Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

It is officially 2014. I’ve allowed for a day to settle in to the new year (a.k.a. the day where we take all the Christmas shit down and I can take back my living room) before throwing up a beginning of the year post.

Last night before I crashed I created a Google Doc which outlined my goals for 2014. Yes, I said goals. I hate the word resolutions because too often they are nebulous and unattainable. If you want to really achieve something and you are serious about it then set a measurable goal. Don’t tell me “I want to lose weight in 2014″, tell me “I want to lose 20 lbs in 2014.”

Do you see the difference between those two things? The first could mean anything from 1 lb to 100 lbs and there’s no way to judge what percentage of the way you go to achieving it. The second, gives you a set amount and therefor you can say at the end of 2014 that maybe you didn’t hit 20 lbs lost but you got 80% of the way there.  If you want to see my measurable goals and my status towards them you should hit that Google doc. I’m sharing it publicly. I’ll update it as I make progress. I want you guys to share yours and keep them up to date so I can see where you get.

Nebulous and nonspecific goals are one reason why people fail. The other great reason is excuses.

GUUURRRL.

GUUURRRL.

Things like:

“I’m too tired to go to the gym today.”

“I didn’t sleep well last night.”

“The kids are home on vacation and I don’t have time to workout or cook.”

“I’m still sore from yesterday.”

I could extend this list forever. Excuses make me insane. I can give people all the tools in the world and brain dump all my knowledge (which I’m happy to do for free even!). The one thing I can’t do is help them past their own mental blocks and excuses which keep them from succeeding. It’s frustrating for me especially when I spend time to help someone who is just starting out or needs diet/exercises ideas but the first chance they get they allow something small to be their excuse.

I have a million things in my life that could be excuses. I work in an industry that largely requires a 50 hour week, my husband works at least 50 hours a week if not more, I have two children under the age of 4, I have a 45 minute commute, I’m over 30 years old, I have pretty aggressive insomnia, I have a bad knee and a bad shoulder, the list could go on forever.

I decided about six months ago that I wanted to achieve certain things more than I wanted to make excuses. I started cooking on Sundays, removed all the processed carbs from my diet, and started lifting like I meant it. I get up at 4:45am Monday – Friday and go to the gym before work. On the weekend I’m up at 6am to lift before my kids get out of bed. I track what I eat, I keep account of how I feel and make adjustments as I go.

I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m lifting bigger than I was at 19, I can run further than I ever could during my more intense Judo years. I’m happy. I really feel like I’m going to hit those 2014 goals. All of that happened because I just stopped making excuses. When 4:45am hits and it’s cold and I slept poorly I put my feet on the ground anyway. I put my gym clothes on, grab my bags and get in the car. I force myself through the excuses. I feel good, I look good, I’m happy, and most importantly I’m proud of who I am and the work I’m putting in.

I hope all of you find the specific path to get where you want to go in 2014. Just remember, ain’t nobody got time for excuses. They’ll catch up with you and you’ll have nothing but regrets at the end of 2014.

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Ode to Joy

The very fact that you fine folks are reading this means one very important thing, I survived. I made it through a week of work, solo parenting, writing, and podcasting. I am exhausted, I feel like I’ve been through a terrible war, I may have missed a few showers but I’m still alive and mostly kicking. It was a bit of a rough week. I will say that this week did have a few wonderful highlights. I got to see my mom. Kaitlyn now says “big!” and can reliably say the alphabet through “I.” Nathan did some phenomenally infuriating things but as a result of that he now uses one of my favorite phrases back at me, “Mommy, you are pushing my buttons.” I have to try not to smile and/or laugh when he does that which is very challenging. My favorite moment from the week actually happened last night. In the last week or two

ODE TO JOY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME OMG.

Nathan and I have started playing a few Peggle levels on Xbox 360 before he goes up to his room for the night. This serves two purposes: 1. He’ll snuggle with me and 2. It serves to wind him down before bed. Last night Nate wanted to hold the controller and do it himself. I complied fairly sure he would get frustrated using the analog stick on the controller but I instantly found myself very surprised. I told him to move the stick left or right to move the ball guide and that the green button was to shoot. That kid then proceeded to clear that level all by himself. For reference he has played Peggle before but only in touch format, on a tablet. He’s never played a game using a controller before. He likes to watch me and we talk about the games as we play them but never before has he made anything go with analog sticks and buttons. Saying I was excited would be an understatement. Peggle is the perfect gateway game for him to understand how that controller works. I foresee some Peggle duels in our future evenings. I have to say it would have been cool if he threw this little skill in on Tuesday night when I needed a win in a bad way. Tuesday was nothing short of a shit show all around. I COULD HAVE USED A WIN THEN, KID. Watching my kids grow and change is probably my favorite thing about being a parent. The evolution to tiny blob creature to small human child is fascinating. The fact that my son is now developing some finer motor control and logic abilities straight blows my mind. It also warms my dark, cold heart to see how big that Xbox controller looks in the hands of a 3.5 year old. If this happens again tonight I’m going to try very hard to get photo evidence. Hopefully he won’t sling his cheesy face at me and instead will just look all serious while smashing some pegs. I know that Nathan is going to be a challenging kid to parent on a lot of levels and he is always going to try to break my rules. In a lot of ways he’s very much like me. He pushes me as far as I can go and right before I break he pulls out something so fundamentally joyous that I snap back to grounded again. I have a feeling the next 15 years are going to be quite a ride but at least we can play some games together along the way.

