Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 Things in Our Shopping Cart

I admit it, I love to grocery shop. I try to time my trips for when the store is mostly empty--good times are Friday or Saturday evenings after 7pm. Of course, Wednesdays around 10am would probably be the best, but I usually can't swing that!

Here are 10 things I'm likely to buy every single week:

1. Whole milk. Munch still drinks far more than his fair share.

2. Precut mangos. These are a bit expensive, but indispensible to me. I cap myself at 3 packs.

3. Turkey and ham--from the deli counter. I've recently discovered just how much better meat from the counter is than the Oscar Meyer packaged stuff.

4. Bananas. I eat a LOT of bananas. Munch goes through phases; sometimes he'll eat two a day. So we usually get two big bunches.

5. Skinny Cow ice cream snacks. Cookies and Cream sandwiches for the Hubs, Salted Caramel Pretzel ice cream bar for me.

6. Bread. We eat a LOT of bread.

7. YoBaby Yogurt and Gogurt. Munch is a finnicky eater, but this is a go-to. Gogurt, he eats in the bathtub (!).

8. Lean Cuisines, if they're on sale. I especially like the Sweet and Sour Chicken, which is saucy enough to combine with ...

9. Frozen steam-in-the-bag veggies. I used to tell myself I should steam fresh veggies myself. I rarely did--these bags are a lifesaver.

10. String cheese. I eat one for breakfast every morning.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"I Got It"

My dear Munch is nurturing his independent streak. I love seeing him gain confidence and do things on his own. He now helps with so much and you can see the pride he takes when he does something without help.

The past few days, he's started saying, "I got it," as he pushes my hand away to do whatever it is, whether it's opening videos on my iPhone or brushing his teeth or climbing into his carseat and helping to buckle it. "I got it." I hear much more behind it than a simple, "Hands off, I'm doing this myself."

I hear the existential, "Bitch please, I'm owning this. Don't trouble yourself. I got it." It's amazing.

For instance, the stairs. He now wants very little help going down the staircase. Sometimes, he'll reach for my hand, and of course I grasp it, but he doesn't always accept if I initiate. "I got it." And I hover a little ahead of him, clenching my teeth with each step, to see if he really does "got it," prepped for launch if he doesn't.

Same with that freaking ladder on the playground, remember that one? Now, he'll go to climb it and beyond saying, "I got it," he says, "No Mommy." He won't tolerate me even hovering close. And, last week, as Daddy hovered, with his hands cupped out ready to grasp, Munch did fall. Straight down through a rung at the top, onto his feet. By the grace of God, he didn't hit his chin. It freaked him out. He ran to me then, for a bit of comfort.

Now, as he goes forward with stuff on his own, he needs to learn that sometimes, he does need to ask for help. (Which he does, in the sweetest way, saying "Help you." As in, I always say, "I'll help you." Munch I think believes "helpyou" is one word.)

But, to me, indulging the independence, pushing boundaries and then reining in when necessary, is crucial. And it's something I struggle with to this day. I don't have an independent streak, at least not one that isn't also painted with anxiety and worry.

Case in point is the diving board. Growing up, I could swim like a fish, but I couldn't dive to save my life. I was on the summer swim team in 6th grade and I frog-flopped straight down off the blocks at the start of every race. The diving unit in Phys Ed nearly did me in--I may have even gotten a horrifying B in the class, if you can believe it.

I just couldn't dive. Diving required tucking one's chin to one's chest and jumping off, flying through the air and trusting that I could hit the water without looking at it. It felt out of control. I've done proper dives maybe three or four times in my life and remembering the sensation even now causes my heart to pound a little harder. It's free fall. Just for a few seconds, but it's there. The free fall is terrifying.

But, behind the terror, I can also feel the freedom. The diving free fall, done properly and without the belly smack I'm used to, is liberating. It's exhilarating. It's joyful and wonderful. It releases you from the burden of looking. The water is there, it will catch you. You just have to believe, you got it.

I love when Munch, even at 2, gets that look in his eye. I can practically hear him saying, "Chill, Ma. I got this. It's going to be fine."

I want to do the same. I want to approach life with the go-get-em spirit. With the diving free fall that is more about the journey to the water than the worry about the mechanics of getting there. I got it, I want to say to it all. I got it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bite My Kid Once ...

