Monday, April 30, 2007

We have had the nicest two Sundays these last two weekends. The weather has been beautiful, but beyond that, the way we've spent the days has been so wonderful!

Last Sunday I took Ryann out shopping for some brown sandals (a requirement for the summer - and very hard to find). We went to several stores and found nothing (I ended up buying some on ebay) and afterward I took her out to Coldstone Creamery. She got strawberry ice cream with gummy bears and I got a Citrus Sunsation smoothie. It was nice enough to eat outside so we sat on the patio and had our treats and had a conversation. It was so nice to spend time with just her and to actually talk (as much as you can with an almost 3 year old). Its amazing to me how we don't actually talk - she does a lot of questioning and I do a lot of answering, sometimes as one very exasperated mom. I do a significant amount of ordering, scolding, and training. She does a significant amount of crying, arguing (a big thing right now) and screaming. But when we could actually sit down together - away from home - and enjoy each other it was really nice. I asked her what her favorite *stuff* was - ice cream, color, etc. She then turned around and asked me the same questions. When I asked her who her favorite person was, I braced myself to be disappointed that it was Cornbread instead of me. Her answer was, Barney, which I thought was a brilliant display of politics:)

We went home, I did some yard work and the girls went to play with our next door neighbor boys - Nolan (almost 6) and Nathan (just 3). Cornbread went over there to hang out with their dad and I joined them and their mom after a little bit. We sat on their deck all afternoon in the sun just hanging out and chatting. The kids were awesome - they all get along so well together. No fights. No refereeing. No crying. No interruptions. No one was left out. All of them played together and giggled and laughed and had so much fun. Nolan is the boy that Nora is going to marry - and I am more than okay with that. These two boys are such nice little kids - polite, well-behaved, kind, non-aggressive, all around good children. And they enjoy spending time with our girls as much as our girls enjoy spending time with them.

We brought them home, put them in the bathtub and hung out by ourselves for the rest of the night. I made cookie monsters and we watched the finale of the Apprentice.

Yesterday, I took Nora shopping with me. We went to a few places and then ended up at Coldstone Creamery. She got Cotton Candy ice cream with white chocoloate chips and I got a Berry Lemony smoothing. She did NOT want to eat outside because it was too hot - I told her that I was paying for the ice cream and we were going to sit outside because I wanted to:) So we found a seat, sat down and chatted. I had a conversation with her about making good choices in life - not sure she got it, yet, but the seeds are planted. I think it is important to talk to them about things when I have their undivided attnetion and moods are good - over ice cream is a good choice:) Then we moved on - I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer was, "First I wanted to be a postman, but then I thought a firefighter, but then an engineer." I asked her what she meant by engineer and she told me she wanted to drive a train. So we talked about how cool that would be and then she said, "But then I decided that I want to be a mom." How cute is she? I told her that she could be any of those things if she wanted to and she said, "But I can't have more than one job!" Like, DUH! Again, it was a really nice time of one on one with her away from home. She and I do have conversations around the house, but when we're away from home and the responsibilities that tug at me from the back of my mind, the conversations - and attention - are different.

We got home, I did some stuff around the house and she went off to play with Nolan, Ryann and Nathan. Nolan's dad, John, came over to help Cornbread put his new grill together and I went out to push the kids on the swings. Michelle (Nolan's mom) came over after she was done teaching at her pitching clinic and we sat around and chatted for the rest of the afternoon. Same thing as last week, but at our house. We sat around for so long that we decided to order pizza and headed over to their deck to eat (the boys are terrified of Woof, so we opted togo next door so he could come outside for a while). It was such a nice afternoon. So pleasant - its fun getting to know new friends. And the conversation is good - we talk all four of us, or just two of us, the conversation is easy, there is no awkwardness, I think we know each other well enough now that any facades that were up are coming down. And I cannot stress how awesome it is for the kids to play together.

They were all definitely in need of a bath after playing in our clay swamp for the afternoon. And I'm sure all were more than ready for bed by the time we went in the house. Such pleasant afternoons - something that we would love to do every Sunday, but then we don't want to scare the neighbors away, either:)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A few photos

Did I scare everyone away with my challenges to myself? Well, let me tell you something - remember how I discussed the fact that I needed to no longer read that certain entertainment magazine that was being sent to my house for free and I had no idea why? I've been good - I get it out of the mail and I put it right in the trash. IT IS HARD!!! Its really, really hard to not open it and see what is in it based on the teasers on the front of the magazine. I want to find out how Britney has gone crazy again this week and if Katie has really moved out of Tom's wackjob compound, but I feel accountable to not do it since I put it out here for everyone to know - not like you would know if I read it or not, but I feel more accountable now.

