Monday, August 5, 2013

Lighten up at Brunch


It has been three weeks since we've gone out for brunch.  This was a very hard habit for me to break...we often go to breakfast every other weekend, but I've been focusing on my exercise, and I'm a morning exerciser, so there hasn't been an opportunity to go to brunch.

Then this weekend happened.  On Saturday, I ran my first long run in three years since before I had my son.  Long run = longer than an hour.  And that was one contiguous hour, with no walking breaks.  I was so excited that I decided we were going to go out for brunch to celebrate.

On Sunday, we went to Snooze, a local breakfast place here in Denver.  We've only been a few times and I decided to branch out and have something different.  So I ordered the Backyard Barbecue Benny.  I mean, c'mon, barbecue!  At breakfast!  Whenever I order benedicts, I always eat one of the benedicts and save the other half for later.

Which is exactly what I did this lovely Sunday.  I had half my benedict along with my usual breakfast drink of choice: a mocha.

Then the unexpected happened.  I got a headache.  About an hour after we were done with brunch, I felt miserable.  I've had food-induced headaches before, usually due to too much sugar.  So I did what I usually do when I have a sugar headache: I drank as many glasses of water as I could tolerate.

I didn't drink my entire mocha.  So I've gotten to thinking.  Sure, there was alot of sugar in the mocha, but maybe my body is starting to revolt away from the rich food.  I have been trying to eat a lot cleaner the last three weeks.  I hope that this is a sign that all my efforts to be healthier are paying off.

If nothing else, I'm encouraged to continue with my cleaner eating.  The next time I go to brunch, I'll try and make healthier choices.  And I'll definitely eat smaller portions of everything if I do decide to have something rich.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Optimizing the Treadmill Workout


I know, I know, why, WHY, why would anyone run on a treadmill when it's summertime and everyone knows running on a treadmill is BORING?

In the last ten years since I started running, I've had my share of running on treadmills and I've had my share of running outside.  When I lived in San Diego for six years there was NEVER a reason to run inside.  Even on "hot" days, you could run in the mornings or try and run as close to the beach as possible and that would keep the day cool.  On rainy days, it was never enough rain to keep me indoors.

But now that I live in Colorado, I'm still adjusting.  I see other runners out there running in 80+ degree heat and I don't know how they do it.  I'm also adjusting to running alone.  It's been three years since I ran with the San Diego Track Club and as I'm going it alone right now, finding the motivation to enjoy my runs while running solo has been pretty challenging.  When you've got company, it's easy to keep going.  Now that I'm running alone, it's just too easy to stop and take a walking break.  And then another.  And hey, why not one more?

I've only been running solidly for two weeks now (it was off and on before that, despite running outside in scenic places, and I wasn't averaging more than two runs in a week).  So I decided something had to change.  I realized my biggest obstacle was convenience.  I don't have time anymore to jump in my car and drive somewhere to run where it's pretty.  And I'm not ready to commit to a running club with my mom-wife-work schedule (again, the need for convenience), so I decided I needed to figure out how to get my runs in nearby and I needed a run that would push me, no matter what.


Enter the treadmill.

I got my first idea for making the treadmill work for me from Kelly at No Thanks to Cake in her latest blog about "tricking" herself to going to the gym: she likes to listen to audiobooks and decided to limit listening to her latest book: she's only allowed to read the book while working out at the gym.  I listen to tons of audiobooks, primarily at the end of my day, after my son is in bed, and I am winding down. It helps me go to sleep.  So, I gave it a try: I listened to my book while on the treadmill and that wasn't bad.  But I realized that it wasn't enough.  So through the course of the last few weeks, I've been trying different motivational methods here and there, and here's the list of what seems to be working.  I'll keep you updated as I continue my quest to make the treadmill a reasonable place to run.

Heart rate monitor.  I think the heart rate monitor is awesome.  I've had one for almost seven years, but I found I didn't need it when I was running with the San Diego Track Club.  Now that I'm running solo, I wear it, and make sure that my heart rate is in the right range for the type of running I'm working on right now (building endurance).  I can also use it while resting to see if I'm overtraining.

Treadmill options.  To recreate the challenges of outdoor terrain, I am constantly fiddling with the incline and the speed.  I found a great source for a variety of treadmill workouts from beginner to advanced, including one workout that supposedly simulates what it would feel like to go for a run in San Francisco.  Having lived in SF, I'll have to try it out and see how true it might be.


Playlists!  Music has been by far, the best motivator for my running.  I downloaded Kara Goucher's Playlist for National Running Day.  Kara chose some great music with BPMs that made sure I didn't start out too fast.   I was so inspired by how that playlist helped my run that I went trolling for more good running music so that I could build my own library of playlists.  I found a fairly recent article with music of all genres with 180 BPM -- the rate at which most runners find their most efficient stride.

