Friday, January 29, 2010

My New Career

Every time someone mentions how afraid they are of snakes, I think about how I really should start my snake removal business. I'm not so crazy about snakes myself, but after finding eleven of them in my house and having to remove most of them myself, taking them out is pretty much old hat. (Would you leave a snake in your house until your husband/significant other/kind neighbor could come remove it for you hours later? I don't think you would; I think you would handle it and possibly even bring one in a plastic bag into the bathroom where your husband is showering and ask him if he'd like to have it.) I would only work in non-poisonous snake varieties, of course, and the pricing would be as follows:

Snakes requiring small dustpan: $50
Snakes requiring large dustpan: $75
Snakes requiring pitchfork with extra long handle: $150

I think that's fair. I mean, I would be coming to you. I need to make it worth my while. Also, having not had to use anything larger than a rake, I'd have to buy the pitchfork on the way over, so, you know. Call me if you have snake removal needs.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

For Better, For Worse, For Freaking Ever

I find myself regularly hoping that Brad will dump Angelina. Some of you will be aghast at this, I mean, they're so beautiful! And they have beautiful children! And they do so much good in the world! But in my mind, they will always be the people who got together when they shouldn't have, the ones who set the example that tells both their children and the world that it's okay to leave whoever you're with for someone you think is better for you, regardless of the vows you made or the people you hurt along the way. That goes against everything that I believe in and stand for. Situations in which this is not applicable include if you are being abused or your spouse is cheating on you. In those cases, yes, please leave. But in the case of Brangelina, I cry foul, and I even cry, "No good!" on both of them. The way they have treated someone else overshadows what good they have done in the world, whatever talent or beauty they have. I can't watch her in particular with cringing. It takes two to tango, so they say, but I still think she set out to get him and didn't stop until she did, regardless of the fact that he was married. If she had come out at some point and said, "Okay, yes, the way we went about things was wrong, and I am deeply sorry," then I think I could soften a little, but her comments have only been of how happy her family is and how it was meant to be and...excuse me while I become ill and vomit a little on my keyboard.

Incidentally, I feel the same way about Amy Grant and Vince Gill. All those years I spent singing El Shaddai and feeling it in my heart--WASTED!

I have been somewhat reluctant to tell the story here of my own love and loss and what led me to my marriage, but owing to a friend whose pain I am feeling acutely right now (I cried for you, my dear, and I want you to know that I am with you even though I am miles away), who often prompted me to tell it, I am telling it now. I am telling it for her and for me and for everyone who was duped by the Hollywood romantic ending, by the lies of perfect partnership and soul mates.

Before I met my husband, I had been deeply in love with a man who gave me a movie-style story of my own, complete with the modern day twist of meeting on the internet. He read my website, he liked my poetry, we began to correspond. I felt a connection to him the likes of which I've felt with no one else before or since. We were perfect yet horrible for one another. He couldn't decide if he wanted me as more than a friend or not, I called his bluff and said, "I'm in love with you, and I can't stand this, and I need to take care of myself. GAME OVER. You know, unless you love me, too." He wrote me another non-commital e-mail. I felt sick to my stomach. He wrote me a fully committed e-mail, declared his love, flew me to Europe, gave me a movie style first kiss (really, they should have been filming). It was just like in the movies. I came home, and in short order he wrote me a letter that broke my heart. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced, and yet, I wouldn't be with the man I'm with today, who is good and loyal and kind, and quite frankly the best thing that ever happened to me, if I hadn't been so utterly and completely broken-hearted.

