Baby Weight, be Gone (Take Five) Plus One, Plus Ten or Fifteen Pounds

photoAfter this post in March, Baby Weight, be Gone (Take Five) I went on to do exactly what I said I was going to do: I got myself back on a routine I could live with, and put my cravings and overindulging in check. I went back to exercise classes, I interval-trained on the treadmill, plugged in my favorite playlist and ran in the neighborhood, whether I felt like it or not.

By the time we went to Disney World on Spring Break in mid-April, I was feeling better about myself, inside and out. I even went for short runs every day on vacation so I could skip counting calories for the week and enjoy myself. That was a true test of my dedication, wasn’t it? I had changed my habits. I was doing it!

Then we came home.

Even with a beautiful New England spring unfolding, and summer on its way, it’s always kind of a letdown leaving my favorite travel destination and a break in routine. It was back to the day-to-day, where I was feeling torn between motherhood as I knew it and becoming a work-at-home mom finding my way back to my career. I was anxious about the next step in our lives: our twin girls, who are growing up too fast, starting full-day kindergarten in the fall. I couldn’t motivate myself. I was tired of the pressure. I just wanted to live in the moment, so I rolled with my moods from one day to the next, exercising some days and skipping it on other days in favor of Chinese take-out and three Cokes.

Instead of losing the 10 or 15 pounds I already needed to, I gained 10 or 15 more – while making plans for my first 10K in February 2014. Nope, I’m not kidding.

As I work on getting myself in check, again, and again, and Seriously, Not Again… I ask myself how I could let it happen. How many times have I been Right There, and fallen so completely off, even though I wasn’t being unreasonable in the first place? How, while I was paying attention, did I not only fail to lose weight, but gain even more, bringing me to a new-all time high (and low?) And is there a point to answering this question, or do I just keep moving forward?

Perhaps a more valid question would be: how the hell am I going to run six miles in seven weeks from THIS?! Yesterday, I got on the treadmill for a 20-minute interval run, and spent 20 minutes outside afterward, doubled over in a tank top and running skirt in 40-degree winter weather, waiting for the stars and black spots to clear. This morning, although I tried to fight with them, my legs wouldn’t run at all, so I gave in and walked because it was better than nothing, and definitely better than getting flung off the treadmill and breaking something on New Year’s Eve.

I’m trying to shrug off the urge to shame myself over not being where I wanted to be, and even worse, moving backwards. I’m picking up where I left off, because that sounds better than “starting over.” I’m trying to ignore that cranky voice in my head that’s saying, “Yeah, right. How long before you’re back to eating a piece of cake for breakfast, or drinking three glasses of wine instead of going to class, when you were already wearing your workout clothes? When – and how – will you screw it up again?”

But where will I be, if I listen? I like the way I feel after I run and work out. And once I get going, I like the way it feels to work toward something better, and to be on a routine.  I can keep doing what I’m doing, but I know I won’t be any happier or healthier, and this won’t magically undo itself, or become less work for me to undo.

So, I’m moving along, and keeping my goals simple: to finish this 10K, preferably on my feet, and to stay there over the weeks and months beyond it. I’m starting there, and – well, let me not get carried away. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy, Healthy 2014 to you and your loved ones, and best of luck to you in all you do!

A Day at the Beach with Kids is Still (Kind of) a Day at the Beach

It’s 6 AM, and my husband, my five-year-old twins and I are in the car on the way to Narragansett, Rhode Island, where we’ll board the Block Island ferry, spend the day, and then drive to Newport to spend the night. We’ve packed up the car with beach towels, sand toys, cover-ups, changes of clothes, coloring stuff, overnight bags and dreams of beating the brutal New England heat wave with the cool island breeze. We’ll spend a few hours splashing in the waves, building Ariel’s beach castle, and drinking Del’s frozen lemonade. We’ll eat lobster rolls and Point Judith calamari, shop along Thames Street tomorrow, and take it easy.

