I don’t get too many guest posts around here1 — but that’s, mostly, because none of y’all send me stuff to post here. So, when I checked my email today and saw that Shoe Mom (who has no blog of her own, but wanted an outlet for this story) had a story to share, well, imagine my excitement. Without further ado, here’s Kim:
Thank you for allowing me to guest post – I don’t blog, but I have a number of friends who are bloggers… and I read a lot of blogs. This is a story that needed a blog home.
I cried at a Junior Mini Basketball Jamboree game, today. You probably already guessed that I’m going to tell you why.
I am a single mom, to a 9 year old son. He plays basketball. He’s not a very strong player, but he has heart. He doesn’t get the most baskets, but he is a team player who passes the ball and has fun on a team of 8-10 year old boys. They aren’t the best team. In fact, they finished the year at the bottom of their division. But they practise, play together, and both the individual players and the team have steadily improved this season.
This weekend was the final basketball tournament of the season. We were playing our final game of the year, and it was evident that, in this game at least, we were the stronger team.
There was a small player on the other team – considerably smaller than all the other kids, on both teams. I would even go so far as to guess that there may be a medical reason for his height, although that is truly just a guess. He tried hard, but he rarely got the ball. But what I’m going to describe next? Well, it had me in tears this afternoon and has a lump in my throat, now.
I learned afterward, our coach “suggested” to our boys to let him get a basket. What happened was an amazing thing. All of a sudden, there was one team on that court, not two – our team passed the ball to the opposing team, and one of them would set this boy up to score. Red jersey or orange jersey – it didn’t matter. These kids had a single goal.
He got the ball, took a shot, and missed. And the kids set it up, again – another shot, another miss. Soon the parents realised what was happening, as both teams set him up, again. Eight times he took a shot and seven of those times, a miss.
And then he got the ball, again and took the shot. Mercifully the ball found the net! Both benches of parents cheered and yelled and clapped. And the game went back to being the red jerseys vs. the orange.
But you should have seen that boy’s face. If he had sunk the winning shot in an NBA final, he couldn’t have been more excited! The other coach came over and shook our coach’s hand; ultimately and firstly, they are both dads.
Who won the game? Well, I could tell you who got more baskets – but who won the game? The kids on two teams who learned the meaning of sportsmanship and teamwork today. The kids on two teams who realised that the game is not ONLY offense and defense. The kids on two teams who had fun, today. And the kids on our team – who up until today had never met or even seen this boy, but whom they treated like a teammate and a friend.
And that is why I cried at a Junior Mini Basketball Jamboree game, today.
- I have absolutely no idea why people are looking to replace black, ever. But I also have no idea why it’s frowned upon to wear white shoes, or pants or undergarments, or hats, after flag day.
- I’m very particular about my grammar, word choice, and punctuation. For the most part, this makes me a better writer – but when I’m working on a truly creative endeavor, my pickiness gets in the way. While the story is writing itself, in my mind, I get hung up on choosing the perfect word/phrasing/sentence instead of just transcribing
the crazy voices in my head in those rare times that they’re not telling me to do evil thingsthe story . . . so that, by the time I try to catch up with the story, it’s gone.
- I need to find the time for song lyrics. Badly.
- I’m a huge fan of the ampersand, but I cannot allow myself to ever place an ampersand at the beginning of a sentence1, or after a comma2, or as the beginning of a parenthetical aside.
- I believe the semi-colon to be the most misunderstood (and therefore underused) punctuation mark.
- As I’m approaching my “target weight3,” I’m finding that I’m changing my strategy at the gym. I’m focusing less on cardio and focusing more on weight-training (though I’m still targeting the same amount of time at the gym). This means that most of my cardio comes
at the buttcrack of dawnin the early morning. Part of me wants to say that this is just a natural progression as I need to burn fewer calories, but that’s not the case at all. I’m vain. I’ll be on the beach before too long and I want to look good without a shirt on.
- Along those lines, my new obsession is the #corechallenge. While I said, last week, that I’m approaching being able to complete forty consecutive push-ups, that’s from a rest . . . after a thirty-minute weight-lifting circuit and fifty crunches, completing two sets of fifteen push-ups, as sweat drips off of your nose, is difficult.
