Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Message to Parents of Athletes

If I could give one piece of advice to any parent of a child participating in a sport, it's to stop telling your kid to not play a certain position. Quit telling them not to play goalie/pitcher/catcher/defensive end/flyer.  It's not fair to the kids, the coaches, or the team. Just. Stop. Talking.

First, let me explain what I think entitles me to tell you how to parent. I am a hockey mom, a soccer mom, a dance mom, and a softball mom. I have two kids (and a husband—he counts, too) and our whole family is active. Both the Husband and I coach as well. Right now, we're waist deep into hockey season, and I see it all the time—parents tell their kids "I don't want you to play goal, I want you to skate out." It drives me batshit crazy. And if I offend you by saying this, it means you're likely a parent that has crossed this line. We have a kid on our team who in general, doesn't understand the game of hockey. By watching the way he plays, he'd probably make a really good goalie. But his parents told him no. Now, like I said, we're waist deep in the season. I am also the Team Rep (I keep the books, play the Team Mom, and am the scorekeeper), so I see more of the kids and their parents than most others. I realized yesterday that I'd seen this kid's mom for the first time this season. THE FIRST TIME. But it's not just her. Quite a few parents have uttered these same words, and that pretty much guarantees that when you're not at the game, your kid will be in goal.

I'll also clarify: My kid is a part-time goalie. It's not easy to be a goalie mom. And goal isn't always his first choice. (Actually, mine would be any indoor sport where there's heat.) We don't have a dedicated goalie on our team, he does it because no one else will. They are Mites—this is their first opportunity at game play on the ice. It's the perfect time for every kid to try it—the league provides the specialized equipment and training for free. (And if you know anything about the cost of youth hockey, this is BIG.) And by playing goal now, no one is etching into stone that your kid will be goalie until The End Of Time. Do I like the pressure of the 1-on-1? No. But he's confident in goal, so I support him. I told him that no matter what, I will never be that parent that tells him where I want him to play. Here's why you should do the same.

Reason #1: You've done this already. It's not your turn anymore, it's theirs. I once coached with a guy who stood by this simple motto, and it is so true. We're adults. Our time to learn fundamentals of a game are past us. If you trust your kids to be on the field, court, or ice with coaches, then let the coaches do their jobs. You've spent most of your parental life telling this child they can do anything. So stop telling them that they can't. Put your trust in them in any position. Sure, we all want our kid to be the center. But not all kids are centers. Some kids really excel as defensemen. Some kids play a wing position far better than the center plays the center position. Some kids are only here because parents need a few hours a week where they're not responsible for them.  In this case, at least sign them up for a sport they want to do, not one you want them to try. Seriously, I can't teach your kid soccer fundamentals while he's climbing trees.

Reason #2: You're not the coach. A friend once told me that every season, it takes him at least half the season to get the kids to stop listening to their parents on the sideline and to listen to him. He's right. Yes, at some point in our lives, we've all played the same sport as our kids do. But that doesn't give us the right to undermine the coach and redirect our kid. If you want to do that, step up and be a coach. Otherwise, let the coaches do the coaching. We're not taking your right away to work on skills at home, but when we are in a team setting, sit down, shut up, and enjoy the game. Or take a nap, whatever works for you.

Reason #3: This is a game, one meant for kids to have fun. The first statement that I live by as a coach and as an athlete myself is that every player, when they step off the field/court/ice, should be excited to step back on it again—win or lose. Now, I'm not from the school of thought that every kid gets a trophy, they should earn it. But regardless, every kid should be excited to play the game. And if you're telling them they can't play a position because *you* want them to do something else, you might as well clean his ears out with Q-tips at halftime and bring turnips for the team to share after the game.

