Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Quirky Neighbors, Part I

First off, I will totally own that our neighbors might possibly think that we, too, are crazy quirky.  That's ok.  And I am using the word 'crazy' 'quirky' here in the most endearing way possible.  Kind of.

Hubby and I are like magnets for  crazy quirky  neighbors.  I'm convinced of it.  It as if, when we tied the knot that fateful day, the heavens opened up and said "thou shalt be blessed with beautiful children and  crazy quirky  neighbors.  Amen."  Thank you, oh Lord, for both.

It started in our bass-ackwards first neighborhood in the OKC.  Our landlord had put lipstick on a pig, a pig in which we had to hang plastic to keep warm in the winter and roach-bomb multiple times.  We lived across the street from an apartment building spray-painted in shiny black paint.  Attractive.

A young ex-con kid would perch up in the window like a gargoyle, and told me one day he routinely watched me walk the dogs, and that he had served time for check forgery.  Another neighbor would spend ours dancing in the median with a paper bag of alcohol in hand.

One time, Hubby was walking the dogs at night (we had no back yard).  He was approached by a cop car (which would routinely canvas the neighborhood - I wonder why.)
Cop to hubby:  "Do you live around here?"
Hubby:  "Yes."
Cop:  "You need to get bigger dogs."

We moved out before our contract was up.

Our beloved house in OKC was in an urban preservation area, attractive and well kept.  There, we had some truly great neighbors.  They looked out for us and were kind and friendly.

But with every yin comes yang.

There was our next-door neighbor who was dating a stripper who was selling drugs out of his house by day, and coming home at 3 AM followed by other angry men yelling about her being pregnant.  One the other side, a reclusive university professor who wouldn't answer her door when we rang.

Catty-corner from us, an elderly man owned the house but used it as storage for strange things and it was rumored that parts of the house didn't have a floor.  Occasionally he would let his blonde-hair-slightly-coked-out-looking "sister" live there, who would come pilfer water from the spicket on our house because their water had been turned off.

Then there were the 'hippies' as we called them, basically squatting in the house on the end of the street which had been abandoned and I can confirm that most of it didn't have a floor.  They road their bicycles everywhere and were probably growing pot.

The stories could go on and on...  and will, in Part II because the saga continued in Richmond!!

Life Has No Script

Ok, so duh.  Life has no script.  But I'm the type of person who would LOVE it if there were a script.  In fact I try to make life have a script... well my life, anyway.  I try to think through 'how everything will go.'  Who will say what, who should say what back to them, where somebody will go when, and how it will all look like.  Did you know I basically scripted our whole wedding ceremony?  And I guess I scared our preacher into not deviating from the script because boy, he sure didn't.  (Hi David if you're reading this!)

I like to know what's going to happen next.  I like to have imagined all the answers, all the possibilities and planned for them.  And in the end, I want everybody to be happy with themselves and with each other.  Which usually requires a script because otherwise, real life happens and that gets icky.

So the past few weeks have been a challenge for me.  A lot happened in a short time period and I didn't have time to script it all.  I had to - yikes - go with the flow.  It started with a big conference at work, put on by yours truly.  It was the most scripted of all.....  but once the clock struck 8 and we kicked it off, it still felt like walking a tightrope without a safety net.  And though the evaluations were positive, I still feel 'eh' about it, wondering if everybody was truly happy with the day?

Then Ivy's birthday part(ies) and recital weekend extravaganza.  We put up the bounce house, got some food, invited people and - bam - let it just happen.  Without an agenda.  I was totally uncomfortable.  But the reviews were good!  Yay?  Then came the recital and family visits. None of which was scripted...  anything could happen!  People could say or do things that might hurt each other - oh no!

Enter anxiety.

But rest assured this is a personal problem.  I've been pretty very good at not scripting life for my kids.  At not scheduling everything or being a controlling, helicopter parent, worried about the impact of the least little unanticipated disappointment on their precious molding minds.  And I'm starting to learn to let go of control by watching them.  Little by little.

My kids are teaching me how to grow.

On the first day of Ivy's recital during her ballet performance, Ivy totally went off script, got confused and ran off the stage in the middle of the performance, followed by 2 other girls.  (This is the kind of thing that would have terrified me and kept me up all the night before, worrying about the mere potentiality of doing this on stage.)  But they got it together, were ushered back on stage.  Totally unscathed.

