Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Win!

You guys! I got nominated for two awards! And I think I won them! But I don't really know how this all works because these are the kinds of awards for which they make you answer questions about yourself, and also, they were given to me by the same person so I don't know if I'm just awesome in the desert or also in my real life, here at home, in the not-desert, where my driveway is covered in snow. Still. After two warmish days. But whatever, it doesn't really matter. I like the kind of thing where there are questions to be answered, as it keeps me from having to come up with my own topic. I would probably just write about my workout again. (I totally would, actually, and don't you want me to shut up about that already? Go ask Gwyneth about my workout; she's already experienced results.) So without further ado, the awards and their accompanying questions.

The first award:

For this one I'm supposed to answer ten questions and then give the award to seven other bloggers. I will answer the ten questions and get back to you on the other part. I guess I'm just not versatile enough to get it all done at once. Perhaps whitegirl should take back the award. I'd better answer the questions before she tries.

1. Why did you create this blog?
Because I felt like it. Really. That's it. I had another blog that was on a smaller site with fewer features, and I started that because I like to write and it seemed like a fun an interesting thing to do. That was in 2002. Clearly, I still like doing it, because now I've got this blog and the adoption/family blog.

2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
Usually ones having to do with family or home or travel or decorating or fashion or kids or pets or something else I find interesting. Mostly I follow those who have a voice I either admire or feel I can relate to (or both, usually both).

3. Favorite makeup brand?
It varies. For color, I like Benefit a whole lot; I got started with their cheek stain and then pretty soon it was eye shadow and lipstick and mascara. For foundation, which I don't bother to wear much of the time due to time constraints (it's just quicker to do cheek stain and powder and a bit of mascara), I love the Stila all-in-one formula. I used to use a separate primer and foundation by Smashbox, and would do so again if I were gifted with an extra thirty minutes each day. (Okay, that's actually a lie; I would take a nap with those extra thirty minutes.) I used to use a powder that I L-O-V-E-D from Origins, but I can't afford it anymore, so now I use a Sonia Kashuk powder from Target, and it works just fine to mop up the oil field on my face.

4. Favorite clothing brand?
Um, that I can afford or that I like? There's a dress brand called Floreat at Anthropologie, and I pretty much love every single dress they make.

5. Indispensable makeup item?
Powder. I'm very oily.

6. Favorite color?

7. Favorite perfume?
Lollia Wish. I don't own any, but hope to soon. Like on Valentine's Day. (*hint*hint*JAROD*hint*) I also really like Burberry Brit, but generally I think of that as a winter scent and not great for summer.

8. Favorite film?
This is always such a hard question, but I always answer the same: Wings of the Dove. I love the story and the setting and the cinematography. But really, any costume drama is tops with me. I recently was found watching and re-watching Young Victoria, and before that it was Bright Star. So romantic costume dramas, actually.

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
I cannot make this choice. We are planning our usual trip to London and Nice next fall because at this point in time we like our vacations to be comfortable and familiar, with a few new things thrown in (easy to do from both locations), but I'd also like to see more of the world. I've long wanted to visit Myanmar, and I've never been anywhere in South America, so that's where I'd start making the list. Or maybe I'll just visit the bestower of these awards in her undisclosed desert location.

10. Would you rather forget to put on mascara on one eye or blush on one side of your face?
Either one would be fine, actually, if it's just daytime makeup. I use a light hand with both, so I don't think it would be too noticeable.

Whew. That just took me...far too long. Let's just move on to the second award.

The second award is:

For this one I'm supposed to tell seven things about myself. There's also that pesky thing about choosing other bloggers to give the award to. I will have to beg off on that part for this bit as well since it's late and I haven't showered and all sorts of other excuses. But the seven things I can give you, and since this is a stylish blogger award, I'll just tell you seven style-related things. He we go:

1. I love striped shirts. I currently own nine, and once I am through with my year of buying no new clothing, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll buy another just as soon as I can get to TJMaxx.

2. I shop mostly at two stores: Target and TJMaxx. This is because they are near my house and cheap.

3. I also love (love love love love love) Anthropologie. Is there a girl who doesn't? If there is something special there that I love, I wait for it to go on clearance and pounce. One time, I bought a dress that was not on clearance, and it was a life-changing experience.

