Sunday, January 31, 2010


Sometimes the parts of life that make you smile widest are those happy accidents or so-called instances of serendipity.

About two weeks ago, I put my mind to memorizing one of my favorite poems, How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was one of the readings at our wedding and is a beautiful classic. I just randomly thought it would be cool to know it by heart. Why not?

So, I looked at a few lines a night until I had it committed to memory. I recited it to T and didn't think much more of it.

Now for the cool coincidence: Last Friday I had my day-long interview for a job I really want. As a quick aside, I had a bad cold and hoped my voice would hold out. It was another intense interview for this company, talking to about ten people, giving a presentation, and then taking an extended writing assessment. Here's the crazy part: the first question of my writing test? What are a few lines of your favorite poem?

I laughed out loud and then happily clicked away, typing out the entire poem. Just a few weeks ago, I would have racked my brain and maybe managed "I took the road less traveled by..." or something else extremely minimal.

I have had my share of bad luck lately, so I happily welcomed a little serendipity.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Manic Sunday

You remember that Bangles song? Just another Manic Monday/Wish it was Sunday/That's my fun day/My I don't have to run day.

Truly elegant prose obviously, but I totally disagree. My Sundays are frantic. This is mostly my own doing of course. I could spread the workload to Saturday and throughout the week. But I don't, so Sundays are manic. I invariably have a long list of tasks and spend my day of rest rushing around trying to cross off all of them.

My Sundays consist of multiple loads of laundry washed, folded, hung up, and put away, meals for the week planned and grocery list compiled, vacuuming, dusting, up to four exercise classes planned for the next day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner made, church attended (if I'm feeling especially ambitious), clothes for myself and the boys laid out, workout bag, preschool bag, and diaper bag, packed and put out, running, and trying to get to bed early for my 4:45 a.m. wake up call.

It's stressful and often the tasks spill over into the week. Laundry sometimes stays piled up in laundry baskets until I get to it Monday or Tuesday. The result is I feel like I am constantly sorting, washing, folding. Not my favorite thing.

Today in typical Sunday fashion, I have a long list to accomplish (increased by the fact that T is going out of town tomorrow and my mom is coming to watch the boys and doubtlessly expecting a clean house). The day started off horrible with Q pooping his pants and being generally exasperating. But I was determined to set it back on course and dutifully cross off my list without stressing out entirely.

So far so good. At 2:25 p.m., my last load of laundry is about to go in the dryer, the meals are planned, grocery list compiled, and four classes are planned for tomorrow.

It feels good to have things under control. Until next Sunday.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Where have I been?

Bits and pieces today:
  • Ran indoor half marathon. Had seriously not trained so I was very happy to finish in 1:58:49. My legs are still aching.
  • Q loves preschool, and I just burst with pride to see him in there. We just got him a new lunch box, and he is so proud to use it. They studied Martin Luther King, Jr., and had to make "I have a dream..." posters. Q's was, "I make cookies with my mama." Melt.
  • I have a third interview this Friday for a job I really want. It is an all-day thing, and I have to give a presentation. Stressful. I am hopeful but not printing my business cards just yet.
  • Am so, so, so tired all the time. All I can think about is my next nap. I get up before 5 a.m. every day. Not fun. If I get a full-time job, I will be much more rested.
  • I love Martha Stewart's new cleaning products. They are so great. So far I have the dish/hand soap and the multi-purpose cleaner, but I may expand. Good stuff.
  • It is so cold. I love being back in Wisconsin except for that. Spring can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On the way up

I am feeling good again.

Inexplicably maybe, because I have gotten nothing but bad news lately, but I am feeling buoyant and hopeful.

The miscarriage, the job I didn't get; I did all I could and controlled what was within my control. That's all I can expect from myself. I can't control much of what happens in my life, but I can always control how I react to it. It took me a long time to learn that, but now I know it well.

And though the bad things stick out like huge blisters on the landscape of my life, there are a lot of underlying positives. I have two beautiful sons and ample opportunity to expand my family in the future. I have a lot of support from family and friends to handle the bumps in the road. And my husband is like my cornerstone.

I had a decent interview last Friday for a probably better job than the one I didn't get. And in the meantime I am still having a good time teaching my many classes a week. My Drums Alive class went very well this morning now that I actually know what I am doing. I am tired, but I am challenged and busy, and that's how I prefer to be.

There is much to appreciate, and though I may be knocked down from time to time, I can always float back up.


Sunday, January 17, 2010


I had a miscarriage last week.

It was pretty awful. And though I always was very afraid it would happen, I never really thought it would. If that makes any sense.

I was eight weeks along, looking for a doctor in our new town, considering a midwife. We'd told our parents but very few other people. I had already started thinking about how we would juggle sleeping arrangements, where we would put the newborn clothes, how much maternity leave I would take if I got a full-time job.

