Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some fun editing

I have been playing with a trial version of Photoshop Elements and was able to tweak these three pictures a bit. I really liked them to begin with, so this has been fun!

What do you think?

These were all taken on my Nikon D40 in the butterfly room at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA.



This last one, that is almost SOOC. Isn't the effect with the wings amazing? I have NO idea how I captured that, but it's pretty!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope this Christmas has ended a year of happiness and health for all of you.
We've been really lucky here. This year we spent Christmas in our new house and it was just perfect and lovely. I got to serve a yummy turkey dinner to our little family of four plus a dear friend, "Auntie" (an honorary Auntie) Julie, and Matt's Uncle Jim. It felt like I was rounding up that last bit of what makes the holidays truly perfect. Being home and spending time together.

I stayed up too late last night. I swear I was more excited about Christmas morning than my girls were! Iris and Matt woke Eloise and I up at 8:30. Could have been MUCH worse. We had a modest Christmas at our house, very much on purpose (which we are blessed that it wasn't out of necessity). This year the girls got a few gifts, including books, a decorative nutcracker, and jammies. Their big Santa gift was a huge bin of Polly Pocket toys that I bought off of Craigslist a while back. Yet again Matt spent way more on me than I did on him (ahem!) but we bought very very practical items for each other. Our "real" gift will come when the Rock Band company finally puts out more sets for the Wii! Ha ha. Luckily Santa left us a note explaining the situation.

I called this the "Polly Pocketpalooza"

The girls spent a good part of the day spread out on the floor with their Pollys. I baked bread and heated left-overs for lunch and Matt relaxed. We took a trip to the park. Matt showed me how to put new songs on my neglected ipod. We went out for Thai food for dinner. I spent a good amount of time today chatting on the phone with my mom, then my sister and finally my mother-in-law.


Eloise showing off her new sweatshirt from Grandma Lynn.

Such a low-key day. I do wish we had MORE family around to spend it with-- every year I miss the giant get-togethers that our family back in WI have. I am not sure if/when we'll ever go back for another one. Maybe when the girls are a couple of years older and easier travellers.
Now we'll take a few days to relax a bit more before heading to Central Washington to visit my in-laws. More presents, more relaxing and surely more eating will ensue!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally on break

I don't know who was looking forward to winter break more-- me or Iris! Things have been much more difficult than usual lately as Iris's anxiety level is creeping higher and higher every day.

We are back to crying most days at drop-off and I have heard that the crying has started again at lunch. There has also been days where Iris hasn't wanted to eat much of anything at lunch time, though, thankfully, that hasn't been a daily occurrence.

In addition to crying at drop-off Iris is back to crying at night and in the morning a few days per week, in anticipation of going to school. The most exhausting new development, however, is that she is waking up at night anxious and wanting to be with a "grown-up" (her word) and talking about her anxiety about the next day at school.

It seems to really come down to a pretty severe case of separation anxiety. Iris can barely do anything at all without her father or I at her side. Last week I took her to Toys R Us to pick out a Christmas present for Eloise and she wouldn't even walk down the toy aisle 10 feet away without me by her side.

On Wednesday I finally met with our family doctor to discuss some options. I got a few names of therapists that our dr feels would be a good match but we also discussed some alternative treatments that might work. Cranial-sacral work as well as acupressure (acupuncture without the needles) was something that appealed to me. I have had experiences with these therapies myself and am a fan. Our dr also suggested seeing a homeopath-- which sounds great, but is typically pretty expensive and therefor is not going to be high on our list of choices unless we feel for some reason it's or only option.

Overall I'm feeling more positive. I am going to start calling people soon, which may be a little daunting. I need to ask about insurance coverage and all of that other crap and so none of the suggested therapists may end up working and we'd be back to square one in terms of searching for a good one.

