Archive for the ‘Resolutions’ Category

KID
January 27, 2015

My husband spent part of the weekend in Temecula with some of his coworkers to compete in one of those Spartan Races. You know, those obstacle, mud runs where you have to pass through freezing cold water, commando crawl under barbed wire, swing over mud pits and fling yourself up and over climbing walls all in the name of fun. It was his first time doing something like this and it was fun indeed. Challenging, grueling and fun. The whole group successfully completed the race, all without injury, and all leaving with a desire to do it again. But better.

I feel proud of him for finding a fun challenge that excited him and going after it. I also felt a little envious because I don’t often pursue the little things I might like to do for myself, or with friends. The Spartan Race is not my cup of tea, but there are lots of things that I’m keen to try or feel would be a fun activity. Childless activities. Yet, I don’t often allow myself the freedom to do so. My husband supports the idea of me taking a little “me” time, just as I encourage him to do the same. He’s just better at it than I am. I’m not sure why.

I had a brief conversation with a friend about this. She’s in a similar mindset. She’s happy to encourage her husband to enjoy a day of golf or whatever the pursuit may be, but is less apt to do the same. Both of our husbands travel so we each end up managing the family on our own at times. It would make sense to take a little time to ourselves to take in a movie, go for a hike, get a massage, or something random like a detox sweat (something I’m curious about) or shooting baskets at the park. Yet we rarely do.

For me, I feel a bit guilty about taking time away from Cole, even though he’s now at an age where he’s needing to take a bit of time away from me (from us) and is enjoying his own version of “me” time. He has so little time with me during the week due to my work schedule, so I feel like weekends are for him. The mom guilt tugs and pulls at me, and sometimes, he does too. I do know that he’s fine without me for a few hours, and that in the scope of a week, a month, a year, a life, a few hours to myself here and there are not going to have any kind of negative effect. More likely, those hours could have a positive impact.

This is something I need to improve upon. I am fine to make weeknight evening plans, like regular Mom’s Night Out dinners with my tribe, and board meetings for a non-profit I serve. Weeknight evenings are easier because if I go somewhere from work, I don’t have the influence of my son imploring me to stay home with him, and he doesn’t miss me much since he has his dad and weeknight routine. It’s the weekends, when a few lost hours would be most rejuvenating that I can’t seem to allow myself to stray.

I recognize the value of taking time to myself, both in terms of my sanity and my stress relief. I know it’s important to value yourself and to “put yourself on the list” as I often read. I know when I do make time for myself or follow through with things like taking better care of myself, I am happier, healthier and in many ways better equipped to share myself, my time, and my care with my son and my husband. I know all of this to be true, yet…

LOST IN THE SUPERMARKET (Series – 3)
January 26, 2015

I decided to try to make my own energy bars. I like the bars that are just dried fruit and nuts so it seems more economical to make my own, and it gives me the ability to design my own combinations. They’ll be great for mid-afternoon snack at work…a cup of green tea and a little bar make for a perfect afternoon pick me up.

Cherry Almond Date Bars:

1 cup of dried Bing Cherries
1 cup of raw almonds
1 ½ cups pitted dates

1. Throw everything into a food processor and pulse until it’s well incorporated. I left mine a little chunky in terms of the almonds because I prefer the bit of crunch from the nut as opposed to it being more a paste. You can do whatever pleases you.

2. Tumble the mixture into an 8×8 pan, pressing it so it’s flat and smooth. Cover with wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours to set. Cut into bars. Alternatively, you can roll the mixture into balls too if that’s more pleasing to you.

3. They’ll keep for about a week or two if stored in the fridge.

They came out really well. I love the combination of flavors and the simplicity of them. There’s just enough sweetness from the dates, complimented by the tart cherries and crunchy almonds. The bars are tasty and satisfying.

I think next time I make some bars I’m going to add a few other things. You need the dates to hold things together but you can play with the amount if want less sweetness, cut it back to one cup. Then go wild…try different fruit and nut combinations, add some granola or chia seeds, for more depth, add cacao nibs or cocoa powder, or a bit of almond butter for a creamier texture…you can even dip them in melted dark chocolate to make them feel really decadent.

ALL BY MYSELF
January 15, 2015

I dream of finding a little alone time in my day, my week, my month, my life…

My weekday generally consists of waking around 6 am, going through the morning routine of getting everyone ready for school and work. The boys leave around 7:30 am, and I usually run around the house doing a little tidying, having some breakfast, and getting a jump on work emails before I head out to the office. I am guilty of using this time to dawdle too. It’s literally the only time I’m consistently alone in the house, ever.

Then I work…I work for an international film distribution and production company. It’s a business I’ve been in for about twenty years in one way or another. I currently do contracts and financing and formerly, pre-Cole, did international sales. I enjoy it. I work for an interesting company, with a great group of people, and am challenged by my work. I generally leave work by 6:30 and arrive home sometime around 7-7:15 pm.