I get it, as parents, we want to protect our kids. But you also have to trust that they will make the right decisions under pressure without you. Sure, I bite my nails when my kid is in goal and a breakaway unfolds. But I have to have faith in his own confidence and training. And you know what is amazing? Seeing every kid on the ice skate over to my son to either congratulate him on a save or acknowledge that he tried his best, because they trust him too. I did the same when my daughter was a cheerleader. She got picked to be a flyer because she's tiny. Yes, I understand the risk of injury. But she's also really clumsy and could have the same injury walking across the street. That was a sport I despised growing up, but because she wanted to do it, I volunteered my time to help coach and run the organization. And it was one of the most fulfilling opportunities ever. I did it for the kids, not for myself. It was fun to learn with them, to help build their confidence, and to see the satisfied looks on their faces when they performed. But that happened by understanding what each kids' strengths and weaknesses were, and putting them in the correct position to support that. Trust me, I got plenty of parents who wanted to know why my kid was a flyer and theirs wasn't. But it wasn't about favoritism. If anything in coaching, my kids get the short end of the stick because I want to make sure that all the kids see I am here for them, not just my kid. Frankly, I'd rather let someone else coach my own kid, then I don't have to worry about that nonsense.

I think this also comes with having to understand who your kid really is. This kid I mentioned before, his parents are just...out to lunch. We've been working on a travel tournament for months, and I finally had to ask the dad directly if they are in or out, because I need to collect funds. His answer? "I'm really busy, so I probably missed it." WTF? Listen, I'm no super mom, but let me explain something. I work a day job as a Brand Manager. I have my own freelance business as a graphic/web designer and photographer that I do on nights and weekends. My Husband is a Manager at an auto dealership and also does inventory side work on weekends. I myself play soccer two nights a week. He plays hockey one night a week. As I said, my son plays hockey and soccer, and my daughter plays softball and is a dancer. I have the same 24 hours in a day as you do. I still find a way to make this all happen. We don't miss birthday parties and gatherings with friends, we fit those in, too. So don't give me this whole "I lead a busy life" crap, and then try to tell your kid that you think you know what position is best for them. The only position I'm trying to keep my kids from is hoping that my daughter doesn't end up dancing on a pole. The rest is fair game. Let them have fun, let them play where they want to, and if you don't like it, then just add Bourbon to your Dunkin Donuts coffee and you'll be better equipped to tolerate whatever the coaches decide. Capiche?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What shapes you?

Where does it come from? I don't always know, But there are a few notables that have shaped me more than I realized. I revisited one today.

Today is a sad day—one of my most inspirational mentors has passed. Today we said goodbye to Maya Angelou. I know, a lot of people think it's cliché, but in all honesty, about the only enjoyable thing I got out of American Lit in college was my love for Maya Angelou. I didn't even sell my textbooks from that class because that was where my connection started. When I write or speak, I do it from the heart. I'm not quiet. I speak my mind. I don't consider myself a feminist, but I've always supported self-empowerment, feminine or masculine. If you know me, you know I'm confident about who I am, what I want, and my ambition to get there. I've even said in interviews before "you won't find many people more ambitious than me." The first time I read "Phenomenal Woman," I was hooked. The more I read from Angelou, the more I started to understand who I was, and that I didn't need to be apologetic for it. So many of her quotes, stories, and poems spoke to me, as a woman who has never been scared to take life by the lapels, so she says.

It's not just about me. I wish more people would read her in the way I did, and not just women. Confidence is sexy, (not to be confused with cockiness, which is not) male or female. I wish people would become more confident, stand up straighter, and find their voice. I wish more people would take charge of their own life choices and realize that no one else is holding them down. It's an exhilarating feeling when you do. I've always been the one to lead the pack, the one to ask a guy out, the one to go after what I wanted. (I even asked the Husband out. Twice. He stood me up the first time.) I don't have time to wait around for those things to happen to me. I love when I get asked that question "what do you regret?" Nothing. Sure, I have regrettable things in my past, but I don't regret doing them. I made those choices, and those choices brought me here. Can't get mad at that, right? So what shaped you? Where's your confidence?

It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me. 

