101 reasons why I should have lost at least 10 pounds by now.

You may get to the end of this post and wonder if I was being a tad bit sarcastic and bitter.  Let me help you take the guesswork out of that:  Yes.  Today’s post ranks very, very low on the “Divinity” scale.

I am not now nor have I ever been obsessed with weight.  I’ve always been an advocate of Elder Holland’s advice to “please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else.”  I am not the least bit motivated by Hollywood harlots starlets because they are not even real people.  (At least the almost always fabricated versions of them that are shoved in our faces.)

However.

Since I moved to Utah, for reasons I cannot for the life of me figure out, I all of the sudden gained 20 pounds. (Yes, I’ve had my thyroid checked and there have been no other changes in my normal health or any medications or anything like that.  I’m practically a psychic in anticipating your questions.)  I swear it’s Utah’s fault, but since I can’t really beat up Utah, I’ve got to figure out what to do about it.  It has nothing to do with wanting to compete with all the people around me who live for yoga, decorate their cars with 26.2 and Ragnar stickers, and shop for their jeans in the single-digit-number section.  I mean, despite the fact that they are probably part-alien and I kind of want to hate them, I’ve been surprised that many of them are actually really nice people.  Dangit.  So it’s not about that.  It’s just about wanting to be the normal kind of me and not a foreign-body version of myself.  Oh, and because I really want the clothes I already own to FIT me.  Is that really too much to ask??  Really?  Well, apparently it is.  I will now proceed to list the 101 reasons I should have lost at least 10 pounds by now.

  1. I have exercised at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week since school started NINE weeks ago.  I have never had that kind of discipline since my college days.
  2. I even started jogging a little bit a couple weeks ago.  As I stated in my Facebook status:  Cue the apocalypse.
  3. I created an account at myfitnesspal.com and I have tracked pretty regularly my calorie intake and exercise to try to keep it toward a healthy daily total of net calories.
  4. I switched to skim milk. That alone deserves at least a pound or two.
  5. When I’ve met up with friends for lunch or dinner, I try to order smaller and smarter.
  6. I’ve tried to make better choices for cooking dinner.
  7. Once a week, I do one-on-one dates with each of my kids and it’s usually to a cute little bakery or something.  For a while now, I’ve only ordered something for them, and I’ve just had a bite, or ordered nothing for myself, or like TODAY, my son got a sugar cookie and I ordered a half Spinach salad.
  8. During the entire week of Halloween, I only ate 6 of those little mini candies.  Okay, and one caramel apple (maybe two).  But let me tell you, that took some major restraint when sugar stuff is EVERYwhere.
  9. I started ordering green smoothies when I crave buying something sweet.  Did you get that?  Green-freakin’-smoothies.
  10. The Great Pumpkin came to our house on Halloween night.  Our kids picked out their 10 favorite pieces of candy, put the rest in a bucket in the back yard, and during the night the Great Pumpkin came and swept it away, leaving a small toy in its place.  ALL the candy gone from our house.  To clarify, the Great Pumpkin did not eat ANY of it.
  11. I have exercised rigorously enough in the last 9 weeks that at least a few days a week, I have sore muscles.
  12. Yesterday I went to an exercise class called “Boot Camp.”  I cannot, I repeat–cannot, do push ups, yet this woman made us do like 2,000 of them. And leg lifts that made my abs catch fire.  I can handle all the jumping jacks and fast running in place and such, but any exercises that actually require any muscle strength are a joke.  Last night I could not roll over in bed without pain.
  13. When I crave snacks during the day, I’m trying to eat stuff like a handful of nuts, some carrot sticks, Greek yogurt (I think it’s nasty), or whole-wheat toast.
  14. I almost never drink soda, diet or otherwise.  Maybe once a month I’ll have a root beer.  I always drink water and occasionally milk.  I should drink more water than I do, but I’m trying to do better.  (Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure, in the last week when it turned cold, I did have a couple hot chocolates.)
  15. Except for that one time at The Melting Pot like 10 years ago, when they dumped half a glass of white wine in my cheese fondue, I’ve never even tasted alcohol in my life.
  16. That’s not really 101 reasons, but whatever.