Or, something like that. While H counts her crayons and organizes her sand castle molds, and S shows off that she can count to 267, I lose track of how many times my head is about to explode…

1 mile traveled from home before one asks, “Are we there yet?” and the other drops all of her crayons in between her car seat and the door.

2 hours wasted missing the high-speed ferry by one space in line, waiting for the painfully-slow ferry, and finally docking in Block Island to wait for all the cars, trucks, motorcycles and bikes to get off first.

3 times H walks right out of her flip-flops – and doesn’t notice – on the half-mile walk from the ferry to Ballard’s Beach. (One of these days we’ll make it to the town beach instead.)

4 ounces of clam chowder H wears after somehow landing her elbow in her bowl, sending it flying everywhere, leaving me to explain to people that, no, she didn’t throw up all over herself; she just spilled her soup.

5 people staring when S runs through the puddle of water left after rinsing sand off her feet, falls out of her flip-flops, lands on her bottom and screams her head off. One guy laughs. Jerk.

6 mouthfuls of lobster roll S spits into her napkin while complaining there are shells in it, before we realize the crunchy stuff is supposed to be in there: it’s freaking celery.

Even though we’ve been traveling with kids for five-and-a-half years now, sometimes I still shake my head, throw my hands up in the air, and wonder why we bother leaving the house. And sometimes, I do this out loud. What fun is it being out and about, stopping every ten seconds to redirect the girls to keep them from walking into a herd of people coming off an elevator, or to keep myself from tripping over them? Zipping up my bag and walking five steps before somebody Needs Something Now, that amazingly, I don’t have? Mediating arguments over where to eat, which chair who wants to – and doesn’t want to – sit in at a restaurant? Who’s hot. Who’s cold. Whose feet hurt because there are rocks in the water. Who’s itchy from the sand. (We’re at the BEACH, for goodness sake!)

Our only real moments of peace included shady spots overlooking the ocean, cool enough breezes to make us snuggle up together, and Del’s frozen lemonade. And you know what? That’s all we really needed to make the craziness worthwhile.

Beach days are a little different than they used to be, but at least we’re getting there. And somehow, when they come to an end, the mishaps become adventures in the safety and comfort of my memory, and I realize that it’s actually pretty cool we can take “day trips” like this with our kids at all. They’re five, I have to remind myself. They fight me on what to wear, and why I must apply their sunscreen AGAIN, and they squawk at and tell on each other all the way through, but they jump in the car and buckle up enthusiastically, ready to go and see and do anything. Considering I’m their mother, I’m surprised they can go with the flow at all. Even if the “flow” feels more like a roller-coaster ride.

Better to be Over-packed than Under(wear-less)

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If I’ve been around when you needed a Band-Aid, you already know I carry a first-aid kit with Neosporin spray, sting-free boo-boo wipes and bandages of all shapes and sizes (and Disney characters). I also have hand sanitizer, the kind that kills stomach viruses because they don’t all, and wipes for hands, faces and runny noses. I probably have a toilet seat cover or six, Alleve, Lysol wipes and Imodium for emergencies.

That’s just my day-to-day stash. It gets better when I Go Somewhere. You know, when there’s a real reason to pack.

“It would be so much easier if you didn’t try to bring the whole house,” my husband says in his best if-you-would-just-listen-to-me voice, as he steps over suitcases filled with clothes, essentials, options and (Ziploc bags of) just-in-case.

His version of packing: throwing some clothes into a suitcase, and making sure he has his Clinique face scrub, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, daily medications, a swimsuit and shoes. It takes ten minutes. He uses whatever shampoo, conditioner and body wash is in the hotel shower (or he steals mine, even if it smells like cotton candy.) The only reason his bag reaches the 50-pound weight limit is his stash of magazines (because somehow, no matter which kid he’s sitting with, he manages to be able to read on the plane. And to nap, long enough to snore. Loudly. One day, I must watch and learn.)

