Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun

Credit due to SUAR's fabulous blog for these fun Thanksgiving questions.  Be sure to click on the link to read her answers and many others!  Please copy and paste your own answers in the comments, or on your own blog.  Do it!  What else are you going to do today?  Cook?

1. How old do you have to be to move up from the kids’ table? 
The kids usually sit with their parents until they are old enough to keep their hands to themselves next to their siblings/cousins.  I don't think anyone has moved in a while.
2. Stuff the turkey or cook stuffing separately? (aka salmonella or not?)
Separately!  Blech.
3. Who sits at the head of the table?
Whoever gets there first.  We aren't like those tv families who sit down and pass dishes around the table.  We fill our plates and then sit wherever there is an opening wide enough for our bottom.
4. Pumpkin, pecan, apple pie?
Yes, please!  I usually take a small piece of every offered dessert.  Don't judge me.
I'm bringing this white chocolate, cranberry, pecan tart.  Well, what will be left of it, anyway.
5. What the hellck is mince meat?
If it sounds disgusting, it usually is.
6. Is it okay to play Christmas music on Thanksgiving?
I'm not going to lose my mind if I hear it, but I certainly won't seek it out.
7. In five words or less, worst Thanksgiving memory?
No gravy.  ON PURPOSE!
8. Speaking of leftovers. Who gets dibs on them? 
Everyone brings home way too many.
9. Worst Thanksgiving food?
Sweet potato/yam stuff.  Yuck.
10. Best Thanksgiving quick joke?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Squanto who?
'Squanto eat all this leftover mincemeat pie?
(I just made that up.  Can you tell?)

 Enjoy your blessings today, and always.  I'm grateful that you took the time to read my blog, and I hope you'll come by again soon!  Happy feasting!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

10 Things I Hate About Me

If you're on Facebook, you've certainly seen the new thing going around.  Someone shares, "My number is __" and proceeds to write a corresponding number of things about him/herself that other friends might not know.  This is actually one of the least annoying memes (I hope I'm using that term right!) I've seen going around.  I've gotten a glimpse into the inner workings of many of my friends, which I always enjoy.  I have to say, though, my favorite was one posted today by my hilarious friend, Amy:

3 Things...
1. I'm just a small town girl, living in a lonely world.
2. I took the midnight train going anywhere.
3. Don't stop believing, and always hold on to that feeling.
4. Did I do this right?

The other day, I was debating whether or not I should "like" one of these posts in order to get myself a number.  I started listing in my head all the things I would share, and somehow, my thought process went to the movie, "10 Things I Hate About You" (wherein I thought Heath Ledger was awesome before all the other people thought he was awesome), and I thought that sort of list might be funny.  Then, I realized what a mean-spirited thing that was to think; how awful it would be for people to list things they hate about each other.  Then, I came up with this list, of 10 things I hate about me.  Stay tuned at the end of this post for the opposite-of-mean-spirited idea I eventually came up with.  You'll like it, I feel sure.

10 Things I Hate About Me
1. PORES.  They're big, they get clogged, and I hate the way they look.  I sometimes find myself staring really creepily at people with nice, smooth skin and invisible pores.  If you have been the victim of such a stare, I'm sorry for acting like a perv.

2. MEMORY.  It's just not what it used to be.  Sometimes, I blame my children, sometimes I blame my migraines.  Whatever the reason, I simply cannot remember things the way I used to.  At least 2-3 times each month, I forget how to shower.  I don't forget to shower (usually), I forget what I've already washed.  I shave one leg and not the other.  I find myself with a handful of conditioner and conditioner already on my hair.  It's frustrating, and let's face it, completely impractical.

3. EASILY ANNOYED. I rarely get really, truly, spitting mad.  I often get annoyed, and it is often by petty, silly things that don't have any bearing on my life.

I wish that obnoxious bumper stickers, apostrophe misuses, ridiculous advertisements, and people saying, "all of the sudden," "I gave it 1000%" and "conversate" did not make my brain start to itch.  

4. EASILY DISTRACTED.  This ties in with my vast procrastination skills, I think.  I get off task easily, and I always seem to be able to distract myself with silly, unnecessary things to avoid doing important, unpleasant tasks.

