Saturday, November 20, 2010

That's Fitting

Everyone measures weight loss milestones differently. Some people use a scale, some can tell by the way their clothes fit. For me it's the bath towel. After I had my third child, the bath towel was fitting more like a washcloth. Now that I have lost the pregnancy weight plus 20 pounds, it fits more like a hand towel. It's more comfortable for sure!! But, there is still room to lose more so that it will truly fit like a bath towel should. I feel a lot better than I did last June. Joining Weight Watchers has changed my life in a lot of ways. I am eating healthier (my whole family is), I am moving more, feeling good. I ended October with 43 pounds less that the year before. 22 of those pounds I have lost through WW, learning new tools for success and going to the meetings has helped. But, for some reason November has been tough! I have gained .6, lost 2.8, gained .8, skip 1 meeting. I feel some of it has to do with the change from summer foods to winter foods. There isn't as much variety with fresh fruits and veggies and my standby recipes are not tasting as great now that it's cold out. There is something to be said for the simple yumminess of fresh tomatoes and basil! Another piece of it has to with Hubby working more hours which means less meals together as a family and less time for me to get to my meetings. Also, I have been nursing a little less during the day and I was relying on that instead of working out to burn calories. So I need to readjust my Plan a bit!

After a .6 gain and skipping last week's meeting, I had to work really hard to make myself get out of the house for my 8 am meeting this morning. I dragged myself there and knew that the scale would be up. I felt it. And it was. I gained .8. Amazing how 8 tenths of a pound can change your entire day, life even. .8, ughh!! I was ready to give up and wallow with a peanut butter cup. But, I sat and waited for the meeting to start and read the weekly booklet about making changes. I realized how much I have changed. I have still lost and kept off 41 pounds, I am making healthier choices and feeling like I have more energy. It was good to be reminded that life is small steps and choice and doesn't have to be all or nothing. I need to focus on the Big Picture!

At the end of the meeting the Leader had us do an activity where we stuck all of our name tags together in a pile. She chose me to take the pile of tags home for the week to symbolize the support that I have of all those other people to reach my goals!! It was so thoughtful!!! I felt like it was just what I needed today to get me re-motivated! The room was buzzing with success today. One woman hit her goal weight, another hit the 10% milestone and the guy next to me lost 76 pounds so far!! I feel like if he can accomplish that great goal, I can't let him down. I will do my best to stay with my Plan this week and to stay motivated to reach my goals!!
I will enjoy the holidays with my family and friends and I will enjoy the traditional foods and festivities. And now I will have a reminder with me of all the support that I have in making healthy choices!

I feel confident that I will fit into my bath towel again one day very soon!

The WW quote of the day was:
10% of Life is what happens to me. The other 90% is what I do about it.
-author unknown-

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Acts of Cleaning

In the beginning of September I implemented a Chore Chart, it has failed miserably. In theory it worked well...I would clean certain rooms on certain days of the week so that the housework wouldn't get overwhelming and laundry wouldn't pile up. A little each day sounded so much easier than trying to find large chunks of time to speed clean the entire house while the kids were entertained elsewhere (which was very unlikely to happen.) I decided some jobs needed to be done every day like kitchen, dishes, living room, toy pick up etc. And then I designated days for dusting, vacuuming, laundry, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. On paper it was a good plan, great in fact!! But, it only lasted a week.

The first 2 days I cleaned the kitchen and living room and then moved on to the designated chores for those days. I cleaned for a couple of hours while the boys were at school and the baby napped in the am and then for awhile after everyone went to bed. On the third day Vincenzo didn't have school and followed me around while I tried cleaning, then I had to run errands outside of the house that had been neglected. I still cleaned up the dishes, toys and threw in a load of laundry, but the rest of the list was a washout for the day. On Day 4, I quickly realized that if you skip one day you have even more work on the list for the next. So basically I finished the laundry piles from the day before and moved on the the never ending dishes and eventually got around to throwing toys in bins. I felt great crossing things off the list, but I started skipping around to chores I liked and leaving rooms unfinished because I would start cleaning the boys bedroom and find something that belonged in the living room and then I would start dusting the living room and remember to put clothes in the dryer and before you know it, I was back to my old ways of housekeeping. Which is no plan. Random acts of cleaning.