RIP, Maya. You've left a legacy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The right moment

On Monday (April 14), the Husband sent this to me, it was from a blog that his company's owner sent to him and the management team. And it was very fitting:

You might be waiting for things to settle down. For the kids to be old enough, for work to calm down, for the economy to recover, for the weather to cooperate, for your bad back to let up just a little...

The thing is, people who make a difference never wait for just the right time. They know that it will never arrive.

Instead, they make their ruckus when they are short of sleep, out of money, hungry, in the middle of a domestic mess and during a blizzard. Whenever.

As long as whenever is now.
Monday was my last day at work. I'd had enough, done all I could do in that position, so I walked away. It was a bold move, and they knew that I had nothing lined up (I've always had freelance, thank goodness—a true designer never stops working). But I made the choice. It has nothing to do with my Husband's job or who can support whom. This was a decision I made for me, because I preach louder than anyone I know—you must do what you love. And when you don't love it anymore, you need to make a change.

So for me, whenever is now. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yes, Mama's still here!

I have fallen off so many horses 'round these parts, I'm surprised I know my own way home! To say it's been hectic is an understatement. Observe:

Since I last wrote (March!!! At least it was this year!), so much has gone by. We've had my father up to visit while he was working. He was only here for a night, and in true fashion, the Husband and I had another event we attended that day--we paddled for one of the three Team CRAs in the Run of the Charles. It's a 24-mile canoe relay race. It was cold, but lots of fun. And? The Husband and I pulled in the win for CRA. So it wasn't a total wash. But Dad came up, got to eat some of my home cookin' and got to play the Son in MarioKart. The next morning, we walked down to the gorge, where he attempted to teach the kidlets how to skip stones.

Then, we got to go home for the first time in more than two years. I photographed a good friends' wedding. It was an amazing experience.

What a good time with some old friends! It was fun. But we also got to spend time with my parents. Where again, the Son stuck to Pop Pop like glue. It was a weekend of air hockey, swimming, and shopping. Fun was had by all.

The Daughter was enamored with Mom's net book. 
Dad and the Son worked on this helicopter that you build
and then fly all weekend. 

Then, in July, I got busier. Freelance has seriously built up, which is AMAZING. However, I feel like it should still just be May. I can't believe that the entire summer has passed me right by. Fast forward to August, when Football and Cheerleading start. And now, no evenings or weekends are mine. Seriously, I think my oven has started to wonder where I've been. We've had more takeout, drive-thru, and peanut butter sammiches than ever. I couldn't even make it on time to bake the ceremonial "First Day of School Cookies" until the night of the first day!

The Son is playing flag football this year, and it's a good time. He's finally starting to grasp the concept. I don't care how he does, just that he shows effort in a team sport. He wants to play hockey (my wallet is crying!), but is working his way through football now. Which is nice, because both kids are on the field, but it just wears us out. 

The Son is the tiny one in red, second from left. 

Yep, that's the Daughter. The one on top.

So that brings us to fall. Where the Son had his First Day Of School (photos are on the iphone, sadly), and the "busy season" has begun. I shot another wedding last weekend (and haven't had a chance to download photos yet) and had another senior portrait session this week. And we're headed to Maine this weekend (hopefully) for some family R&R.

Who am I kidding, there will be no rest. And likely no relaxation. But it'll be a fun getaway, filled with fried clams and foliage. 

What more could a Mama ask for?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mama's Bitchin' Kitchen

I realize that I haven't written in forever. So I started reading some of my old posts and came to an alarming conclusion: I never blog about my cooking. Those of you that know me know that I am all about cooking and baking. And if I do say so myself, I'm pretty damn good at it. Cooking and baking are basics to learn, and with time, focus, and patience (trust me, I have none); anyone can master it. Baking scares a lot of people, and that makes me sad. Baking is so much fun, and there's nothing better than showing up to an event with some freshly baked goodness and having people ooh and aah over how good they came out. Of course, I get a little offended sometimes when I feel like people doubt my abilities, which usually makes me flex my baking muscles. I was once told that lemon bars were impossible by someone who was a mediocre cook at best. So I went home that night and made two pans. They were fantastic, might I add...