Any one else have any good tips for making the treadmill drudgery seem less fatiguing?




Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy Friday!

Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego.  July 2013.

I'm dreaming of our recent trip to San Diego.  Recent, as in just last week.

Prior to Colorado and the Bay Area, we lived in San Diego for six years and still have a few friends out that way so it is a frequent getaway destination.  From Denver, it's a two and a half hour plane ride, which is probably near the top end of my two-year-old son's travel limit. This time around, we stayed at the Hotel Del Coronado, which is on the beautiful island of Coronado just south of San Diego's downtown.  Some may also know the hotel as the location for one of my favorite movies, Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

As you can see, the photos make the weather look very un-beachy, but coastal fog in the morning time is a common weather pattern in San Diego.  Often known as "May Gray" and "June Gloom", the fog is particularly bad during those months as the fog doesn't always melt away by midday.  The good news is if you just head inland, away from the beaches, you will find sun.  So if you're done with the 60 degree weather, just head east.

We will be heading back to San Diego at the end of the summer, so hopefully I'll capture more great photos of San Diego later this year.  These photos just don't do the lovely San Diego area justice!




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Exploring the Blogosphere: Healthy Eating Blogs

One of the things I love about the blogosphere is that I can look up any topic I have a question about, and I will inevitably find a blog on that topic.  And through that blog, I can often find a community of people interested in discussing that topic, which is great.

When I first started my blog, I was looking for a community of women like me: new moms with an interest in fitness.  I still visit those blogs regularly, but since then, I've branched out.  I've found a blog community around fashion, another community around crafting, and my latest discovery fully supports my current goal: healthier eating.

After two frustrating months of trying to lose weight strictly by exercising, I've accepted that all my efforts just aren't going to cut it unless I fix my eating habits.  In an effort to find new cooking ideas and motivation, I've started to explore the world of healthy eating blogs.

Here are some of my favorites so far:

Green Kitchen Stories
I won't lie: I love the beautiful food photos.

No Thanks to Cake
I love the writing.  Kelly's weight loss story is also inspirational.

Say Yes to Salad
Maggie has some recipes that are fairly uncommon -- which I am open to trying out.

Happy Herbivore
A friend recommended this site.  He's not vegan, but he does try to go meatless as often as possible for health reasons.

Jen's Gone Paleo
I'm intrigued by the Paleo diet.  I'm hoping that Jen's ideas and recipes will educate me on this alternative eating plan.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Building a Healthier Pantry


I'm only a week into my goal of eating more fruits and veggies and I'm already noticing a few differences in myself and in my kitchen:

  • My cravings for processed food have decreased.  Ever since we moved to Colorado, I've fallen into a trap of eating potato chips, crackers, cheese, candy.  It's been a week since I've craved a sweet treat after dinner, which used to be a DAILY event.
  • The number of TV dinners in my freezer have fallen to an all-time low.  I've found it's just as easy to cut up some tomatoes & cucumbers and throw together a filling salad.  If I'm craving a little more, I'll add some feta cheese and/or some protein, but I am continuing to focus on letting veggies and fruit take up the lion's share on my plate.
  • The produce goes quickly.  I just buy what I need for 1-2 days so I can have a little bit of everything.  I also have my produce out on my kitchen counter so that my eye goes straight to the produce for cooking inspiration.

I've been restocking my pantry regularly, with a focus on the produce, so I thought I'd share what I currently have in my kitchen.  I used to be a "cook strictly by recipe" person and I've found that I'm getting better at just throwing things together, based on flavor profiles, or classic pairings (tomatoes/basil, tomato/cucumber, bananas/strawberries, onion/cilantro/jalapeno, etc.)

Veggies
Asparagus
Avocado
Bell Peppers
Cucumbers
Jalapenos
Onions (red, yellow, Vidalia)
Tomatoes
Watercress

Herbs
Chives
Cilantro
Parsley

Protein
Eggs
Rotisserie chicken
Salmon

Fruits
Apples
Bananas
Cherries (frozen)
Mango
Raspberries
Strawberries

Nothing earth-shattering, I know.  But I'm still proud of the fact that I have so much produce in my kitchen and even more important, I'm actively cooking with all of it...

I have other things in my pantry (quinoa, couscous, pasta, rice, flour, various oils and vinegars, etc.) but I'm not going to list those because the BIG change I've been focusing on with my pantry is making sure I've got lots of fresh flavors.  I think I'm starting to wander into the world of whole foods with an unplanned (but delightful) outcome of less cooking.  I like cooking elaborate meals now and again, but I'd really like to spend less time over a hot stove and more time doing other wonderful things like reading, scrapbooking, and exercising.

What about your pantry?  Do you cook often?  If so, what do you like to keep stocked in your kitchen so that you can throw something healthy together?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Simple Summer Salads: Only Veggies!

