Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inspiration, Motivation or Whatever

Today is the twenty-sixth day of summer vacation. Cue the "Phineas & Ferb" theme song.

We've done the pool and the beach and the boardwalk. We've been to playgrounds and playdates and picnics. We've gone on walks and bike rides and car trips. We've done baseball games, fireworks and kayaking. Lego sets sitting in the closet since Christmas have finally been assembled. Art supplies gifted to the kids by the Easter bunny have finally been put to use.

So far, it's been a great summer.

On the homefront, the laundry is done and the sink is empty. The beds are made and the floors are clean. The last of the various holiday decorations have been packed away and the random piles of paperwork have been sorted.

When the kids go to bed or when they are busy playing, there is down time. Sweet, precious down time that I've been craving all year long.

No lesson plans to write. No papers to grade. No housework to do. Just free time.

There are things I should be doing. Things like repainting the trim or cleaning the blinds. Like rearranging the pantry or organizing the kids' photos and artwork. I should be writing next year's lesson plans and coming up with better ways to teach tough lessons in trigonometry and algebra. I should be gathering recipes for quick and easy school-year dinners and healthy kid-friendly lunches.

But all of that seems like work. And none of it sounds the least bit appealing.

So I downloaded a few books to read. And I bookmarked an internet article on how to sew a sundress with a tank top and three yards of fabric. I pulled out my old piano notebook from when I was taking lessons a few years ago. And I found a "secret" recipe for knock-off Mrs. Field's Cookie Cups to be experimented with for Will's birthday.

But I can't get past the first few chapters of the books. And I can't motivate myself to pull my sewing machine out of the closet. And the piano is so hard (and far away from the couch). And that damn recipe has like twenty ingredients.

So I'm sitting here. Half-reading, half-writing, half-paying attention to the Netflix "Prison Break" marathon that Bill has embarked upon.

Waiting for the inspiration or motivation or whatever to kick in. And snacking. Always snacking.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Lance Armstrong once said: "Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

As for myself, I'm done with running for now. It's been decided. And putting it down here makes it somewhat official.

I've been running pretty regularly for the last three years. I've completed over 30 5k's, 10 5-milers, 1 10-miler and 1 half-marathon. I ran before the kids woke up or after they went to bed. I ran during their nap time or on the rare occasions when they had school and I didn't. Over the last few years, I've devoted the majority of my free time to running.

So what came of all this? First and foremost, pride. I am proud of myself. Considering that I couldn't run the fitness mile in high school, I've come a long way. I found both mental and physical toughness-- dedication, strength and endurance that I didn't know I had. I have bib numbers and medals. I have photos and t-shirts. I have the memory of my kids clapping and cheering me on near the finish line. I developed a skill, called myself a "runner" and got punch-drunk on the ooh's and ahh's I'd get from friends and acquaintances. As time has progressed, one thing has remained constant-- the amazing and indescribable feeling of crossing the finish line.

But there was also a lot of sacrifice. I haven't read many books or played much music or cooked many new recipes. I fished clean clothes out of the dryer on the morning I needed them and I was up past midnight finishing up my lesson plans. I was sore and blistered and often exhausted. The exhaustion often lead to binge eating in an effort to make it through the day on far too little sleep. Unfortunately, the binge eating pretty much negated the calorie burn from the runs. And as time has progressed, what hasn't remained constant is my ability to push myself-- to lace up my shoes and get out there. I just don't have the desire or drive to do it anymore.

So, I'm hanging up the running shoes for a while. It's pretty good timing as they're in desperate need of replacement.

I've been setting my alarm 45-minutes early each morning and doing an at-home DVD workout. These workouts not only involve cardio, but also strength training-- something missing from all of my running. When the kids get up early, they curl up on the couch to observe and give their critique-- Liam yelling, "FASTER!" or "HIGHER!" and Will adding, "Astronauts do way harder stuff than this!" The workouts themselves are about a half-hour-- far less time than I was devoting to my regular runs-- and I'm home with the kids. I'm finding my energy level is better, my appetite is more manageable and I'm finding time to pursue some reading and writing and relaxing. (We'll see how this works out in September when I throw in a full-time work schedule.)