But for now, we have choices, and we have time. My little girl in on a break from school until the new year and free to be stuck to my side every moment of every day if she chooses. I have never kept her home from school over her anxiety (and wouldn't, for fear of making it worse!), but am very, very happy for any breaks we get that allow her to relax a bit.

I leave you with this amazing level of cuteness. Iris insisted she wouldn't go by Santa, but then we got to the front of the line and she ran right up to him!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Visit from friends

Last weekend I was beyond thrilled to have some very amazing friends come in to town to spend some time with us! Of course, I should start with how we know each other . . .

When Eloise was born I was active on the message boards on MDC, or Mothering.com. They have due date clubs, so that mamas who are all due in the same month can chat all together. After our babies in the August 2006 club were born MDC closed our message board. One of the mamas put together a new, private, message board for those of us who wanted to keep chatting. Oh, and did we ever! I think our MDC board closed about three years ago and our new board is something that I still visit every single day. We are a very, very close-knit group of mamas. For some of us, our August 2006 baby was our first, some our only, our last, our third or fourth . . . so even though we're all in a bit different place in our parenting, we still are crazy bonded with each other.

A while ago some of us suggested we try to get a meet-up together in Seattle so I decided to host a dinner and put together some activities for the families who were coming. One family drove TEN HOURS up from Southern Oregon. One family came from Vancouver Island. One flew in from Wyoming and one brought her family, including their newborn, down from Bellingham. None of the families stayed with us (it would have been nice to have the room!) but we hosted a taco dinner on Friday night for everyone. It was so much fun and I just sat in awe of how we came to be friends and the lengths each of these families went to spend some time all together over a weekend.

On Saturday three of our families spent the day together at the Seattle Center, mostly in the Pacific Science Center --our Bellingham friends needed to get back home and our Vancouver Island friends had a very sick little one on their hands who needed to stay in the hotel room most of the weekend. That night myself and three friends went out to a Japanese dinner followed by coffee. There was so much laughing. So much connecting. I was the only one who had previously met every other mama who came, but all of us were just old friends connecting on a new level that wasn't over the computer.

This group of women are so amazing. I feel truly honored to be a part of the group and even more honored that they all worked so damn hard to make our meet-up happen because our friendship is just that important to all of us.

I fully anticipate being friends with these women for many years to come. We are already planning more meet-ups (um, I may or may not have booked us a trip to the OR coast this summer without telling my husband) as well as a GRAND vacation in, oh, 25 years or so! Since the mamas live all over the country (and Canada!) it's been impossible for too many of us to get together all at once, but we're hoping to remedy that SOME day. I can't wait!

*Hoping to post pictures soon, I just wanted to ask the mamas if it's okay with them!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The tears continue

We're three months in to the school year and Iris is still crying about going to school. Seriously, any advice. Any at all. I'll take it.

All I can get out of her is that she misses me when she's at school. I don't know how to fix that. At first I sent her to school with a picture of the two of us on a necklace but the teacher was noticing it was almost making it harder, as Iris would look at it throughout the day and be reminded of missing me. She didn't wear it that many times, and hasn't asked to wear it again. Not really sure if reminding her of us during the day is good or bad, then. Picture in the lunch? Note in the lunch?

I would love to volunteer to help out more in the class when it is needed but the teacher and I are both worried that Iris will grow to expect it and then the days when I'm not there will be even harder. Sigh. I was supposed to volunteer for a trip to the retirement home last week, and was really looking forward to it, but it got cancelled at the last minute because too many kids in the class had been sick and were coughing/sneezing. I was worried it was going to break Iris's heart but she didn't mention it at the end of the day.

Apparently lunch is getting hard again. She used to cry at lunch time when she first started kindergarten. It sounds like lunch is getting difficult again. Tonight Iris ran downstairs when I was doing laundry, absolutely sobbing because she didn't want to eat lunch at school. I said, well, you don't have to (was the right answer?) and then she said her teacher makes her eat it. Again, I don't know what's right. Yes, she should be eating lunch, because it's a six hour school day, but maybe giving her the choice for a few days will help her reach that conclusion on her own instead of saying she has to? I am going to talk to the teacher and see.