Get this, though... OK was not the only magazine that I was receiveing for free for no known reason. I was also getting Premiere (a movie magazine). I never ordered either one of these, they both just come and I have no idea why, no invoice ever comes, nothing - just the magazines. Anyway, I would read Premiere when I had a chance - nothing exciting, nothing urgent, just when I was bored. In fact, I didn't even get around to reading the last issue that had Will Ferrel on the cover in his Blades of Glory costume. Anway, I got a little card in the mail yesterday that said, "The April 2007 issue of Premiere was the last issue of the magazine being printed. In place of Premiere, you will be receiving US Weekly. You will receive one issue of US Weekly for every paid issue of Premiere that you have left."

Um, hello? Am I being tortured? US Weekly? Now I'm going to have to throw away two perfectly good magazines every week (and by perfectly good I mean brand new and FREE - not good as in good content). US Weekly and OK are by far my guilty pleasures and my mindless entertainment whenever I have them. I especially like to "read" them when going on vacation. Oh well, I guess it is just another test for myself on how much I REALLY want live intentionally - do I want to live up to the way I've challenged myself or give in and just read them. It will be an ongoing battle - especially as long as Tom Cruise and Britney are being wackadoos.

So onto some photos, just wanting to share because they are cute:

BFWW came over last week and at one point during the visit Ryann got mad about something and went upstairs to throw her fit. She got quiet after a while and I figured she probably fell asleep (she has been really extra tired since she was in the hospital - naptime used to be at 3pm and we were getting to the point where I thought she was ready to give it up, now she's begging me to go to sleep at 11:30am. Still sleeping from 8pm-7am, too. Not sure if this is something I should be concerned about.) Anyway - BFWW had to change Elise's diaper at one point and I went to go check on Ryann. I couldn't find her at first. This is what I saw:
Okay, look a little closer:
Here she is:) Isn't that funny?

And here are my little girls all snuggled up on Sunday morning watching cartoons before breakfast:

Don't you just want to jump in the middle of it all and snuggle in with them? I know I do:)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Living a thoughtful life

I think it is fairly obvious that when you become a parent you start looking at the world from a different perspective. As your child grows older and sees the world differently through every stage a parent does as well. I was 26 when I had Nora and I had stopped noticing the world for the most part. I knew what was around me, but did I really stop and notice it? No. But I started seeing things again when she did - the complete wonder she had when she took a walk - seeing the grass, seeing a roly poly bug for the first time, feeling a worm crawl on her hand, feeling the wind in her face and catching raindrops on her tongue. All of these things I experienced again through her. And I'm lucky enough to experience them all again through Ryann and Georgia - in addition to the things I can get excited about through Nora's 5 year old eyes.

Beyond that, though, we need to see other things through their eyes. We need to remember how things look through a 5 year old's eyes. She asked me yesterday why the girl on Dancing with the Stars wasn't wearing all of her clothes. I told her it was a costume and that it is not okay to dress that way. But you know what? I hadn't noticed. I had not really taken note of the fact that this girl had little more on than a bra and a slip. I will notice now.

So how do we live intentionally? A big part of it is being thoughtful in our lives. Not thoughtful like sending flowers when a loved one dies or sending a thank you card when you receive a gift or buying someone a present when its their birthday.

* Thoughtful like we're actually thinking about what we are doing and what we are saying. Is it okay to have guilty pleasures? Why are they called that? Are you embarrassed to tell someone about it? I can tell you that I was very embarrassed every time I bought Soap Opera Digest or got "caught" watching one of my soaps by Cornbread. He didn't care. He honestly didn't, but I was embarrassed. I'm pleased to say that I no longer do any of those, but the point is this: why was I embarrassed? Likely because I didn't think it was okay to do - even though I enjoyed it.

* Thoughtful as in are my actions or my words affecting my children and the world around them in a positive or a negative way? Are the things I do or say affecting my children's perspective of the world in any way? Is the tone of my voice such that I will hurt someone, offend them or put them on the defensive because I sound as if I'm accusing them? I cannot tell you what a difference being in tune to the tone of my voice has made in my marriage. This is one example of being thoughtful and intentional - purposely dialing down the emotion in my voice so that I don't start an argument just by the tone of my voice. It is so easy to just flippantly respond to someone or just say things off the cuff - believe me, I am very guilty of it. In fact, I'm so guilty of it that I got into some serious trouble at my previous job for it. Its taken a long time and a lot of work, but I understand now that I need to think about and be intentional in what I say and HOW I say it.

