Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Letter to Super Boy for his 5th Birthday

Oh, my boy... It seems like just yesterday you were still a little butterball rolling around inside my tummy, contorting my body in ways I never imagined possible, filling me with love, hope, optimism, excitement and joy. Hard to believe that it will be five years this Friday since I felt you move inside me. Oddly enough, you were born on a Friday, back on May 23, 2003. The date that will forever be known as the happiest of my life.

You have changed so incredibly much over the past year, in so many amazing ways.

You've started - and nearly completed - your first year of "real" school, having gone to Jr. Kindergarten in September. I was so nervous to send you - nervous that you'd be sad having to be away from me every day again after being home with me for six straight months, nervous that you'd end up being constantly sick and on antibiotics again being around a bunch of kids again everyday, nervous that you'd not make friends. But you proved my fears unfounded, as I should've known you would. You took to school like a fish to water. You loved it. You loved learning, you loved being a big kid like all the other kids on the playground before school each day, you loved wearing a big boy backpack, you loved having play dates with your new friends after school, and you loved your teacher. Perhaps best of all, you managed to stay healthy, all things considered. While many of your classmates and kids in other grades were down for the count several times during the school year with bad viruses, strep throat, stomach illnesses, pneumonia and other stuff, you managed to stay under the radar with just a few colds and a stomach flu. Daddy and I were delighted - you haven't had antibiotics in a year and a half!

I'm so proud of all you've accomplished in school this year. You're so smart! You learned how to write more than just your name, and to write using "school letters" (uppercase to start sentences and proper nouns and lowercase for the rest). You've learned to count to 100 and write your numbers. You're starting to read by sounding out words, and even sometimes sentences. Your artwork is truly amazing -- I'm in awe of your natural ability and your imagination, your use of space and color. And your memory is staggering, my sweet. The things you remember... (Let's just hope you forget all the bad words Mommy has said when she's forgotten your little ears were listening!) I'm also astounded by your reasoning, your problem solving skills, and your common sense. You're not one to throw tantrums, which I have to say I absolutely LOVE, and you're actually really good at coming up with solutions to problems - both mine and yours! And you have so much common sense, way more than I probably did at your age. It's so refreshing to spend time with you just talking, because you're always thinking of such interesting things. It's really, really cool, baby.

You've also grown in your athletic abilities. You officially learned how to swim, just in the past month, and I am SO impressed by that! You're fearless now, which is both good and a little bad, because you want to go in deep water even though you can only swim a short distance and then you want to touch bottom. We need to work on that, and help you swim for longer distances without touching your toes down. But the joy on your face when you accomplished your first solo swim of a few feet was something I will never, ever forget. I was so crazy proud of you! And soccer - you're a really good soccer player! You're really beginning to understand playing on a team and working together with your teammates to score a goal. You have strong legs, Daddy's coordination, and a love of the game that is evident. I hope you'll stay with that and grow in your skills, baby.

I've loved seeing you form your own friendships outside of the kids of my and daddy's friends. It was strange at first, seeing you bond with kids whose parents I did not know well, but through you I've made new friends myself, which was a pleasant surprise. What has warmed my heart is seeing the way you care for your friends, and how good you are to them, especially the girls. I love that while some of the boys in your class have gravitated almost entirely to the other boys, you've been an equal opportunity friend, and you're just as happy hanging out with S.L. and S.C. and M.M. playing dress-up, castle, and princesses with them as you are hanging out with C.S., A.M., W.H. and M.M. and playing tag, Ben10 or Iron Man. The way you treat your friends, and the way you are treated by them, speaks volumes to me about your character and your comfort in who you are. I am so grateful for that. I spent a large part of my growing up feeling terribly insecure and trying to please others, and it took me until adulthood to (mostly) get past that. You already seem to have learned the secret to being confident in yourself while still being kind and respectful to others.

When I think of what you'll be like as a teenager, in my heart I see a confident yet humble young man who will be a good leader without being aggressive or arrogant, the guy who will make good choices and help his friends do the same, who will reach out to help others in need. I see you being the guy that all the girls love, both for being a wonderful friend and for being a great catch. I hope that you will always be as close to me as you are now, as you've always been. I try to talk to you about important things even now, to let you know the things you should stay away from - like smoking, drugs and alcohol - and I try to encourage you to talk openly with me about anything that's on your mind. I hope you will always know that I'm here for you and that you can talk to me about anything. While I'll always be your mom and parenting you is my top priority, I also want to be your confidant, the person you know you can always come to about anything. I promise that I will try my best to always listen first and ask questions later, and to try to suppress my initial worrying instincts if you come to me with anything sensitive. (But, hey, you know me and you know I'm a worrier! Like I said, I'll do my best.)

