Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New shoes

Getting shoes on the kiddo is torture. Like most 1 year olds, just getting him to sit still for 5 seconds is a challenge in itself. It's like performing some sort of circus act to simultaneously sing him a song, hand him a toy and persuade a shoe onto his foot. So when the shoe WON'T GO ON, I'm understandably annoyed.

At first I thought he was curling his toes when I stuffed his foot into a shoe. Then I realized he just has a high instep (aka - fat foot). So I got him some non-skid slippers for around the house since those non-skid socks are pretty darn slippery and the wood floors are pretty darn cold. And really, he doesn't walk around much outside just yet.

When a few rare occasions demanded actual footwear, I remembered a terrific bag of hand-me-down shoes just waiting in his closet. I did the "mom sizing" method and held up the smallest shoe (size 3) to the bottom of his foot. Too small. So I dug through the bag and found some size 4's and repeated the mom sizing method. Perfect. Until I tried to push his little foot in the darn thing. Shove and pull and stretch as I might, it was not going to fit. So I tossed those aside and grabbed an adorable pair of size 4 Chuck Taylors from the bag. I opened the laces as wide as they would go and managed to squeeze a foot into a shoe and tighten the laces before he made his escape. Sweating, I once again wrangled him onto my lap and crammed the second foot into the shoe. Success!

Like a good mom, I realized that shoes should not be this difficult to put on. I pushed on the toe box and determined that he had plenty of room. But I thought I would print out the official Stride Rite online fit chart just to be sure. Try getting a 1 year old to stand on a piece of paper in just the right spot. And then try getting the same 1 year old to continue to hold still while you wrap another piece of paper around the ball of his foot to check the width. Just take my word for it, it's not worth the effort. The fit chart confirmed that he was a 4 medium. Then why is it so hard to get the right size shoes on his feet?!

The hubby announced a hatred for the slippers and cannot get the Chuck Taylors on the kiddos fat foot. So off we went to Nordstrom to cash in some of Mommy's precious credit card points. But with service no where to be found and a mediocre selection at best, we opted to journey down the mall to the Stride Right store. The same store where Nana & Papa bought his big sister her first pair of real shoes.

The lovely sales associate greeted us warmly, measured both feet and declared him to be a 5.5 EXTRA WIDE. Um, what? No wonder those 4 medium's were so hard to get on! I picked a couple of styles as the kiddo wandered to the Leapstart table to play. An older girl joined him making happy small talk with my child who has only recently uttered his first consonant. The associate returned with three acceptable choices, I wrangled the kiddo away from his new friend and easily slid his feet into his new giant shoes.

While I won't bore you with the details of my heart palpitations as I signed the receipt for these shoes which will likely only last 3 months, our story doesn't end here. As I handed over a ridiculous wad of cash, the kiddo toddled off to say hi to his new friend. Being new to the shoe game, he barely made it over to her before wobbling and falling gently to his booty. I remember the same awkward steps when his big sister tried out her first shoes as well. Before I could reach him, his friend wrapped her arms around his waist and hoisted him to his feet. Smiling at her sweetness, I thanked her and said good-bye. As we turned to leave, I heard her remark to the sales associate "hi, I'm Lily and I'm five."

Of course her name is Lily. Just like his big sister.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Feeling old

My first introduction to computers was in elementary school in 1983. Three shiny new Apple IIe's were available to a select group of handpicked students for a half hour each day. I was one of those lucky few. Despite their modest teacher's salaries, my parents had the foresight to buy one of these precious machines for our home as well. Complete with a daisy wheel printer, I used that workhorse through high school.

Unfortunately the Apple IIe was too big and cumbersome to take with me to college. So I managed just fine with an electric typewriter. Fellow students often begged to borrow my fancy schmancy typewriter which shows you just how few options there were. A computer lab had just popped up in a dorm basement. But since the internet didn't exist, computers were primarily word processing tools. And with so few computers available in the lab, you couldn't hog a machine for the length of time needed to write a paper. So really, what was the point?

At my first job, I graduated to a laptop and Lotus 1-2-3 software. I don't think we had a mouse as we used keystroke codes for opening files and formatting and such. (Anyone remember /-File-Retrieve?) EVERYTHING was done in a spreadsheet from cover letters to business plans. The internet still didn't exist nor did e-mail so we ran from floor to floor with 3.5" disks to transfer information. The only reason we needed the laptop was to upload files from a particular software program into the one centralized docking station in the building.

When I found out my next company had Excel, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not to mention that a year after I started, we also got e-mail. Of course, only within the company so documents to external folks still required heavy use of fax machines. One of our primary software programs came with a 3" binder of codes as push button shortcuts didn't exist. This was also my first experience at travelling with a laptop. Of course it stayed in my hotel room during the day. I would go from place to place writing down information on paper and then transferring into the computer in the evenings.

In 1999, I came to my current company and a whole new world opened up. We had laptops, e-mail, color monitors, the INTERNET! My fax usage dropped from several times a day to a few times a year. Now I am completely addicted to my Crackberry Blackberry and am never more than a keystroke away from the internet.