My husband picks up Cole from school and usually has his homework and dinner handled by the time I get home. One of us then prepares our dinner, we try to cook most nights, and then we settle in to eat, bathe the boy, and get him tucked into bed by 8:30. He still prefers if I sit with him while he falls asleep, so I usually try to watch a one of my TV shows quietly while the boy falls asleep (my husband and I have some shows we enjoy together, and some not so much!), whilst playing Words With Friends or catching up on some favorite web news.

If I don’t fall asleep while putting Cole to bed, I’ll indulge in some TV with the husband and then do some reading (pre-bed reading is a must) before I fall asleep around 10:30. And then, it starts all over again. It’s very Groundhog Day.

There’s little opportunity in the day for alone time or me time. Maybe it’s selfish. There’s nothing specific I do when I have a bit of time to myself. In fact, I usually end up doing some of those little housey projects that never seem to get done – revamping the linens closet, or clearing out Cole’s old clothes and toys, or tossing all of the old tea from the cupboard (yes, tea expires as I’ve recently learned! That 2009 box of Christmas Chai is probably not going to taste very good!). All mundane, but all satisfying accomplishments. All simple tasks, but all things that an impatient, sometimes demanding child make so hard to do in the context of shared time.

And forget about the kind of me time where I can take the time to give myself a pedicure or manicure. The boys complain about the odors of the remover and polish making it harder to do in shared time.

Weekends tend to be more family time, or time that Cole and I spend together. Because I’ve got longer work hours and commute than my husband, they have several hours of time together that he misses with me, so come Saturday morning, he craves mom time. We usually try to get out of the house and do something, even if it’s just errands and our regular lunch with my mom. It gives my husband some time to himself…The boy is less inclined to go out with just dad during the weekend because he’s somehow come to view it as “our” time. Unless of course he’s holed his teenage self up his room to have his own alone time (his new favorite thing). I suppose I should learn to take advantage of his need for “me” time, and try to sneak a little of my own at the same time!

WHEN I WRITE THE BOOK
January 14, 2015

This year I’m determined to learn how to better promote my blog. I’d at least like to figure out how to link it to a Facebook page I created for it. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy sharing my writing more than I previously thought I did. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m full of great wisdom or extraordinary insights or humor but I love the outlet writing gives me and I’ve come to understand that writers write to be read. While I may not be a writer per se, not yet anyway, I will admit that sharing my words is satisfying.

Writing is simply a medium of expression. Like an art, it’s best when shared. I harbor a dream of completing a novel that I’m writing. Well, of completing one of the projects I’ve started over the years. I kept journals for many years and thoroughly enjoy the art of letter writing. I save them and I send them. An actual letter through the post is a treasure. I have letters from my dad, my grandmas, old boyfriends and friends. I save the beautiful cards my husband gives me, and a small scrap of paper where he wrote a sweet nothing to me before I traveled when we were dating. I have a box somewhere with notes passed between girlfriends and I during class in middle and high schools. Words to paper make me swell with joy.

Since my early twenties, I’ve had countless false starts at writing my debut novel. For a short time I toyed with the idea of a collection of short stories. They’re a medium that I greatly admire. The art of the short story is far more of a challenge than a full blown novel because to create a magical short story, it has to unfold so much more quickly but still have the impact of completion. I’ve started all sorts of different chapters of different stories, never to finish any of them. It’s only recently that the idea struck for a book idea that I might actually finish. That accomplishment would feel amazing, even if nothing were to come of it. Just the idea of completing a book…it’s enough.

LOST IN THE SUPERMARKET (Series – 1)
January 12, 2015

I love to cook. I’m considered a decent home cook by my friends and family and am pretty adept at off the cuff recipes and recreations of dishes I’ve adored in restaurants. I started cooking when I was a teen. At some point, I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian. My mom supported this but wasn’t up for making separate meals for my brother, dad and herself, so she said I’d have to make my own meals. I’d always liked cooking with her and with my dad, who never followed recipes, creating sometimes, amazing dishes, and sometimes terrible – the grape jelly omelets were among the worse!

As my cooking skills improved, I started doing stray dinners for mostly the boys in my life. I’d host Saturday night dinners so we had nourishment before we went clubbing. Among the favorites were seafood pasta (oh how I wish I could remember how I made that now!) and spinach strudel.

Sharing meals and cooking for friends has always been an expression of my affection. When I have no words of condolence that seem helpful, I bring food. I make treat baskets for our neighbors, the postal carrier and gardener during the holidays, and I often make extra batches of dinners to share with my mom and her boyfriend. Cooking makes me happy. Everything about cooking, from the supermarket, to the preparation to the final touches, pleases and relaxes me.

With the demands of my life now I don’t have the chance to experiment as much as I once did. We do try to cook dinner at home most nights, avoiding take-out as much as possible (unless there’s a mad craving for ramen!). We plan our meals each weekend and head to the supermarket and Trader Joe’s to procure everything. Sometimes we wait until Sunday mornings to be inspired by our local farmer’s market but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. Then, I’ll try to do a couple of dishes on the weekend so we have easy prep for weeknight dinners.