But it was not to be. At least not this time. Last Saturday, I noticed some brown blood. I felt a twinge of worry and informed T, though I knew this could be entirely normal. I felt tense and unsure, worried what would happen next, but still not despondent. Then the blood turned red and much more plentiful. The cramping started. We called the doctor on call, and she said to just wait it out. I laid on the couch. I poured over websites. I held out hope.

But later that night, it was all over. T was putting the kids to bed, when a larger piece of tissue passed. We knew what it was, and we carefully wrapped it and put it in a little blue box. I cried a lot. To go from such a jubilant high to such a crushing low was jarring and depressing. I had absolutely no control over what was happening and no way to reverse it. It was a horrible feeling. It was gory and bloody as well. I felt very shaken.

My subsequent doctors visits were not much more pleasant. I went to a primary care doctor at my clinic on Monday (not my own because she wasn't in). The doctor said my story sounded credible and gave me a uncomfortable pelvic exam before sending me on my way. No ultrasound. No blood test. I felt no closure.

So T made me an appointment at a OB clinic, and I went in on Thursday. I sat in the waiting room for an hour, falling asleep as the woman across from me looked at me curiously. The young resident was professional and thorough, but not very empathetic. She did order a blood test and an ultrasound, but then couldn't find my uterus (it was all trans-vaginal by the way...not the most enjoyable experience). She made me go across the hall to pee with a sheet wrapped around my waist. Then she had her attending physician try to help. When that failed, she called in a male ultrasound tech who reached down and jabbed around the wand. He finally found my elusive uterus to the far left and apparently it was small and contained just a bit of remaining blood that would pass on its own.

These medical professionals were very focused on their task but they seemed to forget that they were examining a woman to determine whether her body had completely purged the fetus it once carried. But at least I had my answers. And though I had my small blue box containing the baby that was not to be, they didn't need to look at it, and so I took it back home, still not sure what to do with it, but not wanting to just throw it away. T and I think we might bury it somewhere.

My body is returning to normal now, and I am feeling OK. My kids bring me a lot of comfort, especially little R. I can imagine this would be a horrific experience if it happened on one's first pregnancy, and there were no other children there to occupy your mind.

I know this just happened by chance and was almost certainly for the best as the fetus probably had some sort of genetic problem. I am confident we will be able to expand our family in the future. But I do feel a little defeated and knocked down. I just didn't see it coming. But I guess no one does. I feel tentative now and apprehensive.

So life will go on, but this will leave an indelible mark and the understanding that happiness can be fragile.


Feel the beat

I am part of a new fitness trend, though I don't entirely know what I am doing yet. It's called Drums Alive, and it is basically a workout using a stability ball as a drum. Sounds a little strange I agree, and I was quite skeptical about it at first. Especially when my supervisor at the Y asked me to teach it, but I am always willing to try something new and expand my repertoire, so I jumped in.

The only problem? I had to teach two classes before I actually took the training and learned what I was doing. We had a short meeting one evening to watch videos of Drums Alive, and my supervisor gave us some choreography notes for class. But I still felt very unprepared. The morning of my first class, I had my own exercise ball propped inside an upside down stool, Q's mini drumsticks in hand, and the CD playing from my laptop as I tried to teach myself how to teach other people.

I was kind of hoping no one would show up to the first class, but there they were on the first day. Nine people getting the giant, colorful balls out of the closet. I felt entirely out of my element as I muddled through the first class. The next week, for some reason, I was even shakier, but finally this past weekend, our training took place. For eight hours we listened to the presenter as she described the philosophy and the fundamentals. We also practiced different drills in a large, cold studio until we were tired and hungry.

I wouldn't say I am totally in love with the format, but it is fun and it is unique. It gets my mind working in a different way and challenges me. So that's worth something. And it's worth checking out if you get the chance.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back to basics

I had fish tonight for the first time in almost six years. And it wasn't so bad.

I swore off meat in May of 2004. At first I decided I would try to go for two weeks just to see if I could do it and how I felt. It was a bit tricky at first as I mostly subsisted on cheese and peanut butter (and probably always will, to be honest). But as the months went by, and I learned more about tofu and tempeh and seitan and beans and how to prepare them, it became much easier. Restaurants were not usually too much of a problem expect for the occasional steakhouse or McDonald's. But I can almost always make it work.

I did lose about ten pounds at the time (and have stayed that way), and I felt good, but I knew I struggled to get some nutrients. My iron tends to be on the low side, and I don't always get the Omega 3's I need. I take vitamins now and add flax meal to my oatmeal.

It's not that I think eating meat is wrong necessarily. I just don't like how most animals are treated on US farms, and I don't like how animals are fed and medicated. I think it is cruel, but I also think it is bad for me and my family.

I think eating meat is the natural order of things, and I have no problem with hunting. I just think most meat-eating in the United States is distorted and unhealthy. I also think I am cheating my health somewhat by avoiding healthy protein sources.