Anywho, the point. I love to cook and bake. From scratch. I don't do box mixes or icing cans. And I've yet to come across a recipe that scares me. (Yes, there was that one mishap, but I've accepted it and moved on.) So I'll do my best to post more about the good eats here. 'Cause if it's one thing I've learned, food will bring people, whether it be to my house or to read my blog. Hey, maybe that's why I've been invited to more events lately?

So, Mama's whippin' up some chocolate, red-velvetish cupcakes. Not true red velvet, because it's too damn hard (and expensive) to find unprocessed dutch cocoa. And really, I just don't have the time. Maybe when I get an assistant, that should be their first assignment. A friend called and asked me to whip up some goodness for a bridal shower, and I was glad to step up. She's actually recommended me to bake, photograph, design, and probably organize other people's lives--so of course I obliged. Like I said, any opportunity to flex my muscles and whip out the Analon pans...

Without further adieu, I give you:

They are a red velvet-like (which is chocolate with lots of baking soda, really) with a cream cheese icing. The bride is having black, pink and white as her colors, so I happened to have these hot pink sugars for a topping. Yes, I am really that nerd that can't walk past anything related to baking without bringing something home. I don't often share all my recipes, but the goodness of this one? The icing. Brace yourself:

2 sticks of butter
8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese--I always use Neufchatel cheese
3-3.5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

That's it. Beat the butter, beat in the cream cheese, toss in the vanilla, and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Now, I added more sugar to my recipe because I wanted it to be really firm--note the tips of the icing. I did this because the last time I used Cabot butter, it started to fall apart on me like a margarine would.

You're welcome.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The journey to fill a void...

For the past month or so, the kidlets have been on a mission. They've been pulling at the Husband and I until we caved (We being me, the Husband just followed). We tried to resist and stand tall together, but deep inside, we knew they were right, we were ready. Enter the fill to our void, appropriately named by the kidlets, Bella:

She's a doll isn't she? I know, it's unlikely. The kidlets, they banded together against us and won. They wanted a dog. Not just any dog, but a small dog. A dog that could wear sweaters and was smaller than them and would be all snuggly. My first choice for something small was an Italian Greyhound. So I set out to find one. 

You know what I found? That I can't stand rescues that clearly have no urgency to adopt out their animals. I've done work with animal rescues most of my life. And what I can never get past is how they make people jump through hoops, tell them "You must have W, X, Y, and Z all approved, and then email us before we'll even answer you." And when you complete all of the above, and then they still don't call you? Seriously, no one should have to beg to pay money and save an animal. It's just silly. 

So anyhow, I turned to my trusty friend, Craigslist. And I came across a great lady who has her own rescue, but she does cats, dogs, geese, ducks, horses, llamas, anything. I think she's really like the animal whisperer, they must just show up at her door. But she sprung Bella from the pound. And through speaking to her, we realized that Bella had all the qualities we were looking for in a companion. Most importantly, she did not have the qualities we didn't want. And now, she's our dog. And we love her. And I'm pretty sure she's happy to be a part of our family, too. I mean, just look at her sitting so pretty in her new winter coat: 

She is truly a great dog. She loves rides in the truck, she gets super-excited to put on a sweater or coat, she adores the kidlets, and she even burrows under the covers at night. (When I don't want her in bed with me & The Husband, she does so in the Daughter's bed!) But you gotta watch her tongue, she gets a bit excited in the morning and tries to clean off your face: 

I mean, look at that thing! It's huge! 

Welcome to the family, Bella!

A story about a boy and his hippo

I love this kid. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mama's Bitchin' Kitchen: A Recipe

I don't normally give out recipes, because quite honestly, I'd rather make them for you. It's a control thing. If I've taken my time to write up a recipe, I'm always worried that I'll give it out, someone will scribble it down and then mess it all up. And then that would ruin my 'rep around these parts. So hold onto your hats, this is a good one.

