Friday, April 26, 2013

One Week of Insanity

The good news: I survived six consecutive Insanity workouts! They were hard while I was doing them, but none of them lasted all that long. Mentally, I felt great throughout, but I would try to push my body harder and then fall on my face. Especially the last day. I was plumb worn out. But it felt good.

The ugly: the eating plan. Counting calories and eating five times a day. Hated it.

I think I underestimated my caloric needs, so that was part of it. Eighteen hundred calories while doing an intense workout like that was apparently not enough, after the first few days. So I felt increasingly hungry all the time. Perhaps the smarter move would've been to increase my calories -- duh -- but the truth was, I hated the tracking. If I'm eating packaged food with calorie counts on it, fine. But weighing or eyeballing my chicken meat for ounces, or surfing the web to find the calorie count of 1/4 cup of ?baked penne that my friend brought me? Takes the joy out of eating, and of life.

So I'm done with that. Even though I lost three pounds in one week. Because it was also making me feel really negative, suddenly, about working out. Because I felt deprived.

So I took an extra day off -- two in a row -- and with it, two night hour nights of sleep. And now I feel great, well rested and raring to go for my workout tomorrow.

Though I wish I hadn't eaten cold cereal the last two nights to make up for my hunger pangs. Serves me right for not listening to my body.

So the plan from here on out is to follow the workout plan and simplify my eating. I'm reading The Whole 30 diet plan to see what ideas I get from it. It sounds pretty similar to how I eat now, with some fine tuning.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Insanity Days 3-5

I'm doing well with the workouts. Monday's was "cardio recovery." I wasn't expecting much of a break, based on the reviews, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was much, much easier. Challenging in a different way, with holding certain positions, or doing lots of squats, but no jumping. More like a challenging yoga workout. A nice change of pace.

However, it left me stiff and sore for today's workout. Or maybe that's the just the cumulative effect of four days of workouts, plus the previous day of fitness testing. Only one more day to go and then I get a day off.

I was definitely moving more slowly today. I just couldn't move any faster. But I think my body will get used to this new routine and this will improve. And on the plus side, the length of the workout today (pure cardio) didn't feel all that long. To be sure, though, I was taking lots of little breaks during the workouts -- I would just collapse and have to rest. 

I also slept somewhat fitfully -- awake a lot between 4:30 and 5:30 am. This often happens to me when I suddenly increase my workouts. Hopefully it won't last long. 

Yesterday I went way over my calorie goal -- 2170 -- but I had been a little under my (conservative) estimated caloric needs the previous days, plus I was just starving all day. I think I should have tried to eat lunch earlier -- I was so hungry, but had three residents plus my collaborating physician working with me for the day -- and I just couldn't figure out how to politely eat in front of them while trying to see patients. I got home from work (early) and felt weak and headache-y from hunger. I finally had a snack with the girls at about 4 -- 2 oz of leftover meatloaf (meant for the girls, but of course they refused it) and finally felt better, for the first time all day. 

My period started today -- only a month since my last one, amazing! (PCOS makes my periods very irregular, though it seems improved since I had Calliope.) So that might be why I felt like I was starving yesterday.

I don't feel quite as hungry today, though I was very frustrated to open up my lunch containers and realize that I had accidentally substituted Calliope's apple slices for the turkey burger I meant to bring with me. I can't eat apple -- it makes me feel SO sleepy afterwards. Even if I have peanut butter with it. Another fun effect of what I assume is PCOS. Too bad, because they are wonderful.

A work friend brought me some leftovers so I ate those, instead, but it was probably only 1-2 oz of steak (plus some veg and rice). I added a "natural" protein bar but I'm not sure it will be enough food to keep me going until I get home. 

I have very mixed feelings about weighing myself at all, but I reckon I will do so once a week, so I can reassess my caloric requirements. So Friday will be my weigh in day.  I also too the required "before" pictures last week. I will see if I feel a need to do any "after" pictures -- I'm not convinced yet! But hoping for the best. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Insanity Day Two (and One)

Yesterday, Friday, was day one. That involved the "fit test" -- a gradual warm up, then eight one minute intervals, each of a different exercise. You are supposed to go as hard as you can for one full minute, then write down the number of, say, Power Jacks completed in the sixty seconds. Since there was plenty of rest in between, I found the workout pretty manageable. The one minute intervals were certainly not a walk in the park, though! I felt great afterwards.

Today, Saturday, was my first "regular" workout. Today was "plyometric cardio circuit."

The warm up seemed a bit easier than I remembered from the two times I tried it with my cousin. I was admittedly feeling a little smug. Thinking maybe I was in better shape than I realized.

Then there was stretching, then we got into the main workout. Oh. My. God.

So hard.

I didn't want to take any breaks but I had no choice. My body would just give out.

While I was doing it, I thought, "no way can I keep doing this!"

But I did.

And then, afterwards? Felt amazing.

There's nothing like that feeling. Like after a long training run, back when I used to run marathons.

