Baby Gourmet – Get Into My Face

Several months ago a box of Baby Gourmet snacks showed up on our doorstep. YES!!

We’ve been dedicated Baby Gourmet users since our first Bean arrived in 2014.

I’d like to say we were first drawn to the non-GMO organic ingredients – no fillers, added sugar or salt, or artificial preservatives of any kind, product, but that would be a bold faced lie. Nope, we started buying Baby Gourmet because the food pouches always seemed to be on sale at Walmart. Another fun fact, it’s true, we’re gasp, Walmart shoppers.

In our home the food pouches are “Food Bags.” We don’t use their names, instead they are all lumped together by their cap colour. Most importantly my vegetable adverse 5 year old will still suck back a veggie filled food pouch with zero hesitation.

CAN-GingeryPearSpinachWholeGrainsWhen the Beans were still itty bitty, I’d buy these by the cart full.  Now, I keep a couple in my purse for OMG, I need to put food in them RIGHT now moments. I feel so much better quelling their hunger pangs with one of these bad boys versus some of the other readily available fast food choices at my immediate disposal.

When both Bean’s were first dipping their toe in the “solid” food waters, we introduced Baby Gourmet cereals.  The ingredients lists made me feel like I was putting a little bit more into their growing bodies than empty calories. Both Beans at 6 months gave the cereal whole hearted gum filled smiles!

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The box that showed up in our home was filled with snacks.

There were Puffies and Finger Foods. The littlest couldn’t get enough of the Lentil and Chick Pea Carrot Sticks. While little Mr enjoyed the Cheesy Broccoli Puffs.  These snack bags weigh NOTHING they are feather light, so it’s pretty reasonable to stuff the diaper bag (yes, everyone is out of diapers in our household, but once you’ve had a bag that can carry EVERYTHING, it’s so hard to let go) with many many many bags of snacks.

Running late for work one day, I looked at the bag Tomato Basil Slices sitting on the counter and thought, why not. I am a cheezies junkie. I have trouble resisting the vending machine potato chips. I was totally satisfied with my Lentil and Chickpea Puffs, and guess what, no guilt, no bloat, no ick.

Perfectly transportable food made for your precious littles, decidedly perfect to stuff in your own belly.

You can find Baby Gourmet wherever you shop for infant products. Baby Gourmet’s a proudly Canadian company. The company started just over 10 years ago with one mom trying to figure out some healthy solutions for her little.

So, basically what I’m saying is, thanks for a box of treats Baby Gourmet, but you’ve already been a part of our family for several years. Thanks for the Tomato Basil Slices, they are super addictive, and I’m hooked.

So, the next time you and I are sitting in the corporate boardroom and I crack open a bag of Puffies, you get one chance to throw down a “self feeder” joke and then I’ll get you hooked too.

xoxo,

Mrs Undad

ps. I suspect it was pretty clear we received some free product in exchange for a post, but, everything above is decidedly our own opinions.

 

 

 

Can We Just Take A Moment?

The air has been filled with noise lately.

So much noise.

The radio, like the comment section, is an angry buzz of change and frustration.

People are stretching, just as others are huddling.

How’d we get here?

We’re stuck in these endless cycles of “busy” and just “one more sec,” “one more email,” and “one more hour.”

We forget to celebrate the good stuff.

For the last week the kids and I have been focused on new norms.

The kids are sleeping in their own beds. They are going to bed at the same time each night. They are awaking each morning at the same time. Our worlds are routine driven.

The littlest is in daycare for the month.

The oldest is attending day camp.

The kids are active and engaged. They are sleeping well. There is very little yelling.

Ok there’s some yelling, but none of the bad kind. Today, I demanded the oldest stop growling at his sister because it was scaring her and she wouldn’t stop screaming. That is until I moved closer and heard her gently whisper to her brother between screams “Growl again. Growl again!”

We’ve been making our beds each morning and putting our clothes in the hamper each night.

We are picking days to add routine to. So far we have Fried Chicken Monday, Mow the Lawn Thursday, and Funday Friday. The Undad was the catalyst with “Saturcakes” (pancakes) every Saturday morning.

Yesterday morning our alarm did its thing at 6:15 am. The sounds of selected 60s tunes from Calm radio filled the hallway. Two blurry eyed blondes stumbled into my room for love, cuddles, and snuggles. Our clothes were already laid out waiting for us. We had discussed the night before what we were having for breakfast. Lunches were already packed.

We dressed – NO arguments.

We headed downstairs – NO arguments.

We doubled checked that our lunch looked like we expected it would – NO arguments.

We got our shoes and jackets on. Put our dishes in the dishwasher. We wiped the table off. We headed out the door – NO arguments.

We had agreed, in advance, that everyone would climb into the car through the back hatch and then race to get into their car seats – NO arguments.