That break-up and the plodding through life that followed forced me to be honest with myself about some things I hadn't been ready to face before. That time of my life changed everything. When I went on my first date with my husband, I at first followed my knee jerk reaction, which is that it didn't seem like a match, and I didn't really like him, and oh well, more fish in the sea. I even declared this to my friend Nicole, who confirmed that "If it isn't a match, it just isn't a match." But then I started thinking about how so many men had either been complete duds or broken my heart, and I realized that perhaps I'd been doing something wrong. I thought about how nice Jarod was and how comfortable I felt with him. And then I accepted a second date. The rest, as they say, is history, except that it's not. It's present reality because I married him, and not because he won me over and I fell madly in love with him. I married my husband because he is good and loyal and kind. I married him because of the way that he treats children and animals and old people and even total jackasses. I married him because I knew that he was a good man. It was nothing like a movie. We decided to get married over the phone, and when he proposed, it was after we'd already booked the reception site for our wedding (yep, true story!). The sight of him didn't make my heart go pitter pat; I just thought, "What a good man." And, oh, he is. Sometimes, when I watch movies, I kind of wish we'd had a movie kind of story. But then I look at the good man by my side, and I watch him hold a baby or rearrange the cats that try to sleep on his face (the cats that I brought to the marriage, that he could have done without), and I think that everything is as it should be. We do not agree about everything. I think he has horrible taste in movies, and I'm sure he wishes that I would stop talking so loudly on my cell phone when I'm really getting into a good conversation. And we've weathered more serious storms as well. We talk it out because we believe in the partnership and union we have, in building something good together. I am lucky to have him, and on the days that I seem to forget that, I wish that someone would give me a good smack in the face.

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Even in our two years together, the negotiations we've made over how to proceed with life have not been insignificant. I'm certain that in the future there will be more minor and major adjustments to make, and we will make them, or we will end up failing at the thing we vowed to do. We made vows that said for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til parted by death. We meant those then and we intend to mean them for the rest of our lives. We recognize that we will both change over time, that days and weeks and months and years have a way of shifting priorities and hopes and dreams, and we cannot foresee in which ways each of us will change. We cannot foresee illness or financial calamity or any other ruinous thing. But likewise we cannot foresee the good things. We cannot foresee the face of our coming daughter, we cannot foresee where we will go that we will find to be an utter delight, we cannot foresee how we will love each other better having weathered life's storms. In vowing our lives to one another in marriage, we have vowed to see each other through the good and the terrible, the ugly and the staggeringly beautiful. It is meant to be this way.

I send these words out there now as a gift to my husband to thank him for being who he is, and as a wish and a hope and a prayer for my dear friend who has been so wounded. Good is all around us, and we hope it will come home to her heart. She deserves to be rewarded for her goodness and faithfulness and enduring love, and I am believing for her that this is her destiny. May every hurt be healed, may every sickness be made well, may every asshole pull his head out of his posterior and be the good man we know he can be.

So say I, and I mean it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Toast for Dinner!

After yesterday's post, I felt like I might need to clarify some things for those of you who might be jumping up and down at the prospect of eating what you want and losing weight by surprise. If you are not familiar with my style of eating, let's start with the fact that I no longer eat M&M's. With that information in hand, it won't surprise you to be informed that I buy only brown rice (never white), cook most things from scratch, use whole wheat pastry flour for all my baking, do not eat factory farmed animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, etc.), find fast food to be disgusting (after about a year not eating it, it all just tastes so salty), and generally try to avoid cooking using canned ingredients. All that to say that I'm starting with a pretty solid base, so even if I do indulge in some (fair trade, organic) chocolate chip cookies more often than most would advise, or put an all natural frozen pizza in the oven from time to time, it's not like the rest of my diet is filled with Doritos and Little Debbies and Whoppers. As indicated in the title, sometimes I have toast for dinner, smeared with organic butter and all fruit jam or homemade apple butter, but it's not from IronKids bread, it's from whole wheat bread I made from just seven (organic, fair trade, local) ingredients in my breadmaker. I think that eating real food makes all the difference, so I would never advise that someone eat what they want, when they want it, if they're not actually eating food. If the ingredient list is mostly unpronounceable, it's not real food.

I also would like to point out that while some of these changes were made for health reasons, they were largely made for reasons that are grander in scope, such as wanting to support local agriculture, end the contamination and erosion of our soil, and generally shove my middle finger squarely in the face of giants like Monsanto that trample on small farmers day in and day out in order to turn a profit. Having a reason other than eating healthy or losing weight makes it much easier to stick to eating well.

Which brings me to my larger philosophy, which is that eating should be about more than just measuring things out or saying that this food is good and that food is bad. In fact, I don't think it should be about those things at all. If what we are putting on our plates is all from good sources and is all, indeed, food, then it should be something to be enjoyed and celebrated, not obsessed over. My goal, more than anything, is to feed myself in a way that frees me from obsessing about calories and fat and portion size and thus allows me to enjoy and be grateful for the many good things that land on my plate.

