Sunday, October 30, 2016

Traditionally Challenged or Clash of the Turkeys

It's that Time Again!
The holidays are upon us! It's time for me to break out the ghosts I've painted with my fellow Strongman Sisters and start thinking about all things cider and scarves.

Today, My Sailor, The Impossible Girl, and I braved the shelves and racks of a local Goodwill today gathering last minute costume pieces that will be assembled tomorrow. Though The Impossible Girl is over a year old now, this is basically her 'first' holiday season. It's the first time we've had the energy to celebrate it, and the first year she's been interested. I am using the term 'interested' rather loosely though. Today, she was very 'interested' in a pea sized pebble she found outside with about the same level of enthusiasm as she's shown for anything Halloween related. No doubt last minute costume creation is likely to become a tradition no matter how I try to plan ahead...

If you've followed my blog (or met me for any time frame beyond an hour), you probably know that I'm adopted. When I was younger, Dad traveled a LOT and the traditions we had in our household really helped ground me and help me bond with my family. They gave me something to nearly constantly look forward to, no matter if things were rough or not

. In hindsight, we had a lot of them.

In summer,  I looked forward to going to the local fair and eating my way through it, starting in a very specific order - and riding the Ferris Wheel at least once. I looked forward to going out and watching the local 4th of July fireworks with my family.

In the Fall, we did what most people did. We carved pumpkins, dressed up, and went trick or treating, or to our church's Harvest Festival. (Or both.) My brother and I would divide the candy up into 'candy stashes' and hide them in our rooms, in the hopes of keeping some around long into the year. (For the record my brother was MUCH better at this than I was... not the hiding through... I am pretty sure I raided his stash on more than one occasion...) As I got older, I spent several years carving elaborate pumpkins.

Around Christmas time, it was a stage show (either a version of The Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker ballet), baking cookies, having unshelled nuts around the house for snacking (and more than a few nutcracker soldiers), going out and cutting down a Christmas Tree at a tree farm outside of town (usually while my brother and I sipped on hot chocolate or snacked on freshly roasted peanuts and chased each other through the tree farm)... On Christmas Eve, after church, we'd open up ONE present, and Santa always brought us new Christmas Jammies (warm flannel pjs) that we'd wear to bed. On Christmas morning, my parents would make a big deal about keeping us OUT of the room where the tree was so they could set things up, and having breakfast first as a family. Breakfast usually included Cinnamon Rolls that we'd bought (frozen) at the state fair over the summer and saved for just such an occasion.

Anyway, you get the picture.

Of course, these things changed as we grew up. I started traditions of my own. In the theater world, I started throwing Seasonal Murder Mystery gatherings at my house, which were always fun. I always got a tree and have since taken to decorating it on Christmas Eve. My birthday included a trip to Disneyland - even though most years I went solo.

But - I met this guy -

We moved to Washington -
 And my grip on all of that holiday stuff slipped pretty much completely.

Don't get me wrong; I love our home up here in the Pacific Northwest. ESPECIALLY in fall. I mean, who doesn't love these colors, right?!

Leavenworth, WA
Now, we are getting good at carving out Sunday as 'family day', no matter how crowded the week gets. Making those memories is important - even if it's just a day at the park with limited electronic interaction with the world.

Last year, we were too exhausted (or too sick) from the arrival of The Impossible Girl to do much of anything for the holidays. If I recall correctly, The Impossible Girl and I were sick on the couch at home while My Sailor had to work on Halloween. We spent that Thanksgiving with My Sailor's family in Seattle, and that Christmas with my family in California. My mom carried on the Christmas Jammies tradition for The Impossible Girl, and that was really more than enough.

Thanksgiving is a weird holiday in this especially.

You see, to My Sailor, the holiday looks like extended family, food, and nearly-drunken all day football fest. Nothing wrong with that. It's pretty much how most Americans celebrate the holiday anyway, right? That's normal.

To me, well, growing up, it meant being talked over at a busy dinner table. My favorite part was going to catch a movie in the theaters while the turkey was roasting. I could have done without most of the rest of it. The food was good, but it was just food. (Stuffing is one of the few foods I have no interest in eating... ever...)
Now, it's the anniversary of My Sailor's first date with me. Which was kind of a big deal, as it involved me getting on a plane cross country on a wing and a prayer to see if this then-friend of over a decade was actually something more. (Though the 'dinner' included Ramen noodles while watching Aladdin in my hotel room.)