Iris always starts inhaling her lunch left-overs as soon as I pick her up, so I do think she's hungry. Maybe her nerves are making her stomach not feel very hungry? I know exactly what that's like, it's awful, and does make it very difficult to eat even if you should be.

She also complained that she doesn't have enough time at home, which some days she doesn't. We leave almost right after school to pick up Matt from work three days a week, which is about an hour, on average, round trip. Then we get home, make/eat dinner, sit and watch tv, then start getting ready for bed.

The one thing I've been doing is reading quite a bit at bedtime. Sometimes we read for up to 45 minutes, which we all love.

It's all too difficult.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Weight loss, try number, uh, yeah . . .

So I'm working on losing weight. Again. The last time I tried and succeeded was for my wedding. I started the exercise about two years ago now and by the wedding, in August, I was maybe 15-20 lbs lighter and about two clothing sizes smaller. It felt great. I didn't realize at the time what my body really looked like, it just was what it was. I didn't feel like I killed myself for it (I mean, 15-20 lbs in eight months? That's not exactly a crash diet!) but it worked. I had a goal, of course, and I was determined.

Unfortunately once the wedding passed I stopped pretty much everything I was doing and the weight came back on. This past summer I couldn't wear any of the clothes from the summer before. Not even really anything from the summer before that, either.

And now I'm back on the plan.

Here's what it looks like:

-aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes at least 5 times a week (I don't check my heart rate)
-ab work at least 4 times per week
-no eating after dinner except for: A. if I truly am hungry or starting to get shaky, and B. a couple of times for Friday and Saturday night
-no sweet treats, unless planned for
-trying to be more mindful of what I am eating-- ie more fruits/vegetables
-take my supplements every day

So far it's working really well. I can't say that even most days are 100% perfect, but I am getting there.

The exercise at this point consists almost entirely of doing the "free step" on my Wii Fit. I try to walk outside and really want to get in to swimming laps once a week, as well. My ab work is a few exercises I learned from my yoga teacher when I went to some postnatal yoga for abs classes. I am doing great not eating after dinner, it's really an all or nothing thing. I can't let myself do it because it's a slippery slope. I have very little will-power after the girls are in bed at night! It does help to have some planned "free" nights, though.

As far as sweets, well, I just had to throw away almost an entire pie from Thanksgiving because it went bad. I DO allow myself some treats, though. I had a little bit for Thanksgiving. I have about 10 chocolate chips a day, since we have them in the house from the cookies I made for the holiday. I get my Starbucks about 4-5 times a week (with non-fat milk, but still calorie-heavy) and once a week I get a scone. I HAVE to give myself those times for treats or else I can never stick to a plan.

That said, when I'm eating meals, I'm trying to be more aware of what's going in my mouth. I am not restricting myself to a certain amount of calories or anything at this point, the thought bores me to tears, so I'll stay on this track and see where it leads. Having a background in nutrition has really helped me to be able to do this without being obsessed about numbers, as well. I just have a better idea overall of what I should be consuming. It's more about healthy foods than low-calorie foods.

The only other thing that I have been thinking about is some sort of goal for an amount of weight lost or a BMI reached. I was just reading my friend Delilah's blog, unruly helpmeet, and she mentioned needing to reward herself for reaching goals. I think this might be right up my alley, so I'm going to give it some thought. How much weight for how big of a prize? And what should the prize be? Jewelry (think: etsy)? Clothes?

Oh, I've been doing this for about two or three weeks. I think I'm getting there. You have to weigh yourself every time you do the Wii Fit (well, sometimes I turn it off before weighing) and it goes up and down by a pound or two, but I think it's generally going lower. My BMI as of today is about 25.5 and I am working to get it to 24, as a starting point. 25.5 is considered overweight, 24 is considered normal.