So Munch has been bitten at daycare, by the same girl, twice in one week.

The first time it happened, near the end of the day last Friday, they called to tell me that the girl bit him on his cheek. HIS CHEEK! His perfect plump pink cheek.

I admit, I freaked a little in the form of calling the doctor to find out if I needed to beware of anything special. The daycare director assured me no skin was broken except a tiny little spot. (I of course pictured Hannibal Lector-esque chunks being gnawed from Munch's face.) The doctor said to put some Neosporin on it and likely it would heal quickly--the only other thing to worry about would be viral infections like HIV or hepatitis. No biggie. O_O But only then if there was a deep gash and of course the kid would have to be infected herself and the chances of that blah blah blah.

I did not cry--wow, huh? I didn't panic! The first time he came home from school, around 5 months old, with a cut on his neck, likely from a fingernail or piece of jewelry, I sobbed. Because, of course, I can't protect him. In that moment I felt like I couldn't protect him from ANYTHING.

And I'm proud to say that I've come far in almost 2 years and even the fact that my poor little boy had his face gnawed off didn't really faze me. (I exaggerate--his face was bruised, but only a little, from the bottom teeth.) I get it--shit happens. Kids get hurt. And the cutest thing was that Munch could tell me who did it, while pinching his cheek, and then told me the kid got timeout.

Apparently she has a bit of a biting problem, recently bit her brother, etc. I kissed Munch's cheek, rested assured that the girl has all her shots, and let it go.

Until yesterday afternoon. When I got to daycare and discovered an angry red circle on Munch's forearm. From the same girl.

This time, I got out of there and cried in the car. I told Munch, "Mommy's going to cry for a few minutes." Because I don't like to cry in front of him. I kissed his arm, he told me again about how the girl had bit him, this time pinching his arm. And I let it overwhelm me.

It seemed TOO MUCH. Now, I had to worry that my kid would be bitten, harmed, hurt, every day. Once, I can understand that things happen. But TWICE within DAYS??

I spoke at length to the daycare director. He said that at this age, biting is more about communication than aggression. This girl doesn't know how to express her frustration or desire, so she bites it out. It's also possible that Munch and this girl have grown to be close enough friends that she feels comfortable biting him to let him know what she wants. (This seemed a bit like, whaaa? but then when you think she bit her brother, maybe.)

Indeed, this girl and Munch have known one another almost their entire lives--she came to the infant room soon after Munch, and they've been together, give or take a couple months, ever since. Their nap mats are placed next to one another and I'm told they both wake up early and talk together about the signs listing the ABCs and beloved shapes like diamonds and triangles.

So the first order of business for the daycare, besides talking extensively with her parents, will be to separate Munch and the girl--after all, biting is about proximity. In both biting instances, they were both wanting the same object--a puddle in the first instance, a truck in the second. So they'll create some distance and see if she moves on to bite someone else--I guess at that point, they'll know it's more of an overarching problem, rather than a specific one. (I believe it's the former, but.)

Look, I know this is not a bad kid. And if I'm being honest, I'd probably prefer to be dealing with "the bitten" than "the biter." I have a 2 year old, I know they do things you want them to stop but for the life of you can't get them to. I know that if Munch was leaving teeth impressions on his classmates, I would spend many a night crying myself to sleep and worrying constantly over what to DO, how to FIX IT. I'm sure her parents are embarrassed and feeling tense.

But. My sole responsibility is ensuring that MY kid is happy and healthy at his daycare, the place where he spends as much time as I do at work. And it's the daycare's responsibility to ensure that ALL of their children's needs are being met.

So this will be a situation I monitor closely. The good thing is, Munch is getting much better about actually telling me what's happening. So much guess work is disappearing, and that's a comfort.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Little Things That Make Us Awesome

This week's Monday Listicles asks for 10 Little Things That Make My Family Awesome. I'm so happy with Hubs and Munch, so this list will be a cinch.

1. We laugh--a lot.

2. We split the chores (well, Hubs and I do, and I'm sure Munch will be brought into the mix when he's old enough--heck, he already carries around a water-filled bottle of carpet cleaner, following Daddy as he cleans up the ever-present kitty puke).