One thing that troubles me often is the fact that, for the most part, you are still an only child. You adore Super Girl and I know she adores you, too, and the two of you have managed to forge a great relationship despite only seeing each other every other weekend. But the fact is that she is not growing up with you, and you don't have the constant playmate that so many of your friends have with their siblings. You've said to me so many times in the past year that you'll be a big brother when you're five, and I can't tell you how much I had hoped to make that true. I'm trying, baby. I want to give you a younger brother or sister more than you can possibly imagine. I only pray that if Daddy and I are unable to make that a reality, you won't be too crushed. I know you would make the greatest big brother ever, and that you would consider it a great honor and delight to help with a baby sibling, and to teach him or her all the great things you know. You are so gentle and sweet with babies, little kids and animals that I know you'd be wonderful at it. I only hope that God realizes how badly we all want this, and that He will give us another baby, for our whole family's sake.

I cannot tell you what a joy and honor it has been to be your mommy, sweet pea. I thank God every single day for choosing us to become your parents, for giving you to us to bring into the world, to love and to raise. Nothing I do in my life will ever be as important or rewarding and fulfilling than being your mom, and I mean that with all of my heart and soul. I look at you, awake and asleep, a million times a day, and my heart explodes with love for you. You are the most perfect child for us, and that truth staggers me at times. It's literally like you were specially made just for us, with how well our personalities mesh and how good a child you've always been. Dad and I love being able to take you anywhere, knowing that you'll enjoy the journey even more than the destination, just like us. You are amazing in every single way, sweetheart. Thank you for all the beauty and wonder and blessings you've brought into our lives by simply being you, and being here, with us.

Happy 5th Birthday, my boy. May this next year of your life be blessed, safe, happy and interesting.

All my love, forever and ever,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Super Boy & Super Man
my new heart rate monitor
The Pioneer Woman
Paiva yoga wear
Grey's Anatomy
The Biggest Loser - Couples Edition
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
P.S. I Love You - the movie
dogs and cats
great-tasting water
comfortable shoes
the colors yellow, pink, white, silver and black
cool architectural pieces
old homes
the ocean
Santa Monica, California
gerbera daisies
my Canon digital camera
really soft blankets
hot showers
the smell of clothes dried on the clothesline on a sunny day
Sephora & ULTA
Julian McMahon, Patrick Dempsey and Gerard Butler
Vanilla Frosted Mini Wheats
Dave Matthews Band
extra dirty dirty vodka martinis
road trips
beautiful days
the zoo
being healthy
Gap Long & Lean Jeans
avocados, especially in guacamole
teriyaki salmon
steamed broccoli
the smell of lavender
great new haircuts
finding the perfect shade of lipstick
my iBook
Shape magazine

Facebook Rocks

How is it possible that I didn't know about Facebook until, like, a week ago? And how have I lived without it for so long? HOW??

I've come across quite a few people I knew in middle school and high school, as well as newer friends, and it's just such a cool way to see what's new in people's lives and reconnect. I LOVE it!

If you haven't already joined, I highly recommend you go do it. Right now. Hurry!

Friday, May 9, 2008

P.S. I LOVE This Movie!!

Dear God... Get me a ginormous box of tissues, a Starbucks and leave me alone for three hours, 'cause I have BIG plans to watch this movie today. And tomorrow. And Sunday. And probably Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. And maybe Thursday and Friday, too.

P.S. I Love You.

Two words: Gerard Butler. Completely sexy, sweet, rough and just... mmm... yummmmmy. Remember how I said in a prior post (about "Charmed") that I would maybe do things to Julian McMahon (of "Charmed" and "Nip/Tuck" fame) that my husband wouldn't like much if I were ever LUCKY enough to meet him (Julian McMahon, not my husband) in person? Yeah, well, the same goes for Gerard Butler. Good heavens, someone go run me a cold shower...

Hilary Swank. Fab-u-lous. The epitome of the grieving, young, confused, lonely widow. Beautiful. And, holy CRAP is she in fantastic shape. Makes me think I should've worked out today after all instead of sitting on my butt watching this movie and bawling at 9am.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Yowza.... Come to mama. How is it fair that a woman gets to have BOTH Gerard Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as her love interests in the same lifetime?!?