So the Chore Chart went by the way of the laundry piles and onward I have gone. I try to speed clean in the mornings and after the kids are in bed at night, but it never looks completely finished. Especially with 3 Tornadoes trailing behind me. There is always one more pile, backpack, shoe, dish, something left behind. I feel like there must be an organized way to get things done. I used to work outside of my home and I was productive and actually accomplished tasks. I had a plan. I completed projects. Now, I have piles. Piles of things that need to get done and pile of things I wish I could get done. The Wish Pile includes organizing photo albums, writing thank you notes, going through the bill pile, etc. The Musts include: dishes, laundry, toilets. The essentials. I have tried getting the kids involved with helping. They get magnets on the Chore Board for helping clear the table and making their beds etc. It seems to work, they like the magnets, but you have to be really consistent in reminding and rewarding which gets hectic and Princess can reach the magnets now and is obsessed with putting hem in her mouth. So the boys follow after her screaming, "Chocking hazard!!!!"

I accept that housekeeping is not "my gift" exactly. But, I am hopeful that I can learn ways to fake my way through it a little better! I think since it's holiday time, it wouldn't make sense to overhaul my organization plan (or non plan) because it will go the same way the Chore Chart went. But, for 2011 I am going to put it on the Wish List to make a new plan. One friend suggested the website: It's a great site all about this type of thing. I have read it, but haven't had time to actually try any of the techniques. It's on the Wish List for now.

Basically what I am looking for is: A plan that allows me to have a clean house so that in my rare moments of free time I can relax and not be speeding around moving piles from place to place. A plan that includes being able to actually leave my house now and then to live life, but still maintain an organized house and smooth running schedule. I would love a way to keep dishes and laundry from piling up 3 or more times a day so that I don't have to feel like I am stuck in the Groundhog Day movie and doing the same thing over and over and over. And I would love it if the plan can include a way to figure out how I can spend time cleaning the house and accomplishing projects and THEN have it actually STAY clean for more than 10 minutes. Pretty simple, right?? If anyone has a tried and true suggestion that seems more productive than my Piling System, let me know.

In the meantime I have found some great quotes to comfort and inspire me (taken from

You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping. ~Rudyard Kipling

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint. ~Erma Bombeck

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966

Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don't do it. ~Author Unknown

There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse. ~Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, 1968

A clean house is the sign of a boring person. ~Author Unknown

We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house. ~Robert Brault,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Mama

The boys are in a lovely new phase that I like to refer to as "The Threatening Phase." If they don't like what you are saying to them or don't want to do what they are asked, they often reply with a threat, "If you ask me to clean my room again, I will not be your friend." or "if you tell me to shut off that TV I won't like you anymore." The list of threats is endless. But, my favorite was this weekend I told them to get dressed and clean up and be ready to leave for a birthday party we were going to at Chuck E. Cheese. They were procrastinating and stalling and fighting with each other. And I was not happy with their behavior at all! Instead of getting ready as asked, Luccio said, "You are not going to be our Mama anymore. Daddy is our new Mama now."

My reply was, "Oh really? That's nice. Since your New Mama is staying home to clean today, I guess you won't be coming to the party with me and Isabella. Have a fun day!" And I started getting my shoes on.

Immediately both boys were like, "No!! We were only kidding! You are our Mama still. It was just a joke! Hahahhaha. We were kidding Mama! Isn't that a silly joke?"

Yeah. Hysterical.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

7 Years...

Yesterday My Sweetest and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary! Watching our wedding video has become a tradition each year and it always amazes me to see how much has changed.
We lost my Gram, Poppy, Grandfather and Hubby's cousin Clifford. Yet, we have gained Family. We have become a part of each other's families of parents and brothers and sisters in law, 4 nephews, 1 niece and my Nonnie. We are raising our own family of 3 beautiful children (and remember the 4 angels we lost.) We have been blessed with our Godson, Amadeo. We have our Home together. We treasure old friends and are making new ones. We have gained and lost several pounds each over the past 7 years. Currently we are on a losing streak with weight luckily! We have attended weddings, Baptisms and funerals for family and friends. We have celebrated milestones and holidays. We have gone on family vacations and road trips!! We have hit
rough patches and uncertainty. We have experienced the unexplainable joy of welcoming new lives into the world. We are not as young, naive or blindly optimistic anymore. We know that love, relationships, and family takes hard work, effort and nothing comes without challenges. But, we have learned to face those challenges and work through them together. We have learned to compromise, to communicate and to "go with the flow" a bit. And most importantly even when we are exhausted from the housework, the kids, jobs, bills, yard work, etc. we still try to make time for one another. And because
nothing says I love you better than a shared love of Project Runway, we make sure never to miss a chance to catch up on our fave shows together!
As our wedding song says, "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be..."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Thirteen years ago today I became a foster parent to a newborn baby girl, Maya. I was 22 years old and an idealistic dreamer. I thought I was going to change the world one life at a time. I felt called to become a foster parent and luckily my parents were supportive of my pursuit. I was living at home at the time so it was important that they were open to the idea, since it was their house,LOL!! I have been fortunate that they have always supported me and given me the space and love needed to take chances however crazy it may seem.