3. We love to be active together. The best nights are walk nights, with Munch in the stroller and Hubs by my side.

4. We let each other be still.

5. We support each other's interests. Hubs knows I sometimes need to hunker down and watch trash on TV. (He even has been known to watch LMN's Pick-a-Flick Fridays with me!) And I know that one of Hubs' great loves is and ever shall be video games.

6. We are committed to long-term goals, like reining in spending so we can get a bigger house in a couple years.

7. If there's a decision to be made, big or small, we consult each other before making it.

8. We say "I love you" every day.

9. We go grocery shopping together--it's one of Munch's favorite activities right now.

10. We lift each other up.

Bonus: We read. It's so important to me for Munch to see both of his parents enjoying and discussing books.

What makes your family special?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Loving Myself: Look at Those Calves!

When I heard about the idea Kendra over at My Full-Thyme Life had about choosing one part of ourselves that we love each month and celebrating it, I knew I had to participate. With Operation Beautiful also backing the effort, I think it can really make a difference to a lot of women who have a negative voice going through their minds on, like me, sometimes a near constant loop.

Like Kendra, I've always been self-deprecating. There was never any REASON or moment that it started, it always just has BEEN. It's all linked to self-esteem and my very deep lack of it. I don't take compliments well. Review time at work is always an anxious time for me--and not because I'm worried about getting a bad review, but because I always get a good one--Almost all 5/5 ratings and I have to listen to what a good job I do ... My thought automatically is, "Everyone must be this good." And "I'm not THAT good--I've got them fooled." And "Oh God, now I have to live up to this."

Add to that an overweight childhood and overeating and trouble with impulse control and you have a recipe for someone who talks down about herself inside. When someone loves me, like my wonderful, sweet husband, I feel deep, deep gratitude--not, "Hell yes, he does. Who wouldn't?"

But I'm working to change that.

And the impetus is becoming a mother. Being a mother has made me stop and look at myself through my son's eyes.

When you have a kid, I think that's when you truly understand feeling unconditional love for someone--and you feel it reciprocated back at you. With Munch, he loves me for ME, for my silliness and my tendency to be goofy and my laughter and my softness and my very large capacity to love him. I don't overwhelm him, when one of my biggest fears has always been that I am overwhelming. Too much. And yet, still, somehow not enough.

For Munch, I am perfect. I am his mommy, his only mommy. Irreplaceable.

And when he looks at me, that's all he sees--Mommy. He doesn't look at me and think, Hm, she's fine enough, but a little thick around the middle and in desperate need of some triceps toning.

He sees love. And that's what I should see too.

So, this month, I'm celebrating my legs below the knee--I've always had tremendous calves. They're toned and powerful. I've had comments from friends, family, and random people throughout my life. My ankles are also nice, and, this may be weird, but I love how the tendons on the top of my feet look. Truth. I look awesome in heels.

What do you love about yourself? Tweet it with the hashtag #12ThingsILoveAboutMe.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Life With Superman

Munch has worn the same shirt for 48 hours now, night and day. It's a Superman UV water shirt--royal blue with the classic red-and-yellow Superman symbol emblazoned on the chest. It looks like this:


