Monday, September 21, 2009

Suddenly I Like Rob Thomas A Lot More

One of the positives of running on a treadmill with a television built into it is that I can channel surf, which can really make a run go faster, especially on days when I am not so in to it. On one of my runs/surfs, I came across the new Rob Thomas song video, Her Diamonds. The song is catchy, like most of his songs, and I really liked the video. When I got home I goggled the lyrics. My infertility radar stated pinging like crazy because this song, I thought, could easily have been written by someone sympathizing with someone going through infertility. But I have been know to have an active imagination

So I buy his album, and then I hear the song “Mockingbird” and there is no doubt in my mind that infertility is a theme. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Here we stand
Somewhere in between this moment and the end
Will we bend?
Or will we open up and take this whole thing in?
Everybody else is smiling and their smiles don’t fade
And you don’t even wonder why you just don’t think that way
Maybe you and me got lost somewhere, we can't move or we can't stay here
Well maybe we've just had enough, well maybe we ain’t meant for this love
You and me tried everything
But still that mocking bird wont sing
Well man this life seems hard enough
Well maybe we ain’t meant for this love”

This is, without doubt, a song about infertility. I am convinced of it. So I head back to the internet and google Rob Thomas to see if he has children. He does, but then, I discover, that child is from his first marriage. He has remarried and he and his new wife do not have children. On top of that, his wife has an autoimmune disease. And autoimmune diseases, as we all know, make conception difficult, if not impossible.

I bring all this evidence to Nicole, and make a case for infertility themes in Rob Tomas songs. And this is when she points out the title of the album: Cradlesong. Leave it to me to overlook the obvious. It is a great album, and now I look at Rob Thomas and his wife in a completely different way. This, of course, makes me like the album a thousand times more. Broken hearts are so often the subject of songs, but who sings about infertility and child loss? There is a Dixie Chicks song and that heartbreaking song “Tears in Heaven,” but other than that, I am hard pressed to come up with any.

I started my 30-Day Push Up Challenge and my baseline won’t be hard to beat: Two push-ups. And, yes, those would be modified push-ups. That may be few, but they were excellent form, with my nose touching the ground before slowly pushing myself back up. Two that I was proud of. I figure I will go though this challenge twice: The first time doing modified push-ups and the second doing straight-leg push-ups. By the end of this challenge, I should be able to do dozens of push-ups in a row. We’ll see about that.

Pictured above, the girls, on a recent playground trip. Avery has become attached to her blankets, and even carried one around at the playground, dragging it in puddles and down dirty slides before I could wrench it from her little hands. She also insists on cuddling up in them on the couch when watching the TV. And of course, she has lots in the crib and sleeps in a veritable nest. I think we have a Linus in the making.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

That Was a Fast Month and A Very Random Giveaway

I lost track of time, but sometime in the past week, my 30-day breakfast smoothie challenge ended. For the record, this is how I make them: About a cup of milk plus a handful of blueberries, half a banana and some more random fruit (whatever is in the fridge: strawberries or raspberries or watermelon, etc) and a dash of vanilla. I add a scoop of the Powder (Amazing Grass Green Superfood, from Whole Foods); a tablespoon of Chia seeds (the very same that are used in Chia Pets!) and about a teaspoon of flax just for the heck of it. This all gets throw in the blender and whipped in a smooth, drinkable frenzy.

These are my thoughts on it:

• It took a couple of days to get used to the taste of the powder. It tastes like how those health food stores smell: Earthy and pure and green and somehow repugnant at the same time. In the beginning I thought there was no way that I would get used to taste. I was prepared to declare my losses and surrender to a daily breakfast of croissants and pretzels. But around Week Two, the taste didn’t bother me at all. And this is coming from ultra-food-picky me. In fact, I have come to enjoy it. Not as much as I would enjoy, say, a Jamba Juice Cremsicle Smoothie, but Jamba has the advantage of adding lost of sugar and no healthy powders.

• I will be sticking with these smoothies for breakfast for the foreseeable future. The thing is, I am not really a breakfast fan anyway. Cereal and yogurt do nothing for me, and I had to give up my peanut butter-on-toast breakfast after we had the Mouse Issue and started using peanut butter on traps. Instantly peanut butter toast became not appealing. If we go out and during the weekends, I am into pancakes or omelets and all that, but I am not the type to make such things during the week. I am very much a creature of habit so I love not having to think about what I am going to have for breakfast each morning.