It took several months to go through the interview and licensing process. There was lots of paperwork, fingerprinting, background checking, talking, and a home study. Finally, I was licensed and ready to go. It took nearly a year from that point before a baby was actually placed in my care. The agency was a non-profit organization that worked with birth mothers to help them find adoptive placement for their babies. Foster parents were usually only needed on a short term basis. The social worker told me to expect to foster a baby for anywhere from a few days up to 2 weeks. This was to give the birth mom a chance to adjust and change her mind if needed and for final paperwork to be completed before the child was placed with an adoptive family. I received quite a few calls throughout that first year. I would get all ready and then they would call back to say the baby didn't need a foster placement. Either the birthmomchanged her mind or paperwork processed quickly enough that the baby went straight to it's new home.

At 22 life can change rapidly in a year. So, I put foster parenting hopes on the back burner. I graduated college. And I joined a volunteer service corp. I moved into an apartment building with the 7 other members of the corp and I was placed as a volunteer teacher at a school for economically and emotionally disadvantaged children. I adjusted to life in a community with 7 strangers, kind of like the Real World without the cameras or the money! The program was in its early stages and our group was a bit of an experiment. We were given $100 a week to buy groceries and we each had job placements. We also had to fulfill community duties like planning social and spiritual events to build up our relationships. There were 3 women and 4 men, if you could call us that. We were goofballs really and so freakin' young, but anyway that is its own story! So I was immersed in life with my new friends and trying to figure out how to be productive as a teacher working with very challenging students. My friend, Ms. Meeghan and I were placed at the school together. It was a blessing! The apartment we lived in was 40 minsaway from the school. But, the school was just 10 mins. from my parents house. So we spent lots of time visiting my parents and letting them cook for us and relaxed there when we could.

So in the middle of volunteer community madness and challenges, I got a call at the end of that October. There was a newborn who needed immediate foster placement. And so began the "Maya Period" of my life!

I couldn't take time off from my community or my teaching job. But, I couldn't let myself turn down this baby! The religious leader of the school I taught in heard of the call and adamantlyexpressed her dislike of the idea. But, reinforcements came in the form of my parents and Ms.Meeghan. Together we worked out the logistics it would take to fully support the needs of this baby. And the social worker assured me it would be for just a few days.

And so I went to the hospital to pick up the baby. My parents came with me. The social worker thought it would be a good idea because the birth mom wasn't much younger than I was so she felt it would make a better impression to have older people with me. Whatever!

The first time I set on eyes on Maya was shocking. She was the tiniest baby I had ever seen( up to that point in my life) she weighed exactly 4 pounds. Her skin was dark, almost red and she had a mass of jet black hair. And she was screaming at the top of her lungs. This loud, ear piercing screeech!!!! I held her and she felt so fragile!!! Her head fit in my palm. She was 2 days old. And the doctor was going to release her to me. What had I gotten myself into??

We took Maya home. And she stayed, not for a few days, or weeks, but for 3 months!! The longest foster placement the agency had to date. So for the first week I thought "well, she will be going back soon, so I won't get attached." I am just babysitting. Well, my the second week I was in love, unconditionally and forever in love with that tiny little baby. It didn't matter that she had the worst colic i had ever seen, that she screamed nearly all night and most of the day. When she looked up at me with her jet black eyes, I melted. I had never loved anyone so fully and unconditionally as Maya, not until my sons were born 9 years later.

My parents, especially my father took care of Maya while I worked. Not many people beside my Dad could get her to settle down once she started screaming. He would walk her for hours, he would wrap her in blankets and sleep in a chair with her. He even filled soda bottles with warm water and packed them near her when she was sleeping in her moses basket so she wouldn't be cold or cranky.

She stayed with me at my apartment too and my roomies loved her and helped care for her. Especially Ms. Meeghan, she was so wonderful with Maya. I mostly took them up on their offers to help in the middle of the night when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and she refused to sleep.

But, during the day I was possessive and stingy with her. I held her constantly. Over winter break from teaching, I became even more attached because I was with her full-time. It got to the point where I couldn't leave her, I just didn't want to put her down. By that point she had started recognizing me and smiling and I would have gone to the ends of the earth for her.

Throughout the 3 months we got many calls and made many trips with Maya back and forth to the agency. First, birth mom wanted her to be adopted, then changed her mind, then back to adoption. She was a teen with 2 other children. She wanted so badly to keep her baby but it didn't seem feasible. The adoptive family had their hopes up and them dashed over and over. And then it seemed on Christmas Eve it was set she would go to her adoptive home. I had mixed feelings at that point. I had gotten to know her mom and knew she was struggling with the decision. I had gotten to know Maya and I was struggling with the idea of letting her go. And then in rode The Knight to the rescue. Maya's father was contacted to sign the paperwork. He hadn't known she existed and this knowledge changed everything. He wanted to meet her. So we went to meet him. He was torn. He knew she had an adoptive family ready to take her. But, in the end he couldn't let her go. After much thought and another month it was decided Maya's father nixed the adoption and took her home with him.