We dropped the oldest off at day camp at 7:30 a.m.. We had a silly walk race in. We danced our way out – NO arguments.

We drove to daycare. We dropped off bike, helmet, and baby girl. – NO arguments.

And then, guys, this is the best part. I made it to my scheduled 8 a.m. meeting ON TIME!!

No tears. No fights. No yelling.

I arrived at my meeting.

Other meeting people: “Good morning.”

Me “Good morning.”

Other meeting people: ” How are you?”

Me “So good. In fact, can we just take a moment and reflect on the fact that I somehow managed to get my toddler and preschooler to daycare and day camp with no arguments, tears, or bite marks? AND managed to arrive on time?”

We took a moment and rejoiced. We all seemed to understand this may never happen again. Parent win! We joked about what a-holes toddlers and preschoolers can be, sometimes.

So, a gentle reminder, in case you needed it, sometimes we just need to stop and take a moment. Do a little happy dance. Let another parent know they are kicking ass.

Today we celebrated how awesome the kids were and by extension, how awesome that made me feel.

xoxo,

Mrs Undad

The Art of Authenticity

The Undad has been struggling.

Struggling with where he fits and how he fits. What art is? What his art is? Is this art? If it’s not, what is it? For now the podcast is on hold and the blog is evolving.

He knows, right now, he doesn’t fit here.

He was thinking about ending The Undad.

Stepping back. Stepping down. Saying goodbye.

I asked if he would consider letting me maintain The Undad, for now. Let the storm pass. Let the sky clear.

For now, it will be you and I, and less Undad.

For now, it will be my truth in parenting and less detail about The Undad’s.

I’m going to be playing some catch up on some awesome opportunities that our family enjoyed because of The Undad. I hope to share more of our day-to-day with you. For example, today’s “Get your finger out of your nose count” is only 6, so let’s embrace that the first 12 minutes of the day went exceptionally well.

So. Here we are. Are you loving your kid? Are you fighting for what’s best? Are you fighting for them? Are you teaching them to be strong and resilient? Are you teaching them to be kind and caring? Are you showing them compassion? Are you demonstrating empathy? Are you filling their hearts with love? Then, please know, you’re doing a great job, and while it may not get easier, know, we’re here, fighting this weird, strange, wonderful fight along side you.

“Stop sitting on your sister.”

“Don’t growl at your brother.”

“Why would you throw your shoe at your sister?”

“Get your fingers out of your bum.”

Xoxo,

Mrs Undad

How to change a life in 6 weeks, blow up the internet in 24 hours and destroy a person’s confidence in an afternoon of texts.

6 weeks ago I entered into a 42 day fitness challenge. I clung to a thread of hope that on the other side I would have a wee bit more energy, a touch more health, a dash more confidence, enough weight loss to fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe, and, if I was exceptionally lucky, I’d come out on the other side with my money back in my pocket.

Having never made it past 4 workouts at any one facility or class in my adult life, yoga excluded, committing to 18 workouts was a pretty big deal.

The investment of time, energy and money put a strain on me, my marriage and time with the kids. I was terrified of pushing too hard and too fast and finding myself crumbling under a mountain of pain and fatigue again.

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I am proud to say I survived 18 workouts. The last 7 of which I worked so hard in that I had moments where I couldn’t believe this was my body, working this hard, and getting this strong.

The workouts were incredible. The instructors were supportive. The atmosphere was fun. Around the 5 week mark the owner decided to “school” us – he programmed multiple days of “easy” exercises and showed us how to give it our all – leaving us gasping for air and aching from head to toe. I had no idea I could push myself so far without throwing myself over the edge. In 22+ years of chronic pain and illness I have frequently found myself falling over the edge or playing it too safe and not even venturing close.

I spent most of the 6 weeks sleeping on a mattress in the kids’ room. The idea of walking across the hall to answer a middle of the night scream was far more energy than I could muster. I had the energy to lift an arm to snuggle, but not to lift a scared child and carry it back to its room.

To ensure I met the meal plan, I did all of the cooking for lunches dinners and all of the grocery shopping.

I had a few failures and challenges, and several successes:

During week one I found myself at Costco in the evening with two hungry kids. Their dad promised them hot dogs and chicken fingers, but I was the one out shopping with them. I fulfilled the promised food and ended up snacking on one chicken finger. I pulled off most of the breading and nibbled on the white meat. I ate a hot dog wiener without the bun. I ate a fry. I felt like a failure, but also recognized that old me would have eaten a hot dog, eaten all of the remaining chicken fingers and fries, and probably would have had a pop or two – so it was a loss and a win.