It all started on Sunday morning when I took Munch to a little water park near our house. Hubs took his new bike out for a ride while Munch and I braved the fountains shooting up from the ground and triangle-shaped buckets dumping water down and waterfalls and spitting frogs.
Munch, in his typical deliberate manner, did not run headlong into the fray. Instead, he stood very still, smiling, looking at everything, tap-tap-tapping his feet in the puddles and getting the lay of the land before fully committing. Unlike many of the other boys crashing headlong into the water and anything else that happened to be standing close by, Munch observes a lot before he explores. But once he does, there's nothing like seeing the joy on his face. He screamed "Water!" and squealed with glee.
Last year, whenever he entered a pool or got wet, he started shivering after about 20 minutes--not so, this year. His little body has caught up with his desire to be in the water. We were there for an hour and not a bit of shiver. His favorite thing, besides watching the water fall down from the triangle buckets, was standing in the center of a crazy mess of roaring fountains, where in the center a spurt of water burst forth, then stopped about every 30 seconds. Each time, again as other boys would scream at the empty hole, Munch pointed at it and looked at me and said, "On?" Then he'd jump and squeeeee when it came on again.
And all the while, Munch wore his Superman shirt. He was so proud when he put it on, tapping the emblem and looking down at it. Once, it was the most amazing moment, another boy ran up to him and this boy happened to be wearing a white shirt with the same Superman symbol. I was standing about 15 feet away as Munch encountered this boy. Munch looked at him, then down at his own shirt, then up again. You could see on his face--mind, BLOWN!
When we got back home from the water park, Munch put on a white shirt while Superman washed and dried--and then he wanted it back on. All day, he'd pat his chest and say, "It's MY Superman." It was the cutest thing!
Then came bedtime--he refused to remove it for PJs. So, he slept in it.
Yesterday morning--same deal. He wouldn't hear of even switching to another Superman t-shirt, this one dark navy with a burgandy symbol. So, he wore his water shirt to school all day.
Last night, at bath time, he raged as I removed Superman and, for shame, put him in the washer. He cried over and over, "It's MY Superman." So, he and I sat in front of our front-loading washer and talked about how Superman was getting a bath just like Munch had. Munch was bare-chested and anxiously awaiting the shirt. Slept in it again. And, this morning, went to school in it. Again.
We got the thing at Target, so we're going over there tonight to see about getting a second one so I can always be rotating it and we don't have to spend hours in front of the washing machine, waiting for Superman. Hubs is like, "You're sure it's okay to indulge this." I'm like, yes. I've heard tales of friends' kids who went everywhere in Spiderman pajamas. A Superman UV shirt seems pretty inocuous. I know kids get fixated on pieces of clothing. I guess I thought it would happen when Munch was like 7 years old or something. The kid never ceases to surprise me.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Munch Speaks: 10 Awesome Phrases

Nothing warms my heart more than listening to Munch talk. He says stuff that even I have a hard time understanding, but deciphering his toddler language is one of my favorite activities! So for today's Monday Listicles, here are 10 of my favorite things he says right now, at age 2 years, 3.5 months.

1. Mommy, come 'ere. This is by far my favorite. He also says Kitty, Daddy, Mama come 'ere. He'll crook his wrist while saying it as well. I say "come here" constantly, so it's no surprise he picked it up!

2. Kirkle. Think this is "circle"? Nope, he says "sircle" prettty well. "Kirkle" is triangle. I have no idea why! And triangles are one of his favorite shapes right now.

3. Tinkle star. He sings "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" almost all the way through on his own.

4. Grocery store. He botches this pronunciation a lot, but he LOVES going to the grocery store and sitting in the cart.

5. Plowe. Pillow, where he reclines while drinking his bottle.

6. Hullo. Said in a low, serious voice while putting the phone on his shoulder.

7. Mouse on. Munch's favorite TV show, in fact really the only one he watches, is "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse." He loves it and can name each character.

8. Sansin. Dancing, another favorite activity. "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry is the current favorite. In the middle, when the crowd whispers "TGIF" he mimics them and then when the music starts again, he screams and jumps and claps.

9. Lolos and lulus. Noodles and cereal, respectively.

10. His own name. He just started saying it recently, and it's adorbs!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Origin Story

Hubs and me on the Gettysburg College campus
Before Munch, there were two people who fell in love. This is how they came to be that way.

If you know me or have followed my blog you may have gleaned that I was not the most confident of people in my childhood, teen, and young adult years. (Can you read between the lines to see the gross understatement?) I blame this lack of confidence on my being overweight, but of course my reaction to my size is symptomatic of my lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. After all, one of my good friends from high school was as large as me and she started on the basketball team and had a ton of friends, if not boyfriends.

But this is not a story about weight, though all of my stories seem to come back to it. Probably, it's a crutch, but I'll figure that out later. Suffice it to say that by the time I turned 21, I had not had a boyfriend, not one. I had not casually dated, not once. I went to my junior prom on a blind date and never saw him again (he turned out to be a little cray-cray, so no harm done). I was, as they say, inexperienced in the love department.

Hubs, on the other hand, 500 miles away and in ignorance of his future wife's existence, had an active social life. Whilst he didn't date like crazy, he was beloved by many girls in high school. He was the "guy friend" that always had gals calling on the phone, I'm told. Gaggles of them, in my mind. He was a sweet guy, genuine, steady, the same as he is now. He had a serious girlfriend I believe when he was 16, took the breakup hard, but eventually got over it and later introduced me to the girl over dinner at The Olive Garden.

Hubs and I went to the same college, but we didn't get together until the second semester of our senior year. We crossed paths during our first 3 years, both working at the library and even being in the same World Music small group during sophomore year. I still have our final paper, and there are our names sitting next to one another.

But, you could say, Hubs had a distraction those first years in the form of a long-term, long-distance relationship with a girl in Upstate New York. While I spent my college years watching friends hook up and break up and eventually go long-term, Hubs worked hard on a relationship that ended badly right before senior year, devastating him. He started senior year in the middle of an ending.

By the time I started my senior year, I was in the middle of a beginning. By second semester, I had lost 100 pounds and gained some form of self-confidence. I'd dated one guy who seemed quite into me, though sadly for him, the feeling was not mutual. It felt weird to reject someone after years of being rejected--something in me said to be grateful for what I got. But, off he went, and off I went.

The last week of January, a mutual friend of ours (who also was in that World Music small group) threw a party. A gala, we called it. It was held in her dorm room. I showed up in size 6 (6! from Aeropostale!) jeans and a purple-striped shirt I still have. I wasn't a big drinker, but that night, I drank. I danced, a bit.

And across the room, I saw Hubs. He was wearing a backwards baseball cap, as was his custom. And shorts. In January. I would learn that such quirks also were his custom.

One of our engagement pics, taken in front of the dorms
where the gala took place.
We worked our way toward one another throughout the night. I kept offering him drinks, which he politely and consistently declined--with the excuse that he'd just played tennis, which made PERFECT sense to me. Later, I would learn that Hubs doesn't drink, never has (still hasn't), and I would feel like a LUSH. And the family lore would go that Hubs and I got together when I was drunk.

Around 11pm (seriously, what a rager, eh?), there was a knock at the dorm room door. In walked a Campus Security officer. He said we needed to break it up because of the noise (music), so I guess it may have been a bit of a rager. I was of age, but hadn't brought my license.

I sat down on the couch and huddled behind the guy sitting there--Hubs. I laid my hand on his arm. And he patted my hand with his.

Looking back, this is the moment that we both "knew something" was happening.

My friend came to collect me for the walk back to our dorm room. I later learned Hubs was going to offer to walk me back. We had made no plans to see one another again, not for Hubs' lack of trying. He and some friends were going to see Black Hawk Down the next night, but I said I didn't want to go because I didn't want to see that movie. (What. An. Idiot.)

Over the next week, I found myself thinking about Hubs at odd times. I'd look for him as I walked across campus. I stopped by the circulation desk where he worked. He gave me a ride to the gym when he saw me walking.

I remember realizing that Hubs was just "in my mind" when I watched TV--and that I thought I liked him. The thought panicked me. I didn't WANT to like him. I didn't want to feel how I felt when the other guy liked me and I didn't like him. I was feeling the tremors of vulnerability that love brings, I know now. I didn't want to be vulnerable.

The timing wasn't ideal, for me or for Hubs. We were both graduating in 3 months and who knows what life would bring. For Hubs' part, he kept the similar thoughts he was having about me a secret from most of his friends and family because he didn't want to hear what they would surely say--his 2.5-year relationship had just ended and was this really the best time to get involved with someone new?

But, we both pushed those fears away, thankfully, and Hubs came over to my dorm for biscuits (yes, biscuits) 6 days after the gala and the next night we went on our first date to see A Beautiful Mind. We had Wendy's for dinner. We talked into the night afterwards, about everything, and he kissed me when he left--and it was the kiss that told me I was on the right track. It EMBODIED Hubs. Genuine. Steady.

Three months later, we graduated college. Three months after that we both started grad school in Washington, DC. We moved in together at our mothers' mutual suggestion--to save money, they said.

Five years later, we got married.

And 4 years later, our lives changed forever, with the birth of our firstborn son.