Monday, March 28, 2011

Techno Tots

Last week I made a commitment that I would significantly reduce the amount of television my children watch each day. Now I must admit, this is a commitment I have made many times in the past and within a few months, we have slowly crept back up to what I consider WAY too much TV.

I think it has gotten worse since we moved here. My excuses for this added TV time are as follows:
1) Claire has dropped her naps and the ONLY way I will EVER get anything done is if I let her watch a movie while Sarah naps.
2) It is stinkin' cold here and the only place that offers indoor entertainment in our town is the playground at McDonalds.
3) We now have a playroom that has it's own cable access. So now the girls can go into the playroom and shut the door while watching TV. This is a tricky one. When they are in there and the house is quiet, I switch into "get things done" mode and the time flies by at warp speed. Before I even think to check, they have often managed to watch at least 3 or 8 shows in a row.

Head hung in shame.

Don't think for a moment that I feel that any of the above excuses are actually excusable. I really don't. Thus the new commitment. This commitment started last Friday. Snicker, snicker. Does anyone really ever stick to new commitments that start on Friday? Well, I did. For one day at least. Friday was great! I think the girls got a total of 2 hours of TV over the entire day. I know that for some of you that is still too much, but for us that is a major accomplishment. We played and played until we couldn't play any longer. I was quite worn out, but the girls were happy as little larks. And I was feeling like Mommy of the year.

Then comes the weekend. I did my best to monitor how much TV they watched, but weekends around here are so relaxed. And it is hard for me to want to play with the girls around the clock when their Daddy is taking a (well deserved) break from work by watching TV in the living room. All I want to do is put on a movie for the girls and go join him. So the weekend was a big flop. Not to mention that the girls' answer to my "less TV" stance was to go in search of alternate forms of technology.

At one point, I found them sitting the hallway with my iphone and Michael's ipod.

Then a bit later, I found them in our office. Sarah now had the ipod and Claire had ditched the phone for the Mobigo. 

It was at this point that I admitted defeat and decided to start my commitment anew on Monday morning. 

And here we are on Monday morning. You know what killed my resolve today? Both girls woke up with fevers and Sarah has a wicked, gross cough. So now we are nursing everyone back to health in the hopes that we are all well for our Houston trip and my resolve for less TV will just have to wait for another day. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

You Can Never Go Back

We've officially started chores with Claire. She was such a trooper about it at first. Now? Well it's touch and go.  I don't know that I would have started this little chore list quite so soon had it not been for my cheap nature. I'll explain. (was there any doubt?)

Claire received a pillow pet for Christmas. And she loved it. Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. Fast forward a month or so and you'll find us perusing the aisles in our grocery store. This store has started carrying pillow pet pee wees. These little darlings are about 1/4 the size of the original pillow pets. I knew immediately that Claire would want one. I knew this because ever since she was old enough to hold on to a stuffed animal, she has been obsessed with all things mommy and baby. If she has a stuffed animal, rest assured it has a mommy or baby somewhere in her collection. Sometimes they are similar in nature. For example she has two little stuffed kittens who play mommy and baby to one another. Other times, the combo is more on the odd side. Take her baby giraffe/mommy elephant combo for example.

So back to these pee wees. I knew that Claire was going to want to have the matching baby purple unicorn to go with her "mommy" purple unicorn. It didn't take Claire long to spot them and begging to commence. I took a quick look at the price tag and knew immediately that I wasn't going to be buying one of these things for Claire. They cost $12.99. That is a mere seven dollars less expensive than the original, 4-times larger version. I just couldn't do it. But of course, Claire was insistent. So I recommended that we create a list of jobs for her to do around the house. She could earn some money and save up for this baby pillow pet. Immediately, Claire was on board. She ran over to the pile of pet pee wees and grabbed a baby unicorn. She snuggled it close to her cheek and I heard her sweet voice say, "Don't worry baby. I am going home to work hard and make some money so I can buy you! Your mommy will be so happy to see you when I bring you home!" I must admit, that melted my heart. Too bad for Claire that it didn't even begin to thaw my resolve.