- I played a concert with the West Short Symphony Orchestra yesterday. Since I’ve been with this group, it was the largest crowd we’d ever had, and we played exceedingly well. I was proud to be part of the organization (not that I wasn’t, previously, but you know what I mean . . . or maybe you don’t, but if you don’t, well, I just need to choose my words better).
- Several people came up to me, after the concert, to say that they love watching me play. On one hand, it’s great to know that I’m making someone happy — but, it’s probably not a great thing to stand out so much while playing with a symphony. The thing is, during a concert, I tone my moving with the music back. When I’m learning a piece, I look like a perpetual motion machine.
- I nearly posted a vlog last night of me playing piano – but only because I was still wearing a tuxedo from the concert. See? Vain.
Again, I’m a “weight is just a number” guy, but that doesn’t change the fact that my body was growing in all of the wrong ways toward the end of last year. Part of that might have just been holiday madness, but mostly it was that I was getting into bad habits: I’d skip breakfast, I’d allow myself a glass or two (or three or seven) of wine with dinner most every night, I’d “sleep in1” most mornings (skipping workouts).
So, come January 2, I joined a weight-loss-challenge with a bunch of friends from the Twitterverse. While I absolutely do not care about my actual weight, weight-tracking is the easiest measure in a group setting . . . though I’d love to see a VO2Max challenge (if only because if you think I look goofy now, imagine me with an oxygen mask on while walking on the treadmill). And, quite frankly, while I don’t care about my weight, there was far too much fat for me to not lose weight if I was serious about concentrating on my health.
Today marks 50 days into a 90 day challenge . . . and I would have posted this at the 45 day mark, but, well, I didn’t think of that post, so you’ll get 50 days in.
The challenge started when two friends were talking about getting their asses in gear in the new year . . . and I chimed in that, if they were to create some kind of way to motivate each other, that I wanted in. Then another person chimed in, and then another. Before-long, we had a pretty significant number, a Google group was created, and the ground rules were set: weigh-ins on Wednesdays, the “winner” would be determined by overall percentage of weight lost (though this is, somewhat, unfair to some members of the group who, simply didn’t have a whole lot of weight to lose), be consistent & honest with your weight-ins.
As we started, I set my own rules: religiously journal my food intake to My Fitness Pal, work out as much as feasibly possible, and pack breakfasts & lunches as often as possible (for the financial benefit as well as the waistline benefit). With the workouts, I did set two goals: run 1000 miles and bike 2500 . . . and I’m falling behind, a bit, with those – but I have good reason. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t stand not being able to feel my toes. So, I’m staying inside – and I hate running on a treadmill. With a brutally cold winter, I have barely been running — but, if I extrapolate my elliptical times to 10:00/miles (and I’m closer to a 9:00/mile runner when I’m going for distance), I’m actually ahead of my target, so I’ll just hope that the temperatures warm up soon and that I don’t lose my focus.
Oh, and I took before pictures. Because this was a 90 day challenge and I knew I wouldn’t be completely happy with the result in the mirror after 90 days. In fact, I might not be happy with the result in the mirror, ever. But, I needed something to keep me from getting discouraged — instead of looking in the mirror & getting stuck with “this is not where I want to be,” I can look in the mirror, compare it to my before shots, and realize “this is how far I’ve come”.
50 days in, the weight is coming off – but, more than that, my self-confidence is up. I have more energy (most of the time – the day after a day with a significant amount of time in the gym, I drag a bit — and perhaps it’s that I declared today a “recovery day” that I’m writing this post). My clothes are fitting better, though I need to buy new jeans and a new belt.
|Before||50 Days In|
|256.6 pounds||233.8 pounds|
|13 consecutive push-ups||37 consecutive push-ups|
I’m on my way into work this morning, minding my own business, driving while talking myself out of stopping at any place that might sell breakfast food (because I had bacon on my mind) when the smell hits. At first, I thought maybe I had passed some gas . . . normally, I’m pretty aware of when & how severely I fart, but I guess it’s possible that one would sneak without my notice.
Then I started thinking about my truck. Did I blow a hose, and is this what hot brake fluid smells like1? Did I run over a skunk? Did the couple of post-workout, sweaty t-shirts mate, making smelly miniature t-shirts?