This movie is simply perfect. I cry (a lot). I laugh (a lot, in large part courtesy of Harry Connick, Jr., who is simply brilliant in his role as the wannabe rebound man, and the scene in the rowboat in Ireland). My heart breaks as I imagine how I would go on if Super Man were to drop dead tomorrow. Of course, while Super Man is very romantic and sweet, I doubt he'd go to all the trouble to write me a bunch of letters in advance of his premature demise, send me on a trip to Ireland where I'd meet and fall into bed with a sexy Irish rocker, etc., but hey, it never hurts to dream. Not of Super Man dying prematurely, God no - just of the potential good fortune that could follow. ;)

Bottom line: This is my all-time favorite movie. Ever.

Ok, I have to run now and grab my box of tissues -- it's time for an encore.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Short & Sassy

That pretty much sums up my new hairstyle. Wahoo!!

Yep, that's right: I got about 6" of my hair chopped off yesterday afternoon. I freaked when my Super Stylist cut off the first four inches moments after I sat in the chair after saying I was ready for a change, but after she'd highlighted, cut and styled it for me, I fell in love. It felt so light, so swingy, so springy.

I only wished I was going out for a night on the town immediately afterward instead of just going home and doing laundry and watering the yard.

I know I'm a dork. But I'm a dork who's happy with her haircut, which is HUGE in the land of women.

And now I'm officially ready for summer...

Baby, I was born to run...

Running. Ah, yes. That ever elusive activity with which I've enjoyed a lifelong love/hate relationship.

To illustrate, here's a bit of a timeline:

Early Childhood (age 0-5): LOVED to run. Ran everywhere, especially if I was in a dress and nice shoes and my mom had just told me NOT to get dirty or messy and there happened to be mud anywhere in a one-mile radius.

Middle Childhood (age 6-10): Saw running as a MEANS TO AN END - nothing more, nothing less. Games with friends, recess on the playground, gym class, etc. No longer LOVED it, but didn't yet HATE it.

Adolescence/Teenage Years (age 11-18): HATED running. Considered gym class to be a form of torture, especially when we had to run the mile. Would gasp for breath after 30 seconds of running, and that even when running v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I believe my best time in the mile was 9 minutes and 32 seconds, which was nothing short of a miracle, after which I darn near barfed up a lung and had a beet-red face for the entire day. Only ran when absolutely necessary (i.e., gym class and when being chased).

Adulthood (age 19 to 34 years 3 months): AVOID running. At all costs. Is painful, embarrassing and simply not in our physical repertoire.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Last night, I had a long overdue appointment with my long-lost trainer at the gym, a delightful, lanky and attractive man from Down Under with a fabulous accent named Steve. I love Steve.

Really. I think I have a little crush on him. Not an "I'm-going-to-cheat-on-Super-Man" sort of crush, but a "wow, this guy is SO heavy-handed when it comes to kicking my sorry ass into shape and making me sweat, and I DIG that, not to mention the cute accent" kind of crush.

So, yeah, I happened to run into Steve - who works afternoons and evenings at the gym - while walking out after Super Boy's swim class last Thursday afternoon. When I first saw him, I nearly jumped out of my skin because I've been subconsciously avoiding him (okay, it hasn't really been subconscious; it's been quite intentional, actually - but cut me a break here) since I bailed out on my good gym attendance last fall after meeting with Steve a few times. Anyway, he said in his very appealing accent, "SUPER WOMAN! Fancy seeing YOU here! Where've you been?" And even though I explained to him that I've been working out like a VERY good girl since January 1, only in the MORNINGS when he's not there, he gave me a little guilt trip, which ended with me nervously agreeing to set up another appointment with him for 5:30 last night.

Being the diligent athlete that I am, I showed up to our appointment on time and ready to sweat. Steve was still with his earlier client, so I stretched and did a brisk five-minute walk on the treadmill while I waited. He came over and immediately said he wanted to measure my body fat to see how much work I'd been doing since we last saw each other in, oh, early September. I was a little nervous, only because I know Steve thinks I could be in really kick-ass shape if only I'd quit being such a wimp. But I also felt confident that I've lost at least SOME of the putrid percentages of body fat I had the last time we went through this humiliating little exercise.

We went into one of the offices, Steve whipped out his instrument of torture - the dreaded calipers - and he set about pinching areas of my body I'd rather not have a strange man's hands touch. Quite frankly, I don't even like having Super Man's hands pinching those particular areas, but I digress.