So we created a list of chores.
1) Make your bed.
2) Dress yourself.
3) Bring your night time cup downstairs and put it in the sink.
4) Put your coat, shoes and dirty clothes where they belong.
5) Clean the playroom each night before bed.

Immediately I nerded out and my inner teacher took control. I put all these items on a chart in picture form and taped it to the inside of Claire's bedroom door.

That way, she could see the list every morning and remember what she was supposed to do before coming downstairs.

For weeks I never heard one argument from Claire about her jobs. She was such a happy little worker. She was thrilled that she could make her bed and happy as a lark to dress herself. Every morning, I'd be downstairs reading or working on something and I would look up and see a very  happy Claire be-bopping into the kitchen. She'd be fully clothed and tossing her cup into the sink. She was ready to face the day. It was awesome and I was questioning why I didn't start this sooner.

Each Friday we have a payday of sorts. She earns 3 dollars each week. (one dollar per year of life) 30 cents gets put aside for God, and the rest goes in her piggy bank to save for her precious baby pillow pet.

When the day of purchase finally came, I have never seen this little girl so excited. We headed to the store and made her purchase and she was on cloud nine. 

Mommy and baby now united, Claire suddenly announces that she no longer needs to save money and thus no longer needs to perform her jobs. Sigh. This is where the real work begins I suppose. I find the nicest way possible to explain to her that once you prove that you are capable of doing jobs independently, you really can never go back. Not in our house at least. And that like it or not, her jobs were going to continue. She might as well start to think of the next thing she wanted to save up to buy. 

We had several weeks of a reluctant worker. But she is finally about half way back to where we were before. She will do her jobs without complaining once more, but she no longer does them without being prompted. Oh well. Better than nothing I suppose. 

Her most recent purchase sent her piggy bank balance back to zero. But her love of this little creature has reignited her desire to earn money.  

She has now informed me that she is saving to buy the movie Milo and Otis. I don't even know if that movie is still being sold anywhere. Guess I better start looking online. 

I am happy she is starting to make goals. And I am also happy that she has yet to figure out that the money she earns could possibly buy her candy. That's a battle I am not quite ready to fight. 

Alright, I'd better go do my chores. Too bad I don't get a weekly allowance for mine. Because I know FULL WELL that my money could purchase candy and that knowledge would definitely thaw my resolve in that realm. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Workout Within My Workout

Working out at home is very convenient, but it also has it's challenges. In my home, those challenges are named Claire and Sarah. Some days, I work out and they are precious. They come in and try to work out with me. Watching Sarah attempt push ups or Claire and her awkward jumping jacks will bring a smile to my face even as I am covered in sweat and quietly bad mouthing Jillian Michaels and her insane workout.

Then there are days like today. Days when the girls are a constant interruption. Today, I started the workout and  no sooner did I finish the warm-up than Claire comes in with a problem. She needed to go potty and the toilet paper was out. Fair enough. Not her fault. She certainly can't fix that problem on her own. I'm on it.

A few minutes later I am back to my workout. I have just gotten my heart rate up when Claire waltzes back in the room with another of her dilemmas. Apparently she can't find her blanket or chicky toy. Between gasps of breath, I tell her to keep looking and I'll help her find them later. She retreats only to come back one minute later with tears in her eyes. This child cannot rest or relax without the aforementioned items. I know that if I don't stop and help her find them, she will not leave me alone for the remainder of my workout and it will be well worth my efforts to find them now. So I take another quick break and find the items. I hand them over to Claire just as my heart rate has returned to its normal, resting rhythm.

