Thursday, April 29, 2010

41

On Monday I believe I promised to share with you my Super Secrets on how I manage to fool you all into thinking I am some sort of home-making wonder who manages 4 young children with aplomb while whipping through the house cleaning, keeping everything a-sparkle, while maintaining my sunny disposition and devil-may-care attitude and serving nutritious home-cooked meals each and every day. (That's how you see me, right? No?)

So here goes: the only Super Cape I have is....



The Man My Man Smells Like.


Why do I say this? Because I am fortunate enough to have him working from home 3 days a week. That's my dirty little Harried Mom secret. Although I guess it's really only a secret to those of you who only know the virtual me. He's been doing this since Sarah was 6 months old and we'd just found out Jason was on his way. You have no idea how grateful I was to have Matt around in the beginning, not having to shuffle all four of them into the car for school drop-off when Jason was a newborn; not having to take the babies to the grocery store every week -not that there weren't times when I DID have to do that, I was just exceedingly grateful every time I didn't!


Matt's my biggest cheerleader and is always the first to tell me to go ahead and do something if it will make me happy. He helps out SO much with the little kids during the day and always makes time for me to get my run in, if he can, so that I don't have to do it at 5 am. 'Cause it probably wouldn't happen if I had to do it that early, these old bones need some time to wake up first :)

He's Coach Dad, teaching our kids to play soccer and getting out there in any weather for practices and early Saturday games, even going back to the van for our chairs and an umbrella, only to schlep them all back again once it REALLY started raining and I decided to take the little ones home. I could go on and on and on...

Let's just say, I'm the lucky one here, because he puts up with an awful lot from me - although I do always try to provide a hot, home-cooked meal on the dinner table. If it weren't for him, the only cape I'd have would be wrapped around my neck choking the life out of me as I struggled through my day. Well, ok - I'd make it through the day, but the days would be long without him downstairs for me to run down and chat with, and I probably never would have started this blog - so you can thank him for THAT too :)

Matt turns 41 today and I'd like to wish him a Happy Birthday! Show him some comment love :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

39.5

April 26, 2010. Today I'm halfway through 39, tomorrow begins the down-slope to 40. I'm not really stressed about it. At 30, I don't think I could have imagined where I'd be right now - certainly not raising 4 kids! I think at that point I pictured myself with 3 boys - Matt and I went out to dinner once way back when and at a booth across from us was a family with 3 little well-behaved boys. Having been a waitress in another life, I appreciated well-behaved children in restaurants and these boys were PERFECT - just like mine would be :)

Really, I am blessed in many ways - health, family, home, happiness - so 40 isn't something I'm dreading, it's just a number - like that one on the scale (but I'm not going to talk about THAT one now).

I had the rare opportunity to visit some new blogs last week and one of them was written by a 60-something grandmother & I started wondering where I'll be at 60? Evie will be 29 by then, could I be lucky enough to have grandchildren that young? I worry about being around for grandchildren, as we didn't start really early ourselves. My grandparents were not long-lived, and I feel like I barely knew them - they were all gone by the time I was about 12, and I wish I had known them as an adult - so many things I could ask them! My parents were young when they started their family, so I'm hoping they are around for a good long time - my Mom's grandmother made it to 100, so I'm hopeful!

I was also wondering, when I'm old and gray at 60 (who am I kidding, I have a skunk stripe that proves I'm already gray), will I have actually met any of you out there? Will we all still be blogging? I'd like to think so. I've already had the pleasure of meeting Staci at Playing House, and there are so many more of you I'd love to meet for coffee (or wine - even better!)

Today, at 39.5, I'm just thinking ahead - is there anything I want to accomplish before 40? Other than the 6 pounds, not really. Well, maybe be more productive and less lazy. I really need a cure for that.Yes, I have a tendency to be lazy. Come back Thursday to find out how I'm able to fool you into thinking I have a Super Cape. And I promise to have pictures to break up the monotony of my scribbles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

F-bomb Friday - A tale of a tired mommy



Ask Matt, and he'll agree that I'm not the most easygoing person. I looked up the Type A personality on Wikipedia, and I'd say it pretty much fits me (except maybe before the competitive part...no?)