Tomato & Cucumber Salad
As my quest to load up on fruits & veggies continues, I have been searching the internet for tasty and flavorful recipes.  I've learned that there is no need to keep any cookbooks around anymore!  I found a bunch of recipes, all variations on my favorite flavors.  I'm going to work through this list and see which ones turn out the best.  I'll report back any winners...

Easy Tomato Cucumber Salad
Tomato, cucumber, red onion, and basil.  What's not to like?

Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad
This Epicurious version gets a little fancier with scallions (instead of red onion), olives, mint, and lemon juice.

Creamy Avocado, Tomato, Cucumber Salad
Blogger "No Thanks to Cake" has a creamy version that I recently made... and will be making often!

Asparagus, Tomato, and Feta Salad
I love feta cheese!  And I love asparagus!  This one is definitely going to be on the menu this week.

Are you seeing a trend here?  Tomatoes... cucumbers... avocados...  Mmm.  I can't wait to try them all.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Roasted Veggies


In addition to promising to stick to my workout schedule, I've also decided to try and eat more veggies and fruit.  The idea is that if I eat veggies and fruit FIRST, there will be less room for the bad stuff (refined sugars, chips, and other empty calorie foods).

Last week I found a recipe for 10 layer roasted vegetable salad that was so good, my husband insisted that we make it twice in one week.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the salad, but it was delicious: you roast asparagus, zucchini, red onion, and bell pepper.  You toast up some fresh corn in an iron skillet, and then combine all these great ingredients with some black beans, avocado, romaine lettuce, slivered almonds, feta cheese, and finish with a delicious homemade dressing.  I'll be sure to get a photo the next time we make the salad.

This week we decided to do roasted veggies again, but this time we threw them on a pizza.  With homemade pesto!  It was so good we know we'll be making it again: Roasted Veggie Pizza Recipe.  We made the pesto from scratch, which we've never done, but was really easy.  I also like this version of the pesto because you don't need pine nuts, which can be a bit pricey, especially if you can't buy just the amount you need.

I took a few photos from our prep, which was not difficult: chop up some green bell pepper, red bell pepper, portabella mushrooms, red onion, and toss that with olive oil and garlic.  Stick the veggies in the oven for a little roasting, and while you're waiting make the homemae pesto.  Once the veggies are nicely roasted, get the pizza crust pre-baked, then top it off with all the goodies (pesto, cheese, veggies), and back in the over for another 15-20 minutes.  It couldn't have been easier.


Lastly, the basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese before it was turned into pesto:


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Finding Inspiration

After spending a week on vacation, I am ready to get serious about getting back in shape the right away: exercising regularly and eating better.  To celebrate my willingness to start eating  healthier, I created a motivational "poster" for myself.



I found an old picture of myself (running the San Diego Marathon in 2010) and put it next to a current photo of myself. The text reads one day at a time to get from here to here. I've placed the poster next to my hand weights so that when I wake up in the morning, I see them first thing in the living room, on my way to the kitchen.

I'm so excited about my little poster, I may have to create additional ones.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Library


The library is one of my favorite places to go with my son.  My son loves to be read to and we cycle through books pretty quickly.  As he approaches his second birthday, I've noticed that he gravitates towards certain subjects.  Recent favorite topics include dinosaurs, robots, and astronauts.  Favorites from the past year have included trucks, cars, and buses.

I also love the library!  With our recent move from California to Colorado, I've noticed a huge difference in the variety of media available at our new local library compared to the library we had access to in California.  I don't know if our old library was atypical of Bay Area libraries, but I have found that comparatively, our Colorado library has a much better variety when it comes to new books and DVDs.  My Netflix subscription has reason to be scared!

My favorite subjects right now include home improvement and toddlers (not in combination, of course).  We're waiting to close on our new house -- we bought it knowing we would be making some improvements to the house -- so my husband and I are scouring magazines, books, and HGTV to get ideas for how to renovate our house.

The space at the library is also pretty amazing.  There's a separate play space and reading room for the kids.  I usually grab a couple of magazines and then grab a seat on a comfy couch while my son plays with other kids or sits down with a book or a puzzle and we just hang out for a little while.  A great way to spend an afternoon...


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where to Run?

When we first moved to Colorado in May, I was really excited about being able to run outdoors.  Our home in California was in a very hilly area (think San Francisco hilly, with grades up to 25-30%!) so it was difficult to find good stretches to run without encountering major hills.  In my pre-baby days, tackling an occasional 25% grade hill for a short distance wouldn't have discouraged me, but I'm trying to make a comeback after a two-year hiatus.  It has not been easy!

For the last two months, I've been trying out a variety of ways to get back in shape.  Most of my workouts have been taking place early in the morning, and usually involve a 40-minute run, or, on the weekends, when there's more time, a 2 hour bike ride with my husband and son.

