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Monday, January 23, 2017

Status Report

Alright...

When last we spoke, I was "curing" my blues by getting more sleep, getting creative, working out and watching what I eat, reconnecting with my kids, and working on a project. 

So far so good.  Since that time, I've been getting to bed about an hour earlier than usual.  I logged back into myfitnesspal to start logging calories.  I started walking a mile at work with another one of the PM's.  I hopped on the treadmill a couple times.  I started a little secret project as a gift for a friend.  And I tried to do better about engaging the kids without a phone screen between us. 

And the few things that leap out at me are:

1)  Oh my god, I'm so hungry.  No wonder I was gaining weight!  I told myfitnesspal that I wanted to lose a pound a week.  It told me to limit my calories to 1,750 per day.  Whatever...no problem.  Except that I've been eating without discipline for months and I've been really struggling to hit my calorie count!  "Really struggling" is probably a stretch.  But let's just say I was surprised at how easy it was to break my calorie "budget".  I think the one pound a week thing is manageable, but...it would be sooooo much easier if I changed it to 1/2 a pound or something.  Anyway, it's doable. 

I just finished lunch, and I have 750 calories left for the day.  I was in the same place yesterday (more or less) but I blew the bank with popcorn with Emma.  I got on the treadmill though, and didn't add that to the app, so I think it was fine.

I use little tricks like keeping busy, or trying to increase the amount of water I drink, or eating (attempting) very slowly, but I think at least for a while I'm going to be craving food.

2)  I felt my best when I was working on my secret project.  It really improved my mood creating something with my hands and seeing it take shape.  Emma was off at the movies with her friends and Lily was in bed, so I didn't feel guilty about the time spent (until Emma came home).  I think I worked on it more or less steadily for three hours.  And I'd have kept going, but it was 12:30 and I knew the next step would take several more hours, so it was a good place to stop.

3)  I realized that I'm not going to be able to do everything at once.  I mean...I had realistic expectations.  I knew that there would be some days I'd be too busy to do it all.  Or that on other days some things will have to give and I would need to try to prioritize based on what I felt I needed the most.  If I was feeling really tired, then maybe getting to bed early trumped working out or working on my project.  If I was having dinner with a friend then maybe maintaining my calorie count took a back seat.  The day that I worked on the project I didn't really work out.  I had walked at work though, and I thought to myself...(a week ago I wouldn't have...so I'm still ahead of the game).  Anyway, I'm trying to be realistic.

All in all I'm feeling good about the past five days really taking a close look at those few areas of my life that I can control.

In the meantime, I'm talking to Lily's hairdresser on Tuesday about when we can schedule her haircut.  I got some great ideas from you folks about good low-maintenance but adorable haircuts.  I'm actually excited to see how it turns out.

Now I need to pick a home improvement project.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Splitting Hairs

I've reached another one of those unpleasant autism-parent decision plateaus...where I have come to a realization that something I've been pushing with Lily, something that was really important to me, was in truth, only important to me.  Not to her. 

Lily is a beautiful girl and I love her long hair.  And Lily doesn't give a shit.  And I have fought against cutting it shorter for years and years and this morning, as she clenched her teeth in frustration, biting down hard on her sweatshirt in anger and screaming through the material, I realized that it's all been because of my desire that she have long hair, and not for any other reason.

Hair styling with Lily has become increasingly harder through the years, and lately when her mood declines she lashes out more and more vehemently...spitting, biting her hair or shirt, screaming NO!  kicking off her shoes, throwing her hair clip and glasses...and hair styling rapidly puts her mood in that sort of decline.

This morning, for probably the third time this week, I loaded Lily onto the bus with a warning to the bus aide to be careful...Lily is very frustrated this morning...then watched helplessly through the window as she attempted to snatch the glasses off the face of her bus aide and hurl them across the seats.  This morning the aide dodged back quickly, looking up at me beseechingly as if I had the power to do anything other than stand witness. 