Seriously, did I fart?
I just, kind-of, kept to myself on my way into the office, until I heard other people complaining . . . and, with that, I figured that I must have, either, smelled really bad, or it was something else, entirely.
My office borders farm land — we’re hearing that it’s a new, liquidized pig manure that was sprayed overnight. As if my job wasn’t bad enough to begin with, I am now working in a stench that is pervasive.
- I ate like crap over the weekend. Between friends coming over, and the Super Bowl, and it being February1, I splurged. A lot. So, I’m declaring the scale my mortal enemy.
- I can’t believe there used to be a time that I was really worried about CJ’s speech. While CJ started walking very early, he really didn’t speak at all. Now, I come home from work and he tells me all about his day – heck, he is even particular about tenses, making sure that I know the difference between the things he wants to do and the things he already did.
- I know I keep saying it, but I really want to start work on my left-arm sleeve tattoo shortly. I’ve written songs for each of my children, so it will be the sheet music of each song, ribboning around my arm. My bicep will have CJ’s song interspersed with a Phoenix. My forearm will have Leila’s song wrapped around a Thunderbird.
- The other day, at the gym, I ran into someone with a swastika tattoo over his chest, and a white-supremacist remark, in German, across his back. I had a very, very hard time not judging him. He also sported several other Nordic rune tattoos . . . I’ve always had a fascination with Nordic runes, and have actually thought about a personalized Ægishjálmur (going so far as to work with a runic expert to design one) but I’m having a hard time disassociating them now.
- I’m ready for a change in weather so that I can start running more.
- My new go-to activity at the gym has been the rowing machine – but damn, does that lead for some sore butt muscles the next day.
- I really thought I might be able to keep up the “reduced coffee intake” thing up throughout 2013. I was wrong.
- I miss going to Kung Fu regularly.
- I’m re-watching the episodes of Breaking Bad, in order . . . damn, that’s a good show.
- I have an extraordinarily fun gig set up for Saturday . . . only I’m rehearsing all day long. I may be a bit crazy Saturday night.
- I’m stuck as to my next audiobook — I just finished Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry just released a new novel . . . but going from a humorous & snarky novel based (and about) South Florida to a humorous & snarky novel based (and about) South Florida might just be a little too Floridarific for me.
- I should write about the time that I bought Dave Barry a beer.
- I originally wrote “bear” in that previous sentence.
I’m a busy person – and, as a busy person, I find odd times to get stuff done. And, as a health-conscious person, workouts are an important part of my day. This means that, every day, my plan is to wake up early1 and sweat for a bit. I walk the dogs, and take inventory of the weather — if it’s too cold/windy, I choose to spin on my stationary cycle (running into a bitterly cold wind is like trying to run through a wall, and a wall that makes me cough). If the ground is, even remotely, icy, I choose to spin (on a good day, I’m lucky if I don’t trip over my own feet – add ice to the equation, and I have no idea what I’ll do turning a corner . . . nevermind a car) – and then I work out until 6:30 or so.
The thing is, this only takes my own schedule into account, and kind of ignores the fact that my wife is kind of busy, too — and, you know, might like to work out from time to time. Yesterday, as I was trying to figure out if the weather would let me run (it was looking doubtful), Duffy mentioned that she wouldn’t mind if I slept in to let her get some quality time with the spinning bike in. After asking her to let me know if she “just wan’t up to it” as early as possible, she told me that she wanted to work out from 6-7 before getting a start to her day . . . and, well, if I woke up at 4, I could ensure that we could both manage a workout.
So I walked the dogs and found that the temperature was great for a run, but the ground was quite slippery, thanks to a freezing mist the night before . . . so I spun, watching episodes of Breaking Bad and 30 Rock. Then, I had time to myself. I thought that I should turn on my computer and check in on work, or maybe write a little bit — but then I saw that both of my kids were still asleep, so I got under the covers.
CJ is my cuddle-bug. There is seldom a time that he’s not happy to cuddle, so I laid myself down next to him, on the other side of Leila, who goes through random “everybody needs to get away from me right now” phases.
