Alone Moments

Being alone in your house when you’re a parent is… indescribably amazing.

The silence. The stillness. Not being touched. No one’s talking or fussing. Even the mess doesn’t cry out when you’re alone.

It’s just so damn peaceful.

Today, my husband took our son out of the house for a daddy-and-son playdate for two hours and left me alone.

In the house. 

For two hours.

Neither of us is ever alone in the house.

This house is rarely silent, and it’s never still. There’s constant movement. There’s always talking or fussing. The mess is chaotic as it gets made, and cleaned up, and remade, and left for tomorrow.

The cycle isn’t terrible — but it certainly isn’t peaceful.

Unscripted alone moments are rare. Sure, when I drive to and from work, I’m alone in my car — but that’s not a moment. When I’m rushing through a seven-minute shower, I’m alone — but that’s not a moment. When I’m running errands or grocery shopping, I’m alone (with other people) — and those are not moments.

True alone moments are when you don’t have to think about what happened or what’s next or what’s happening now. When your body can take a break from doing, and your brain can take a break from considering.

Thought and action are natural during alone moments. No reason. No consequence.

Just nothing.

I showered, exfoliated, used moisturizer. I let my hair air dry. I ate apple slices with peanut butter without little bites taken out of the best parts.

how toddlers eat apple slices

Finding — and obtaining — truly alone moments as a parent feels impossible, and I can’t remember being alone for any amount of time when I felt I could allow my brain to turn off and my body to relax its tension.

And my kid is 2.

We’re both overdue, and I plan to pay that amazing man back for those two hours with two of his own.

BABR: January Update

January was the single. longest. month. Ever. Yesterday was January 74. My New Year’s Resolutions for finances, fitness, food and house should be complete since it’s already 2020.

What happened during the longest month ever?

My son played with penguins at the Sedgwick County Zoo. So friggin cute.

 

Fetched a stick. With his mouth. Because that’s what the dog does.

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And turned 2. He’s playing with the packing paper in his birthday present from KiwiCo. The actual present was trash as far as he was concerned.

New Year’s Update: Filters

I open Instagram Stories on accident a lot. Fun filters FTW.

New Year’s Update: Finances

False start. Planning to hot wire this car in February. (Side note: Got the actual car fixed, so we have at least SOME of our s*** together already.)

New Year’s Update: Fitness 

Like every red-blooded American woman in January, I said 2019 is going to be THE YEAR I get back into shape.

Yeeaaaahhhh. Right.

I joined Title Boxing Club in 2018 to slough off pesky baby weight — which came back like a flood when I stopped breastfeeding, rude. High energy. Hitting. Kicking. Skipping… burpees. Sweat rolling down my face and pooling on the mat. Exhilarating.

I’ve never been a fan of cardio, but I loved. boxing. And it was so good for my back.

Until it started acting up again. Until I got busy. Until I couldn’t swing 5:15 a.m. classes because I was so damn tired and in too much pain.

My goal for 2019 isn’t to get back into shape. I want to be pain-free. Fitness is absolutely a part of my road to recovery — I just have to find the right fitness.

I’m testing some options.

Kundalini yoga, which blends chanting, meditation and breath work with familiar yoga poses. The theory behind it is a little hocus pocus, but it’s the only yoga I can do. Most of the work can be done lying down or in a position that doesn’t challenge my back. Think bridge pose or holding a lunge for a long time and “breathing through the eyes.” Whatever, it’s nice.

Thirty-minute fitness classes at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays (which I’ve been proscribed from this week by my physical therapist because they’re hurting me), blending a dash of cardio with strength training and core. Combine these with Popsugar’s Active app workouts, and I’ve got 15-30 minutes scheduled every day.

My physical therapy stretches and abdominal work. The stretches relieve inflammation in my nerves, and the ab work teaches my transverse muscles — the deep abs that got all stretched and destroyed during pregnancy — to activate when I move. After 10 reps, my core is exhausted, but it’s not a workout.

I did pretty well with my fitness resolution for about two-and-a-half weeks. Now, I’m faltering.