I've discovered that running in our new location has it's own challenges -- there's alot of traffic in the area we live in -- so lately I've been opting for the gym in our apartment complex.  After all, we'll only be living here for another month or so before we move into our new home, so I figure I should take advantage of they gym while we're here.  It's actually pretty nice inside:


It also has a really nice view:

I'm committed to getting in shape.  Since my son was born, several attempts have been made: when my son was 6 months old, I signed up for a mama & baby boot camp; when my son turned 1, my husband and I joined a gym, and I actually got within 5 pounds of my pre-baby self!; then we found out we were moving to Colorado and I gained alot of weight.  I think it was the stress around selling our old home, packing, and then, the challenges with my son when we arrived in Colorado.  Nobody was sleeping much, we were eating out alot because everyone was too exhausted to cook.  Now that we've been here for two months and everyone is getting eight hours again, we're cooking at home more and eating healthier.

I'll keep you updated on how my efforts are going to getting back in shape!

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Return to Blogging

I've been away for a while -- I realized I needed to cut something loose on my overly busy schedule.  Work was overwhelming, getting situated in Colorado took longer than I expected, and there was too much to deal with all around.

I'm excited about being back to blogging.

We've been in Colorado for two months now, and my husband and I are beginning to feel integrated.  We've been exploring neighborhoods, playgrounds, and good places to eat (that will have to be another post!)  We've been trying to get outdoors (we love the outdoors) and have been doing alot of bike riding:

We're still in temporary housing, but we will be moving into a permanent home before the end of the summer.  Since I disappeared off the blogosphere, much of my time was divided between work, helping my son acclimate to Colorado, and looking at houses.

Work.  It just so happened that our relocation from California to Colorado happened to coincide with both of my work projects reaching their peak.  I work remotely for a company based in Southern California.  I worked for them onsite for five years and then my husband's job relocated us to Northern California.  I took some time off to have our son and when I was ready to re-enter the work world (my son was around nine months old), I asked my old company for references for my job hunt and ended up with an offer to work remotely.  That was almost 14 months ago.  When we found out we were moving to Colorado, it was easy enough to take my remote job with me.

I work in IT (information technology), helping manage the business testing of software projects.  It's a great job to do remotely because most of my clients aren't physically located near the technology people, so they are used to working with our technology department over the phone.  I conduct all my work via conference calls, one-on-one meetings using screensharing (think Skype), and email.  All of our work is project-oriented, lasting 2-3 months.  Every project starts off slowly and then hits a crescendo at the end of the second month.  And that's exactly what was going on with both of my projects when my husband relocated our family to Colorado in early May.

My son.  Moving to a new state was not easy for my son.  We unrooted him from everything he has ever known: the house he was born in, his nanny, my immediate family (who all lived in the area), the school he attended for his hearing loss, and our friends.  The impact was immediately evident: the first week in Colorado was the worst.  Our son wouldn't fall asleep unless we slept in his new room with him.  Even then, after he would fall asleep, he wouldn't sleep more than 4-5 hours a night, waking up every 2 hours or so throughout the night.  We tried cry-it-out (CIO) after three weeks and then evolved to a more gradual process: we would lay down in his room until he fell asleep, then leave, and when he woke up in the middle of the night, let him cry for at least 10 minutes.  Sometimes he would fall back asleep, but other times the crying would continue and one of us would go into his room and either stay there with him the rest of the night, or leave again in the middle of the night after he had fallen back asleep.  By week five, he was back to sleeping on his own.  It wasn't easy, but we got through it.

House hunting.  Before we left California, we had to get our house ready for sale.  That in itself was an undertaking!  We had an in-law unit downstairs that needed some sprucing up (new bathroom, new floors) so we hired a contractor to get that all done.  We'd only lived in the house for a little over 18 months, so not much else had to be done, just a few cosmetic things here and there.  Shortly after we put the house on sale (three weeks?) it sold.  That was a huge relief because it gave us the freedom to move forward with our house search in Colorado.

Housing in Colorado is different than what I had been used to in Northern California.  When we looked for homes two years ago, the houses in the eastern part of the Bay Area (where we were hunting) were older (1920s-1950s) and smaller (1200-2000 square feet).  We quickly zeroed in on a very specific area just south of Denver where the houses are not as old (1970s-1990s) and bigger (3000 square feet and up!).  So were excited that the houses were bigger but they didn't seem to have as much character.  We looked at houses much farther away to get a newer home with more modern amenities but decided that location was much more important to us than move-in ready.  In the end, we bought a 1970s fixer upper that we hope to remodel and make our own.  Let's just say we are currently watching a lot of HGTV! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Obsessions: To Do Lists


I love To Do Lists.  I can't function without them.  I keep lists on my smartphone, I keep handwritten lists all over the house.  In my attempt to organize, I create disorganization in having too many To Do lists.