Duffy leaving the room woke Leila, just a little bit. She asked for her stuffed Tinkerbell, and settled down for just a second. Then she got up, kind-of, sleepily, and it was obvious that she had a plan in mind — I thought she was trying to look for the remote control to ask me to put on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when she started crawling toward the foot of the bed while mumbling something that I’m sure was fully comprehensible to her — but I was half asleep and my comprehension of the sleepy dialects of toddler is greatly diminished when I, myself, have sleep on my mind.
Leila crawled all of the way to the foot of the bed, and just as I thought she was going to plop herself down there (something she is wont to do, especially when she’s in a “nobody is allowed anywhere near me” phase), she crawled up to me, and placed herself in the nook of my right arm. She took just a moment to make herself comfortable and let out a fake snore (something she’s picked up along the way, though I don’t know where, but always makes me smile) before falling asleep.
For the next hour, I had my daughter nestled in one arm, my son nestled in the other, and drifted off to doze.
I know these moments, at some point, will cease. But I just cannot say how wonderful it was to start my day this way.
Lately, at home, we’re having a hard time with Leila asking for things, nicely. Basically, as soon as she decides what she wants, she demands it – and if she doesn’t get it right away, she whines and cries and tantrums and pouts; In other words, my daughter acts like I do when I’m hungry — apples don’t fall from their trees.
triggers my every last nerve is being difficult, my hope is to simply ignore the tirade and get her to ask, politely, for whatever it is that she would like. But, my patience is nowhere near as long as it needs to be for such a task to be successful. So, last weekend, I informed my little princess that she needs to ask nicely.
My voice may have been raised when I told her so.
And Leila hadn’t napped that day, though she had woken before the sun.
Leila burst out into a relatively impressive tantrum.
I went about my task of ignoring said tantrum when I looked up to see a wrath-faced little boy looking at me. CJ had been playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii while I prepared dinner, but he stopped playing. He was staring daggers at me.
“You. No. Yell. At. My. Sister.” he informed me, firmly (it’s downright scary to see how well he mimics my “you better as hell pay attention” voice).
A big part of me wanted to tell him that he’s not the boss. But I broke out in giggles.
May god have mercy on the soul of Leila’s first boyfriend.
A few months ago, I got really, really scared. We were having a few friends over for pizza, and CJ decided that he needed to take his pizza with him to watch the movie that the other kids were all watching. There’s a step between the kitchen and the TV room, and he was watching the movie & didn’t pay attention, and he fell. And when he fell, the pizza fell off of his plate. And when he went to reach for the pizza to put it back on his plate, Snickelfritz snapped at him (food on the floor, as many dog-owners know, is in the doggie domain, but that’s not a lesson easily taught to toddlers).
We calmed the situation down and CJ was just fine. Heck, five minutes later, he was far more upset about the fact that he lost his pizza than the fact that the dog snapped at him1, but it really opened our eyes to the situation. Since Snickelfritz’s arrival, there has always been a little bit of a fight for “alpha dog” status in the house. Hobbes, whom Duffy belonged to when Duffy & I met, was older — but he just isn’t a dog that is motivated by food. If you give him loving and walk him, he’s happy. Snickelfritz, well, for him, food is love. And while I can try to put the wolfpack mentality to the house – it, simply, is that Hobbes doesn’t care enough to assert dominance about the things that Snickelfritz does. And, until children, that made for a happy situation.
But the past few years have made Snickelfritz . . . anxious. I try to find a better word for it, but I really can’t. Snickelftiz acts like someone who is living in constant fear that his wife is going to leave him, and he’s going to lose his job, and the cops might arrive any minute to arrest him for that one time he smoked marijuana 22 years ago.
This night made us change a lot about the way the dogs and the family interact. Our bedtime routine generally follows that
I fall asleep as the children play in our bed the kids fall asleep in bed with Duffy & me, and we transport them over to their own room . . . but, after that, they typically work their way back over to our bed before the sun rises. In other words, our kids spend a fair amount of time in our bed, and kids don’t always move predictably, or quietly, or gracefully . . . and when there is a dog in the bed who is always anxious, well, it can lead to a hairy situation. Nothing bad has ever come — but that doesn’t mean that it won’t. We made the decision to stop letting Snickelfritz sleep in bed with us (he’s a bit too out of shape in order to actually jump on the bed, himself . . . well, he’s not, but he thinks he is, and because he doesn’t think he can make the jump onto the bed himself, he won’t do it). We lock the dogs in a different room whenever the kids are eating, just in case.