5. UNTANABLE.  I've lived in Florida my entire life, and I have never had a good tan.  Of course, I'm wise enough to use sunscreen, these days, but I didn't have a tan before I knew better, either.  I also have a 2-yr-old bottle of Jergens self-tanning lotion that I can't seem to remember to use consistently enough to see any result except orange elbows.  For those of you with dark, smooth skin, I apologize again for my open-mouth stares.  

6. PICTIONARY FAILURE.  I am probably the worst artist I've ever seen.  Almost everything I draw ends up looking like a rabbit, and not even a real, recognizable rabbit.  It's especially frustrating to be so terrible at drawing since I have a pretty creative mind.  I can see things drawn well in my mind, but you would think I was bypassing my hands and putting the drawing utensils in between my toes and closing my eyes.

7. I CAN'T DECIDE.  Ever.  I can come up with options, but I hate making decisions.  I guess this isn't the worst fault.  I believe my inability to make decisions comes from my strong desire to please everyone.  Also, it's probably genetic.  There's nothing our husbands love more than when my mom, sister and I try to plan things.  

8. SLUG.  Other than when I'm running, I'm a total slug.  I often wish I was one of those people who can't stand to sit still.  Instead, I'm driving around the grocery store parking lot looking for the closest spot, asking Rip Claw (formerly known here as 6 y.o.) to bring me my phone, a water, the remote, a diaper (not for me!), and lying on the couch watching television, facebooking, or listening to music all evening.

9. GRAMMAR BLOCKS. I read a lot, and good grammar is something that is important to me.  I don't know why, but no matter how many times I read the rules, and no matter how cleverly the rules are stated, I almost never feel confident that I'm using affect or effect correctly.  Same goes for further/farther.  With affect/effect, I usually just choose a different word altogether.  When I want to use further or farther, I simply try both, decide which sounds better in the sentence, and hope nobody calls me out on my error.

10. HAIR DOING.  My Cupcake (formerly known here as Baby) is going to hate this about me, too.  Similar to my drawing, my hairdos look like I grabbed the brush with my foot, closed my eyes, and then turned a few somersaults.
Not that bad, right?  I mean, the barrette isn't holding the hair away from her eyes, but...
then you see the back.  Uneven pigtails...

plus an uneven part and weird comb-over.  Poor kid.
Don't try to make me feel better about how badly I do her hair.  She sits still and patiently waits while I struggle.  It's definitely me that is the problem.  I don't think I've used a curling iron since I was 12, I use a blow dryer maybe once a year, and a flat iron seasonally.  Each time, I miss huge sections of hair, there are strays sticking out everywhere, and I usually burn myself.  You know those women who wear their hair in a sleek on top, perfectly curled ponytail right in the center of the back of their head?  Yeah, you guessed it.  I stare at them, too, jealous and amazed at their achievement.

So, there you have 10 things I hate about me, and now it is time to reveal my kind-spirited plan. I think you should tell 10 things you love about someone else.  It's like the spirit of Thanksgiving and the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Sharing Everything on Social Networks all combined.  Be it here, or on your own blog, or wherever you please, just go on and say nice things about someone else.  Kindness is always in style, unlike my hairdo.

Have you ever caught someone staring at you and not known why?

Was it me?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trend Bucking

This blog's title is "Unsolicited Advice," a fact which I hope you've noticed.  One of the reasons I started writing it was to share my opinions and my advice, regardless of whether or not folks asked to hear either.  (I also felt it was important to open a discussion on fries and dipping.)  Up until now, though, I haven't really offered any advice to make folks bristle, and I haven't had anyone openly disagree with advice I've given.  This post might buck that trend.

Not my feet.
I'm here to tell you that if you need to, lose weight.  Just do it!  I'll tell you how, too.  Eat healthy, exercise more.  I totally get that it isn't always that simple.  I know there are medications, illnesses, imbalances, injuries, and genetics that complicate the weight loss process.  For those of you with a legitimate medical reason for being overweight, stop reading here; this is not for you.  But for the majority of the people who are at an unhealthy weight, it is that simple.  I realized today (not because of you, or you, or you, I promise) that people need to be informed of this fact.  I'll say it again.  Eat healthy.  Exercise more.