I'll go back to running eventually and it will be easier than when I started three years ago. Because I'll know what to expect, how to do it and most importantly, that I CAN do it.

On paper, it seems like a good move. A smart decision. A better fit.

But somehow, it still feels like quitting.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Which Amy Plays Catch-Up

I'm back online after being mostly MIA during my whole Living with Mom/Starting the New Job/Moving into a New Place/Why Didn't UP-F*cking-S Deliver Our Modem Yet? debacle. I was so excited to finally have internets access again, I found myself giggling and flirting outrageously (in front of Erick) with the Tech Support guy--Rey--who helped me figure out why Verizon's Easy As 1-2-3 Internets Hook-Up took me 45 minutes of cursing, snapping at Erick, and crawling around behind the computer desk, trying to figure out what color-coordinated plug goes into what color-coordinated socket.

Here's an update on what's going on with me lately:

Moving on Up
So, we moved. No more MOFN jokes (unless I'm referencing Mom's house). We are officially "in the city" of Elmira Heights. They call this state "New York" and the people who live here call themselves "New Yorkers," but unless you've either 1.) gotten into a fist fight over which team is better, the Yanks or the Mets, in the Met or 2.) hailed a cab drunk off your ass in Chinatown at 4am coming from an illegal club in a Chinese resturant's kitchen because the scary Good Lucky Kitty in the window was giving you the evil eye you can't call yourself a real "New Yorker." Anyhoo, the school Lizzie will go to is great, we have friends who live right nearby, and it's only 8 minutes from my new job. After MOFN, this place is like Xanadu.

(Minus Olivia Newton John and the annoying theme song.)

Totally Certified
I found out I passed my CNA test about 3 days after I took it. I would have told everyone on Facebook, but I had promised Dad he wouldn't have to find out about any more big news via Facebook so I couldn't say anything, but I kept forgetting to tell Dad. When people would ask me if I passed, I was always like "Oh, shit. Yeah, I passed, but don't say anything because I haven't told Dad yet. And I promised I would." Skip ahead, skip ahead, skip ahead. I text Dad last night to tell him I passed because I suddenly had a moment of clarity and remembered that I kept forgetting to tell him. Classy, right? I was terrified of slipping up and telling Facebook about my certification after seeing Dad's bitter "I wish I could find out about things in my childrens' lives without reading it on Facebook." status after my gleeful 'honor role student' announcement.

(But, get this: I texted him from my couch. Go Team Cell Service!!)

Gainful Employment
And now that I'm certified (not certifiable), I can also announce that I'm the proud owner of a job. I work days (6.45a - 3.15p because I just may be certifiable after all) at the Chemung County Nursing Facility. Basically, my job is to take care of old people like they're infants or small children while not treating them like infants or small children while they act like infants or small children. Up next is at least a year's worth of experience then back to school to go for either my LPN or RN.

(Yes, you read that right: back to school. This is where you ask, "Who are you and what have you done with Amy?")

I just re-read this post and it's very jumping up and down, waving my hands in the air, screaming, "Look at me! Over here, dude! Over here! I'm awesome!" I think that's enough for now since I want to avoid the copious amount of ridicule and/or mockery I would have to endure if I kept typing. Promise that my next post will be much more witty.

But nothing about my residents. F*cking HIPAA laws.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mom Flail

Boxed Mac & Cheese. Bendaroos. Mr. Bean. Chuck E. Cheese.

As a mom, I find myself embracing things that I would never have imagined. Things that make my kids happy, and for the most part, are pretty harmless.

As strange as it may sound, fighting is one of those things.

Man, my kids love to battle. They'll bludgeon each other. They'll brawl with their father. They'll play gladiator with their stuffed animals. They beg for swords and dart guns and anything that could be used as a weapon. They do karate and wrestling and boxing and sumo. Kick boxing, street fighting, fencing, and judo.

