Monday, January 31, 2011
This kid has no confidence but he’s also competitive. Um, does that go together?
As a child I wasn’t the best at everything but I was the kid that said “at least I made the team”, “hey, I didn’t fail”, so if I was riding the pine in softball, or if I place last in swimming, or got a 75 on a test, it didn’t feel great but two seconds later I was in the bleachers singing the silly cheers with my teammates or shrugging it off and moving on. Most of the things he’s experiencing now he’s experiencing for the first time. He doesn’t realize how great his potential is. In school, in sports the kid has so much more talent and natural capability than I had at any age. Maybe this is something we have to get used too. We’ve never had school tests or swim meets and track meets in our roles as parent and child. Maybe as we get used to winning some and losing some my fears that when he doesn’t win he’ll give up, stop studying, stop practicing and retreat into things that he’s comfortable with, will subside and his self flagellation will slowly disappear. I know how it feels to lose, but I never put that much pressure on myself to excel until well, my late thirties and not, um forties. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer, something I do regret, just a tad.
I’ve noticed over the past few months that my typical mom confidence boosting approach “It’s okay, at least you were out there, you did great, you’re the best, I am so proud of you for doing it, look you got a ribbon (even if it was last)” doesn’t work with a son who is extremely competitive with himself and everyone around him. What am I supposed to do? Stage a fake swim meet and pay all the other little squirts in gummy bears and goldfish to blow the race? Throw a raging Sponge Bob all-nighter the night before a test so he does better than the other kids? I decided after one disastrous swim meet that I had to take the bull by the horns.
My solution? Operation Confidence Boost or "OCB" as I like to call it. In the last few weeks I’ve been spewing more mantras than Oprah’s magazine, more inspirational tales than Deepak Chopra and more just do it camera-ready sound bites than a Nike commercial. Every single day I’m telling him how awesome he is, how every piece of school work, how every drawing he does is the greatest thing since canned beer, right down to “oh my goodness, that’s the best fart in the entire world”. But there has to be a balance so I don’t oversell him. I don’t believe in the old “everyone gets a trophy even if you didn’t win thing” that every sports organization seems to do these days. Yes kids try hard and effort should be rewarded but not everyone wins. Life is hard and so is a swim meet or track meet when you’re only seven years old, but as he grows up, if he isn’t used to losing life as an adult is just going to suck and one day he’ll most likely go postal. I’m trying to get through to my kids, that trying is more important than the winning, because the trying is what shapes you as a human being. I even purposely lose my races to make them see how exciting and rewarding it is to just participate. Yeah, right. But I no longer beat myself up if I don’t surpass my own times or place higher than the top forty in any race I’ve entered. I figure why pass down more crap to them and more importantly I don’t want to be one of those “do as I say, not as I do” parents.
Are my efforts working? I’ll probably won’t know for sure until the one moment when the meltdown doesn’t happen or the “oh well I tried” attitude finally kicks in. What I do know is this; between all the mantras, inspirational tales and just do it pep talks, I have to do laundry, make lunches, get them washed, dressed, pressed, work full time and keep them alive-I’m fucking exhausted! And for the record if we can’t keep that damn lizard alive, the one thing my son believes he’s good at, Operation OCB will be shot to hell and I’ll be right back where I started.
Friday, January 28, 2011
2) Snow SUCKS. Wait did I say that already? My first race of the year is on Sunday, and I am nervous that it may be cancelled due to guess what? The snow.
3) I have ten weeks till the More Half Marathon, my first half marathon for 2011. I am really excitied. Perhaps I'll PR!
4) Snow SUCKS.
Enjoy the weekend!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I love children – mine, my nieces and nephews, cousins, students, kids in the park, at the grocery store. I just love them. I love the innocence they have and the sometimes not so innocent way they navigate themselves through their lives. I am a teacher by trade so I guess you can say that it is in my nature to like being around them otherwise what kind of teacher would I be? What kind would any of us be? Because we are all teachers. Mothers and fathers are the first teachers that children have. We teach them to talk, walk, potty-train, eat, drink, use general manners and a million other lessons big and small. I have noticed, as a teacher, that some parents stop teaching when they send their little ones to school and I don’t mean academically, they stop teaching them things like being a good listener, tolerance, common courtesy, and respect.