4. Okay, also I love (love love love love love) Boden. Some of the best bits of my wardrobe have come from them, and though they tend to be a bit pricey, all my items have been at least somewhat discounted and totally worth the cost. One of the best things about Boden is that they give garment measurements as well as the usual size chart, so you can tell what size of a particular garment will fit your particular body shape. I wear two different sizes in trousers depending on the cut, so this is essential information for me.

5. I like to have a new pair of shoes to wear on vacation. In anticipation of 2011's lack of shoe shopping, I picked up a pair of black sequined flats, and they are boxed and stowed away for such a time as I am about to board a plane for France.

6. My favorite outfits involve jackets and cardigans. I like to layer.

7. I'm not always so great at choosing accessories for an outfit, and if I am running late, sometimes I'll skip them altogether. I have to have time to figure out what looks right, and I'd rather go without than put on something that looks awkward with my outfit.

Thanks to whitegirl for nominating me for these two awards. This has been fun and flattering.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Apparently I Also Need to Work Out my Memory

Every single time I start a new workout or eating plan, this same thing happens, and every single time, I end up googling it and finding the same articles, but it is never until I see those same articles that I realize that oh, yes, right: this has happened before. Before I start to get trimmer, I get reeeeeeeally bloated. Everywhere. Probably even in my eyelids, though there's nothing that has to zip or button over those, so it's not as obvious. I am a giant mass of puffiness, and there isn't anything to be done about it except keep doing the new thing, knowing that eventually it works itself out. And knowing, too, that the next time I fall off the workout or nutrition wagon and try to get back on (which, let's face it, the amount of Nutella I've been consuming indicates that I'm not on the nutrition wagon at this point in time), it will happen all over again.

Tomorrow, I'm wearing jersey knits. You can call me Yoga Pant Mom, and it will simply be the truth.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Home Alone, Blathering on About My Workout

Jarod needed to return some Christmas presents, and he took Zinashi with him. Isn't that nice? It's so nice. I should probably bake him some cookies or something; I haven't done that in awhile. For now, though, I'm sitting at the desk in my sweaty workout clothes with a cat holding down my lap. And it's nice. So nice.

So about those sweaty workout clothes...I got my Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio DVD in the mail on Saturday and started doing it yesterday. Today is Day 2. And it's hard, but in a good way. I'm not sure if anyone else experiences this with traditional workout videos, but there are always a good number of times during the workout that I just feel heavy. Usually it's during some crazy jumping move in which I'm supposed to start in plank and then end up upright, but sometimes it's just doing something normal. I might be carrying some extra pounds, but not that many, and this always discouraged me and made me not want to do the workout. I'd think with dread about all those exercises during which the entire weight of my body would be pulled towards the earth with the force of super special exercise gravity, and it made me want to just use that gravity to adhere myself more firmly to my chair.

This workout, though, is just dancing. Whatever heaviness I feel is only a result of being aware of the extra mass I'm carrying (because I can feel it, which I know is probably a little neurotic of me, but it's just...there--I can't really explain the feeling any other way) and not because I'm trying to get my usual mass plus the little extra from a prone position to standing in one not-so-fluid movement. Which is not to say that the new workout isn't fraught with my clumsy mistakes, but it's different. I get better at it every time I do it. That part is incredibly rewarding, plus dancing is really fun. Add to that the fact that the cardio work required to dance that enthusiastically is significant, and we have a winner of a workout. I say this only having fully learned one dance of the eight (eight! a challenge for Clumsy McTripperton!) and having started the second one, but if the other dances are like these, the workout will move really fast, and that's always a good thing. I abhor treadmills partly because I get so bored (and partly because I sometimes fall off), so anything that will move fast for me is good. What really seals the deal, though, is that Tracy doesn't talk about anything but the dance combinations while she is giving instruction, and then when you actually do the workout with the dances up to speed, she says nothing. NOTHING! No negative body image talk, no "get ripped abs" nonsense, nothing. I can do it with Zinashi in the room and not be sending an endless stream of body perfection crap to her young ears.