Every Saturday I weighed myself. As an adult I’ve never really been to conscious of my weight. The postpartum depression and anxiety, I still battle, reared its ugly head before each Saturday weigh in. I began to look at food as can and can’t, good and bad, and was having trouble finding balance. I wasn’t sleeping well and my stomach was in knots about the money spent and the potential of straying on the diet.

As Christmas drew nearer I successfully avoided every dessert brought into the office by my colleagues; but I worried about the message I was modeling for my children. A world of can’t and don’t, of restriction not moderation. I wasn’t ok with that.

Trent and I decided to accept that I would likely not achieve the fitness challenge benchmark and get our money back, but we would have an opportunity to show our children what moderation and hardwork looks like.

I made a commitment to my kids to live in the moment. My mom thought dad would be healthy enough to travel to our place for Christmas. She was celebrating finding the time and energy to bake. I was determined to celebrate with her. A few months ago we had thought dad wouldn’t make it to Christmas, so we were preparing to celebrate a miracle.

On Christmas Eve I built a gingerbread house with the kids. Not a single cookie, drop of icing or candy made it in into my mouth.

I voluntarily gave up most of my allocated carbs over the holidays. I ate one of my mom’s peanut butter squares, I ate a delicious dessert square from a friend, and finally on boxing day I ate a couple of slices of lefse and left the rest for my children. The lefse was extraordinarily touching for me as my grandmother had made it 3 years prior before she passed away. Usually I would have eaten every slice from every available roll, so to have only eaten a couple of slices was a huge achievement.

My mom and I prepared Christmas dinner to align with the diet.

With each win, each temptation and each uncertain step I had the opportunity to share on an incredibly supportive closed group made up of other challengers.

Aside from one occasion where I felt I was attacked for my ‘negativity’ the group became a supportive family in a very short period of time. I looked forward to celebrating others’ successes and encouraging others to resist when they were tempted not to workout or not to follow the meal plan. After a hard workout I could look forward to someone commenting “good job mama” or “way to go.”

The one odd occasion stemmed from a post I made about success at the halfway point of my challenge journey. In the message I identified that on the weigh-in charts it seemed like very few people were close to meeting the challenge weight loss goal, so I wondered if success was measured in a different way considering 87 percent of challengers are successful. I identified I considered myself successful already because I was learning how to fuel my body well with appropriate proportions and good nutrition. Others responded quickly to share that they did not expect to meet the weight challenge, but identified ways they to were succeeding, everything from eating better to pants feeling much looser. Soon after someone commented that we needed to stop with all the negativity. A subsequent post included calling out the negativity within the group as bringing others down and contributing to them not being successful. While my intention in the post was to discuss what defines personal success, the commenter could only see my identification that people weren’t necessarily going to lose the weight, and missed the question about whether success was determined in other ways. They also missed a whole slew of people celebrating their personal successes. I deleted my post. It was not intended to be negative, but I hated the idea of any one thinking I was being negative. I was broken over the idea that my reservations about the diet or my challenges would make it harder for someone else to achieve their goals.

After Christmas was done I was in it to win it. I added walking. I was more active with the kids. I voluntarily gave up my carbs for the last two weeks.

I was fighting a cold most of December. The kids were sick all of December. My fibromyalgia was wildly flaring up. I couldn’t stand anyone touching me and working out was excruciating, but I noticed I was started to feel better about the world and my anxiety had been dialed down a notch or 30.

I swung wildly between being ok to have invested money in my own health and welfare and feeling desperately regretful about having spent money we didn’t have on something I didn’t give 100 percent to 100 percent of the time.

Around workout 15 one of the instructor’s commented on how much my body had changed. They asked if I thought I was going to win. I said no. I explained that I had given myself permission to demonstrate moderation over the holidays, there was no way I could win. She said she wouldn’t be so sure. She thought I might be pretty close to the percent body fat loss goal. Oh my goodness. A renewed sense of hope and fear and stress came flooding through me.

I was diagnosed with strep throat on the Sunday. Workouts 16 through 18 still lay ahead. My female friend, Aunt Flo, arrived prior to workout 17 and ten days early.

I started chugging water and protein shakes. My weight was fluctuating 5 to 8 lbs from am to pm.

I was so scared. So anxious about final weigh in.

What if I won?

What if I didn’t?

Full disclosure, I didn’t win, but the results were damn impressive:

As soon as I was finished weighing in I ran out to Trent in the car. I had lost 4.9% body fat. I had missed winning the challenge by 1.1% considering the challenges I faced including temptation, chronic pain, illness, chronic fatigue and limited time. I had killed it. Not getting our money back played with my anxiety. At the same time I wanted to celebrate with my new family in the accountability group.

I posted the following on my way home from errands:

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When I got home I couldn’t wait to see how the other challengers had done. I went to navigate to the closed accountability group and found I was no longer a member.