I went to get Calliope from her crib right afterwards, and couldn't figure out why she was looking at me curiously. I handed her a snack and then brought her into the bathroom so we could shower (she stood on the bathmat and ate a few bites first... I discourage food in the shower, mean mother that I am). After I got out of the shower, I looked in the mirror and realized that my face was completely beet red, despite having stopped the workout more than twenty minutes earlier. Hence the curious looks.

Yesterday I tried out the five-meal-a-day plan, without worrying about calories -- too much to start on a Friday. But I did try their smoothie recipe for my post-workout snack, and didn't feel full for long at all. Afterwards, I realized that unsweetened coconut milk (60 cal) and frozen strawberries and protein powder don't include any fat, and not that many calories, either! No wonder I was hungry. Today, I made the smoothie with my raw whole fat yogurt which has tons of protein (9 g), unlike coconut milk, which has only 1 gram, as well as fat. And used half as much protein powder. Total calories: 300. Perfect! And much more filling (and tastier too -- the coconut milk was kind of watery). Calliope declined to taste it -- yesterday's smoothie apparently put her off smoothies for a while.

As far as calories... I think I was probably a little under my daily allowance. I want to make sure that I'm not starving myself, because that's a good way to go off the rails. I started out really organized about all this but got distracted later in the day. Better luck with that tomorrow.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Insanity Plans, and Motivation Versus Determination

Via a SMC Forum recommendation, I just stumbled onto an inspiring blog called Runs For Cookies. The author lost 125 pounds through diet and exercise!

Her most inspiration post talks about the difference between diet and exercise.

"I believe that motivation is only temporary. You might feel motivated to lose weight by watching weight loss stories on TV, or reading weight loss blogs (like mine!) or seeing a friend who did it. But that motivation only lasts until you are faced with temptation, and then the motivation shoots out the window because you want to eat _____ (fill in the blank). Motivation is that "force" that makes you want to achieve something and gives you drive to do it--but only until you lose that drive.

Determination, on the other hand, is "the act of deciding definitely and firmly". It's a DECISION that has no if's, and's, or but's. You make the decision to just do it, and you DO IT, motivation be damned. "

So here's what I took away from my reading.

I can't promise to get to my goal weight, because I can't make that happen. Talking to my doctor yesterday during my physical really reinforced the difficulty of weight loss with PCOS -- the more weight you gain, the more insulin your body produces, which makes it that much harder to lose weight.

But what I can do is commit to a trying a new regimen. I just bought Insanity. Which I've been really scared of committing to. Doing the workouts is one thing, but committing to the sixty day program... ack! What if it's really hard, and I don't feel like getting up and giving 100%? What if I get tired and feel like I'm dragging through life, doing these challenging workouts six days a week? What if I'm starving all the time? What if I get sick -- do I take extra rest days, and deviate from their schedule?

I've decided to just do it. Commit to the sixty days. No cheat days. Modify as necessary. Take extra breaks during the workout as needed. Stop worrying, stop making excuses for problems that haven't happened yet. If I get sick, I will take a day off if I need to. If I get the insomnia I get from ramping up exercise to quickly... I will suck it up and power through. And eagerly look forward to my day off. And know that my body will get used to the new routine, sooner or later. I will adapt the jumping exercises so that I don't have to worry too much about disturbing my downstairs neighbors.

And I'm going to follow their dietary recommendations. I commit to doing that for thirty days. The calorie suggestions seem reasonable, and if I am still hungry, I will add more. So I'm also promising my body that I won't starve myself.

The program advises five meals a day, and provides a menu book with lots of suggestions for each day. I photocopied out a blank daily meal plan and made up a bunch of sample days with different menus, and made my shopping list accordingly. This way I don't have to think too much. The meals look fine and relatively appealing -- small, since you have five a day, but high in protein and not too low in carbs. They are definitely lower in fat than I am used to (I've been eating, more or less, a high fat, moderate protein, lower carb diet for a while) and also higher in carbs than I am used to. I'm nervous about feeling hungry, and I know I can't eat some of the things they suggest -- I know that a half an apple, even with a handful of walnuts, would leave me falling asleep mid-afternoon. Apples make me super sleepy, every time. 

I really dislike snacking during the day, so I'm not thrilled with the idea of five meals a day. On the other hand, if I'm feeling hungry, maybe it will be reassuring to never have to go very long without a meal. I figure I can have a post-workout smoothie in the morning with coconut milk (because the plan wouldn't allow for raw whole fat milk and I refused to drink skim) and protein powder and strawberries. A nice bonus would be sharing it with Calliope -- a way to get some extra calcium into her diet. Ideally she could have some of mine to make life easier but I guess if she didn't like the protein powder I could make one for her with just berries and coconut milk. She eats two breakfasts every day anyway (a snack as soon as she wakes up to stave off the requests for nursing, then a proper breakfast an hour later), so we could "eat" (slurp) together. Sharing Mommy's food generally makes her willing to try new things. As it gets hotter out, a nice cold smoothie might be a nice way to start the day!

