Halloween Recap

Although this wasn’t L’s first Halloween, in some ways it felt like it.  Last year, she was only 9 months old, so Halloween equated “this bulky thing you put on me is weird and annoying, mom.”  She looked darn cute though!

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This was also the first year since JD started with the police department that I can actually remember him having the night off.  We debated taking advantage and actually taking L trick-or-treating (who knows what his schedule will look like next year), but decided she’s probably still a little too young.  Instead, we hung out on the porch and handed out candy.  As it turns out, L was probably just as happy doing that anyway.

I was a bit worried that all the kids in costumes would freak her out, or that she would catch on to the fact that she was giving away all of our precious candy (leaving none for her), but she actually took on the role of Official Candy Giver-Outer enthusiastically.  She spent most of the evening parading around with the candy bowl, and when she saw kids coming up, she would take a piece of candy out of the bowl and put it in their bag, then wave as they walked away and say “bye!”

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It’s funny how parenthood makes you see things from a fresh perspective, how something like Halloween, which I stopped appreciating several years ago, is new and exciting again.  Now I get to see things through L’s eyes, and there is so much joy in that.

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Thoughts on Body Image and “Skinny Fat”

Let’s talk about body image for a second. I saw something posted on Facebook recently that used the term “skinny fat.” I think it was trying to sell “health” (i.e. crash diet) shakes or something. Honestly, I was so irritated that I scrolled right past it. I don’t know if I can adequately explain how much I loathe that term and all it implies. It’s supposed to reference people who appear to be skinny, but actually have a lot of flab on their frame. On the surface, I believe it’s meant to point out that the number on the scale doesn’t paint the whole picture and there are many aspects to health. I actually whole-heartedly agree with that thinking, but I find the term itself offensive. The term is a term of vanity, not health. It’s saying “hey skinny people, even you should feel bad about your body!”

What I wish is that we would all stop aspiring to have the “perfect” body and really take a step back and honor our own unique beauty. Instead of fad diets and unhealthy pills, I wish we could listen to what our bodies are telling us, and focus on how we feel from the inside out, not the number on the scale or the measurement of our waist.

Our unhealthy obsession with weight was never more apparent than in the months after I had L. I resented society’s pressure for women to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight, as if any woman who doesn’t make it back to that exact number is a failure, as if all the changes her body saw needed to be undone. And instead of kindly telling me “you look great” after I returned from maternity leave, one co-worker boldly asked the loaded question “are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight yet?” (What I wanted to tell her was not HR approved)

I hate the women who feel pressured to be a certain way and try to drag you down with their insecurities. I recently had one woman asked me where I bought jeans, but once I engaged in what I thought was going to be a simple fashion discussion, I was quickly dragged into a conversation about sizes and how she’s frustrated that she can’t fit into her 4’s anymore and she has to wear 6’s and “isn’t it awful?” She referenced me somewhere in the conversation and I think I was meant to hop on the bandwagon and complain about my size too.

I wanted to laugh in her face and tell her that I don’t think I’ve ever been a 4. Maybe for like a day in high school. But my body wasn’t built to be a 4, I would probably look sickly at a size 4, and last I checked, being a size 6 (or larger) doesn’t make you fat. I am proud of my body (I like to refer to my figure as “athletic with curves”), and it always surprises me when someone seems to imply that I shouldn’t be.

I am a firm believer that being healthy requires nourishing your body, stimulating your mind, and honoring your soul. I believe that happiness requires you to love yourself, and I think that overall well-being requires a bit of indulgence. Translation: I need bread in my life. And cupcakes. This is my version of “perfection.”

Thursday Tip: Rent the Runway

If you’re like me, then a vital part of enjoying an event, whether it be a wedding, work event, or girls night out, is looking and feeling your best, and part of looking and feeling my best usually involves a new outfit.  The problem is, if I buy something for a specific event, I don’t generally want to wear that same outfit for the next big event- I want something fresh and new. So intentionally or not, I’m buying things that I only wear once. On top of that comes the hassle of running from store to store trying to find something I love. I usually have an image in my head of how I want to look, and once I get shopping, can’t find anything that looks and feels quite right.

Allow me to introduce you to an amazing fashion concept called Rent the Runway.