So, I am going to add some back in. Tonight, I ventured forth with salmon. T got it at Whole Foods. It was wild caught, and while slightly expensive, definitely worth it. We had it marinated with a mango-kiwi salsa, couscous, and kale. That is just ridiculously healthy!

As I slowly add some meat back in, I will only choose organic, humane sources. And I think I will always be mostly vegetarian, but it will be enjoyable to have more choices to cook and eat.

On the menu this Sunday: scallops with chipotle-orange sauce. Mmmmm.


Friday, January 8, 2010

My little student

Q is now a school boy.

He started at a wonderful little Montessori-style preschool this week. His most difficult prerequisite was potty-training. He is doing so wonderfully with that now, so we signed him up.

He was a bit nervous on the first day. T and I both dropped him off. His little backpack was filled with snow pants, boots, and a spare outfit for any accidents (which he needed the first day). Q insisted on wearing the backpack for the short walk in to school.

After his first three days, he is thriving. He looks forward to each day and chatters about it. The teachers say he is fitting right in.

It seems like a simple thing--just going to preschool and being potty-trained, but it shows he is growing and learning, and it makes me so proud. It also makes me a little relieved that I haven't screwed him up!

I appreciate that I am able to offer him this opportunity. I doubt my parenting skills so often when he is having a tantrum in Target or when I am ignoring his constant queries of "Why?", but this milestone makes me feel like a good mama.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I am so tired this week. My bones just ache with tiredness. This is seriously one of the busiest weeks of my life. Here was my Tuesday:

5:30 am teach early fitness class
6:30 eat breakfast, feed kids, prepare to teach first class of new format
9:00 drop off kids at Y childcare, teach drumming fitness class (so intimidating because I felt like I didn't know what I was doing)
10:30 make lunch for Q to take to preschool, feed R early lunch
11:30 take Q to preschool
11:45 R down for nap, shower, quickly get ready
12:45 R to childcare
1:30-3:00 job interview downtown (went OK, could have been better)
3:30 pick up R
4:00 pick up Q
4:30 prepare for evening fitness class
4:45 leave for class
5:45-6:45 teach class
7:20 dinner
8:00 prepare for 6 am class

I am teaching fifteen classes this week and possibly for the next several weeks. I want to get a full-time job just so I can slow down a little bit! I do like staying busy. In fact, I am happier and more fulfilled when I am busy. I seem to have two states: I am either hyper-productive or I am lazier than a sloth and the thought of reaching for the remote control seriously seems like too much effort. But despite that tendency, I don't like being this busy. I hate feeling so tired that my stomach hurts. You know that feeling? Thankfully I did convince Q to curl up with me on the couch for an hour this morning after my super-early class. That made me feel like a new woman.

I just finished a pretty promising phone interview. I have three more classes to go today, three classes tomorrow, plus a meeting and a doctor's appointment. It is the perfect storm of commitments.

This weekend I am definitely finding some time to enter my sloth state.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chaotic 2010

2010 is already stressing me out.

2009 wasn't so bad. It brought a lot of change, from leaving my job to moving across the country, an odd few months of living with my parents again, and then settling into our new temporary home, while our house in Oregon languishes on the market. The boys are settled in well, T is thriving in his job, and it is wonderful to be close to my mother and sister. 2009 left me a bit unfulfilled as I experimented with staying home with the kids and then added many exercise classes to fill my time. 2009 showed me that I want a fulfilling career and a family and that I can do that in 2010.

So now I have a third interview and a first interview scheduled in 2010, but in the meantime, my schedule is so overloaded it makes my head spin. I have eleven fitness classes a week on my agenda, and now I am taking over four more classes for an acquaintance who is having severe morning sickness in her first pregnancy. That's fifteen classes a week. I am not very excited about that. I am hoping she will feel better soon and be able to take over again, but I have a feeling I will be the go-to girl for seven weeks.

I am trying to be energetic and enthusiastic, but right now I foresee exhaustion and stress. Add to the mix, Q starting preschool (yay!), R going to childcare, PT for my hips, and various other commitments. I can tell you now, the house will not be clean. Oh well.

My big hope is that in a few short months I will embarking on a new adventure as I accept one of these jobs and begin the worthwhile juggle of home and career.

Fingers crossed for 2010.


The first cut

With Q, I was anxious for every milestone. I couldn't wait for that first step, first word, first haircut.

With R, not so much. Now that I see how quickly they leave their babyhood behind, I am reluctant to let him grow up. He is almost 21 months and had not yet had a haircut. Of course I don't want to destroy those beautiful curls that I covet, but his bangs were getting a bit ridiculous.

His hair was getting in his eyes, driving my mom crazy, and causing most people to assume he was a girl. So, we finally made the cut.

I did it myself rather than paying for three snips. There was much complaining and squirming, but we were successful.

T says he is a bit dorky and most people still think he is a girl, but at least he can see. He's staying in his crib though. I am taking baby steps to letting my baby turn into a little boy.