In spite of his amusement, there is logic to my obsession (except for the part where I match my Alex & Ani bracelets to my outfits and intended mood.) When we leave, we have everything we need to avoid any grief and wasted time locating random things that would have just been easier to bring. The house is clean and as organized as it’s gonna get, the mail is stopped, the bills are paid and I’m not leaving anything behind that’s going to haunt me while I’m Trying to Relax.

H and S are five now. We’re free from diapers, bottles, formula and jars of baby food. But there are new essentials to replace them with: changes of clothes, sweatshirts, S’s “Raffey,” H’s special blanket, their Leap Pads and games, books and crayons and coloring pads. Travel-size crafts and random surprises to whip out when, five minutes into a flight (or a much-anticipated dinner) one of the girls whines, “I’m bored.” In That Voice.

There are snacks and drinks, vitamins and medicines and sensitive skin bath products. Aveeno packets for when (not if) H’s eczema acts up after long days enjoying sandy beaches and swimming pools. Extra sunscreen. Stain remover and laundry detergent for the sink and the washing machine, and I hardly ever come home with leftovers.

Do I overpack? Yes. Maybe. But I’ve traveled enough to know that if our plane sits on a runway for hours waiting out a storm, or flies around in circles awaiting the clearance of air traffic, or hit turbulence the minute one of the girls opens a bottle of cranberry juice, we’re all better off having it covered. I just can’t promise it’ll curb my use of four-letter words under my breath while dealing with said annoyance.

And when we arrive at our destination, right on cue, my husband will ask, “Do you have allergy medicine/aloe/an extra charger?” Of course, I will. But apparently, I don’t think of everything…

On a recent business trip, he called home while settling into his hotel room.

“I have to go shopping,” he said.

“I thought you had a meeting.”

“I do. But I forgot to pack underwear.”

Can’t say I would’ve had an extra stash of that. What? Even I have my limits.

Don’t Lick Your Sister (and Other Things I Say Out Loud on Summer Vacation)

IMG_1790For H and S’s first summer, I alternated between figuring out how to be a mommy of newborn twins – and crying my eyes out every time “You’re Gonna Miss This” played on CMT.

OH, Trace Adkins. I know, I know! The days DO fly by, already. I try to hold onto the little moments, the newness, even the how-will-I-ever vulnerability. But the next minute I’m cursing at the breast pump or the Diaper Genie, while all three of us cry for entirely different reasons.

Fast forward five years: I hate to admit it, but this summer is feeling an awful lot like that one. But with a different soundtrack.

“Ma! She’s driving McQueen on me! Cars don’t drive on people!”

“Maaaaaaaa! She won’t get out of my way! I want to color on the easel!

“Mooommmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! She erased my picture!”

“How do you spell, ‘Wishing-you-lots-of-love-because-I-love-you?’”

“How come lunch is taking so long?”

Yup, school is out for the summer again. Before this year, all that meant to me was that the weather changed. This year, it arrived with a little more context (and emotion) as it marks our transition from preschool to kindergarten. (See “Here We (Let) Go Again: Goodbye, Pre-school)

And an unspoken demand that every day Must. Be. Exciting. It’s all, “I want to color and swim and play on the swings” and “I don’t want you to work or run errands or do anything else, except for watch me color and swim and play on the swings.” This. Minute. Their need for constant entertainment does not include watching me juggle all the things I used to do while they were in school with keeping them busy and content. I’m filling the days with swimming, crafts, play dates, frozen treats, day-trips and destinations and trying to spin grocery shopping as a fun family activity. (“Don’t look at me like that. You like to eat, don’t you?”) And they’re still whining, fighting – and bored. Raise your hand if you can still remember what that feels like.

While an official break from educational stuff is a good thing, it’s reduced my use of the English language to the following sentences:

“Stop yanking on the shades!”

“Don’t stick your fingers in there!”

“You can’t spin around in the aisles! You’re knocking stuff off the shelves!”

“Sing quietly! The whole store doesn’t want to be ‘Part of Your World.’”