I usher Claire into the playroom and turn on a cartoon for her giving me added assurance that I will have at least 30 minutes of peace. Claire is now resting comfortably with her blanket and chicky.  And for extra insurance, I decide to give Sarah the MobiGo. You may remember her love of this item from a previous post. I was now positive that I would have an interruption free workout session. You know what positive means? It means wrong at the top of your voice. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I was barely back into the workout when Sarah comes in the room saying, "It's broken!" I look down and see that she has pulled out the game cartridge from the MobiGo. This is a new skill she acquired recently and she has yet to learn how to reinsert said cartridge. I quickly stop to fix this problem and now Sarah decides to stand and play right in the middle of the living room. Right in the middle where I am trying to exercise. I try to dodge around her a few times and only manage to step on her and almost trip and injure the both of us. So I gently push her aside trying to convince her to move elsewhere.

A short two minutes later, Sarah has discarded the MobiGo for a new toy:  my water bottle. It is sealed shut so I don't worry about it and continue the workout. Mistake. My crafty little tinker tot manages to open the bottle and before I can get to her, she tumps it and pours the entire contents on the living room carpet. I'll spare you having to read the thoughts that were screaming through my head at that moment. I stop to gather a few towels and begin the clean up process. Then I escort Sarah back into the playroom where Claire is still happily watching her cartoon and shut the door.

Back at it, I finally have my heart rate back to where it is supposed to be for calorie burn when I see trouble brewing through the glass panes of the playroom door. Sarah has walked over to Claire and taken her blanket away. Now this is something we are working on right now. Sarah's blanket looks very similar to Claire's and she often mistakes it for her own. Claire knows this and knows that the proper protocol for this situation is to ask Sarah for the blanket back and if she doesn't give it to her, she is to come find Mommy or Daddy so we can help. Do you think that is how it went down on this, my day of crazy interruptions? Nope.

As I watch, Claire violently pulls the blanket away and hits Sarah with enough force to knock her down to the ground. Wailing ensues. I, of course, can't let this go for many reasons. So I pause the DVD and head into the playroom to kick some serious tail calmly discipline and reinforce what Claire already knows.

By the time all that is done, I am OVER trying to exercise. I call it a bust for the day and turn off the DVD. I will live to exercise another day. Hopefully my children will too. I guess some days motherhood is its own form of exercise.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


This past week was very busy for us. I figured the best way to blog about it is with pictures. First, we took a day and had lunch with Daddy at his office.

It is amazing how the same foods we eat at home suddenly become the most tasty food EVER when you put them in a new environment. The girls have been asking to eat at Daddy's work almost every day since.

While we were there, Daddy took his girls to meet the office "pet".

This is "Stew". He lives in the woods surrounding Michael's office. Stew is well fed by all the employees so he comes often for visits. Our girls loved getting to be so up close and personal and this sweet rabbit was happy to oblige.

Over the weekend, we traveled to Anchorage for Furrondy. This is a big annual event that started back when the fur traders would travel to Anchorage to sell their goods. While the fur traders are still a part of this event, it is now full of many other activities for family fun. 

First up were the dog sled rides.

Then came the carnival rides.

Just a quick stop to hug a bear.

And what major event would be complete without pony rides? 

The last item on our agenda was the Reindeer Run. Michael signed up for this event mainly so he could say he did it. He is becoming more and more Alaskan by the day. And who can blame him? I mean, who wouldn't want to be chased down a snowy road by a group of crazy, agitated reindeer?

Sadly, I don't have any great pictures of the actual run because about 5 minutes after Michael left us to go line up to run, both girls decided to melt down on me. I was doing my best to balance Sarah on one hip (since we forgot to bring our stroller) while holding a camera in the other arm while at the same time trying to convince Claire that she didn't need me to hold her. They were both crying uncontrollably and there was nothing I could do to console them. I really had no clue what their problem was. But after 15 minutes of non-stop crying (the race still hadn't started) I finally gave up and took the girls off where they could both sit in my lap. Turns out, they were both just really cold and tired of being outside. Once we got back to the car, I took off their boots and discovered just how cold their feet actually were. I felt so bad for them. 

After it was all said and done, I asked Claire to tell me her favorite part of the weekend. Her answer? Eating Smores at the hotel, and eating McDonalds for dinner and sleeping in the same bed as Sarah. Oh, and watching TV in her bed at the hotel. 