Symptoms of Type A Behavior
from Wikipedia
  1. Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
  2. Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents.
  3. Competitive, this made them oriented towards achievement which caused them to become stressed due to them wanting to be the best at whatever it may be i.e. sports or in work.
Definitely #1 fits, and probably #2 - anyway. Let's say I have a short fuse, and a tendency towards a sailor's mouth.

Setting the stage for my story:

It's 2006. Sarah's 3 weeks old, and I'm existing in that new mom daze, from the late-night feedings & changes you have with an infant.

Look how little they all are!

William has just turned 3, and today is Evie's 5th birthday (this was exactly 3-1/2 years ago TODAY!). She's in preschool, and Matt's gone to the office I think for the first time since Sarah was born - I'm on my own to get everyone out the door & down to church for morning drop-off.


At this point in time, we're driving a Ford Expedition. Evie and William have their shoes and coats on, so I send them out to get in the car while I get Sarah into her infant seat & get my own shoes & coat on. Now, William at 3 has already learned that he can open the garage door using the remote in the cars. This is the main reason all the exterior house doors have deadbolts and all the keys are kept way out of his reach. Being that they are Evie and William, I hear lots of bickering and arguing as I'm heading out of the house, and the garage door is going up and down.

Sarah and I are out the door, she's latched into the car seat base, I hop in and start the truck up. The garage door's up so back I go.

BAM!


What the hell was that? I put the truck in drive & pull forward, thinking I've backed into something. I get out, look around - underneath and to the sides, don't see anything. Back into the truck I get. Evie and William are still bickering. Put the truck in reverse.

BAM!

What in God's name is going on here? I can't figure it out. Pull forward, get out, WTF! Holy crap, NOW I see what the problem is (can you guess?)!

The garage door isn't ALL the way up.

Evie and William had been fighting over the opener, putting it up, putting it down, putting it up, putting it down, and I hadn't realized that it wasn't ALL the way up. By now, we're late. The garage door is bent, and stuck open - won't go down, won't go up, and I've managed to rip one of the cross bars off the roof rack of the truck. Lovely. And no, that's not what I said. I'm remember yelling - a LOT, and I'm sure it was very very colorful. Thankfully no one was out and about at 8:40 on a chilly, dreary October morning.

I called Matt and explained the 'situation', and he calmed me down (like he always does!), and after forcing up the door in my adrenaline-fueled rage, I was able to get Evie off to school without further ado. The garage door remained open for the remainder of the day until Matt got home to straighten it out & get it working again.

Thankfully, the crossbar was easily replaced - only a screw had been sheered off or something - and the garage door sustained only minimal damage. To this day, though, I see that little crease at the bottom of the door on the side where I park, and every time I think about that morning. I wish you could have seen me. I wish I could have seen me!

Click on the pic to head to Mimi's at Living in France for more :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My never-ending attempt to lose six pounds

I am probably fitter now than I have been in my entire life. I ran 6 miles last week, twice. I'm doing the Shred 3 times a week, and I've increased the weight. I can do more push-ups now than I ever could before. And yet that number - you know, the one on the scale, the one we're not supposed to obsess over - hasn't budged.

Ok, it budges. It goes down, then up, then down, then up and on and on. I'll be 'good' during the week, and then the weekend hits. Or something pops up to throw off our meal plan for dinner & we end up with takeout. Or I buy a box of cannoli at Costco. Or I open a bottle of wine in the evening. Or we go visit family, or visit friends, or get ice cream with the kids or....or or or or or.

I keep coming back to this one core realization, that when you have 'only' 5 to 10 pounds to lose, there aren't really any BIG eating habits you can change to lose it, and exercise alone won't do it. The number of calories my body requires at my current weight is really only minimally different from the calories required at my goal weight, so once (if?) I ever get there I should be able to maintain it. But getting there seems to be a never ending battle of counting calories, planning my intake for the day, attempting to deny myself, feeling hungry, and then giving in due to frustration or desire, ultimately resulting in failure for yet another day. Anybody else on this hamster wheel with me?