I tried outlawing it. That was about as effective as a swim diaper.

So much of their imaginative play involves conflict-- good guys vs bad guys. Whether they've invented their own characters and story or they're acting out their version of Harry Potter, Star Wars or Transformers. Enforcing a no-fighting policy would mean stifling their creativity. It would also mean continuous time-outs, a stock-pile of outlawed toys and a long list of things they're no longer allowed to play.

So I'm going with the flow as they say. But wait... this is not the same thing as lazy parenting! (Trust me, I know lazy parenting-- just ask the lady who works the drive-thru window at the local McDonalds.)

There is some structure involved. A carefully constructed plan to ensure the highest level of safety at all times. Often, this plan is what we teachers call "cross-content"-- meaning the kids are also getting educational enrichment across a variety of disciplines. Genius!

For example:

"Will, you need to let your little brother win at least half of the time." (Mathematics at work, people!)

"You cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push your opponent." (We Googled the official rules for and athletics... true story!)

"Liam, you can't kick anyone there. Say you're sorry." (Anatomy and manners!)

All kidding aside, it is entirely play. There's no aggression, hate or real conflict involved. When there's real conflict involved, like deciding on a television program or sharing a toy, there's generally only screaming and crying involved. That, and my stellar conflict resolution skills, which range from patient mediation and arbitration to screaming and crying right back at them.

And in all seriousness, there is some learning to be had.

As of late, this has been's Will's weapon of choice:

It's made of foam and it's completely harmless.

Last night, we were mid-battle and I might have gotten a little carried away.

Just a little.

Will was really upset. Inconsolable. Afterall, you know how kids get so attached to their very favorite... weapon.

A few months ago, my mom had gotten this for Will from either a dollar store or the clearance section at Target. Bill and I set about finding a replacement on-line.

But what to Google?

We tried "ball and chain", but we got you know, a ball. And a chain.

And after some addtional investigation, we came up with this...

Not exactly the toy version. But the right weapon nonetheless. And it's name?

A "flail". (You really DO learn something new every day!)

We haven't found one yet, but we're on it.

We can't disappoint our little gladiator.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Plan!

Liam crapped on the floor yesterday. I apologize, in advance, for a post about potty training.

The boys were playing "wrestling match" in the other room. Will was being awesome-- letting Liam win every once and a while and being sufficiently gentle. It was about one hour until bedtime and we had made it through day one of our potty training reboot without a single accident. We had about twelve successful trips to the potty and I was patting myself on the back for my vigilance as well as the restraint I demonstrated by not posting everyone of these successes on Facebook.

I knew something was up when Will erupted into manic laughter and screaming. Liam was standing in the corner with his legs spread wide and his baggy pants leg bulging. Liam was unsure, but Will couldn't have been more pleased with the situation. Poop is number one on his list of Funniest Things Ever-- right up there with butts and that ridiculous obstacle-course-television-show that I can never remember the name of.

Three years ago, our potty training approach with Will was organized and efficient. We had a chart. We had stickers. We had treats. We had special underwear. We had a potty. In every room practically. We had a plan! We were all over it.

Our potty training with Liam was pretty much the opposite of that.

It reminds me of this story from Will's t-ball league.

Bill and I had signed Will up for t-ball this Spring. T-ball was supposed to be the introduction to baseball. Kids learn how to hit, catch, throw, etc. We showed up to our first practice and we noticed that some kids had cleats-- good ones. And their own helmets. And bats. And equipment bags. And Under Armour. (I was running 25 miles a week last winter and I didn't even feel the need to spring for a fifty dollar long sleeved tee. These were 5-year-olds barely breaking a sweat as they played tag in the mother loving outfield.)