Anyway, I’m pleased really, really ticked off to announce that after almost 3 months of this kind of regimen, I have actually gained almost 4 pounds.  Don’t try to be all “Oh, that’s totally because you’ve gained muscle,” because if that’s true then why are all my clothes just as tight as they were when I started?  So basically this post is just me saying that I’m mad at the universe and I’ve been robbed.

I know you’re dying to give me advice like go Vegan, eliminate carbs, train for a marathon, drink protein shakes, put all your food in a blender with ingredients you can’t buy at normal stores or whatever.  Just to keep it real, though, I probably will not listen to you unless you are actually a nutritionist, personal trainer, or certified seer. Because, trust me, the kind of effort I’ve put in should have brought about some kind of difference.  So I’m pretty skeptical right now.

I’m not going to quit, mostly because I’m stubborn.  I just needed to vent. I just got off the phone with my sister, and I told her I’ll probably feel humiliated after I push the “Publish” button.  So be it.  This is the part where you say stuff that’s either encouraging or empathetic.  Otherwise, I remind you that I am a grumpy woman who is denying herself chocolate at the moment, and I hold the power to the delete button.

I am acutely aware that on the blessings vs. trials continuum, I am still riding very high.  My life is abundant, and I don’t face the thousands of horrible thing that many others are suffering.  I’m still giving myself permission to be bugged, though.

Ahem.  Have a nice day.

Fight or Flight

So yesterday was a hard day in a mothering sense.  By 3 p.m. I wasn’t really fond of any of my children anymore.  Something deep down inside of me (the love child of anger and frustration) really, really wanted to:

A)  Beat people up,

or B)  Book a private jet and escape to a Carribean island.  Alone.

Option B would probably make me feel better, but Option A is a lot cheaper.  I didn’t do either, but I wanted to.  Instead I just lost my temper and barked my disappointment and sent people to their rooms indefinitely.

I hosted a Relief Society Spiritual Literacy meeting at my house last night and we studied some of the recent conference talks.  My study partner and I read “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”  I know what you’re thinking:  It made me feel all guilty and penitent.  It probably should have, but it didn’t (except for that one little part about “Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger.”).  Honestly, the talk gave me some hope, some advice, some direction.  I’ve been really frustrated with my kids lately.  I feel like we’re in a cycle of the same mistakes over and over again — both theirs and mine.  I’m losing patience with them and with myself.  What I loved about this message was a fresh new perspective.  It gave me a better way to look at discipline and at praise and at my children themselves.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes.  Don’t be lazy and skip them; read them:  :)

When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future?…”

—-

Through discipline the child learns of consequences. In such moments it is helpful to turn negatives into positives. If the child confesses to a wrong, praise the courage it took to confess. Ask the child what he or she learned from the mistake or misdeed, which gives you, and more important, the Spirit an opportunity to touch and teach the child. When we teach children doctrine by the Spirit, that doctrine has the power to change their very nature—be—over time.

—-

A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101. If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505. Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing and opportunity to become more godlike yourself. With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christlike virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined? Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?

Anyway, as I read these quotes and the rest of the talk, which is excellent, I felt some of my anger slipping away.  I felt the Spirit telling me that these principles are true, and there is a better way to approach our recent trend of disobedience and disrespect.  I felt like I could (with the Lord’s help) do it the right way and get the results I’ve been wishing for.  And isn’t it the truth that our children have the greatest power to develop God-like attributes in us … if we will let that happen?  I’m going to work on this.

I might buy some boxing gloves just in case, though.  Unless anyone has a private jet I can borrow.  Anyone?

Negotiating with a terrorist, and other parenting dilemmas.

See this little angel?

She is going to be the death of me.   She was my easiest baby by far.  (Except for nursing.  I’m hoping someday I can forgive her for the multiple cases of mastitis, plus the lack of weight loss that I had so joyfully experienced while nursing my boys.)  She is bright and sassy and social and fun, and has a vocabulary far beyond her four years.  And yet, most days I want to put her on Craig’s List by 10 a.m.   Although “undiagnosed,” I’m pretty sure she has some sensory issues.  Her clothes always “feel funny.”  Her socks and especially her shoes always “bother” her.  Meltdowns ensue.  They involve crying, wailing, shrieking, flopping around on the floor, throwing shoes, and on lucky days like yesterday, a little bit of kicking and pinching.   Not to mention screaming out completely irrational things like, ” I … HATE … MY … NOSE!”  Seriously.  ?!??!