I was devastated. I had been through so much with everyone for 6 weeks. My cheer squad, my family, my fellow warriors, my friends. As someone who struggles with chronic illness the opportunity to be social and develop relationships is limited. Suddenly I found myself fiercely connecting with a group that came into my home on my terms and who I got to spend up to 3 hours a week in person with.

I posted an emotional Facebook status update where I lamented the loss of the group and wondered why I no longer belonged. Was it because I had posted results? That was my last interaction with the group, had I said something wrong? Was it because I lost the challenge? Maybe it was because the challenge was over? Perhaps because I wanted to know who the winners were? I hit send and walked away from my phone.

Over the next 24 hours my Facebook page was very active, but I wasn’t anywhere near my phone. An individual observed that my status update identifying my insecurities about why I was no longer part of the group were silly. Another response from the same person suggested I was being dishonest about the outcome. Soon thereafter many of my friends and family stepped up to the plate to defend me and my right to feel a sense of loss for not winning the challenge and being removed from the group.

I didn’t know this was going on, instead late in the afternoon the next day I picked up my phone to 47 notifications and many private messages and text messages.

My confidence was already depleted. I took my phone to Trent. “I don’t know what is going on. I don’t want to read it if it is something bad.” Trent read through the Facebook posts and described to me what people had posted.

Tears. So many tears.

While I was busy mourning the loss of my new found community, I was being chastised on my private Facebook profile in a personal post to my friends. My integrity and intentions were questioned.

Trent reassured me the Facebook thing was handling itself and it would be ok. That’s when I found a private text message with screen shots of the same challenges and successes and fears I have shared with you above, from where I originally shared them on a private accountability group. They were sent to me to let me know why I failed. To remind me that had I followed the diet I would have gotten my money back. The text implored me to be honest. To let me know people were upset to discover I felt so negatively about the experience.

I was gutted. Gutted.

I had failed my family. I had been weak. Look here’s the photo evidence. Photo after photo. In the moment I couldn’t even process that some of the images weren’t from me failing, but were posted to celebrate wins like the untouched gingerbread house. I gasped for air. I cried until my tear ducts ran dry.

I hadn’t had a negative experience. I had had an incredible experience. I rated my experience 5 out of 5 on Facebook. I was planning a blog post about how extraordinary my experience has been and how much benefit both myself and Trent had gotten out of everything. How Trent had lost an impressive amount of weight by just following the simple nutrition plan I had been provided. How I was heart broken that our budget would not allow me to continue, but if we managed to come up with a side hustle that would be the first place I would be spending my coin.

Instead the self doubt came crashing down all around me. Was I unlikable? Was it silly to feel that I had been unceremoniously kicked out of a support community that I had been so proud to belong to? Were more people going to add to the negative chatter? Did people hate me? Why didn’t I get to say goodbye? What happened to family? Why do people think I am being negative? What’s negative about thinking I had done something wrong? What’s negative about feeling abandoned? Isn’t that a sign that something was working exceptionally well and is just in need of refinement on the closure side?

I later learned I was removed after final weigh in because I hadn’t bought a membership.

Perhaps, my only recommendation for change would be to give people a few days to celebrate and say goodbye or even better let people self select when they say goodbye as long as they continue to be positive contributors to the community. I can only imagine how desperate I would be to buy a membership after watching others transform their lives and bodies in real time.

So, instead of being a blog post about this kickass challenge I did and how The Undad and I learned how to put the best of fuels into our bodies, manage our cravings and place value on our own physical health, it has become a bit of a cautionary tale about the power of the internet and social media to build and challenge, empower and support, and break a person down. There is weight behind words and intention. There also is a difference between what someone shares in closed groups and on private profiles and what they share publicly.

I am working to reconcile the loss that came on the other side of a substantial accomplishment.

Everytime a new text messages arrives my heart races.

I deleted my twitter account.

I regret having openly shared my challenges, success, and feelings because of the affect on others and how their subsequent affect on me.

I am conscious of how tone cannot be read in text.

It is my intention, always, to leave the world better than I found it. To approach each day through a lense of joy. To push down the discomfort and rise above. To be curious. To push further. To be me and only me.

Free fitness challenges in sponsored ads are abundant across Facebook right now. They are a business model. They fill classes. They recruit and retain new members. It would be naive to think these were crafted solely around changing one’s life. Of course they are a commercial venture, but here’s the thing, in this instance I believe also in the feel good, gushy side. In the wanting to help people succeed while being successful.

I get the defense response to my emotional personal status updates came from a raw and very real place of wanting, needing, things to work and succeed and wanting to curtail the glitches that could derail the plan.

I love the idea that a member is a member because they are a family member and having watched the staff talk to, encourage, and play with my children, so I could get a good workout in, I know there is truth and teeth to this approach.