And really, why do I care? Will I look much different to the outside world minus 6 lbs? Probably not. But in my mind, it's 6 lbs that don't belong there and it's unwanted. Maybe if it was helping to fill out my bra I wouldn't mind so much, but all its accomplishing is making me do a shimmy every morning to put on freshly-washed jeans.

I know it's mostly mental. I'm just not committed enough to stick to it, and see it through to the end. I'll have some success and then 'celebrate' it with a 'free' day. Or I'll be giving the kids a snack and grab a pretzel rod for myself. 40 calories in itself isn't a lot, but when you have 3 or more, they start to add up. Another self-defeating practice is finishing food the little ones don't eat at lunch - you know, the quarter of a PB&J they left on the plate?

Running is mental too, once you get beyond the initial physical conditioning. My neighbor and I are running a 10k together on May 1st. We've been training mostly separately, but were both up to 5 miles when last week her hubby told me she'd run 6 the day before. Nothing like a little incentive to kick your butt in gear :) I did 6 the next time I ran and was actually in good shape afterwords. I think that was the first time ever I've seen a glimpse of how long-distance runners can do it - once you get to 6, what's one more? If I had all the time in the world, who knows how far I could go? But an hour is about all I can steal away from the house on any given day.

All this to say, a year after I first started posting about running and weight loss, I'm still in the same spot. Maybe a little fitter, but still not there. If anything, I think I've gained two pounds. I turn 40 in 6 months and I really hope to be at the perfect number in my mind, but hoping won't get me there - I just need to back AWAY from the cannoli :) (Or maybe I just say to heck with it and get a Mommy Makeover?)
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If you've read all the way to here, you deserve a reward - here's a really yummy, healthy recipe from the American Heart Association's One Dish Meals. Most of the recipes are fairly simple, and some are better than others, but all are very very healthy. I love the fact that each recipe has complete nutrition information, for those who are interested. I made this last night and it was REALLY good - quick and easy too. Try it!

Chicken Ravioli Italiano, Serves 4

2 9oz packages refrigerated chicken-filled ravioli (I substituted Buttoni's chicken & prosciutto tortellini, as that's the closest match the store had)
6-oz package baby spinach leaves or 4 cups packed torn spinach leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow summer squash or golden zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices, or use 2-1/2 cups halved yellow or green baby pattypan squash
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium spaghetti sauce, such as tomato-basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, heavy stems removed, or snipped Italian or flat-leaf parsley

Prepare the ravioli using the package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Stir in the spinach during the last 1 minute of cooking. Drain in a colander.

Heat the same saucepan over medium heat. Pour the oil into the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Cook the squash and garlic for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the spaghetti sauce. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Return the ravioli and spinach to the pan; heat through.

To serve, ladle the mixture into bowls. Sprinkle with the basil.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Musings of a mom

I don't know about you, but I had what is apparently an idealized vision of what being a mom would be like. I only know what I grew up with, and I am just 3 years older than my younger sister, so I had zero experience with babies going into this whole thing. My sisters both had kids before we did, but they lived 4 hours away - I didn't get any hands-on experience or even observance of what this thing is all about.
Evie was born in October. I envisioned being snowed in at home with the baby, waiting at the window for Daddy to come home, my days fulfilled by being a homemaker & caring for the life we'd created. I'd sew cute clothes from all those adorable patterns & fabrics for kids, and relish doing all the 'mom' things like baking cookies, helping with homework, teaching them things. We'd have 3 and it would be a Norman Rockwell life.
And then I woke up!