I hadn't honestly been much of a Thanksgiving fan in general until then. I can go without the feasting these days. My stomach can't handle the huge portions and rich foods, so that much is a little bit lost on me. I'm not a big football fan either, and pumpkin pie? Eh... no thanks. (Sacreligious, I know.) 

So it's a clash between 'beer and football' vs 'romantic anniversary'.  One year, we did do a harbor cruise (I INSISTED on it). The food was great and it was really fun, but I know My Sailor struggled with not seeing his family that day, so I highly doubt we'll ever recreate that - especially since we have the girl now. Besides, who am I to say, "Don't spend time with people that you won't be able to see very often once you deploy again." I have a strict 'no competition' policy when it comes to family. 
Besides - let's face it - they are much better cooks than me anyway - and he deserves a good dinner. (Me? I have been known to bake a turkey breast in bacon in the oven, do some mashed taters and call it good.) 

Now, admittedly, maybe it's because I'm still adapting to having lived 15 minutes away from my entire family for 31 years to seeing them maybe once a year, or maybe it's that My Sailor and I haven't had anything remotely resembling a 'date night' since my birthday - last January - that makes me a little selfish when it comes to holiday time as just a 2 or 3 some. As I start piecing together the next piece of our family plan (adopting a sibling about 2 years), I'm reminded that I need to MAKE the time this year to start prioritizing our little family this holiday season, before it gets scheduled away with work, life,  weightlifting, and extended family engagements. I won't be seeing my family this year, so staying at home gives me lots of time to get creative and get some Christmas and New Years magic going on for our little one.

Looking forward to seeing what the season brings.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Harvest Festival Fun on a Hammered Immune System

The Impossible Girl enjoying a run around.
Last weekend, we took our Family Day outting to a local Harvest Festival. Traveling with a toddler is a LOT of work, but it was fun and we made some good memories. The Impossible Girl is a freedom loving 1 year old now, who gets around pretty well on her own, so it was a fun way to wear her (and, let's be honest, us) out.
Rowing out on the lake... Maybe during a year when we don't have a toddler rocking the boat...
Free events included rowing canoes (we passed on that, for reasons obvious to anyone who's had a can't-stand/sit-still-kid), s'mores (cooked over some pretty ingenious log burners that we plan to try at home one of these days - when our logs dry out again... which will realistically be sometime next year at this rate...), face painting, an archery range, a small petting farm, hay rides, and a hay maze.
We met up with some friends on the spur of the moment and it was a good day generally. And I'm glad I was able to go with very little issue.

The doctor's say the 'working diagnosis' is an ulcer. Since I had pretty intense heartburn for the better part of a year while carrying The Impossible Girl (and there has been no shortage of stress in adapting to the role of working mother/wife/athlete), it's not even a stretch to say I probably have developed an ulcer (which has been showing up as referred shoulder pain). At first, we tried the generic version of Prilosec for a short time to try to decrease the acid in my stomach to give the ulcer a chance to heal.  Well, I am one of those folks who gets just about every side effect of medication possible - so that stuff resulted in 'cold like symptoms' (sore throat, runny nose, without actually feeling like I had a virus...) and an overall decreased immune system due to malabsorbtion (when your gut isn't breaking things down correctly, you don't absorb all the goodies you need to stay healthy). Couple all that with 3 days in a row of a teething, nursing toddler who is up most of the night, (and, admittedly, suboptimal hydration) and you've got a welcome mat for infections. Knowing my body pretty well, I knew a kidney infection when I felt it, so I spent 24 hours in agony before admitting I can't ride this out myself and grabbed antibiotics at my local Urgent Care. They confirmed that I was right, and suggested I re-think the Prilosec. I did. Within 24 hours of antibiotics on board (and Prilosec remaining on the shelf), I'm about 85% pain free. Which is awesome.