“Don’t lick your sister!”

(“But I was pretending to be a puppy,” she replies, for which I have neither the words nor the energy left to reply.)

Often by 9 AM on any given day, I’ve heard, “Mommmyyyyy?” so many times for so many different reasons I’m ready to say, “Why do you keep calling me?!” Sometimes, I do.

That’s when I realize she came to find me (usually when I’m in the bathroom) because she’s made me a picture. That says, “Mommy, I love you the most.” She remembered how to spell the words all by herself. I feel like such a jerk. And I’m grateful for the chance to convince her I’m not – and to remember this summer for all the reasons we’re supposed to. For the “dolphin rides” I give them in our (temporary Intex) pool (that took my husband more time and effort to put up than a real pool would have.) A record number of visits to Crumbs Bake Shop and Peachwave (which we are making a good start on in Week Two!) Mid-afternoon snuggles even though the girls don’t take naps anymore. Mixing strawberry, blueberry and raspberry muffins, and picking out special things to make together when we go to the grocery store.

We’re making memories already. And while sometimes it’s easier to pull out my hair than to find humor in the girls’ aisle-spinning, scream-singing, sister-licking routine, I know one day I will miss this, too. Like at the end of August, when I’ll want to throw myself in front of the school bus instead of watching it drive my babies off to kindergarten.

But while I work on keeping it all in a healthy, happy perspective, it’ll be a little easier to kiss H and S goodbye at half-day camp next week. They need it: the freedom, the adventure, the time to appreciate coming home a little more. And maybe, just maybe, so do I.

Here We (Let) Go Again: Goodbye, Preschool

Two years ago, I flung my Diaper Genie(s) out the front door and celebrated the one (and so far, only) milestone that didn’t leave me a crying mess. That is, until my husband dragged me to a preschool tour a few weeks later.

PRESCHOOL? My H and S were just three. They were still toddling into my bed with blankets and stuffed animals tucked under their arms in the middle of the night to snuggle. What – school?! They were crapping their pants a few weeks ago! Routines and lunch boxes and schedules and strangers – ALREADY? Why?!

Against my determination to hold on to whatever was left of babyhood – and the fact that, in spite of my crying through the entire school tour, both times, they still let us enroll – off they went in September. They loved it! And before long, I did too. They embraced their new routines: learning letters, numbers, words and songs, and exploring worms and caterpillars and pumpkin guts. Writing, “Mommy, I love you” in crayon for the first time, coloring a discernible picture of Ariel and Eric and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, and discovering the wonders of cutting and gluing and glitter. (OH, the glitter!) I love watching them express how they see themselves and their world (the center of which, unsurprisingly to those who know us, is Disney).

For me, it’s been fun connecting with others who smile knowingly when one’s daughter wants to wear nothing but princess costumes, and brings half the sand from the playground home in her, um, glass slippers. We’ve (all) been blessed with two years of new friends and bonding and transitions eased by the support and comfort of settling into this place and time. And I’m beside myself over having to leave yet another piece of my daughters’ childhood behind.

What is it about moving forward, even in the most normal, expected, and happy way, that triggers a revolution in my brain, and leaves me clinging to the moment in my daughters’ lives as if it’s all there is? Granted, yes, life is such that it could be. But I can’t live (consciously) in a world like that, any more than I can live in my own head these days. I can’t stand myself, and these random tears that threaten in the diaper aisle of Shop Rite (why am I going down there, anyway?!) or when I think about how, on their next birthday, they’ll need two hands when they hold up their fingers to tell me how old they are.

As if their dance recital and art show didn’t choke me up enough, today I considered buying one of those tiny so-totally-stash-able mini bottles of vodka to help get through their upcoming Portfolio Day. (It’s our school’s version of graduation.) As if that stands a chance of keeping my emotions in check. I cried my eyes out when we “graduated” from our fertility doctor’s office. Yup, I’m hopeless. Motherhood has irreversibly crippled my composure.