We didn't have to wait for Daddy to come home that first winter, because he was home with us, thanks to the company we both worked for going bankrupt. Sewing? In addition to the skirts I made for Easter, I've made 3 Halloween costumes and a Baptism gown. Maybe I'll be a grandmother who sews beautiful clothes someday.
The cookies, homework and teaching? I really struggle with trying to manage the 4 when we're making anything. It would probably be a lot healthier for my mental state if I could let go of my need to control things. Homework can be a challenge because by the time Evie and William get home from school, Sarah and Jason are getting up from their naps. As Jason has gotten bigger and more vocal, life has gotten more chaotic in the afternoons. I find myself saying the same things over and over and over again before tasks finally get completed. My plate is full.
I'm convinced that my children are different from yours. We joke that Evie is a labrador & when she doesn't get enough running around outside, she runs around inside. On all fours. She's 8-1/2, and we're wondering if this will ever stop. William, darling boy that he is, lives in his own world, somewhat unaware of what's going on around him. He can spend hours focused on whatever task he's involved in, but it can be difficult to bring him back to earth when you need him to do something else. Sarah? Well - we're discovering exactly how much like me she is, and our days together are getting very interesting. Jason - he's just my little love, and all boy. At 2-1/2 he's already stuffing his pockets with marbles & rocks, but always has a smile and hug for his mommy.
All this to say, is it all I thought it was cracked up to be? Absolutely not. Are there moments of sheer bliss? Definitely! But I never pictured all the strife and struggle that would go along with it, as I only have my own memories and what you see in public of other families to compare it to. From the moment we brought Evie home from the hospital and looked at each other wondering 'now what', Matt and I have been trying to find the balance between family/self/chores/projects, and it's a constant juggling act as priorities change.
We're getting there, day by day, trying to balance each other out and remember that it's a journey, not a destination - there's lots to see on the way to wherever it is we're headed (feels like the funny farm some days) and we're all sharing this ride together - might as well enjoy it!

I say all this not to complain, just to get my thoughts out there - this is my only journal of our days and I try to keep it honest. But then, I assume this is what you expect to find when you read a blog by the Harried Mom of Four :)
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Pictures are courtesy of Sarah. I was clearing off the memory card and discovered our world through Sarah's eyes - they made me laugh (and there's a LOT more where these came from!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summer Dreaming...

Happy Tax Day everyone - it's a beautiful day here in Virginia and I'm happy to say we have done our yearly duty and filed our return - finished until next year!

Little ones are napping and Evie, recovering from the stomach bug that everyone in our area seems to have gotten, is resting so here I am trying to come up with something to say. Does your blog (assuming you have one) ever feel like a 'Blahg'? I've tried several times to get some 'deep thoughts' down but they just come out sounding ridiculous when I reread it so today I'll stick with something frivolous - clothes!

When we were at the beach last summer with my sister, I noted that she had several cute, CUTE casual skirts & tanks with her, and I realized there was a hole in my 'wardrobe', such as it is. So this spring I've been trying to fill it here and there with some thrifty, flattering things I've run across - key word being flattering - oh when oh when will the empire waist stuff go away? I had 4 kids, I do NOT want to look pregnant! Anyway. Money being no object, there are several lovely things at high-end stores that I'm sure I would love, but for better or worse money IS an object that can at times be in limited supply. So here's what I've hunted down and dragged home so far!
Women's Tie-Front Flutter-Sleeve Dresses - Old Navy
$17.99-23.99; price varies by color



Women's Tiered Eyelet Whirly Skirts - Old Navy
$26.50 retail; mine was on sale, and I had a coupon
Mine's in white, online they have violet, orange and green


I also picked up a CUTE CUTE beachy halter dress at Walmart. Yes, I am a Walmart shopper - I don't normally buy clothes for myself there (other than their Danskin line of workout wear), but sometimes something catches my eye & I'll take it home to try on. This dress was a hit! It's not on their website, but it's an island-print resort dress and was only $15. For as much as I'll wear it, the price is right!

I've seen this in the store at Walmart & didn't think it would look right on me so I didn't pick it up, but after looking at in on a model I might give it a try - what do you think? Although the length might cut me off at the knees...


Faded Glory women's tiered dress - it's $12, people
(although reading reviews, gals are wearing it as a maternity dress so maybe not...)


Now I've wanted a pair of these forever:Yes, the original Dr. Scholl's Exercise Sandal. I remember wearing my mom's all over the house - THWAP THWAP THWAP! I finally found them at a decent price and I now have my very own pair - I can't wait to wear them! If you love them too, go to Shoes.com - the leather ones are on sale for $32, and for a limited time all sale items are an additional 25% off - $24 bucks and free shipping! (If you want fancier ones you'll have to pay full price, sorry!)