She was pissed (Lily...but maybe the aide too), and me trying to put her hair in a pony to keep it out of her face is what put her in that place.  Once she's in that place it's probably ten to fifteen minutes of solid rage before she processes and settles back into the happy little Lily she usually is.  But I put her there.  Again.

During the morning routine I cut up her poptart and placed it on the table.  She wasn't sitting down at the time and I didn't really give it a second thought.  While I talked to Emma and Lily watched TV she eventually wandered over and sat down, popping a piece of poptart in her mouth before I noticed that her hair was in her mouth too. 

I pulled the long strands of hair out of her mouth (it doesn't really bother her that she's swallowed the hair with the poptart, I grabbed a napkin to attempt to strip the poptart goo off her hair.  I gathered it up and made a messy partial pony on top her head, trying to finish quickly before she started getting upset.

I made it.  It was later though, when I tried to straighten it up, brushing it back off her face neatly and gathering it in my fist to wrap and rewrap with the pony tail holder that she spiraled down, cratering into the place where she remained as I loaded her onto the bus. 

Not for the first time I thought...I guess I need to cut her hair. 

Those kinds of decisions are the hardest ones for me.  It's stupid really, because it's an easy decision...Lily hates her hair being styled.  I need to style her hair when it's long...cut her hair shorter.  But it comes at the end of a long battle to NOT cut her hair, so it makes pulling the trigger that much harder.  But it's done.

hmmm...

I'm going to contact the family hair dresser today via text with a few pictures to consider.

My requirements for Lily's haircut:

1)  cute (obvi...)
2)  stays out of her face without a clip or a pony
3)  doesn't require "styling/curling/etc" in order to look good
4)  won't get in her mouth if she bends over her food when eating. 

I was going to post a picture of Eleven from Stranger Things as my first cute haircut example, but I couldn't find one that was obviously marked as shareable.  Look her up.  Millie Bobby Brown...she shaved her head for the show.

The sight gag isn't nearly as funny without the sight part.

Anyway...it is purely coincidence that every single cut I found (and maybe one or two are the exact same) happen to be labeled "short haircuts for asian girls".  I had no idea they were so ethnocentric.

Here they are:

This is by far my favorite

This has some sort of weird unkemptness vibe that I probably won't be able to reproduce

On Lily the back of the hair will just hang straight down

This is probably my least favorite, and I can see her getting her hair in her food


What do you all think?  Leigh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blues



It's been a while since we've chatted. I've been busy. It's not you, it's me.

Coming off a down day yesterday. I'm realizing more and more that my daily mental well-being is very wrapped up in what amounts to about 15 minutes worth of negative interaction with my kids. Like basically my whole day is blown to shit if Lily is melting down or defiant (screaming/spitting/throwing glasses and clip) or Emma got bad grades at school or doesn't do her chores.

To understand yesterday's particular antecedent, let's hop in the wayback machine to a time just prior to the holidays when Lily's school picture came home and... though yes, every picture of Lily is a unique and beautiful snowflake...was garbage. So I sent them back in and set a reminder for makeup pictures.
No amount of retakes was fixing this.


They were taken yesterday.

 The night before I scrubbed her and washed and conditioned her hair until my brush flowed through it like an oar gently gliding through placid water.

The next morning I had Lily in my lap, brushing her ...not quite so smooth...hair back into a tidy pony tail, which is currently the only hair styling technique that I've mastered, and Lily was squirming and uncomfortable, and by the time I was finished, she was pissed, and there were some loose strands of hair that I tried to clip back into the mix...but it ended up looking sloppy. So I started to redo it and Lily just kept getting madder and madder until I finally gave up, slid a clip in her hair and said fuck it.

But now Lily was mad. And so she was spitting and screaming (god that kid has lungs) "no" at everything I would say (example: Lily: I want wiggles. Jim: You want Wiggles? Lily: NOOOOOOO!), and refusing to go on the potty before getting on the bus (which adds more stress) and pulling her clip out and throwing it on the floor (more stress) until I finally got her on the bus. Her hair more or less completely undone. Picture day! Yay!

