"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas

First, let me tell you that I sliced my thumb with a knife pretty good yesterday.  It happened so quickly that at first I thought I just knicked it.  I did not.  It was most definitely a slice that was quite deep and about an inch long.  We chose to care for it at home and avoid the ER.  (Okay, I chose and Drew accommodated.)  Drew fixed me up.  Between his general knowledge, military first aid, and a medicine cabinet full of leftover supplies from smashing Eleanor's finger in a door a year ago, we were pretty well equipped.  Before he fixed me up, he got me a chair.  When the blood was running out of my thumb, I was holding it under the cold water faucet, and I turned white & all clammy and nearly passed out, a chair seemed like need number one.  Blood loss or "geez, I nearly cut my thumb off and that's freaking me out"?  Hard to say.  Also, I'm a terrible patient and only a few hours later I decided that since it was wrapped and didn't hurt too badly that I could probably do what I wanted to.  That just opened it back up and we had to stop the bleeding all over again.  Drew fixed me back up and then bossed me around all evening and made me sit still.  It was both lovely and excruciating.  I do not sit still well and I certainly don't like not being able to do for myself.  However, since I really don't want to reopen the wound, I'm being careful.  You know what's hard to do without the use of your left thumb?  Lots of things.  Texting, cooking, buttoning your jeans, clasping your bra, washing your hair, giving your kid a bath.  It's annoying, but now I know that Ikea knives are really sharp.  Kudos, Ikea. 
Best news about having a bum thumb?  Drew used my new waffle maker to make us breakfast last night (and did all the dishes, too).
 Eleanor is so concerned over my owie that she has been using this balloon as a bandage for her own finger.  "I have owie like Mommy." 
 Typing is slow going because I apparently use my left thumb to hit the space bar and retraining myself to use my right thumb is hard.  I'm going to try to get through this post anyway and share a few photos from our lovely Christmas.  
Harris Christmas with Drew's Dad at Jessica's house on Saturday. 
Eleanor & Corbin are in an ongoing duel over pretty much everything and Eleanor was NOT a fan of sharing her Daddy. 
 A book!  I love books as gifts.  This is actually a large book of 5 minutes stories.  We've already read them all and I have a feeling we'll be quite familiar with all of these stories very soon. 
 JR, Alex, Corbin. 
 me & Jessica
 On Sunday we went to the Christmas Eve service.  Last year we went with Drew's mom to her church, so this was the first time we had been to a Christmas Eve service at Fellowship.  I LOVED it.  The services are family friendly, so they are full of children and adults of all ages.  Glow sticks replace candles,  because, well, toddlers and open flames are not a good pair.  What a fantastic idea.  There are monthly Sunday morning family services at Fellowship, but we've not participated in that just yet.  Eleanor always goes to her age appropriate class and Drew & I attend worship together.  So this is the first time Eleanor has been to "big church" and she did really well.  It was so special to me to attend this service together.  It gave me feelings and stirred up memories of Christmas Eves of the past with my family of 4, but it was different and fresh enough to be a new experience and maker of new memories with my family of 3. 
 For my entire life Christmas Eve has been about church and my Grandpa Whimpy's birthday.  So it was strange to not incorporate time to visit him this year.  Instead, with my brothers and their families out of town, we had Christmas Eve evening at home.  At first it was weird, but then it turned into a lovely evening of new traditions and fun.  Super fancy dinner of crackers, cheese, and summer sausage.  (It was this same summer sausage that tricked me into cutting my thumb yesterday, but we won't talk about that.) 
 And we ate that gourmet meal at the bar while tracking Santa on Daddy's phone.  Drew found a Nice or Naughty scanner app and we all took turns seeing who was naughty or nice.  Drew and Eleanor were repeatedly nice, I was repeatedly naughty.  We laughed and laughed and it wasn't until the next day that Drew told me he was controlling it the entire time!
 Earlier in the week I let Eleanor pick out a cake mix to make for Jesus' birthday.  She chose red velvet and was so excited over singing to Jesus and blowing out the candle. 


Before bed we left Santa a piece of Jesus' birthday cake. 

Drew: should we leave Santa some milk to go with his cake?
Me: or water?  We could leave him water.
Eleanor: Orange juice.
Drew: or we could leave him milk.
Eleanor: Santa want orange juice.