I'm still looking for a khaki or stone A-line skirt, and then I'll be all set I think. Although Matt thinks I need a pair of these...
Harley-Davidson Sedona boot for Ladies :)

...to go with something very similar to this:

Can you tell we are 40-ish? I like the boots, don't necessarily see myself on the back of one of these...

How about you? Anxious for summer? Dreaming of light, airy clothes & fun times?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Harried Happenings: Spring Break

It's 11pm on Sunday and the kids are fast asleep; Spring Break is fast coming to a close. Busy week its been, with weather more beautiful than we could have hoped -the leaves and flowers have exploded with all the warm weather we've had!
Can you say fresh peaches this summer? Yum!

We didn't travel anywhere exotic (unless you consider Pittsburgh exotic - it sure was an exciting trip though!) but Evie and William seemed to enjoy their time off from school. Here's a rundown of our week:

Tuesday: How to Train Your Dragon! We saw the 12pm showing in 3D with our neighbors at the Alamo Drafthouse. LOVED IT! I am so glad that Sarah and Jason are big enough to be entertained at the movies now, even if it doesn't hold their attention through the whole show, and we did lose Jason at the end (it was pretty much nap time, and after our weekend in Pittsburgh I don't blame him!)

Wednesday: I can't think of a thing we did on Wednesday other than go to Costco. I'd been up late Tuesday working on our taxes & everyone needed a lazy day after our weekend trip and the movies on Tuesday (no nap for S&J, other than what J got at the movie - not much!) While at Costco with the 4 Wednesday evening I was inspired to fill my cart with wine and cannoli. Can you blame me? I will NOT be grocery shopping with the four this summer... a 24 pack of cannoli is not helping me with my weight-loss efforts. I will note, however, that Costco (at least ours) currently has a Merlot from Santa Ema for $9.97 (deleted, they won't be selling it anymore) and its REALLY GOOD - GO GET SOME! I'm drinking it now ;)!
Thursday: After doing much of nothing on Wednesday, Thursday morning the kids and I made bread, the same William made at school a few weeks ago. Here's a picture to prove it, I actually let them play with flour and water and honey. This is a big step for me.
And actually? They were pretty neat about it and had a lot of fun kneading the dough. I might be persuaded to do it again if they asked!

Friday: Friday morning I came downstairs to find that Matt had been up a good bit of the night with a stomach bug that's been going around, poor guy! We'd planned on going into the city that day, but instead stayed home so he could take it easy. He blames the cannoli, but since he's the only one who got sick I highly doubt that! I was supposed to play Bunco Friday night, but stayed home instead & we all watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs together.

Saturday: Soccer! Should have brought my camera, but forgot it. William scored two goals early on, and Evie ran her legs off for Coach Dad. I know I made pancakes for dinner, but how is it that I cannot recall anything else we did just yesterday??

Sunday: We went to iHop for lunch (for God only knows what reason, Evie has been asking to go there forever!) and then to the local Discovery Museum. All four had a blast playing with the apple setup they had (pulleys, wheelbarrows, cranks, etc), the medical equipment, climbing wall, and of course - the funny mirror. Sarah especially loved this, see for yourself!


We also spent a little time outside enjoying the warm weather and some fresh brewed iced tea!
The week went fast, and it occurred to me: Sarah starts preschool in 5 months, and Jason will start in just 17 months. Time is flying faster than I can believe, and I'm starting to panic about how quickly it's going. I look at Sarah and cannot believe how big she's gotten - she will be FOUR in 6 months, and Jason - my baby! - will be THREE! How is that POSSIBLE? I want to shrink both of them down and keep them in my pocket just as they are now, because I truly do not remember Evie and William at this age. Is it human nature to keep looking ahead to the next thing and not appreciate where you are right now? Because I catch myself doing that. It's so hard to just live in the moment....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Weekend, Harried Style

You know what happens when you try to squeeze too much into too little time? You get really tired! :)

I got the skirts done! Of course, this involved being up until 12:30 or 1am two nights in a row, but they were finished in time! We were leaving to visit family for the weekend Saturday morning so I had a definite deadline; I'd done Evie's earlier in the week & finished Sarah's up Friday evening, then I ended up adding a row to Evie's skirt as it was a bit on the immodest side. So if you decide to make the Can Can skirt, make sure to check the length before you hem the bottom. I shortened the 3 middle tiers on Sarah's skirt by 1/2" which worked out just perfect for her height (she wears a 3T); Evie's skirt needed an extra 3" wide tier (she wears a 7/8).