I'm going to have to figure out what to do about the cream in my tea, though. I love my (decaf) Chai tea! Maybe I will put a dash of coconut milk into it instead.

I "slept in" today until 6:30. No workout so I'm rested for tomorrow. Since my quads have been burning when I have climbed the subway stairs the last few days. Tomorrow I will do the thirty minute "fit test" to assess my overall fitness. I repeat this every two weeks to track my progress. I'm hoping that I don't have to start the dietary program until the following day, which will be the weekend, because I think it will be hard to build a new routine (the five meals a day) on a Friday at work. 

Wish me luck and focus in my determination! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Slightly Depressed (But Getting Better) Mommy Update

I'm writing a separate post about me because my goal is to make a book about Calliope's second year of life, containing blog posts about her. I definitely don't need to remember most of what was going with me, though, so I'm keeping it separate (and will omit these from her book). And I didn't necessarily edit very much -- I just needed to get this out their, to clear the air, so to speak, of my own psyche. This is more of a spiritual cleanse than a well written post. 

I think I'm coming out the other side of this funk, with some definite blips.

Saturday morning, we went to the High Line Park with our fellow SMC friend, Obernon, and her daughter, just two months older than C. It was really interesting and cool, but I was definitely tired by the time we got back home, as there was significant travel involved in going to and fro.

But I was shocked to see how much better I felt after a hard Rip 60 workout (mostly done while C was napping, though she played alongside me for the later parts). It really boosted me up.

So during Sunday's naptime, I attempted my second workout from the TurboJam DVD. Last time, I did the intro workout, to learn the steps, but that wasn't all that strenuous. So I tried a 45 minute workout this time. At first it was fun, but then I just got further and further out of sync with the workout, and more and more befuddled and frustrated by not being able to follow the steps nearly fast enough to keep up. Finally, about halfway through, I quit trying in exasperation, and went back to the introductory workout. That went much better, and I was able to keep up for the most part and even focus on maintaining good form at times.

So why did I feel terrible when I finished? I took a shower -- sometimes that lovely post-workout endorphin boost doesn't kick in until the hot water hits my skin -- but no such luck this time. I glanced at the video monitor when I finished, and was surprised to see that Calliope was awake but playing (or thinking? who can tell?) silently in her crib. 

I put on clean underwear and bra and lay down on the bed. Even putting on a shirt and pants sounded hard. And I've never done this, but I just left Calliope in her crib and lay on my bed and read for a half an hour. I felt terribly guilty about this, but I just didn't have it in me to take care of her at that moment. I can't ever remember feeling that way. I figured since she wasn't complaining, it was okay, right?

After a half an hour, I felt a little better, and went into her room. She smiled up at me from the crib, happy to see me but in no way complaining about her "alone time." I lifted her out and set her down and lay on my side and watched her play, her small towhead lit up by the sunshine streaming into her room. She took a bag of interlocking pegs with foam pegboard from her toy bins and set to connecting them together. She glanced up at me occasionally, but mostly she was absorbed in her work. 

Somehow, watching her focus on her task cheered me up immeasurably. She was so beautiful, sitting there in the sun. My amazing girl -- creative, intelligent, affectionate, determined, focused.  

Later that afternoon, we went out for a walk. We live on Ocean Parkway, which is a major thoroughfare, not so great, but has a paved walking path on one side and a bike path on the other -- the first in the country!. Calliope pushed her doll stroller and stopped frequently to crouch and watch a pigeon, or dig with a stick around a tree base (the only dirt to be found in our urban area, apart from parks, of course), to study strangers inquisitively. The air was cool in the shade, but the sunshine was warming. 

One of my major issues, once again, is body image. Weaning has led to a slow down in metabolism, which seems unfair because pumping seemed to slow it down as well. And also, I've realized that I've slacked off a bit on my workouts -- level 8 isn't as rigorous as level 6. My hair seems to have become both greasy and dry/frizzy at the same time. My face looks puffy. My pants are tighter.

But agonizing over weight gain makes me mad, too. It's stupid! My beloved friend Sarah has a daughter just two months older than mine... and a brain tumor that's currently in remission but will some day come back to steal her away from her precious little girl. How can I complain about my petty problems in the face of such injustice?

Then too, I know we can't always chide ourselves to "remember the starving children in Africa!" But still. Some perspective. 

And also. My metabolism is screwy. Yeah, it sucks. But it could be worse. And while I assume that by next year I'll be one hundred pounds overweight and my only hope will be gastric bypass... which caries with it a 2% mortality rate, and how can I possibly risk leaving my little girl an orphan?... The truth is that I'm not there yet. I'm a few pounds overweight. More than a few pounds from my ideal weight, but not a hundred. And yes, I have to fight like hell to stay here. And I'm burning with envy when I read of one woman who lost forty pounds by taking her baby for long walks. And yes, it sucks. Heartily. And unlike other physical ailments, it carries the weight of judgement with it. No one looks at someone with a broken arm and figures "well, it must be her fault." 