We were invited to an outdoor wedding this past weekend in the mountains (L was the flower girl!) This was part of my motivation for trying out a rental- I really only have summer dresses and needed something more fall weather appropriate. I heard about Rent the Runway quite a while ago, but put off trying them out because it seemed really impractical to spend money on a dress I was only renting, but when I really stopped and looked at the things I’ve bought and only worn once or twice, or wore because I was settling and couldn’t find anything better, I decided it was probably time to try it out.  They have a good number of rentals that start in the $30-$50 range, and to me, that’s totally worth it for the chance to wear a good quality, designer dress.

Additionally, I like that they have a TON of dresses in their inventory, and I was able to do all of my shopping online (in other words, I really enjoyed shopping from the comfort of my own bed while L slept and I ate chocolate eclairs, instead of the alternative where I’m sweaty from going store to store and chasing around a toddler and praying she doesn’t crawl under the dressing room door while I’m half naked from trying on dresses that I like on the hanger, but hate on me and getting progressively more frustrated).

So, your next concern might be- if I have to try on a zillion dresses in the store and hate the way almost all of them fit me, how would relying on ONE dress I found online be any more reliable?  One word. Reviews.  Rent the Runway’s customers are really good about leaving helpful reviews, but the MOST helpful part of the reviews is that you can narrow down the reviewers to read reviews from women with your body type, and a lot of them will post a picture of them wearing the dress. That is FAR more helpful than looking at something on a hanger and deciding if it will look right on you. (Newsflash: I don’t know anyone with “hanger” for body type.)  Also, they allow you to pick a 2nd size for free, just in case.

After careful research, I finally decided on this dress, because the color, cut and style seemed appropriate for out outdoor fall wedding, and I thought it would fit me well based on the reviews.  All I had to do was pick my delivery date (they recommend one day before your event), and I was good to go.  My dress arrived at my doorstep the day before we left for the weekend, and I was SO THRILLED once I tried it on.  It was exactly what I wanted.  The fit was great, it was comfortable, it flattered me, and I knew the rental was so, so worth it.  I got several compliments on the dress and even got the stamp of approval from JD, who liked it so much, he asked how much it would cost to keep the dress!

Rent the Runway even makes the return super easy.  You don’t have to clean the dress yourself, all you have to do is put it in the pre-labeled, pre-paid envelope, and drop it off at a UPS drop-off by noon on your return date.

Honestly, I wish I had another event coming up so I had an excuse to rent another dress.

I don’t really ever go to black tie events, but if I did… this one please.

How much fun would this one be for a girls’ night?

If you sign up using this link, you’ll get a $20 credit towards your first rental!

Sadly, there isn’t a great picture of me in the dress.  I should have demanded that someone take one, but I’m a mom, so most pictures of me generally involve me awkwardly holding/hiding behind a toddler.

I guess what you really need to know is that I felt great, and that makes it worth every penny.

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My Experiment: Social Media Blackout

Remember when I vowed to stay off all social media platforms (including the blog) for a month?  Here’s how it went…

 

Day 1: All social media apps have been removed from my phone.  It actually makes me a little anxious to be making this commitment. I feel like I’m going to be MISSING SOMETHING. I have to remind myself to be rational. We were all just fine before social media. If someone needs me, they can always call, text or email me (novel concept, I know).

I pop dinner in the microwave and instinctively reach for my phone to pull up Facebook or Twitter. It reminds me why I’m doing this. Social media is a borderline addiction, and it’s sad that I can’t wait patiently for 60 seconds. I’ve gotten into the habit of occupying every second of my day.

 

Day 2: JD is working this evening. I look down at my phone, ready to select a social media app. Realizing there are none and I’ve committed to a month long blackout, I feel… almost… alone. I wonder if social apps genuinely make me feel less alone, and more connected to other people when JD is working nights.

 

Day 3: JD has a sudden clutter attack and wants to sell a bunch of stuff in the attic. He is a pack rat, so I want to take advantage of his sudden change of heart. Doing so means downloading the Facebook app so I can post to a local buy/sell group and keep up with anyone who expresses interest in buying.  I am slightly disgruntled that he is already making me break my commitment, but I legitimately log on just long enough to post the item for sale.

 

Day 6: I’m finding that I don’t miss social media much. There are occasions where I’m bored and tempted to go online and peruse some feeds. There are also times where I want to turn to it for a fix after a stressful day or to fulfill that guilty pleasure need. It’s like a gossip magazine in that way. You hate to love it, but you do. And there’s something both wrong and completely satisfying about reading it, but I haven’t cheated. I’ve come close- very close- to opening up Facebook to poke around “real quick,” but talked myself out of it.  For me, this isn’t just an experiment, it’s a test of willpower and I’m determined to prove I can do it.