When my emotions spiral out of control, I try to step back and remind myself of how lucky I am, that it’s a gift to watch my children grow up and set them free, one little bit at a time, as they’re ready (even though I may never be). I try to remember that we don’t have babies to keep them that way forever, and I wouldn’t want to keep them here forever, either. (Just don’t challenge me right now; I’ll totally break.)

I think of all the new things I’ve fallen in love with along our five-year journey through parenthood: their enthusiasm for new things and little things, and how they’ve taught me to pay attention and live in the moment more than I ever imagined this multitasking-addicted control freak ever could. I love their I-love-you’s and hugs and their giraffe birthday parties and the way they sing the “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” theme song in the shower (and how I catch myself singing along, even when I’m home by myself.)

I love our random 2 A.M. conversations that begin with one of them saying, “Did you know…” and end with something about birds or weather or some meal we ate three months ago. I love that I have two more hands to hold, two more hearts to love, through life’s treasured and unexpected moments, wherever we go from here.

I cry because I’m proud of them, and grateful for their company and their love, for the glimpse of the people they will become, and of the mothers they might be themselves one day. I cry because I’ve loved so many more moments than I can remember at one single time, and I want to hold onto all of them before time whisks me off to somewhere else, to some other place that I can’t yet imagine or love or belong to. But, I will.

And if I’m lucky enough, I will again. And, again.

Baby Weight, be Gone (Take Five)

IMG_1109My twin daughters turned five last month, and while we celebrated that milestone and how far we’ve come Hope, Dreams and a Miracle. Times Two. (Plus Five Years) I also marked something else. After a couple months of busyness, snow days, holidays, a number of adjustments and general multitasking, my scale announced that I’d reached the weight I was when I was about to deliver the girls. Trust me, it doesn’t look quite so cute.

I’ve been up and down, from within reach of my pre-pregnancy weight to here. From the ever-fleeting I-can-almost-wear-anything-in-my-closet to all-I-can-wear-is-sweats-and-pajamas. I work out. And then I eat half a package of jellybeans, a couple of Lindt truffles and drink three glasses of wine. On a weeknight. Yes, I know exactly how I got here. The question, really, is why I keep torturing myself.

Three years ago, I started running. I lost some weight. Then it got cold outside and I got annoyed with my (lack of) speed, and I stopped. Two years ago, I did an awesome spring training program at the studio I work out at. I lost weight, got in shape and wore a bathing suit comfortably for half the summer. Then I got lazy. And frustrated.

Although it’s important for moms to make time for themselves and especially their health, the reality for me is that I just couldn’t stay committed. I’d do it, love it, see results, then relax and want to cross it off my to-do list before I drowned myself in the juggling act. I know it doesn’t work that way, but in the grand scheme of multitasking, the first thing to go has always been my “me” time. My exercise. My outlet. And yes, my health.

Not that it’s really helped me do anything else better. In fact, I’m certain I waste more time thinking about how bad I feel than it would take to fit a good workout into my day. So, why is it so HARD?

Because my history is on infinite repeat. A healthy weight is never something I’ve achieved while enjoying a normal, consistent day-to-day routine. As a nervous kid, my mom often had to bribe me to eat. Usually with Entenmann’s marshmallow-iced devil’s food cake, and I’d eat it for breakfast. I was thin, yes, but not exactly a picture of health. Which, I’m finally learning, counts far more than the number on the scale, no matter where you are on the weight spectrum.

As an adult, the only times I’ve ever liked the way my body looked is when I was overdoing, stressing or otherwise a nervous wreck over something. I’d get on the scale after a straight two weeks of migraines, nausea and inability to function, and relish in the number on the scale. Sick, I know. A new low, in more ways than one. I’m not proud of it. Especially now, as a mother of girls.

