I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and not nearly so much writing, lately. Ben started his first ever week of camp this past Monday and holy moly was I productive that day. A lot of work accomplished. I worked out for the first time in a while, and I sat down and made this hugely ambitious list of things I wanted to do by the end of the week. Here we are on Wednesday, and I’m not nearly through the list. I went on a small Amazon buying spree. I slugged out yesterday and didn’t try the class I wanted to try at the gym. And actually, yesterday, if there were bad parenting awards, I would have definitely been up for the grand prize. I completely sucked as a parent.

I’m better today and I was better Monday. The common theme. Got up. Got breakfast for all human types. Went to the gym. And I think that’s the key . . . the going to the gym part. I think I’m a better parent if I work out. If I take a little time and work through things and listen to my music and make heavy things move or swim or whatever floats my boat that day.

But hot on the heels of that revelation was my sincere panic. How am I supposed to do the million other things I want to do or need to do if I’m taking about two hours to go work out from the morning. Even if I get up with the birds, I still have to drive to the gym, get the kids settled, work out, and then do the reverse of all of that. And that’s when it hit me. I can do this.

I can make the gym my priority for a while and that’s what it is. My priority, but, and this is the big part, if the gym is my priority, then that means that other things aren’t my priority and they, very likely, aren’t going to get done. I think part of this came as I was considering the Blogging the Bible in 90 days challenge that’s coming up (it starts July 5th; if you haven’t signed up go to: Mom’s Toolbox and follow the relevant links. It’s a rewarding thing to do. And that’s it. I got a lot out of it the last time. I’m mentoring this time. I really felt that I should be reading along, too. And then I realized that, right now, I can’t do that. I want to do that the same way I want to be able to make quilts and cross-stitch and knit and take pictures and and and . . . but I can’t do it all.

I’m not one of those people who is now going to say that the feminists sold us a bill of goods and that no one can have it all or that no one can have it all at one time or some other nonsense like that. If you really believe that, then you don’t understand the feminist movement AT ALL. And that’s an argument that I’d love to have with you . . . on another day.

Today, I’m trying to make sure I remember this feeling. I have this moment of perfect clarity right now. I understand. I can be a good parent if I do the things that support ME in being a good parent. That doesn’t mean read every relevant (or irrelevant) book on parenting out there. That doesn’t mean try on different parenting philosophies like I’m in the dressing room at Nordstrom’s. It means playing to my specific strengths and doing what I know works for me and for my kids. For me, that means getting some exercise on a regular basis AWAY from my kids, trying to eat just a little better, and taking a little time to do things that I enjoy. It means letting go of caring about what other people think about how I do things, how I care for my kids, how I relate to our extended families or other people. It means accepting that not everyone is going to like me. Hell, most people are probably not going to like me.

It also means, since I’m homeschooling, working on expanding my comfort zones a bit. It means letting the kids paint and use play dough of varying kinds and scraping the stuff off my floors, walls, and dogs without fighting it. It means sometimes abandoning school in the morning and doing it in the afternoon. And sometimes it means doing school in ways that I almost don’t recognize as school, and you know what? That’s okay, too.

I wrote a post a while ago about my priorities for this year, and I realized recently that I’ve lost sight of them. I need to find a better balance where work isn’t absorbing every free minute I have. I cannot honestly say that at end of my life I want to look back and realize that I spent time that should have been with my kids, my dogs, my spouse, with students and with my computer.

So, there may be some scaling back. There may be some talk about changes in my work/life/home balance. It doesn’t mean I’m going away or that I won’t be back, but I have to decide what matters most and I have to start living like what I say is most important truly is. Otherwise, I’ll have a lifetime of regrets and no one wants that. Especially not me.

Weekly Wrap Up 05/09/10

This is the first of what will be a weekly feature here at adjunctmom — the weekly wrap up. This covers homeschooling and any other weekly challenges that I undertake. This has been a busy week on all fronts:

Monday: Ben and I went for a walk. He did sprints back and forth to me while we walked the longer loop in our neighborhood. We read stories, but didn’t do any focused homeschooling as Monday is usually a day off.

Tuesday: Ben worked on reading, handwriting, and math. For reading, he is working on letter H in Get Set for the Code (GSC) (55-56). For handwriting he did the capital letter I. In math, he continued working on math facts — specifically that zero added to a number means the number stays the same. I did some cardio boxing with the Wii.