Why do I take you on this trip down memory lane? Certainly not to date myself. It's hard to believe this evolution only spans the last 25 years. No, this diatribe was spurred by a group of MIT students who have taken over a conference room in my building for a project. While that in itself is a little strange, I can't help but notice a larger change in the conference room as I walk by. This conference room has become a veritable sea of laptops. And that made me pause to think.

Though my company is current with technology, you rarely see a single laptop in a meeting unless someone is giving a presentation. Notes are still taken by hand on pen and paper. Group discussions are first written on white boards and flip charts and later transcribed into a computer. It's certainly not the most efficient process but oddly, no one seems to question it.

Which makes me wonder: when will we begin to question it?
College students today bring their laptops to every class. Unlike me, they grew up with computers. They live on the internet. Their primary communication vehicles are digital. As this generation of graduates enters the workforce, will they conform to our pad-and-paper-ways or will we conform to theirs?
So what I'm really trying to say is...I feel old.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Good help is hard to find

Every other Friday brings drama to our household. Because every other Friday is house cleaning day. While I love coming home to a clean house, it's not as exciting for the hubby and kid who have to find something to do for 3 hours. That means packing up toys, bottles, food, etc and trying to get the kid to nap in the car or at someone else's house. When I started working 4 - 10's, I got to experience this hairball firsthand and lemme tell ya, it's no fun.

I have learned that every housekeeper has strengths and weaknesses. The key to success is finding weaknesses that you can live with. With our housekeepers, they do a great job with the big stuff but the details are often overlooked. Pictures are not put back in the proper place. Cobwebs are growing behind the fireplace screen. That kind of thing. So after each cleaning, I would re-arrange the pictures and dust behind the fireplace screen and generally count my blessings for not having to do more.

A few months ago, things started going downhill fast. First I came home after cleaning day and found a broken faucet in a bathroom. Thankfully my Dad was coming for a visit and I put him to work on it. I gave the housekeepers the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it broke after they left. Perhaps they didn't notice it was broken. Surely they would have left a note.

Then I noticed our white base moldings that we painstakingly painted, cut and installed last year had a black line running across them about an inch off the floor. Nothing a Magic Eraser can't take care of, right? I would just remind the housekeepers not to bang the vacuum into the moldings.

Then they didn't show up for their scheduled time after Thanksgiving.

Finally, the piece de resistance occurred. Two weeks ago, I came home and found a 4" scratch in the new bamboo floors. NEXT TO A 6" GASH! Again, there was no note. That was the last straw, they had to go.

But how would I get the key back? And did I really want to go through the hassle of finding new housekeepers? Two guys clean our house in 3 hours, could I find another cleaner who could be as quick? Maybe the gash isn't that bad...

Today is housecleaning day. As I was writing the check, I glanced at the bamboo floor and saw the gash. Again the irritation rose up and I found my determination again. At the last minute, I wrote a note explaining that we would no longer be able to continue with their housecleaning services. I left the usual check and asked them to leave the key under the mat when they finished. Obviously I found my determination but not my courage. I know it's completely ridiculous to fire someone in a note. I reasoned that their English isn't great and sometimes we have a hard time communicating over the phone. But really, I took the wimpy way out. I wasn't proud but it was done.

Or so I thought. Normally the housekeepers arrive at 8:30am and finish by 11:30am. But today, my cell phone rang at 9am. I thought they got the note and wanted to discuss it. Instead, they were calling to tell me that they weren't coming until 11. (This isn't the first time they've pulled this stunt either.) Because tomorrow is the kid's birthday party and I haven't allowed time to clean the house myself, I told them 11am would have to work. And then I calmly explained that this would be their last day. They said okay and we left it at that. I hung up and called the hubby who was understandably irritated. He and the kid had already left and now couldn't return for 5 hours instead of the usual 3.

So now I hope for the best. I hope that when I get home tonight, the house is clean, the key is under the mat and our valuables are where we left them. I hope that the hubby is mysteriously sedated. And I hope the kid is miraculously rested. Somehow, I doubt all of these hopes will happen. I think I may need to work late tonight...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mediocre results

I thought I was fired up about this next chapter of weight loss. So why don't I feel the slightest bit guilty when I have chips with my burrito at lunch? Last year, the thought wouldn't have entered my mind to even consider such an act. This year, I'm tossing back the chips without a single remorse. Does that mean I'm not ready to really give this my all? Do I need a competition of some sort to give me that extra motivational push? I wish I understood the big mental difference between my success and drive last year vs. this year. It's all very confusing.

On the upside, I have worked out consistently since Jan 1. I'm walking a little taller. I feel a little stronger. I don't think twice about getting out of bed in the morning for a work out. That's progress. And as work is keeping me busier lately, I find myself walking a lot more from building to building for meetings. A little extra cardio throughout the day is always good.