So I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Irritated at my inability to make Lily's hair look good for picture day. Frustrated with Lily's current mode of communicating her mood...namely spitting and throwing her glasses. This all happened over about a ten minute duration just prior to the arrival of the bus.

There were more things...general stuff...like requiring help for every little thing...rides to and from dance for Emma, not being able to get the kids to the eyeglass store to order glasses, that kind of stuff. And it all piled up all day and I was just...blue.

I'm not really sure how to combat that in the moment, but I do recognize a few things that have been lacking in my day to day life that generally help my overall mental...wellness:
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Physical Activity
This morning I decided to wear black shoes and black pants. I haven't worn those black pants for at least a month. I...had difficulty buttoning them. I'm wearing them right now. I'm so uncomfortable. I have picked up at least 6 pounds from the last time I looked at the scale and thought..."I need to lose a little weight." So...it's 6 plus whatever that last number was. It's a big number. Math is hard.

I had an ankle...injury (for lack of a better word) crop up that I had been using as sort of a convenient excuse for not getting back on the treadmill. I've addressed the injury to an extent. There's nothing more I can really do. It's time to get back on it and walk at the very least. Getting exercise DOES make me feel better. More awake. more aware. Better over all.

With that exercise will come a diet change. I've been eating really really badly of late. LOTS of snacking. I need to start counting calories and limiting portion sizes again. Back on myfitnesspal I go.

Creativity
I need to get back into regular blogging at the very least as a creative outlet. This...vent session doesn't really count I don't think, but even this will probably be a bit cathartic. I have a little project I want to start working on, and haven't been able to carve out the time, but I think that's related to another issue.

Sleep
I don't get a lot of sleep. When I do, I automagically feel better. My issue has always been that the time spent after the kids are asleep is my only real adult time. My bigger issue is that I've been using that time to do stupid shit like sit on my ass and play on my phone or watch tv instead of finishing lunches or cleaning dishes or making coffee for the next day, and I end up doing them until 12:00 or 12:30...with a 5:30 wakeup time looming. And...relaxing and just doing nothing is important too, but I think that if I can do a better job of motivating myself to finish chore type stuff early, I can get to bed earlier more consistently. When I get more sleep I am always MUCH more flexible and patient with the girls.

Connect with my kids
This is the hardest one to address. When I get home from work, I'm still on the clock. Making lunches or dinners and cleaning stuff. Emma is usually doing homework or at dance, and I can't play with Lily because I need to get dinner done...then I need to get dishes done...then I need to get bathtime done...and the next thing I know Lily is asleep. Emma and I both have withdrawn into our phones. She's chatting with friends or on instagram or snapchat. I'm playing clash royale or texting a friend.

Even when I notice what I'm doing and try to stop and engage her, I feel guilty that I'm taking her away from something she's enjoying just because *I* am feeling guilty about the screens between us. I need to reconnect with her and her sister both. Working on that. But when I am with my kids...laughing, making memories, listening, sharing...I am as happy as I have ever been.

Finish a Project
Maybe it should be a subcategory under "Creativity", but the project thing is a problem that compounds itself (maybe they all do...hmmm). I have a LOT of ideas for things I'd like to do around the house. I have started none of them. That makes me feel worse. I need to start a project...redecorate my bedroom leaps to mind. Firepit out back leaps to mind. Paint the risers on the steps leaps to mind. Put away all the christmas boxes leaps to mind (okay...not really a project, but something I'd feel better about once it's put away).

I sometimes think how neat it would be to by a fixer-upper to flip, or even to keep. Pour time into it and paint it and decorate it. Spend a little to buy it. Spend more to make it look amazing. And realize...I'm not even putting that time into the house I already own and live in. And that bums me out.

I always feel better when I can complete a project, even if it's as simple as slapping a coat of paint on something, and I can see a positive difference. And say..."I did that".
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I'm generally pretty happy. But I've been struggling a bit lately. I honestly think if I can focus on those five things (with a couple more thrown in case by case) I'll feel a lot better. Then you won't be able to shut me up.