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All By Myself

As of this moment I am solo parenting until essentially Friday evening. My husband is traveling to Miami today for a tax conference and as a result I will be responsible for all kid related things until his return on Thursday. I’m going to be honest with you guys, I’m not even a touch worried about this.

If this whole process had happened a year ago this post would be a chain of horrible curse

I really don't know why this made me laugh as hard as it did.

I really don’t know why this made me laugh as hard as it did.

words and capital lettered statements about the doom of the universe. I remember when I was about two months pregnant with Kaitlyn (Nate was about 16 months) and Don had to go on a week long business trip to Texas. Nate was all over the place, cranky, and generally difficult and I could barely stand up straight without throwing up. I don’t need to tell you guys that it was a rough week. Now it just doesn’t seem quite that apocalyptic.

I mean yes, I’m not pregnant this time or sick which does help. Also, both of my children are finally at the point where they can be put to bed at a consistent time and mommy can decided she needs to have wine for dinner. I’ve also gotten pretty used to flying solo in the evenings most of the time. I get home from work at 4pm and my husband doesn’t get home until about 6pm. The kids go to bed at 7pm. The bulk of dinner, bath, teeth brushing, vitamins, etc falls to me almost every week day. Doing the bedtime part of the evening solo really isn’t any more difficult than all the rest of the stuff I do.

It’s worth noting that I’m not at all complaining about being the go to evening parent. Don does the morning share by getting them up and ready for the day before our nanny comes around. I also enjoy that my job is flexible enough that it allows me to get home early and hang out with the kids. It’s nice to have some time alone with them each day.

There are some pluses to this whole arrangement too. For one I can pretty much play video games from the time the kids crash until I desperately need to sleep. Usually I wait until 9pm or so to play games, after Don goes up to read for the rest of his evening. I will also have one less person in the house to clean up after which means less dishes!

In reality though I’m going to miss him greatly. He’s my favorite person to talk to and I’m always exceptionally lonely when he’s not home. I also really hate the idea of having to wait to watch American Horror Story until he comes back. I mean damn man don’t you know I don’t have that kind of patience!

How about you guys? How do you hang when it comes to parenting when your spouse is away? If you don’t have kids do you like having time to yourself or just spend the whole time missing the other person? Give me some data points in these here comments.

Posted in Don, house bullshit, Kaitlyn, Nathan | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Blah, Blah, Blah

There is a ridiculous phenomenon in parenting that involves being in a huge rush to see your precious child do something new and then immediately regretting that because OMG WHAT WAS I THINKING. This happens all the time and continues even with the second child because of course you didn’t learn your damn lesson with the first one.

The first major example is being super excited to see your child crawl for the first. Then it happens there is clapping and video is taken and everyone is so.unbelievably.excited. Fast forward about an hour and you are already wondering why you wanted that child crawling because they have managed to try to eat anything they can get their chunky little hands on and have tried to play in the cat litter (no of course that didn’t happen in my house….).

I was never in a big rush to see my children crawl, or walk because mobile children always terrified me. There are stairs and outlets not to mention all the general debris and aforementioned cat litter. Having to chase children around and keep them from all those hazards? No thank you.

My particular developmental hang up was talking. I remember being hugely anxious to hear my son talk. Of course like anything else with Nathan’s development he waited to talk until he was ready. Nate waited until right before Kaitlyn was born (he was 23 months old) to start adding new words on the regular. I was thrilled! He was talking this is what I was waiting for! I am an idiot.

It turns out when toddlers start talking they never stop talking. Life becomes a constant chandler-shut-upbarrage of statements, demands, questions, more questions, and then even more questions. From when they wake up until when they go to bed the stream of sounds coming out of their mouths never ends. Now don’t get me wrong, my son says some incredibly cute things on a daily basis. I just want a few moments of silence every once in a while. I would also like a Unicorn. It’s nice to want things I suppose.