False start? More like a stall. Hey, the Jeep needs new tires, too.

New Year’s Update: Food

I lost six pounds between Thanksgiving and my son’s birthday using Noom — counting calories, daily weigh-ins, little challenges. But I was over it. I cancelled that membership (theme?) and gained four pounds back just three weeks later.

Hey, when it’s Christmas break, and you have all the time in the world to plan your meals, go grocery shopping and prep smoothies — well, you’re for sure going to keep that up when you go back to work.

Ha, no.

Fitbit is free, so I’m going to try to use it like Noom — even though it’s not as good, and I don’t really want to.

New Year’s Update: House

It’s been vacuumed.

New Year’s Update: Time

January was 74 days long, and I still don’t have a second of time until 10 p.m. when I write blogs and don’t shower.

 

Noom Weight Loss App: A Review

noom weight loss app review header

I signed up for a 14-day trial, and then paid for a two-month subscription of Noom, in November 2018. My eight-week program was scheduled to end Jan. 17, 2019, so I cancelled it.

Let’s Rory Gilmore this, and look at Noom’s pros and cons.

Pro: Counting calories worked (for me), and Noom’s system was really good. 

Turns out, calculating how many calories the foods I choose to consume contain prevents me from over-over indulging, reduces my portion size and makes me question whether or not I really need a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

Who knew?

Counting calories helped me lose weight — even if I didn’t stay within the cheetah-fast weight loss of 1,200 calories a day. (They also have rabbit-fast and tortoise-fast, which is a misnomer.)

I’ve tried to “food journal” in the past. Pen and paper, habit trackers, Fitbit — all were pretty terrible because I had to look up how many calories were in a thing and write it down or enter it in. Even Fitbit’s food tracker didn’t have basic stuff (when I tried it, to be fair). For example, Fitbit knows how many calories are in a McDonald’s Big Mac. I don’t need to know that because I’m not going to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac. Hork. I was eating homemade tomato soup with four main ingredients.

Prior to Noom, to count calories, I had to do math.

No.

Noom made it SO easy to put together custom dishes, calculate calories and enter meals. They did all the math.

The only thing I had to Google was how many calories were in an “IPA beer” because no way was it as high as they said.

I was right.

Con: Counting calories is still a time-consuming effort no matter how easy Noom made it. 

Noom promised I could spend 10 minutes a day using the app and lose weight — not counting the time needed to meal plan, prep, cook homemade meals and work out.

Here’s the thing.

I don’t have 10 minutes a day. Don’t believe me? Right now, I chose to write this blog — I know — instead of showering.

And, y’all, I smell.

Bad.

My workday is billable. Eight hours of which I account for every minute.

My hometime is hectic. Sixteen hours where I account for every minute of whatever my toddler’s trying to destroy/trying to jump off/trying to eat. Hometime, of course, includes cleaning, cooking, living, wifing and (not)eight hours of sleep. Throw in the 15 minutes I spend “getting ready” for my day, and I couldn’t spare 10 minutes to learn a lesson and track my meals in Noom.

I mean, I did, but by Week 7, I was OVER it.

Pro: No food was off-limits. I could eat anything I wanted.

As long as I didn’t exceed my calorie goal, I was golden.

Let’s be honest, I was rarely golden. Often bronzed.

Noom encouraged me to eat Green foods — fresh fruits and vegetables and other non-calorie-dense foods — but it didn’t ask me to stop eating foods it classified as Yellow and Red. The system was easy to understand and work within.

Plus, it does all the math for you.

Con: Some foods were surprisingly considered Yellow or Red. 

Chia seeds are stupid healthy. Harvard says so. They’re the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids — those are the good ones — and a complete protein. Plus, when you mix them in a smoothie, it makes the smoothie creamier and thicker without adding dairy.

This is a win-win for me.

Except, chia seeds are a Red food. TF, right? Upon further examination, all nuts and seeds are considered red foods because they’re calorie-dense. (Calorie dense foods pack a lot of calories in a little package, so you feel less full after eating them.) My Red food ratio was always over because I put two tablespoons of chia seeds in my morning smoothie.