After being up until 11:30 pm on Friday finishing skirts and desserts for Sunday, after a week of many late nights, I wasn't in any hurry to get on the road Saturday morning; by the time we'd packed the van & hit the road it was a bit after 11am, and we had a 3.5 hour trip ahead of us.

Notice how I just said I wasn't in any hurry to get there? Good thing! We'd just gotten on the interstate near the Pennsylvania border when we hear 'BAM -bam bam' - "What was that?" queried Harried Mom - Harried Dad said he didn't know, and by the time I'd asked him if we should pull over, the tire warning light was on and Evie said "My side is getting really low"! Yes, flat tire. On I-70, in the middle of nowhere at the Maryland/PA border. Thank God for sunny days, wide medians, and handy husbands. If I had been alone when this happened, well, I don't even want to think about that. I was a bit of a wreck as it was :)

Now, Matt was perfectly willing to ride the PA turnpike to Pittsburgh (2.5 hours away) on a donut, however I was not comfortable with that idea. So we creeped to Breezewood (town of motels and gas stations, and not much else!), grabbed lunch, & tried to hunt down a tire shop. Long story short, we limped our way through the Pennsylvania countryside and made our way to Sears in Johnstown!

We had an hour to kill, so we wandered around the mall and had some ice cream....

They didn't eat much lunch but sure had room for ice cream!

and then, LOOK WHO WE RAN INTO! I spotted Edward from the upper level in the mall and suddenly the day didn't seem to be going so bad! Matt was kind enough to take our picture together :) And yes, I realize this sounds completely crackers to most of you but no judging!

He wanted to join us for Easter but there wasn't room in the van.

After our celebrity sighting and an hour's wait, the van had new tires and we were on our way again. 7 hours after we left home, we arrived at my sister's house! After some dinner, the kids dyed Easter eggs. Did you know there are 11 kids between my two sisters and myself? 5 eggs each = a lot of boiled eggs to cook. Thanks Becky!

Sarah, John & Jason

William and Gary

Joey (almost 15) , John (2.5) and Sarah (3.5) - oldest cousin and 2 of the youngest

The next morning we managed to get 3 adults and 8 children dressed and out the door to church by 9:15 - an Easter miracle! The family service at Becky's church was very child friendly & the kids had a good time - Evie said it was the BEST church service she'd ever been too! After church it was photo shoot time...

Evie, Emma and Anna

Us

After a light lunch it was time for a show for the little kids, followed by nap time!

Jason and John, the two youngest - 3 months apart

Daddy and his girl

After Easter dinner there was some tree climbing...


Lilly, sitting pretty in a tree

...followed by an egg hunt! Matt and my BIL Steve filled all the plastic eggs I'd saved from last year with coins and hid them for the kids, who hunted in shifts - youngest, middle, then oldest. There was some wonderment from the little kids, and pouting from my older two who didn't feel they'd gotten their fair share. Figures mine are the pouters :) And we're classy - we use plastic bags to collect our eggs!

Gary, Anna, John, Sarah

Matt & Jason

Evie, Greg, Emma, Gary

Evie and Greg, game faces ON!

Sweet Sarah

Jason's ready to go in

After all was said and done, we had some tired little people peacefully sleeping but the excitement wasn't over yet - Jason rolled out of bed at 2:45 am and managed to get a 1/2" cut on his forehead - I can not believe how much blood there was! Nurse Becky got him all cleaned up, and a sip of apple juice later he was back to sleep.

Easter was a beautiful WARM day here & I'm so glad my sister let me impose my family on her for the weekend! I must say, though, it was filled with just about all the excitement I can handle and I'm glad to be back at home - there really is no place like it :)

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