Wednesday: He worked on reading, handwriting, math, geography, and arts and crafts. For reading he did one page on the letter H in GSC. He practiced writing his name in all of the Mother’s Day cards that we were sending out. This time it was upper case B, uppercase E, and lower case N. He did some additional practice on basic addition through 4, and worked on our map skills. For this map, he was working on finding locations based on the map and describing things based upon their proximity to other things. For arts & crafts, he made a laptop out of a file folder (complete with an Apple on the lid), a big screen TV and a remote control. I know I worked out (check marks on the list, but I can’t remember what I did).

Thursday: We worked on measuring and pouring. This was more of an active day rather than a sit and do work day. We talked a bit about sorting and organizing. I have some activities planned for next week that will finish off this lesson for him. Then we’ll move on to the next activity set for Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding. Ben loves to do book work (probably because it has a clear finish line, so he knows when he is finished). I’m definitely going to have to get better at record keeping, because I, again, have no idea what I did for exercise, but I know I did because I checked it off on the list.

Friday: Daddy day. It is my understanding that they worked on making a Mother’s day card for me and decorations for Mother’s day. I walked over 12,000 steps, so I think that counts as exercise for the day.

Saturday: Gym day. Ben played in the play center and then had a swimming lesson. I took a swimming lesson (that involved swimming across the pool many, many times while practicing my breathing, strokes, and/or kicks (depending on which drill I was doing — Lord help me). I also did ten minutes on the Elliptical at level 2. We also talked about opposite pairs in the car and Ben made up a song about opposite pairs.

Sunday: Map skills were first up today. We worked on positioning and directions and the idea that there are specific locations inside buildings that can be mapped (an apartment building). He did another page or practice math problems. Worked on writing the lower case i and the number 4. He also did two pages of reading practice. If he’s a heavy breather later in life, we’ll have Get Set for the Code to thank for it. We did Wii bowling as a family, which I consider active enough for today.

My best guess is that he will be in Go for the Code before the end of next week. We’re going to place an order next week to get the rest of the materials we need for this and we’ll be able to do a couple more days during the week. We tend to take off small chunks of time over the course of a year, so school is more of an ongoing process than something that has a definitive beginning and end. We just pick up where we left off and keep going. I order more materials as they’re needed, so I think we’re in good, good shape here.

Goal Review: Month 4

Another month down in the build a happier Adjunctmom and it appears that we’re doing so. I’m pleased about that.

1. So, we’ve learned something. I need a group for accountability or I am not going to be successful with reading plans. I have not managed Proverbs or to keep up with the reading plan from my church. HOWEVER, I did pick up a copy of Praying With Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year and I’ve really found it to be centering and helpful. So, that’s this month’s goal, to pray the beads at least once every day.

2. I managed the March for Babies with no ill after-effects. I tried the Shred, one day, and my knees are still protesting two weeks later. So, this month I’m focusing on the May challenge over at Shredheads — work out every day. Some days will be the Wii, some days the gym, and I start swimming class on Saturday. Trying not to be nervous about that.

3. Organizing made some progress and some not. I haven’t been following the book as well as I was supposed to, but I did work on organizing my sewing area and parts of the kitchen. We’re all finally feeling much better and this has added us in operation organization. Hopefully more organizing to come this month.

4. I’ve discovered that one thing I need to be happy is time to work on things that I love to do. I’ve been doing some knitting, some quilting, or some cross-stitch as often as I can. I’m trying for daily this month. We’ll see if I can pull that off. I’ve also discovered the interesting side effect that my blood pressure is much lower if I stop with teaching type work by 9p and spend the last couple of hours working on things I enjoy doing instead. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy teaching, but there’s stress because it’s work.

5. The attitude is gratitude. The journal is the journal. All is well.

6. Katie’s image journal is coming along fabulously. I am caught up with pictures. I have precisely the number I need for right now. It’s going to be a very special book for a very special girl.

7. I completed the April challenge at Shredheads. I logged everything I ate for the month of April. Over the course of the month, I lost five pounds, so I think it was helpful. Would have been better if I could have exercised more. Hopefully now that pollen season is almost over, I stand a better chance of exercising regularly and eating better.

8. Will continue moving. This month, as mentioned before, Shredheads May challenge is to work out every day. I will do this; I can do this. I’m looking forward to doing this.

9. Plan continues apace.

10. The homeschool plan is complete. I need to place the order (likely next week), but we know what we’re doing; he’s started some of it and he’s doing great. At this point, I’ve decided to start doing a weekly wrap up for the homeschool week on Fridays. We’ll see how that goes. This week won’t look so good as we still haven’t done anything. Some weeks are just like that around here.