So, I guess I would write a different ending if I could, but this is where we are.

I started by spending money we didn’t have.

I started scared of pushing too hard and ended scared I didn’t push hard enough.

I started lonely and ended in the same place, but in between I had beautiful glimpses of what a strong supportive community can look like. Also, I have a Facebook friend posse of people I have and haven’t met, that, according to Trent’s play-by-play, are super ready to go into battle for me (and that’s pretty cool).

I started with my confidence at an unreasonably low level, built it up, had it squashed, and am now working to resurrect it again.

Trent and I are still committed to the values this challenge taught me (us).

Our fridge is filled with veggies and lean proteins, water is our constant companion, and we are going to keep moving our bodies.

One day I was scrolling on Facebook and a sponsored ad caught my attention. I clicked and said “I don’t know if I would qualify.” The ad talked about getting fit, but should have said ‘a change for the better’.

Perhaps with a small asterisk identifying that nothing worthwhile comes easy.

Magic Beans and the Ponies

RacingToHelp
In a purple mood

Our house is never quiet.

Every second propels us forward. Tic. Tic. Tic.

The last 4 years have been an adventure. The last 2 years have been a war. The last 4 months have been hell.

4 years ago beautiful Bean 1 arrived.

2 years ago uniquely determined Bean 2 arrived.

1 year 10 months ago I lost control.

I lost my heart, my focus, my strength, my courage, my determination, my justification, my awareness, my sense of humor, my ferociousness for life, my dreams, my body, my stamina, my joy, my sillies. I lost me. Postpartum depression is no joke.

I spent a year of maternity leave climbing a mountain that popped up out of no where on a beautiful clear day in the middle of the prairie plains.

I returned to work last October and over the last year I’ve reclaimed myself as a professional. I’ve dug deep to be Mom. To touch, to love, to encourage, to laugh, to play, to shake my sillies out in public, to find time for fun, to lower my voice, and stifle the voice in the back my head that wants to filter everything through a deep dark cloud of doubt, anger, fear, anxiety, hopelessness and judgement. I win every day. I get out of bed. I head to work. I do my job well. I care deeply for my colleagues and their work. I go home. I cuddle my kids until they fall asleep, and most nights I also end my day right there and then, amidst a pile of love.

Over the last four years Trent and I’ve tried to figure out what being married looks like; what being a team looks like; what healthy communication sounds like; and what financial stability and fortitude could be.

Money, like so many others, is our stumbling block.  We are, for the most part, a single income family. The money I earn is our money. It pays the mortgage on two houses, it pays insurance on two houses, two cars, and provides personal liability insurance to a certain hubby who may or may not walk the line in his writing. It clothes the kids, pays for utilities,  gasoline, AMA, Netflix, license registration, travel to my parents, interest on credit lines, taxes, preschool, clothing, swim classes, trips to the zoo, presents, craft supplies for an insatiable artsy little boy, dog food, haircuts, clothing, coffee, lunches, drinks before late night gigs, ice melt, repairs at our rental property, repairs at our property, a new furnace, a new power steering system on the car, etc.

Trent’s money is our money. Unfortunately, the arts community still thrives on free. It thrives on providing exposure, opportunity, and fun. It takes advantage of someone’s skills and someone’s enthusiasm to create, and expects that it doesn’t have to compensate in return.

Trent gets asked to participate in a lot of gigs that come with no compensation, but they come with planning meetings at bars, and rehearsals at restaurants, and pre-event discussions at pubs. They take place at locations requiring paid parking. They often take him out of the house for long periods of time, whether for rehearsals, writing or performance. The financial expectations for my husband to be able to participate and contribute to his chosen and preferred art forms are considerable, the least of which is the actual money spent.

There’s a cost to spending money, but there is also cost to each hour my husband provides his skills and expertise for free, and doesn’t compensated for the value he has provided or the time he has had to be away from his family.

It’s a thing. It’s a hard one for me to wrap my head around. I haven’t been able to reconcile how artists take advantage of other artists. Although, purely anecdotally, I can tell you that the people who ask my husband to create for free, who schedule all meetings in locations requiring hospitality expenses, who bail at the last minute after my husband’s been sitting in a downtown restaurant for an hour waiting, are from single or duel income homes with no kids.

So we fight about money, who, when, what, why. What’s the actual cost. How do we demand value for our time? Will there still be work on the other side of saying “I cannot work for free.” What if there wasn’t? How do you attach a monetary value to the things you cannot imagine doing, but what if you don’t?

Four months ago my dad got sick. I’ll get into that more another time. It’s a footnote here. My body has absorbed it all in fits and bursts. The extra trips home, stops for take out, stops for convenience food, stops for kid distracting knick knacks, do-dads, thingamabobs, do-hickies, and whatnots. It’s absorbed it all in exhaustion, weight gain, waves and waves of emotions, and sporadic I want everyone to experience joy spending streaks.

