Trainer Pete arrived this morning. I rolled out of bed, put on my gym clothes and glided down the stairs, excited for my first workout.
After some small talk about my goals and expectations for our sessions, we got down to business. He modeled each exercise before I went to work. About 5 minutes into my first set of weighted lunges on the Smith machine, I felt a wave of white fog wash over me. I was pretty sure I was going to black out, even though I’ve never fainted in my life.
“Um, sorry Pete. My blood sugar is dropping. I think I need to eat something.”
“Did you eat breakfast?”
“Well, that’s your first problem. (I can only imagine what my second, third and fourth problems are.) There’s no way you can work out in the morning without the energy you get from eating breakfast. Go eat half of a banana.”
I trudged into the kitchen and downed the banana half. That should do it. We begin again, this time I’m doing some crazy bicep exercise with a twist and I’m pretty sure Pete is silently laughing at me as I wince my way through it. Oh no. Not again. I start getting dizzy and weak and begin wishing I spent the entire morning eating instead of sleeping late. Crap. Don’t say anything. Push through it. Oh man, I can’t push through this. If I die, who will take care of the children?
“Pete – I feel like a complete moron but I think I need the other half of that banana.”
“Sounds good, go for it.”
I return with the remainder of the banana, then make some totally BS excuse about breastfeeding, pregnancy and low blood sugar and realize I sound like a contestant on The Biggest Loser. To make matters worse, I sit down to eat the banana. We talk about what the kids are going to be for Halloween and then I start feeling better.
“Well, at least when Cory comes home with the kids, I can tell him that I spent my first session learning how to eat a banana.” I immediately regret saying this, as it sounds totally inappropriate. Pete laughs.
Before we get back into it, Pete asks if I’d like to work out with some music. I said I liked the 80′s channel on Music Choice.
“Were you even alive in the 80′s?” I ask as I begin working on my triceps, not really wanting to know the answer.
“I was born in 1991.” I laugh, feeling ancient.
“So what do you think of when you think of the 80′s?”
“Kind of like bright colors, Pretty in Pink-type movies, stuff like that.”
Okay, not a bad answer. I look at myself in the mirror. I’m pretty sure my gut is sticking out. I suck in. Pete’s jeans are hanging off his hips with the waistband of his boxers sticking out. It half motivates me, half makes me want to get liposuction.
The hour ends and we do some stretches together. I thank him for the session and promise to be better fed next time. I go back into the den and plop down next to Ryan. I feel like doing something I’m good at, something that makes me feel better where I don’t have to judge myself so harshly.
I see he got the new Highlights magazine in the mail. We sit together and read through the entire thing. I teach him some rhyming words. He laughs when I say that “tushy” and “mushy” are rhymes. Same with “boo” and “shmoo”. He cracks up.
I feel better. I want to take care of myself, I really do. It just seems like such a long road. I guess today I took the first step.
I want to be asleep by midnight, I really do. It just never happens.
11:30 p.m. – Cory reminds me that it’s getting late and I should come upstairs. He has already been up there for 45 minutes doing his usual nighttime routine – shower, shave, pick out tomorrow’s work clothes and wind down in front of the TV. Okay, I’ll be there in a second. A second turns into a minute, a minute turns easily into an hour:
I turn out the lights and trudge upstairs carrying books, papers, shoes, bills, laundry and baby monitors – happy to get closer to winding down the night and getting some shut-eye. Talk to Cory until he passes out. Proceed to:
I wish I had an off-switch, a 25th hour in my day, a little voice inside my head telling me to surrender to my pillow or face certain death. But I live for these after-hours because they belong to me and only me. I don’t have to answer to anyone, I can listen to my own thoughts without any distraction, I breathe in the quiet and it envelops me with happiness.
Crap, I really need to pump. We’ll talk later.
Nothing is quite so adorable as watching your just-turned-three-year-old singing in his first school show. Unless of course your child is the one who, as the music begins and he realizes there are people watching, turns white, lurches forward and lets out a cry that sounds like he’s being stabbed before running off the stage and spending the remainder of the show on his teacher’s lap.
Okay, so he’s only three. Totally acceptable. It’s overwhelming looking out at all of those adults and performing! It’s not the same as practicing at home or in class – this was the real deal. Still, did he have to run off the stage? Couldn’t he be like his friend who turned his head 180 degrees and stared at the back wall throughout the performance? At least he stayed put!