I get so much satisfaction from To Do Lists that I'll write down items that I've already completed just so I can cross them off.

With my recently acquired mommy brain, I am even more dependent on my To Do lists -- they give me permission to not remember.  All I have to do is find my list and review it.  Review and update, review and update.

I think my love of To Do lists come from a cousin affection: having a physical organizer/planner.  I've had a personal planner since I was in grade school.  My addiction started out with using my daily planner to keep track of homework assignments, and has morphed into a method for tracking short term and long term goals which would otherwise be forgotten about, only to be revisited over and over again in an interminable recycling of resolutions, never to be resolved.

In today's world of electronic gadgets, my smartphone is used for making phone calls and surfing the web.  But I still rely on my trusting paper and pen to document all that requires effort: daily tasks, long term tasks, thoughts of the moment.  In the end my planner doubles as a personal journal and a living document of who I was that day and who I hope to be the next day, the next month, the next year.

I don't think I'll ever be able to give up my planner and I'm proud of it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nannycare to Daycare: Week Two

So begins our second full week of daycare.  

By the end of last week, my son was doing better at his new daycare (read about my initial thoughts on our switch from nannycare to daycare).  Of course, two days of rain didn't help: all the kids were a little antsy from being stuck indoors all day.  On the flipside, we got to experience our first Colorado thunderstorms which were fun.  Not too much thunder and lightning but enough to get my son to spend a whole day saying, "Thunder!  Thunder!"




After a three day weekend together, my son seemed better: less of the whining, less anxiety about being left alone for even a moment's notice.  And then, Monday happened.

We went with our usual routine: wake up around 6:30am, and while my husband is getting ready for work, I eat breakfast with my son and get him dressed for school.  As soon as we got his backpack out and started pulling everything together for school, he ran to his room, grabbed some of his favorite stuffed animals, and huddled close to his books.  We had to carry him to the car.

When I came to pick him up that afternoon (and I tried to get there a little early), I found a teary-eyed little boy sitting in the corner of his classroom.  As soon as he saw me, he jumped up and hugged me.  Then he turned around, and to nobody in particular, said, "Bye bye!".

The rest of the afternoon my son exhibited all kinds of odd behavior (some of which we've seen the last week or two).  I needed to get grocery shopping and dinner done and he didn't want to have any of it.  He had a few moments of cooperation but many moments of running up to me in the kitchen, grabbing my leg, hugging me, and other such behavior which is new and just breaks my heart.

Drawbacks of Daycare
I know that he misses his old life (nanny, whom he trusted) and I've found some articles that have confirmed that moving to full-time daycare may not be the best setup for a toddler.  I've found one article that suggests that limited daycare is better and I'm thinking about moving to a situation where I send my son to daycare for the morning and have him at home.  That would have worked with our old setup in California where we had a nanny come to our house 8am-5pm four days a week.  I work from home four days a week right now and am planning to move up to five days a week.

We're in temporary housing right now which means our current home is very small (read: apartment).  Once we've moved into a more permanent home, I think I'd like to look into hiring an afternoon nanny who can pick my son up from daycare and bring him home where I think he'll nap better.  I have doubts that my son is napping more than an hour each afternoon.  If he is anywhere as anxious at lunchtime as he is when I pick him up at 3:30pm, I doubt that he is comfortable enough to nap.

The other thing I've noticed is that he is always ravenous when I pick him up.  I find this odd because he gets fed a snack in the morning, the lunch I pack up for him at noon, and then another snack right after their nap.  Maybe he's not getting that afternoon snack?  Or not eating it?

We get daily reports from daycare that provide notes on their activities that day, how many times their diapers were changed, what they ate, and how long they napped.  There are days where I don't feel like my son's behavior matches the feedback on the report.  We've only been there for a week and a half and I don't want to be that "difficult parent".  The one who is asking too many questions and super worried about their child.

For now it's a waiting game.  Wait to see if my son gets more comfortable.  Wait to see if we move into a real house sooner than later.  And until then, I'll keep researching on how to make my son more comfortable with daycare and how to deal with his separation anxiety.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Dance: First Run in Denver

Ten days after arriving in our new home, I finally went for a run.

With summer fast approaching, I've made a promise to myself that I am going to ease back into running.  The last race I ran was a half marathon in Chicago in August 2010.  That year I ran 8 races (1 marathon, 5 half marathons, a 15K and a 10K).  Since then, I haven't run much.  Last year, when my son turned one, I tried to get back into running.  It didn't happen.

San Francisco has great places to run, don't get me wrong.  But I didn't make it a priority to get out regularly.  I had a good 2 month stretch last fall, and after the holidays I never got back into it.