After reading a ton of reviews, I did decide to order the companion DVD (or maybe I have that backwards--I think the other one is the main one, and this is the cardio companion, but whatever), which is a mat workout. People either love or hate these, it seems, but I'm not looking for the perfect workout for everyone, just something that will work for me. Most of the people with my body type who reviewed it had a positive experience. Some others did not. Personal trainers in particular seem to take issue with this DVD (though none of them that reviewed it--NONE--had actually done the workout), and one went so far as to say that you should work with heavier weights and do more weight training so that you can carry your kids and your groceries without hurting yourself. I find this hilarious, because guess what? I carried my kid and my groceries without hurting myself when I wasn't working out at all. And do you know how I trained myself to carry my kid and groceries, and kept that level of fitness up? By carrying my kid and my groceries. It's not rocket science, and it doesn't require an internet certification course either. I have a certain fitness level because of the things I do every day. I'm not looking for a workout that will make me herculean, just one that will keep my fitness level up for the sake of my health.

And frankly, yes, I would like my pants to fit a little better. If you'll recall, I'm not buying new ones until 2012, and there's that aforementioned extra mass hanging about. So I'll give the two Tracy Anderson DVDs a go and see how I do. So far, so good.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Interrupt This Laundry Folding Session for..Nothing, Actually

You know you love leggings under dresses too much when you figure out that your party clothes are more comfortable than your regular clothes. It may look like I'm going to a small birthday gathering or somesuch later this evening, but really I'm just doing the laundry. I somehow stocked my closet with trousers that are fine but not super comfortable (except for the single pair of skinny jeans that I wore four days in a row and finally had to wash) and leggings that go under slightly fancy dresses. I'm still a bit, um, softer than usual thanks to my adoption-related weight gain (not that there's anything wrong with that), so if I'm looking to be comfortable, guess what I pick to wear? I guess it's good that I know how to spot clean silk.

Which brings me (sort of) to the point I'm about to make, or the announcement, or something, since announcement sounds like it's going to be exciting. It's not. But still.

I ordered a new workout video today.

Yes, that's it. I know, I know, just try to contain your excitement while I make this one point that I sat down at my computer to make.

Here is why I did it: negative body talk in all of my workout videos. As much as I love taking up Zinashi's entire naptime trying to fit in a workout and shower instead of taking a few moments to relax, I've found that I really would prefer to work out while she is awake. She'll think it's funny, and I'll have more time to sit on my butt in front of the internet do household tasks while she sleeps. But I don't want to subject her to talk about getting rid of parts of me that I supposedly hate or doing hard work to get perfect abs or any of that nonsense. There is nothing wrong with my body now except that it's not at the size that indicates I'm living my life in a healthy way. There is nothing wrong with the little pooch of my tummy or my butt not being perfect or anything else of that nature. Women were made a little soft. Get over it, six pack abs people. I don't want my daughter growing up thinking she needs to look a certain way to be considered beautiful or fit or worthy of attention, so I'm not going to let her hear those messages from my workouts.

To that end, I've ordered the Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio DVD. I'm really not sure what Tracy says about anything on the video, but I do know that all the reviews point to a "lack of cueing," which means she doesn't talk a lot. It's also a workout that, once I learn the dances (which, let's face it, for someone as uncoordinated as me, it might take awhile), I can put to my own music if I want and completely turn off any sound should Tracy decide to encourage me to have a "perfect" body. So we'll see how it goes. I like a little workout mixup every so often, and Zinashi thinks it's hilarious when I try to do a choreographed dance routine, so I'm pretty sure it will be a hit. Tracy Anderson is Gwyneth Paltrow's trainer as well as Madonna's, so I've promised Jarod that I won't get all waify like Gwyneth or ropey like Madonna. Let's hope that works out because I don't find either look to be particularly attractive. I just want to be able to wear normal pants comfortably while doing the laundry. The party look should be saved for another day; spot cleaning silk is bound to get really old really fast.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dental Wonder

Despite the snowy weather, this morning I showed up for my dental appointment with family in tow. Zinashi eyed what they were doing (just a cleaning) and declined the offer to make an appointment for her. Thanks to a fairly terrifying medical procedure that's fairly common in Ethiopia, I doubt she'll want to open her mouth wide for any procedure at any office that looks even remotely medical. I, however, submit to my cleaning and accept the praise my dentist doles out at the end, about how the tartar buildup on my lower teeth really isn't my fault, because clearly the rest of my mouth looks perfect. I win at oral hygiene!