Oh sure, the teacher has the class rules on the wall and all of these things are mentioned and emphasized during class time but do they have homework for this? The answer is yes they do – everyday at home. It is where we as parents are the full time teachers and the teacher is the assistant. I know that when we send them to school sometimes we feel we’ve done our job – it’s up to the teacher. I know that we kind of want that – a little reprieve of being in charge all the time because it is truly exhausting. It’s more mentally exhausting whether your work outside of the house or if you stay at home. Having the little ones who are not school age at home can become an organizational nightmare - your brain has to be “on” all the time and it takes a lot to even have the energy to let’s say shower every day.
I empathize, sympathize and know what mothers go through because I’ve done both. I am a working mother and I was also a stay at home mom. We are tired, mentally and physically and there are things that fall to the wayside because we feel that they are okay- their independent, they can be on their own – never mind they are only 5 and 8! I know it’s gone through my mind, and I see as a Teacher, in my students work, attitude, demeanor that “The Teacher can handle it”and I get that, because as parents we can forget, because we are so darn tired, that our time is still important to our children. So important. And as a Teacher, I feel more important than what they learn at school because when you spend time with your children it gives us as parents the chance to teach them that they are important, that they matter, that we respect them - you don’t need a textbook for these lessons. Watching TV or playing a game (which I know can be very painful) teaches our children common courtesy and shows them that you respect them and their interests. Watching “Star Wars” for the 200th time is literally exhausting, so much so that I find myself reciting the lines to my husband but it teaches our children tolerance and mutual respect, especially if it’s not their choice and they are watching what their brother or sister picked out.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect, but when I give my children, my nieces and nephews extra time I can actually see them grow into becoming a better listener, a better friend because they took turns and shared, and can actually see them exhibit common courtesy and respect because they feel truly loved. These lessons are priceless, exhausting but priceless.
More About Stephanie:
Stephanie is a wife, teacher, border-line-professional-chef, and a mommy to two beautiful boys - a 8 year old comedian who should star in his own sitcom and a 5 year speed demon - watch out Mario Andretti!
Monday, January 24, 2011
I always wanted to be a dancer, and for a while I fancied myself one. When I was in high school, I’d take the train into the Big Apple for dance class. Steps on Broadway was the the place to be. Jane Krakowski (30 Rock, Ally McBeal) was in a couple of my classes. She stuck with dance. I did not. Nuff said.
I walked the streets (not those streets) with my feet turned out, which really hurts, (especially when you’re not actually a dancer) in tattered leg warmers, daydreaming of jazz hands and Bob Fosse. So when I recently got the opportunity to teach Pilates to ‘actual’ ballet dancers, at a local dance academy, I leapt at the chance.
Full disclosure. I have never formally taught kids anything, let alone Pilates. I’ve changed poopy diapers, played endless games of Candy Land with my nephews, but I had no idea what to expect and no idea how to act. I’m a teacher, yes, but what does that mean in this context? I’m used to being in the company of adults; dialoguing, joking, letting the curse words fly freely from my lips. The only thing I knew for sure was not to drop the f’ bomb... if I could help it.
I laughed at the immediacy in which I was hired. No body asked me if I had any experience with this particular population. And I didn’t offer. I was too excited about pretending to be a dancer again.
My first class was before the holidays. I scheduled a short press conference with myself beforehand to calm my nerves, remind myself that I was the adult (I forget sometimes) and that I had mad skills and lots of head knowledge. But most importantly, “Don’t talk too much and don’t confuse the class with a stand up act.” Being in front of a captivated audience, no matter how small (physically or in quantity) can turn into a freak show, me being the freak. I start ad libbing like I’m opening for Jackie Mason in the Borscht Belt. I realize that this reference will go over some heads. No matter, just keep reading.
There were six 10 year old girls, each one, the size of my thigh. I put my professional hat on and plunged into the repertoire. I brought a cheat sheet with me and we were flowing from one movement to the next, like the graceful giseles that we were. I was in control, and things were running smoothly, that is until the Lilliputians started talking to each other, and to me. “I like your toe-sox.” “What should we call you?” “Carey is always injured.” “Can we do rocking swan?” Why were they talking? There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no talking in Pilates! I was being heckled, and it flustered me.