Now that I'm in Denver, I've made a new pledge to try again.  One thing I've noticed is people are really active here.  Other places I've lived that have had a high number of active people: San Diego and Hawaii.  I really hope that all these active Denverites motivate me to get out there!

Today's run wasn't so much a run, but more of a run-walk.  Using the methods the San Diego Track Club taught me the two years ago when I trained with them for marathons, I'll slowly work up to longer runs.  Right now my goal is to just get out there and run-walk for 30 minutes, four to five times a week.  Once I've done that consistently, I'll move onto longer runs on the weekends.

Fingers crossed...

Friday, May 3, 2013

From Nannycare to Daycare


The first week of daycare is over.

When my husband and I learned ten weeks ago that we would be moving from California to Colorado for a great job opportunity, we took the time to assess and agree that now that our son is close to two years of age, it would be a good time to move from nannycare to daycare.  For the past year, our son has spent four days of every week with a wonderful caregiver who dedicated more energy and love into caring for my son than I could have ever wished for.  Every morning, Jennifer* would show up at 8am, and the three of us would spend about 15 minutes together having a little breakfast and chatting (mostly about my son: how did he sleep last night?  Did he have any breakfast yet?  What are the activities for the day?).  Then I would pack up and head out for my "commute": a 30-second walk to our in-law suite, separate from the house, where I could work, undistracted and fully focused.  I love working at home, not just for the convenience of not having to go through the daily traditions required to commute to an office but mostly because I could see my son throughout the day (this was especially helpful when I was still nursing).

*Not her real name

What I'll Miss about Nannycare
When it was time to say goodbye to Jennifer, I realized then and there, that the relationship I had developed with her, was by far, the most important one in those first two years as a new parent.  The convenience of having someone come to your home to take care of your child is eclipsed by the experience of having someone become a part of your family.  Although I was working at home, I did see alot of Jennifer, and seeing how much effort she put into the care of my son, I grew very fond of her.  Being a first-time parent, I learned quite a bit from Jennifer.  I appreciated that she never dictated what I should do as a parent, but would provide suggestions.  I never felt judged for my parenting.

I also grew to like Jennifer as a person.  At first, I found it awkward to have a stranger in my house, as I've never hired anyone for any services: housecleaning, gardening, etc.  Over time, as we got to know each other, there were certain subjects we both enjoyed.  Firstly, my son.  We also both enjoyed food and would both contribute to meals.  It wasn't long, where, after enough lunchtime gatherings, we were comfortable with one another.

The Transition to Daycare
Which brings me to daycare.  Up until last week, I could see my son regularly throughout the day.  Not anymore.  If my work day wasn't too busy, I would occasionally eat lunch with my son and Jennifer.  With my son at daycare, I am now all alone in our new (temporary) housing.

The worst part of moving to daycare is the separation anxiety my son goes through when my husband or I drop him off for the day.  Taking advice from other friends who have their children in daycare, we decided to start off with a half week this week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  To make it even less stressful on my son (at least, this was my thinking), I have been picking up around 3pm, right after naptime, to keep his days on the shorter side.

Tuesday my son and I took a half hour tour of the facility.  We even had a chance to explore his new classroom together by ourselves, as his soon-to-be classmates were out at the playground.

Wednesday I brought him in, spent the recommended time playing with him for 15-20 minutes and then I left.  I swear I could hear his cries all the way to the car.

Thursday I had my husband drop our son off.  I got a text later that morning: that was one of the most heartbreaking moments so far.

Friday I had dropoff duty.  This time I spent half an hour with my son.  Then I firmly announced that mama had to go bye bye but that she would return this afternoon.  More crying.  But this time, not as loud.

I know it will continue to get easier.  It's hard to not want to comfort your child.  I know that with each day, as long as I return, he will eventually come to understand that he is not being abandoned but being brought somewhere where he can play with other children his age.  I long for the day when he will be excited about going to see his friends at "school".

Do you have children in daycare?  At what age did your kids start daycare?  What did you find helped them learn to "accept" going to daycare? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello, Colorado!


We have arrived!  This past weekend, my husband loaded up a U-Haul trailer with enough belongings to get us by for the next 6 months in our temporary corporate housing, and drove over 1200 miles from our old home in the Bay Area to our new home in Colorado.  My husband spent 21 hours in the car, not including rest times.  My son and I flew the same distance in a mere 2.5 hours, but door-to-door, the entire trip was 4 hours.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.

Originally, we were going to make it a family road trip but after my husband drove the U-Haul trailer home, he told me the thing rattled so much there was no way our 21-month old son was going to get ANY sleep.  The day before we were going to head out, we changed plans and I bought a plane ticket.  And here we are.  In Colorado.  Alot has happened in the last week, so let me share the highlights.

