Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring Arrival

Despite logic and science and everything else, each year I remained convinced that winter will never end. There is a part of me that remains sure that June and July will roll around and temperatures will still be below freezing, frost will still be forming on the windows, and I'll be walking into work swaddled in down coats and multiple scarves.

Even as spring progresses, each time there is a small dip in the temperatures back towards freezing or there is a random spring snow flurry, I want to shout out, "See, I knew winter would last forever."

Which is why, every year, when the season fully transitions to spring, I'm in amazement.  I feel in awe of the warm weather that allows us to run around without jackets. Each blooming tree and sprouting bulb excites me. I'm ecstatic over the return of robins and butterflies and budding branches. 

I want to run around, photographing each and every single flower. I want to turn cartwheels in the new grass. I want to loudly proclaim that spring is here...

Wait, I actually do all those things.

Most places I've lived before, spring is a transient period, a gradual warming from the coldness of winter to the sweltering of summer. 

Spring in the Midwest is prolonged and substantial, an almost cleanly delineated event. It's negative twenty degrees outside and then suddenly, it's not. The world is full of flowers and sunshine and balmy breezy days. Then, just as suddenly, the days are hot and humid and full of cicadas and fireflies and it's summer. 

But between the frigid gray of winter and the lazy heat of summer, there is spring, bright and full and beautiful. 

Each year I doubt and each year I'm wrong.

I'm so happy to be wrong.  Spring is here.

Monday, April 27, 2015


When it comes to baby books, I'm the stereotypical parent. My oldest had a beautiful baby book, all the pictures and page layouts carefully done, all the details meticulously documented. That went clear until he was two.

Then I started medical school, a few years later, had another baby, then residency, then another baby. That was pretty much the end of that. Not a single picture has been  put in a photo album for 10 years.

I don't really regret it, because there are tons of pictures. Those pictures play as a slide show as our computer's screen saver, and we look at them all the time. And I keep telling myself I'll get around to those baby books...eventually...when no one is a baby anymore.

The one thing I do regret is that I don't write down all their little conversations and silly quotes. I love those so much and no matter how I try to remember, I end up forgetting.


Overheard in the back seat of the minivan:

Monkey: I hate this song.
Bug: You hate most songs. You only like maybe 5 songs. If it isn't one of those 5 songs, you hate it.
Monkey: Well...I'm thinking of adding a sixth.


Overheard in the backyard, while boys were setting up croquet set:

Duck (swinging the croquet mallet down on the the wicket): Hi, ho, hi, ho...(in his best Dumbo impression of the workers setting up the tent.)


After calling him multiple times to come up to the table for dinner:

Monkey: Mom, do you know what would better? If you said, 'Get up to the table, Buster!'


Checking out books at the library, suggesting different books and genres he might like:

Bug: Yeah, Mom, I already know that graphic novels and dystopian literature is. I'm not in elementary school anymore.


After our house was staged to be put on the market:

Bug: I hope our house sells fast.
Me: Why? I thought you didn't want to move.
Bug: I hate keeping it this clean. And I hate all the art work.


This morning, getting Duck out of his crib:

Duck (big, beaming smile): It's a beautiful day! I slept so good!


This was a little bit ago, but still too cute to not write down:

Monkey: Mom, why would anyone live in New Hampster?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Getting Fit(Bit)

I've mentioned in the past that I've struggled with my self image. Like so many other women, I've looked in the mirror and stood on the scale and been incredibly dissatisfied with what I saw.

I started running a couple years ago, and fell in love with it (which is something I definitely thought I would never say.) I started with Couch to 5K followed by Couch to 10K. Last fall, I ran my first 10K. Physically, it was one of the harder things I've ever done. Mentally, it was amazing! (Although based on how hard it was for me, it made me seriously rethink my life goals of running a half or full marathon.)

As much as I loved running, I always did feel a little discouraged that I didn't lose any weight.  Not a single pound. I felt like I was putting in all those miles to just barely maintain where I was. I told myself that the number on the scale and the size of my jeans didn't matter (because it honestly doesn't). I told myself that I was in better shape than I had been in years. My resting heart rate was lower. My stamina and energy were better.  I could keep up with my boys (and sometimes even out do them). Those were the things that really mattered.