And yet. I have the power to refuse that (imagined or real) judgement. I have plenty of friends who are very heavy. And who look great! Who dress themselves in flattering clothes and groom themselves nicely. And I don't condemn them... far from it, I admire them. I would rather have a healthy self-respect, regardless of weight, than the perfect weight.

Well, at least, I wish I did.

want to start working on this now. I want buy some flattering, professional clothes -- no more "hiding" (from myself) in yoga pants and dark jeans. Figuring out what to do with my hair so it's not so frizzy and unbearable.

But I hate going shopping. And looking at my thighs in a dressing room mirror is too depressing. So maybe it's time to go online shopping again. Though there's the money issue, too. I've finally managed to bring down my expenditures so I think am more or less keeping up with my expenses. But I just bought more dishes (had lost a lot over the years due to breakage) and silverware (I was always running out of knives). So I hate to spend more money right now.

I also just ordered Insanity. Another $150. And a book I read about from another blogger called Whole30. It's a Paleo diet, but the deal is that you do a strict (paleo) elimination diet for thirty days, then slowly re-introduce some foods, like dairy,  to see how the body tolerates them.

I am really very anti-diet, in terms of restricting my calories. I will never starve myself again. But if I can eat the foods they recommend without feeling hungry, then I am willing to give it a try. And thinking about thirty days, only, hasn't so far enraged my inner diet rebel. So we will see how it goes.

Finding the time to read this book is an additional challenge. I'm already splitting my pre-sleep reading time between Happiest Toddler on the Block and my for-fun book, which is The Darlings. 

Insanity should arrive today. I've read some very inspiring reviews online, from people that have totally re-made their bodies. But they also commit 100% to never missing a workout. And the idea of having to work out extremely intensely every day is very intimidating. Weekends aren't so bad, but early morning workouts are challenging. And with Insanity, there is no gradual warm up -- the "warm up" is really challenging. Though you do stop to stretch after a few minutes. 

So I'm feeling scared of it. Do I use their pre-printed calendar to commit to keeping up? I hate the idea of feeling trapped, but maybe it's just the thing to make me keep up? But the idea of being crazy sore and having many days to go before I get a rest day is very intimidating. 

I'm frustrated that I have to go to such extremes on both dietary and exercise fronts. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Twenty Months (Nineteen Month Recap)

Thrilled by the approach of the train (subway)

Nineteen months seemed somehow easier than eighteen. Fewer tantrums and power struggles, thankfully. 

I'm reading Happiest Toddler on the Block right now (thanks to Shannon for the suggestion), and it has some interesting ideas. The most well known, of course, is using "toddlerese" to echo what your child is feeling, to put words to their emotions to quell the tantrum. I tried it yesterday, when Calliope was throwing a fit over the idea of teeth brushing.

"Calliope mad! Mad mad mad! Calliope no want to brush teeth! Mad!"

She stopped mid-sob and looked up at me curiously. Tantrum over. 

I had to stifle a giggle halfway through my "tirade" because it felt so ridiculous, but still, the logic makes sense to me -- if I can name her emotions and make her feel "heard," she won't be so frustrated. 

And then I can brush her teeth a lot more easily. Win win.

Next up, pillow talk (my name and version of his idea). Talking with Calliope about three things that went well that day -- ideally a mix of things that were fun and things that she did well, like cooperating or listening, that I want to praise. I love this idea because I think it's a great habit to build into her childhood. I'd love to do this every night for years to come.

Tonight was our first attempt. I cradled her against me in the big chair in her room after reading her two stories, and I asked, "what were three great things about today?"

She sucked her thumb and leaned her head against my chest as she looked at me.

I realized I didn't really know all that much about the ins and outs of her day. Oh well.

"Well, you went to the library with Nastya and Ellie today. I bet that was really fun. And then you went for a walk this afternoon with Nastya and Ellie, and you pushed the doll stroller."

"Ellie?" she querried.

"Yes, with Ellie. And then you came home and you had mushroom tortellini for the first time, and you had a lot of fun peeling off all the pasta 'wrappers' before you ate them."

That felt like a good first attempt. I love the idea of her "already" always remembering doing this. Like already knowing her conception story, by the time she's old enough to understand what it is. (Right now, because it has a picture of Mommy on a horse, in her pre-baby life, Calliope thinks it's a story about horses. Because every book is about animals, in her view, these days.)

Next, I'm going to try the technique of "gossiping" to Calliope's toys when she does a good job of listening or cooperating. This feels a little ridiculous, also, so I'm building up to it.

Mostly, though, her disposition is quite sunny, despite her becoming more "determined" at times.

Taking a breather at the playground

So glad they made this little "seat" for me (aka footstool for the water fountain)

No problem climbing onto and off of park benches and couches!

Calliope doing squats, just like Mommy

Her language development continues to explode. I've stopped keeping a list, but I'm sure she's well over a hundred words now. Yesterday, apropos of nothing, she would say "toes" or "knee" and point to the appropriate body part. Two word "sentences" are still few and far between, though.