• Sadly, I am not really a fruit eater either, so it feels great to get a few servings of fruit each day. Also, I am very much a momentum person, so starting the day out healthy helps me continue eating healthy for the rest of the day. And even if I don’t finish the day healthy, the next day’s smoothie sort of represents a fresh start, literally and figuratively.

• The Energy Question: I am not sure if these magical powders have me bounding with excess energy. My days starts at five a.m., and chasing after the girls all day depletes my energy rather quickly. I am tired a lot, and have a feeling will be for the next 15 years or so. So this begs the question: Should I be spending all this money on fancy powders that don’t make me feel like I can run a marathon? The answer is yes. I am sure there are other benefits to this powder than just what I can feel or point a finger at. Like depression pills: We resent the pills if they don't make us feel euphoric but that belittles what the pills actually are doing for us. The powder is undoubtedly healthy and adds much needed nutrients to my diet. Now that I think about it, my nails might be a bit stronger.

• More on Chia: Chia is an edible seed that is considered a super food. It is commonly used in Mexico, and researchers say it was used by Aztec warriors to sustain them in battles. When you add Chia to water and let it sit for 30 minutes, it forms a gel. Researchers say that this also happens in our stomach, which makes us feel full and slows the breakdown of carbs into sugar. I do think there is some truth in the theory that it makes you feel full: I usually have a snack between breakfast and lunch, but with the shakes with Chia seeds I am not hungry for it at all. I probably should have a snack anyway, but since I am usually on the go with the girls and not always around a kitchen cabinet, I am happy to skip it. The only drawback is that the Chia seeds stick in my teeth, so I must be near a toothbrush immediately following the shake.

So all in all, I consider this a success. That whole theory that it takes three weeks to make-or-break a habit rings true once again. In the spirit of that, I am on to my next 30-day challenge: Starting next Monday I am going to do the 30-Day Push-Up Challenge!

OK, and now for the random giveaway. Anyone want the first season of Nip/Tuck on DVD? I hear it’s a great series, but I don’t have the time or inclination to invest in it. I was going to say the first one to say they want it gets it, but I guess it is more fair to have you leave a comment and then I will put the names in a hat and pick one. That is fair, in case more than one person wants it! It is opened, but in new condition. Holidays are coming, so it might make a good stocking stuffer. And you can’t beat free.

Pictured above, we went apple picking on Sunday, and the girls really enjoyed it. Madeline took a bite out of every apple that she bagged, so I had to separate all them when I got home. We have so many apples. I have made apple breads and cakes and gave a bag to my friend yesterday and we still have mounds to get through.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hoping For No Hills Between Here and Happily Ever After

During Labor Day Weekend, we drove up to Northampton and stayed with Annie for the night. It was a short, 24-hour stay, but we managed to spend quality time with Annie and to check off our list all of our favorite rituals and routines: A walk through Northampton; dinner in Amherst; a visit to Smith for a stroll. I even took a power walk with Annie in Belchertown and, at night, after the girls went to bed, Annie introduced me to Family Guy, which made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. The next day, Nicole and I collected our children and their many accoutrements and after a stop at Sylvester’s to get coffee and one of those real estate books to flip through on the drive home, we were on our way back to NYC.

Back in the car, Nicole driving, my feet slipped out of my shoes and pressed on the window. We are slouching back to NYC at about 60 miles a hour. We talk about the type of house we would like to have. The type of neighborhood it would be in. Basically a giant wish list; a conversation we revisit again and again during which we build dream homes and then tear them down and start all over. We talk about the realistic-ness of braving 2.5 hours every weekend to drive up to another house. We talked about condo vs house vs two family, near town vs far from town. A lot of talk. Nicole and I are nothing if not very, very thorough.

What we both agree on is that we regretted not buying a house we saw three years ago. It was a classic A Frame house, walled in gorgeous wood throughout, with soaring ceilings and a wood burning stove to add extra coziness. There are two bedrooms, two bathroom and two acres, plus a three car garage with a hu-u-u-u-u-uge attic. Bird feeders and woods and bears. There’re trees, so many trees. We loved that house. We lamented it.