The Weather
Oh yes, let's start with the weather.  When we arrived on Sunday, it was 84 degrees, sunny & hot.  After pointing out to my husband that it has snowed every Tuesday in April in Colorado, it was his turn to tell me that the snowy days were behind us.  It was also in the 80s on Monday, and then we turned on the news that night.  Snow!  What?  I woke up this lovely Tuesday morning and sure enough, it was starting to snow.  It's been going for about 4-5 hours now and it's nice and thick and a lovely 33 degrees outside.

Having lived in California for most of my life, I get excited when it snows, because it usually happens on when I'm vacation: Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Salt Lake City, Whistler, you get the picture.  So I was thrilled to see snow in May but I overheard a couple of people at the coffee shop this morning wondering aloud, when is the snow going to stop?  It's May!

The People
My husband has been bragging about how nice everyone is in Colorado.  Today I had my first friendly encounter.  I went grocery shopping this morning and on my way out of the store, a total stranger struck up a conversation.  That would never happen in California, and if it did, I would normally be on guard.  But for whatever reason, I wasn't the least bit suspicious (ok, maybe just a tiny bit).  I hope the trend continues...

Getting Settled
I am a work at home mom (WAHM).  My husband and I moved from Southern California to Northern California 2 years ago due to a job offer (his job, not mine).  I was 8 months pregnant, so I gave notice, we moved, I had my little boy, and when he was 9 months old, I decided to re-enter the workforce.  When I contacted my old workplace for references, they asked if I would like to resume work, in a slightly different role (no direct reports), and do it all remotely.  Of course I said yes!  That was over a year ago.  When I told my manager that we were relocating from California to Colorado, I asked if I could take my job with me.  Happily, the answer was yes.  

I'm taking this week off of work to get settled and there is ALOT to try and tackle.  There isn't much unpacking to do, but there is all the other "stuff": finding new doctors, a pediatrician, a dentist, a place to get my haircut, etc; figuring out where to do my groceries, the local library, places with kids activities, playgrounds; and -- this part I'm MOST excited about -- where to exercise!  There are so many places to go running, hiking, biking, and my fingers are crossed that I find places that are a little more accessible to where we live now.  Surprisingly, that was the hardest part about where we lived: it was really hilly (I'm talking San Francisco steep) and it was really hard to get motivated about getting out for a run or bike ride some days.

Now that the big production of getting our old house packed up and moving ourselves is over, I plan to post a little more frequently.  Stay tuned on how settlin' down in Colorado works out for us!



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What I'm Reading: Lean In


Despite the turmoil and chaos surrounding me as we pack up the house and get ready for our move to Colorado, I do still find time to read.  How?  I do all my reading via audiobooks in that brief, quiet time right before I fall asleep.  I've brushed my teeth, I'm happily settled in bed, and I will nestle in, put in an earphone, and start up the book.  I sometimes suffer from insomnia, so when I wake up in the middle in the night, I'll put the earphones in and listen to books in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I even fit a little reading in when I first wake up and am not quite ready to get out of bed.  Reading time in the morning is going to eventually be placed with exercise, but for now, I am happy to start my day with a little escape with a book.

Right now I'm reading Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.  I'm only on chapter 5 but am finding lots of good food for thought.  Up until two years ago, my life was all about work and running.  My husband and I were certain were pretty certain we didn't want to have kids.  What changed?  It was a lot of things: work wasn't as satisfying, friends were having babies, and I began to ponder that question that haunts me every now and then: is the hokey pokey what it's all about?!  Seriously, though, after years of trying to find satisfaction at work and often feeling like that I was measured differently because I am a woman, I've found lots of "I can relate to that" scenarios in Sheryl's book.

In searching the internet, I've also found lots of other posts discussing Lean In, which is making for a psuedo-book club discussion (albeit one-way, since I'm reading other people's thoughts on Lean In and not necessary submitting my own thoughts).  It's been interesting to read other women's opinions towards the book.  Here are few posts I've found recently:

Agreements & Disagreements with Lean In
A Naysayer on Lean In
The Review I Identify with the Most

Have you read Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In?  What are your opinions on Sheryl's message?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Insomnia

It's a telltale sign that life is getting stressful when my insomnia sets in.  Last night I could not shut my brain off.  My mind was racing through all the things that need to be done to prepare for our move.  Storage unit and garage inventoried and cleaned out?  Check.  Arrangements for final doctor's appointments, school / day care arrangements?  Check.  Forwarding address submitted?  Not yet - we are still waiting to hear on our new temporary housing in Colorado.

What's tough is that we are so busy this last couple of weekends we've had to turn down get togethers, birthday parties, and other social engagements.  There's so little time to officially say goodbye!

I've moved myself many times in the last two decades and I know I can do this one more time.  This too, shall pass.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Packing: T Minus 2 Weekends

The countdown has begun.  We have two more weekends to get the house ready for sale.  We've decided to keep our furniture in the house rather than have stagers bring in furniture, but the house has to be minimally furnished (ever notice how spacious those staged houses look?) so we've been spending time every weekend packing up all the "extra" things that make a house look lived in.