But still, never seeing the number on the scale change was discouraging. Before having children, I was extremely thin, sometimes bordering on underweight. Pregnancy changed my body in ways I never anticipated. My metabolism ground to a screeching halt. I never regained my pre-pregnancy size, hanging on to 20 plus pounds with each pregnancy. My BMI went from normal to overweight. The last couple years, my BMI hovered just under obese. I was trying to eat healthy and exercise regularly, and just felt that I wasn't getting the results I had hoped.

My family has always been very supportive of my attempts to be healthy (and I always try to keep the conversations about being healthier, not about being skinnier and losing weight or feeling fat.) For my birthday this year, Hubster bought me a FitBit Charge HR. 

I'm sure most of you know about FitBit. It's a super fancy pedometer. The Charge HR also counts stairs, calories, and continuously measures heart rate. It also keeps track of sleep.  After a few days, I realized that in between my runs, I wasn't being nearly as active as I thought I was. So I started walking into work each day, instead of riding the shuttle from the parking lot. I started taking the stairs everywhere. I haven't been in an elevator since I started wearing the FitBit. It's motivated me to take more walks, run around the back yard with my boys, take extra laps around the operating rooms at work, and do whatever it takes to get my 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs each day.   It also has really helped motivate me to not skip my runs. I love those days when I get my steps in by 10 am, and everything else is bonus!

Also, being able to connect with other FitBit wearers and add that competitive edge has helped as well.

My resting heart rate, which was already fairly good, has gotten better, going from 65-68 to 60-62.

After talking to some friends, I also decided to try the app MyFitnessPal, to do some calorie counting. It was enlightening. And by enlightening, I mean a shock, slap in the face type of enlightening.

I felt like I was eating pretty healthy. And I was. I was just eating about double what I should. I remember the first two days of counting calories, and I was shocked by how much I was eating. I never felt like I was over eating, I never felt stuffed after meals, and I was eating fewer servings than the rest of my family. But for me, it was still over eating. Once I realized that, it was very easy to cut back. I still have pizza and ice cream and candy and bacon. But I just eat one slice of pizza and just one actually serving size of ice cream. I reach towards healthy, more protein based snacks. I'm not eating a specialized diet, I'm eating what the rest of my family is. I'm just eating a more appropriate amount.

The calorie counting was hard at first, but it's gotten so easy now (especially since I've added our favorite recipes to MyFitnessPal.) There are days when I go over, but most days I have a good feel for how much I can eat. By deciding to not eat off the plate of cookies at work, it means I can have a cocktail with Hubster that evening while we watch Outlander.

Between these two things, I'm not just feeling great, I'm losing weight. For the first time in years, I'm actually seeing the number on the scale drop. There is no more jumping up and down to get my jeans on.

So far, I'm down 10 pounds. My BMI has dropped two points, headed back towards a normal, healthy BMI.

I know it's not just about the numbers. There are so many reasons to take care of ourselves, to eat healthy and exercise regularly. But it's so nice to get that reward for taking care of myself.

Now, I just have to figure out what to do about my sleep. I've always known that I haven't slept well, and now I have the FitBit to prove it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let Me Explain...

...No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

(To quote one of the best movies there is.)

Sometimes, I feel like my blog is a childhood friend. The kind that you used to talk to every day and share every little detail with. Then life happens, and you get busy, and suddenly, you realize it's been forever since you've talked.

Once I'm in that situation, I start feeling awkward.If I call, will I just bother them? Are they mad that it's been so long? Are we still even friends?

Each time, once I've finally made contact again, I realize it's not awkward, it's not terrible. So, despite becoming that flaky and undependable person, I'm reestablishing contact.

Things are like they always are. Chaotic.  Can't things just settle down and be boring? Boring would be lovely.

Here's a summary of how things are going...

Our home has an accepted offer. The inspection and appraisal and all other things are done (to the best of my knowledge.) We close in about a month and a half.

We've made an offer on a home in Utah. After much nail biting negotiating, that offer has been accepted. We are still biting our nails as we wait for our financing to go through.

We are planning another epic summer road trip. Since we have to move all of us from Iowa to Utah, we decided that we would combine summer vacation with the driving.

I'm spending my days getting quotes from movers, figuring out the best way to get our cats to Utah, and sending dozens of emails to mortgage lenders, real estate agents, and all the other ancillary services that go along with this.