Now I find myself back in exactly the same situation with Kaitlyn. She’ll be 20 months old on Friday and I’m anxious to hear her talk.  She’s following right along in his pattern of having a few choice words and a phrase or two that she uses but hasn’t had that language explosion that I’m holding my breath for. It’s making me insane. It’s not that I’m worried about it developmentally. My gut tells me she’ll have an avalanche of words when she’s ready just like Nathan did. The insanity is coming from my overwhelming desire to hear her talk. Nathan is a constant reminder of what will happen when she does start talking but yet I NEED to hear it.

Parenting feels like this constant loop of insanity. Even with a second child you forget and turn all crazy about something even when you know the outcome. I know once she talks she will never shut up. I KNOW IT ALL TOO WELL. Yet I can’t stop myself from desperately wanting to hear her say words. Seriously brain? We’re really doing this? Go home you are drunk.

While I hem and haw over my excitement/terror for more impending language from the tiniest Stryker, let me leave you with a video of a word she can say. Spoiler: this is really damn cute and you may explode from the adorable. ELEDENT! Click here to go check it out. (I don’t have embedded video currently on this blog. I’ll fix it. I’m just being lazy.)

Posted in Kaitlyn, Nathan | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

A little over a week ago I got a text message which included a picture of our beloved Kindle Fire. Actually it would be more accurate to describe the device as Nathan’s beloved Kindle Fire because pretty much commandeered it for himself but I digress. That picture showed the tablet with spidery cracks through the glass clearly emanating from one corner.

BABY, YOU ARE WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.

BABY, YOU ARE WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

I knew as soon as I saw the image what happened. Nathan left the Kindle on the couch and went off to do something else. That’s when Miss Destructo, aka She Hulk, aka Kaitlyn arrived on the scene. She pitched that thing off the couch and onto the floor, shattering the screen and rendering it useless. The weird thing about this is Nathan never really had a destructive toddler stage. He was always sensitive and fairly gentle with toys and things. He hit all the other terrible stages like biting, hitting, hurtling himself off objects in dangerous ways, but never the “destroy all the things” stage.   

The point is I never think to put the expensive devices out of reach because Nathan never broke them. Moments like this are what can be incredibly humbling as a parent. This is a small example but it serves the overall point nicely. No matter if it’s your first kid or your fifth there will always be things that surprise you. I will spend weeks thinking I have this parenting thing on lock down only to have one or both of my children throw a monkey wrench all up in my business. It is simultaneously the most frustrating thing about being a parent and the most fun. Watching two kids who came from the same parents and live in the same circumstances evolve in completely different ways is fascinating. They seem different at almost every turn down to small things like object destruction potential. 

This is not to say that you are completely in the dark all over again with second (or third, or fourth, etc) children. I have benefit now of being able to identify what things actually matter and what things I am manufacturing into a big deal but they really aren’t. Kaitlyn is definitely different from Nathan in almost every way but I am also more equipped to roll with the punches. Being able to handle her monkey wrenches without actively losing my shit is a nice benefit of this second child business.

I also have less free time available for shit losing. Between having a full time job, running a website/podcast, parenting, and trying to spend some semblance of time with my husband pretty much all of my free time is accounted for. I don’t have hours to hem and haw about what the perfect sippy cup is for my kids or the ramifications of allowing my kid to eat Peanut Butter and Jelly for dinner. I don’t have time to get washed up in guilt over my choice to work. I barely have time to get to the gym and take showers. 

I’m glad Kaitlyn is different from Nathan. I’m glad she foils my best plans and keeps me on my toes. The combination of the two of my children has made a better parent. I’m more capable, calmer, and more reasonable and that is beyond important when you live a life with two tiny, sometimes destructive, dictators all up in your grill. Now if I could just get the cat to fall in line I would feel like a parenting rock star. Unfortunately she has other plans so if you’ll excuse me I have to go clean cat pee off the rug again.

(For those of you who are on pins and needles about the Kindle Fire I replaced it with a refurb second generation model. Nathan really digs using Kindle Free Time to check out different apps and books. Bonus that it allows me to lock him out of the rest of the Kindle content so he can’t see some of the books I’ve bought.) 

Posted in Kaitlyn, Nathan, tech | Leave a comment

The Difference a Year Makes

It’s been nearly a year since my last post on this blog. I had kind of forgotten about it until Carolyn told me this past week, during our podcast recording nonsense, that I should write more in this space. She also informed me my Twitter widget is broken. That lady is always looking out for me.

TODDLERS BE LIKE

TODDLERS BE LIKE

It turns out when you have small children a year is a tremendous amount of time. Reading back through some of my older posts here I’m quickly realizing everything is different. Nathan is now three and half years old and is filled with intelligence, joy, creativity, and every last ounce of attitude you can squeeze into a 35 pound human. Any attitude that can’t be fit into him is crammed into the now 19 month old Kaitlyn. She is all diva, all day and it is making my liver cry. At the same time though she runs up and gives hugs, headbutts me while trying to do Eskimo kisses, says “cat” in appropriate context, and dances in the most amazing way. I will cope with full on diva status if those things continue. Once the hugs stop though this automatically becomes bullshit.