Last summer, I complained about this a little bit and DeNae suggested that I get rid of all her clothes and just buy her some loose summer dresses.  It actually worked pretty well, at least for the summer, and we’ve managed to garner a collection of a few clothing items that she considers to be comfortable and suitable.  This works until they’re all dirty, and then she spends her morning screaming down the stairs at me that “all the clothes in my closet bother me!”.  The shoes and socks situation, however, seems unsolvable.  The meltdown usually “ends” when I just drag her kicking and screaming to the car barefoot with her shoes and socks in tow, ready to begin the battle again at the place of arrival.  At that point, usually the threat of her not being able to go inside (or the threat of being left in the car … a slightly empty threat, I admit) finally convince her to put them on.  This process is a painful 10-minute exercise in on-and-off, on-and-off, open and close the straps, do it again  . . . . whimper, whimper . . . you get the idea.

Shopping for shoes is a nightmare.  Shoes, sandals, flip flops alike are all met with complete disdain and a quick eject button. (I think I’m going to try crocs this summer, but I’m not hopeful.)  Sometimes I just buy the pair that seems the most comfortable to the touch, and then we battle it out for a few months.  The solution is elusive to me.  She has been up to 90 minutes late to preschool before because of it.  I have tried to set up award systems (“If you can be all the way ready and on time to school, then we will go get the stuff to make that necklace you saw in a magazine”),  punishment (“Fine. No gymnastics today because you can’t get ready to go.”), and embarrassment (“Okay, instead of preschool today,  you have to come with me to Clark’s school and sit in the corner of the room barefoot while I do my volunteer work.”).  I have followed through with all of those by the way, except the necklace which she did not earn.  Nothing so far seems to make a difference or even move her toward more success.  By the way, she likes preschool and gymnastics, so I don’t think this is some kind of avoidance feat.

So, wise blog readers, give me your ideas, solutions, sympathy.  I’ll take any of it.

And in addition to all that, I would love to hear your ideas on a related matter:  the balance between “loving instruction” and just forcing them to do what they’re supposed to do.  I give my kids choices all the time: “Do this and get this, or do that and get that.”  I think that’s not forcing them, but helping them understand the relationship between choices and consequences.  However, sometimes I just resort to “You can’t do anything else until this gets done.  Do it!,” and obviously, in Natalie’s case, I sometimes end up literally dragging her to where she needs to be and shoving her shoes on her feet myself.  I’m starting to have concerns about how to fix this now so that I don’t have to deal with the embarrassing mess it would be when my children are big strong teenagers and I’m trying to drag them somewhere or lock them in their rooms until they’re clean … know what I mean?  Real question:  How do you not resort to “forcing” them to do things, and get to the point where they choose it on their own?  I think I mostly get it, but I feel like something’s missing.

My apologies to those of you who come to this blog thinking I’m some kind of parenting expert.  Let’s face it.  I’ve still got a lot to learn.

While I’m not sleeping

This is a middle-of-the-night brain bleed of sorts.

I went to bed with a migraine and woke up with the remnants of a tension headache.  I’m guessing I must be a little stressed out, but I’m not really sure about what.

I have now deleted and restarted this point of my post at least a half a dozen times because I don’t want it to turn in to a list of my frustrations and challenges right now, especially because when I line them all up in my head, they pale in comparison to the “real” struggles I see other people going through.  Then I just feel wimpy, so that doesn’t help.  Plus, I don’t want my mom and others who know me well to read this and think, “Oh dear, Stephanie’s losing it,” because that would be embarrassing.  And it’s not true.  I think.  See?  I already want to delete this paragraph and start over again, but it’s 2:30 in the morning and I should really finish and get back to bed. (There’s definitely going to be a debate about whether or not to hit the publish button when I’m done with this one.)

So.

