The Weekend Belonged to The Duck

Once a month, we have a down weekend. No social plans, no dinner guests, no birthday parties. I schedule it, and put in on Dan’s calendar too.

And then we play the weekend by ear. Usually it means a goodly amount of cleaning, shopping, and/or cooking.

This weekend, though, due to good planning and dinner guests *last* weekend, which meant the house was pretty clean already, we had some freedom to play around. And the weather! My goodness, I would order this weather for every weekend from now until Thanksgiving if I could. It’s perfect.

Anyhoo.

The only thing on the schedule was Flora’s 1 p.m. soccer game on Saturday, which was at a field about five minutes from the house. Plenty of siblings show up, and there’s a playground there. Dan and I took turns rooting for Flora and making sure Kate and M didn’t wander away from the playground.

Saturday, we had “Yes Day”. This is the day that, given a reasonable request, I say yes to the kids. They played by the rules. So: they did not have to clean their room (Flora: Can I clean my room tomorrow?); we went out to dinner; and we went to the toy store. They didn’t get too crazy, asking to watch TV all day or eat only candy. They also stayed up late, although I sent the girls to their room at 10 p.m., and I went to bed at 11 p.m. I told them they had to turn in no later than midnight — Yes Day would officially be over. Flora confessed they didn’t make it much past 11:30. It had been a busy day!

Sunday, we bummed around a little bit. Flora and I went to Mass and ran a couple of errands, which somehow included a red velvet cupcake.

And then we went to see The Duck.

I, for one welcome, our new duck overlord.

Flora is the girl kneeling in pink in the middle down there. She was amazed by The Duck, but was also fascinated by the Canada geese and mallards paddling around. M was intrigued by the boats.

The kids bounced around, checking out the duck, the fountains, and the boats. Dan and I revisited our engagement spot (the confluence — is this a Pittsburgh cliche? I don’t care if it is, just curious).

And the weather was just fantastic. Did I mention that yet?

I love that the duck is in Pittsburgh because it’s such a joyful symbol of childhood juxtaposed with the city of my adulthood.

Or, you know, a giant zombie Trojan duck that will suck out your soul.

You choose.

Achievement Unlocked: 30-Day Shred, Level 1

I’ve been intending to get back into shape for years.

I think I’ve finally done it. Which just means I have to keep going.

This is how I know I am in shape again: I can do Level 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred without wanting to die.

I bought the 30-Day Shred DVD about a year after it came out, I think. It was getting rave reviews, and people were bitching about it but admitting it worked.

I only had two children at the time, just to give you a hint how long ago that was.

I couldn’t even make it to the second set of jumping jacks. I mean, I was in pathetic shape.

It’s unfair of me to talk about this, I know. When people talk about exercise, a lot of the time they are also talking about losing weight.

I don’t need to lose weight. I do, however, need to be in shape.

After a couple of particularly needful visits to my chiropractor, I finally started poking around on my On Demand cable channels to see if they had short workouts I could benefit from.

I am lazy, people. I don’t want to get up at 5 a.m. to run five miles. I don’t want to get up at 6 a.m. to workout for an hour.

I was looking for workouts that were 10 to 20 minutes long, low impact, and focused on my core. I was looking particularly for Pilates workouts. I found a couple of good ones, and rediscovered one on a Shape DVD I had. The goddess pose on that one killed my quads.

I started out one morning a week. Because that’s all I could manage as far as getting up early. I stumbled onto certain workouts that I liked — they were quick, effective, and low impact. As the weather got better, I started walking with the kids in the evenings.

Then I started getting up early twice a week. I found a cardio quickie workout that was intense cardio in 10 minutes. The first time I did it, I was gasping after 5 minutes. But about two weeks later, I realized that I could do it, and do the accompanying 10-minute strength workout. Not only did I not feel like I was going to die, I felt good. Exercise was a good way to start my day.

And then I started doing yoga in the evenings with the girls.

Now, two things about yoga: First, we only do it twice a week. Second, I didn’t think I liked yoga. Pilates made me feel less crunchy granola and more like I was doing exercise. Yoga (or so I thought) was all about breathing and meditation, stress relief, relaxation. Which, it is to a certain extent. But, again, with some exploration, I’ve found a couple of routines that don’t bug me, and that the kids can do with me. And they help strengthen and stretch my muscles, which are sorely in need of it. When I workout in the morning, and then sit the majority of the day (stupid job), I pay for it.

On Monday, I found the 30-Day Shred DVD. I popped it in the player.

And I did the Level 1 workout. Yeah, it was some work, and yeah, my quads were pissy about it the rest of the day. But I didn’t die. I didn’t even feel like I was going to die.

Of course, this means I’m going to have to do Level 2. Right?

What achievement have you unlocked lately?

It Runs in the Family

Unfortunately, “it” in this case seems to be sleeping problems.

I don’t know if we can classify it as insomnia just yet, but: Flora can’t fall asleep at night.

For about a week now, she’s come down between 9:30 and 10 p.m. to complain that she can’t fall asleep. Dan lets her sit on the couch with him for a little bit, watching TV. I’ve given her melatonin (about 1 mg) to see if that helps. (She says it doesn’t.)

Last night, she was up past midnight.

This is not good.

She is fried. She is frazzled; her temper is a hair trigger; she will scream or cry at the drop of a hat.

For an active 8-year-old, not getting more than 8 hours a night is not healthy. Letting her sit on the couch and watch TV because she can’t sleep is not going to help.