It definitely wasn’t because of that “IPA beer”…

Pro: Noom focused on food but didn’t forget about all the other s*** that helps with weight loss. 

Exercise. Hormones. Sleep. Science.

Counting calories and making better food choices are the foundation of the Noom weight loss app. After laying that foundation, Noom introduced a slew of other building blocks to help with weight loss.

Calories in = weight gain. Calories out = weight loss. It’s all about the ratios, and Noom added half the calories you lost in a workout to your total daily calorie intake.

The app has an entire week on the hormones working when you’re hungry, digesting and storing or burning calories — and why. (Hands down, my favorite week. What do I remember from high school biology? “The mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell.”)

They also covered sleep, but I’m a mom, so hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Con: I can’t remember all this s***. 

I used up all of my study potential in college, and then I killed a number of brain cells — specifically memory cells — in the process of creating and birthing a life.

I’m dumb now.

Ask me what Noom said about sleep.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Pro: Coaches and support groups work for some people…

Having a coach and support team might help you change your lifestyle and lose weight. I’m sure there’s research on this — not that I could find it. A Google search turned up several results on how to become or find a weight loss coach. Not quite what I was after.

Weight Watchers works for some people, so it’s a whole thing. I don’t know.

Con: …but not for me. 

Motivational support groups and high-energy health instructors are… not my thing. Thinking positive thoughts does not make me more positive. Writing down the people and things I’m grateful for doesn’t improve my mood. I’m still grateful for them, but that concept just doesn’t work for me.

I think it’s called visualization, and I’m going to need a fiction book to make that work.

Plus, at the end of a long day, there’s still dinner to make and a toddler to entertain and laundry to (not)do. I would ignore notifications from my Goal Specialist for daaaaaays. I cleared out notifications from the group every time I saw one.

It was just another minute in a day I didn’t have.

Final Thoughts

If you like counting calories, tracking your every pound and talking to strangers on the internet, Noom will totally work for you. Granting you don’t also have a health issue being monitored by a medical professional. I’m not a medical professional. Don’t listen to me.

Caveat: You have to follow the rules at least a little bit.

I “followed” the rules for seven weeks and lost almost six pounds. My starting weight was 146.4. My final weight was 140.8.

Did I meet my ultimate goal? (Be pain-free, for those who don’t remember.) No, I did not.

But that’s another novel.

New Year’s Resolutions: 2019 Edition

new years resolutions 2019

We celebrated our ninth anniversary with the New Year. When you’ve been married nine years and you’re a parent to a nearly two-year-old, anniversary celebrations are simple.

We both went to work in the morning. I came home to a small bouquet with a red rose, daisies, a pink carnation, snap dragons and baby’s breath.

…the cat was chewing on it.

He came home to the trashcan at the curb — usually his job — a fussy toddler and half a salmon carcass cooked to NEAR perfection.

baked salmon and potatoes with lemon

I’m not a great cook, but it was pretty!

For 2019, my husband and I have a slew of New Year’s Resolutions. We figure, if we cast a wide net, we’ll catch something.

Right?

For example, one of my resolutions is to take a photo every time I accidentally open Instagram Stories, which happens often enough and always when I look a mess.

I’ve discovered filters help.

“Getting our s*** together” is the theme of 2019. Let’s break it down.

Finance

When you’ve had more than one job over the course of your working life, you might leave little bits of retirement all over the place. Sometimes, those little bits of retirement don’t cross-pollenate. In the end, you’re left with… a lot of mail.

Our greatest investment success has been adding money to our son’s college fund.

In 2019, we’re getting the rest of our investment s*** together.

Fitness

Lapsed gym memberships, workout-related injuries and the general exhaustion of sharing a household with a human toddler knocked both of us off the fit-living wagon in 2018.

And, let’s be honest, in 2017.

In 2019, we’re getting our fitness s*** together.

Food

I started Noom in November 2018 during the program’s Black Friday sale. One of the daily lessons talked about “decision fatigue.”