I didn’t know what they should call me. What’s wrong with my name? Then I remembered my dance teacher, Miss Pike, when I was seven years old. “You can call me Miss Dani.” It is a sign of respect after all. I should have my adult clients call me Miss Dani as well. With all of the gas that’s passed and un-manicured toes that I have to touch, I’m not so sure that they do respect me.
I pulled it together as my last class of the night walked in. These girls were 13 and 14 years old and all ‘tude (attitude). Crap. About halfway through the routine, I realized that they hadn’t cracked a smile, made a comment about my socks or showed any signs of life. As we say in the biz (showbiz that is) They were phoning it in! I could’ve sworn they were making faces behind my back, and it felt a little too familiar.
Flashback: The summer before eighth grade. I returned from camp only to find that I’d been ousted from the popular click, by its fierce leader, Betsy Carlson. Apparently, she frowned upon my leaving our kingdom (the swim club) for an entire summer. She never bothered to tell me that I wasn’t her best friend anymore, so when I ran up to her to tell her how much I missed her, she and her new recruit snapped on their Speedo swim caps and turned on their heels. I can still hear them giggling as they glanced over their shoulders at me. But I digress.
I couldn’t hold her in any longer. My inner comedian was rising up to the surface. These dancers weren’t giving me shit. Their taut, age spotted free faces were serious and focused, and I took it personally. They didn’t like me, nor the class, and they somehow figured out that I wasn’t an actual dancer! That I was never a dancer! I was a fraud! I went into overdrive, trying to be funny, and elicit some kind of reaction. Oh, dear, can someone please get me off the stage.
As embarrassing as it was, I wish that I could remember some of my banter. If it should happen again, and I’m pretty confident that it will, I’m going to write it all down so I can share it with you.
I was convinced that I could fix my paranoid (read: neurotic) delusions, and break them. If I didn’t, then I would’ve failed. Failed? At what, teaching them Pilates, or making them laugh? I’m pretty sure my job wasn’t to crack wise with a bunch of duck walking Sugar Plums. However, you’d never know it from the way I was acting. I spoke faster. I made faces. C’mon girls, give me a break. Is anyone’s last name Carlson?
The class ended (finally) and when I got into my car, I assessed the damage. Even after my early self think talking, I allowed myself to be intimidated by a bunch of scrawny thirteen year olds in smelly leotards and tight, headache inducing, hair buns. Clearly I have some work to do in dealing with children.
More About Dani:
Dani is a Virgo, writer, Pilates Instructor, Kindle lover, sleep enthusiast, world traveler and ‘girlfriend mother’ to her boyfriend’s two kids. Whatever the hell that means.
Follow Dani on Twitter @pilatecologist
Click Here To Discover More Of Dani's Talents
Click Here To Read Dani's Blog: Am I Still Talking?
Friday, January 21, 2011
....5...4...3...2..1...Happy New Year! Better suck down that champagne quick. Now drop that glass, because it's DIET TIME! Watching TV this first week of January could give Victoria’s Secret models some self-issues. Every four and a half minutes into the reality show I'm watching about losing weight or dressing better, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem and every other plan, pill and potion pusher interrupts to remind me that it's time to fix myself. It can't possibly be a new year unless you resolve to fix something wrong in your life, and there must be something you can fix, right? The weight-loss industry in particular seems to have pooled 90% of their yearly ad budgets for the big New Year's nagfest. For them, the first week of the year is like Superbowl Sunday for the beer business.
I've already been struggling for some time to fix something in my life...an eating disorder. It's taking more than one New Year to find a place of sanity in myself where foods are not "good" or "bad", but just fully enjoyed --enjoyed in moderation, and in front of other people, not sneaked, scarfed down, barfed up, or riddled with guilt. It hasn't been easy, and it's not made any easier by this annual onslaught of ads telling me that everything will be better if I just lose weight. Make it this year, today, start now...right now.
I'm especially disappointed in Jennifer Hudson, the current celebrity spokesperson for Weight Watchers. I pray that I never come close to understanding the tragedy and pain she's suffered. But with all that she's been through, isn't her message that NOW, at size 6, she's finally happy? She was always beautiful and talented (who didn't think she was gorgeous in Sex and the City 1?). She's been blessed with love, success and a healthy child. But ONLY NOW that her body is a different shape is her life complete.