It's only week two of the new year, and judging by the attendance at the gym lately, people are still on this losin' weight thing for a resolution. How long until this wears off? 'Cause if I've gotta scrounge up a matching set of dumbbells again at the gym, I'm going to lose my patience.

One of the hardest things for me after a tough workout is to fight the voracious appetite that follows for the rest of the day. So I try to keep high-protein items around to keep me filled up. And I'm attempting to drink more water. Which has made me acutely aware that I need to stock up on entirely more toilet paper than I have been lately. But anyhow, one of the recipes I've worked up lately is a good granola recipe. I make a batch, and even the kidlets are crazy for this stuff. Get your pen:

Mama's Granola
*All of these items are from the bulk section of the grocery store. Not sure where they keep it?
Look around the organics. Or close to produce. 

2 c. raw rolled oats (NOT quick-cooking)
1/2 c. Almonds--slivered or whole, but if whole, use a food chopper or processor. 
1/2 c. Soy Nuts
1/4 c. Pistachios, chopped
1/3 c. coconut
Dash cinnamon
1/2 c. honey
2-3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
2-3 Tbsp. Molasses
1/4 c. brown sugar
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Mix dry ingredients in a huge bowl. In a small pan, combine your wet ingredients and mix with a whisk until blended and thin, not gloppy. Add wet ingredients to dry and thoroughly coat. Spread on cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Pull out of oven and let cool and harden before putting into a glass jar or plastic bag. Scoop out and eat! 

A few notes:
  • Spray your measuring cup with nonstick spray before measuring your honey--then it won't stick. (Coat your spatula and bowl, too, if you wish)
  • You can add 1 tsp. vanilla to the wet ingredients *after* you remove it from the heat. I did not, and I add vanilla to EVERYTHING. I think this is great without it. 
  • On my first run, I ran out of honey. So I added a bit of Karo Light Corn Syrup to the mix. Personally, I think that batch turned out better. The Husband likes this batch with all honey. Try both, see what you like. 
  • Use Vegetable oil, not olive oil. Olive oil has a lower smoking point. You can use a canola or corn oil, but I would stick with a vegetable base at least. Enova is great oil, too. 
  • I added more soy nuts the second time around. The Husband first tasted them from the bag and was disgusted by them. But add them all together, and I swear it is amazing. 
Now, go forth and eat! 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Waving good-bye...or hello?

So here we are, facing a whole new year. Everyone seems to be pretty split, like 80/20 bad year/good year. I think the Husband and I fall somewhere in the 20%. We had a lot thrown our way, and both of us have agreed, that while some times were emotionally taxing, we dealt with everything with grace and we did well, as we always do. No doubt, hard times have made the two of us become closer, and we're proud of that. So here's what our 2010 looked like:

First, I lost my job. And while it was tough to be one of the statistics, I decided I was going to embrace it and move forward with the plan that I decided a long time ago: to be running my own successful business by the time I was 35.

I joined a gym for the first time ever. I decided that there's no time like the present to get healthy. And it's working!

I became more active in the Daughter's school by helping design the yearbook and volunteering at BEPO (our version of the PTA) events. The husband and I believe that if we show a genuine interest in the things our kids like, they will take them seriously, too. The Daughter is excited that I get to be a part of these things--something I know will change all too soon, when she's ready to forget she has parents. I get overwhelmed with it, but in reality, I do love doing it. There's such a gratifying feeling when it's all done.

We were able to take our first "vacation" by taking a few days and going down to Easton, PA to the Crayola Factory. What a fantastic trip!

I met some new friends by signing the kidlets up for swimming lessons, and those friends have now become some of our closest friends lately.

We visited Lackey Dam Road. Multiple times. My mother-in-law was laid off this past year, too. So over the summer, we were out with the kidlets quite often, and whenever we seemed to get lost, we were on Lackey Dam Road. So it became the joke of the summer, "Hey kids, Lackey Dam Road!" It was the source of many, many, many laughs.