Decision Fatigue

We made a lot of fatigued decisions about food in 2018 — made even easier by the availability of food delivery services. Uber Eats, anyone? Did you know Chipotle delivers? That was the nail in my tummy coffin.

In 2019, we’re getting our s*** together. (Without Noom. #foreshadowing)

Fouse (House — I ran out of F’s.)

Homeownership is almost as exhausting as toddler rearing. We’ve got a laundry list of things we want to repair, replace and rip out in the house, including a laundry room.

High school classes should have taught me how to care for a house, but the only thing I can remember from my home economics class is not to store potatoes under the sink. Which, honestly, should be common knowledge.

Know what I should have learned? Which household materials might contain asbestos.

That would have been helpful.

Anyway, we’re getting the house s*** together in 2019, too.

And Time

I’m 12 days late posting my New Year’s resolutions. Happy 2018… late.

#bestnine2018

year of color 2019

In 2019, I’m getting my calendar s*** together.

BABR: December Update

December wasn’t quite as busy as November.

Thankfully.

Our days were still full. Coffee. Work. Toddler nonsense. Family time. And a very merry Christmas.

Let’s start with coffee.

easy to shop for coffee mugs

I’m wicked easy to shop for. I will never not need coffee.

Of course, one cup of hot tea cracked the beautiful blue mug at the end, which is what I get for cheating on coffee with tea. Anyone know if this milk trick actually works? Well, I’ll try it and let you know.

The office was filled with holiday cheer this month with nearly two weeks of merry activities and a nice Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day holiday break.

First, we filled ourselves with sweets.

christmas donuts from the donut whole in wichita kansas

“First” like we didn’t do this the entire two weeks. I certainly did.

Took fun holiday photos.

shae is santa

Shhh! I’m Santa.

And we played elves by giving the office a good cleaning.

shae dusts and drinks coffee

The toddler developed a couple less desirable talents. The pterodactyl scream is making a comeback, and fit-throwing is our go-to to get our way. He also can now get himself into these…

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“Time to eat, people.”

He had another pretty cute “Time to eat, people” situation before Christmas lunch.

toddler climbs himself into a chair

toddler climbs himself into stroller

“Don’t talk to me. Don’t read to me. Don’t touch me. Don’t even look at me. Just let me sit in my stroller and watch Peppa. …Mom. Stop taking pictures of me.”

He was pretty pooped (read: cranky) after two play days in a row with his cousins and surviving on a car nap alone.

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Never again.

My husband was able to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas and the two days after the holiday with us before returning to work, so we had plenty of family time this month.

We wrapped presents and watched A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning, we headed over to my in-laws’ to celebrate the season.

My toddler had a good haul. Cleaning supplies (so he stays out of mine). A hammer-ball-bonk toy that he’s real into. A boatload of lego duplos for mommy to build and him to destroy. And a car.

His Shocker hat stays on his head for hours at a time — thank you, Grandma — and his Spiderman helmet was only annoying to him for a little bit — thank you, Aunt and Uncle.

Santa brought us a handmade busy book (sewn by the busy little elves at twobusylittlebees.com) and, by the time he opened it, he was too pooped to play with it.

twobusylittlebees busy books

My husband and I gifted each other kitchen things, as we do nearly every holiday. This year, we replaced our nine-year-old blender and found a better way to store knives. The blender is awesome, but we haven’t installed our under-the-cabinet knife storage unit yet.

Mostly because the house was a disaster.

We didn’t even host. Just normal, day-to-day destruction on top of special, holiday destruction.

Our family gifted us experiences this year, too. A renewed membership to the Sedgwick County Zoo and a new membership to Botanica Wichita.

Speaking of Botanica…

We went to see the lights. Alongside the entire state of Kansas. Illuminations was a crowded Christmas Eve Eve holiday adventure — and we’re definitely going on a Tuesday next year — but it was beautiful.

And I got my Santa picture in the knick of time! (Before he went back to the North Pole to prepare for Christmas Eve, of course.)

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Hope your holidays were merry and bright. Except today, of course. I hope today the lights are dimmed.

Happy New Year.