Friday, February 25, 2011

Show me the mommy: Fashion Show

I took a vacation day last Monday to do a little shopping at the Concord Mills Outlets just outside of Charlotte. I was a little disappointed in the prices because they did not seem to be any lower than the much closer South Park Mall. With that said, it was nice to take a few hours, by myself (pure bliss!) and shop in leisure.

I ended up buying two suits, two pairs of shoes and some miscellaneous items like tops and nylons. My wardrobe isn't quite complete but it's getting there. I had to get both suits tailored thanks to my 5' 4" stature so the fashion show had to wait until this week.

If anyone is interested the suits and tops are from The Limited. Shoes are Michael Shannon from Off Broadway. The shoes are awesome. I got two pairs in the same design (Trevor) but different colors. They are super comfortable and I wore one pair for 10 hours for the very first time and had meetings between buildings. My feet didn't hurt at all and I got no blisters. How many women can say that about a new pair of high heeled shoes?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Starting our potty training journey

I’ve written before about not being ready for the potty training to commence in our household. Unfortunately my disinterest did not communicate itself to Cameron. It is with a medium level of enthusiasm (and it’s that high only because Cameron is so excited about it) that we start our journey towards a diaper free future.

I had been planning to wait until Cameron transitioned to the Twos room (T-minus 1 month!) and let daycare take the lead as I do for so many other things. Cameron had other ideas. We’ve had a potty in our ½ bath downstairs for about 2 months. Every once in a while she would ask for a “diaper change” which was her code phrase for using the potty. I would strip her down and hand her a book while she sat on the toilet. She would always insist that I sit on the toilet next to her which is freaking adorable but grew old quickly.

Cameron also loves to give “diaper change” to her “babies”. I picked up a Circo set for her and we spend far too much time performing diaper changes on a monkey, creepy Little Pony doll and some kind of fairy doll. Sometimes her Santa doll (there’s a story there, and I’ll tell it one day) even gets into the act. The cheap Circo set is no longer available from Target but here is a link to a similar one.

When we were out two weeks ago I came across an Elmo potty insert (to be used on a regular toilet). I thought that Cameron would respond well to it so I picked it up and took it home to be used in my bathroom. Side note: I use the “guest” bathroom in our house because the master bath has a shower so small it is impossible to shave in. Essentially Cameron and I share a bathroom. It is fairly small so I didn’t want to add a potty. I need that space for my scale because I still have 2.5 pounds to lose! Another reason is that Cameron wants to do whatever I do. Which means she doesn’t want her own potty, she wants to sit on the regular toilet.

Picking up that $12 toilet insert was what really kick started the process. Cameron wanted to sit on it right away. And then she started asking regularly for a “diaper change.” On Saturday afternoon after nap she peed on the potty for the first time. DH and I made a big deal out of it (of course) and she repeated the feat before bedtime. Sunday morning she wanted to get on the toilet right away and again we had success. That was followed by 2 more successful (pee only) events.

Monday during my day off (I love a BigFinance holiday while daycare is open!) I bought some training underwear (Target only had the boy ones in her size) and some regular underwear. We have now incorporated potty trips for first thing in the morning, after school and before bed. Cameron still gets the order of the code phrase wrong. Sometimes she says “diaper change” after she pees/poops but about 50% the time she gets it right. Another advance is that when she poops in her diaper she now wants to be changed immediately and walks funny to keep the poop away from her skin.

Cameron has yet to have any success using the potty at daycare (they ask, she says no) but it’s only been 3 days. I’m sure peer pressure in the Twos room will accelerate the training. In the meantime I am happy that we still use diapers (for ease) and I haven’t had to go to pull ups yet for daycare. Those things are freaking expensive. Now, since I’ve done little/no research, what else should I be doing? Please keep in mind that I’m not ready to do cold turkey training, or anything like that.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Charlotte Nature Museum

This was a very busy weekend for our family. On Saturday morning Cameron and I went to My Gym. I was extremely impressed with the facility and the activities that the kids could engage in. Cameron learned a ton about mobility from the other kids (unlike our Gymboree experience, Cameron was one of the youngest kids there) and she is already putting it to good use in her daily life (climbing on couches, tackling stairs better, etc.).

There are two major drawbacks to this program. First of all, it is $75 a month for an hour class. Ouch! Secondly, it is a hike to get there for me. Easily a 25 minute drive. It's doable but I don't know if I can handle it for more than a month or two, tops. We have another demo class at Little Gym in two weeks so I'll make my decision after that.

After Cameron's nap, DH and I packed Cameron in the car and headed to the Charlotte Nature Museum. Neither of us had been there before but I purchased a Groupon for buy one, get one admission free. And since Cameron is under 2, all three of us had a nice afternoon for $10. We were joined there by my friend Amanda, her husband (who has the same name as my husband which can be confusing) and their son Holden. Cameron and Holden had an absolute blast together. They giggled and held hands and were so much fun. I'm glad Cameron has a BFF outside of school!

The Nature Museum wasn't bad but smaller than I expected. There were some animals, a small butterfly enclave and a couple of interactive exhibits. The best part for us was the nature trail that ran around the property and abuts Freedom Park, the largest park in Charlotte. Cameron and Holden practically ran the entire path. There were a couple of falls (why is that toddlers refuse to watch where they are going?) but one kid would start laughing so the other responded in kind and we avoided tears. We spent about 2 hours at the Nature Museum and I think that's on the high end of what toddlers will tolerate. I'm not sure it's worth the $10 per adult ticket price but the Groupon coupon was perfect.

Holden is a ham and loves to say, "cheeeeeeesssseeeee" when you are taking his picture. Freaking adorable.

Taking a break on the nature trail and having a snack.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The post where I admit I lost my cool

We have officially entered the land of the Terrible Twos. Although my sister A. assures me that really the Terrible Twos extend until three and four. So much fun to look forward to!

It’s not a constant battle with Cameron. We can go for several hours of her being happy and pleasant (typically when we are out doing something which is why I need to find a new weekend regular activity). And then there are the hours where we hit double digits on timeouts. It requires a level of patience I am not sure I have reserves for. DH and I are also not seeing completely eye to eye on how to discipline Cameron. I am pushing timeouts only. His argument is that they are clearly not working (because we have to do so many). Having conducted research through the oracle that is the Internet, I am stubbornly sticking to my guns that timeouts will work. It make take weeks and so many timeouts that we never leave the house, but it will work. DH makes many comments about spanking Cameron and my automatic reaction is to say, “she’s too young for that” or spout the line, “violence begets violence.” Can’t you tell I’ve spent a lot of time on parenting boards?

Our time out chair is in the play room. It is a captain’s chair turned around to face the wall. We count Cameron out and then tell her “time out for X reason,” plop her in the chair and leave the room. We typically leave her there for 1-2 minutes and ask her, “Are you ready to say sorry?” If Cameron isn’t then she stays in time out. She is pretty good at staying put on the chair although she will regularly turn around in it and get up on her knees. Any advice on how to handle that or are we OK as long as Cameron stays on the chair?

I am not completely opposed to spanking but I always thought that spanking would be reserved for major offenses and when Cameron was older (say 2.5) and could understand more. I always thought that DH would be the spanker and I would be the patient mommy. Yeah, right. I went in the opposite direction on Monday evening. I spanked Cameron when she wouldn’t sit down in the bath. I had been battling her for over an hour where she would do nothing but cry and fuss and be a general pain in the ass. My temper took over and before I knew it I picked Cameron up, smacked her on the butt twice and said, “You need to sit down when you are in the bath!” Two deep breaths later and I had regained control and put on my happy mommy voice.

I know I need to be better about passing Cameron off to DH when I find myself getting frustrated and vice versa. While I am not opposed to spanking (obviously, having done it already), I think that it just escalates the situation. Cameron didn’t calm down until after I had engaged her in a completely new activity after the spanking. That’s not always feasible because sometimes we have to get something done (bath, car ride, etc.). I ended up giving her the fastest bath of her life while she cried the entire time. Then it was two more time outs during dinner for throwing her milk and refusing to eat. Gah. Don’t even get me started on the eating battles we’re having. I promise a whole post on that topic soon. And another timeout during bedtime stories. If I had a choice I would have passed Cameron off to DH for bedtime but she only wanted me and rather than endure another meltdown I sucked it up.

I think the hardest part for me is that I do get mad at Cameron. I know she is just being a toddler but she is bright and it gives me unrealistic expectations about what she can understand. Plus, I sometimes want to stay mad! I can’t just turn off the switch after 30 seconds and be happy mommy again. I mean, I do it, because otherwise she would be even more miserable but it’s hard. Finally, she wants me all the time when she is upset. But when I didn’t make it home last night for her dinner/bedtime she had a great time with DH. So it kind of makes me feel like she is saving up her angst for me, you know?

It does get better, right? What did you and your spouse decide to do about discipline? Did s/he have opinions? If so, how did you compromise? And feel free to validate my spanking, even if it’s just to make me feel better. You can also tell me that I'm going to hell for it too. I can take it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

The terrible twos have hit our household hard over the past week. I'm not sure if it's the cold she's had for a week or the desire but inability to potty train or what. But it's making DH and me miserable. So the cure for our blues? Cute pictures of the little monster, of course! A very happy Valentine's Day from Cameron.

Cameron isn't very good at painting. She usually ends up with a big brown blob in the middle of the page as illustrated below. Perhaps she will be a music prodigy instead.
DH loves teaching Cameron things like how to put her hands in her pocket. Unfortunately he did not accompany this lesson by singing the Alanis Morrisette hit.
I rarely dress Cameron up for school. Considering that she just ruined a pair of tights (red Carolina clay does not come out of clothes, ever) I should know better. But I couldn't resist dressing her up for Valentine's Day.
How else am I supposed to get use out of the adorable clothes we buy for special occasions? This one was also a Christmas dress.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How has weight loss and exercise changed my life?

Writing this series of posts about my weight loss and exercise journey has been cathartic. Plus it keeps me motivated to get those last pesky 5 pounds off and continue to train for the upcoming Warrior Dash. The reason it is so motivating is because I didn’t spend a lot of time reflecting while I was in the midst of this journey. I just kept plugging away at the numbers on the scale. Now that I am at the tail end of my weight loss, I can see how it has greatly impacted my life.

Energy. I have always been a person who needs at least 8 hours of sleep to function. That is still true (I’m in bed/asleep usually at 9:30 PM). The difference now is that when I wake up I have energy. Sure, I still have my big cup of tea in the morning but I don’t need it. And I don’t find myself sitting at my desk nodding off or yawning frequently. That makes my mornings much more productive.

Patience. More energy also equals more patience. Not necessarily with work (ahem) but definitely with Cameron and DH. I find myself better able to concentrate for longer periods of time. And when I’m interacting with Cameron I am really in the moment with her. That’s not to say there isn’t yelling (well, stern voices) when she keeps whining and whining but I’ve noticed a difference and I’m sure she has too. I personally think I get less irritated by the small things but I’d have to let DH weigh in on that one.

Making good decisions. I’m not going to BS you here; I still love to eat fatty foods and drink far too much wine. And my first instinct is to not exercise. But I find myself making more conscious decisions and hence good decisions. I know that I will usually be “bad” on the weekends when it comes to calories so I offset it with regular exercise. I also ask myself, “Is it worth it” when I’m staring at a particularly tasty looking (aka carb filled) treat. Sometimes it is but other times I know I’d rather have a big lunch or dinner so I can bypass the unhealthy snack.

Body image. I am currently a size 10P and even that is a little big on me. I am planning for a big shopping trip on Monday (even taking the day off of work to hit the outlets!) as I am down to 3-4 work outfits. I love that I can fit into “regular” clothes and have a ton of options from the sale section of most stores. My ultimate goal is to get to a size 8P but I’m not sure how feasible it is. More importantly, I think I look good in clothes! I still have my moments of nakedness disgust but considering I popped out a kid, I’m generally really happy. Most of my cellulite? Gone. Legs? Getting nice and lean. Arms? Still a little flabby but much more definition. I will keep chugging away with my strength training and know that this summer I’m totally going to rock a bathing suit for the first time in years. One thing DH would bemoan is that my cup size has reduced. Not much but probably a cup size. As someone with big boobs for most of my life, I’m going to take my C+ cups and be thrilled with it. Now maybe I won’t be relegated to scoop/v-neck shirts.

Setting a good example. Exercise was never really a part of my life growing up. Sure, my dad worked out regularly and went running and my mom played tennis. But there wasn’t a good dialog about the benefits of exercise. I want Cameron to see how exercise is good for me and make it a daily part of her life. I’m not planning to push her into activities she doesn’t want but DH and I will have expectations for her to live healthy. The cutest thing ever is dressing her up in an Adidas outfit our friends gave us and bringing her to the gym with me. Maybe one day we’ll be side by side working out. Snort. No way, I’m totally not that kind of mom.

Longer life span. I’m going to live until I’m 150. Well, maybe not 150 but I have certainly come a long way from the chain smoking, exercise avoiding, beer guzzling girl of my late teens, early twenties. I guess this means I need to put more money away for retirement…

For my readers who have been on their own weight loss/exercise journeys what tangible/intangible benefits have you experienced?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The post where I admit I can never be a Gymboree parent

For the past 4 Saturdays Cameron and I have traveled out to the suburbs to take part in a Gymboree class. It was a Groupon deal that my friend Amanda alerted me to - a month of classes for $30 (normally $68). It took us about 25 minutes to get to the location so we never had a chance to go for "free play" and stuck to the Saturday 9 AM classes.

Cameron was a little tentative at first and it wasn't until her last class that she ended up going under the parachute without me. If anyone has been to a Gymboree class, you are familiar with the parachute. I think it's their hat trick for little kids. Anyway Cameron loved the singing and had a weird obsession with the big Jimbo dolls. Mommy was less impressed.