I reminded her about the dog sled rides, pony rides, carnival rides, etc. To which she said, "Yeah, those were good too. But I REALLY liked being in our hotel room." 

So for our next trip, I guess we will forgo all the costly events and simply hunker down in the hotel with Smores making supplies. A fun time for all!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not Fat, Just Frustrated

I so desperately want to write a blog about weight loss and dieting but I can't figure out a way to do it without sounding like I am complaining or whining about being "fat". I am not fat. I know this. I do have about 15 pounds to lose in order to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but even with that, I don't consider myself fat. Out of shape? Oh yeah. In need of serious toning? Uh-huh. But fat? Not really. Being this close to my target weight is nice, but it also comes with frustrations. Mainly, it is from the reactions I get whenever anyone finds out that I am on a diet. Let me explain what happened this week. 

I joined a bible study. The church that hosts this bible study provides childcare from 9:30-3:00  (with small monetary donations from the parents) so that the moms can have bible study, eat lunch together potluck style and then have several hours to scrapbook, quilt, paint or really whatever you want to do with that time. It's awesome. The ladies were super friendly and welcoming and I had a really great time. The only problem with the day was the potluck lunch. 

As you may recall, I have recently started down a path to be more disciplined.  Part of that was being careful to eat more healthy foods. I have also been doing a close calorie count of what I have been eating. Because of all this, I knew I couldn't join in the potluck lunch at the church. I wanted to participate, but I really needed to not participate. Since most potluck lunches are filled with all sorts of yummy foods that would drive my diet right into the ground, I just packed my own little sandwich and planned to eat that and be good. But the ladies would have nothing to do with that. They saw my sandwich and  reassured me that there was plenty of food to go around and I was more than welcome to share. That statement alone was very sweet and nice and showed great hospitality. I appreciated that. However, I reassured them that I was fine with my sandwich and as amazing as the food looked, I was really trying to be careful with my calories and I would pass on the food. But that wasn't the end of it. I heard lots of, "You don't know what your missing!!" and "Oh come one, just one little bit can't hurt!" among many other similar statements. Over. And. Over. Again. Talk about a constant barrage of pressure. Where is the support here people?

Another side of this that is frustrating is the looks I get from people when they realize that I am dieting. Now I don't go out of my way to announce to people that I am dieting. (unless you read this blog) But it seems that so many social functions involve food. So you either explain why you are not eating, or risk looking antisocial. When I tell people that I am trying to watch what I eat, I often get looks like, "What? Are you kidding me?" It drives me crazy. Again, I KNOW I'm not fat, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't be careful of the foods I am putting in my body. I hate feeling like the simple act of calorie counting immediately puts a label of "Obsessive Crazy Lady" on my forehead. 

Maybe this is why dieting is so hard for everyone. Social situations seem to always require yummy, fatty foods and it is uncomfortable when someone isn't participating. It's almost like we all have to indulge or we are all uncomfortable together. So I will continue to push through and smile politely at the well meaning, back-handed compliments and once I reach my target weight, maybe then I'll allow myself the occasional potluck lunch. We'll see.

As an update, it has been 3 weeks since I started working out. I have managed to work out 5 days a week for each of those weeks. It has not been easy. In truth, I have hated almost every minute of it. But if disciplines came easily, they would be called something else I guess. While I have hated exercising, I am loving the results. I can feel my body getting stronger and my clothes are already starting to fit a little better. I am a little nervous about this weekend because we are making our trip to Anchorage and there will be plenty of eating out. I haven't eaten at a restaurant in 4 weeks. That may not be a big deal for some of you but for me that's huge. We usually average eating at restaurants 3-4 times a week. It has been a tough adjustment, but it has been a good one. I knew this weekend trip would require some eating out and I am looking forward to the break in the diet, but I am going to have to be REALLY strong to get back on my path of discipline when we return on Sunday night. Wish me luck!