I’m finally confronting an unpleasant truth about myself: I’ve never had a healthy relationship with food. And that’s why nothing I do works. No matter how much I’ve tried to work out, or how much I enjoyed what I was doing, my head has never been in the right place. It was all or nothing. Under-eating or overeating, courtesy of whatever life kicked my way. I lost control and I’m terrified I won’t be able to find it again.

But I’m working on it, slowly. Part of my inspiration is my daughters, who already understand that if they don’t have fruit with breakfast, it’ll be their snack. We’ve been discussing balanced nutrition since they were old enough to talk. They tell me – and stop eating – when they’re full, run with me, and cheer me on when I’m on the treadmill, in between fighting over the correct lyrics to Kip Moore’s “Beer Money.” (Must edit my playlist.) I’ve been running and working out at home five to six days a week, at whatever time of the day I can fit it in, and practicing moderation and portion control. (Note: a bag of jellybeans is neither a serving nor what nutritionists mean when they say to “add color” to your diet.)

I’m learning and relearning old lessons, and trying to be patient with myself and not throw it all to the wind if I have a bad day – or a bad week. I’m trying to be realistic, and to do what works with the demands of the day-to-day. I owe it to myself (and my girls) to find a healthy balance in my life, and in my own heart. And with any luck, before long, I’ll be able to trade my sweat pants for my favorite pair of jeans. Hopefully, I’m on the right track to doing it for good this time.

Why Grown-up is Glamorous (When You’re Five)

IMG_0902“I can’t wait to be a grown-up!” H exclaims.

“Really?” I ask. “Um… Why?”

I can’t imagine what I do that looks so freaking exciting. Sometimes, I’d much rather be coloring, or dressing up in a Disney Princess costume, tiara and light-up “glass” slippers and twirling aimlessly around the living room.

“Because grown-ups get to eat at the raw bar,” H says. She covers her mouth with one hand before adding, quietly, “And say fresh words!”

“And grown-ups get to stay up late,” S chimes in.

They don’t yet know that “late” is only about 30 seconds after they’re tucked in (for the third time) snugly into their beds, and that I barely managed to stay awake through dinner. They also don’t know that “Sleep” with a capital S – hell, a capital everything – has been seriously overdue on my grown-up to-do list for, oh, let’s say the last five years 😉

I won’t tell them that staying up late – and grown-up-ness, in general – isn’t quite as glamorous as it looks. That, while I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything, at the moment, I’m up to my ears. Multitasking. Worrying about loved ones. About health, safety, sanity, balance, finding my way. Making it all work. Wondering if I’m not doing it right. Learning not to worry about others who think I’m not doing it right. Channeling the positive and learning to let go of the negative: in myself, and in others in spite of myself.

Yes, that glitter glue and finger-paint is sounding better by the minute.

I know there will be some point, years from now, where my girls will miss these days, or at least the simplicity of them. Right now, it’s my job to protect (and enjoy) the innocence I wish we could all hold onto for a little (or maybe a lot) longer.

As if I have a chance of convincing them that being a grown-up isn’t cool. If they could, they’d be using my grown-up “powers” to watch every episode ever made of Jake and the Neverland Pirates in a row, buy every Ariel doll that exists for minimal scene interruption during imaginative play, and put powdered sugar and sprinkles on every variety of breakfast food. Just to start.

“You’re a grown-up. You can do whatever you want,” one of them always reminds me. Usually when I’m reminding them we CAN’T do something.

I have no idea where they get this from. Things I’m sure I’ve passed along include: “That’s NOT appropriate.” “That’s NOT acceptable behavior.” And, unfortunately, on occasion, “Oh crap.” However, they most often like to tell me whenever I say it (instead of something worse) that it is NOT appropriate and NOT acceptable.

I’m fairly certain I’ve never reacted to anything by saying, “I’m a grown-up. I can do whatever I want.” But since I’m just in that kind of mood today, I’m going to go with it. I’ll follow up this morning’s not-so-successful good intentions with a cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop. Just because I can.

Yes, sometimes being a grown-up has its perks. Thanks, girls.