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Showing posts from 2015

Hiatus for the Holidays

I've already been on hiatus for several weeks for vague personal reasons, but I thought I would update with a promise to get back to regular posting after the holidays!

Everyone enjoy your families, time off, and festive treats!

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Spooky stuff: Haunting tales from my three homes

Did you know the "most haunted hotel in America" is in San Antonio? I wonder if Nick would take me there on a little ghost hunt.There are also plenty of haunted houses in our beloved Cape Cod! I think I will stick to reading about them and pass on visiting!This one should provoke some nostalgia for my fellow Alabamians... Remember 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey? If not, time travel back to your childhood, and read some proper ghost stories.

Perpetual Messy Spot: The Dining Room Table

This is what my dining room table looked like for about a week. Then the book stack doubled (how did that happen???), and I finally cleared it all off.

Nick thinks I'm weird for using the dining table as an office when I have an actual office upstairs.

I'm proud to say my real office is finally decluttered and unpacked enough to be in usable condition! And the family room upstairs is pretty well decked out with kid activities, so Mamie is occupied when I do want to work in my office.

Now I am trying to gradually reduce the amount of stuff I have permanently parked on the table. However, I'm leaving up the decorations from our birthdays in September because it's still cute that Mamie comes in here saying "Party!"

(Yes, I said "in here" because I'm writing this post at the dining room table. Gradual. Transition.)

Dear Diary Rewind: Same Worry, Different Problem

(Let's take a fun look back at what I wrote about in my journal exactly one year ago....)
October 22, 2014Still awake.  Thinking mostly about tomorrow's first visit to the gym. It is so hard for me to relax about things when I am unfamiliar and don’t know what to expect. What will probably happen: everyone will be nice, Mamie will have fun and not even miss me, the yoga teacher will be welcoming and the class will be small and moderately paced.I will leave feeling happy and probably tired from being up this late.Stupid coffee at 5 pm!!!
Yeah, in case you didn't guess, Mamie loved the gym day care from the first minute, yoga was great, and everyone was nice. This flashback to a year ago coupled with my worries about whether I can handle a second baby have made me realize something big.

If you peaked in on any moment in my life, you would probably find me worrying about something that turned out OK, if not great.

Lesson: Stop being so traumatized, geez.

10 dumb reasons I'm afraid of having a second baby

It could be because I'm so weak, both physically and emotionally. That's why I tell myself I'm afraid of having a second baby. I found the first year of motherhood so unfathomably difficult, I fill to the brim with self-doubt when I imagine adding a second child to the equation. These are just 10 of the undermining excuses my my anxiety comes up with when I think about a second pregnancy: School is expensive. Tuition for two kids costs twice as much. Like, If kids are crops and school is soil and money is fertilizer... I'm confused by my own analogy.I’m old. I thought I was old when I first got pregnant at 37, but now I'm 40. Being pregnant was fun and easy back then, three whole years ago, but now? Who knows what might fall apart. If a pregnancy is officially "geriatric" at 35, am I seriously playing with fate at 40? And I keep getting older; I might be 41 before this theoretical baby is born!I only have two arms. Logic could console me with a reminder t…

7 Things I Like to Do in Austin (There is no BBQ* on this list)

Austin is just a little over an hour away, so it's no big deal to run up there for an afternoon. Whether we stay for a few hours or a few days (like we did last week while Nick attended a conference), we tend to keep to a routine of places to shop and eat.

1. Book People Could this be the best book store in the country? Easily. I say this with authority, because I am a book store tourist. (I would put used book stores in a separate category.) I've been to Powell's, I've been to The Strand. I still put this one at the top because its scope is thorough without being overwhelming.  Also, great periodicals, children's section, author events, and coffee shop. 2. 24 Diner There is plenty of good food in Austin, but we go here every trip. Maybe because it's right across the street from Book People? At first, yes, but I think we would go back even if it were out of the way. Their motto should be "Never Not Good Food." Chicken and waffles if you feel like pun…

What I'm Reading: eBook Edition

This week we are in Austin, and I decided to try something radical: I didn't bring a single book with me. That's right, I traveled and brought zero books.  (We've been here 7 hours, and I've already bought two, but that's immaterial.)

Sharing a hotel room with Mamie means lights are out by 8 p.m., but I can read eBooks in the dark!