Sadly, she just started calling me "Mommy" instead of "Money." But Grammy is still called "Hello?" with her hand to her ear. 

She's obsessed with the squirrel that visits our fire escape (outside our kitchen window), and after spying it, will spend the rest of the meal asking "'Ko? 'Ko?" (That's "squirrel" for the uninitiated.) Seeing a dog outside on one of our many walks is a huge thrill. She also loves locating animals in her books. She seemed to think that her new book "Once Upon a Potty" was a book about a cat, because we could never get more than a page past the one that asks if the potty was "a milk bowl for the cat"? I would flip to the next page, start reading, and she would interrupt with "Meow? Meow?" and we'd have to go back and look at the cat again. Ad nauseum. Same with her other new favorite book, Snow, which she naturally calls "'No?" There's a page with a horse pulling a sleigh, and as soon as I flip to the next page, she asking, "Neigh? Neigh?" 

Makes for wearisome reading, sometimes! 

She also loves Llama Llama Red Pajama, which she calls, of course "Mama." Double L's are hard for toddlers, it seems. 

She hasn't nursed in ten days. She asked for "neh neh" this morning but was easily distracted with a muffin -- I'm still trying to bake pre-breakfast snacks for her. Her eating has definitely improved of late -- perhaps she's hungrier now that she's not nursing? She feels heavier, too. Last week, she ate several bites of turkey burger for the first time. And tasted rotisserie chicken -- this time I tried offering a wing and a drumstick instead of cut up breast meat -- realizing that the more interesting "delivery" system would make it more intriguing to her. She was definitely interested. She kept mouthing the knobby end of the drumstick, despite my best efforts to steer her to the business end. 

She's sort of running now. It's awkward and stifled, but she definitely has a faster speed now. It's so interesting to me that other kids started running practically as soon as she could walk, but she waited months and months to start. 

Running, kind of.

Her doll stroller was the best $16 investment ever. It makes her much less liable to wander off or stop when we go for walks, like it gives her a sense of purpose. When we get to the playground, she abandons it and then other kids are thrilled to take a turn with it.

Showing Baby Annie the sights... I'm so grateful for this lovely walking path right outside our building

I've decided to buy her a three-wheeled scooter for an early birthday present, in June, because she's fascinated by them at the playground. A friend just turned me on to the fact that you can buy a kit for a scooter so that it has a seat and a "O" shaped handle bar. You can even buy a strap to tow it. I can't wait to see her face when she gets it. This will be a distraction present when we go up to the summer camp on weekends in mid-June and I have to leave her with a brand new babysitter.

Her hair is coming in fast and furious, which I'm enjoying. I love putting it into admittedly puny ponytails. I never expected to have a child with fine, straight, light colored hair... I'm so curious to see if it stays like this.

I was just looking through my picture files at work to see if I'd missed anything...

One year ago today! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hanging In

Tomorrow will be a week since Calliope nursed.

This morning, she was asking for "neh neh" again for the first time in days, but I decided to buckle down and stay the course. If weaning is, indeed, making me feel out of sorts... then I want this process to be over.

The nanny offered Calliope a bit of rice cake with cream cheese instead, and the requests for nursing disappeared. Phew.

I tried on a pre-pregnancy bra today, a non-nursing one. It looked positively diminutive and dainty (I assure you it's not) in comparison to my now-baggy nursing bras (they've been baggy for many months, even when I was nursing full time, but the replacement ones never fit right). And yet... it fit!

The rest of my body... eh. Seems like maybe my metabolism slowed down. Again. This is very, very discouraging.

Mostly, though, my mood is getting better but I'm tired a lot. I can't figure it out. I've been going to bed early every night lately. I'm usually fine in the morning, but by mid-afternoon, my energy is flagging.

I'm usually a high energy person so I don't know what to make of it. Could I be depressed without realizing it?

I have to get a physical done next week as I have paperwork to be completed (by the doctor) for my summer job. Turns out it's been three years since I've had a physical. Oops. So I will discuss this with him and see what he has to say.

I'm also... although I don't really feel depressed, I do feel a little off. This is the first time since I got pregnant that I don't feel like I'm positively teeming with happiness.

I get it that overflowing with happiness is not a state that most people get to exist in permanently... But I was enjoying it.

For now, I'm trying to just hang on, to give this weaning process time to sort itself out, hoping that things will start to feel great again soon.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Enjoying Calliope

Impromptu cuddle in the big chair

There's no "I" in team

I met the nanny and the two girls at the playground after work today.

As I peered through the wrought iron gate and the crowded scene by the toddler climbing structure, I spied Calliope. She didn't see me , but was intently watching another toddler as his mother spoke to him -- fascinated but with a half smile on her face, as if waiting to be let in on a joke.