At this first practice, the parents were lined up along the chain link fence watching practice as the kids took turn hitting. It was fairly obvious that some of these parents had laid some major ground work. (They had a plan!) A bunch of these kids knew more about swinging a bat than I do. They knew where to put their hands and how to stand and shift their weight and follow through and they pretty much looked like little Jeters and A-Rods.

It was Will's turn and he pretty much had no idea. His hands were too high. Then they were too low. His body was turned the wrong way. He was swinging at the ball like he was a one-handed-Luke Skywalker. He was nowhere near the ball. He was having so much trouble. It was fairly obvious that some of these parents had been working with their kids for quite some time. It was equally obvious that we hadn't thrown this kid a single ball. I felt bad for Will. Like we had failed him in some way. It wasn't embarrassing, but it was uncomfortable. My heart was kind of breaking for him.

Just as I was envisioning my poor child being scarred for life by this moment, something brought me back to reality. Something exponentially CRAZIER.

Bill yelled out, "Come on, Will. You remember. Just like we do at home..."

Whaaa!? My mouth hung open as I turned my head to look at him.

Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

There's a happy ending to the story though. The coaches withdrew the tee for the second half of the season and for the last two games, Will had a hit every time he was at bat. He won the MVP ball in one of those games. He wasn't scarred for life and neither was Bill.

We've kind of done the same thing with poor Liam. He's up there at the plate and just peeing and pooping everywhere. We're standing at the fence and shrugging our shoulders and looking around. Jeez, kid. Get with it. You're almost THREE for crying out loud.

For the last five months, he'll go in his pull-up. We'll change him and say, "Where are you supposed to go..." And he'll respond in sing-song fashion, " the pott-teeee!" Every so often, he'll do it right and we'll reward him...

But really, we haven't put the time in. We haven't followed a plan!

So we've got a three day weekend and we're pretty determined that this is going to be it.

Independence Day.

Freedom from diapers and potty treats and special underwear for all.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blogging Again

Aaaaaannnnd, I'm blogging again.

Could be for a month, a week, a day. We'll see what happens.

School's been out for exactly ten days and it's already July 2nd. I've got two months of "downtime" until I get my "Back to School" groove on.

The only problem is that I suck at downtime.

The school year has me conditioned to function on exactly zero downtime. I'm up, I'm working out, I'm making breakfasts and lunches, I'm helping to get the kids ready, I've left myself 20 minutes to get ready for work, I'm driving, I'm working... Then I'm driving home, I'm picking up the kids, I'm making dinner, I'm playing, I'm cleaning, I'm bathing, I'm tucking in, I'm doing freaking schoolwork, I'm falling asleep on the couch, the red pen I'm using has fallen to the couch, it's made a big red stain, I'm waking up, it's 2 am, I am getting up in less than four hours to do it all again... It's tragic really. Every year I swear that things are going to be different.

This year, things are going to be different!


And in case you missed the memo... Working out (ie running, going to the gym, doing an exercise DVD) does not count as downtime. The other night, as I was cleaning legos and Buzz Lightyears off the toy room floor, I was whining about how I hadn't had any time to myself that day. The huz piped in with, "Not true... you went to the GYM today!" He was then gently reminded that sweating and hyperventillating on an elliptical for 45-minutes does not count as downtime. It counts as the mandatory torture I endure on a regular basis so that I can continue to make bad food choices-- like cookies for lunch and peanut butter for breakfast. Duh.

So the first week of summer vacation is behind us. It's Bill's only break between school and his summer camp job-- so it's our only week of being home together until camp ends in August.

This week pretty much goes the same way every year.

We do the boardwalk, the waterpark, the amusement park, the beach, the movies, playdates. We do yardwork, housework, financial stuff and doctor's appointments. We organize and throw stuff out. We stock up on groceries and finally put away winter clothes (and yes, the last of the Christmas decorations).

And we're getting things done! And we're having fun! And the kid's heads are spinning! And they're taking three hour naps and staying up past 10 pm! And there's sand all over my floors and I'm washing towels and unpacking bags ALL THE TIME!

Holy hell I suck at downtime.