Can you tell how much I love to shop for toddler shoes?
I sincerely hope this supply gets us to December.
Can you tell how much I love to shop for toddler shoes?
I sincerely hope this supply gets us to December.
Someone, somewhere started this saying, “Nine months to put it on, Nine months to take it off.”
Ha, I say.
For both of my pregnancies, it took a solid 15-18 months to get it all off.
And it took the magic of intermittent fasting to get the last 10 pounds off.
First, disclaimers. Everyone is different (duh) and I’m not a medical professional (obviously).
But here’s what I experienced.
Basically, the experience of pregnancy and birth puts your body into metabolic overload.
Then, after birth, your body continues in its highest gear for a period time, before it completely powers down. It takes a while for your body to figure out it’s new normal metabolism. We’re talking months. Even if you’re eating well and exercising.
I’ll detail it out here:
Birth – 6 Months Postpartum: The Engine Slows to a Crawl
It’s too bad that I was too sleep deprived to fully appreciate how quickly I lost weight in that first month postpartum. Pretty sure I’ll never lose weight that quickly ever again in life.
I started keeping track of my measurements around this time.
Why? I’m sure some of you are asking. Why would you do that to yourself?
A few reasons. First, any change in my measurements gave me motivation to keep going–especially since I started out with six inches to lose from my hips.
Undoubtedly, six months postpartum was my peak dissatisfaction with body. I mean. Really. Lost 0 pounds.
When the dust settled and my body figured out that it wasn’t carrying another human being anymore, my metabolism settled on a nice comfortable rate of losing 1/4 pound per week. It wasn’t the rate that I wanted, but at least I was moving in the right direction.
7 months: Second Gear
At 7 and 8 months postpartum, I had recovered enough (Kegels, ahem) to get back into my higher intensity aerobic training. It was a gradual ramping up of intensity, being careful to avoid injuries. This higher intensity training helped to kick start my metabolism again and begin the path back to my previous fitness level.
8 months – 13 months: Figuring Out How To Keep the Engine Going
Over time, I saw my metabolism slow again. At 11 months postpartum, I was still 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. And I just wanted to be done with the whole thing.
Nevertheless, I just couldn’t stomach counting calories at all anymore. I had been pretty laissez-faire about it from eight months postpartum onward, but at this point, I just cringed at the thought of keeping any more tallies of calories. Instead, I would just eyeball what I was eating and try to keep meals in an acceptable range.
My husband recommended adding more protein to my diet. So I added some peanut butter to my oatmeal. I didn’t change anything else. Just added the peanut butter.
It turns out that adding the peanut butter was not such a great idea. So I went back to my old routines.
This is the month when I was ready to do something drastically different. ANYTHING different.
Enough already! I’m running 3.5 miles three times per week! I’m eating healthy! I’m tired of just dropping 1 or 2 pounds a month!
This is when I heard that one of my friends (Thanks, Cate) was doing intermittent fasting. She said that for two days per week, she was restricting her calories to 500 calories. On the other days, she would eat normally.
Oh brother, I thought. That can’t be good for exercising.
“You can exercise,” she told me, after I asked.
“Yeah, look it up.”
So I did.
What’s really funny is that I had been reading The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia Tara for several months–but I stopped reading just before I got to the section about intermittent fasting.
There are different ways to do intermittent fasting, and eating 500 calories two days a week didn’t really fit in with my need for daily consistency.
But there was a version that would work great for me: Fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours.
For me, that would mean skipping breakfast. Then eating lunch and dinner.
The idea behind intermittent fasting is to extend your body’s natural fat-burning mode, which happens when you sleep. While you sleep, your body consumes its energy from the day before. When it runs out, it starts burning your fat reserves. As soon as you start eating, your body stops burning fat and starts working on the food. If you can keep your fast going for a few months hours, you give your body a chance to burn more of your fat reserves.
And if you exercise in the morning on top of intermittent fasting?
14 months – 18 months: Intermittent Fasting = Quick, Permanent Results
So here’s what happened to me:
And I’m still going. At almost 18 months postpartum, I’ve returned to my pre-pregnancy weight–and I’ve lost an additional 2 pounds.
If you’re thinking about intermittent fasting, I will say that the first week is probably the hardest. I was extraordinarily hungry until I would eat at 10:00 a.m. But drinking water helped. After a week or so, my body had re-adjusted to a new normal and it’s not nearly so hard to make it to 10 a.m. now, several months later, as it was then.
Not only did I lose weight, but I think that the fasting helped to reset everything in my body.
Read: PMSing and periods have been pretty tame and I haven’t really been sick at all–even though my petri-dish children have given me plenty of chances to travel into the depths with them.