That's what I'm shooting for. The weight loss is just a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Know Thyself, To Thine Own Self Be True

For most of my life I've believed that if I just tried hard enough or changed my habits in exactly the right way for the exact right amount of time that I would suddenly become one of those people who eats healthy food most of the time and occasionally has a slice of cake. A small slice of cake. I believed it because magazines told me it could happen, because actors and famous people and those who can afford personal chefs said it was true, because there seemed to be people out there that could do it. And so I tried. I tried over and over again and in a variety of ways. It always went swimmingly for awhile, and I would tell people all about it, and then eventually the siren call of the chocolate chip bag would have its way with me and I would be defeated, yet again.

I also believed that if I only willed it that way, I could become a morning person.

Yeah. Right.

What I've come to believe as I talk to more and more people about who they are and how life works for them is that there are some things about us that simply are. And while we can make changes to make our lives function better and to respect others whose preferences are not the same as our own, in the end, we are who we are.

But this is not a reason to feel defeated, or an excuse to live lives of excess and laziness. Knowing who we are and figuring out what is and is not negotiable in our personal makeup is a place to start. And some things that we figure out will help us get where we really want to go without an unnecessary amount of struggle. For the past six months, I've known that my body was not the size and shape that it's meant to be. I'm not talking about not living up to some strange supermodel ideal or even a list of "ideal" measurements. I simply knew that there was some extra bulk hanging on, and that something about the way I was doing things wasn't working. So I read article after article about natural weight loss and taking control of food intake, and on and on until I finally found what I was looking for, something that seemed like I could do. I read this article, and while the thing as a whole is maybe not entirely for me, I took the author's own food rules ("eat only what you truly enjoy, and truly enjoy whatever you eat") to heart. Every time I wanted something to eat, I asked myself if I truly wanted it, and if I would truly enjoy eating it.

I discovered by doing this that I'd gotten stuck in a lot of habits that had nothing to do with what I really wanted to eat. I'd use the logic that I liked the food and it was there and I was hungry, so it must be what I should have. Or I'd start thinking about all those diet and nutrition rules I'd read and end up eating something that I didn't want at all. It's been eye opening how many things I was shoving into my gaping maw simply because it seemed like a good idea. These habits are so ingrained in the way I live that I keep making mistakes. You'd think it would be simple to just eat what you want, but it's not. There are so many other things to consider. The question, "Do I truly want to eat this?" is not always an easy one to answer when there are years of Starving Children in China lectures and Clean Plate Clubs to contend with. Just last night I found myself licking extra cupcake batter out of the bowl because I usually like it, and I don't make cupcakes very often, so clearly I should eat a lot of it. The problem? I didn't really enjoy it. It kind of gave me a stomach ache. Luckily, it's not like that all the time. The more I learn to pay attention to what I really want and how much of it I really want, the easier it gets to just do it.

I'm already seeing results in the way my clothes fit. I was put on a favorite skirt the other day to visit Old Lady Mary and was surprised to have the previously slightly snug waistband fasten loosely nearer my hip bones. I blinked a couple of times before it registered: I am at the place where I feel comfortable. I no longer feel as if I am carrying some extra bulk around my middle. It happened without me noticing, without ever feeling like I had to count out everything I was putting on my plate, without feeling guilty or anxious or like I was doing it all wrong.

I would be omitting something important if I failed to mention that, all this time, I've also been doing workouts five to six days a week. But this is all part of the system; while I know that I totally stink at food plans, I do really well with exercise. I find that this is true of many people, though for some it's the inverse, and they can say no to delicious foods all the livelong day, but can't maintain an exercise routine. Rarely have I met someone who was both really good at eating well and really good at working out. Apparently, it's okay to pick one. It's worked for me.

You know, so far.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brand New? In Our House? REALLY?

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, I have an exciting and shocking announcement to make to you. We bought a new sofa today. NEW. As in, not off the side of the road and given a half-assed makeover before I gave up and called it shabby with a tiny side of chic. No, really. NEW. I realize this is a surprise to many of you, but it's true. I have been won over by a sofa.

I do have conflicting feelings about this, given my bargain-hunting tendencies, but the truth is that I just couldn't find anything on Craigslist that even remotely fit our budget and my taste, let alone that I wasn't a little wary of putting in our home because it's fabric and stuffing and who knows what could be lurking ohmygoodness. I feel guilty about the purchase mainly because we are saving for our adoption and who buys a new couch when they are supposed to be saving money for their adoption?