I became a cheerleading coach and the Cheerleading Commissioner for the Daughter's new league. If you know me, you know cheerleading is something I NEVER did. (I know, the irony!) But since the Daughter is a cheerleader, I decided that if I had to spend so much time at the fields, I was going to find a way to help out. And I did. I volunteered to work with an organization where I knew no one, and it has turned out to honestly be one of the best decisions I have made. I've come away with lots of new friends and an amazing group of people. Coaching is an amazing feeling, especially at the age where they really look up to you. I'm so proud of those girls, and even though I am learning just as they are, I hope they know that they all had just as large or larger of an impact on me as I did for them.

Quite possibly one of the hardest things I had to deal with this year was the decision to put my longtime companion, Teddy, down. I still miss him every day. Teddy had severe bone and muscle deterioration, and our vet thinks he likely developed a bone cancer. But he was 12 and medicine wasn't helping. So without making him suffer, I made the decision to send him to heaven with Klinger, Charles, and Bob. I miss him dearly, but I know in my heart that it was right, that he was in pain.

And then that night, I got to ride in an ambulance for the first time ever. One of my girls was in a stunt, and she "toed down" (when you point your toes down instead of keeping your feet flat), and her spots didn't catch her. I swear we heard her nose crack on the floor. Surprisingly, she didn't break it. Poor thing, I really don't know her well, and she had no one else to ride with her. So I held her hand and tried to comfort her, the best way I knew how. Which was still awkward, and even more so when her mother got there, but that's another story for another day. I needed a stiff drink.

We reworked our mortgage and did some work to our house. Our house was brand new when we bought it four years ago (!). But it's also a half-duplex. The other half looks just like ours. They even painted similar colors. So we've always known that we need to upkeep and do more to get more value out of our house. We put in new wood floors (which I love) and a new back door. We've got more plans for 2011 (tearing down our existing deck to deal with a water problem and rebuild it), but we're happy that we still own a great home.

I was able to rebuild my photography portfolio and start from fresh. (BTW, check me out!) I want to get behind the lens more. It still scares me, I'm way more confident in my design work, but there's something exhilarating about being pushed out of my comfort zone. I'd still like to expand my client base for design, but I'd like to have more balance. More time away from the computer. 

Most of all, we spent the holidays with friends and family. We didn't get to travel to Virginia Beach this year, as that just wasn't in the budget. But we did spend Turkey Day with our new found friends, a family with whom we've had many game nights and amazing campfire discussions. They've become very close to us, and it's a great feeling.

So looking forward, here's our 2011 plan:

The Husband and I are still committed to being healthier. I know, most people say this. But I've seen my body change over the past year. Now, if I could get rid of all this damn chocolate, we'll be on our way. (But we all know I can't be wasteful) The Husband has decided that he wants to be serious about getting healthier, as we're both not getting any younger. So we'll eat better, I'll continue with the gym 3-4 times a week, and we'll go from there.

I'm focusing more on my work here. I need to still build some client base, and that may mean working outside of the home. But we'll see. I've had some great conversations over the past few weeks, and let's just keep our fingers crossed. Also? A very good friend of mine just asked the love of his life to marry him, so I'll be shooting their wedding. Which will hopefully take place this year, but I haven't asked. I figure they're answering enough of those questions, I'll just let them enjoy being engaged. I'm also hoping to build enough of a schedule to keep busy when the Son goes to school in the fall (*tear*). But I want to still have boatloads of fun with the kidlets and find a way to get more work done.

My ultimate goal/resolution? To feel better about myself. I spent the last 2-3 months of 2010 not comfortable. It was an emotionally taxing period. It felt like we tackled everything but the working for myself thing. Which is hard for me, I'm a very career-minded person, but a lot of my freelance tapered off. So it did awful things to my self-esteem. Pair that with falling off the gym horse and the Daughter saying things like "You need to suck it in, mom..." and you have a recipe for disaster. Now, I know she's only seven, and the jeans were a size too small, but paired with the time and place, I needed a pick me up. Note to self: the answer is NOT four Peppermint Mocha martinis.