We had a talk when Ryan came home that day and he expressed that it was scary looking at everyone and he didn’t want to cry but he did anyway. He also made a rule that next time we were not allowed to “clap or cheer” for him. He asked to see the video over and over again. After a while, he even started laughing at his own reaction.
Okay, we’ll get ‘em next time, I said.
Next time appeared a few months later during the camp show. I knew right away this wasn’t looking good when Ryan climbed the steps to the stage then immediately turned around and headed back down. A teacher had to redirect him and bring him back on stage with his bunkmates. I reminded Ryan earlier that morning that we were taking one step at a time – for this show I only wanted him to stay on the stage. If he didn’t want to dance or sing, that was okay. He could sit there and twiddle his thumbs for all I cared.
And sit he did. The entire time. He walked to the end of the stage, plopped himself down and did not move until the show ended. I’m pretty sure I laughed at the ridiculousness of it – he looked so small and so nervous, I wanted to go up there and scoop him up.
He has kind of a Jekyll and Hyde thing going – he is not a shy kid, he’s actually quite loud and talks to anyone who will listen. Forever. But when it comes to performances, he clams up. He’s like his Mommy. When I used to work in Public Relations and gave Powerpoint presentations to a room full of business owners, I had to pop a Xanax first. Ditto my first time teaching a lesson as a student teacher. The kids were 8, but I was petrified.
Anyway, so after the camp show I said to Ryan that the more he experiences these performances, the easier it will become. My friend whose son goes to the same school (her son being the one who looked at the back wall just months before) mentioned that she bribed him with a toy or a special treat for the camp show if he sang and danced a little. He pulled through great. Hmmm, maybe she had the right idea.
Today was Grandparents’/Special Person’s Day at school. Ryan was lucky to have all four of his grandparents in attendance. He had been rehearsing this adorable song for a couple of weeks and was excited to share it (and a few others) with his family:
(To be sung to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)
There is someone who I love so and Grandma is her name-o
She is my Grandma
She is my Grandma
She is my Grandma
And Grandma is her name-o
(Repeat verse, this time with Grandpa)
There is someone who I love so and that’s my special person
And that’s my special person!
At breakfast in the morning, my friend’s voice ringing in my head, I blurted out, “Ryan, if you sing and dance on stage today, I will have a lollipop waiting for you after school!”
“Wow, really? A lollipop? Oh. My. Goodness!”
“Really. But Nana and Pop Pop (my parents) and Mama and Bipa (Cory’s parents) will be making sure that you really do it since I won’t be there to see it, okay?”
“Okay, Mommy. I will do it. WOW, a lollipop!”
Of course he sang. He danced, too. He even waved to his grandparents from the stage while they beamed with pride. He came home, tore off his backpack and excitedly requested his special treat. I must thank my friend – bribery turned out to be a big win-win for everyone!
Now if only I can bribe him to let me take a nap while he does my laundry.
Being a teacher made me profoundly aware of the impact educators have on their students that extends beyond the content of their lessons. I will go out on a limb and assume that you can recall the names of some of your elementary school teachers, but draw a blank when it comes to the Periodic Table of the Elements.
I remember thinking that I had this huge responsibility to shape my students’ lives. After all, I spent more hours with these children than their own parents! I stayed up most nights preparing the most interesting, unique lesson plans replete with homemade props that were sure to be unforgettable. I succeeded in implementing a Student of the Week program that was later adopted by the school as a whole. I knew how my teachers had impacted my life and I wanted to do the same for my students. I killed myself in the process, sacrificing sleep and sanity, but I was filled with pride and beamed when students told me that I made learning fun.
When Ryan was born and I chose to be an at-home-Mom, I merged my love of teaching with my new role. I loved teaching Ryan about his world so much that I mirrored a little classroom at home with a daily schedule, behavior charts, alphabet posters, a weather wheel, you name it.
Whether it was colors and numbers, animal sounds or art, I loved that everything Ryan learned came from me. He made a “choo choo” sound when the train went by? I taught that to him. He sang a nursery rhyme? That was me, too. Wow, Ryan knows his numbers? All me.