We get back to New York City and on Monday, Nicole receives her weekly email from our real estate agent in Northampton and buried in her current listings is our house! The house that got away, the house we decided was the perfect house for us. It was back. And it was in foreclosure and for sale almost 100K less what they were asking three years ago. Fate?

That was Monday. Tuesday Nicole made phone calls to the real estate agent and our mortgage broker. Wednesday Nicole drove up to Northampton (and back) to look at the house again and make an offer. On Thursday the offer was accepted. And then, suddenly, we are in contract and scheduled to close the day before our one-year wedding anniversary. It is still sinking in.

All this happens over the span of three days. Now many balls are in motion. Inspections and lawyers and checks and water tests and closings. Nicole is excited in a way that I have never seen her excited: This has been a dream of hers for a long time. And I am excited too. But it is just the beginning and a lot can happen between here and happily ever after. But for now, I am lingering in the glow of This Might Happen.

Pictured above, the house from the side and the windowed view from our bedroom. I really don’t like that glaring white cement foundation and want to paint it to match the house. And on bottom, our apple cups floweth over. We went picking on Sunday and I have already made apple bread, an apple cake and apple upside down cake and we still have 346 apples to go....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why Is This Day Not a National Holiday Yet?

What a different world, pre 9.11.01. So many years have gone by and yet it still feels surreal. I can’t watch the coverage on TV, so my TV stays off today. It feels disloyal and heartless to avoid the coverage, but I just can’t. I feel for the people who lost loved ones and am grateful that I am not in that category. But, not to get all metaphysical, I think we all lost a lot that day.

I was living on the boat, which gave us a unique visual perspective and a brief moment of reality check when the FBI asked to commandeer our boat. (And, in a state of shock, I asked them if it was OK that I didn’t have enough life jackets.) My brother’s friend came down to my marina and took our dingy with an outboard and packed as many people on it without sinking and puttered across the Hudson. Cells phones worked intermittently, and so for an extended period of time I, like most people, was suspended in a state of ignorance, unsure of where loved ones were, unsure if my brother and his wife changed trains at the WTC before the towers collapsed, unsure of what was going on elsewhere.

I have hundreds of pictures that I took, but I can’t really look at them anymore and I won’t post them. Instead, I am posting pictures of how I remembered the city before that day. And I remember how the city changed so much in the weeks that followed. People were so polite and kind. The country felt so united together. I miss that.

My life is so different now. Nicole and I have a NYC escape plan, a plan for where we will meet if another disaster hits NYC. WTF? This is modern living? Bin Laden says he wants to develop nuclear power and bomb the USA. And, you know what, I believe him. He has proven to be someone who follows though on threats.

I remember going out for lunch with Nicole in the weeks after this. We were not even close to dating: This was one of our pre-dating friendship days. I was going through one of my No Drinking phases (a brief stoppage of drinking before I quit for good). We went to The Half King and ate comfort food and then went on our separate way; her back up town and me back down. If you told me then that eight years down the road we would be married with two daughters, I never would have believed it. But, then again, I never would have thought that terrorists would take down the towers.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Glass is Always Half-Empty and Half-Full

Things that are annoying me right now

• Anyone catch Cindy Brady on the Today Show the other day? She was promoting her new book, a thoughtful and in-depth treatise (I’m being sarcastic) on the ill-fated nine-episode run of the 70s non-classic Brady Bunch Variety Hour. And, in explaining why she wrote the book, she conjured up the Holocaust. Here is the quote: Susan Olsen: “…he wanted me to write something on the webs site and I did sorta liken the show to the Holocaust and he wanted me to do a little bit more of that…” Yes, she compared the Brady Bunch Variety Hour to the Holocaust. It’s been days and I am still seething over this and shocked that no one in the media has jumped on it. I Google “Susan Olsen Holocaust comment” and nothing comes up. What the hell? Please tell me if I am overreacting. But I find that sort of comment sickening and uneducated and insensitive. And since no one has said anything then let the record reflect that I think Susan Olsen is beyond wrong.