It’s not uncommon, lately, for me to burst into tears over a spilled glass of milk, or a broken egg.

Trent reminds me on the phone he needs to grab some time to workout. Working out is important to his mental health, to him, to our family. I get in a huff “when am I supposed to work out. when am I the priority. ME ME ME ME ME ME!” RAAAAAAAAGGGGEEEE. I end up in the doggy pile of kids and blankets and stuffies, before I ever even think about taking care of me again, and Trent spends 45 minutes in the basement trying to sweat his way through where we are and where we need to go.

Enter Facebook and a sponsored advertisement from Rhino Nutrition and Fitness.

Rewind. Years and years ago when a friend broke up with her then fiance. We bought a Groupon for one month at a gym called Healthy Rhino. She went 10 times. I went 3. It kicked my butt. Money wasn’t a thing for me. My health wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t of concern. Everything hurt. I didn’t go back.

Fast forward to 2017. I tried Fitset for a few months, before the limitations of maternity benefits had totally crippled us financially and I had to quit. Fitset allowed me to reacquaint myself with Healthy Rhino. I went 2 or 3 times. It was wonderful. Kathryn carried my littlest Bean around, Ryan give the older Bean some whatnow and whatfor sass for being a terrible sharer. I realized then I was slipping deeper into the postpartum waters at that time, but hadn’t fully lost touched. I felt alive.

Back to today. To here. To now. I saw the add. Healthy Rhino is now Rhino Nutrition and Fitness. They are at a new location and they had a sponsored add offering a limited amount of opportunities to participate in a 42 day challenge for free.

Free in our world is doable.

Free is possible.

Free is reasonable.

I went to the consultation. I cried. I discussed the extra weight on my body. I discussed not knowing what I weighed, but knowing nothing quite fits anymore, and we can’t afford to replace everything; so I squeeze and I squeeze and I squeeze, and try to be professional and polished and together. Katharine talked about community and accountability. I talked about the loneliness of only existing at work and for the kids, and having nothing left in the tank for anything else.

The challenge includes 3 work outs a week, a nutrition plan, and support.

The catch. You have to bet on yourself.

An impossibly high deposit (a legitimate cost for the time and expertise the staff at Rhino Nutrition and Fitness are providing).

In 42 days if you’ve done all of the things that Rhino staff have asked to document your accountability to fitness, nutrition and participation in the challenge, and have lost 25 lbs, you get your money back. They say they have a success rate over 80%

I wrote my credit card number down.

I signed up for my first weigh in.

I signed a contract.

I phoned Trent:  “I may have done something very bad. Very bad. Or maybe good. I’ll talk to you when I get home.”

I explained. I’m not going to put me first, I’ve proven that, but because I put money down that we don’t have to spend, that isn’t mine to risk in this way, that I should have discussed with Trent first… I have to put me first. I have to do everything possible to meet the target in early January. Because if I don’t put me first, I’m putting my family at risk.

Trent said, jokingly “you could have just bet it on the ponies, but of course we don’t have a track anymore.”

Trent said, “you can do it.”

’cause that’s the way Trent is. I obsess about the extra $11 spent at McDonald’s or an unexpected $5.99 google play purchase. But Trent. Trent hears a big scary sum of money, he sees my fear, he pushes down all of those moments I’ve been critical about smaller sums of money, and says “you can do it.”

 

How to Drive Your Woman Wild

I’m not embarrassed to admit that finding ourselves pregnant nine months after getting married pretty much brought our honeymoon lifestyle to a screeching stop.  Between gaining 76 lbs with my pregnancy, 8 months of morning (all day) sickness, 2 months of pregnancy related hives, postpartum liver deficiency,  the unbelievable stress/expense of taking four months of maternity leave as the primary income in the family, and the unbelievable exhaustion that comes from endless sleepless nights (while battling chronic illness) my husband and “quality” time became increasingly less of a priority or option.

There really was no opportunity after baby arrived to pick up where we left off.  When I returned to work 3.5 months after Bean was born, baby boy went on a crib strike.  He refused to sleep in his crib when I was home.  After spending each work day away from him, I couldn’t handle his ceaseless crying at night.  Cry it out wasn’t an option, I would have fallen to pieces too early in the process.  Suddenly we found ourselves as a bed sharing, co-sleeping, family.  I was happy for time with Bean, but exhausted.  Bean was happy and content.  Trent slowly became “Daddy.”

When I arrived home at night, Trent would  run out the door.  He tried to fill his evenings with creative pursuits, time with friends, writing, film projects, podcasts, and the occasional photography gig. When he was home, he’d head into his office and work on projects long into the night.  Frequently he’d crawl into bed 4-6 hours after Bean and I had said “night night.”