Of course, I'm still going to bake more and cook more. 2010 was an awesome year for cooking and baking for me, and I'm convinced 2011 will be even better. I've learned some new skills, and paired with an amazing (cheap) produce shop and a garden, this is going to be one Bitchin' Kitchen. 

So here we go. We wave goodbye to 2010, take all the lessons we learned and tuck them away for future use. We say hello to 2011, 'cause we're gonna kick ass this year!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to know where your parenting skills rate...

So the Daughter comes home from school today and tells me how a boy in her class was playing with her hair today in school. She's got that sheepish grin on her face, that one where you know you're in trouble? Yeah, let me remind you, she's in first grade.

There's another girl in her class that she doesn't get along with, Miss S. Daughter says she was getting a drink of water and walked by Miss S. Miss S allegedly says to her, "Daughter, why are you always dressed in pink and black and all?" Daughter replies, "Because I'm fantastic."

That's my girl!

(Side Note: She does pick out her clothes, and she'll tell you, it's "all about the fashion." Such a DIVA)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The most annoying hospital on the planet!

Many of you may already feel this way about Woonsocket's Landmark Medical Center, but let me paint this fine picture for you. First of all, we avoid this hospital at all costs. The Husband finally paid off a bill from four years ago last week with them. And should it be our choice, we'll never owe them another penny. And we must not be alone, because they've been in danger of going bankrupt and have begged the help of a Catholic-owned hospital.

So, last night, the Husband's cousin and his GF had their baby. At LMC. So, early this morning, I called the hospital, because I wasn't sure if they were there. I asked if she was there, and that we wanted to come visit this morning. I was told yes, and what room she was in.

Now, let me preface this by saying at most hospitals that I've had experience with, when you've had a baby (or at anytime), you get to choose when you want visitors or not. Visiting hours are during regular hospital hours, but if you say "I don't want visitors for two hours" they will honor that.

So, the first part of the morning was going to pick out flowers. Which is apparently not easy to do. We have a place here in Blackstone, Flamingo Flowers. It seems like a cute little shop, however, I've never been inside. Because every time I've gone there, they are not open. At random times. 3pm on a Wednesday, 9:30am on a Tuesday, 11am on a Saturday, you name it, I've been by there to see if they are open. No such luck. So I go to Stop & Shop, as they have a floral department. I found a cute little giraffe vase, and they had some cute displays already made up, but I wanted to see if I could swap one out for this vase. Immediately, when I ask the girl at the counter if I could put something in the vase, she goes off on me about how I need to place an order and come back later, that it takes 20 minutes alone to soak [something] for the arrangements. I told her I was sorry that I didn't schedule a friend to have a baby that morning, I'd do better next time. While she was talking, I left the counter and retrieved another arrangement. And took off the fugly bow on the front, put in a balloon and went to pay. I would have left, were they not the only floral department outside of the hospital.

Let me just say, what the hell is wrong with people in the service industry lately? Why is everyone so negative? She didn't even allow me to ask if she could just swap out the vase. Ugh!

We move on to the hospital. I go to the info desk, flowers and baby gift in hand, and ask again to confirm my friend's room assignment. The woman points me in the direction of the elevators. I get up to the Maternity floor and the doors are locked. So I go down another hallway. A nurse points me in the right direction, and I am to call on the phone.

I go back and call the nurse's office as I am instructed to do. And am told that visiting hours START AT 2 PM. Which would have been incredibly helpful, had I been told that when I called that morning. But wait, the best part? My children are NOT allowed in the entire maternity ward. WHAT??? Yes, children are NOT ALLOWED. This choice isn't even up to the mother and father. The father's sister and niece aren't even allowed in. What hospital does this?

Let me add this, LMC is the same hospital that, upon begging the Catholic hospital to come in, has said that they will not perform any kind of abortion, nor will they dispense any birth control. They're all about the children. WTF???