The class was pretty crowded, a result of the Groupon deal, I'm sure. But with more than a dozen kids, it felt really crowded the whole time. And toddlers don't exactly share well so I ended up having to put Cameron in a few time outs. Cameron was one of the oldest there and probably should have been in the next level class but I didn't know any better when I signed up. So the activities didn't really stretch her at all from a learning point of view.

The teacher was super annoying. She had one of those odd voices that was like nails on a chalkboard when she started singing songs. But mostly I think it was the other parents that turned me off of Gymboree (except for my friend Amanda, of course!). Every parent seemed to be from the same socio-economic bracket. Sure, there was diversity in terms of races (quite a few mixed race couples) but it wasn't really diversity, if you know what I mean. It was about as yuppie as you can possibly get. And the parents were obsessed with their kids. Constant hovering, not really interacting with other parents or kids.

What I struggle with is finding a good range of activities for Cameron that can help fill up our weekend. Most places require a 30 day notice before leaving which means a minimum of two months for an activity. That is far too much of a commitment for me. I hate missing classes because it is such a waste of money. But I have also been the parent who goes with Cameron to all the classes (swim lessons last year, Gymboree this year) and I get bored after a few weeks. How have other parents juggled incorporating regular activities for your little ones on the weekends? Do you switch off with your spouse?

Cameron definitely hogged Jimbo. She dragged that damn doll around the room with her. Clowns are kind of creepy, don't you think?

A new favorite activity for Cameron is to play basketball. A toddler basketball hoop is most likely in her future. Good thing her birthday is less than two months away!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tricks and tips for weight loss

The past 10 months have taught me a lot about weight loss. And apparently I still have more to learn as my little slip up this week (gain) at my WW meeting taught me. Oh well, a truly awesome dinner at Georges was well worth the increase.

Full disclosure: I stole this blog topic from a regular reader of mine, so please check out her blog post as well.

I have never really dieted on my own before. This is my second go around with Weight Watchers. I have never tried any fad diets or other weight loss programs. I think that was a good thing because I didn't have any bad habits to break. It's a commitment to lose 50 pounds (going for 55 total but I'm not sure I'll get there or be able to maintain it...but that's another blog post). It requires completely changing the way you eat, at least it did for me.

The first thing I did was to get rid of my "trigger" foods. Salt & vinegar chips, Cheez-Its, ice cream, etc. I do have a husband who can eat whatever he wants so I couldn't get rid of his favorite foods. Fortunately what DH likes wasn't top of my list so I could resist.

I try to shop the circumference of the grocery store, not the inner aisles. This isn't always feasible with a toddler and husband but now my cart is more weighted towards fresh foods and less than half is dedicated to staples (unless there is a big sale going on). At first I found myself throwing out a lot of fresh food that went bad. But as time went on I got a little better about meal planning (for lunches anyway) and less food went bad.

Another good tip is to measure, measure, measure your food. I will freely admit that I half-assed it for a long time and did eye ball measuring. Now I pull out the measuring cups, spoons and I even have a scale. This is a lot easier when I'm preparing food at home, of course, but the longer you measure, the easier it is to eye ball when you are eating out and more accurately track your PointsPlus (or calories). Dovetailing nicely with measuring is tracking. I like the WW system (duh) but this would also work for people who calorie count.

I eat more when I work out. I know this is probably a very obvious thing to type but the WW system allows you to "bank" your activity points. This does not work at all, mostly because if they are banked then I usually use them for booze on the weekend and not using them when I should - the day I exercise.

My weigh in is Thursday nights. Having a late week weigh in is wonderful for me. If I go a little crazy over the weekend then I can get back on track starting Monday and have 4 full days to get my crap together. WW tells you not to weigh yourself except for your weekly weigh in. Personally I weigh myself almost every day (at the same time). It really helps keep me on track if I see the numbers start to creep up.

I mentioned meal planning above. I am still not good about planning out dinners for an entire week. For grocery shopping I think about 2-3 days worth of dinners and 4-5 days worth of lunches in advance. I try to bring my lunch 4 days a week to work. When I bring food with me to work I bring a big bag. My lunch bag typically looks like this: breakfast, mid-morning snack (fruit), lunch, mid-afternoon snack. I leave the office around 4/4:30 so I usually have a piece of fruit when I get home too. I try to calculate my PointsPlus for my breakfast/lunches the night before.

Two more tips to share: drink a ton of water and trick your brain into thinking you have more food on your plate than you really do. I eat my dinner with small utensils and on small plates (like salad plates). It's a little OCD but it seems like there is so much food on the plate. Plus it helps you to eat more slowly. In terms of drinking water oftentimes we think we are hungry but we're really thirsty. I'm not very good about drinking water but I see the effects immediately when I am good. Try to drink a full glass of water before you eat. You will feel fuller faster.

So those are all my tricks and tips for starting and maintaining the weight loss journey. What would you add? I am still learning so please share!!