Furthermore, allowing myself to feel hunger for a period of time helped me realize that I was still thinking about hunger from a pregnant mindset. During pregnancy, hunger = nausea. And when I was pregnant, if I allowed myself to go hungry, I paid for it with wanting to throw up.
But not anymore. Now, I can feel hunger again, without the nausea.
More than anything, I’m just thrilled to be back at my old weight, wearing my old clothes, feeling like my old self. It definitely didn’t come easy.
So if you’re out there, trying to lose the baby weight, I’m with ya, girl. It sucks. It really sucks.
My advice to you when you first get into (or back into) exercising: Embrace humility.
No one looks great exercising when they’re first starting out.
And it’s not about “looking hot” anyway, right? You’re over that, right? You just had a baby come out of you. Remember how crazy that was?
Tell yourself you’ve been through harder things then this.
High five to you for hangin’ in there.
I think you’re amazing.
I did something stupid.
For the past two months.
It started with the idea of taking advantage of my benefits as an instructor at my university. Because as a full-time faculty member, I get 100% tuition remission. Which sounds awesome. Except for the fact that when you’re teaching double the number of contact hours (18 hours) that most other faculty members in the university are required to teach (9 hours), you often work more than a full-time job just to stay ahead.
In March, while working with the eLearning department to create some recorded videos for my class using a lightboard, I learned that our university offered courses in “Technology-Enhanced Learning.”
Not only that, I could get a graduate certificate in “Technology-Enhanced Learning.”
I had already been looking at ways of taking classes in instructional design that wouldn’t cost me much money, but I hadn’t found any free options up until then. And I certainly didn’t know that the very university where I teach offered such classes.
And all of the classes were 100% online. I could do the work whenever I could fit it in my schedule.
It seemed like such a great idea.
And, I rationalized, It’s summer. Enrollment is projected to be pretty low. And I probably won’t be teaching the full 18 hours. So…
I signed up for two on-line classes.
Then, four days before our summer term started…
I was told that I wouldn’t, in fact, have any reduction in hours over the summer. One of my colleagues took an unexpected medical leave, leaving one course that needed to be filled. Instead of teaching two classes, I would be teaching three classes. And I would also be scheduled for tutoring.
During the same time frame as the classes that I would be taking.
A smart person would have dropped at least one of the classes.
Turns out, I’m not such a smart person sometimes.
I’m a bit of a maniac. Or a glutton for punishment, depending on how you look at it.
Well, I thought. Buckle up, everyone. Life is about to get bananas.
May and June were an absolute blur this year. Most of my days started at 4:15 a.m. (so I could run or do PiYo) and ended at 8:00 p.m., leaving my husband to put our older daughter to bed. But it’s still light out! I would hear her protest through my earplugs. (Yep. Still wearing those. Oh, and an eye mask. Because at 8:00, it’s still 90 minutes away from sunset in the summer.)
I worked on classes in small bursts whenever I had time throughout the day, which wasn’t that often or very predictable. Two of my very best friends came over on Saturdays/Sundays to watch the kids just so I could have some concentrated time to sit down and work on the class projects that required full, uninterrupted attention.
I also researched and wrote four proposals for conferences next year: MEXTESOL (1), Ohio TESOL (1), and TESOL International (2).
I also worked with a colleague on a paper that we’re submitting to an academic journal.
Sometimes, part of me thinks, Why? What are you doing? Just function in first gear for a while, for the love of God.
Then, the other, louder part of me says, There is no better time than now. Things are not going to get easier. Free classes in something that you’re way interested in? Lean in and be the badass that I know you are.
And so, I have been leaning in a whole lot this year.
The Final Boss of this summer was the last week of classes and my final exams. And not because of all the additional deadlines and grading that awaited me.
It was because of the fact that my husband traveled to Monterey, California (poor thing) to present at a radar conference. For the whole week.
You know what’s not so fun? Getting two young kids to school with lunches and diapers and sheets and sunscreen by 7:00 a.m. so you can be to work by 7:45.
I have to admit, it was my turn at this. He took care of the kids while I presented at TESOL 2018 in Chicago and was gone for four days. I remember when I came home, the look on his face that said, I need to go for a long drive by myself for a while.
But it didn’t make it any easier.
Especially when the toddler’s occasional morning poop explosion turned into a five-day streak of progressively more disgusting poop explosions at 6:00 a.m. that peaked in impressiveness (seemingly with the fullness of this month’s moon?).
Nothing quite like your toddler beaming with pride as he hands you his blanket that he’s been holding so tightly…
All covered in poop juice.
Here you go, Mama! You’re welcome!
But now, The Great Exhale has come.
I finished those two classes. (And I’ve started one more, to run another six weeks.)
I’m done teaching classes for this academic year. (It’s a full two months after all other faculty in the university have been dismissed for the summer… I’ll just leave that there.)