I have diabetes burnout

It started in January. The doctors said, "If you want us to build you another sciencebaby, you have to stop being diabetic. Go!"

I appreciate a challenge, and I was determined. I started seeing my endocrinologist monthly, taking more medication each time, acquiring a continuous glucose monitor, living a model diabetic lifestyle.

I thought a few months, no big deal, I can do this. Every month's test results were a disappointment. I didn't have bad test results, mind you. My labs were always marked "Excellent" -- by diabetic standards.

Regardless, I was chasing a unicorn, trying to meet an unattainable standard, be cured of a disease that doesn't just go away when you ask it to.

That means nine months of neurotic attention to blood sugar readings, food, exercise.  Nine months of recurrent guilt for not being able to meet the goal.

Today I had another appointment with the endocrinologist. I've worried about it all week, wanted to cry from nerves in th…

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The power of irrational thinking when you are training for a half marathon

This is the phase in my half-marathon training when I start to have vague, pit-of-stomach doubts about whether I will be able to do it. Time telescopes and miles stretch so they are at least three miles long each.

I mentioned my training to the doctor a few weeks ago with a reluctant and doubtful tone.

"I'm still running? Training for a half-marathon? But like, I don't know." "When is the race?""December?" "So three months away.""Oh my god you're right, I have three months. It felt so much closer." "And you only need to be able to run 6-7 miles before the race.""I can do 6 miles, I do that now! And I still have three months!"  See how powerful the irrational mind can be? I forgot the actual facts of my training program, lost perspective on time and distance, and totally tricked myself into thinking I couldn't do this.

My conversation with the doctor really helped me reclaim my motivation and confiden…

Happy Birthday to Me?

Someone (I don't remember who) said when adults make a big deal about their own birthdays, it's
because they are afraid no one else will.  I think the person meant to insult me, but I cop to it. It's true, no one will ever get a chance to forget my birthday. (September 30, FYI.)

My little ego can not even imagine the crushing pain of sitting through September 30th (did you already forget?), hoping all the right people remember. 
Because life is fun and complicated, I am terrible at remembering to wish other people Happy Birthday. It's time for me to get better at that. Let's call it a 40th birthday resolution. Trust me, I'm writing "birthday calendar" on my to do list right now.

Now that it's only two days until my birthday, my 40th, the one I've been making such a big deal about, I think I am legitimately psyching myself out.  I feel like I need a sleeping bag to hide in or a new life philosophy or intensive detoxing and physical therapy. I …

A girl at 2

Mamie's favorite things at 2:Coloring/stickeringBuilding with blocks and sorting thingsReadingPlaying outsideCarrying her animal friends around by the arm/neck/flipper My favorite things about Mamie at 2: She's becoming more person-ishThe way she throws her arms up and says "Yeah!" when she's excited or "Tada!" when she's proudHer appreciation for music and dancingHer independenceHow easily she smilesShe's fearless The frustrations of mothering this 2-year-oldShe's fearlessKeeping her hair tamedKeeping shoes on her feetMeals that end with food on the floor (97%) The joys of mothering this 2-year-oldHugs and kisses on demandA stack of books to be repaired because she reads them so hard and carries them with her everywhereI always get at least a day to think I've figured it all out before she changes againShe represents infinite potential, and I will take credit for all of it

What I'm reading: A short list for me

Today I'm am only reading two books! Last week, however, I read 11 death-themed books in three days (for an upcoming article). That was definitely daunting. Nick and I had also been watching 2-3 episodes of The Wire every night. That kind of immersion really sets your mood.

But anyway, what am I reading today?

1. So You've Been Publicly Shamed Hang on a minute, I have to go read everything Jon Ronson has written.















2. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Book Proposals & Query Letters I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a fan of this series. I start out an idiot on most subjects before I become the genius you know and love. I've read a whole pile of books about book proposals in the last few weeks, planning to be an expert soon.

7 things I wish I could ask editors without seeming needy and desperate

Did you get my email? Because I thought you'd be all over this idea.Did you really enjoy reading my work, even though "it's not a good fit at this time"?Do you know anyone who knows anyone who would like to read my book proposal?Can we be friends?When is it ok for me to ask you for more money?Can you tell me when this is going to run so I can stop checking every 15 minutes and work on something else?What websites, books, magazines should I read to do a better job for you?