I make 400-600 phone calls a week for my new job. So many people sound unhappy on the phone for the 15 seconds that I speak with them. I feel sorry for them. I don't think that it has anything to do with the reason I'm calling, they just sound genuinely unhappy in life. Then there are the people that are down right rude to me. I understand being impatient with solicitors or getting sick of them, but I had one phone call where it was pretty obvious that the mom was actively teaching the son to be rude. I'm not saying that we have to put on a sugary sweet tone of voice for every last person we speak to, but think about how your impatient voice to the cashier or waitress makes him/her feel or how it is taken in by your kids and becomes okay to treat other people that way because mom or dad does.

* Thoughtful as in determining if by listening or buying certain music we are furthering a culture that denigrates women and society. Oprah had some rap and hip hop people on her show yesterday. They had a difficult time admitting that there is a problem in the hip hop culture that results in a societal view of women that is very harmful. One comment that one of her staff made was that she listens to rap - she doesn't listen to the words, she just likes the beat. Is this okay? I don't think it is. If we're listening and buying music that is harmful and has a negative impact on ourselves and others we're promoting it and giving our okay to the artist who performs it. We are essentially paying them to continue to do it. We need to think about what we're listening to and if it is appropriate - regardless of whether or not we listen to the lyrics - just because I don't listen to the words doesn't mean that the person next to me doesn't, and when they hear the inappropriate words coming out of MY radio, they can assume that I agree with them because they have no idea that "I just like the beat".

* Thoughtful as in remembering that the way we act and the way we talk affects other people around us. We need to be sympathetic to people - even the people that we don't know. If we can do this I think that we can change society a little bit. If we always give people the benefit of the doubt - even that cashier who was totally rude to us, even that person who drove like an idiot - everyone - then we, ourselves, will no longer be the person who feels like everyone is out to get us and we need to pay them back in some way, we'll no longer be so cynical about people and situations, we'll no longer assume the worst of people.

* Thoughtful as in looking at the world through positive lenses. Has someone done something to you or done something for you? You may be in the worst situation of your life, you may be miserable, you may feel that it is all coming down at once - but can you find the blessing in it all? Can you be positive about it in some way? Is there even one small area that you can thank God for throughout it all? When looking at life through those positive lenses we happen to notice more positive things and the world seems much happier and life seems better. Its not easy - it needs to be intentional at times. We need to THINK about being positive. We need to be thoughtful about our situations and what is going on and what we can learn. Just like when you weight lift - muscles grow by being broken down so in serious weight lifting you fatigue the muscle to the point where you can go no further, that way in the resting days your muscle repairs itself and grows larger and stronger. The same thing with all situations in life. We need to see where we are being broken down and have the opportunity to become stronger. We'll never see it if we're negative and cynical.

* Thoughtful in the way we are portraying ourselves to our kids and those around us. How do I feel about myself? Am I totally unhappy with the way I look and the way I am? Am I always complaining that I'm too fat or my bum is too big or I need to lose weight or I can't fit into this or that? I feel this is especially important to me as a mother of 3 young girls. If I have low self-esteem and talk openly about how ugly and fat I am they are going to pick up on that, too. If I constantly comment about how this person has the perfect body or that person is so beautiful they are going to see that as important and strive to be that way, too. I think that with the way that the Hollywood culture furthers these ideas in society that it is my responsibility to counteract that with my children - and I have to be thoughtful in how I do it. I have to think about what I'm saying before I say it. I have to think about what I say about them and their looks before I say it. I have to determine if anything I am doing or saying about myself or about them is harmful or destructive or could lead to bad self image. This won't be easy, but it is important.

We need to be thoughtful about living life. We need to remember that our children are seeing what we see and seeing what we do and hearing what we say. Its not okay to just live life and try to explain it later or try to fix it later. One other thing that Nora taught me - it may be difficult to do something now, but if I don't do it now and let it go its going to be much tougher to fix it or reverse it later. Much more difficult. I need to live like this now so that it isn't so hard to make the changes when I think she's old enough to know better. But not only for her - for myself and those around me. Its time I remember that I don't live isolated in this world. My actions - even if it is as simple as turning left on this street or right on this street - affect other people around me.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Living an Intentional Life

In the wake of recent news stories and several ongoing conversations between me and Cornbread and a conversation with my parents this weekend, I feel a need to put some thoughts down in writing. I am free-writing this so it may not be incredibly coherent or organized. Please look past that. If you would like to comment and have a "discussion" please feel free to do so, however, I ask that you be respectful of others and their opinions.