She was wearing an unfamiliar dress -- the nanny dressed her this morning, in a hand me down I didn't remember -- and perhaps that, plus seeing her amongst all these other little children, made her stand out. She seemed impossibly small compared to the older and sturdier toddlers. And she just radiated beauty. It was as if there was a golden halo around her, and everyone around her faded in comparison. The sun reflected off her hair, her clear skin glowed. She just shone so brightly.

I reckon this is the quintessential experience of motherhood. Seeing your child as your own personal Jesus, golden halo and all... at least until your child spies you.

In my child's case, she saw me, her eyes lit up... and she whirled around and toddled away as fast as her short legs could carry her. There's nothing like running away to say "I love you too, Mommy."

Other loving moments:

She now calls me "Money!"

This is both apt and ironic on so many levels. Of course I am completely bankrolling her. And of course, I feel pretty darn broke. Or at least, so far from affluent that I'm certainly not deserving of such a nickname.

She likes to repeat it over and over.





Her and her Big Sister Friend, Annabelle, like to play a game where Annabelle tries to say "Money!" at the exact same time that Calliope does. Every time she does, Calliope breaks into uproarious laughter.

She also calls me by my first name sometimes. I never really know how to react to that, but generally answer. I mean, it is my name, right?

Playing with her new-to-her trains. Note the drool of concentration.

Meanwhile, my daughter's special nickname for my mother?

It's "Hello?" with one hand pressed to her ear in the universal sign for a cell phone.

And finally, Calliope used to like to stand in front of me and slap both of my cheeks at the same time. Not meanly, she just liked the sound.

Whenever she did this, I would grab her hands and place them gently on my cheeks, and say, "Gentle. Gentle touch."

Now she stands in front of me and gently, lovingly, passionately strokes my cheeks as she gazes into my eyes. It's very Harlequin Romance.

Postscript: someone on the SMC Forum asked if she still has a mullet. So glad she asked!

Work in front (aka her hair is pretty short in front and on the sides)

... But a party in the back! Just look at that skinny ponytail!
The mullet reigns!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Little Snippets of Nothing in Particular (19 Months) -- Photos Added!

We had a quiet, restorative weekend.

On Saturday, we spent the morning with Calliope's favorite five year old, our downstairs neighbor Annabelle, so that Annabelle's mom could get their apartment ready for Annabelle's birthday party. Calliope was thrilled to have so much time with her idol. And then to sit on a Big Girl chair instead of a high chair... wow!

Annabelle was very patient as we alternated letting Calliope walk instead of ride in the stroller. I'm a devout believer in the importance of exercise, for children as well as adults. But Calliope lacks, shall we say, the ability to walk in a straight, continuous line.

Bringing the doll stroller for her to push helps, for a while. Then she sees some enticing stairs to climb, or trash to pick up, or a gate to cling to and peer through... and then our progress screechs to a halt once again.

After lunch and a nap for Calliope -- a lovely long one -- we went to Annabelle's birthday party. It was a bit overwhelming for me at times, the noise, and I fear this doesn't bode well for my future. I didn't use to be so sensitive to noise; something seemed to change around the time I got pregnant, I think. But now, loud commotions completely overwhelm me and I feel a desperate need to escape. Thank goodness there were none of those loud honking birthday things -- you know, the ones that you blow into and it makes a loud screeching noise?  I loved them when I was a kid and now they make me want to run and hide.

Anyone else have a change in their sound sensitivity like this? It really feels unbearable.

And then today, Calliope played quietly on the kitchen floor for more than a half an hour while I sipped hot tea and checked my email via Ipad. I can't sit at my computer without her wanting to "help" by typing on the keyboard and move my mouse around... but I guess because she's so rarely used the Ipad (only a few times on Amtrak), she seems to not know what it's for. And thus, I got some rare down time for me while she was awake. I was exceedingly grateful. Some weekend days it's hard to just be 100% "on" from the moment I wake up until naptime at 1 pm. I can't imagine what it will be like when she stops napping -- I'm trying not to think about it! She's always played independently very well, but allowing me to do what I want to do isn't always as easy for her.

After breakfast (or round three of breakfast, for her), we went to the playground and farmer's market and saw a couple of friends. Then back home to make banana muffins together -- lots of fun and tasty to boot. They are gluten free and sweetened only with stevia and dates, plus bananas, of course. Next time I might try skipping the stevia. I am, as another friend claimed to be, "Paleo curious." I'm not really trying to avoid gluten right now, but I'm intrigued by the concept. Anyway, they came out great! I used almond flour by mistake instead of coconut, but they're amazingly sweet and tender and delicious. Perhaps a little more moist than they are supposed to be because of the almond flour. Regardless, I recommend them, Paleo Curious or not!

I left out the walnuts.

She really liked setting out all the muffin liners, then stacking them again. 
I have these awesome silicone ones that are easy to clean and don't require cooking spray nor a muffin tin -- win!