  It's a good reality check for me to get sick once in a while. I remember how much it sucks and it gives me an insight into what some of my athletes/clients might be suffering through due to something as common as stress, lack of adequate rest, and poor hydration. Feeling stuck in a cycle of pills is terribly discouraging.  (Since ditching the prilosec, I have been enjoying life with dietary changes. Nothing too extreme at all. I'm just more aware of my probiotic intake, adequate rest, adequate hydration and fueling. All things that are relatively easy to lose track of when you're not a working-2-sometimes-3-jobs-mom-and-wife.) It's a great oppurtunity to really hone in and practice what I preach.

I'm changing somethings up and ramping up a monthly challenge for my clients at work. It should be fun, and I'm hopeful all goes well, but there will be more about that later on. It's been incredibly gratifying this year to see the mobility, strength, and speed gains everyone is making. 2017 is going to be an exciting year in the gym...

As for my own gym goals, though I complain about the heavy training days I actually love it. Maybe I'm just on a hot streak right now, but I've rarely missed a lift in training, despite the heavy loads (for example, today was 85% Snatch to start and 95.2% for Clean and Jerk to start). In fact, I THINK I had a Jerk revelation today... and that's exciting, since I'm staring down the goals of a comfortable 50 kilo Snatch and a 69 Kilo Clean and Jerk hopefully around my next birthday in January... we'll see. Either way, it's exciting to realize that those lifts have a very real chance of being a Meet reality for me in 2017. It's still a long way from the new Nationals qualifying total needed for the 75+ Kilo weight class, but once they institute the new women's weight class (which hopefully will happen in 2017 or 2018), I might just have a good chance at Nationals again then. Until then, I'm pretty happy that I would have qualified for the Pan American games for 2016 as well as World Masters for 2017, if this had been a qualifying meet for me. (Bad timing.)

Getting the workouts in regularly helps with the stress which helps with the ulcer, so things are looking up, even if the future is not so certain, depending on, well, if My Sailor decides to continue to be a Sailor or not... which may depend on a lot of factors (though this election will likely be one of them).

So much to think about... but how about some sleep now, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lessons in Expectation Momagement

The Impossible Girl Goes to the Zoo
It's just after 10 pm. The house is asleep and I've stolen a few minutes with my laptop, Netflix, and some Almond Milk Ice Cream for myself.  Today got me seriously thinking about the ridiculous amount of expectations I have for myself. In fact, when asked, it's the one thing My Sailor wishes he could change about me.

As a Trainer and Coach, part of the job description is working with clients on developing realistic expectations.  My clients and I do a lot of hard things  in the gym. We do a lot of hard work - with the expectation that they will get stronger.  If only everything in life had such an easily identifiable cause and effect relationship.
My Sailor and The Impossible Girl
As I try to balance the Mom/Wife/Coach/Athlete, it's easy to feel like I'm failing at all of them.  This time of night, when I curl up under the blankets, listening to the fish tank over the monitor, it's easy for the thoughts that needle my brain of the chore that didn't get done, or the workout that slipped by, or the moonlighting job that didn't get accomplished (I took on a small part time job doing Transcription to help weave a more secure safety net for our family). 

Combating those thoughts isn't easy, but it comes in moments...
Moments like having a good Meet with great people and accidently surpassing the qualifing total for the Masters Pan American games reminds me that I'm keeping up as an Athlete, though I don't have the same schedule or resources that I wish I had.
Moments like when The Impossible Girl is finally asleep, safe and sound and snug remind me that she's healthy and thriving. So I'm doing my job on the Mom front.
Moments like when My Sailor and I are able to steal a few moments alone and laugh that remind me I'm doing my job on the Wife front.
Moments like when my clients reach a new level of strength or mobility, or when they come into a work out having had a bad day and leave feeling empowered - I've done that job too.

Sure, I 'expected' parenthood to involve older kids, school schedules, date nights, family vacations... Instead, it's a world of small victories, second jobs, first steps, early mornings and late nights. But in the end, I still have the beginings of the 'family' photo. I know there is so much more family out there waiting for us. All in good time. Once we get this baby-parent thing nailed down.

All of it has been a great reminder that life may be short, but it's the big picture that counts. Sometimes the laundry doesn't get folded. And that's okay.

Expectations are good, healthy things.

But sometimes, we have to leave a little room in the plan for detours.