And, there are some things I'm just not comfortable with movers packing for me.  We just moved two years ago and I remember unpacking some of my boxes with horror, discovering how items with nothing in common had been packed in the same box (kitchen whisk with bathtub spa pillow anyone?).  This morning, while cleaning out storage, I finally find the mate to a brown boot that has been missing since our last move.

In the picture above, I am packing my own scrapbooking supplies.  As any crafter knows, there are lots of tiny things when it comes to art and keeping them organized is key to finding them quickly when working on a project.  I'd like to think I'm a fairly organized person but somehow, after I finish a few projects, all my supplies are in disarray.  So, I went and grabbed all the little boxes I could find to use to group "like" things: sharp things with sharp things, little things with little things.  And when the boxes are full and can be closed, there will be lots of labels!

When was the last time you moved?  Do you have a spring cleaning at your house every year?  How do you minimize clutter?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What I'm Reading: Sweet Tooth


We just discussed Sweet Tooth in my book club's latest meetup.  I'd forgotten all about Ian McEwan and was glad that one of our members recommended this book.  It's been about 4 years since I read Atonement and I loved that book.  After reading Sweet Tooth, I went back and reread Atonement, then moved onto another Ian McEwan book, Saturday.

I won't go on a long discourse about any of these books but I did enjoy reading all of them.  What I found amazing was how different all three books were.  Mr. McEwan has quite a range when it comes to his fiction.

I'm going to take a break from Ian McEwan for now, but I'm sure I'll be back to read more of his books.

Any recommendations on what I might try next, given my most recent read?


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Evening Reprieve


With my husband working in Denver Monday through Thursday every week, I get to try on the role of single parent a few nights the week.  It's alot easier to tag team in the evenings with someone else to get dinner on the table, eat, then begin the post dinner ritual: bath, some books, and then bedtime for the little one.  Usually while one of us is putting our son to bed, the other one is cleaning up after dinner and tidying up the house.

When it's just you, it can be alot of work doing all of that yourself.  So last night, I decided it would be alot more fun to spend my evening as a solo parent with my son at the local library looking for a new set of books to read (you can only read Good Night Gorilla so many times!) followed by a nice dinner at a nearby sushi restaurant.

While I enjoyed my trio of salmon presented three ways (sushi, sashimi, and nigiri), I distracted my son with a book while feeding him miso soup with a whole lot of tofu hidden in it.  It took a little more work to bribe him to eat the chicken teriyaki with some rice.

It was a little treat for me to get out of the house one evening this week.  And it was a little reminder of what life used to be like before our little guy came into our lives.

What about other mothers out there?  What little "treats" do you indulge in to make some days a little brighter than others?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It Snows in April in Denver


My husband has already started his new job in Colorado.  I take him to the airport every Sunday evening, he flies out out to Colorado, and returns Thursday evening.  Until we all move out to Colorado, I'm a single parent four days out of the week.  I don't know how single parents do it -- I'm in awe.

It snowed in Denver all day today and he sent me the picture above to share the moment.  I looked at my phone, dumbstruck, thinking "It's going to reach a high of 75 today in the Bay Area.  And I'm about to move to another state where it could snow in April.  Heavily."

I lived in Boston for five years (college and then a bonus year of actual employment in Beantown) and I got to experience snow, but that was...different.  During the four years of college, my "commute" involved moving about campus with occasional trips by bus or train into Boston downtown.  Other than the one year of work after college, I haven't really had to deal with snow, and I don't have alot of experience driving in it.

I'm still excited about moving to Colorado, but I'm sure this time next year, when it's April and a snowstorm hits, I'll be dreaming of the view off our soon-to-be-old-California-home, where it might be 75, sunny, and a perfect day for a little sunbathing:


Monday, April 8, 2013

Ready Set Go


Before I overthink this decision to start a blog, I'm going to post my very first entry.  I have to start somewhere and hopefully I'll be halfway good at this.

A little bit about me: three years ago, I was perfectly happy, living in sunny San Diego, dedicating my time to my husband and my other love, running.  I admit I was a bit of a workaholic too, but I loved my work.  Fast forward to today: still perfectly happy, but now I live in the Bay Area, am a mother to a 21 month old little boy, and am lucky if I find time to run.  I have to admit it's been tough mastering motherhood.

Well things are about to change again: my husband recently got a new job in Colorado, so we'll be moving yet again.  My husband and I met in San Francisco in 2004.  Then we got married and moved to San Diego for six years before coming back to the Bay Area in 2011.  So we're not too sad about leaving the Bay Area.  At least, not yet.

I'll start this blog out with documenting our transition from California to Colorado.  And hopefully, it will grow from there.
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