And you know what?  Everybody was ok.  And that unscripted part was the most precious.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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Monday, May 14, 2012

This Mom's Weight Loss Tips

Let me just say, I don't diet.  As in, I don't buy diet books or subscribe to fads.  I try to be intentional about getting back to a 'happy weight' for me (last seen two babies ago), but the path to no-weight-loss-land is paved with good intentions.  And I'm not even sure how much I weigh.

All that said, I've lost weight recently!  Somebody commented at a work event last week that I looked thinner.  And you know what - she was right!  I can fit into pants that, several months ago, were too tight!  So for you burning inquiring minds out there, here are my weight loss tips - most suitable for people who want to lose weight but don't really want to try.

1) Eat half of what's on your plate.  There are two ways do to this;  fill your plate, knife down the middle, and pretend one half isn't there.  Save it for later.  (This is a great strategy for restaurants.)  The second way is to have a ravenous toddler sit on your lap and he will eat the other half for you.

2) Cut out one thing you can live without.  For me, it was either wine or creamer.  A doctor I work with has a motto - "Life's too short for boring creamer" so I cut out the wine.  200 calories a day gone.

3) If kids steal food off my plate, I don't refill it.

4) Eat the frog first.  This is a good strategy in life in general.  Do the thing you hate (but have to do) first.  Eat the veggies and fruit first.  Now if I can only reach my goal of having fresh fruit or veg at every meal....

5) Rule:  The family eats together, sitting down, at the dinner table.  Gone are the days of feeding the kids first, then eating pepperoni and wine over the sink.

6) NO SODAS are allowed in my house.  Unless my parents come, then they can bring their Diet Dr. Pepper. Also NO SODAS are allowed in my kids' mouths.  They've tasted it and don't like it.  Sodas are treats for adults.

7) I don't buy anything with added corn syrup or added sugar.  At least, not intentionally.  Sometimes it's hard to tell from the labels on things... but I read labels and make decisions accordingly.

8) All juice in our house has less than 28 g of sugar, with no corn syrup (see above).  It also gets diluted with water.

9) Make one healthier choice a day.  If I have a choice, and I want to choose something unhealthy, at least once a day I will make a healthier choice.  Example:  I want to eat the whole bag of dark chocolate m&ms... but I make a healthier choice and only eat a hand full, saving the rest for tomorrow.

10)   Don't stress about it!  Sometimes we relax the rules and have donuts two days in a row, and most days  if you make my 4-year-old eat a vegetable she will literally throw up.  I don't want that to be her memory of food and toddlerhood.  When it comes down to it, we are lucky to live in a country with plentiful food.  95% of the time, we make a concerted effort to ensure the food we eat is the right quantity and right quality.  That's about as good as it gets.

Did any of these 'strategies' lead to my recent weight loss?  I'm not sure but something seems to be working!  Woo hoo!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Delicious Dress from Fresh Produce {Review!}

I was very curious when Fresh Produce approached me to review one of their beach dresses.  I had never heard of Fresh Produce and when I first went to the website, I was in love.  They have such a cute line of  spring clothes for women.  Their clothes have a very laid-back beachy, colorful feel.  Their collections have names like Happyness, Ocean Waters and Windswept!  Just looking through their website makes me want to go on a cruise.

There are definitely items that are also sophisticated enough for the office.  I've been all about dresses lately and what I loved about the dress search on their website was that you could choose from knee length, below the knee, maxi or cover up.  I am a below-the-knee kind of girl and usually it's a challenge to find a cute stylish below-the-knee dress these days!  The dress I got was the Floral Fancy Breeze Dress in Blue Lagoon.

I love it!The material is a lovely, rich cornflower blue.  It is the ideal length for me.  I can wear it either at the office - dressed up a bit with nice shoes, jewelry and a jacket - or at the beach with flip flops.  I love the flare at the bottom (and so does my daughter who likes how it looks when I spin!) and the small ruffles along the neckline.  It feels delicate and fun, yet grown up! 

I really like a lot of the Fresh Produce clothes.  They also make kids' clothes too which are super cute, have really nice sales, and also have accessories like scarves!  When I was recently in Boulder, Colorado, I was surprised to come across their flagship store.  The salesperson was so nice and told me that the store has been there for over 20 years.  I also picked up another dress on sale!  How had I not heard about this gem?  Well now I have and I've bookmarked their website in my 'favorites'!