Fast forward to the present. Someone else is teaching my kid and I don’t like it one bit! It’s not a personal thing, I love his teachers to death – Ryan is exposed to a dizzying amount of new songs every day, two foreign languages, art, computers, science, you name it. I just hate that nowadays when he shares his newfound knowledge, I know most of it didn’t come from me -
“Mommy, did you know that grass is living but a rock is non-living?”
“Christopher Columbus taught people that the world is round and not flat.”
“Look – if you mix yellow and blue together, you get green.”
“Seeds come from nuts, flowers or fruit. Look at the seeds on my strawberry!”
Feeling sadly obsolete, I try remember how wonderful it felt when I made a difference in the lives of other people’s children. Didn’t I say I was with them for more hours than their own parents? I mean, honestly, do kids even need parents? (I’m kidding, relax.)
In the end, I think we need all the “teachers” we can get in this life to help our kids on their journey from innocent child to responsible adult…
The speaker at the school assembly warning about the dangers of drinking and driving.
The neighbor who taught me how to jump rope.
The coach who made me run laps because I was late to practice.
The friend who sat with me in silence, knowing that I didn’t want to talk but didn’t want to be alone, either.
The boss who encouraged me to leave so I could realize my full potential.
All are important, all are pieces to our complicated and beautiful puzzle. I give my heartfelt thanks to all of my teachers and to the ones who will help shape my children’s lives in the future.
1st grade – Miss Casterlin: I loved how special it felt when the 5th graders came to read to us every week. I remember being so proud that you posed for a picture with me at our class Halloween party. The autograph book that you had the class make for me when I moved will always be remembered.
2nd grade – Miss Mirsky: I will never forget the amazing loft in the classroom that we could sit in during silent reading time. It had pillows and you had to climb up a small ladder to gain entry. Only two well-behaved students could sit there on a given day and I remember the feeling I got the first time I was chosen.
3rd grade – Miss Thomas: You taught us how to balance a checkbook, play 7-Up and held an end-of-the-year party at your home where you played guitar and cooked for the entire classroom. Having all of your students to your house? Unforgettable.
4th grade – Miss DiBonaventuro: You taught us a song to remember how to spell your name and I still remember it to this day. We made a life-sized paper maiche airplane in the classroom that we could walk through during our unit on Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.
5th grade – Mr. Ruzansky: You were the first teacher who made himself available to talk about friendships, relationships and anything on our minds after school hours. You were more than a teacher. And you were hysterical. I remember on our last day of school we were really sad and you brought out this funny joke book. There was a connect the dots page – with just two large dots labeled “1″and “2″. It doesn’t sound funny the way I’m writing it, but it was hilarious.
A few years ago when Ryan was teething, there was an uproar over the efficacy of Orajel, a teething gel that parents have used for years to relieve gum soreness in their children. I particularly recall one e-mail that was so widely distributed that it earned a page on Snopes.com (a reference site for Urban Legends). The e-mail described a baby turning blue after receiving a dab of Orajel on the gums. That story remains “undetermined” but a good number of parents have since shied away from Orajel due to its temporary numbing effects on the throat – which could interfere with breathing/swallowing if given in larger amounts than directed.
I used Orajel with Ryan for 3 months with no ill effects, but I was scared enough by the warnings that I (along with countless others) switched to Hylands Teething Tablets – a homeopathic remedy that dissolves under the tongue.
Well, throw that out the window, too. The FDA issued this warning yesterday about the beloved tablets, citing trace amounts of a substance called Belladonna, otherwise known as “deadly nightshade” and historically used as a poison!
Note that in both Orajel and Hyland’s, the common thread is misuse of the product - administering larger doses than recommended. Still, I will not be buying any OTC teething remedies for Alexa.
Here are some alternate techniques you can try:
Feel free to share other remedies that worked for your family!
I love children’s books. When I took a Children’s Literature class for my Masters in Education, I re-read hundreds of books that I enjoyed as a child and devoured a new generation of classics in addition. For a friend’s baby shower that year, I asked each guest to bring one children’s book of their choice for the Mommy-to-be. The result was a beautifully well-rounded library of literature that would delight her family for years to come.
This list is far from complete, but I am excited to share with you my list of favorite children’s books from birth through Kindergarten, complete with links to reader reviews and options to purchase each book on Amazon. I have read each and every one of these books and worked hard to create this list so please feel free to share with friends and family, but please give credit to www.playingmom.com if you plan to do so. Thanks!