Well, probably people who have a third hand couch whose cushions are so worn that each has been turned over to conceal a major flaw, and do you know how many times you can turn over a cushion to conceal a major flaw? Just once. No, really. Only one time. I know, I was shocked and dismayed, too.

The sofa we have is actually a good, comfortable sofa, and I'm sure that someone who is handy with reupholstering can do something really fabulous with it. It's just that I'm not that person. Maybe I could be in another phase of life with a lot more time on my hands, but that's not now. I had to get over that and just let it go, and now we are going to have a new couch in our house.

Is that weird or what?

Friday, January 15, 2010

50% Detail Oriented is Detail Oriented Enough for Me

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that:

1. I recognize that I need to do some serious proof reading and editing to most of my recent posts, all of which were sandwiched between Something Important That Must Be Done and Something Else Important That Must Be Done.

2. I probably won't do that anytime soon, so you anal retentive English majors might want to do some yoga or deep breathing or something and just accept that what I write here is often crap.

And then this, which doesn't need to be pointed out so much as mentioned, which is that our dossier for our adoption is on its way to Washington D.C. today to get authentication from both the U.S. and Ethiopia. That is very, very good. It means that even though my posts here have been riddled with errors, my adoption paperwork was not, and I can rest easy knowing that I can pay attention to details where it really counts.

(Adoption blog is here, in case you're into that sort of nonsense. You know, babies and me complaining and getting all schmaltzy and such.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Always Look on the Bright Side of Your Life

I have decided that it should be known to the population at large that I do not like it when people voice negative what-if scenarios. I am good enough at that on my own, and have commenced being busy coating my nagging worries with positivity. You don't need to sprinkle on some doom; if you think I am not acquainted with the fact that things don't always go as planned, then you are probably new, and I forgive you. I know that you have good intentions at heart, that you don't want me to get my hopes up or expect things to be great and then be disappointed, but honestly? I prefer hoping and dreaming, and if things fall apart a little bit, I can handle it.

That said:

Last night we got our I-171H, which is our clearance from U.S. immigration and also the last piece of paper for our dossier, in the mail. Our favorite notary notarized it last night, I got is state certified first thing this morning, and the whole thing got sent off to our agency via FedEx prior to noon. We are done, we have managed this Herculean task, it is all wonderful and beautiful and unicorns are pooping rainbows.

2010 is our year, people.

I can just feel it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Avoiding Food Struggles

Before I get started, I'd like to mention something, which is that the very first child I nannied turns twenty this spring. As in, years old, which makes me a little bit old. To my credit, I was fifteen at the time. He was freshly one. And I knew a whole lot less about kids then than I do now. How on earth did I ever get that job? I guess I knew enough to feed him things he wouldn't choke on, play with him, and put him down for a nap. I also knew how to watch MTV. I was really, really, really good at that.

Over the years, as it became more and more clear that helping families raise their children would be something I would do as a profession, I began to pay a lot more attention to whatever information I could get my hands on that would expand my understanding of children, their development, and their needs. I read everything I can get my hands on in order to do my job better. I try things out, and I'll be honest if they work or are a pile of crap. There are many things I've found to be consistent with children across the board. Of course there are exceptions, particularly if a child has special needs. However, particularly in the case of food, I've found that there's a method that is recommended again and again and that has worked for me again and again over the course of my career as a childcare professional. If you'd like to end food struggles with your kids, here it is. I've added my own insights as well as sticking to the basics that you'll hear from many a pediatrician and child development expert. Here are the basics:

1. Depending on whose article you're reading, children require seven to fifteen presentations of a food before they'll even taste it, and in my experience, often require that many tastings to decide if they like it.