How to finish your kid's baby book

(Hint: You just decide it's finished.) Is it safe to say baby books are meant to be unfinished? Don't we all agree that one day we will look at the unfinished baby book and chuckle about how we couldn't breathe during the first two years of Junior's life, much less compose a perfect keepsake?

Before Mamie was born, I bought two baby books, because I was so cavalier about expressing my creativity in motherhood. One traditional book had all the fill-in-the-blanks, and the other was more artistic, for doodles and long form essays on what makes baby laugh.

Working on these baby books has been on my official To Do List for two years, and this is the day I declare them DONE. In six days, Mamie will not be a baby anymore. I have written endlessly about her these last two years, posted 1,000 pictures on Facebook, and I feel her babyhood is officially commemorated. Her "baby books" are about 50 percent complete.

OMG it just occurred to me that two half-finished baby b…

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood: 7 awesome things very near my house

September 14 Friends who visited recently were surprised San Antonio is so “cool.” I don’t know what preconceptions people around the country have about our town (or if they have ever thought of it at all), but you might be surprised to know San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the country. Yeah, kids, we’re a real city.

Here are some of the crazy awesome things to do in my neighborhood, like within walking distance, or a 5-minute drive.

Moshe's Golden Falafel -- Nick, Mamie and I have eaten here at least once a week since it opened! It's magic.Landa Libary and Playground -- In my opinion, this is the most beautiful and kid-friendly branch in San Antonio, and it's three blocks from my house. It played a major role in our decision to move to this neighborhood. Not even kidding.Barbaro -- Fancy pizza, brunch and drinks walking distance from home. My biggest complaint is that they only make lasagna for their late night menu.  Barbaro, I can't go out at 11 p.m. pleas…

This is 40: Kind of like getting your hand stamped at the club

September 10 As I mentioned, I'm traveling all this week through rolling biscuit hills split by streams of sausage gravy. I mean the deep south. But this month, I am tasked with lowering my blood sugar and triglycerides! I need to avoid sweets and fried food. Is it possible to eat healthy food while on the road? Technically, yes, it is. It is technically possible to get fruit or nuts at gas stations, to get salads at fast food places.

While it is possible to purchase better options, is it possible to make your brain tell your hands to pick those things rather than french fries or doughnuts? I've been testing myself, not always winning.

WINS

At the airport, I chose a turkey wrap over Raising Cane's chicken fingers (a.k.a. Guthrie's chicken pre-tenders).Ate an exceedingly healthy and wholesome meal at True Food Kitchen.Ate a salad for lunch yesterday.Abandoned a McDonald's drive thru, thanks to calories posted on the menu.LOSSES I have eaten a year's ration of Chip…

This is 40: Top 3 reasons I want to live in Atlanta

September 9 No we are not planning to move, but spending a few days in Atlanta reminded me of why it is at the No. 1 spot on my list of cities to live in.
1. Friends and family This one could be at least 10 of the top reasons I want to live in Atlanta. We have exactly zero family in San Antonio. It turns out, not many people raise their kids without a single extended family member nearby. But if we were in Atlanta, we would be a short drive from 30+ close friends and family. And the friends and family who aren't in the southeast territory? That's where my second top reason comes in... 2. Non-stop flights to practically anywhere I know this is a very privileged problem to have, but San Antonio is pitifully lacking in non-stop destinations. If we were in Atlanta, it wouldn't take an entire day of baby shlepping to get anywhere. Hop on Marta, hop on a plane, get where you're going, have fun! 3. Weather I can comprehend There are trees and shade. At sundown the temperatur…

Sweet Home Alabama

This is 40: I might never sleep again

September 7 I just woke up from a nightmare in which Mamie ate peanuts and was anaphylactic.
It was a stress dream, not a premonition. It was a stress dream, not a premonition. It was a stress dream, not a premonition.

This is 40: The weird feeling that people are watching me

September 5 No, I'm not paranoid, except that I might be. I'm adjusting to a strange shift in my new writing career wherein thousands of people are looking at what I write. Specifically, I am referring to an essay I wrote for Cosmo about Mamie's name this week: I Love My Kid's Unusual Name. As I write this, less than 48 hours after it went live, the article has had 94,000 views. That's not viral, but it's getting more attention than anything else I've ever written. 
I have my theories about why: people want to know the name so they click; people love to talk about their own names. That's totally rational, and it does not make me break out into a sweat right now.  However, when I saw the views surging into the tens of thousands overnight, I did break out into a sweat, fear for the safety of my family, and question my selfish ambition!
Still, I hope success gives me many many more opportunities to freak out in the middle of the night.