So I leave, after hastily spending $35 on boring flowers that are now likely to die before I find a babysitter so I can go visit a friend in the hospital to meet her newborn baby. Reason #22 why I do my best to stay out of Woonsocket.

Wait, what day is it?

I don't know how it happened, but it seems that summer has flown by. Here we are, it's September 1st. The Daughter starts her first day of first grade tomorrow. Her Hello Kitty bag is packed, her outfit is set out, and her shoes are tested out and comfortable.

We've been so incredibly busy, but I must say, this past week has been a tough one, and as much as I love my babies, I am certainly ready for school to start, too. I can't tell you how many times in the past week I've been tempted to tell the Daughter to go wait by the mailbox for the bus. (What? I'll pack enough peanut butter sandwiches...).

Seriously, we've been non-stop. Everything from a vacay at the Cape, swim lessons, campfires with new and old friends, barbeques, and so much more drama. (We'll go into that later).

Anywho, we're ready for my favorite season of EVER--New England fall. I swear, there is no fall like a fall in New England. Bring on the pumpkin muffins and pumpkin spice coffee and pumpkin log and Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale! Oh, wait, the Husband bought three cases of it last week (the day it came out) on one of his giftcards. Thank goodness for giftcards, because I'm pretty sure I'd have a fit over the bill. Only, it is my favorite beer, yet I'm going to need to get back into the swing of the gym to support it.

So here's to the end of summer. I'd leave you with photos, which I'm sure that being a photographer and all, you'd imagine I'd have tons, right? I have no excuse. Better luck next time?

Monday, July 5, 2010

A milestone!

I haven't talked much about it here, but back in February, I decided I was going to get healthy. I wouldn't say I was unhealthy, but I wanted to be more active. I wanted to sleep better at night and have more energy during the day. I wanted to lose a bit of weight. Not much, but some. I joined a gym for the first time and have since gone on an average of three times a week. Some weeks I fall off the wagon, some weeks I'm there every day. I did meet with a trainer, but seriously? $60 a month to see them twice? Whatever. I'm a pretty strong person, but I never know how to gauge my strength. A few years ago, I took some golf lessons with a friend, and the instructor said to me, "you really don't know how much strength you have, do you?" No, but I can tell you where I don't have strength (biceps) and where I have the most (quads, adductors, abductors). I used to be incredibly flexible, but I can't run to save my life. In fact, I hope I never have to.

So for the first six weeks, I did it on my own. I did some cardio and strength training, four times a week. While I felt slightly stronger, I never lost a single pound. I know, everyone says, "don't pay attention to the scale." Right. Let's face it, no matter what we do, most of us could still stand to lose a few. So I started counting calories. That worked, even though I'm a relatively healthy eater. Yes, I love cupcakes and real butter, but I've never been on that crazy train where people are all "what do you mean I can't eat McDonald's four times a week and not be thin?"

I got myself a subscription to Fitness magazine (thanks to MyCokeRewards, it was free) and started to get a bit more serious about my workouts. Last week, finally, I have officially lost ten pounds and 5% body fat. Now that is results! I feel good, my clothes fit better, and I am starting to notice the difference. I've added more pilates and ab work to my routine, as I need to. But now, I've decided I'm going after the one avoidance: Running.

In this issue of Fitness, there are instructions on getting yourself into 5K gear. So I'm going to follow it, and I've found two 5K races for charity that I want to run in the fall. One is the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer 5K in Providence, and the second is the Girly Girl Parts 5K for ovarian cancer in Sandwich, MA. I've given myself plenty of time to prep, and even enough time incase I happen to fall off the wagon again. And women's cancers are issues I fully support, so I'd rather benefit charity than do a YMCA race.

Truth be told, what I'd really love to do is a Sprint Triathalon, as I am a strong swimmer and I think I could handle the biking portion well. But that requires more training than I can handle right now, so maybe next year. Until then, wish me luck!