Tonight, I’m going to try some deep breathing with her. She has soccer this evening too, which may help knock her out. I’m also going to see if I can get her to count to 100 when she can’t sleep. I’m going to make it clear that she cannot come downstairs after 9 p.m.

I’m not sure if she’s anxious about something in particular or not.

A boy at extended day has been picking on her — unfortunately, he picks on everyone. She’s been doing the right things: telling him to stop, walking away, getting an adult. I told her if it continued, I would step in with the school.

She says she likes her teacher. She’s doing well in school with her work. She likes soccer, although sometimes she finds it challenging. She’s on a co-ed team with third and fourth graders, and sometimes at practice if she’s in a group of fourth graders, she puts a lot of pressure on herself. The coaches don’t pressure her. She feels like the older kids “tell her what to do”. She finds it upsetting.

We’ve been doing yoga a couple of times a week. After balking at first, she likes to do it now. I think she finds it fun to stretch and hold the poses. She doesn’t think of it as something she *has* to do. (Confession: I really like it too. This has come as a surprise to me. But I’ll talk about that another day.)

We’ll try a few things to see what helps. But if this continues, I may take her to the pediatrician. I doubt they’ll give her medication, but maybe they can help by talking to her about the importance of sleep, and maybe they will have some other ideas to help her quiet her brain. I’m sure that’s the crux of the issue.

How would you help an 8-year-old get better rest?

Random Thoughts: The Things I’m Getting Right Edition

Obviously, not blogging!

1. I am packing the children’s lunches every night. This saves me so much aggravation in the morning, I can’t even tell you. I *do* need to branch out in terms of what I send in with them (in my opinion; I can tell you now, they are probably perfectly content).

That said: My children are ravenous beasts. They eat their entire lunch, their after-school snack (for the girls), and come home to eat two or three helpings of dinner.

2. Which leads to the other thing I’m doing right: meal planning! I don’t have this down to a science, but writing on my whiteboard what I am cooking that evening helps me immensely. Again, I need to change things up a touch more, IMO, but knowing what I am going to cook for dinner when we finally get our butts home reduces my stress about that to nearly zero.

3. Whiteboards. We have two white boards in our kitchen and two bulletin boards as well. The big whiteboard has day-of-the-week magnets across the top, and family member names down the side. I list school activities and due dates, chores, and the meals on there. The bottom space is called “House”, and that’s where I put my dinners.

The other whiteboard is for shopping lists: Grocery, Costco, and Target. It also has day of the week magnets, and I note which day is which girl’s (i.e. Monday: Flora, Tuesday: Kate, etc.). This nips the bickering over who gets to do what first. Depending on whose day it is that person gets to pick the nighttime show, or use the computer first, but also has to shower and put on pajamas first.

And, no, M is not in the rotation just yet.

I update the whiteboards each Sunday.

The two bulletin boards are also for the girls’ school work, calendars, paperwork that needs to be returned, and so on. M does need one of these, too, as daycare comes with its own share of paperwork.

4. Dishwasher: I run it every night, and I empty every morning while kids are eating breakfast and I’m waiting for my coffee to brew. I love being able to load it up while making dinner.

All-in-all, we are settling into good evening and morning routines. The girls are learning to do their homework in after school care; to start setting the table when we get home; to clear, rinse, and put their dishes in the dishwasher when they are done. Flora has become better about practicing violin, and is eager to practice recorder. They are pretty good about getting ready in the morning once they drag their butts out of bed. Sometimes they have to be kept on task, and oh do they like to bicker in the mornings.

We’re still figuring out the soccer practice thing. Flora has it twice a week (although they’ve had it only once a week because of weather), and games are on Saturdays. Of course, by the time I do figure it out, the season will be over. And we’ll be on to the next thing.

Got any new routines? How are they going?

Walking With A Ghost

Lately, my dreams are filled with The Ex, old friends, and Twitter peeps, which makes for very odd juxtapositions.

I have had the occasional Ex dreams, of course. I assume most people have. Who knows why. I assure you, consciously, it’s not regret. The past two weeks, though, I have had an Ex dream every other night.

Of course, I’m not sleeping well in the first place. Dan injured himself working out last week (official diagnosis: rib contusion), so sleeping with him means being woken up every time he shifts position. Plus, I don’t what it is, but my ear plugs don’t seem to be working any more. And Dan can snore while sleeping on his side.

In short: sleep is no good right now. I’m sure my stress levels have plenty to do with that too.

Then yesterday, Dr. Bro texted to tell me he had run into an old friend of mine (old as in former not as in aged), and she said to tell him to tell me she said hi.

Did I get enough tells in there?

That was really weird. This former friend cut off all contact with me when Kate was about 8 or 10 months old. She had her reasons.

Talking to Dan about it last night, he said, “Remember, to err is human, to forgive divine.”

I said, “I don’t have to forgive her for anything. She didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Sure she did,” Dan said.

I shrugged. I don’t think he’s correct on that. Like I said, she had her reasons for not wanting to be around me. Our lives were going in different directions. Sometimes, you can’t hold onto friendships when that happens.

So last night’s dream was filled with Former Friend, the Ex (and his sad, apologetic smile — gosh, he was a pro at that expression!), and Mindy from Twitter, who was baking lots of cookies. Another thing going on on Twitter: talk of cookie tables at Pittsburgh weddings.

These dreams, the snoring I can’t sleep through or escape unless I decide to sleep on the couch, the stress insomnia.

Why do we dream? Do you have ghosts in your head? Did you have a cookie table at your wedding?