This is 40: An epic tour of the southeast

September 4 Months ago I decided I wanted to celebrate my 40th by seeing as many friends and family as I could. Tonight we start the first leg of this adventure in Atlanta! I will be in Atlanta until Monday (along with thousands of Dragon Conners... Connists... Connoisseurs?) Then Mamie and I will spend Monday night in Birmingham, and go to Atmore for the rest of the week before we drive -- the two of us, Anna and Mamie, alone in a car for two days -- back to San Antonio.
We will collect post cards and lottery tickets from four different states! We will take selfies with everyone! I will harp on and on about how I'm turning 40, and I don't know how to accept it!

This is 40: A trip down Memory Street to the corner of Infertility Avenue

September 3 Over 2.5 years ago, I kept this super secret diary of my fertility treatments:
Anna's Egg Drop
It's short, but so funny to go back to where my head was back then before we knew Mamie was coming. I daydreamed about what it would be like to take her to the beach! Guess what?  I had NO FREAKING IDEA how wonderful and nerve-wracking absolutely everything would be.
And I can read those medical updates now knowing that they worked, but back then? It was a monster few months of fear and uncertainty. In fact, Nick might reread all this and point out that I was the monster.
Can you believe we're going to try this again? Remember how old I'm going to be this month? I would love to hear about all the women you know who had babies after 40! But only the ones who felt great afterward and didn't fall over dead from exhaustion.

This is 40: A morning routine that works if you work it

September 2 My alarm is set for sunrise. Once a week, I update the alarm to coincide with the creeping sunrise, because I believe in nature's awakenings. I also believe waking up before the sun is an abomination. Fortunately, Mamie agrees with me most days. Maybe the alarm goes off, maybe it doesn't. Maybe there was no alarm because my phone died when I fell asleep listening to podcasts last night. Maybe I slept through the alarm but had one of those cool dreams about ripping a haunted alarm clock apart because it won’t stop beeping. Maybe I wake up 30 minutes before the alarm when Nick comes in from his run listening to Judge John Hodgman without headphones.  At some point I awaken. Is Mamie awake? If she is awake, how long can I pretend she is not awake before I have to go get her? If I wait past the critical point on her boredom meter, I will find her sans pajamas. Any further than that, sans diaper. She will hear my footsteps, and pretend to be asleep. She will point at t…

This is 40: How turning 40 is like turning 2

September 1 We started the day with a great playdate. Let's not forget that while I spend this month making a big deal about my 40th birthday, Little Miss Mamie will also be celebrating her 2nd! This is prime time for her to enjoy playing with other kids and start learning how to negotiate different personalities. 
Mamie's personality? What is the opposite of timid? 
What I've noticed is she doesn't quite know what to do with kids who are timid. She will go straight up to any kid anywhere, and she's all, "Let's do this." I've seen a few kids shrink away. I want to teach her to be sensitive to other personality types, recognize when someone needs space, adjust how strong she comes on. Essentially, I want her to develop charisma and interpersonal sensitivity that most adults lack. I want her to be intuitive about the needs of people around her.
Oh wait, were we talking about Mamie or Mommy? I wonder just how much turning 40 and turning 2 have in co…

I am seriously inspired by this woman

From Runner's World:

Is it possible to be fat and fit? At 250 pounds, distance runner Mirna Valerio provides an inspiring example.

So, she's about my age and about my size -- yes, I know those two things are not the complete measure of a person -- and she LOVES running.  She is a serious ultra-runner, fast, and a high school track coach. She takes a selfie before every run, a practice I would like to start because it is worth documenting.

It was about a year ago I started this running habit. I scheduled my first run for a weekend in September so Nick could go with me. I needed moral support. I have learned over and over this year that there are many runners like me out there. I want to know all of them!