Monkey has been struggling in school. We actually got a letter sent home. We are meeting with his teacher and trying to figure out the best way to proceed.

I've almost got my Utah state medical licensing done so it looks like I actually will have a job after we move.

I'm making lists of everything that we will need to do when we move. Pack. Change utilities. Change banks. Change address on a bazillion different things.

I spent the weekend "helping" Monkey construct a rocket for Scouts. Helping is what I've starting calling my constant nagging and scolding.

I had to come up with an academic project for my first year at my new job. I've come up with an idea and the project has been approved.

Hubster and I watched 4 seasons of Game of Thrones in one month.

I've had three dentist appointments in 5 weeks. Boo. Except one of those appointments is for bleaching, so I can have pretty pearly white teeth.

I turned another 30-something age a few weeks ago.

Duck accidentally got fed a gluten-filled muffin and had days of misery in which pretty much no one slept.

Spring arrived.

I continue to work. Hubster continues to go to school. We continue to do laundry, make meals, supervise homework, go for walks, survive bedtimes.

I think the stress that accompanies change is getting to me. I'm not super fun to be around and I cry at random things. Today, I cried at a picture on Facebook of Kathrine Switzer, the first female in the Boston Marathon. Last night, I dissolved into tears while singing "Return to Pooh Corner" to Duck at bedtime.

Things are actually falling into place. I know they won't be chaotic forever. I may even find time to write a real post.

But for now, it was nice to just catch up.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Master Bath Update

Now that our home has a big "Sale Pending" sign in the front yard, sharing home improvement projects feels slightly out of place.

I knew it was bound to happen. While we did manage to complete many, many projects on our home, there were still quite a few we always meant to get to. The thing I desperately didn't want to happen was to postpone those projects until right before we sold our house, so that we could actually have some time to enjoy the results of our work.

Obviously, that exact thing I didn't want to happen happened.  Although we had the plans and most the supplies for our master bath renovation for nearly a year, we didn't actually tackle the project until a month before we listed the house on the market.

We even hemmed and hawed about doing it at all. We could have saved ourselves a little money and quite a few weekends by just re-caulking the shower and calling it a day. But every time we would look at the brown shower tile and the grey vinyl flooring, we felt we just couldn't leave the bathroom looking like that.

Our master bath is quite small. I wanted to make it something special to somewhat compensate for the small size.

This project was much more manageable than the hall bath renovation. We only had to redo the floors and the tile in the shower. The sink was perfect, the shower doors and base presentable.

Just like the hall bath project, this started by ripping everything out. Unlike the hall bath project, I got so excited, I completely missed a before picture.  I did manage to snag one small picture of the ugly linoleum, of which there ended up being two layers.

I also didn't take a picture of the nearly gutted bathroom. I was too focused on just getting things done.

Because the bathroom is on the small side, we used nicer finishes. I really wanted to use marble, but it was still cost prohibitive. So we got a porcelain tile with a marble-esque pattern. 

So much nicer than the dark, yucky linoleum.

In the shower, we used the same white subway tiles we used in the hall bath. Here, however, I splurged on some glass tile for an accent.  The tile ended up coordinating perfectly with the existing turquoise wall color (almost as if I had planned it, which I didn't. I just gravitate towards the same things.)

After having done a bathroom just weeks prior, we were hitting our stride. Everything went very smoothly. With only one tiny hiccup.

We were so determined to completely finish on a Sunday evening. Until we realized we were one single tile short.

That meant we had to drive across town to the hardware store and buy a single $0.70 tile. We couldn't think of a single other thing we needed at the hardware store to make the trip seem worth while. In hindsight, with that being our only hangup, it was nothing. At the time, after hours spent cutting tile and applying mortar and spacers, it felt terrible.

We opted for gray grout to accentuate the grey marbling in the floor tiles and to highlight the beautiful subway tiles. There were moments that I worried I had made a bad choice, because the grout seemed so dark. But after it dried and was a lovely light gray, I was extremely glad we chose that color.

Watching every come together made me so glad that we decided to refinish the bathroom. 

Yes, we will only enjoy it for a few months. But those are a few months of getting ready in the morning and taking showers in a very pretty bathroom.