11. Things with Ben are on an upswing. We’ve started really thinking about consequences and it’s working. He understands that there are many things that fall into the category of a privilege and that privileges are things that you get when you make the right choices. We have him enrolled in swimming lessons and he’s a confident little guy. He was convinced after four weeks of lessons, he’s ready to swim (he’s not). He starts the next set on Saturday.

I’d say the year mission: Find our Happy Place is moving along well and I’m happy/content with the progress.

A Confluence of Events

When I posted the pictures of myself about two weeks ago, I was asked what I’m doing to lose weight. But I had a bad spell with my blood pressure and medicine and haven’t had the wits about me to post, let alone think about how to put this together. And then, the absolutely fabulous CecilyK aka The Uppercase Woman wrote a post about the show based in part on Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals that was thought-provoking and interesting given how much general praise the show has been getting. Finally, Jillian Michaels opened her mouth and planted her foot quite firmly in it. And it seemed like a perfect storm to finally answer the question of what I’m doing (or not doing) to effect this change that I’m going through.

I commented on Cecily’s post about the fact that I think Oliver’s ideas are much like Pollan’s ideas in In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and Kingsolver’s ideas in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.). I also think that his ideas play well with the school/community gardens being touted by the likes of Alice Waters and Rick Bayless. And I think they’re all good idea. Ideas that I endorse and believe we should be working to implement and they’re the originators of the ideas that influence heavily how I approach food.

I honestly use Pollan’s book as a guide to how I eat. I try to follow his suggestions and really think about what I’m eating. But, to be totally honest, there are other factors driving it, too. I have weird food issues and they dictate a great deal of what I eat. For example, I cannot eat mayonnaise. It makes me so ill that I will honestly wish that I hadn’t been born rather than have to suffer another stomach cramp. I recently suffered two bouts with serious stomach issues that I convinced myself were the result of chocolate. And I would have lived with that and just stopped eating chocolate, except that my husband noted that both times I ate a chocolate/peanut butter combination. So, I tried chocolate by itself. No reaction. Peanuts by themselves. Huge reaction. Great. It’s not really an allergy, more of an intolerance, which sucks enough as it is. But that means that I’m now reading labels and avoiding peanuts to avoid getting sick. And when you add to that I’m allergic to *all* sugar substitutes the reality of the way I eat sets in. So, for eating a few basic rules:

1. I eat breakfast. Usually, hot or cold cereal and coffee with a spoon of sugar and some milk. On days I’m working out, hot cereal and a glass of milk.

2. I drink water. Lots of water. I have these fabulous Tervis Tumblers that hold 16 oz of water. I try to remember to refill a minimum of four times during the day.

3. I eat my idea of lunch. Usually burrito mix on a tortilla (dad’s recipe, about as unMexican as you can get; Rick Bayless would shudder to see how this gets made) or leftovers from dinners.

4. Fruit for snacks and a piece of string cheese in the afternoons to tide me over to dinner.

5. Dinner from a Relish! menu (if I haven’t raved about Relish! lately consider this my rave. Usually, there is a dessert after dinner. This week that dessert is Buttermilk pie. I eat small pieces and enjoy it.

6. I track everything I eat at Sparkpeople. I’m adjunctmom there too if you’re there and want to friend me or if you’re not there and want to join.

7. After the kitchen closes (dinner dishes are finished and the table is wiped off), the only thing that can be obtained from it is water. That goes for everyone but Katie. If she needs more milk, she can have that ;).

My focus is on fresh, healthy foods that are minimally processed and that taste good. I’m working hard to instill that value in both of my kids. My son says his favorite vegetable is broccoli. We buy quick frozen and have to buy in bulk because the boy requests it with every dinner it can possibly make sense to eat it with. My daughter appears, at the moment, to prefer green beans.

And here’s the thing, and how this all ties back to Cecily K’s post and issues with that post. I fully realize that I am in an incredibly privileged spot to be able to choose what we eat and how much and where it comes from. I have not always been that fortunate and I think that’s why the advice of all the wonderful people I listed above tends to fall short. The reality is that it is not easy to eat a whole food diet if you’re on a super-tight food budget. I should know; I’ve been there. I have lived for weeks at a time on grilled cheese and ramen noodles. Where the cheese had to serve as my protein because I couldn’t afford meat or tofu. If I was super lucky, apples would be on sale and I could buy a 3 lb. bag of pesticide laden fruit. So, I totally get people listening to these wealthy folks telling them should plant gardens, eat real food, and scoff at their idiocy, BUT just because I couldn’t do it doesn’t mean I didn’t aspire to do it, even back then. And I think the aspiration and the discussions that come from that aspiration are as important as the action. Because if kids don’t know what a potato looks like, then shame on us. But if a kid can’t keep chickens because the kid doesn’t have a yard, then hey, I feel their pain, deed restrictions (and a general understanding that fowl and my dogs will not get along well) keep me from doing it.