So we poured Santa a glass of Eleanor's current favorite, Juicy Juice Tangerine Mango juice, and left a carrot for Rudolph.  I'm actually really excited to see what she wants to leave for Santa each year!
 Then Eleanor went to bed, Drew put together a few toys, and I wrapped gifts. 

 I got up early Christmas morning to make muffin tops and a breakfast casserole.  Muffins were yummy, breakfast casserole was not.  Seriously, if you have a breakfast casserole recipe that is delicious, I'd love to have it. 
Eleanor woke up and when she saw the presents she just covered her mouth. 
 You may think that she went straight for the gifts, but you would be wrong.  She was most concerned with "Santa eat his cake?"  She went to check and was blown away by what she found.  "Santa eat all the food! He eat it all! He eat the orange juice all gone! Where the carrot go?  Rudolph eat the carrot all gone?"  The kid was astonished and repeatedly went back to marvel over the empty plate and glass. 
And of course, presents! 

 She got a doctor kit and took everyone's temperature. 
 She was not at all impressed with the pajamas or coloring book that she unwrapped, but was quite pleased over the airplane, the doctor kit, and the cape (for which Daddy is wearing the matching mask below). 





It was a great morning at home and quite the Merry Christmas. 
After a day of playing with new toys and naps all around, we went to Nonnie's for our final Christmas celebration of the year.  Per her usual family photo expression, Eleanor looks like she's got better things to do than look at a camera & smile. 

 board games

 My only prime rib experience wasn't a yummy one, so I was skeptical of this dinner plan, BUT... it was delicious!  So good.  For real. 

 And finally, the time JR and Eleanor had been not so patiently awaiting... presents!  (Don't let the smile fool you, she quickly melted into a puddle of sleepy, overstimulated attitude.) 
 These two are 6 months apart in age and at first that seemed like a million years, but the gap is closing.  They butt heads constantly and I can only hope that at some point, when the toddler years have passed us, that they will love each other and be civil.  Until then... Eleanor wanted to play with Corbin's gifts and Corbin wanted to play with Eleanor's gifts, both while yelling for the other to not touch their things.  Corbin's favorite word was "Mine!" and Eleanor's words of choice were, "That Eleanor's!" Ah, toddlers. 
Yep, they're all wearing Bob Ross shirts. 
 Eleanor has heaps of new toys and we're having such fun watching her discover and play with each one.  She just may be most pleased with her stick horse and I giggle every time I hear her coming around the corner with it. 
We had a lovely Christmas and now I'm ready to move on.  We had decorations half way down yesterday when I cut my finger, so Drew did the rest of the work and now the house is pretty well back to normal.  I enjoy the festivity of the season, but I just love getting things back to normal.  Eleanor isn't particularly sad about this.  In fact, she's more matter of fact about it all.  She's been walking around the house all day saying, "It over.  Christmas is over. Santa in a box."  (Her front porch Santa that we went out to check on daily is, in fact, now in a box in the attic.) 

Today would have been Alex's 15th birthday and I don't want to let the day pass without saying so.  She was awesome and I'm so glad she was ours for a brief time.  January 1st will mark 4 years since she died.  As usual, I feel like that's just absurd.  Time is such a strange thing.  She was real and she was in our lives for 11 years.  Just 4 years ago I was holding her, but it feels like a thousand years.  I wonder why that is?  It really feels like another lifetime and I don't know what to make of that.  It is what it is and we process it differently as time passes.  One thing that remains the same is how special this sweet girl was and how grateful I am to have been her momma. 


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve

Eleanor likes to dig through things in my bathroom cabinet while I'm getting ready in the mornings.  The other day she came up with a spin brush exfoliation thing and an old pair of eye glasses.  Since it seemed so important to her and it wasn't hurting anything, I let her take them with us for the day. 
 We had some of the warmest weather on record and enjoyed it by playing outside a bit.  Miss Caution has never been one to just climb all over things or take any chances.  She's able, but not always willing.  So the fact that she's climbing up the slide and sliding back down by herself is fun to watch.  She's much more likely to tell someone else to be careful than to do something remotely dangerous on her own.  Her risks are well calculated :)
I was holding her the other day and sat her down on the kitchen counter so I could do something.  Then I realized what a terrible idea that was and put her on the floor.  When she asked to sit back up there, I said, "No, that's dangerous and I shouldn't have put you up there to begin with."  Now she likes to pat the counter and say, "That's dangerous.  You get hurt."  She repeats everything.  And uses big words appropriately. 
On Thursday we went to see Santa for the official visit and photo.  She was excited, but I didn't know how it would actually go.  This Santa is so calm and non-threatening that even with her initial hesitation, she went to him and sat on his knee.  She kept trying to pick her nose and he dealt with that like a pro.  His hands have her in what appears to be a sweet embrace, not an arm lock to prevent booger picking.  Lol. 
Santa: What do you want for Christmas? 
Eleanor: I want to get down. 