No doubt, it took much more than just 40+ years of advertising messages to get me to where I am now...trying to unscrew up years of screwed up body image and food issues. But as a parent, I worry that we're not doing much better by our children. We may think nothing of it now as our sons and daughters innocently play in the den with their new Christmas toys, while up on the big screen, a half-dozen weight loss ads blare in the background. But in ten years, will we wonder what in the world could have made our beautiful, promising kids starve themselves to bones, obsess over every crumb and calorie, and think that each new year begins with self-recrimination and salvation through Slim-Fast?
Please don't get me wrong...I’m not against weight loss, or health or fitness. And I do think we've got a serious health and nutritional crisis happening in our culture. But, while eating well and exercising are good, do they need to be the focus of our plans for the year? The pendulum seems to swing from eat crap and be a video game playing spud to lose weight and all your problems are solved. Where's the balance?
This year let's revolutionize New Year's resolutions. Let's embrace our imperfections, and the occasional cookie or two, while still trying to improve ourselves. Let's do it on our own timeframe, not because the ball dropped in Times Square a second ago. Let's tune out the ads and resolve to sometimes eat things we really like when we're hungry. Let's resolve to love ourselves every day, just exactly as we are on January first.
More About Clarice:
Clarice Joos is a Mommy of two adorable boys, a wife to a hot FDNY Fire Fighter, writer, a professional organizer, and a slayer of monsters under beds and in closets!
Monday, January 17, 2011
If I only got up to run, it would have been an all-star start to my day but I slept in because I had to watch every inch of the Golden Globes. Holy Ricky Gervais - I thought he ripped the cover off the ball, and totally entertained me, not sure what Robert Downey Jr. or Tim Allen or basically anyone in that room felt but...that's neither here nor there.
Nevertheless, my day went downhill when I got to work and got bombarded by a bevy of botox babes (they all botox and botox a lot but that’s a story for another day) by 11:00 I was completely agitated and trying my hardest not to eat everything in sight. I practiced my positive mantra and got through most of the day until I had to leave work, the nighttime routine is exhausting and at a faster pace than the morning, and I don’t welcome it at all –we’re all cranky. I zoomed outta work to pick up the kids, I decided to take them to them out to dinner instead of doing it at home. We opted for Subway, my kids dig the pizza, and I can have some carbs without all the guilt. We arrived at Subway and BAM they didn’t have pizza, complete melt-down, like embarrassed throw yourself on floor meltdown. The man behind the counter frantically tried to explain that there was no pizza because of the snow. Ummmm Subway dude the snow storm was at least seven days ago get some pizza and kids – it’s Subway pizza not exactly five star quality actually it’s worse than Domino's, get a fricking grip. I somehow in my mommy magic diverted the kids and the stopped the water works in like two minutes (it felt like 20). We headed down the strip mall to a real pizza place. We arrived, we get in, we ordered, I tore the boys apart from wrestling each other, we got a table, Matthew tried to hop over the booth and disturbs some other patrons, I apologized. I stopped Matthew from trying to dump the entire contents of the salt shaker on Richie's head, I delivered the drinks, Matthew spilt his soda, I cleaned up, they ate, I refereed, Richie dropped a mozzarella stick on the floor he cried, I cleaned up, we ate, I refereed, I refereed, I refereed, I refereed, I refereed. We’re done, and headed out the door my three year old sees someone on the sidewalk and yelled at the top of his lungs “Hello Cha-Cha-Cha”, I apologized, giggled, he ran like a cheetah to the car and I chased him in heels on ice. I said a silent pray and we made it to the car safely. Standing at the car, freezing I realized that I can’t find the remote for the alarm. I figured I can open the door with the key, the alarm would sound and then I can deactivate it when the door opens but I can’t find the remote anywhere, but it could be in the car, so I took a chance, opened the door, the alarm sounds – for ten minutes – (it felt like 20 hours)– I couldn’t find the remote anywhere. Store owners are peering out their doors, people are staring at me, and I am completely and utterly frazzled. I locked the kids in their car seats, and frantically searched my car/ bag for the remote, in the background was a loud car alarm polluting the entire strip mall, with sweat streaming down my back and on my brow, the kids screaming "stop that noise, stop that noise" I politely whispered to all the Gods above to make sure ALL my nights are like this exact one, because this had to be the most stress-free night of my life(enter sarcasm). I couldn't find the remote anywhere. I knew I had it, but it was gone now. Gone. Gone. Gone.