After naptime, another long one, we went for our second walk of the day. We wandered by a playground for a few minutes, but mostly what Calliope wanted to practice was stairs -- for the first time, she managed to go up and down without crawling! She was very, very proud and it was very, very difficult to get her to leave her favorite stairs. At one point we had finally left and were half a block away when she suddenly wheeled around and headed back. They were just that fun.

Look Ma, no crawling!

Very proud of climbing onto this little "stool" at the playground.
It took a while, but she eventually figured out how to get herself 
into a seated position, to boot.

When we got home, we tried making kale chips for the first time. She loved washing the kale with the salad spinner and did a great job helping me tear the kale into bite size pieces. And tossing kale with olive oil and salt -- how much fun can a girl hope to have? This was a great project to do with a toddler!

I've been hearing about how amazing kale chips are for quite a while now. Calliope and I agree -- they're pretty amazing! And ridiculously easy!

Just tear kale into bite size pieces and discard the thick stemps. Wash and dry the kale very well. Toss pieces of kale with olive oil and salt on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (parchment not required but makes for an easy clean up). Bake for 25-30 minutes at 300 degrees. Voila! Crunchy, salty, delicious perfection!

Calliope loved her first exposure to kale. I don't know why she insisted on eating it with a fork, and also, why she wanted to use my enormous fork instead of her own.

Delicious kale chips -- giant fork not required

I also made a beautiful grassfed steak, and she gobbled up a nice little portion -- maybe about 6 bites. And ate slice after slice yellow bell pepper -- she would mainline bell peppers if she could -- and a slice of pear to finish things off.

Now that she's looking a little more sturdy -- not really chubby, but she's got a little belly and some nice padding on her limbs, though she still doesn't feel all that heavy -- I'm hoping we can back off of processed foods a little bit. Not that she ever ate a lot of it, but her cracker consumption had steadily climbed for a while. I'm glad to see that crackers don't hold the same allure as they once did. Honey, however, is her new favorite food. I figure that a little honey mixed into her peanut butter and spread onto a whole wheat english muffin seems pretty reasonable as a breakfast option.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Feeling Better Already

It seems like admitting to the universe that things weren't feeling all that great, alongside being proactive in doing the things that usually cheer me up... seems to have worked.

Today is day five of better eating, and finally, that barge seems to be turning around. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but the quality of my eating had been gradually falling off for a while, with predictable results. I hope I can do a better job from here on out.

After spending much of Monday and Tuesday (my last two days of spring "break") working feverishly on Big Life Tasks (filing taxes, investigating 529 plans, cleaning off my slovenly desk), I felt caught up enough to participate in an SMC Forum thread for project support. Each member posts a brag of three things she accomplished yesterday and three things she hopes to accomplish today.

Last night I was really annoyed with the stupid post I shared, my first, because I just wanted to go to bed, dammit, and not to have to finish unpacking that stupid suitcase. But, sigh, I had committed, so I unpacked the stupid suitcase before going to bed.

Getting those Big Life Errands done was no fun, but feeling that lightness of being from not having them over me is blissful. And I know that having a clean apartment always cheers me up, but it certainly takes a lot of energy to start cleaning when I'm already down.

So it was great to wake up this morning to a clean and organized apartment, taxes paid, files emptied of last year's bills, desk cleared, hall table tidy. Best of all, I set my alarm sufficiently early to allow myself to hit the snooze button once and still have plenty of time for a workout.

I realized that I'd been compromising my workouts quite a bit. I was using my laptop for the DVD, and often I had to wait for it to power up... and then, since the laptop was on anyway, might as well take a quick glance at email... and then see if there were any new and interesting updates on Facebook... and suddenly I only had time for half a workout.

So today I used my DVD player and TV set, which meant no opportunities for wasted time on Facebook and email. And I stayed focused throughout my workout, and pushed hard.

I'm now on the eighth and final "official" level of Rip 60 (there's an unofficial Level 9, plus some supplemental DVDs to try), but I think I'm ready to try something different.

I tried out my cousin's Insanity workouts twice last week. They were, yes, insanely challenging. But do-able, I think. I couldn't do 100% of them, but I was pretty pleased with how much I could do. I was thinking of buying the workout but then another SMC recommended something called Turbo Jam, from the same company that produces Insanity. She said she liked the moves a lot better than all the jumping and squats of Insanity, and claimed that it was actually fun, like dancing. I looked it up on Amazon and it looks like a very intense cardio kickboxing routine. I have no coordination whatsoever, but who knows, maybe I will learn some from this workout! In any event, it was available in "Very Good Used Condition" for all of $15. So I'm excited to see where this takes me. I'm looking forward to doing something that involves fewer stops and starts to adjust equipment. I plan to keep doing Rip 60 2-3 days a week and will add this new series of workouts in to mix things up a bit.

I'm also doing my best to get to bed earlier. It's ironic how much it helps my overall happiness to be well rested, and it's such a challenge to actually get myself to bed. The more tired I am, the harder it is to struggle against inertia and move myself out of my chair and into my bed. There's just so many steps in between!

I've done a little better the last couple of nights, and while I'm still feeling tired, I sense an improvement there, too.