 

Day 10: JD posts a picture of me and I get an email notification. I log onto Facebook to make sure it’s not a horrendous picture that I need to untag. I don’t count it as cheating, although I do accidentally start scrolling through my news feed and have to stop myself.

 

Day 11: I go to my local police wives group to post regarding a July event. (Still not cheating, I knew I would have to use Facebook for some events.)  I don’t scroll through my news feed, but can see the first few posts before I pull up the group page. Two posts, both braggy, both annoy me. For the first time, I’m really relieved to not be using Facebook, and realize this experiment may result in me changing how I use it going forward.

 

Day 18: I cheated today, and I’m okay with that. I’d had a long day. JD was on night shift and the baby was asleep. I was relaxing, sipping on a glass of wine, and I wanted something mindless, gossipy, a guilty pleasure satisfaction. I initially resisted, but eventually decided I was okay with the cheat. I checked Pinterest and Facebook. It was glorious, no guilt. Totally worth it. But what’s more important is that the main objective of my experiment is still working. I’m avoiding social media as a compulsion, as mindless way to pass the time. I even cut back on the blogs I was reading, realizing I read so many of them for the sake of reading them, not because I found them particularly interesting or relatable.

 

Day 26: When I look down at my phone and see the date, I realize I only have a few days left of my experiment.  I’m enjoying this time, so it’s almost sad in a way, but I’m really glad to see that I’m not so desperate to get back that I’m counting down the days.

 

Day 32: A friend has to remind me that it’s August.  My month is officially up and I hadn’t even noticed.  I’m in no hurry to get back, but am looking forward to writing some blog posts and sharing some pics of L.

 

Conclusion:  I truly enjoyed my social media-less month.  The beginning made me realize how addicted to social media I was, and my hiatus forced me to do exactly what I wanted- be more present in my day-t0-day life.  I wasn’t distracted during a conversation with a friend or while L savored a spaghetti noodle.  Going forward, I will continue to use social media to stay connected with friends and family, but I’m going to commit to only using it at certain times of the day, not obsessively.  And if things get out of hand again?  I have no problem taking another break.

What You Missed

I’m back, y’all!

Well, I survived my month of social media blackout.  Actually, I would say I more than survived.  I thrived.  A friend actually had to remind me that it’s August and the end of my hiatus.  I will be posting later this week about my social media-less month, but for now, I’ll just fill you in on what you missed while I was gone.

*I got a huge promotion at work.  Having just gotten a promotion last fall, it initially felt a little too good to be true, but I’ve been lucky in that some really good opportunities have opened up at the right times for me.  I’m really excited about my new role and think it will be a great path for me.

*My family visited during 4th of July weekend and it was great that they got to have some quality time with L.  My dreams of us sitting quietly and enjoying the fireworks as a family were dashed when L decided she wanted to chase after the fireworks instead (in turn, JD and I ended up chasing after her the whole time).

*We have continued to soak up summer and JD’s light duty schedule by doing things “normal families” do.  We’ve been able to go to brunch on the weekends, go to a nearby lake for an afternoon of swimming and playing in the sand, visit the playground, go on some low key hikes, and even squeeze in a few days where we did nothing  but sit on the couch and have movie marathons (ah, the gloriousness of being totally lazy).

*I started seeing a chiropractor because, as it turns out, carrying a person in your belly for 9 months can really jack up your back.  It’s amazing how much that goes on in your body is actually caused by misalignment in your spine.  Chiropractors are highly underrated.

*L’s new favorite thing is pooping in the bath.  I want it to be funny, but it’s actually quite irritating.  I spend a lot more time than I like to admit scooping turds out of the tub.  As if to make up for this, she’s gotten really good at giving hugs and even said “Wuv you” the other day.  Melt.  My.  Heart.

So, there you have it.  Our glamorous, riveting life.  Aren’t you sad you’ve been missing all of this? 🙂

Transition to Daycare

L has officially been at the new daycare for a week and a half and it’s been going relatively well. It’s still an adjustment for both of us, but I think we’re doing okay.

The weekend before she started, I was REALLY nervous about her first day. Obviously, I was happy and comfortable with the place I chose (otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it), but the transition was making me nervous. For a year, I was taking L to the same person (K) every morning; I was leaving her in someone’s home, an environment that felt intimate and nurturing. K and I had a mutual trust, and L’s smile when I dropped her off always assured me that she was safe and happy.