(we did let her get down when she asked to.  she was pleased with how it went and so were we.)
 I think the picture turned out great and she was so pleased chatty once the visit was over.  What was she most impressed with?  His gloves.  All day long she talked about how Santa was wearing gloves on his hands. 
When I was younger I thought that gift wrapping would be an awesome gig.  As a 37 year old mom and dog owner, my biggest goal is to keep the dog hair out of the tape.  Side note: there is most likely dog hair in the tape.  No need for a name tag.  If there is black Foose hair in the tape, it's from us. 
 We had just a tiny bit of snow last night.  Not enough to play in, but enough to look pretty for a few hours before it all melted away. 

I didn't know what Eleanor would think of it, since she's really only had one experience with snow that amounted to about this much last year.  She kept saying she wanted to touch the snow, so Drew put her shoes and coat on her, took her out front and stood her on the side walk.  She squatted down, touched it with one finger, stood back up and said, "I touched it.  I go back inside now." 

Thursday was the three year anniversary of my Dad's death.  That was weird.  I'm obviously aware of his absence and miss him often, especially around the holidays when family gatherings are a focus.  But I hadn't been sitting around all week thinking about the actual day approaching.  Then it was the 21st and I was like, "Hm, it's been three years.  This sucks."  It was just a day, but the weight of it was a bit strange.  Don't know if that will ever go away. 

Much love to you all.  May you have a Merry Christmas with those you love the most. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Health Track

Drew and I have been stewing on and planning getting back on a better health track.  One down side of so openly sharing everything that I do is that you all are the first to know when I fail or do something dumb.  That's a risk I'm willing to take, because at least I'm trying.  This applies to health related things as well as the rest of my life.
I don't even feel bad going on and on about this right now because I'm certain that many of you are also feeling a bit plump from the holidays. 
So you all know we did the super low carb thing for about 6 weeks this summer.  The first week was rough and then after that we both experienced a new kind of energy and feeling good.  Most notably, we lost a few pounds, my skin cleared up, the bloating went away, and we both had more energy.  On the down side, we went so low carb that I started having some heart palpitations, my breath was horrid, and my hormones got a little screwy (all can be side effects of ketosis).  So I was obviously going overboard and my body was all like, "What's happening here?"  I felt like we were just on the verge of finding the right balance when we moved and all things health related were dumped in the trash can in the drive through before we picked up our next fast food meal.  Know what I mean?  Still, we maintained pretty well and didn't rebound too badly until the last few weeks.  Holiday treats and all things baked have me over eating and feeling rotten.  Also, my jeans don't fit.  Mercifully, the battery in the bathroom scale died, so I can't say how much weight I've regained. Regardless of what the number is, I'm not feeling great and we are both ready to kiss the Christmas sweets goodbye and get back to something more balanced.
So... what is that magical diet that allows us to live in America while not becoming obese and sedentary?  If I knew the actual answer to that then I'd be a billionaire.  While you could look at everything we've tried and label us failures for not figuring it all out yet, the good news is that every time we try something we learn a little more about what works and what doesn't.  Years ago when we did Weight Watchers, we learned that loading up on fruits and veggies and plenty of water was key.  Low carb taught us that refined sugar and processed foods make us moody and bloated and hungry for more junk. 
As for exercise, it's well established in the history of me that making time for exercise is good for my mental health (and that's good for everyone who has to deal with me!).  What I haven't really seen in the past is big changes in my body/weight from exercise.  I've maintained weight while actively and regularly exercising, but I've never just melted away the pounds by walking or running or killing it on the elliptical (also, I hate the elliptical).  We've tried more intensive exercise programs in the past and it always goes the same... get new program (P90x, T25, whatever program is all the rage), kill ourselves for a week or two while cursing at the television, can't walk or stand up out of a chair for days because of the muscle soreness, feel famished from all the energy we're burning, quickly find that we simply can't maintain that routine, give up and go back to our old ways.  It's super effective at killing your healthy motivations and pushing you back into the arms of the donut shop.
I've been doing a lot of reading about a healthier, more maintainable approach to all of this and here's what I've come up with.