You know what I hear a lot?  "I've tried everything, and I just can't lose weight."  YES YOU CAN!  The "everything" that most people have tried is everything but eating healthy and exercising more.  Think about it.

Pills.  Powders.  Wraps.  Books.  Drops.  Social networking (a.k.a., spending time that could be spent exercising at the computer logging food items into a database, comparing stories with internet friends, and shopping for smaller clothes to wear when you get to your goal weight).  C'mon.  I know you know this is true:  There is no miraculous shortcut.  It isn't that you just haven't found the right pill, the right thing to cut out of your diet, or the right website to encourage you.  It's that you've been trying to take the easy way out of doing something hard.

Here's something else I often hear: "I really want to lose weight, but I just have no willpower."  My (inner, because I'm terrible at saying what I think if it might hurt someone's feelings) thought is immediately, "Then you don't really want to lose weight."  Anything you really want to accomplish, you can.  I'm completely confident in the truth of that statement.  The Ironman in the bathroom stall next to you.  Boston qualified, marathon pacer, mom of 3 boys.  Someone who really wanted to change things.  I could go on for days with examples of regular people like you and me who did hard things.  Me, I quit smoking after over 10 years of a pack-a-day addiction.  I didn't use a patch, or pills, hypnosis or lasers.  I was able to quit because I wanted to quit, and that desire was strong enough to get me through the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.  When you really want to lose weight, you'll have the willpower to resist the junk food, and you'll find the will to stick with an effective exercise regime.

I'm not saying it's easy, I'm saying it's simple.  There's quite a difference.  Healthy eating might mean making a lot of changes, some of which might not be popular with your family.  I've found that planning in advance makes it a lot easier to cook healthy meals, and you'll be a lot less likely to stop for fast food if you have dinner already planned.  I'll give you a few quick changes you can make in order to eat healthier.  Ground turkey instead of ground beef.  Baked instead of fried.  Homemade instead of processed.  Less instead of more.  Vegetables don't need butter, cheese, or bacon added to taste good.  Drink water.  I've got a lot more tips and recipes, and I know how to make really delicious treats that are much healthier than they taste.

Making exercise a daily habit isn't an easy thing, either, but it is so important.  You'll feel better.  You'll look better.  You'll be able to think more clearly, breathe easier, sleep better, and live longer.  It's not a shortcut, but the results of regular exercise can seem miraculous.

So, buck the weight-loss trends, and start losing weight.  Eat healthy foods.  Exercise.  If you want to, you'll do it.

Any questions for me?  I'll happily share recipes and exercise plans.

Got an inspiring success story?  Do tell!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Memo To Note!

I learned a whole lot from my failed engagement.  If you don't feel like clicking the link, and you don't already know my story, here's a synopsis:
1. I registered for the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  My first full, it was to be. Why I wrote that like Yoda? I don't know.
2. I trained for about a month.
3. I managed to snag myself a thrice misdiagnosed tibial stress fracture.
4. I stopped running for 7 weeks.

I've read/heard that there isn't usually a good predictor of future stress fractures.  Basically, it's hard to know how much your body can take until it tells you, "That's it!" in no uncertain terms.  In my experience, stress fractures can be difficult to diagnose, too.  So, I'll share what I learned about and from my injury, with the hope that it might help someone else (or at least help my Mickey Mouse Clubhouse soundtrack-filled brain to retain information for longer than a day).

Runners always seem to tell each other, "Listen to your body."  You know why?  Because it is really, really important to do so.  You are the only one who knows how much pain you're in.  You are the only one who knows exactly how you feel.  It is so vital to know what is right, what is weird, what is totally off, and in most cases, nobody else can give you that information about yourself.  When my calf muscles started hurting in early July, I was bothered by the pain, but I knew it wasn't due to a serious injury.  I did pay attention to the warning signs, but stretching and rolling and rest didn't help, so I just kept running.  When the pain worsened and moved, I knew I had injured myself, but I listened to the "doctors" who said I could keep running. Bad idea.