Lately however I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I feel like the weeknight meals are starting to all look alike. There are a dozen or so meals that we do with regularity largely because they’re relatively healthy and easy. Time runs short on weeknights. I don’t get home until 7pm from work, and Cole goes to bed around 8-8:30pm, so time is precious. Cole usually has had his dinner (he’s fed via g-tube as I’ve mentioned) by the time I’m home, so it’s just the two of us, but also bath and sometimes homework and reading, and then bed for the boy. It goes quickly! Definitely not the time to be experimenting with new recipes!

That said, I’m determined to incorporate new recipes into our repertoire. I plan to introduce a new recipe, especially new grain and veggie based dishes, each week or two. Some may become regulars, and some may be one offs. But we’ll vary our meals and maybe find some new favorites. Stay tuned for the first new recipe and results!

DO YOU HEAR ME?
January 8, 2015

Listening is a great skill. It doesn’t come easy for many of us, and I’ve learned that I struggle with being an engaged listener. It’s not that I’m not interested to hear what someone has to say, but more that I spent many years living with just my own voice, and inside of my head, for much of the day and I still find myself getting caught up in the thoughts that accompany listening or in interrupting because of the excitement of conversation. It’s been years since I was a stay home mom, but it’s something I still struggle with.

I stayed home with Cole for the first seven or eight years of his life before getting back into the work force. Having a non-verbal child, and being around the silence, made me a very chatty mom. I talked to Cole constantly and responded in kind. The difficulty of that is that the reciprocal aspect of conversation disappeared from my daytime life. It’s hard to listen when you’re playing both roles. At least, for me it was.

I have trouble with interrupting as I’ve mentioned. I really do work on it but sometimes I catch myself talking over a friend or colleague and it’s too late to pull back. I end up feeling terrible and then sort of withdraw from the conversation as much as possible to prevent it from happening.

On the flip side, I likewise feel terrible when I feel like I’m not heard. It seems to come with the territory of marriage. I’m guilty of it as much as my husband is. Sometimes a person just isn’t up for listening. Sometimes it just takes too much effort but instead of kindly bowing out of a conversation or expressing the need for some solace or silence, we just pretend we’re listening, while actually tuning out. It’s not the kinder choice but in a strange way it seems like the more polite choice, even though it’s not.

With this is in mind, I intend to continue to make every effort to try to be a more active, attentive, and respectful listener, as well as to find better ways to better communicate when I know I’m not up for good listening. I think it’s okay to take a little time inside your head now and then. Sometimes listening to yourself is just as important.

NEW YEAR’S DAY
January 1, 2015

I welcome the new year whole heartedly. I often feel ambivalent about new years and the concentration of attention on resolutions and change. However, this year, I find myself embracing the opportunity to implement some changes, updates, and upgrades into my life.

2014 was a fairly good year. We did a little traveling – I finally saw the spectacular beauty of the Grand Canyon, spent a lot of quality time with friends and family, did a few impactful updates to the house that have made it a space where we enjoy our downtime, as well as entertaining friends and family, overall the work year was solid, and Cole has grown in ways that still surprise us – his new found desire to spend time alone in his room in typical teen fashion…wow!

With the advent of the new year, I have the urge to continue to become healthier. Thus far, that includes the purchase of an under the desk elliptical machine, as well as a standing desk so that my normally sedentary work day can become a more challenging to me physically.

I’m also keen to explore some new recipes to add grains and more fruits and veggies to my diet, and eliminate some of the processed products as well as sugar. Sugar seems to be the evil element as we age, not only internally, but it also ages our skin more rapidly. I still have weight to lose (managed to lose and keep off 23 pounds in 2014…hoping for more of the same in 2015), but overall wellness is my main reason for updating the meal plans. I can feel the difference in my body, well being and energy when I’m eating cleaner, and leaner. My immune system is stronger and my moods more stable.

Having a living, breathing backyard garden is something that will help with that. We built some raised beds last year but have yet to fill them with soil so we can start planting. 2015 promises to be the year of getting our gardening on. We’ve grown veggies in pots and various spaces in our yard over the years and have been inspired by our homegrown crops to create wonderful meals from our produce. To be able to have a seasonal selection of crops to be inspired by is a dream. And the idea of tending to and nurturing them strikes me as a wonderful way to relax and spend a little time outside (I’m in an office all days with minimal outside exposure during the week).

I’m also looking forward to experiencing Cole growing. He seems to be in a physical period of growth at the moment. The last couple of weeks of 2014 have had him sleeping a lot more than usual and also a bit grouchier. Both signs of physical growth. I’m interested to see how he expands on his independence and to see how his interests grow this year.

Of course there are countless other upgrades that I hope to make practice of – being better organized, being more thoughtful and kinder (especially to my husband who has the unfortunate brunt of my moods whether he deserves it or not – most often not), reading more, revitalizing my French (we intend to take Cole to Paris for his 8th grade graduation), writing more, being braver about putting myself out there (where exactly there is, I’m not sure, but I know I’m not there, yet)…

I am entering 2015 with optimism, hope and an overall sense that the year will be meaningful. To me, that includes some real change and overhaul.

I wish health, happiness, and hope to everyone in 2015. And a good dose of love. It makes everything feel that much more attainable. Happy New Year’s!