I’m going to be intentionally vague here.  Sometimes God tells you that you should do something that you’re not super comfortable with, but you do it anyway because you have faith that He will not lead you astray even if He will lead you away from what you think you want.  And if you’re naive (like me), you think that once you take that leap of faith, things will probably fall into place and God will bless you and it will all be just fine.  And it probably all will, still.  But in the meantime, it’s a lot harder than you thought it would be, and there are challenges you didn’t really expect at all, so you have to try hard to keep the same trust you had in the beginning when you closed your eyes and jumped.  And that’s not easy.  And maybe it makes you wake up in the night with a headache.

I’m totally going to change the subject now, because I think that will be helpful.

Last night, Clark taught our Family Home Evening lesson.  He’s six, by the way.  He used some leftover props/handouts from his last Primary class and did it all completely on his own.  It was about covenants.  At one point he said, “This is the third time I’m going to say this, but promises are really, really important.  You should really keep your promises, especially if they are with Heavenly Father.  You should never break them, but if you do break them, make sure you repent.”  My favorite part was when he said, “Heavenly Father never breaks a promise.   Sometimes people break promises, but that’s because they’re not perfect like Heavenly Father.”  I love that kid.

You know what?  I love my children a lot.  I have a fantastic husband.  We have a lot of really great blessings.  I wish I did a better job of showing love and gratitude where it’s due.  I just sat here and reread this post, and these are the thoughts that came to me:  humility and prayer, priesthood blessing, grace (I’m reading a book about this, and I’ll tell you more about it soon), and relax.  Go back to the trust.  And go back to bed.

Good night.

En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.

(photo credit)

Translation: In a shut mouth, flies cannot get in.
Interpretation: Sometimes silence is the best option.

Even though my mind has been really busy, none of it has seemed very blog-worthy, and no one wants to bore others on purpose.  So here’s a brief report of the happenings around here lately:

  • Matt is on his way home right now from finishing day two of the Bar exam.  It was hard.  He feels nervous.  I gave him a hard time about “You’d better pass or I’m getting a nanny and going to Hawaii for two weeks to recover,” (because I’ve been single-parenting for so long while he’s done law school and studied for the test, and because I’m so supportive like that), but I know he really did his best and we just have to wait for fate to play itself out.  I really am proud of him, regardless of the outcome.
  • When it’s a school holiday and you are trying to keep your children under control so your husband can study, might I suggest driving an hour and a half to an indoor swimming place and letting them swim for FIVE hours?  They will be so tired that they can’t even speak on the way home and then you simply have to tuck them into bed on arrival.  Plus you get to sit in a chair and read books while you “supervise” them.  (I fully admit that I have entered a new stage of life where my children are big enough to need minimal supervision.  This would have never been possible in the last 8 years.  I acknowledge the new-found blessing, and I embrace it.)
  • I have been using MyJobChart.com for a few weeks and it has worked so well with my kids.  I just want to mention how much it warmed my heart when Grant — the child I have been butting heads with lately– spent his very first hard-earned job points on “Mom time.”  I still can’t believe it.
  • Have you ever noticed that even though you complain a lot about something and even have small-scale tantrums about it, as soon as you make it a matter of prayer, progress is made, and then you feel like an idiot for complaining so much in the first place?  Cases in point:  1.  Boo hoo, poor me, I’m new and it’s hard to make friends. –> More people than I ever imagined signed up for my girls’ night out and made me feel like a rock star, plus some little doors cracked open and I’ve felt some positive opportunities for new friendships.  2.  I’m annoyed with the school situation here. I wish I could find some better options for my boys. –> I got a phone call saying that they had both (literally) won the lottery and were accepted into a well-reputed charter school.  3.  I feel a little “underwhelmed in the kingdom.”  I miss teaching. –>  I got an invitation to substitute for an Institute class at BYU and some random emails with loose invitations for possible speaking assignments.  Common ingredient in all three “solutions”: prayer.
  • I think I might have been marked in the pre-existence as “the one who will always have library fines.” I’m just faithful at fulfilling my destiny, that’s all.
  • I am so sick of filling out medical history forms.  Shouldn’t there be some big database out there for that?  Kind of like ancestry.com, except it’s more like diseasesofyourancestors.com.  I should really market that.
  • Clark just came into the room singing about how happy he is.  When I asked him why, he replied, “Grant said he’s going to run away because he hates me.”  I’m so proud of the loving family I’ve raised. *shaking head*

See?  Sometimes silence is the best option.