Nobody likes a bully.  Chances are, you don't steal people's lunch money, call them mean names, or force them to do things they don't want to do.  But you might still be a bully.  Maybe I'm the only one whose self-talk can get pretty ugly, but I doubt it.  Don't let yourself talk to yourself like that!  Forcing your legs to run another mile (or 10), insisting that your brain ignore all pain signals, reminding yourself that other people can easily do what you're struggling to do are all excellent motivational tools unnecessary bullying tactics that can lead to or exacerbate injury.  Do. Your. Best.  Giving more than 100% effort is mathematically impossible.

WHAT WOULD _______ DO?
For me, that blank is filled with the words, 'my mom.'  Maybe your blank person is your dad, spouse, trusted friend, a doctor, or a nurse.  My mom has always been an awesome advocate, diligent researcher, and brave when it comes to standing up to doctors.  If I had asked myself this question during my first appointment with the "doctor" who gave me a cortisone shot for bursitis, I could have saved 2 weeks of non-running time.  See, my mom would have insisted on an MRI at that first visit.  She would have made absolutely certain that the "doctor" knew all the details of the problem, even if it meant telling him a 3rd or 4th time.  I let myself believe that he had listened and understood, even though he contradicted that belief several times.

Not my MRI image, but looks similar.  Sort-of.  I can't tell if this picture is of a R and L leg, or one leg from different angles.  Either way, my stress fracture was near where the arrows are pointing, on just the one leg.
I feel like I learned more about stress fractures through my experience than anyone at the Orthopaedic doctor's office knew.  There's the fact that the nurse, when she saw me after my diagnosis, actually (truly, I'm not making this up) asked me how to spell the word 'stress' (Seriously.  She thought it was strest.), plus the absence of the hop test, and the "doctor" telling me that it was a "highly unusual" place for a stress fracture.  In addition, more than one professional I spoke with before being seen tried to convince me that an x-ray would show a stress fracture.  It doesn't, until it has healed.  I have no medical training, but I still feel confident telling you these truths:
  • Tibial stress fractures can occur anywhere on the tibia, not just the lower shin. 
  • Stress fractures hurt, a lot, but not necessarily as bad as you might expect.  Lots of people continue to walk and run after this type of injury.  Don't.  
  • Usually, muscle pain means muscle weakness.  Muscle weakness means the bones aren't getting the support they need.  This is why running through pain can lead to further injury.  Get it?
  • A stress fracture can only be positively diagnosed with MRI.  I would probably get the science behind this fact all wrong, so just trust me.  I read a lot of articles, and talked to 2 imaging technologists who confirmed this.
  • Stay-at-home-moms almost never have their hands free to use crutches.  
  • It is not safe to carry your 18-month-old on your back while walking with crutches.
Not the stress fracture, the recovery.  A runner unable to run is like a singer without a voice.  Like a guitar without strings.  Like brewing coffee without water.  Frustrated.  Devastated.  Hurt.  Depressed.  I feel like I went through more pain, mentally than I did physically.  I won't lie and say that I'm okay now (especially as I type this, while I have the live streaming coverage of what I thought was my marathon open in another window) but I am much more okay than I thought I could be.  This race was not ever mine.  I shouldn't have been at that starting line this morning, because I would have been if that was the case.  Since my injury, I've volunteered at two races and one long group run.  I started a local chapter of the Moms RUN This Town group.  I watched a friend cross the finish line of her very first 5k, and virtually followed another long-distance friend as she completed the Couch to 5k training, which will culminate today!  At least partly due to my decision to register for the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, many people get to run with my amazing sister as their pacer.  She gets to help all of them meet their 4-hour finish time goal.  My dear friend and training partner will run her first marathon, and even though I'm not next to her, I know she's rockin' it and I couldn't be happier for her.  All of these facts have helped me to heal.  I've learned that my being a runner is about so much more than the miles I run.

About to set off for my first run in many weeks.  It hurt.  I walked for another week.

What have you learned, lately?