We each became convinced the other was no longer in love, and perhaps not even in like.  I’d get home from work and there would be three loads of laundry waiting for me, a sink full of dishes, and an empty refrigerator.  Trent would get a list of “could you,” “would you,” and “why didn’t yous” as he headed out the door. I struggle at the best of times to keep my head above water.  As someone that experiences chronic illness and pain I place every ounce of my best into my workday.  My colleagues get my energy and good, and my family, frequently, gets the wilted leftovers.  Add stress to the mix, and I’m just a yelly, achy, confused, ball of exhaustion that no one really wants to spend too much time with.

And then, something happened.

We had a discussion. A challenging one.  We said things.  There were tears.  And then, there was listening.  I heard how hard it is to have ones only intellectual stimulation in a day be that of a toddler.  I heard how crippling it can be to only hear suggestions of how to do thing better or faster.  I heard how frustrating it is to have a wife that is a manager and motivator try to apply all of those leadership practices at home.  At the same time Trent heard me say how hard it was to come home every night from work to chores that needed to be completed at home alone with baby at my side.  How draining it was to feel like no one else cared about the things I considered important for a home to be a home.  How anxious I felt driving home each night to what could be total chaos and an unbelievable amount of chores.  How I felt like I was losing myself because I only had time for work at work or work at home and joy was just something I’d have to find later. He heard how lonely I felt.

When I originally was thinking about writing this story, I had planned on writing something humorous.  A metaphor filled riff on things a husband can do to make his partner scream with ecstasy. I planned to allude to that one thing my husband has started to do that drives me wild, and makes my toes curl. There was going to be something about seeing him bend that certain way…over a sink. Here’s the thing: it’s not funny. It’s amazing.  My husband heard me and has become my partner.

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We’ve entered into a phase that is so much more than we experienced as newlyweds.  My husband is in it to win it with me.  Each night for the last couple of weeks I have come home to my husband.  We’ve had dinner as a family.  Frequently all of the dishes are washed.  The counters are tidy. Toys are picked up.  Sometimes the hum of the dishwasher or washing machine can be heard in the background.

(When I was planning my spoof “How to Drive Her Wild” post, I left a voicemail for my husband asking him to take the most “wildly enticing” photo of himself he could.  This is what he sent. This is a picture of love. This is a picture of my whole world.)

Usually while I’m getting dinner ready Trent grabs a few minutes for himself, and then he joins Bean and I and is perfectly present.  He tells me about his day, the good stuff and the bad stuff.  I laugh at his jokes.  He laughs at mine.  We celebrate new words, new behaviors, and toddlerific feats of terrifying proportion.  Sometimes after dinner Trent offers to wash the dishes while I enjoy a glass of wine, or he takes Bean off to play for a bit while I get some time to unwind.  Other evening’s he’ll head off to write, but reappear around Bean’s bedtime to take on all of the getting ready for bed routine with an extraordinarily defiant toddler while I have a shower.

He will lay and chat with me for a bit while Bean nurses at bedtime.  And, if Bean fights me on bedtime, Trent doesn’t let me struggle on my own for too long.  He’ll come to my rescue with his warm milkless chest, and will snuggle Bean while I head upstairs for 20 minutes of quality/mindless social media time.  My husband is a damn hero when it comes to getting Bean to sleep.  He’s the Sleep Whisperer of the Wilkie house.

Here’s the important lesson that has come with taking on this marriage, family, partnership thing in a full on let’s do this together way: my husband has transformed from “Daddy” to the most unbelievably attractive man I have ever encountered.   He’s my Brad Pitt.  He’s my Channing Tatum.  He’s rugged and handsome.  He’s funny and irresistible. I want to smother him with love in every moment he’s around. I can’t get enough. I am wild for this man.  He’s found the secret to my desire. The key to my feminine wiles.  He’s every plausible outcome of a Playboy story on “how to turn her on” and he’s doing it day after day by being the awesome dad that he always was and the unbelievable partner I suspected was in there.

I’m also becoming lovelier daily.  I’m calmer. I laugh quicker. I have more energy. I’m happier. I’m decidedly more patient. I’m definitely more loving.  Mostly, I’m exceptionally grateful to have a loving partner, at my side, helping carry the weight of our lives forward, together.

Why I Love my Husband Enough to Embrace Dingy Whites

Laundry is tough. It takes time and effort. It’s necessary, but often a struggle. It seems endless and limiting, but the joy of freshly laundered sheets or pajamas is incomparable.

Relationships are equally tough. They arsleepinginVan15e filled with drama and strife.  Often we feel the other is insane.  She wants what? He won’t do what? That’s important to her? That’s not important to him?  It’s a constant challenge to appreciate when we do something because we understand, because we agree, or simply because we love and respect our partner and something matters to them.