I wish the results on the scale better reflected the consistent workouts and generally healthy eating. But clearly those occasional dietary splurges are impacting the numbers. Dang it, I thought I'd get away with it! I lost 3 lbs the first week which was great but compared to the 8 lbs I lost in week 1 last year, it was disheartening. My head knew it would be harder this time but my heart was still holding out hope for big numbers! To add insult to injury, I weighed in today and discovered I barely lost a single pound in the second week. Seeing that lackluster loss on the scale hit me in a different way. I'm not disappointed, I'm MAD. All that sweating. All those early mornings. All those salads. FOR A MEASLY POUND. Are you kidding me?

Which leaves me with the big questions. The questions which ultimately determine success. Will I find a way to channel that anger productively? Or will the slow progress be enough to derail my efforts entirely?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Traditions Old & New

When Lillian was around 6 months old, we took a day trip to the coast with some friends. While browsing through the requisite candy shop that exists in every beach town, I found a plate that reads "Birthday Princess." Instantly, I hatched an idea for a new birthday tradition. Each year, our birthday princess would eat her special slice of cake from this plate. So I bought it and carefully transported it home. That plate was indeed used a both of her birthdays.

With Ian's first birthday soon approaching, I wanted to find a special plate for him as well. I searched the internet and wasn't impressed with what I found. True to form, I thought "hey, I can make that!" I've always been more certain of my craft abilities than I should be.

Shortly after Christmas, I recruited my lovely sister-in-law for some pottery painting bonding time. We met at the pottery painting shop and I found my plate while my SIL browsed. She stopped at the Christmas tree decorated with plain ceramic ornaments and instantly, I hatched an idea for a new Christmas tradition.

Like many families, I had the idea of purchasing an ornament for my kids each year. I had visions of laughing over memories of Christmases past as we hung each precious ornament on the tree. A fire crackled in the background. Sips of hot chocolate would punctuate each story. Oh yeah, I had the whole thing figured out. Except the part where I actually found and purchased that special ornament apparently. So on New Year's Eve, at the pottery painting store in front of the tree dotted with naked ceramic ornaments, I pounced. My poor SIL didn't have a chance.

"Hey, why don't you make an ornament for Ian? If you make it, I'll pay for it!"

I was a little too enthusiastic but fortunately my SIL is a saint and readily agreed. She picked the oven mit mitten ornament and set to work. And soon, the perfect design was complete. I can almost smell the fire and taste the hot chocolate as I picture telling Ian about this memorable Christmas.

"You probably don't remember your first Christmas Ian. It snowed and Snowed and SNOWED! See the snowflakes on your ornament? We were stuck at home for a week just watching the snow fall. And just when the snow began to melt, Santa brought you a most unusual gift. See those red dots on your ornament? You woke up on Christmas day with the chicken pox! Auntie M made this ornament especially for you. It tells the story of your first Christmas."

Thus a new Christmas tradition is born. Oh, and a birthday tradition is continued. But the real question remains...how many years will Ian allow me to serve his birthday cake on this handmade creation? I'm taking bets.

Monday, January 5, 2009

If it were up to me...

  • ...the first day back to work after a long holiday break OR vacation for that matter would be a half day. We need some transition time! How can we be expected to instantly go from sitting on the couch all day to sitting in a chair all day? How I ask you?

  • ...car dealers would be honest. Am I to believe this scenario: 1) Drop broken car off on Monday. 2) Car is diagnosed as broken (duh) and part is ordered. 3) As of Friday, the part still hasn't arrived. The service guy assigned to my car is coincidentally not at work on Friday. 4) Today, my car is magically ready to go. The service guy assigned to my car is also back at work today. Seriously, is that believable? Let me paint the more likely scenario: 1) same 2) same 3) Service guy goes on vacation on Wednesday, meanwhile part arrives. 4) Service guy returns, plugs in part and car is ready to go.

  • ...I would not start eating sugar again...EVER. The detox headaches are sooooooo not worth it. My body is still reeling from the holiday binging. Overall it's really not happy with this whole healthy eating and exercising routine but sooner or later, it will have to accept this new reality. I'm in charge Body, do you hear me? Suck it up! You're not getting any cinnamon bears no matter how hard you beg.

That's my top 3 for today, what's yours?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm already on my way to being shredded

Remember when I said I was going to find balance in December? Something about splurging on occasion but overall maintaining my current weight. Blah, blah, blah. Yeah well, that works in theory. Until you get snowed in for 8 days. And then your kid gets the chicken pox. So basically you're home for weeks on end. Locked in a house with a seemingly unending supply of butter and shortening. It wouldn't be Christmas without baked goods, right? And those platters of cookies you intended to give to friends but couldn't because of the snow? Well, of course you would eat them before they went bad. Because you don't believe in waste! (Not for cookies anyway.) And by you, I mean me. And by "maintaining my current weight", I meant "gain 5 lbs." Apparently.

So here I am on the first day of the New Year, revising my goal from 25lbs to 30lbs. On the upside, I've already worked out today. Hooray! Both a 30 Day Shred workout AND a little abs & back workout from Exercise TV On Demand. That's two, count them TWO workouts on day 1. Thank you very much.

Fortunately the cookies are gone and the house is nearly empty of forbidden foods. Now I just need to plan some healthy meals for the week and fill the shelves with good foods. Geez, it's only 7am, I need to pace myself!

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