Jeremiah 29:11

*There is exactly one person on this planet that will immediately get the title of this post.  So, I'll try to explain.  One time, ~10 years ago, some family members and I were in line for a ride at Islands of Adventure.  A very intense-looking fellow briskly walked through the labyrinth to get to the front of the line, and as he walked, he poked his index finger into the air above his safari hat and loudly said, "Memo to note!  Always use Fast Pass!" It was hilarious to us at the time, although as I type this and grin at the mental picture, I can also see in my mind's eye the blank, confused look on YOUR face.  Probably I should move this tidbit to the end.  And put it in even smaller type.  And change the title.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stretching The Truth

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again.  I think it's very important to be honest with your children, and I promised myself when I became a mom that I wouldn't lie to my kids.  If you're a parent, I'm sure you'll agree that that's a really difficult promise to keep.  In many tricky conversations, I let 6 y.o. take the lead and I fill in the blanks with as much truth as I think he can handle.  For example, instead of telling him that the tooth fairy comes and brings money and takes his teeth, I told him that when I was a kid, I had a special tooth fairy pillow to hold my lost teeth and when I woke up in the mornings, I would find money in the tooth pocket.  I also read him a Berenstein Bears book in which Sister Bear lost a tooth and was hoping to see the tooth fairy.  A little deceptive?  Yes.  But I didn't lie!

He pulled tooth #4 at school yesterday, and this morning, as I laid awake with my heart still pounding from having almost forgotten to put money under his pillow, I started to think about why it's so easy for kids to believe in magic.  I don't think they're just gullible because they're young.  I concluded that it's all the little omissions, all the small deceptions, all of the unknown truths, that make the world seem full of wonder and mystery.

Wow #1-

Mom, when I'm 5 and the baby is born, will you tell me how that baby got in there?
I already told you, son.
You told me that God wanted our family to grow, so he let you and Daddy make a baby together.
Right!  And babies grow inside their mommies.
But, HOW did it start to grow?
Well, you know how birds and snakes and lizards lay eggs?  And if there's a daddy bird or snake or lizard, the eggs can hatch into babies?  It's just like that, only with people the eggs stay inside the mommy.  Then the daddy can do his part and make the egg into a baby.

Wow #2-

I think it's easier to believe in Santa Claus than to not.  I mean, if you don't really think about it.  How amazing to go to sleep one night with things just normal, and wake up several hours later with sparkly gifts, full stockings, wishes granted.   If an octopus can open a jar, a cheetah can run 70 mph, a dolphin can find food and sharks with clicks, and a peregrine falcon can use its talons to fight predators in the sky, then why couldn't a reindeer fly?6 y.o. is very observant, and I don't think he believes it's possible that Husband and I could pull off the task of shopping for and wrapping all those presents without him knowing. 

All that being said, 6 y.o. has asked some very tough questions about Santa, all of which I answered without lying:
If he sees me when I'm sleeping and awake, why does he ask if I've been good?
The Santa at the mall had white at the end of his sleeves and pants, but the Santa on the train didn't.  Why does he have to wear different suits?
Why do we donate toys to kids whose parents don't have enough money?  Doesn't Santa bring them presents anyway?
How do the elves make toys that look exactly like the toys in the store?  Couldn't they just buy them?
How has Santa lived for so many years?
Why does he want to live where it's so cold?
Did Santa bring presents to Baby Jesus?
Is Santa a real person?
If cookies are Santa's favorite food, why doesn't Mrs. Claus bake some for him?

Wow #3-

Come to think of it, 6 y.o. is not wowed nearly enough by technology.  He finds it fascinating that phones used to stay plugged in to the wall, not that we can now fit them into our pockets.  He laughs when I tell him about records and cassette tapes, and even CDs, but the fact that we can play any song with a few taps and clicks on the computer seems totally normal.  The concepts of long-distance calling, having to watch tv shows only when they're broadcast, and not being able to immediately see the photos you took are mind-boggling to him.  

The truth is, we do live in a marvelous, amazing, awesome, magical world.  Sometimes, looking around at it through a child's eyes can remind us just how wonderful it is.  I know I didn't come up with this phrase, and I'm probably going to butcher it, but it still rings true: Magic is just science we don't yet understand.  I don't think it's wrong to let 6 y.o. believe that there's a castle in the clouds made entirely of children's teeth (which is what he would do with them if he was the tooth fairy), and I don't think we're doing him a disservice by letting him leave out a plate of cookies on Christmas Eve.  Although, Mrs. Claus could probably find new cookie recipes that her husband would like by looking on the internet...

How old were you when you stopped believing in magic?

What is the most amazing thing you've seen lately?