Something I have felt for quite some time is that I need to be intentional about how I live. We live in a world where we just do the easy things... eat like crap because it is more convenient to do so than to try to plan a properly nutritious diet, run through the drive through on the way home because we don't feel like making dinner, letting our kids watch, read, and listen to whatever they want with the expectation that they will be able to discern what is appropriate and what isn't, giving in to tantrums just to quiet them down, adults excusing their choices of music, television and movies because they are adults and they can do what they want, allowing our teenage children to dress in revealing clothes, moms dressing in revealing clothes because they are trendy, etc. etc.. All of these things and more are leading to a huge breakdown in society - a society that is becoming more and more desensitized to what is inappropriate for ourselves and for our children.

I will speak only for myself and not make decisions for others on this... I feel it is incredibly important for my family to reverse this trend. It is going to be hard work. It is going to be a struggle. Life would be more convenient and perhaps easier if we went along the road of doing what feels good and doing the things that are less work. But would our lives be happier? Significant? Fullfilling? Honoring to God? I think the answer is no.

Cornbread and I had a conversation on the way home from Michigan yesterday about wanting to keep our girls as pure as possible for as long as possible. We're not prudes - believe me, we've each done a lot of stuff in our past that we would not be proud to share with other people - we're not trying to turn our girls into Laura Ingalls (is that her name - that girl from little house). We're trying to figure out ways that we can insulate our children from the sex-sells society. The world where it is okay to reveal too much skin as a 16 year old girl, it is okay to look at the too much skin as a 13 year old boy; a world where 5th grade children are having sex in their classroom in front of their classmates, a world where sexual activity at a young age is the norm and almost expected. How do we insulate OUR children? How do we teach them and encourage them to make good choices and not go with the flow? How do we lead our children to a honorable, respectable lifestyle?

If you want to be respected, you have to be respectable.

This is my new key phrase in life. And one that is challenging me to think about what I am doing, what I am watching and what I am listening to. If I want my children to respect me, I need to be respectable. I need to be intentional in my life about how I am displaying myself to them and what I am teaching them through my actions. No longer is it okay for me to watch whatever I want to watch after they go to bed, for me to read magazines that further a culture that I don't want to influence my kids just because somehow the magazine has been sent to me for free, for me to view myself as a discerning individual. Its time to think about what I'm doing and stop excusing my choices because they are enjoyable and I don't want to give them up. We discussed the tv shows we watch, the movies we watch, our attitudes toward nutrition, diet, exercise, smoking, drinking - everything. If I think, for a minute, that my actions and my attitudes are not being noticed by my 5 year old because "she's too young" to know the difference, I'm simply being dumb. She may not completely grasp everything, but it will stick with her.

Being intentional does not mean living life as I want but hiding it from my kids' eyes. Its not soley about how my actions influence my children, but it is about how my actions affect my life and how I am honoring God, my children, my husband and myself. An intentional life is not going to be easy. I'm going to have to actually think about what I am doing rather than just doing it. I like my Body For Life diet for that reason (there are others) - I no longer have the option of going to find something to eat and just grabbing whatever is available to eat because it looks good or it is easy, I have to plan my meals and snacks long before I eat them. I have to be intentional about what I'm eating throughout the day. Its not easy. But it is important.

I want to live a life of significance and that may mean doing difficult things because they are right. Do I want to give up some of my tv shows? Not at all. I'm going to miss them. But it is important to do so. It is important for me to be careful about what I'm watching so that I am not influenced negatively, am not desensitized to inappropriate actions and language on tv and so that when I tell my kids that they are not allowed to watch something that is inappropriate they can't turn to me and tell me that I watch it so why can't they.

If you want to be respected, you need to be respectable... a challenge. A difficult one, but an important one.

QOTD: What do you think? Are there areas in your life that you feel deep down that you need to change but you don't want to because you enjoy it too much? Any other thoughts?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A quiz

Just so we can all know whether or not we are introverts or extroverts I am going to copy the quiz right out of the book... It is on pages 30-33 (I feel I should cite this somehow, but since I haven't been in school for so long I don't remember how... I will put the entire thing in quotes since it is not my own original words or thoughts). I will include my answers in italics next to the questions and will put my description in bold.