I won't share with you the end result; I'll just say that it was definitely BETTER than the results of 9 months ago, to my huge relief. And to Steve's, no doubt - I'm sure he'd have stabbed himself in the heart with the pencil if he'd gone through all of that only to find that I was even fatter than the last time we did this, despite my claims of working out really religiously this year.

Anyhoo, once we'd established that I actually was telling the truth, Steve said he was very pleased with my progress and that he could see and feel the difference while measuring the specific sites. He actually said, "You look fantastic. Everything seems much firmer, which is great. See, I KNEW you could do it if you would just commit!" Mmm... love Steve...

With that behind us, Steve asked what I wanted to get from my workouts at this point. I told him that I want to continue to blast my little post-pregnancy pooch of belly fat, I want to continue to firm and tone, and... I really want to learn how to run.

Steve looked at me like I had sprouted a second head. "What do you mean you want to 'learn' how to run?"

Hmm... how to explain this to a man who actually finds running "fun" and "easy" and "enjoyable?"

"Well," I mumbled, "I don't really know how to run, but I want to learn."

(Sounds of crickets chirping in the background.) "I still don't get it," Steve said.

"I have never in my teenaged or adult life known how to get the whole running thing down, where it came naturally, you know? I had to run the mile in middle school and high school gym classes, and I HATED it. With a passion. Because I could never find a good rhythm, either for my pace or my breathing, and it always hurt. As in, I wanted to vomit afterwards and my head ached with pressure and my lungs felt like they had been flipped inside out. I just don't get it. But I DREAM of running. Seriously - I dream of being a runner."

I could see the lightbulb come on in Steve's head as he realized what I was saying. "Well, let's go do something about that then!"

Steve proceeded to tell me that he thinks I need to start out by walking at a 4 MPH pace and then running at a 6 MPH pace for 30-60 seconds, then walking again for 30-60 seconds, etc., gradually increasing the time spent running as each segment of time became a little easier, and decreasing the rest time spent walking in between running. Since he's well aware that I'm not the world's most graceful creature and would no doubt fall on my face if I had to keep manually raising and lowering the speed while walking or running, he then showed me a neat little feature on the treadmill whereby I could toggle with the touch of one button between pre-set walking and running paces. And then he set it up and had me give it a go.

The sweat started pouring the moment he said, "Go." I'm sure it was a nervous response on my part. I simply don't run. For anyone. Ever. It's not pretty, people. I really do get beet-red in the face, I huff & puff and gasp for air, and my body feels like it weighs 500 lbs. as it flails and stumbles in some semblance of running. To have Super Trainer Steve standing there observing all of that at close range was downright horrifying.

When I toggled to the running speed, I nervously laughed and gasped out, "Well, am I doing it right? Are my arms and legs moving the way they should be, and is my form good? I feel like a total ass!"

Steve pointed out that my shoulders and arms seem very high and tense when I run, but try as I might to push them down and keep them more relaxed, they really wouldn't do anything different, so it might just be me. He said my legs were moving the way they should, but said that I need to keep my stride from getting too long and I need to try to stay light on my feet. I'm sorry, but I feel anything BUT light on my feet when I'm running. I don't know if it's because running still feels so foreign to me right now or because my internal organs turn to lead the second I pick up my pace beyond a brisk walk; I guess time will tell on that one.

Anyway, I managed to get through five minutes alternating walking and running, and I even ran for 90 seconds the last time, so I felt good. Steve was proud, I was relieved, and life was good. I asked him how quickly one could reasonably expect to be able to run a 5K from not being a runner at all, and he said that if I stuck with it and diligently increased my time spent running, I could conceivably run a 5K within a month. This was good news, because there's actually a 5K coming up in July that I've been thinking about a lot lately.

Steve left me with some encouragement to keep at it for another 15-20 minutes. I thought about bailing with the excuse of having to go get Super Boy from the childcare room, but I hung in there and alternated walking and running for another 20 minutes. My legs were SO sore by the time I was done and I was literally drenched in sweat, but it felt really good and empowering to know that I'd done it - I had taken the first steps (literally) towards running, and I hadn't died in the process.

And I went back again today and did it for 25 minutes. I even ran for 90 seconds a few times in there this time, and my goal on Friday is to do at least three two-minute stretches of running, to push myself a little bit further.

Although we'll have to see how my legs feel by then - my inner thighs and quads are positively screaming in protest tonight, and I planned to do Pilates tomorrow morning, which certainly won't help matters any. But, boy, does it feel good to know I'm making progress.

Baby, I was born to run...