2. Your job is to decide when and what is available to eat, your child's job is to decide if and how much.

By presentations, I mean that it is simply showing up on the plate. When I present a new food to a child, I usually note what it is and what it kind of tastes like if it's close to something familiar. And that's it. If the kid decides to try it, fantastic; if not, that's fine, too. There should be no cajoling or asking if they'll try it or anything. Just put it on the plate, tell them what it is, and let them decide if they're ready to try it. If they have questions about it, of course you may answer them. If they express that they don't like it, say, "Okay, you don't have to eat it," and leave it at that. Some children may be bothered by the new food on their plate and protest, but just remind them that they don't have to eat it. Keep it light. If they don't taste it the first time, that's fine. Just keep presenting it until they taste it. If they taste it and express they don't like it, you may try presenting it a few more times to see if they change their minds, but if not, don't waste your delicious food. Some children find foods to have strong flavors, even if you think they are crazy, they might be right. I speak from experience here, as the child who insisted that lettuce tasted bitter and was not believed until it was later discovered by actual scientists that some people experience bitterness far more intensely than others.

Now on to the second item. It's just like it sounds. You decide what food is available when, and your child decides if they'll eat it and how much they will eat. Generally, when it's up to me, I offer food five times a day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. I find that if dessert is something the family goes for, it's best to have that as part of the routine as well. For example, dessert is offered after dinner but not after other meals. I also find that routine is my best friend when it comes to getting children to eat; if they know that food is offered at certain times of day and that certain types of food are offered at each meal/snack, they are more likely to make a good choice about whether to eat or not and how much. You both have the assurance of knowing that another meal is coming in a few hours. This way, you won't freak out if your child refuses the meal, and your child won't be confused about whether or not there will be another option before the next appointed mealtime (after all, who isn't sometimes tempted to see if a better option will come along if you just wait a bit). And that part about not freaking out if your child refuses the meal? Is key. Also key is not giving in to pleas of I'm huuuuunnnngggrrrrry before the next mealtime.

When you present a meal, if the child refuses it, simply remind him or her that there won't be more food until the next meal or snack time. Offer one reminder, and then remove the plate. Don't make a big deal out of it; if you do, it signals a power struggle, and most kids like to try to win, and that it not pleasant for anyone. If the child immediately cries out for their plate to be replaced, do so once and only once. if they do this consistently three meals in a row, don't offer it back after it's been removed; this signals that it's likely become a power play and that your child is not really interested in having the food back (or, possibly, didn't really want it to be taken away in the first place). Kids love to be in charge, and if this is one way they figure out that they can be, they'll take it. (This is much like the "game" in which your baby throws something on the floor over and over again because he or she enjoys having you pick it up.) Do not be concerned if your child eats two bites and expresses that they are finished. Remind them that there won't be food until the next meal, and remove his or her plate. If, before the next mealtime, your child expresses that he is hungry, tell them when the next mealtime is. The one exception to this is if they ate well the meal before and are possibly going through a growth spurt. I've rarely run into this issue when I am offering three meals and two snacks per day, and when I do, I like to perform what I call a "boredom test" to make sure that they're actually hungry and not just looking for something to do. I tell the child that I'll see what I can find, as it's not a normal mealtime and I need to consider the menu for the rest of the day, and if they show back up in five to ten minutes (no less than five, and be sure to send them off to play) reminding you that they're hungry, they probably really are.

Of course there is a lot of fine tuning you can do to meet your own family's needs. If you prefer to offer three major meals and allow certain healthy snacks in between, that's probably okay. However, if you notice that your child is eating a lot of those healthy snacks and then skipping meals, you'll need to make snacks routine as well or else you may end up with a child who only eats grapes. I also find it is helpful to make available in your home mostly foods that are good and healthy for your family to enjoy. Of course it's fine to have dessert from time to time, and there's nothing wrong with an occasional treat, but it's much harder to encourage your child to eat a healthy meal when they know that there's all manner of chips and sugary snacks sitting right there in the cupboard. (It's also harder to encourage yourself to eat a healthy meal when those things are present. Why not do your whole family a favor?) I'd also recommend offering milk at meals and only water in between. Juice is fine from time to time, but I know a good many children who would prefer to get all their calories from juice, and so it's best not to give that opportunity. Juice contains vitamins, but it's lacking in a lot of essential building blocks, so it's best to offer the whole piece of fruit as opposed to juice.

One thing that I'd like to make sure you take away from this is that you need to keep it light in order to avoid a power struggle. Allow your child to learn that they get pretty hungry if they refuse a meal. Don't let them know that it bothers you if they refuse food, even if it gets under your skin like nobody's business. And finally, never, ever, ever, ever, ever beg your child to eat or negotiate food choices in order to do so. To make food a non-issue will insure your success, and, by extension, the success of your child as they learn to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.