One: nobody REALLY TOTALLY knows.
Two: there are a whole lot of people who claim to know.
Three: my body is different from your body, and what works for me may not work for you.

That being said, I think the best that any of us can do is to stay informed and keep trying.  It's entirely possible that I will struggle with these same 10 pounds for the rest of my life.  If that's the case then I will do my very best to be grateful that it's 10 pounds and not 100 pounds.  I'm just trying super hard to take care of me so I can live another 50 or 60 years.

Here are a few articles/sites that I've drawn my inspiration from.

www.fitrockerchick.com
 https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/neat-exercises-for-couch-potatoes.aspx
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/why-eating-a-low-fat-diet_b_634011.html
I'm also intrigued by the idea of Intuitive Eating, but I haven't done enough reading on it to really have an opinion. 

And here's my new plan...
I'm going to do short, intense workouts 2-4 times a week.  I'm talking 10-20 minutes of working super hard, getting my heart rate up, sweating, and pushing my body.  I will not kill myself for hours and overdo it on cardio that may very well be over stressing my body and having the opposite of my desired effect. 
Every day I'm going to make a conscious effort to simply be more active.  Walk to the mail box instead of stopping my car at the top of the driveway when I get home.  Get up and play with my kid.  Go outside and play fetch with Foose.  Have a dance party in the kitchen while dinner is cooking.  Choose to take the stairs.  Park farther away at the grocery store instead of cruising around looking for the closest spot.  Go for a walk just because.  Hike every time we get the chance.  Stand up for a while instead of just sitting.  Don't look at the treadmill as a 30 or 45 minute obligation and instead embrace it as an opportunity to get up and walk for 5 or 10 minutes.
I recently read that it's not just the quantity of food that you eat, but the quality that matters.  This isn't necessarily new information for me, but it was good to hear it in those terms.  Eat real food that your body knows what to do with.  Duh.  I'm still going to eat yummy food.  I will still eat a piece of birthday cake and I will still enjoy the yummy breakfast foods that I love.  Come on y'all, who wants to live a life without waffles and bacon?  Not this girl.  It's just going to happen and claiming that it won't is a lie.  I'm going to eat those things, but not all day every day.  I'm going to make a real effort to simply eat real food.  More produce, healthy fats, lots of water.  Less processed stuff, less refined sugar, less food out of a package.
Here's the biggest thing and I will absolutely credit my friend Erin for saying this in a live feed the other day.  (www.fitrockerchick.com)  "There is no such thing as motivation.  There is only discipline."  Duh, why didn't I ever think about it that way?  If you're waiting for the motivation to eat right or exercise more or quit smoking or quit drinking or read your Bible more or [insert life goal here] then you're likely to be disappointed.  You won't feel motivated every day.  You just have to do it.  You don't have to feel like doing it to get it done.  This is the biggest thing that I'm going to hold on to as I try to get back on a healthier track.

I've had in my head that we'd start all this new stuff after Christmas, and then today I realized how dumb that is.  Yes, there will be lots of yummy treats that I want to eat over the next 5 days, but that doesn't mean that I can't get moving now.  So when I laid E down for her nap this afternoon, I went upstairs and put in 10 good minutes with a T25 DVD that's been collecting dust.  I did 10 good minutes, I worked up a sweat, got my heart rate up there, felt my muscles protesting, and then I turned it off.  Next time I'll start the DVD where I left off and do another 10 or 15 good minutes.  Truthfully, I feel pretty good right now.  I don't feel wiped out and I'm not starving for a snack.
Is this the key to it all? Probably not.  I'll probably fail at one more more of these things.  At some point in the future I'll probably realize that one or more of these things is nonsense.  And that's okay, because at least I'm trying.

"Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better."
-Maya Angelou

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Front Porch Sitting

Eleanor wanted to go out to the front porch to see the blow up Santa this morning.  It was chilly, but beautiful, so we wound up spending half an hour on the front porch in our pajamas.  I ran in for the camera, expecting to get a certain photo.  As usual, the photos that turned out great were unexpected. 