"Answer the following questions T or F, then add up your True answers and check the scoring at the end of the list to see if you're an introvert, fall in the middle of the continuum, or are an extrovert.

__ When I need to rest, I prefer to spend time alone or with one or two close people rather than with a group. true
__ When I work on projects, I like to have larger uninterrupted time periods rather than smaller chunks. True
__ I sometimes rehearse things before speaking, occasionally writing notes for myself. True
__ In general, I like to listen more than I like to talk. True
__ People sometimes think I'm quiet, mysterious, aloof, or calm. True for some of those - have been called some nasty things based on this one.
__ I like to share special occasions with just one person or a few close friends, rather than have big celebrations. True - although I enjoyed my birthday party that someone else planned:)
__ I usually need to think before I respond or speak. True
__ I tend to notice details many people don't see. True
__ If two people have just had a fight, I feel the tension in the air. True true true!
__ If I say I will do something, I almost always do it. True
__ I feel anxious if I have a deadline or pressure to finish a project. False
__ I can "zone out" if too much is going on. False
__ I like to watch an activity for a while before I decide to join it. True
__ I form lasting relationships. True
__ I don't like to interrupt others; I don't like to be interrupted. True
__ When I take in lots of information, it takes me awhile to sort it out. True, true, true - you should have been around while I was trying to figure out who to vote for in our local - Homer Glen - elections.
__ I don't like overstimulating environments. I can't imagine why folks want to go to horror movies or go on roller coasters. True to the first part, not the second... so I'll say true
__ I sometimes have strong reactions to smells, tastes, foods, weather , noises, etc. False
__ I am creative and/or imaginative. False
__ I feel drained after social situations, even when I enjoy myself. True
__ I prefer to be introduced rather than to introduce others. False
__ I can become grouchy if I'm around people or activities too long. True
__ I often feel uncomfortable in new surroundings. False
__ I like people to come to my home, but I don't like them to stay too long. True (she says with a bit of embarrassment for the people who are reading this that may come to her house;)
__ I often dread returning phone calls. TRUE
__ I find my mind sometimes goes blank when I meet people or when I am asked to speak unexpectedly. False
__ I don't think of casual acquaintances as friends. True
__ I feel as if I can't show other people my work or ideas until they are fully formulated. True - the exact reason why I don't blog about political, religious or philosophical things - its not that I don't think about them, I just don't feel comfortable putting my thoughts out there until they are complete.
__ Other people may surprise me by thinking I am smarter than I think I am. True - although I think I'm brilliant, so not many people think I'm smarter than I think I am ;)

Add up the number of Trues. T hen read the following to see where you fall. (I had 21 trues).

20-29 True: Pretty darn introverted. As a result, it is extremely important for you to understand how to keep your energy flowing and how your brain processes information. You relate to life through your ideas, impressions, hopes, and values. You are not at the mercy of your external environment.

10-19 True: Somewhere in the middle. Like being ambidextrous, you are both introverted and extroverted. You may feel torn between needing to be alone and wanting to be out and about. So its very helpful to notice when and how you consistently feel more energized. You judge yourself by your own thoughts and feelings and by the standards of other people. This gives you a broad view, but at times you may get caught up in seeing both sides of a situation and not know where you stand. It is important to learn to assess your temperament so you can maintain your energy and balance.

1-9 True: You are more extroverted. You judge yourself in the light of the values and reality of others. You work within the bounds of what exists to bring about change. As you reach midlife and your body slows down, you may surprise yourself by wanting to take a break from socializing or needing time to yourself and then not knowing what to do. You can develop techniques to help yourself remember what is best for you to do when you need solitude. To do this you will have to balance your extroverting skills by learning more introverting skills."

So there you have it - the quiz. I am more introverted than I realized - when I first took the test about a month ago I didn't actually add up my score - I just nodded my head with the questions like, "Oh my, yes - totally - doesn't everyone feel that way?" I'm going to ask Cornbread to take the quiz, too - I'm curious to find out where he falls.

QOTD: What was your score? Does the description fit you? Were you surprised by the results?

Please leave a comment regarding your results - even if it is just to say that you are an introvert or an extrovert - and leave it anonymous if you'd like. Lets see if there is a 3 to 1 ratio of extroverted vs. introverted blog readers.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I want to stay home!