For the most part, these changes haven’t affected the family dynamic all that much. Snickelfritz sleeps at the side of the bed, and is still a pain in the ass in the early mornings when I’m trying to take him for a walk. He’s pretty vocal about not liking that he isn’t allowed with the food-chuckers when they’re chucking food, but he’s not showing any more anxiety than he was before.
So, we’ve changed our reality. And it’s been working.
But this morning, I changed my routine, just a little bit. I woke up, and I wasn’t feeling very well. I walked the dogs and my sore throat and headache just got worse through the walk. After I got back, I chose, for the first time this year, to go back to bed (though I had planned to work out). However, my wife and kids were splayed out over the bed, and I didn’t want to disturb them, and I was cold from being outside . . . . so I took myself into the guest room. And Snickelfritz whined at the side of the bed. Without the kids in bed with me, I saw no reason to keep him on the floor.
But I’ll admit that I was fearful. As I said, Snickelfritz was anxious. I was afraid that he’d whine, and ask for attention, and want to play, and nudge my face with his nose. But he lied down, right next to me, nestled between my left arm and my body, his head resting on my bicep. He slept. I slept.
Shortly after we got Snickelfritz, we enrolled in “puppy kindergarten.” As we approached Christmastime, I stayed around an extra day, to spare one vacation day and to take Snick to a scheduled class. After we got home, we played for a bit and I took him for his nighttime walk. There were two, large Great Danes who were also out for their walk . . . Snick saw them and, immediately, asked to be picked up. He wasn’t more than a few months old at this point — terrier fierce, but quite small. It was cold, and I was wondering if he might have discomfort in his paws from salt on the sidewalk combined with the cold, so I picked him up. As soon as he was at a height greater than the walking great danes, he barked at them. “With my daddy, I’m bigger than you!”
That night, I allowed him to sleep in bed with me, as I was the only human home (we had been crate-training him to that point — he just didn’t understand his bladder well-enough to make it through the night, consistently). When he slept, he slept against the small of my back, as I lay on my side.
When I woke up, still ahead of my emergency alarm2, I adjusted myself, lying on my side. Snickelfritz got up and curled himself in a ball, at the small of my back. We acted as heating pads to one another, just as we did when he was a puppy.
This is a premature post . . . a single, difficult situation is not something that I need to truly regroup from, but it’s still better for me to organize my thoughts for a little bit. And I’ll just take the rest of you along with me.
Today, in a truly unfortunate series of events, my stress level went from “manageable” to “full-on emergency.” Everything was handled, but I was . . . worked up, to say the least. Since then, my heart-rate has returned to normal. I’m chill, once again. But, damn, do I want to eat.
Immediately after the emergencies were handled, I talked myself out of chips from the vending machine. My logic was that, if I’m going to splurge, I want to make it worth it; I have no real options to splurge aside from the vending machine.
When the call of possibly-stale Doritos struck, though, I reminded myself that I have a couple of hours to kill after work, before my triumphant return to symphony rehearsal tonight . . . and my favorite bar has Guinness and All-You-Can-Eat wings and curvy bartenders wearing skimpy, form-fitting tops.
That thought got me past the lure of the Doritos — but I absolutely cannot allow myself to visit that bar if I want to maintain my healthy posture.
I’ll admit, I’m really struggling in talking myself out of that Siren’s call . . . but I will head directly to the gym after work. I will work out for, at least, an hour. I will shower. And then I will sit down and take inventory. Just how hungry am I? What am I actually craving (my guess will be protein and veggies and a little salt . . . and beer, and I’ll be trying hard to not think about this article)?
And then I’m going to try, really hard, to not think about the way that hot sauce & blue-cheese dressing mix with crispy fried chicken skin, and how well a cold Guinness neutralizes any discomfort derived from capsaicin. I’ll find something reasonable. Somehow.