My only thought: Emma I have a dilemma! (Emma is a close friends mom, and we always ryhmed her name, no reason except we were smart-ass teenagers.) My dilemma: Do I take the kids out of the car to search for the remote on the sidewalk, risk them running hog wild while I desperately try to find it while trying to control them or do I lock them in the car with the raging alarm and do it on my own? I was literally at the point of tears when this little 80 year old Grandma comes to the car door and asked if I needed help. She saw the look of despair in my eyes and jumped into action. She was my MacGyver, tried every possible solution, tried to help me find the remote, she talked to the kids in that soothing Mary Poppins tone, and even tried to find “the trip, a button that deactivates the alarm” as she explained it to me cause her car has one. Super Grammy! She finally told me that the inevitable...that I had to trace my footsteps. Grammy suggested that I go and she’d watch the kids. I hesitated for a few minutes, definitely didn’t want to leave them, was hemming and hawing, but came to the conclusion that the three year could probably take her down if need be; I gave the kids a quick talking to, and jumped out fast and hard to find the remote, within three minutes (felt like thirty seconds) I found it and came running back to the car, the kids were singing some sort of song, the Grammy gave me a hug and she was gone, poof! Just like that!
My faith in humanity was restored, and my day ended on a great note, while driving home I was going on and on to the kids about the importance of helping people, trusting your instincts for the good and the bad and that there really are good people in this world...and then I realized the importance of the day:
Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others? – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Do I love the football parties, the commercials, the hype, or going to a game? Absolutely, it’s fun, and I like fun. I try hard to watch football I really really do, my brother-in-law is the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coordinator of a Division 1 University Football team, and I am in complete awe of his talents, the players, the stadium, tailgating - everything leading up to and after the game, but the damn game – don’t have a clue what a down is, or why they “rush” into a crowd of burly men when it seems that the field is completely open on the other side? I’ve asked questions, he’s explained everything to me in layman terms – like he was speaking to a two year old and I still don’t get it. At. All.
So, do I want the Jets to win? Absolutely, they are a NY Team, and I support any NY Team, So....am I ready for some football? Not at all! But I am ready for a beer, some chips and dip!!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
*I LOVE "baby" watermelons, they are delish but make me CRAVE summer.
*My Keurig rocks.
*I actually have a race schedule for 2011 astonishing.
*I google every day, I am THAT hungry for knowledge. HA!
**I didn't have enough time to figure out how to use bullets in blogger and HTML and have to use these lame asterisk.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
My friends and I knew how to throw down; the point of going out was to get drunk but to have fun doing it, we’d laugh till our bellies hurt (still do) and we didn't care what stunts we pulled, even if it meant hanging our heads in shame the next day; we had fun, so much fun! This crop of twenty-something’s just go out and drink, I don’t see anyone having fun at all. Maybe I’m old fashioned drunk, or maybe I’m trying to live vicariously through these tools because for me staying up past 10:00 and drinking a white wine spritzer is a helluva good time! What I do know is that if I wanted to sit around and watch assholes I’d watched The Bachelor.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
But the first steps are the hardest; I know that in order to take on my life I need to be healthy, my head to be clear, and my holiday ass needs to be GONE. I’ve been away from the gym for 12 days, and a nice layer of grease (probably from McDonald’s) is slugging through my veins. So with pep in my step, I set the alarm clock with intentions to get up by 5:30 a.m., with my gym clothes laid out I am good to go. I snuggle with dreams of running a 9 minute mile, my kids eating broccoli, my husband feeding me grapes(organic of course) and massaging my toes, a gig as a columnist in a magazine when in reality by 5:00 a.m. I’m next to three farting boys, and the light of the clock is blinding me. I talk myself into getting up, and I’m out by 6:05. In the cold car driving to the gym I mumble to myself “Good job Deanna”. I knew this would be hard, but I’m there, I did it. I get my ass on the treadmill and hit him softly; we’ve been apart for so long I didn’t want to startle him. I do some interval running for 30 minutes which to me is easier on my mental state than if I declared that I’d “run for 30 minutes”. The start stop plays a good mind trick on me, I get a good sweat, and all is good in my world. After the mill I hit the bike for 15 minutes, I’m completely satisfied with my 45 minutes of cardio and I leave the gym feeling like a brand new woman.