Aside from the children growing and evolving there are other changes that have occurred at casa de Stryker. Don and I have both switched jobs and we are both much happier and more fulfilled at work. This had led to us both being lighter, happier, and easier to be around which in turn has made our marriage a million times better. Being happy at work means being happier at home? WHO KNEW. It does not hurt that there is a little more income and that means we can buy better booze….errr I mean more organic fruits and vegetables.

Don and I have spent a lot more time in the last few weeks talking through the future. We’re discussing aspirations and talking about doing things that both of us previously thought were off the table. All of the frank conversation in our house is simultaneously making me incredibly happy and freaking me the hell out. Who are we? Suddenly we are this happy, communicative couple again. Something we haven’t been doing a very good job at since, well since Nate was born. Part of it is stemming from our job happiness but the other part comes from having finally found a parenting groove that makes sense. We’re better about taking things in stride now. I suppose it took the second kid to teach us to take a deep breath and chill the fuck out. I don’t know if you guys know this but I’m not particularly good at that part generally (shocking I know) but I’m getting better.

I enjoy talking to my husband and laughing with him and making decisions. I like discussing our “what if” scenarios and figuring out options for doing some of the things we really want to do. I feel calm and happy, feelings I haven’t had in a very long time. More of this would be incredibly rad.

 

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New Toys and New Experiences

Fair warning to most of you out there, I’ve been in a bit of a funk this week. My right knee  which I injured a few months ago has been brutally painful lately which is preventing me from going to Judo at least for this week while I see if it heals. On top of that I have to travel up to North Bumblefuck NY the first two days of next week which sucks for a multitude of reasons including, but not limited to, I will miss my kids and I have to drive six hours. These are the types of things that make me stabby. These are also the kind of things that make me skip the wine and move directly to rum. Oh rum……sorry I totally just got distracted there.

There are some things to be happy about right now though. I’ve discovered Sailor Jerry Rum makes Captain Morgan look like a little bitch in a costume. Also, I managed to get ahold of a Wii U over the last week or so without any real effort involved. I hooked it up the other day and played a bit of Mario which not only made me happy but got Nathan totally excited about this new system. Recently he’s become enamored with watching me play video games. He wakes up from his nap on the weekends when I’m home with him and immediately crawls into my lap and asks, very quietly, if we can play some “vidjeo games.” He spent hours watching me race in Forza Horizon and his new obsession is watching me run around in any Assassin’s Creed game (I avoid murdering dudes while he’s sitting there watching, don’t worry).

I see a lot of me in Nathan. He likes interactivity and while he will watch a movie he’s more engaged and happy when he’s helping to control the scene on the screen. To that end the Wii U seems kind of perfect. He understands the idea of the touch screen because he has grown up playing with our phones and tablets. Also, the music and colors and silliness of Mario has much more appeal to him than the reality of Rome in the 1500′s. We’ve tackled very little Mario together but I have a feeling that post nap game sessions this weekend are going to be a little bit magical.

This is the part of having kids that I secretly look forward to more than anything else. Watching babies grow and learn things is fascinating. For me though those developments are fleeting, eventually all babies learn to walk and talk and they all become children. What’s far more interesting to me is being able to pass along something I love so much to my children. Sharing something that has held a place in my life since I was five years old brings me joy in a way that is hard to describe with words. Watching Nathan experience games for the first time reminds me to step back and not be as critical of the medium. Nathan is essentially reminding me that games can be magical and that helps me cut through the cynicism I have developed through years of playing and talking about video games.

Even if Nathan (or Kaitlyn) has no continued interest in games beyond their younger years I can still enjoy the satisfaction of showing them cool things while I have their interest. Kaitlyn is currently less enthralled with video games but she is highly interested in attempting to eat game cases. Mmmmm plastic.

As for my attempt at finish games this year I’ve managed to defeat six games so far. Dishonored, Borderlands 2, Forza Horizon, Halo 4, Spec Ops: The Line, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood have been tied up so far. I’m working on Sleeping Dogs right now as well as fooling around with the Wii U when I get a chance. I’ve also started playing Persona 4 The Golden on my PS Vita. People, that game is going to be a PROBLEM. Maybe I should reword that…that game is going to be a PROBLEM AGAIN. I will report back on how much of my life has been ruined by playing P4 again as well as my progress in other game related things next week. Until then I’ll be hanging out with my kid, snuggling and playing us some Mario.

Posted in toddler, video games | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments