Friday, March 29, 2013

A Windy, Wonderful Birthday

4/6/2013 Update: It's now 2 weeks past the party, and the weather is looking up--not breezy today, of course! I finally got some pictures uploaded. Enjoy!

I can't believe that one week ago right now, Hubs and I were bundling Munch up in the freezing March weather to go to the National Aquarium in DC for his BIRTHDAY!

We had a really fabulous birthday weekend, all told. The party picnic was well-attended DESPITE the horrid wind. And Munch was in a good mood the whole time! He even napped when he was supposed to.

Friday Highlights

Like I said, Friday morning, we went to the National Aquarium. This is not a massive aquarium, by
any stretch of the imagination. It's essentially a room in the basement of the U.S. Department of Commerce building and features aquariums inspired by various parts of the world--the Potomac River, the Great Lakes, the Great Barrier Reef, etc. We'd briefly considered going to the amazing Baltimore Aquarium, but at $30 a pop, we figured we'd save that for when Munch could "get" it a little more.

And that likely was a good plan, as Munch was most interested in the curving blue staircase. He looked at the large enclosure filled with American alligators and when we looked in each window, he said "allo" (water), but then he'd look at me and say, "stairs." So we walked around for a bit, then he ran up and down the length of the room for a while, picked out a stuffed starfish, and then we left, via said staircase.

Munch has been to the National Zoo twice before, which is technically in DC, but this was his first time downtown, near the Mall. We wanted to walk to the White House, which is close to the Commerce building, but it was so windy, and Munch was fighting a head cold, and I didn't want to risk him being sick for his party.

Saturday Highlights

Star cakes courtesy of
my lovely older sister
Saturday, which also happened to be my birthday, dawned at least sunny and, we thought, with calm breezes. Much to our dismay, when we got out to the picnic shelter, we discovered that in an open field, the wind was quite ... roaring. So some things went by the wayside--my MIL had gotten nice primary color tablecloths ... they blew right off, no matter how much tape I tried. I'd gotten some stars to hang up on the posts ... same issue, and they kept hitting people like Chinese fighting stars. I wanted guests to write messages to Munch on star cutouts--no way that was happening. It's a good thing I didn't get balloons.

Party favors courtesy
of my lovely MIL
BUT, there was a lot of room, which was our main goal. People mingled, ate pizza and cake, and watched Munch run around, down a sloping hill and up to the parking lot. Lots of our friends who we don't see too often came, so it was great to catch up, and it was wonderful bringing both sides of the family together. Hubs and I are always so thankful that Munch is so beloved and that our families' love for him brings everyone together.

Gold star for all
Will we have Munch's March birthday outside again? We'll see. USUALLY, the weather is at least 15 degrees warmer right now. I believe this year was an anomaly. And the lesson I am glad I learned before the party: Be prepared to adjust expectations. If I had had my heart SET on certain things, like the decorations, I likely would have been devastated. I concentrated on enjoying what was happening rather than lamenting what "should" have happened. Removing the pressure from myself and the event led to a very enjoyable time!

Amazing Hubs

And though for the past few years, my own birthday has taken a backseat to Munch's (in my own mind), so many people made me feel special for the occasion. My parents, sisters, MIL, and even some friends got me some wonderful presents.

And Hubs gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts he's ever done--a myriad of presents, some over the top and totally more than I expected, that are meant to refocus me on my writing. It feels so wonderful to have a husband who nurtures my interests and cheers me on.

All in all, a successful turning 2 for Munch, leaving me grateful for many blessings.

Monday, March 25, 2013

10 Things About Spring

I remembered another BIG item for last week's list about how great Hubs is, so I have to add it here, if you'll indulge me:

11. He went to every one of my prenatal visits. Early on in my pregnancy, when I told people Hubs went to my doctors visits, several of them said, "That'll change." "My husband went to my first two, then only when we got an ultrasound." And the like. But not Hubs--he was there whether it was for 15 minutes as I stepped on the scale, she measured my belly, and sent us on our way, or whether I was getting blood work after drinking the glucose, even once I started having to go once a week because of my high blood pressure. Hubs claimed Munch as equally his responsibility right from the first cell divisions.

NOW. On to my list about spring. This one may be tough for me because I don't LOVE spring. I'm more of a fall girl. That's why this is simply 10 things ABOUT spring, not 10 things I like/love about the season that this year seems to be staying locked in Mother Nature's bosom.

1. Spring contains my and Munch's birthdays. Just a few days ago, Munch turned 2 and I turned 33. I've always loved March because it was my birthday month, and now I love it double because it's the month that my son arrived.

2. My anxiety rises in spring. I don't have a good reason for this, but things have always felt less safe to me in spring. I know this is odd, coming off the season of ice and snow, but it's just how it's been. I don't know if it's because people are out and about more that it feels like there's more opportunity for something, like a car accident, to happen? It's weird, but I've learned to ride it out and not overanalyze it.
3. I love looking for robins. As Michigan's state bird, robins have always been special to me. Growing up, I learned that spring had officially arrived when you saw the first robin. I also vaguely recall that you're supposed to make a wish upon seeing the season's first robin? That may be incorrect, but wishing is always a good idea, in my opinion. I loved the orange-breasted birds, though. I just saw one a few days ago. Unfortunately, we now have several inches of snow, so who knows how he's doing.

4. I don't mind the rain. Warm spring rains feel like the Earth is waking up.

5. Spring is probably my least favorite season. Fall is #1, winter is fun for the holidays (though with snow coming back here at the end of March, I'm pretty done with that), and summer is SUMMER.

6. I dread switching out my clothes. Probably because I have very little storage space and have no real idea where all my off-season clothes end up. But it's an annoying task.

7. It's finally jacket or t-shirt weather. I hate wearing coats, and I've been rebelling for most of this disgustingly cold March. Usually, I'm not itching for warmer weather, but this year has been different, probably because Munch loves to walk and go to the playground, so we need some warm weather for that to happen.

8. I'm not too into pastels. Maybe another part of the reason I don't care for spring is the colors. I'm getting into teal, but really, darker teal. I'm much more attracted to dark purple than lavender, navy over robin's egg blue. And fall colors suit me better as well.

9. Walking weather. As referenced above, I love taking family walks when the weather is warm. Since summers are so humid here, spring is the season for really enjoying an evening walk.

10. Throwing open the windows. After months of being shut up in the house, getting nice breezes wafting through the rooms is a pleasure.

Friday, March 22, 2013

And Then Munch Turned 2

2 years old!

So many things go through my mind on this momentous day. How FAST these 2 years have gone. How it seems that Munch has been in my life forEVER. How much he's changed since his 1st birthday. How TALL he is. How much he TALKS now.

Over the past year ...
  • Munch learned to walk, taking his first long string of steps around 15 months.
  • He rode an airplane.
  • He served as the cutest ring-bearer who ever wore a baby tank top.
  • Hair grew on his head so long, it's near mullet status now.
  • Mommy manned up and started laying him down awake for naps and bedtime.
  • Teeth sprouted with a vengeance.
  • Restaurants have become a distant memory, for Munch rarely sits for long.
  • Love affairs intensified with Elf, Monkey, Cow, and other lovies.
  • He met Mickey Mouse and the gang.
  • Ear infections gave us a reprieve.
  • He "swam" in a pool, several of them, in fact.
  • His palate expanded, but let's not get crazy.
  • Stars, moons, and circles delight him.
  • He weaned.
  • He stayed overnight with Gramma and Grampa, and Mommy only cried a little.
  • He outgrew two sizes (except pants, he can still fit into 18 months of those).
  • Walking became an activity all of its own.
  • Stairs have been conquered.
  • We danced.
This list touches only the very surface of another magical year. The other day, I looked at Munch's sonogram pictures. This tiny little peanut-shaped centimeter is now 34 inches tall. He talks to me and understands what I say. He is a person, when 2 years ago, my body still felt his absence acutely, when 2 years ago, we had only just been separated, one being into two.

Thank you, Munch, for the joy you've brought to me and your daddy. For making me stronger and happier. For teaching me the extreme vulnerablilities a parent feels and for giving me the courage to know that it's worth it, that it's all--from the terror to the exhaustion to the gut-busting laughter--worth it.

Thank you for choosing me as your mother. I promise to do my very best for you, every day of my life.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Ode to the Hubs

I'm a day late with the Listicles this week, but sometimes life happens. This is definitely one I didn't want to miss. I could write 100 reasons Why my Partner Is Awesome, but we'll keep it to the 10.

1. He has red hair. My whole life I'd wanted to be with a redhead. Done!

2. He dances with Munch. This falls under the umbrella of "He's a kind, loving, devoted father." Munch LOVES to dance with Daddy. When Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on, if Daddy's in the room, it is Daddy he's dancing with. Hubs also rough-houses (well, toddler-style) with his son, making me anticipate living room wrestling matches in Munch's tween years.

3. He does a crazy amount of housework. Hubs does 95% of the laundry, every single week. He cleans up the dishes after dinner. He cleans the cat litter 98% of the time. He shreds our address on every piece of mail. He does these things without any nagging--in fact, as far as the laundry, I deserve some nagging to help him out, or at least to put my own clothes away after he folds them!

4. He doesn't smoke or drink. Not that alcohol in moderation isn't okay for us adults. But I never have to worry that Hubs will over-imbibe when out with friends.

5. He makes me laugh, always has, still does.

6. He is self-described loyal to a fault. Coming from parents whose marriage was torn apart by infidelity, I have often said that I couldn't be married to anyone but Hubs. He is 100% trustworthy. He is who he is. He is not wishy-washy. He's confident in who he is, and he talks to me when he's feeling off about something.

7. He trusts me. In this techy age where everyone has multiple digital lives, Hubs doesn't sneak into my phone to read my texts. He believes I am where I say I am. He doesn't police me or dictate what I can or should do.

8. He lets me be quiet. I'm an introvert and I like to be quiet. I'm prone to worry, and I often crave time to just be still. He gives me that.

9. He's passionate about his interests. He'll stew for days about a sports team's loss. He loves video games. He reads. He loves movies. He introduced me to Dave Matthews Band.

10. He's a "live and let live" kind of guy. He rarely judges and doesn't hold grudges.

I could go on and on. Long and short--Hubs loves me, and I love him, and together we love our Munch. That's about all a person can ask for!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Marching On: Monthly Resoutions Progress

This month, I'm trying out setting New Month Resolutions in preparation for my son's 2-year pics, for which I would love to have lost 10lbs.

I've got about a month to go and 7.2lbs to go. It's doable, it is. And I'm losing--I'm down 14.4lbs since January. I'm working out like a fiend--last week was 6 days! I earned 48 activity points last week, which is UNHEARD OF for me. I know this number will go down as my weight does, unless my activity goes up, but I'm already maxing out my time as it is.

The issue is, I'm eating ALL my activity and many of my weekly points. Now, this is still leading to losses of about 1.8lbs a week. But if I could JUST not eat those extra points ... if I could JUST eat only my dailies ... I think I would be in EVEN BETTER shape. And lose a bit quicker.

From today to next Thursday, I really need to buckle down--that is because, next weekend is MUNCH'S 2ND BIRTHDAY and also my birthday. I already have food celebrations planned. So, likely, the week after is not going to be a loss. And then it's Easter, which I'm going to try to manage because, well, I'm not 7 years old anymore.

And then I've only got 2 weeks to the pictures!

I do not want to go backwards. I've worked very hard, especially through February and March, and I don't want to throw that hard work away after a few days of leniency. I also don't want to let my birthday pass without Dairy Queen.

With Hubs being on points as well, I think it'll help. He's much less likely to go hog-wild when he's keeping track. This will hopefully stop me from doing so!

I know it would be better if I tracked even on the "bad" days. I know it's unlikely I will do so. I just need to make my food choices with my eyes open to the consequences.

How do you handle celebrations? How do you get back on track if you allow yourself to go off your plans for a few days?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stroller, No Bye-Bye

I've written before about Munch's obsession with some household appliances and "toys that aren't toys." 
  • He loves to open and shut the microwave (we put the kibosh on that some months ago).
  • He exclaims OOOOOOOO whenever the refrigerator opens (I think it's the dizzying array of colorful items right at his eye level, ripe for the picking). And he carries around the spray butter a LOT.
  • He pushes the buttons on the washing machine, which isn't an issue until he hits the power button in the middle of the cycle and suddenly the water drains out and all needs to start over.
  • He's desperately in love with the vacuum.
  • He will sit in the front seat of the car and "drive" for as long as we'll let him. (Hubs stood out in the cold for 45 minutes a couple weeks ago, because of course Munch won't "allow" a passenger.)
  • Remotes and cell phones go without saying.
  • The sink, my goodness, the sink--another source for hours of playing. 
  • Lamps. 
  • The portable phone base.
  • Don't even mention the computer.

And, his dear beloved, the stroller.

The stroller, which cannot be seen without Munch desperately crying to play with it--and by play I mean (best case scenario) walking next to it while holding the side or (worse case scenario) being held by mommy or daddy behind the stroller and actually "pushing" it on his own--has been banished to the trunk of Daddy's car for nearly 6 months--we really haven't used it since returning from Disney, where we barely used the thing because it was so meltdown-inducing, for us, my mother, and him.

Well, Sunday was a GORGEOUS day, and we wanted to take a walk. Munch is fun to walk with, but of course at this age and length of his legs, we don't get very far. So, we took a chance and broke out the beloved. Munch was SO happy to see the stroller. He sat in it just fine and ate his fish and puffs as we rolled around.

When it was time to be done, we took him out and he immediately grabbed the side and looked at me like, let's walk. So, we walked around and around with Munch walking next to the stroller, periodically stopping to check the wheels. We did this for about a half hour.

And Munch just babbled away as he walked. He started saying, "Stroller, no bye-bye" and my heart just about oozed out of my chest. I think he was so excited that the stroller was PRESENT, HERE, UNDER HIS HAND, that he just couldn't contain himself. After months of "Stroller, bye-bye," it had re-emerged.

I hope he dreamed about it that night. And may we all find such happiness in the smallest things.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's in a Smell?