Have you ever read a book or talked to a person or heard a speaker that seems to articulate the feelings of your soul that you could never put into words? Somehow this book or person is able to put into words things in your life that you know but just can't seem to describe or relate to others. Suddenly the world makes sense. Suddenly you feel okay - like you're not a freak after all because someone else knows EXACTLY what you are feeling and has validated you - in a sense you now have credibility because someone else can put it into words.

This is how I feel about the book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World. A friend of mine lent the book to me and I have been reading it slowly over the last month or so. Almost every time I open the book I feel as if Marti Olsen Laney is describing ME - me, not a kind of person, but ME, specifically. Suddenly the world makes sense. And you know what? Because she is able to articulate ME so well, I now feel I am able to do things that I need to do in order to keep my sanity. I'm not wrong for feeling the way I feel, but it is who I am.

I'm not going to go on about the author and her qualifications - you can read it online or in the book. I don't want to do a book review - suffice it to say I think the book is amazing and anyone would benefit from reading it. An introvert would benefit for the same reason I do. An extrovert would benefit by being able to understand - even a little - the introverts in his/her life. Can you imagine if you were handed a user's manual to your spouse? Wouldn't you devour it as soon as you got it? I feel like this is exactly what this book is for Cornbread and I'm hoping that he reads it when I'm finished.

So let me share a little bit from the book that has been so incredibly profound for me...
You may think that an introvert is someone who is shy. Anyone who knows me at all knows that this is not true of me after I'm comfortable. I'm not shy. I bring that up as a way to explain that introversion is not defined by whether or not a person is outgoing or shy, rather it is defined by the fact that a person on the introversion side of the spectrum gains energy by focusing inward. Extroverts gain energy by focusing outward. In simpler terms - introverts recharge/refresh/gain energy by taking breaks, being alone, getting away. Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge/refresh/gain energy by being around people, being in the midst of "stuff" and others. The thought of being in a crowd for a significant amount of time terrifies me - not because I'm scared of the people or because I'll be uncomfortable or won't know what to say - I do very well in crowds - it terrifies me because I know I will be exhausted afterward and I can anticipate how I'm going to feel afterward.

You should know that on the continuum of Introvert/Extrovert I am on the Introvert side but am pretty close to the middle. Cornbread is almost my exact opposite - on the extrovert side, but very close to the middle. We compliment each other very well, I'd say:) We have friends who are on the opposite extremes of the spectrum and it amazes me that they do so well together, but then again - since they are each so extreme, opposites must compliment.

Let me share some examples of this in my life -

* I am a stay at home mom. I am the definition of a stay at home mom - I STAY at home. I could possibly come home from church on Saturday evening and not leave the house again until Saturday afternoon to go to church. This does not bother me - in fact, this is how I enjoy life. I do not like to be busy. I like to be at home. I have friends, though, who go stir crazy if they are in the house for more than 24 hours. They have to go somewhere. My mother-in-law, actually, feels like she has to go somewhere everyday or she's bored and going crazy. If I go somewhere everyday I'm miserable - I just want to be home. Thats not to say that I don't go places or I'm opposed to going places, but I can't do it everyday and I NEED to have down time to get my energy back.

* The girls and I are going to Michigan this week to visit relatives. We are leaving on Wednesday and Cornbread will be flying out to Detroit on Friday to meet us and we'll drive home on Sunday. I'm trying to figure out how to see some people in my short 24 hours in Grand Rapids - I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the number of people I WANT to see and I'm dreading it. I'm not dreading seeing the people - I'm dreading the busyness and the go go go feeling of seeing so many people. Cornbread is dreading us being gone - he needs to fill up the evenings that we'll be gone with friends. If he doesn't he will be going crazy by the time he comes to Detroit. I would pay significant amounts of money to have 3 full days by myself at home - he can't stand the thought of it.

* As a stay at home mom, I NEED breaks from my kids. Not that they bug me or annoy me at all. They don't. I love them, obviously, but if I don't take an hour break here and there and let them sit in front of the tv while I am by myself, I feel smothered. I can't be with them 24 hours a day or I have a meltdown. This was especially awful when Ryann was sick as a baby because she was incredibly crabby and clingy and I could never get away from her. By day two I was going out of my mind - not because of her crabbiness but because I could not be by myself for any amount of time.