• I hate when newscasters make banter with weatherman and feign indignation at the weather forecast, pretending it is the weatherman’s fault. This has become so trite and predictable. On a news note, I also don’t like when the newscasters make inside jokes with one another. Everything they say to each other smacks of sexual innuendo.

• Who is the real father of Michael Jackson’s kids? That would be Michael Jackson. DNA does not a parent make. But can we stop equating parenthood to strands of DNA. I don’t care who supplied the DNA for Jackson’s kids and I suspect, Jackson didn’t care either. They are his kids. Why is the press still talking about this?! Should they be talking about insensitive Susan Olsen’s comment?

Things that aren’t annoying me right now:

• We are heading up to Northampton on Saturday. I cannot wait to get out of the city and breath fresh air and see trees and do the things we do every time we go there. Our just-married friends are coming up too so it will be fun to share the weekend. And on Monday, we are going on our annual apple-picking trip, which means I need to start researching apple recipes.

• I am 40 percent through (percentage compliments of Kindle) Middlesex and loving it. So you all can start saying I told you so. I could use a family tree to keep things straight, though.

• It really feels like fall and I love it. You can feel that crispness in the air. It won’t be long till the leaves change colors and the air is really chilled and the sweaters come out. Having leaf-peeping weekends to look forward to really help me get through the looong weeks.

Pictured above, Avery. She really looks like Nicole’s mini-me. This picture was taken after her first bee sting! (It was on her finger.) She is not allergic, thank goodness. And below that, Avery and her frousins (friend-cousins) bird-watching. Avery still has her mullet tail!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Morning Coffee Habit Just Got a Little Less Delicious

I am the type of person who scoffs at those overplayed, ridiculous segments on news shows that tout the myriad ways people gain weight. Who doesn’t know that two liters of Coke a day will result in some weight gain? And who doesn’t realize that a pint of ice cream every night will pile on the pounds? I think most people, myself included, know how they gain weight and how they can lose it.

Expect, apparently I don’t. Let me explain: I drink my coffee with a heavy helping vanilla soy creamer. The soy creamer was a consolation prize: I was accustomed to drinking those French Vanilla creamers, but stopped because they were filled with so many chemicals that I just couldn’t justify it anymore. So I switched to soy and slowly learned to like it.

There are mornings when I run out of the soy creamer and for those terrible occasions, I have an emergency box those little tubs of French Vanilla. The fact that they don’t need to be refrigerated and can live in my cabinet for years kinda freaks me out, and underscores why I had to wean myself off of them in the first place. But they are there for coffee emergencies, which don’t happen frequently. That is my justification.

Where is this going? I ran out of soy yesterday so I went to my stash and, as I ripped the top off of my fourth little tub and dumped it in my coffee, I thought, this is so bad for me. To make myself feel even guiltier, I took out the box and read the nutritional information and I was shocked to realize that on top of ingredients I can’t pronounce, each tub was packed with 30 calories. I use four per cup of coffee; I have at least three cups of coffee per morning: That adds up to almost 400 calories of chemical crap ALL before breakfast! EVERY day!

This got me curious about the soy creamer, so I checked out its nutritional info and found out that each container contains 960 calories. I go though those containers at the rate of about two-and-a-half per week. That is 2,400 calories, or one ice cream mini-binge night away from a pound a week. That means about three of my morning runs per week is going to cancel out my creamer addiction. Holy crap.

Yesterday was my last day of creamers. I have said before it is my only vice, and I am going to keep it, but it seems a little indulgent now. And I am not getting up at five in the morning to run for a creamer habit. I am back to adding a little milk to my coffee. It will take me a while to get used to not having that sickly sweet coffee taste, but I am sure I will learn to like it again. I hope I will learn to love it again.

Pictured above, the little devil creamers, with a raspberry, so show size perspective. Each of those little tubs packs 30 calories and about 50 chemicals. Also pictured, Avery’s kitchen creation. Nicole let her go to town with some spices and various ingredients while she was making dinner on Sunday. Avery’s culinary creation includes an entire jar of garlic powder (we never use it. so we figure, what is the damage in letting Avery use it) as well as sour cream and bleu cheese and pepper and parsley. Not bad for her first effort, I say!