This week's listicle is 10 Fantastic Smells. The sense of smell is an important one, as some smells put me right back to places where I want to be (see below) but others can transport me to moments I'd rather leave deep in the memory bank. Like Band Camp. Some smells put me right back in the cabins and shared bathroom and dark woods with a seriously mental band director who lived, it seemed, to prey on the weak.

But that's a story for another post. Today, the good and great:

1. The chocolate treatments at the Spa at the Hotel Hershey. There is nothing like the chocolate-dipped strawberry--a scrub with strawberry seeds followed by a fondue wrap of chocolaty goodness. If you're ever in Hershey, PA, and have time for a pamper, run, don't walk, to the beautiful hotel on the hill. They now have a Whoopie Pie Mani-Pedi.

2. My husband's beard. This may sound weird at first. My husband has a lovely, trimmed, and well-kept beard into which he rubs his cologne every morning (Abercrombie & Fitch's Fierce). The cologne is pleasant enough on its own, but my favorite time to smell Hubs' beard is a couple hours after. Then, the cologne has mingled with an essential Hubs-ness, and it's one of the best smells of my life.

3. My son's hair after bathtime. After the water has dried and the curls have tightened, there's no more comforting smell than Munch's silky locks.

(Apparently, I like the smell of hair in many forms.)

4. Christmas sugar cookies in the oven. This is an iconic childhood smell, one that brings comfort and puts me in mind of stockings and heaps of presents. Not to mention--duh, cookies!

5. Citrus. For some reason, whenever I pop open a clementine, I'm put in the Christmas spirit. Maybe it's because oranges always came in the goodie bags we got after the church Christmas pageant. But citrus is a happy smell for me.

6. Fresh-cut grass. Cliche? Possibly. But no less true.

7. Cinnabon. Look, I know it's riddled with fat, oil, and calories. Very few foods smell better, wafting down the mall corridors.

8. The pages of a book. Someday, when all books are digital, I will pay for a black market paperback so I can stick my nose in the pages and inhale deeply. Ink and paper, mmmm. Magazines are good for this as well.

9. Autumn. The smell of the leaves crunching beneath my feet, the crisp wind--autumn is my favorite season.

10. A campfire. Puts me right up in the northern Michigan woods.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Which I'm Elsewhere!

Today, my first guest blog EVER went live over at the inspirational Live, Love, and Run. I love Melissa's positive, go-get-em attitude and how she always encourages herself and her readers to filter out the nay-sayers.

My post is about the trials and trevails of mothering a picky eater: When All Your Kid Wants Is Ramen.

Monday, March 4, 2013

10 Things for Which I’m Proud of Myself

This is my first listicles, which is shocking because I love lists. This is a good one for me to start with because I have a very hard time praising myself or accepting praise from others. I poo-poo my own accomplishments as just representative of what anyone can do. Self-esteem has never been my strong suit. So, here we go.

10. I’m a bad-ass parallel parker.
9. I’m a versatile cook who likes to try new recipes.

8. I drink a lot of water. (This may seem weird to be proud of, but I rarely drank water as a kid, and it really is challenging.)
7. I got a master’s degree.

6. I wrote a novel—unpublished and in need of revision, but written.
5. I’m committed to improving my self and my outlook on life. I grew up a worrier and a pleaser, neither of which lead to personal contentment.

4. I’m a fantastic proofreader.
3. I lost 100 pounds 10+ years ago, and though pregnancy set me back, I continue to journey toward my healthiest weight.

2. I work hard on my marriage. I was lucky in love and I’m so thankful we had such a strong foundation before bringing a kid into the mix because that little bundle of joy is a game-changer on every level.
1. I’m a great mom. Despite my questioning of little things and big things alike, from whether the pants we put Munch in this morning are too short to whether I’m firm enough in setting boundaries, I know with every fiber of my being that no one would be a better mother to my kid than me.

"Sipping" Coffee

Munch proved to me once again that he notices and learns from everything Hubs and I do.

We're Starbucks junkies--we LOVE our fun coffees, though for Hubs it's a fun chai latte, as he doesn't drink coffee. I love pretty much everything. We usually get Starbucks about twice a week, so Munch has seen a LOT of Starbucks cups. We've had to start getting him his own drink--tall tap water, no ice--or he goes nuts as we drink ours without him.

Last night, when Hubs was done with his drink, Munch took the empty cup and showed us what we look like--by bringing the cup to his lips and tossing his head back with a lightning-quick intake of air: He sipped. He did it over and over.

It's amazing how your kids are a mirror for you. There's nothing like it. And this is not something we ever tried to teach Munch, obviously--this is his interpretation born from witnessing hundreds of Starbucks encounters. And, to him, clearly we look obsessed and slightly manic.

That's about right.