* When we were dating in college Cornbread and I would often have pretty large fights about going out on Friday nights. He wanted to go to the dance clubs with all of our friends. That sounded like about the absolute worst thing I could possbily think of to do. I wanted to sit and watch a movie together while all of our friends were gone, or go out for a little bit and then come home and watch a movie. We were in college - we didn't understand these differences in each other and it caused much friction.

According to the book, extroverts outnumber introverts in the world 3 to 1. Three to One - There are three times as many extroverts as there are introverts. So extroversion is the norm - hence, introverts feel inadequate and unaccepted (at times) and underappreciated because they do not fit the norm. It almost feels like we are wrong to feel the way we do - like it is wrong to prefer staying home rather than going out. I can relate to that - I've thought for a while that I must be a pretty crappy mom because I'm not bringing my kids here and there and everywhere during spring break or the summer. My friends do it, so I must be lazy or a subpar mom because I don't. The truth of the matter is that I'm okay. Its okay to not bring my kids to the zoo, the acquarium, the mall and the museum all in one week. Its okay to not want to be in the crowd - other people feel this way. Just because 3/4 of the world doesn't does not mean that I'm weird or wrong because I do. THIS is part of what I'm learning from this book.

I intend to share more over the course of the next couple of posts. Of course I want to journal on this for myself, but by doing so I'm hoping that some of you may get to know me better - maybe if I turn down the invitation to the zoo you'll remember that it isn't because I don't like you, its because I can't handle the thought of the hassle and the crowd. And if someone reading this gains a better understanding of his/her introverted spouse, family members and/or friends, then all the better.

Based on what I've described, are you an introvert or an extrovert? What is your spouse/significant other? Do you have an example that you want to share?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


So as a birthday present to myself I am getting in shape:) I've been there before - twice. I was also working pretty diligently on getting there again last summer and fall. But then Halloween hit. It was a Tuesday. I decided I was going to cheat a little at the Halloween party so I didn't eat much during the day. By the time I got to the party I was so hungry - I just completely lost all control and never gained it back - until April 2.

I haven't gained any of the weight back that I lost last summer, so I would say congratulations to me on maintaining and not gaining in the last 5 months. Ideally I would like to lose another 15 pounds, but I'm trying not to focus on an actual number as it makes no sense for me to do so - I've been at that number before and it was as difficult to find clothes in a size 4/6 as it is in a size 10/12. My problem areas were still my problem areas, just in a smaller size. So I'm trying to focus on being healthy and changing my lifestyle in accordance with that goal.

Working out became kind of a chore in the last 5 months. We both were doing it, but I never felt like I was getting a good enough workout - like breaking a major sweat, heart racing workout. Mostly due to the fact that our preferred methods of exercise were out of the question... Our treadmill broke last August and we can't afford to replace it (although I'm dying to do so) and it was too dark and cold to go to the stairs until recently. My in-laws bought us a recumbant exercise bike for Christmas and we were very excited about it, but we both found that we didn't feel that we got the same kind of hard workout from it. But we were diligent in exercising and lifting weights 5-6 times each week - until the flu hit.

We took a 3 week break - not a good thing:)

On Monday (April 2) Cornbread, my sister and my brother-in-law all started Body For Life. For those of you who don't know what it is I will try to summarize in bullet points:
* 12 week exercise and eating/training program
* 3 days of interval cardio workouts (20 minutes each) per week
* 3 days of weight lifting (45 minutes each) per week
* "diet" consists of 6 small meals a day - each meal has a portion of protein, a portion of carbs and at least 2 meals have a portion of vegetables. Proteins and Carbs should be from the approved list of foods (basically lean proteins and complex carbs).
* Drink 2 cups of water with each meal and before or during each workout (Thats 14 cups of water every day - I am basically in the bathroom peeing all day now - just in case you call and I don't answer the phone... that is likely where I am).
* encouraged to use protein shakes and bars as replacements for a meal or two a day
* 1 free day each week - no exercise and you can eat whatever you want, however much you want, whenever you want for the entire day

I think that is basically it. If you look on the website you can find some before and after photos that are pretty amazing. I'm not saying I'm totally buying the idea that all of those people made that kind of transformation in only 12 weeks, but I am buying the idea that within the 12 weeks you can significantly change your body for the better and your habits/lifestyle for the better. Its all a matter of sticking with it, being consistent and going to the end. At the end, then, you should be in the habit of living that way - and it should be natural to continue.