My half marathon training is going great. Running in August in Texas is a son of a B, but I'm doing it so I can appreciate how awesome September, October, and November will feel in comparison. Mamie is excellent company on my runs; she keeps me alert by periodically tossing …

Beat the heat by pretending you're somewhere else

Woke up to our third air conditioning breakdown in less than a month.  Yes, three different breakdowns, three different problems. I curse south Texas for being hot enough to make my AC units attempt suicide every other week.
Speaking of anxiety... months ago, my therapist recommended I start an old-school gratitude journal to help me be more positive and stop catastrophizing, blah blah blah. I guess it works or whatever, gah.
I thought it would be fun to take a super short flashback to see what I was grateful for exactly one month ago! But guess what, I wasn't writing in my gratitude journal on July 18 because I was in Cape Cod! I was likely exceedingly grateful to be vacationing with our best friends, to be 1,000 miles away from the Texas heat, for lobster rolls, for toes in the sand, for a happy little girl.

One day I will try to convey why this little strip of land in the Atlantic Ocean feels like it's supposed to be my home at least part of the year. I just don't know …

Busting stereotypes: What a runner looks like

This is the face an old lady made when I ran past her today. She was watering her lawn as I approached, pushing Mamie in the jogging stroller. Mamie attracts 90 percent of attention from onlookers when we are out, so the lady’s face started out in a sweet smile cast down on my gorgeous little baby.  Then she looked up at me and made the face I recreated here. That face was my Redbull — it gave me wings! I smiled — I laughed — and I ran faster so she could see me kicking it from behind. No, I don’t know what she was thinking, but I wish/hope/want to pretend she was thinking, “How is this muy gorda running in front of my eyes?!”  I run three times a week now, and I pass approximately five people on the sidewalk each time. I always smile and say “Hi.” Countless cars pass, but I have no way to know if they notice me. If I’m running on the treadmill at the gym, at least 20 people get a chance to see me booking it and smiling as I go. I’m really proud I have so many opportunities each week…

Are we still having the minimalist shoe debate, or was that settled?

I feel like there was a very narrow window of time when it was cool to wear Vibram Fivefingers. First there was that book about barefoot running (which, by the way, everyone should read). Nick started wearing the "toe shoes" right after reading Born to Run. He loved them instantly and continued to wear them for years until he just couldn't stomach how quickly they wore out.

The last time I wore traditional (cushiony) running shoes was in a 5k about five years ago. I limped through the race with shin splints and calf cramps, then threw the shoes in the parking lot trash can as I was leaving. I never had calf cramps again while wearing Fivefingers or another current fave -- Merrell Trail Gloves.

True confession: I wore a pair of retro New Balance on the treadmill Monday and winced with cramps the whole way.  I was just trying not to look like a dork. But then today!  I went out with my old Vibrams, pushing Mamie in the heat, and I felt like an easy breeze slipping through …

5 Keys to Unlock the Toddler Trap

If you are a stay at home mom to a toddler who is teething or overtired or practicing for her Yale School of Drama audition, you may not spend a single minute of the day without her on your lap or on your mind. She is somehow both desperate for your attention and rejecting everything about you. After a few days (or weeks) of this needy, moody phase, the walls start to creep closer, and you can’t take a deep breath or see a private moment anywhere in your future. You are Trapped by a Toddler, but there’s hope. There’s a way out.
1. Remember you are the boss If you are a stay at home mom, you are the the big boss at the very tippy top of the company.  You can give yourself any job title you want and even have it engraved on a plaque to mount on your door. When the mail carrier stops by three times a week to deliver the household goods you ordered from Amazon because you don’t have time to go to the store, he or she will know who they are dealing with. Do whatever it takes to remind…

What I'm reading, vacation edition

Just got back from Cape Cod Wednesday, but I'm still on vacation until Monday.  It's just a state of mind, really.




The need for speed: I'm not going to get shut out of this half marathon like last time

Just this week, Julie Creffield of Too Fat To Run gently ranted against our constant need to point out how slow we are.

On this, my first day of half marathon training, I ran/walked a 22-minute pace. Non-runners, that means it took me 22 minutes to go each mile, on average.

Let me just bore you with some math.  A 20-minute pace is 3 mph; a 15-minute pace is 4 mph.  I can run at 4.5 mph for a few minutes on a treadmill, no incline and while not pushing a toddler in a stroller. So that represents my max speed under ideal conditions right now.

The pace I ran today in my hilly neighborhood, pushing a stroller with under inflated tires over bumpy sidewalks and constantly checking my phone for the time? I could do that every day for the rest of the year and not feel bad about myself. No joke, I'm not racing anyone, I just can't let Mamie get away from me and roll down a hill!

But there is one reason speed matters to me. The Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon has a 4-hour cut off. …