So, that in a very large nutshell is how I’m eating and why. What else am I doing?

Well, I work out. Not so religiously at the moment, but I do something active just about every day. We got a gym membership, which has truly been the best thing ever for us as a family. Ben takes swimming lessons. I’m going to take swimming lessons. I work out in the gym — admittedly, not recently because allergies are ruining my ability to sleep and function, but I have hope that pollen season is almost over. I have a Wii and a group of active games that I use. I also have fitness DVDs and a subscription to Sparkpeople’s You Tube channel. Plus, I have my own personal cheering section. Anytime I work out and Ben can see me, I get the “Go, Mom; Go, Mom; Go, Mom” chant. And then he tries to work out with me.

Where does Jillian fit into all of this? Well, honestly, I own some of her DVDs. Her statements really didn’t bother me because, prior to getting pregnant with Ben, I used to say the same things about pregnancy. Why? Because I was told it was statistically improbable that I could get pregnant, and I had several years of trying at my back to prove the statistics were right. Because of the timing, I didn’t realize I was pregnant with Ben until I was a bit farther along than most people, and because of the, um, inhospitability of my uterus, I was desperately afraid to tell people outside of my family that I was pregnant. As in, some didn’t find out until I was almost 28 weeks. So, from that perspective I totally get where she comes from when she says what she says about pregnancy. If you convince yourself that it’s something you don’t want, it doesn’t hurt as badly that you can’t have it. I have no idea what to make of her adoption comments. Have to wonder about the context given her passion for dogs and wonder if two different subjects were conflated in some way.

So yeah, I think that covers what I’m doing, to a greater or lesser extent, and it also gives you an idea of what my brain is like on an average day. Very convoluted :).

Top Ten Tuesday: Workout Songs


Since I’m starting to feel better, I thought I’d do something a little different. I work out six days a week when I’m healthy, and a lot of that is facilitated by music. If I don’t have my iPod with me, I might as well go home because I won’t get much done at all. I’m pretty picky about my workout music, and it’s actually pretty far outside of my norm for music selection.

1. Proud — Heather Small (Josh Harris Remix) — real with it folks are going to recognize this one. It’s The Biggest Loser‘s theme song. Definitely has a good beat and keeps or gets things going.

2. Unstoppable (Olympic Mix) — Rascal Flatts — I fell for this one during the 2010 Olympics. Keeps me focused on the point which is that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

3. I Like to Move It — — Okay, yeah, it’s a goofy song from a not-Disney kid’s movie, but seriously? It is a heck of a lot of fun to work out to and if you know your work out well enough and time it right, it can keep you going during that last brutal interval where you want to die.

4. Dig In — Lenny Kravitz — I’m going to date myself seriously here. Back in the day, there was this Real World/Road Rules challenge and two members of the New Orleans cast were on it: Danny and Kelly. This is the song that the dubbed over Kelly climbing the ropes that everyone else really struggled with. I loved the song then, still love it now. Perfect workout song.

5. Never Give Up — Ryan Shupe & the Rubber Band — This one grew on me. I didn’t like it the first few times I listened to it, but now I can’t imagine a work out mix without it.

6. Sexy Chick — David Guetta — I love this one when I’m doing ab work. It really motivates me to keep going. And really, when you’re doing ab work, you need all the motivation you can get.

7. Smooth Criminal — Michael Jackson — great on the elliptical. It’s a fun song and I love visualizing the live performances (I’ve seen on You Tube, not in person) of it. Mostly, I like it because the man’s work ethic was nothing short of amazing and that makes it work for me.

8. How Bad Do You Want It? — Tim McGraw — another good one for near the end of an interval or near the end of a serious cardio workout.

9. Bad Day — Daniel Powter — I love this for part of the cool down work. Stretching and so forth — it really works for me.

10. I’m Alive — Kenny Chesney (w/Dave Matthews) — there is nothing better than this positive, affirmative song when you’re finished with a really hard workout (or even a not so hard workout).

So, what are your favorite workout songs? Once you’ve told me that, head over to Amanda’s to check out the other top ten lists (including her amazing one about the third day of Walt Disney World Mom’s training).