So we'll see how this turns out. I've taken my measurements and have committed to myself to not weigh myself or measure myself more than once every two weeks. I'm hoping that I will see real progress that way... Cornbread keeps reminding me that we need to take our before photos - I'm not so eager to do that, and I haven't quite decided whether or not I want to share those on the blog. On the one hand, I feel like if I post the photos I will be committed to push through to the end because I've gone "public" with my before stuff and I'll be embarassed if there is no change at the end. On the other hand, who really wants to publish photos of themselves 15 - 20 pounds overweight in a bikini for the whole world to see? But then again, if the transformation is amazing and I am truly, truly the hottest dutch girl in Chicago at the end, then why wouldn't I want to show the before and after photos? I'm still thinking about all of that... and the power of positive thinking tells me that I WILL be the hottest dutch girl in Chicago by June 23, 2007;)

I'm going to give you a bit of foreshadowing - you will not want to miss my post describing our first free day. First of all, it is going to be on Easter and we are going to Easter Brunch. Second, if this first free day is anything like the last time we did BFL (I got pregnant with Ryann in the middle, so we never completed the 12 weeks), you will be amazed at the quantity of food that I can and will consume. Just wait:)

I started a new blog to journal about the experience. If you would like to follow my progress, please feel free to do so. I'm just warning you though - you're going to be in awe of my hotness at the end of this:)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Birthday to me:)

So I turned 31 yesterday. I really don't care how old I am - I don't understand the need many people have to hide their age or deny that they're getting older. I don't get it. At any rate, I'm now 31 - and it feels no different than 30;)

I have to say that my birthdays are just getting better and better as I age. As a kid, my birthday always fell smack in the middle of spring break which meant no birthday parties and no friends home to even wish me a happy birthday. I didn't get to pass out treats ON my birthday (usually a week before or after) and let me reiterate the part about my friends never being around to make any kind of deal about my birthday. I don't think I even realized it until I finally had a best friend - sophomore year of high school - and she called me FROM ALABAMA to wish me a Happy Birthday. At that point I knew two things: 1) suddenly I realized that my friends were never around to acknowledge my birthday and 2) this girl was really my best friend and she really cared about me.

Since then I have had friends who have definitely made much effort to acknowledge my birthday in special ways and it always meant so much to me. Cornbread, though, goes above and beyond to treat me special on my birthday and I love it and feel guilty all at the same time.

So all that to say that I feel like people make a big deal of my birthday now - and I like it:) I like it because I feel like it is the one day out of the year that other people are taking care of me rather than me taking care of everyone else. Even the simple call/message to say Happy Birthday means that to me - and I'm always amazed at the people who remember (perhaps its easier because it is April Fool's Day?) I feel very humbled on my birthday and very grateful for the people who love me.

I have actually spent a little time trying to figure out what I want out of my 31st year. What do I want to do this year? What do I want to change? What do I want to strengthen? Where am I going this year?

I don't know the answer to all of those questions, but it is kind of fun to think about it. Here are some things I've thought about:
* I know that I want to get into shape and STAY in shape this year.
* I know that I do not want to get pregnant this year (or any other year for that matter;)
* I know that I want to live a consistent life - I don't want to say things are important to me and then not show it with my actions.
* I want to remember other people's birthdays.
* I want to write more thank you notes.
* I want to write more handwritten "I'm thinking of you" notes (do people even like those or do they think its stupid? I never know).
* I want to volunteer somewhere this year.
* I want to not feel guilty about taking some time for myself.
* I want to go on a weekend vacation with Cornbread (other than the Jones regional in June).
* I want to know my Bible better.
* I want to do a Bible study that is meaningful.
* I want to have a clear plan on when I can start nursing school and where I can go.
* I want to take my girls to the park more often during the summer.
* I want to read a fiction book each month (I just don't know which books to read).
* I want to be a good friend.
* I want to eat healthy and be healthy - not just lose weight, but BE healthy.
* I want to remember my parents' birthdays (I always miss them).
* I want to remember ALL of my nephews' birthdays (I always miss at least 2).
* I want to date my husband.

I'm not one for new years resolutions, but I feel like April 2, 2007 is a new start for me - almost like new years. I've never felt that way before, but for some reason I feel it this year. Perhaps because I've felt like my life is a bit in one of those out of control spirals which leaves me feeling helpless, unambitious, unmotivated and like a huge failure lately. Today is a new day. Today begins a new year. I'm loving 31 already.

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