I turned in my final exams, submitted my grades, cleaned my desk, hugged my office mates, packed up my Erma Bombeck “You Can Write” mug, and rolled out of the parking lot, music blaring.
Quite honestly, I think I’ve stuck with teaching because of the summer break. As much as I fell in love with teaching ESL and learning from my students, the job really takes its toll on you.
Fall semester isn’t so bad. I can do four months back-to-back when I know Christmas break is around the corner.
I can do it if I take in one big, long breath.
But in the six-month stretch from January to July, I find myself (quite predictability, perhaps) gasping for breath by mid-May. I’m just sooo done. Done with the manic planning-everything-for-this-new-course-that-you-need-to-teach-just-days-before-a-term starts, pondering the next lesson, the next quiz/test, is everything copied for tomorrow, did I post the homework for that class, and what about that class, the student tracking, the student tracking, the student tracking. Emails about information missing from the student tracking. Emails about my plans to professionally develop myself. I must have goals for myself, after all. And they must be measurable and demonstrated. Performance reviews that leave me wondering if any of my exceptionally good work is recognized at all. (I could tell stories… But I’ll just leave this there.)
I think you get the point. Just sooo done.
And at that point, there’s still another six weeks to go.
To be clear, I am grateful that I have a job.
I’m even more grateful that I have the time off.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I know how vastly underpaid I am for my education and experience when I talk with my peers who are engineers or program managers, or even teachers in public schools. (Not private charter schools, though. That’s what happens when teachers aren’t unionized.)
Trade-offs, I guess.
So here we are. Another summer awaits me and I’ve got plans. Here are some of the things on my plate, each included to help me fill my cup before I have to go back and pour it all out again for next year’s students.
(Side Note: We saw WellRED Comedy–the three-man group who wrote Liberal Redneck Manifesto–when they came to Dayton. So worth the cost of tickets and babysitting. If you’ve never even heard of the Liberal Redneck video that started it all, you have got to check out Crowder’s video that went viral about the transgender bathrooms ridiculousness from several years ago.)
And with this new pen and tablet, I can do awesome things like this,
Imagine that sped up to take only five seconds total. Overlay it on an image.
So much I want to do.
Let it all begin.
I think I was pushed over the edge with this latest hullabaloo when Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the Bible in their rationale for the policy change.
You’re going to bring the Bible into this?
No, you don’t.
You don’t get to tell me what’s in the Bible. Lucky for you, I was a young prodigy at memorizing paragraphs of the Bible.
Don’t talk to me about the “rule of law.”
To be Christian is to recognize the balance of Law and Grace.
But above all, to be Christian is about Love.
As any former Bible memorizing prodigy will tell you:
“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 3:10)
Where are we?
Is this the United States?
Bring on midterm elections.
Four years later. Still hard.
One of my father’s favorite songs was, “Daystar.”
He particularly loved it as sung by our small church’s music minister, Darrell Sproles.
Lily of the Valley,
Let your sweet aroma fill my life
Rose of Sharon show me
How to grow in beauty in God’s sight
Fairest of ten thousand
Make me a reflection of your light
Daystar shine down on me
Let your love shine through me in the night
When it was sung at his funeral in June 2014, it meant a lot to me that my name was in the first few lines.
If I could talk to him now, what would I say?
After I’m sorry for ever causing you pain and I love you,
I probably would tell him that his grandchildren would have loved to have known him.
He always had a very tender way with kids aged 2-5.
Love you, Dad.
Someday, things will get easier, right?
Until then, here’s a playlist of recent songs that I’ve enjoyed while running
at Early Hours when No Human Should Need to Wake Up Just to Have Some Time Alone
“Lex” by Ratatat
“Snow (Hey Oh)” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Help, I’m Alive” by Metric
“Lake Michigan” by Rogue Wave
“Secret Garden” by Bruce Springsteen
“Rivers and Road” by the Head and the Heart
“Let’s Be Still” by The Head and the Heart
“Growing Up” by Run River North
“Mhysa” by Ramin Djawadi
When you pay $$,$$$ for 4.5 years of full-time, year-round infant/toddler/preschool daycare, you’re damn right we get a tassel.
There goes your college fund, Kid. Love you. Hope you had fun.
We never had plans for a college fund. That’s why your mom teaches at a university.
For the win. Again.
…aren’t really weekends and holidays.
Today, when someone says to me, “Only one more day until the weekend,” I think, Nooo!!! It can’t be!!!
When I come in to work on Monday morning, sometimes I sing, “It’s the Most. Wonderful. Dayyyyy of the Weeeek!” (If you missed it, I go to work to “relax.”)
Not kidding. Ask my students.
When people describe their weekends using the words, Nothing much, or Pretty low-key, I think, You lucky dog, You.