As much as I liked the new daycare, the teachers, and their philosophies when I toured, there was something intimidating and almost chaotic about the preschool classrooms to me. Her class is small- no more than 10 kids for her age group (and 2 teachers to corral them), but walking in there made me want to cry. Like I was going to be dumping her off, left behind to be just another being in a sea of children.

But beneath my insecurities and fears, I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing. L is a bright, curious, intelligent and social kid. Mom instincts told me she would thrive with the additional stimulation that a daycare center would provide. She is also easygoing and adaptable, so the change wouldn’t be too rough on her.

There have been some tears at drop-off, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s hard to hand her off to the teacher when she’s crying, shaking her head no, and reaching for me (kids have a funny way of making you feel like the worst parent ever), but the teachers have assured me (repeatedly) that as soon as I’m out the door, she’s done crying (I have confirmed that it does get quiet once I’m out of sight), and that overall she’s transitioning better than average and is happy to play outside, read stories, and make new friends during the day.

I don’t think either of us are fully comfortable with our new routine yet, but we’re getting there. In the meantime, I just have to trust my instincts and know that I did what’s best for her.

Upheaval

There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the past week. Upheaval.

The weekend started out fantastically. It was JD’s weekend off and his first weekend back on a day schedule for the month. We grilled out with our neighbors Friday and kicked off the weekend with drinks and plenty of laughs. Saturday morning L slept in till 9- 9!!!– and we went out for breakfast as a family. We had the whole weekend ahead of us- sunny skies, warm weather, and no plans. I was giddy with possibilities.

But it was all downhill from there.

JD went to the opening of a new skatepark in the area. BMX is one of his many hobbies, although he hasn’t done it in quite some time, so he was really excited for a local park to open up and get some riding in.

A couple of hours later, I got The Call.

“Don’t be mad,” he said as soon as I answered.

I immediately knew. I’ve been married to JD for 5 years. I’m quite familiar with The Call.

“You hurt yourself.”  (It was a statement, not a question.)

“I dislocated my shoulder,” he specified.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the ER, then JD followed up with an orthopedist on Monday. I had held out hope that surgery wouldn’t be necessary, but talking with the orthopedist made it clear that was the way to go. He’d torn ligaments and JD’s job depends on him being physically active and strong; we couldn’t risk him not healing correctly or fully, so we went ahead and scheduled surgery for Wednesday.

I was already feeling tired and vulnerable when I picked L up after work Monday. Unfortunately, the babysitter had another bomb for me.

“So, I have some bad news,” she began.

I immediately knew. What other news it could it be? What other news could she possibly share with me that would be considered bad? I could already feel the tears welling up.

She confirmed my fears when she said, “We’re moving.”

The tears came. She jumped up and hugged me. I assured her I was happy for her (her hubby got a job with the Sherriff’s department on the coast- how could I not be happy for a fellow LEOW?) but those tears had been building up for days, and I had just reached my breaking point.

When I drop L off in the mornings, I’m entrusting a piece of my heart to someone else. K has watched L for just over a year, and to lose her, the trust we’ve developed and, most importantly, the relationship L has with her, is almost unbearable.

As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I’m not Superwoman. These few days were overwhelming for me, but the good cry I had Monday night helped me take a deep breath and just move forward.

I started researching daycare centers in the area. As much as we’ve loved having L in an in-home daycare, she is transitioning to toddler, walking all over, exploring her world, talking more and more, and ready for more social interaction. I found a local daycare center I’m actually really excited about, and plan to visit in the next few days.

JD’s surgery this morning went well and he’s now on the road to recovery. It will be a long, tough journey.  Once he’s back at work, he’ll be off patrol and assigned to light duty somewhere (his worst nightmare). He can’t lift or hold L for at least 6 weeks, and he’s under strict instructions to avoid combat sports for 6 months (his other worst nightmare).  He does what little he can at home, but without use of his right arm, that’s not much. Poor little L doesn’t understand what’s up or why daddy can’t pick her up, which is hard on everyone.

The silver lining to these situations always seems to be the friends and family that step in and offer to help.  Many have offered to watch L, and David’s grandma stepped in last minute to pick her up at the ER Saturday afternoon then took her overnight last night since JD’s surgery was so early in the morning. We had a friend who let us borrow a recliner so JD could sleep comfortably (sleeping in bed is out of the question) and another friend who picked up the recliner and delivered it in his truck. Where we would be without these people, I’m not sure, but I can tell you we’re forever grateful for caring people who go out of their way to help out.

For me, I guess my new motto is, “Just keep swimming.”