Questions? Comments? Did I leave anything out?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back to Life, Back to Reality

That song has been stuck in my head all day, but there's a reason why. Since last summer I have felt suspended, confused, anxious, unable to get my head around all that needed to happen to simply make life work. I was a little bit frozen in some ways, and I'm still thawing out. But last night I cleaned up the kitchen before I went to bed, and this morning I unloaded the dishwasher while my coffee brewed, and I realized that I'm back. Or better. Or something. The part of me that couldn't keep up has released her death grip on the to do list. It's a relief, honestly. This past week I've gotten back to what is important to me, at least in the matters of daily living. I get enough rest. I don't gulp down Starbucks just to try to stay awake, but because I want it and will enjoy drinking it (which has lessened the number of trips there quite a lot). I work out five to six days a week, and I like it. I feel better and lighter and more free. I don't think there's a better time to embark on a journey about dreaming.

Soon you'll see a button for Mondo Beyondo in the sidebar. It's an online class about dreaming big, and I have been looking forward to it for a month now, or possibly my whole life. Perhaps it was just my interpretation, but the message I've come away with from so many people for most of my life is one that says to be practical and to not expect too much and to remember to be selfless always, which probably means never doing something you really want to do simply because you want to do it. There was no room for trusting what was in my heart simply because it was there. But now I'm ready to do that, and I think this class is going to help immensely.

Giddyup, let's go. To the Mondo and Beyondo!!!

Friday, January 08, 2010

You and Your Two-Year-Old: Who's in Charge, Exactly?

So I'm working with a lot of two-year-olds lately. Good times for me, right? Right! The thing about age two is that it is terribly delightful and terribly troublesome. They're fully mobile. They say words. They seem to understand what you say most of the time, and also are forming their own opinions. They have also figured out that they have opinions about things, and now that they can voice those opinions, they think that surely they will be taken seriously. Oh. NO. We're doooooomed!

I think two is a hard age for both kids and parents, and a lot of this has to do with the child's emerging preferences coupled with their new ability to voice them. It's a confusing age for kids because they are trying to figure out when they are in charge and when they're not. The simple answer to this is: never. They are never in charge. At this point you're probably wondering what kind of military state I'm suggesting you run in your home, but hear me out here. I'm not saying that you should never give your child choices or that they should not be allowed to do anything fun. What I am saying is that your child has been on the planet for a very short time, and they need a lot of guidance. Thus, you are always in charge. ALWAYS!! I put that in caps, italics, and bold for a reason. It's for your good and your child's good and the good of anyone who is tired out by incessant whining.

Developmentally speaking, your child is making huge leaps, but their brains still operate fairly simply. Their level of reasoning is mostly limited to cause and effect. If I do A, B happens. If I do C, D happens. If you start messing with the outcomes of cause and effect, it gets very confusing. This is why, at this age, you always need to follow through with what you say will happen. I know a lot of parents that say that some battles aren't worth fighting, so they just give in in those cases. This makes sense to the adult mind because we can differentiate between different types of situations. But to a child, all they know is that sometimes you give in to whining or tantrums, and other times you don't. You may pick your battles, but choose them ahead of time, and if you are parenting with someone else, be sure you're on the same page. In order for your child to understand that you say what you mean, you need to follow through every time. Children react well to structure and boundaries. They feel safer and happier knowing what is expected of them and being able to do it.

When it comes to offering choices, it's best to start with things like what drink to have or which toy to play with. Remember, you're in charge, so you get to choose when and what choices are offered. Limit the choices to the number of years old your child is. So if your child is two, he or she gets two items to choose from. If he or she is misbehaving, the choices are "Do as I ask" or "go to time out" (or whatever your consequence is). When the child makes a good choice, tell them so by simply saying, "Good choice!" Also, practice times when there aren't choices. From the earliest age, you are teaching your child to approach life. Sometimes there's only one choice, and it's not your favorite. For a small child to learn this is to give him or her a head start. Similarly, to teach a child that someone else is in charge is also appropriate. Of course we all end up having choices as adults but for the everyone, there are situations in which someone else is in charge, whether it be at work or at a recreational event or while traveling, etc. This is the natural order of things, and to introduce your young child to it as a good and appropriate part of life is ultimately doing him or her a favor.