I’ve never been particularly good at maintaining the order necessary for running a satisfactory household.  My counters are clean but cluttered.  My laundry is washed, and occasionally folded, but can mostly be found piled on a chair or in the bean’s crib.

I grew up in household where my mom frequently bleached the whites.  They were perfectly clean and lovingly folded while warm. Perfect piles of perfect laundry.

When I visited my maternal grandmother, she’d add a few drops of bluing to her whites and when the piles of white sheets and towels came out of the dryer, she would painstakingly iron each until folded perfectly in a clean crisp pile.

A visit to my mother-in-law includes the magic of her linen closet.  A perfectly stocked cupboard, with piles of neatly stacked, matching, perfectly white towels and wash cloths. The first time I saw the linen closet I remember saying to my then boyfriend, it’s like visiting a spa, it’s perfect.

I was raised in, these women were raised in, homes where white laundry was white.  The reasons for such care in the maintenance probably differed.  Perhaps, the white things in the home were of the most valued?  Perhaps, the white things in the home were the ones most likely to be seen by guests?  Perhaps, the white things in the home were the ones that provided the most comfort, but needed to last the longest? Petticoats, bed sheets, christening gowns, table cloths, hankies, etc. I suspect the common thread was simply a, probably misplaced, idea that the homes with the whitest of laundry were those that cared the most.

White sheets and white towels give me  a sense of accomplishment.  It’s funny how that has lingered.  I’m terrible at folding.  I rarely iron.  I’m a bit of a granola when it comes to my choice of laundry products.  I use a biodegradable, non toxic, hypoallergenic, no sls or sles, no gmo, chlorine free, phosphate free, dye free, non toxic, paraben free, formaldehyde free, ammonia free and fragrance free laundry soap.   The unofficial product title is “Your Whites Will Never be That White Again.”  Truly, it’s a battle just to maintain
“good enough white” and letting go of the fact that “yup, that’s totally WHITE” will never be achievable again.

My best strategy, so far, for securing my white laundry fix, has been the purchase of a sectioned laundry hamper.  I divide our laundry out into darks, brights, and lights each night before bed.  Carefully sorting through, and catching the stray blue sock, or red dish cloth that my husband or offspring moved or accidentally tossed into the wrong section earlier in the day.

As previously discussed baby bean wears cloth diapers.  We have the diapers laundered by a service, but are responsible for maintaining the diaper covers ourselves.  Each of the adorably bright diaper covers is edged by a white elastic along the leg holes.  This white trim challenges me.  When they are white, I feel like a good mom.  I change beans diaper and am proud that I’m obviously holding my crap together.  This is the white laundry of a mom that cares for her bean, that takes that extra few minutes to sort out the laundry, that shows he’s wearing something clean, freshly laundered just for him.  When the strip is grey and dingy, I often feel deflated.  Did I accidentally forget to sort the laundry?  Did I forget to add brightener? Did I miss washing this diaper cover? I feel less like a good mom, and instead feel irrationally lazy.

So, here’s the thing. I get it. It’s just laundry.  No one but me is going to see it.  It’s trivial.  It just needs to be washed.  I get that being a good mom is about hugs and love, singing together and reading each and every book that we encounter together.  I get that being a good mom is about celebrating bean’s accomplishment and challenging him to reach for extraordinary things.

It’s complicated though.  It’s wrapped up in all of the women that have loved me, taught me, and inspired me before.  It’s wrapped up in how I feel crawling into a perfectly made bed with luxurious white linens on my honeymoon.  It’s wrapped up in an expression of love I’ve seen my entire life.

So, when my husband throws the diaper covers in with the dark laundry and expresses his only interest is getting the necessary house work done. I get it.  He’s right.  And my pouting over the potential for dingy elastics is unnecessary and absurdly trivial.

It only takes entering the search term “white laundry” into google to embrace how important the quest for clean laundry continues to be with the top three Amazon.ca books showing up as: Talking Dirty Laundry With The Queen Of Clean1,001+ Housewife How-To’s: Household Hints to Help Homebodies Cook, Clean,  Get Organized, Do Laundry, Save Money and More!, and  Laundry: The Home Comforts Book of Caring for Clothes and Linens.  There are blogs about laundry, youTube videos about laundry, parodies about laundry, stories with titles like “For a happy home!”, “The perfect housewife solution!” and “The ultimate mom’s secret to perfect white laundry!”.

So, here’s the deal.  I can embrace dingy.  I just got to break through years and years of memories filled with hardworking women caring very deeply about their white laundry.  If it’s the difference between a happy me or a happy family, I’ll have to side with the team that embraces dingy whites, but finds time for laughter and each other.

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World by Richard Wilbur.