When someone says, “Any big plans for the holiday,” I think, Yes, keeping my children alive and keeping myself sane until it’s time to go back to work where things are so much easier.
Where I can just do work without having to simultaneously mentally track a toddler’s location at any given moment.
Where I can do things like think. And eat while sitting down. And zone out.
Before I had kids, I never understood the “I never get to sit down to eat comment” that I would sometimes hear from mothers.
Just insist that your kids sit down so you can sit down, I would think. I would never let my kids dictate whether I can sit or stand.
Oh, sweet naive little Me.
It’s not that kids insist that you stand while they eat.
It’s more like, the toddler pushed his food off his tray. So you need to pick that up.
Or the older one slid into her chair at the table and managed to take the tablecloth with her. And there goes her plate. And she’s trying to pick up the food off the floor–and mashing it further into the carpet.
Or Surprise! The toddler decided now is a good time to poop.
Or. Or. Or.
A few weeks ago, one of the funniest tweets by parents published by Huffington Post was, “Every meal with my children is fifteen hours long.”
Amen, Girlfriend. Amen.
So it was just recently Memorial Day weekend, as you’ll recall.
How do I even explain to you how I was feeling by Sunday night, when I can usually see the light at the end of the tunnel…
By Sunday night, I found myself staring at a sink full of pots. My husband said, “Just go sit down. I’ve got this.”
In my head, I thought. No. Please. Seriously. Let me occupy myself with inanimate things that can’t cry to pull at me or give me sass or yell for me to wipe their butts after they’ve pooped.
But what I said was, “No. Please. Right now, I just really need to be away from kids. They are bringing me no joy right now.”
Until that point, I had taken both kids to church so Doug could stay home and do house repairs without interruptions. To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind this time because both kids go to the nursery and I sit in the luxury of unattached solitude in an air-conditioned space with the stability of the music and liturgy reminding that, Hey, it’s going to be okay.
After that, while the toddler napped and my husband got a head start on cooking for the weekly meal (that’s how we save time prepping meals in the week), I had taken the older one to a children’s museum for two hours of Run-Around Time, followed by a trip to Target (because the toddler needs new shoes), although the older one really didn’t want to go. And Mama, you could just drop me off at home first, How does that sound?
But I don’t wanna go!!!!!!
Then, because I couldn’t stomach the idea of sitting in their play room while the toddler turned into King Kong, attempting to bust down the baby gate, it was two hours outside in the hot humidity of May (!?!) while my kids played at the water table. The toddler–who is finicky about which sippy cup he’ll use to drink his milk versus which one he’ll use to drink water–was actually gulping cup after cup of (certainly) parasite-infested water directly from the same table that 24 hours earlier had been sitting in our garage, covered in garage dust and spider webs.
Gulp. Gulp. No problem drinking today, Mama!
Oh, sweet, sweet Lord.
The water table is actually a great idea. For about fifteen minutes. That’s about the longevity of both children being occupied by only the water table.
After fifteen minutes, the sphere of entertainment grows by about a foot every several minutes.
First, they’re wandering over to the mulch and bringing handfuls of it over to the water.
Then, they’re finding the broom in the garage and bringing it over to the mulch.
Because it needs to be swept?
Then, they’re pulling their tricycles and bikes over to the water table.
Why? Does there ever have to be a reason?
And maybe they’re even bringing the scooter, which belongs to the older child (although it’s the toddler who more frequently requests to use it) which means that one parent is hunched over the toddler on a scooter, carefully guiding it down the driveway while said toddler teethes on the rubbery handles, his slobber landing on his new toddler shoes. (The slobber, I’ve heard, helps break them in.)
And then the older child says, “Let’s play Little Red Riding Hood, Mama. You’re the Big Bad Wolf and Henry’s the grandma.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the Three Bears.”
Oh, that makes sense.
And then it’s time for dinner, but they’re covered in sweat and sunscreen and snot (?!?) and water table parasites. So it’s actually really Bath Time. So all their clothes come off in the laundry room and they’re running around the house naked or in just a diaper while you’re picking up the trail of shoes and towels and clothing they’ve left behind. So you’re trying to get everything straight into the washer–only, there’s already a finished load that needs to be dried and a dry load that needs to be folded. So you’re doing that. And then it hits you–
Oh my God, where did the toddler go?
And he’s rummaging through the diaper changing area, chewing on latex gloves with a smile on his face.
Death avoided again.
Then baths. Then dinner. Then dishes. Then vacuuming for the third time. Then laundry. And, oh yeah, I need to do my laundry.
Then bottle for the toddler, books for the older one.
I really can’t think of anything more exhausting and less holiday-like than spending 72 hours with my own young children.
Every holiday, in my head (and sometimes aloud), I think, Someday, holidays will be holidays again.
Until then, pass the parasites, I guess.