There are a lot of struggles that you will ultimately have with your child, but I think you'll find that if you're consistent in doing what you say and offering age appropriate choices and consequences, you'll find that your home is both happier and more peaceful. Of course, you can always chuck my advice right out the window and have your child turn out just fine, but if you could use a tool to help with the whining, there it is. You're welcome.

Next time I'm up for offering advice, which will possibly be tomorrow: Avoiding Food Struggles

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Gospel of Homemade Deodorant

Oh, like you didn't see that coming. Admittedly, the month I've been using my homemade deodorant has been chilly enough that you might wonder if I need to wear deodorant at all, but it's turned out to be a fantastic testing ground. Because lots of layers plus running the defrost full blast in the car plus eventually ending up in a spectacularly well-heated venue equals sweat, and more of it now that I'm using just deodorant and not antiperspirant. I was concerned the first time I felt myself sweating a little. I may have done a lot of subtle armpit sniffing. But even after trips to the bathroom to do not-so-subtle armpit sniffing, I determined that, hey, wait a second...I don't stink. At all. Even twenty-four hours and a very sweaty workout later I don't stink. There's just sweat, and that's it. No reapplication. No added fragrance. Just one rub-in of a pea-sized amount of the homemade stuff, and I'm good.

It's a winner, and not just in the stink-prevention department. I never end up with deodorant residue on my clothes. Thanks to the moisturizing ingredients in the deodorant, my armpits are softer than they've ever been, and I get a closer shave because of it. There's no caked-on-due-to-repeated-application film to contend with. And when I sweat, it feels better. You can laugh at that one if you like; I certainly would have before I tried it. But there's something about just sweating as opposed to sweating through a layer of antiperspirant that simply feels better, even cleaner.

There are drawbacks, the main one being application. I have to remember to apply it before I put on a shirt with sleeves, and it's not just a quick swipe of a solid stick. I rub it in, like lotion. In addition, it's pretty firm in the jar, so if it's cold in the bathroom, it takes a little effort to scoop it out with my finger. That said, it's still totally worth it. I won't be going back to store-bought deodorant unless there's some sort of emergency.

I highly recommend that you try it.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

I'm a Cliche

Today, the second day of January, I bought a workout DVD. I also bought boots (though I didn't pay nearly that amount for them, not even half that) because if there's one thing you can count on looking good even when you're not at your trimmest, it's shoes. Plus, that woman in the next aisle over said they were beautiful and confirmed that they would look good with skirts. And they do! They look so good that I can't even come down with a case of buyer's remorse and take them back. I kept the receipt, but they dial up the awesome on pretty much every piece of clothing I own except my abundant supply of wide leg trousers, so...no. They won't go back.

Before you start thinking that I've got some grand plans for the New Year and finally meeting weight loss or fitness goals, I must clarify that I'm perfectly happy with my usual size and shape and workout routine. I was just reeeeeally bored by the workout video I bought last January, and also the new video was on sale. And as far as not being my trimmest? Well, that's probably thanks to the latter part of December being filled with butter and heavy cream and lots of sitting around tables and in the car. I am relieved to get back to business as usual, complete with geriatric cereal and coffee at home and dinner that I cook myself out of things other than butter and heavy cream (for the most part, anyway).

A lot of bloggers do a roundup of the events of the past year, and I sort of missed out on that exercise. Not that it's entirely too late to do it now, but 2009 was like many years, good and bad and terrible and wonderful all rolled up into one package. It was a good year and a challenging year and a life-changing year in ways that may or may not be obvious to the rest of you. If I had to sum up, I'd say that 2009 was a year of self-discovery (please don't vomit, I couldn't think of another way to say it). And as with the rest of life, it's true that the more you learn, the less you know. I look forward to 2010 being a year of getting to know myself even better (I know, I know, vomit vomit vomit). The more I discover (and accept) about myself, the more gracious I find I am able to be towards others. And that is a good and wonderful thing.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams and plans for 2010. I've thrown them out there into the wind, but I'm keeping much of them to myself because I want to be okay with things as they happen. I'd like to graciously accept all that comes to pass in 2010. May it be a sweet and wonderful year for all.