I get the kids off the school without being late, and head into work, I got my coffee in my hand (brewed by my new Keurig), saving money, working out, 2011 is shaping up nicely; it’s mine for the taking. I get to the office, proceed as normal. The people are killing me but I am taking the lumps, I am trying my hardest not to get agitated with some of the women I work with but it’s taking its toll – working in this office is like a game of volleyball you’re being hit by all angles and you never know when a sneak attack is going to occur. It’s 1:00 I’m now agitated and antsy. I take a quick lunch break and head to my mom’s to help with a with a computer problem; on the way to her house I make a deal with myself not to eat a thing while I am there, for some reason my mom’s house= food. I get in the door, say my hello’s, give my kisses, go to the computer, fixed the problem in less than 15 minutes, as I get ready to head back to work, my mom like a sniper fires off “You gained weight”. I was hit hard, out of nowhere, just like that. As If I didn't realize that myself. I responded “Yes, but I’m working on it, why do you have to be so abrupt?”. Her response “I only know how to be abrupt”. Point taken. I get it, Mom doesn’t want her daughter to be another statistic and gain back 58 pounds. I heroically did not eat a thing, left slightly agitated but proud that I didn’t back down and called my mother on her so-called abruptness. Score one for my “standing up for myself” resolution.
As I drove back to the office I tell myself not to dive face first in a bag of chips, I am strong. I got this. I am certainly deflated but pushing on. Back at office I nibbled on a few pretzels, I am fought the urge on every level. Emotional eating problem -ya think? I texted my bestie from College like a mad-woman as she’s talked me off the ledge I get a call. Not THE call that I won the lotto, or that my son won an award at school, or that my husband was moved back to his old Firehouse as a LT, or that my sister screen play sold, or my other sisters wishes were granted, but a call from a co-worker asking me if I wanted the wardrobe of her dead 83 year old mother. WHAT THE FUCK? Are kidding me? REALLY? Are you FUCKING SERIOUS? Is what is thrashing through my head but the phone is completely silent, to fill in the gap this gal proclaims with so much enthusiasm "some stuff still has the tags on them!" More Silence. What I really wanted to say was: "who FUCKING cares? Unless your mother was a slender trendy 40 year old trapped in an 83 year olds body wearing leggings a boyfriend sweater and tall boots than I don’t want her FUCKING CLOTHES!". Unless of course, she was more Blanche Deveraux than Dorothy Petrillo Zbornac; but c’mon I don’t have one foot in the grave. I hung up the phone mumbling in agreement that I’d look at the clothes; I didn’t have the courage or guts to say no thank you. The “standing up for myself” resolution slipped through my fingers like sand. I felt like I needed oxygen. Great Day Turned Bad Turned U.G.L.Y. The only logical thing to do was flip 2011 the bird and have it start on another day.
*If you sign up for the free subscription, please enter DV into the gift code, I'll get credit! Thanks for reading!
Monday, January 3, 2011
On the heels of a New Year with resolutions are flying across the room so fast it's hard not to get hit by them or perhaps if you are like me you may be declaring "I'm not doing any resolutions, I am just going to live a better life all-around" when in all reality, my resolutions are rolling around in my head like coins in a glass jar.
So here I go:
- ► 2012 (87)
- It’s my mission, and I chose to accept It
- I Know This Much Is True
- It Takes A Village
- Teaching... Performing... It’s all The Same
- Happy Imperfect New Year!
- My Faith In Humanity
- Are You Ready For Some Football???
- I Know This Much Is True
- FINALLY, It's Back!!!
- 15 Years Too Late And 2 Million Dollars Too Short
- I am NOT Dorothy Petrillo Zbornac!
- I Know This Much Is True
- ▼ January (12)
- ► 2010 (58)