sure one is better than the other, but as a hermit with social butterfly tendencies, I need regular down time like I need oxygen.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of this military life – for a while anyway, we get to experience all different parts of the world, in 2-3 year doses. As hard as it is in some ways, it’s also pretty dang cool, and we get to meet all sorts of people and expose our minions to opportunities that they otherwise would not experience.

What about you? Small town or bustling city? Knowing everyone or complete anonymity? Friendly chat in the bathroom with strangers?

I think I may always be a private pee-er. The sneeze blessing was nice, but it’s just weird chatting about randomness while taking care of business. But, that’s just me.

The Funk Has Left the Building!

Over the last year different friends have encouraged me through my weight loss/fitness journey, and a few even telling me that by witnessing my transition, they’ve in turn been inspired to get more fit.

Wow.

While I wouldn’t call it a burden (seriously?! I’m the one that posts about it for everyone to read!) but I do feel like its a bit of an obligation or responsibility to continue to be inspiring, continue to achieve new goals, continue to set the bar to the next level.

Lately I have not been feeling very inspired. And anyone on a fitness journey has off days/bad days/days that they just aren’t feeling it. I am certainly no exception. With the responsibility and honor I feel in sharing my successes, I feel it only appropriate to also share when I’m struggling. I’m working out, but not at the level I was. I’m running and doing races here and there, but I want to do more. I’m struggling with food. I’m just not as motivated as I once was.

Part of it is due to the upcoming deployment, traveling and just trying to pack in as much time with Eric as we can. A friend pointed out that my “selective eater” hubby and son can make meal planning difficult. (So true!) Eric also enjoys eating out (and I do too, but it’s easier to point fingers!) I’m tired, I’m stressed, blah, blah, blah. I hate excuses. I have tons of them.

Ultimately it’s up to me. It’s always been up to me.

I choose to “nibble here and there” (HOOVER) off of the kids’ plate so as to “not waste food”.
I choose to have more than a small handful some dark chocolate almonds (half a bag).
I choose to eat the things I know I shouldn’t, that make me feel yucky and that do not fuel the workout level I want to achieve.

I choose.

So before, a weight gain would have completely derailed me. I would have lost 10 lbs, be on the right track, and then slip a bit, and then fall completely off the wagon and say “screw it!”. Then gorge and gain it all back and then some. That’s the cycle of the past decade. That is what got me to over 200 lbs.

My mom asked me just today if it was hard when Eric eats crappy food in front of me. I stopped and realized that it used to not be. When we were in Hawaii and I was feeling so focused, the weight was coming off left and right – I wouldn’t have touched the junk food to save my life. But ever so slowly, it’s getting harder and harder to say “no thank you”. (And much easier to say, “Yes please. Whatever. I lost 50 lbs. One bite can’t hurt. Then it’s a plate later and I’m regretting it.)

So I popped on the scale this morning and I’m back up 8 lbs. No, 8 lbs may not be a big deal in the larger picture. I lost 50 and gained 8. But it’s a slippery slope. If I ignore this and don’t get back on track – that remaining 42 lbs will come back faster than I can blink. So I CHOOSE to stop this now.

It’s time to get back at it. Refocused and re-energized.

Now – Time to kick this funk to the curb!!

Success or Failure?

It really does come down to choices. All of life is a choice.

Am I going to eat garbage or healthy nourishing food? Am I going to wear sweats or jeans? Am I going to workout or sit on my couch? Am I going to go for a walk or bike today? Am I going to succeed (whatever that “success” or end goal is) or fail? If I fail, am I going to keep at it until I succeed?

Since the move and with deployments on the horizon, I have to consciously set myself up for success. Doing the parenting thing on my own is a bit daunting. (Have to give it up to the single mamas out there – its no joke!) How can I be the best mom I can be despite any circumstances? Here’s what I have done to set myself up to succeed:

Joined a gym that has child care. LOVE LOVE LOVE this gym. I would go just to be able to take a shower alone once in a while!! I tried a new group class at the gym. Scary and nerve wracking, as I didn’t know what I was doing, but – how do you get better at something? You do it. So I did! I have a bike and a bike trailer and a BIG hill right down my road. I can bike with the kids in tow or chase Jake on his bike with just Hannah in the trailer. They get a fun ride, I get exercise (and an endorphin high!) and we all are happy.

I also scheduled some alone time. I don’t know about you, but I HAVE to have some down time. Just to be. I made that happen and I CHERISH that time! And the side bonus is my kids get to interact, play and learn from their older cousin. I really love that. And it gives the kids and I both an opportunity to have a break from each other. (We ALL need that from time to time!)

Success is a choice. We can choose to succeed, or we can choose failure. But, Jillian Michaels’ says, “Why choose failure when success is an option?”

Why indeed?

Excuses

I love The Biggest Loser, and while not a fan of this particular cast, I do love the theme of “No Excuses”. It really is mind over matter. You make a choice and you follow through. And each day is made up of a million little choices – workout or not? Eat crap or  eat good fuel for my body? Go out to eat or stay home and cook? (The answer is of course stay home!)
With all of our household goods currently packed up and headed for an extended ocean cruise, it is so tempting to just give up, throw my hands in the air and say any and all of the following:
“Ah screw it! I’m in the process of moving!”
“I DESERVE to take it easy for a couple of weeks.”
“I’m moving and stressed! Let’s just eat out.” 
“If I go grocery shopping, I know half of it will probably go to waste, so I might as well just get take out.”
“I’m so exhausted. I just don’t have it in me to go running.”
“Jake doesn’t fit in the double stroller anymore, I CAN’T go running.”
“I can’t cook in these pans – they are stainless and everything will stick to them!” (Talk about a first world problem! Sheesh!)
And on and on it goes….
And this lasted for a couple of days in my head – going back and forth trying unsuccessfully to justify not doing what I know that I should.
I did workout when Eric was home (2 of the last three days) and I will work out tomorrow, even though it will be in the evening – it will get done. Because I make the choice – and then follow through.
We also got some temporary household/kitchen items including some pots and pans, (those dang stainless steel ones!) dishes and silverware. There really isn’t any excuse. So I went to the grocery store and got supplies for the next week or so. I will be eating at home. I made chicken soup today (which was SO YUMMY!) and the hubbs and I had french dip sandwiches tonight with big green salads. Tomorrow will be chicken fajitas and spaghetti will be thrown in there at some point. 
A choice has to be made. Am I going to make an excuse to not exercise and eat out, or am I just going to buck up and do what I know in the long run will not only be the right choice, but I will FEEL better physically? And during a stressful time (such as moving with small children) shouldn’t I WANT to feel better and at my strongest?! I think yes. Oh and yeah, there’s that biathlon this Sunday too….I DEFINITELY need to be at my best! I have a record to beat! 
There is always an excuse. For me it’s getting past the “I can’t because….” and getting back to the “Here’s why I need to….” 
And I have yet to regret doing what I know I should.