Which, fine, isn't really something to go bragging about, but I needed to feel competent in some area of my life. I've had all too many nights lately begin with me asking Jarod what Groupons we have for dinner, and then when I do cook, I can't seem to do the dishes in a timely manner. And let's not talk about the rest of the house. It's too depressing.

They say (and I really can't even tell you who "they" are, since there are so many of them, and I am too lazy overwhelmed to link to all) that it feels better after you've been home with your child six months, and then at nine months it's like something just clicks, and you can do it. This gives me a smidge of hope, but then I look around my house and can't imagine when I'll figure out how to get it clean the way I want it to be clean. And forget about the basement. Zinashi received a playmat for Christmas, to be used in the basement, but unfortunately, it did not come with a professional organizer to help me get things in order down there.

What frustrates me most is that I can take care of these things myself; honestly, I do not need anyone to tell me where to put things in my own basement, and I am a perfectly competent cook and housekeeper. It's just that I run out of time, or energy, or motivation, or all three, and then all hope is lost. If the current trend continues, we will drown in a mountain of stuff, as if we are hoarders, when the truth is that I'd really love to give away/recycle/throw out a whole lot of this clutter, but I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. It's enough to just get through the day to day tasks, to not become complete slobs who should just go ahead and hang out a sign that says VERMIN WELCOME HERE, LOTS OF CRUMBS AVAILABLE.

So when my dentist says that I'm doing an excellent job with my teeth, well, I'm thrilled. I won't walk away from the praise. If all else fails, and they have to dig us out from under piles of junk mail and empty Annie's Bunny Grahams packets and a kajillion empty frappuccino bottles, at least I can come out smiling, and you'll see those pearly whites just gleam.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


I always wish that results of better eating and new commitment to working out would be immediate, or at least a bit speedier; it would help me to stick to my goals better. Not that eating better and working out are New Year's resolutions--it's more like, hey, I've just come off a month of eating things I don't normally touch, and feeding my family things that others (bakery employees, for instance) have made, and now I'm feeling a little bit heavy, a touch out of sorts. I actually craved whole wheat toast one morning when we were in the thick of finishing off a package of croissants, and if you know me, you'll understand that this is highly irregular, especially when there's Nutella also on the table. But it is what it is, and I am craving homemade, wholesome, simpler fare. A touch less butter, perhaps. A lot less cake. It's not just that my pants are tight, it's that I don't feel as well as I normally do.

There's also the component of adoption weight gain to deal with. A lot of people have made jokes with me about regaining my figure so quickly, but A) Many adoptive mothers gain weight, too, so it's not that much of a joke; and B) I've done nothing of the sort, thanks to the holidays following a month of delicious meal deliveries. In Ethiopia, I lost all I'd gained during the wait between seeing Zinashi's face and getting on the plane to go to her, but the bumpy adjustment to life in the States brought it all back home to me. I'm not so much a stress eater as I tend to let a lot of things go when I am stressed out. I have less energy to do things like cook a meal every evening or get in at least three workouts per week. So here I am, a little rounder around the middle than usual, and while it's not the end of the world, I can physically feel the extra bulk as I'm walking around (and not just because my pants are more snug), and I don't like the feeling. So. Goals. Here they are.

1. I'd like to stop eating things just because I think I should, and return to paying attention to what I really am hungry for and how much.

2. I'd like to exercise when I feel up to it.

I realize that these are very loose goals, and that's the point. I don't want to go on a diet or exercise for the sake of exercising. I want to eat what my body indicates it needs and make vigorous movement part of my life because I know it makes me feel good. I know that some people really need a regimen to stick to, but at this point I want what I do to be less forced and more natural. I want to flip that switch that takes me back to more mindful care of my body. More water, because I'm thirsty. More vegetables because they taste good. More exercise because I feel so great when I'm done. In the process, I know that extra bulk will fall off, and I will feel more myself again. Not in the best shape of my life, or with a bikini-ready body by summer, or anything else beauty magazines espouse. Just myself, with my outer layer the shape it is when I am healthy. An example to my daughter of what good health looks like. Not an obsession with being thin or eating the exact right things every single day or exercising myself into the ground, but just healthy. Not perfect, but then again...perfect.