I will update this list as our home library grows, but in the meantime please comment with your own additions and I will be happy to add them to my readers’ favorites. I also hope to add books for older readers as time goes on that includes classics like Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, James and the Giant Peach, the Harry Potter series and Judy Blume classics.
Baby – Young Toddler
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr./Eric Carle
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
No, David! by David Shannon
Peek A Who by Nina Laden
The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? By Karen Katz
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
The Wheels on the Bus (go round and round) by Annie Kubler
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins
Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose by Scott Gustafson
First 100 Words (Bright Baby) by Roger Priddy
I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Counting Kisses by Karen Katz
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton
The Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street) by Jon Stone
Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman
Airport by Byron Barton
Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
Baby Faces by DK Publishing
Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow
Older Toddler – Kindergarten
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Corduroy by Don Freeman
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Five Little Pumpkins Public Domain (pictures by Dan Yaccarino)
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis/Laura Cornell
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall
The Complete Adventures of Curious George by H.A. Rey
Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak
Mr. Messy by Roger Hargreaves
A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi, PhD
Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter
The Big Book of the Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis/Laura Cornell
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Where is Bear-Bear on Moving Day? by Kim T. Lewis
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Classic tales written by a variety of authors:
Authors mentioned above who have a sizeable collection of books that you may enjoy:
In my early 20′s, I was a size 2. At my wedding, I was a size 4-6. After I had Ryan, I was a size 8-10. After Alexa, I am a size 10-12. Frankly, I am tired of this trend, tired of buying larger and larger clothes and cheering when the current style mimics maternity-wear, but I tend to take care of everyone else before myself. Sound familiar?
After my bout with Postpartum Depression following Ryan’s birth (a post for another time), I realized that I had to take care of myself before I could successfully take care of others. I worked hard to put this into practice – I went to the gym and left Ryan in the babysitting room for an hour a few times a week, we hired a nanny on Mondays from 9-6 to watch Ryan so that I could go to the doctor, supermarket, etc and just have a day to myself.
When Ryan was about a year and a half, I realized it was no longer acceptable to blame the weight on the baby, so I joined Weight Watchers and enjoyed great success. Then I stopped placing priority on myself and gained it back. I started exercise routines and then something would derail me – sickness, injury, whatever. I won’t blame it on anyone but myself – no excuses about how some people have nannies and trainers can afford to have daily meals delivered to their door. I did this to myself and now it’s my job to get out of it. If I saw this happening with my children, I would make their health my top priority.
Food is another issue. When I felt isolated and depressed after having Ryan, I turned to food for comfort. I had never used food in such a way. It was predictable, always there for me and gave me a feeling of happiness. I have since adopted a healthier way of eating, but I’m still a sucker for sweets.
Cory won his fantasy baseball league this year and we have been discussing what to do with the prize money. My ideas were a swingset for the backyard, new clothes for Cory and a laptop for me so I could blog from anywhere. Cory had a different idea – a personal trainer to whip us into shape. This did not excite me or feel like a good prize but I didn’t protest – I knew it would be a good thing for me.
Cory spent the past two days sending me pictures of this buff college-aged trainer who came highly recommended from a woman in his office who is involved in fitness/bodybuilding competitions. He was either trying to get me pumped to work out or wanted me to have an affair, but this did nothing for me besides provide me with some eye candy in my inbox. He came home last night, made a quick phone call and then announced that we would be starting the next day.
Pete arrived this morning. I haven’t been cleared by the doctor yet to get back to exercising, but I was able to go through a mortifying initial body consultation where a caliper squeezed the fat on the back of my arm, belly and inner thigh to determine my percentage of body fat.
According to the American Council on Exercise, these are the percent body fat norms for men and women:
|*Source: ACE Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant ManualMine is 30%, which is apparently “acceptable” but I don’t know how they could deem that acceptable when 1/3 of my body is fat. Cory’s is 13%, he’s a freaking athlete. Pete’s wavers between 2-5%, meaning he has just enough fat to stretch over his bones.
We are going to receive a nutrition plan next week and my first workout with Peter is a week from today. I think I will munch on celery until then. Wish me luck.