 What was that noise?
 It was the neighbor's rooster! 
 Then she wanted me to cover her up in the rocking chair because, "I lay down and take a rest, okay?"
 And more giggles over the rooster crowing. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

One Week

Eleanor has been asking, "Is Santa coming?" on repeat for nearly a month. It wasn't until today's conversation that I realized she didn't really even understand what that would mean. 

E: Is Santa coming?
Me:  Yes!  One more week and Santa will come! 
E: Can I see him?
Me: Nope.  On Christmas Eve Santa will come when you are sleeping and leave you presents to find when you wake up.
E: (eyes huge and her little mind processing) Yeah!  Santa come I sleeping!  Bring me presents!!!

We've talked a lot about this today and I just think it's so funny that this little piece of the Christmas puzzle clicked for her.  I do worry about how to explain to her when Christmas is over.  I hope it's uneventful and she's all like "whatever", but my mind can't help but remember how Alex would cry every year when we took the tree down.  We'll see.  For now we are soaking up the last week of Christmas festivities. 
Drew & John worked on the new stairs off the back porch on Saturday.  They look great and now there is a safe exit from the back porch to the back yard and the pool area is completely contained and not accessible to dogs or children without a grown up to open the fence.  I'll have to paint & repaint the porch & stair railings at some point, but it's not on my immediate list of things to do.  I'm just grateful for the fence and new stairs and that the dogs have adjusted to the new means of getting to the back yard. 
 
On Saturday evening we went to Nonnie's for Christmas cookie decorating.  We had a fun time, but Drew & I are terrible at cookie decorating! 






Poor Mac.  To be fair, his little tongue hangs out of his mouth most of the time anyway.  
 On Sunday morning I opened Eleanor's closet to pick her church clothes and she zeroed in on this poofy, formal dress.  I had forgotten that she picked it out at the Rhea Lana consignment sale a couple of months ago.  I pulled it down for her to wear and she finished it off with another item from her closet that she's never worn... this white fur coat that was a gift when she was a newborn.  She felt so fancy and it was adorable. 
 Sunday evening we had our old community group over.  It was so nice to have everyone together and catch up on life.  I'm so grateful for them all. 
 And today... our first day of no school for Christmas break.  We started the morning slow and then I told Eleanor we needed to get dressed because we needed to go to Walmart. 

E: I wear the Christmas dress.
Me: What dress?
E: (leads me to her room and points) the polka dot dress. 

So we went to Walmart in full formal dress.  Formal party dress?  Check.  White fur coat?  Check.  Ruffle socks and Sunday shoes?  Check.  She looked a bit like the party girl who was all fancy last night when the party started, but obviously stayed out all night and hasn't been home for a shower or clean change of clothes :)  She pranced around that store using her manners and saying, "Excuse me!"  anytime anyone approached.  She's so in to painting her nails now that I let her pick a new color.  It took her 2.5 seconds to pick a purple polish and for the rest of the shopping trip she stopped to show little old ladies and declare, "I got new polish!" 

On the heels of me sharing that Jen Hatmaker article about Sabotaging Big Days last week, I was a bit of (or a lot of) a grump for a few days.  The emotions are just so big and tangled and complicated, y'all.  My apologies to anyone and everyone who got to point at me this weekend and declare me as the sabotager of happy times.  I swear I wasn't trying to ruin anyone else's good times, just trying to work through my own minefield of feelings. 

5 Year Journal prompt:

December 18, 2017: What do I want most? 

Sheesh, I should have looked at the prompt before I committed to writing on it.  There's lots of stuff I want, but those things seem silly for two reasons... if I really wanted them then I could go get them or they are things that don't really matter at all.  So I tried to go with my gut here and answer with the most honest and true thing that I desire, but then the image of a beauty queen waving her hand in the air and declaring her desire for world peace is what popped into my head.  Really, though... peace.  That's my answer.  PEACE.  It's a big answer, I know.  Personal peace.  Lay down at night and fall right to sleep because God's got this and I don't need to worry kind of peace.  Relationship peace.  Look at all of us grown ups being honest and open and accepting and committed and reasonable kind of peace.  Cultural peace.  I don't really understand you and you don't really understand me, but we can co-exist on this planet kind of peace. Political peace.  Let's all sit down and do what is right instead of what will yield me the most power kind of peace.  Religious peace.  I believe in my God, I give thanks for my right to worship that God, and I respect your right to do the same kind of peace.  All of that.  I want, more than anything, a big ol' blanket of that peace for us all.