Calliope is feeling better, too. She had a cold with fever for several days, poor nugget, and was mostly okay but eating poorly and a basket case when she got tired. Yesterday she completely lost her sh*t during dinner, and couldn't stop sobbing. I sponged yogurt off her face, brushed her teeth, took her out of the high chair, changed her diaper, and put her in PJs and sleep sack, all while she cried. Finally, after rocking her for a good five minutes, she suddenly lifted her wet face from my sodden shoulder and asked "kirl?"

We looked out the window and I explained that the squirrel had gone bye-bye.

Sadly she nestled against my shoulder again, and shook her head no when I offered stories. So straight into the crib she went, where she cried again and we had round two of bedtime singing and rocking. Then off to sleep. Twelve and a half hours later, she woke up good as new, save an occasional junky cough. Phew.

I've got an action packed couple of evenings, with interviews and meetings, and then am very much looking forward to a mostly unplanned weekend.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Foundering in the Doldrums

Proudly carrying $0.56 worth of grapes home from the fruit stand

I'm struggling just a teeny bit. Nothing too serious. I just feel a little off, a little bit not myself.

I suspect it's the hormonal shift from weaning (still not entirely a done deal -- we were down to once every three days and then she got sick and the frequency has increased again). And probably not enough sleep -- somehow I started out getting lots of sleep on spring break, and then started staying up later and later.

So I'm not sweating it too much. I'm trying to just wait it out. Trying to take a step back and comment to myself, "Hmm, I notice I'm feeling really irritable right now."

Just identifying the emotion seems to really help me. Staying away from the why of the emotion is key -- once I get sucked into "I'm feeling really irritable because she said that one thing to me that was really unjust and here's what I should've said in response..." I'm doomed to be way more stressed.

So I'm trying to just stay present. And also to get more sleep.

Still, I'm looking forward to feeling more cheerful again. To enjoying my time with Calliope more. To feeling more engaged at work. To being more excited to work out.

I just spent twelve whole days entirely with Calliope, except for the few hours that my cousin watched her so I could interview a surgeon with my mother words. In other words, I didn't get much of a break. But then on the second to last day of "break," the babysitter took her to the zoo so I could do some work at home. Which was heavenly. And I feel guilty about admitting that.

The picture above shows our adventure to the fruit stand, which we took to kill time while waiting for the laundry. Laundry which didn't need doing, if only I had remembered when the cleaning lady was coming, and planned accordingly. Regardless, we put the laundry in the washer, then went to CVS, where Calliope attempted to remove products from shelves as fast as she could until I scooped her up and pinned her wriggling self to my hip. Always a fun experience. Then we stopped at the fruit stand and bought grapes at her request. Well, sort of. She saw them and pointed and said "Gapes!" And I thought, "sure, why not?"

She started out pushing the grapes in the doll stroller. Every few feet she would stop to open the grocery bag, then the clear plastic bag inside that, peering with concern at the grapes, making sure they were still there. Not satisfied with the visual input she was receiving, she would then stick her hand in the bag to root around and further confirm the continued existence of the grapes.

We had made at least three such stops, roughly every ten feet, when she decided that both the external shopping bag and the stroller were no longer suitable for ensuring the safety of the grapes. She abandoned both and started carrying the clear plastic bag of grapes (shown above) by the very top of the bag, so the bottom was just barely skimming the ground. She continued to stop every few feet to peer into the bag, then fondle the grapes.

We finally, finally made it back to the our building (roughly one short block away from the fruit stand) and returned to the laundry room. I set her and the grapes on a chair to keep her from running away (her new favorite activity -- escaping from Mommy!) while I transferred the wet laundry to the dryer. I had only had my back turned a few seconds when out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move.

On closer inspection, I saw that something was not a mouse but, you guessed it, a single red grape that had rolled across the floor.

I wheeled around and shouted, "NO!!! Oh, Calliope!"

After all that focused care of the grapes, she had turned the bag upside down and dumped the grapes all over that grotty laundry room floor.


I hurriedly scooped them up. They got an extra good washing in my kitchen. You didn't think I would throw them away, did you? And risk another trip to the fruit stand?

Perish the thought.

I'm also having a childcare quandary. The synopsis being: nanny is pregnant. I need a new childcare scheme for next year. The tentative plan is to get a new nanny and to continue the nanny share and also to start participating in a preschool co-op (hosted in my apartment, so very low cost). But we visited a daycare that is literally next door to me and seemed surprisingly nice, especially considering it's only $650 a month.

This is a shockingly low price tag for much of NYC. There's very expensive daycare here and also very, very cheap options.

I'm trying to figure out if I would be a bad mother to send my child there.

The savings would be oh so welcome. I'm slowly but surely burning through my savings right now, despite all attempts to live an austere life. And even one year at a lower price would help, even if I opted to splurge on a nicer preschool when she's three and perhaps slightly more in need of an actual curriculum?

I don't know how to make this decision.