And that is when the hard part began for me. I had to pack up that tiny little girl. Well, she had doubled her birth weight, but was still only 8 lbs and so tiny!!!! She was no longer colicky and become a smiling happy infant. I packed up her clothes, the endless piles of clothes that my family and friends and I had bought for her. She was just the cutest baby anyone had ever seen. Her skin had lost that red and blossomed into a deep, dark chocolate. Her hair began to curl into the softest waves, it felt like feathers!!! And she was always dressed in gorgeous ensembles with matching headbands. She was a little doll. She affected lots of people. Strangers at the mall would even fuss over her and come up to talk to me about her and want to hold her!! My family members fell for her head over heels!! Everyone from my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins loved her. She got so many gifts that Christmas it was crazy!!!

The day before she had to leave I spent time finishing the photo journal I had made for her. And I held her for hours. I said goodbye and thought I would be okay with that.

The next evening my parents and I drove her to the agency meet with her father. I held her while she visited with her mother. Her mom was happy Dad was taking her, but unsure if she would see her. So it was a sad goodbye. She kept the journal I had made for Maya and was so grateful to have that memento.

I broke all the rules with the goodbye, I had written a note to her dad and tucked it in with her belongings. The social worker hadn't wanted me to give her clothes and things to the father, so I kept them in the car and asked him come outside to get them. I put my phone number in the letter so he would have a way to contact us if he had any questions. Handing Maya over to a complete stranger was heart-wrenching, even if he was her father. He didn't know her schedule, her quirks, the way she liked to be held, he didn't know she only liked to sleep while you held her or tucked into her moses basket. I wrote it all in the letter. I had to. I couldn't leave her with nothing.

I handed her to the social worker and she she would bring Maya to her dad in the other room. I had thought I would be able to hand her to him. The social worker thought since I had said goodbye to her I would be fine with it. Well, I wasn't. I freaked out. Not being able to see her with him sent me over the edge. I cried the entire way home and the whole night and the next day and the day after that. I cried until my eyes hurt and my head felt like it was going to explode. I cried until I was so sick to my stomach that I threw up.

And then he called. Thank God!! He had read my letter, he said he knew how much my family loved her and how we had grown attached to her. He thanked us for taking such good care of her. He said she was doing really well and that her grandmother was helping him take care of her and loving her so much. He said he found out quickly that she liked to sleep while being held and that she could be demanding in getting her needs met. But, he loved it!! And he loved her!!

And so that was that. I went back to work the next day. And back to my community and roomies. And days passed. And most days were ok, but then I would hear a song or see a baby or remember her smell and I would lose it all over again. And that went on for a few weeks. And then it got easier and winter turned to spring and I got more and more into my teaching. And life went on.

I would still pray to hear from her father again. But, I knew I wouldn't. The social worker had heard about our call and wasn't happy. She said further contact should go through the agency. She called me with another baby needing foster care a few weeks later. But, I couldn't do it. It was too soon. And too hard to lose Maya. So, I had to decline.

About a year later I was at the mall and I heard a man's voice. My neck snapped around and my ears perked up. I KNEW that voice. I saw the man and I KNEW that face. A face that will forever be etched in my memory. It was Maya's father. He was standing right in front of me. I don't know if he recognized me at first but the words were pouring out of me before I could think clearly and I told him who I was and asked him about Maya. He said she was at his mother's house close by. He took my number and said he would call me and if I wanted to visit her I could. I was ecstatic!!!!! He kept his word and called me the next day. He said his mom wouldn't mind if I visited Maya at her house the next day. Ironically, I happened to be leaving the next day to go to England with a group of friends. I told him I would be back the following week and could I see her then. He said yes and that he would call me. I didn't have his number and I never heard from him again.

And over the last 13 years I think of Maya every so often. Sometimes not for months and then something will remind me it will all come back to me again. Especially today, her birthday!

I watched Rosie O"Donnell's movie, America. It is about kids in the foster care system, it is heartbreaking.

My Maya was different than the kids Rosie was talking about, but still it reminded me of her. She was lucky. She didn't have to feel abandoned or unwanted. Everyone wanted Maya, her mother, her father, her adoptive family, my family, and me. She was loved. And now that she is 13 years old, I have to believe that she is still loved and living a good life. I HAVE to believe that!

I went into the foster parent endeavor hoping to change lives, but in the end it was Maya who changed my life and she will forever hold a piece of my heart.