After Alexander was born, I thought I’d just wait to lose the baby weight until I was done having babies. Makes sense, right? I mean, why work hard to lose all that weight just in time to gain it all back? But that was when I thought I might be wanting another baby around now-ish. And now that it’s now-ish? I’m not ready for baby number 2 at all. Which is fine, except there goes my excuse about not bothering to lose the baby weight. I don’t know when I’ll be ready for another baby, but I do know that I was really unhappy with my post-pregnancy body. So after more than a year of feeling fat and frumpy, I decided to take action and work toward feeling good about my body again.
The latest round of Biggest Blogging Loser (BBL) came around at exactly the right time. Since it started at the beginning of January, I used the holiday season to get all my overeating out of my system. I ate whatever and as much as I felt like eating, and, honestly, by the end of December all I wanted in the whole world was a salad. But! I was about to start a weight loss competition! It certainly wouldn’t do to lose weight before the initial weigh-in. When I contemplated just one little salad to relieve the bloating and feel better, my inner competitor countered with HERE HAVE MORE QUESO. And so I did.
The first day of BBL, though, it was game-on. I was prepared with a Pinterest board full of of healthy recipes and a solid workout plan. I did my initial weigh-in, took my full body pic, cringed at both the number on the scale and the shape of my midsection, and got to work.
In addition to my usual once-a-week, 2-hour dance class, I started going to the neighborhood rec center after putting the baby to bed and running on the treadmill three nights per week. I decided to do the Couch to 5k program, mostly because (1) it was free, and (2) it was something I could do without sacrificing time with my son.
It worked. The pounds started coming off, and for several weeks I was at the front of the competition. But then a wine-filled weekend with my parents that resulted in a gain happened to coincide with other participants making major progress with their losses, and I fell to 5th place.(Look, some things are more important than winning weight-loss competitions, and enjoying a few glasses of wine with my parents is one of those things.)
I never managed to claw my way back to the top, but you know what? It’s cool. At first, I really wanted to win, and the cash prize motivated the hell out of me. But then I started seeing results. People complimented me at work and at the dance studio. I rescued multiple pairs of pants from the stack of pre-pregnancy clothes I’d resigned myself to donating because they’d probably never fit again. Instead of choosing to spend a day at the spa as my 30th birthday present to myself, I signed up for a 5k race. (What better way to celebrate being in great shape when I turn 30? Plus, it’s a mud run, so it’s kind of like a spa day.)
And now, for the first time in a long time, I feel good about my body. I’m not embarrassed if Tim’s around when I’m getting dressed. I don’t spend my 2 hours at dance trying to avoid the mirror, to avoid comparing myself to the skinnier girls in class. I think maybe — just maybe — I might be able to go to the pool this summer in a swim suit that doesn’t scream “I’m ashamed of my body.”
I have an arsenal of delicious healthy recipes to cook for my family. Every weekend, I sit down and choose 5-6 meals to cook for the week and make a grocery list. I never thought I’d be the type to meal plan, grocery shop, and do almost all the cooking, but here I am. And I kind of love it. (Mostly because Tim does all the dishes. If I had to cook and do the dishes, my enjoyment level would decrease drastically.) Most weeks I choose a few tried-and-true recipes with one or two new ones thrown in to the mix so we don’t get bored. Now that BBL is over, I’ll probably start rotating in some of our old favorites occasionally (spicy macaroni and cheese, I’m looking at you). But for the most part, I think we’ll be sticking with the new stuff.
I didn’t win the cash prize. Hell, I didn’t even finish in the top five. (And that says less about my accomplishments and more about those of the winners — those ladies did some amazing work!) But BBL was just the kick in the butt I needed to get back to my goal weight. It’s gotten me to a place where I won’t need to participate in the next round, because I don’t need to lose any more weight, just maintain my current weight. It’s gotten me to a place where I feel damn proud of my body. And in that sense, I won. Big time.
In the spirit of being proud of my accomplishments, here are my before and after pictures. Between January 7 and March 31, I lost 17.2 pounds.
Damn, it feels good to have my body back!
I introduced Alexander to the concept of jumping, picking him up a few inches and putting him back down a couple times. Then, holding his hands, I say, “Like this!” And I jump. And he reacts: Peals of laughter, endless giggles as I jump over and over again, and he laughs harder and harder, gasping for breath between guffaws. Pure astonishment and glee plastered on his face.
. . .
Tim’s at parent-teacher conferences, so I’m solo parenting for the evening. The oven timer beeps, signaling that my dinner is ready. I ignore it for several minutes until I can peel myself away from Alexander and his pile of toys, reassuring him all the while that I’ll be right back. Dinner’s out of the oven, but Alexander is unhappy about the 15-foot distance between us, so I leave my food to cool for a bit and return to my son. He picks up his current favorite book and marches over to the couch, signalling that he wants up. We sit, snuggling, reading books, him pointing to every “Dog!” (That’s a sheep. Baaaa!), laying his head in my lap, helping me turn the pages, backwards, forwards, several at a time, savoring every page just long enough. My dinner remains on the stove, long-since forgotten. And, oh, my heart. It is positively bursting with joy.
Alexander’s tenth and eleventh months just flew by, and suddenly he’s only a couple of weeks away from being a One-Year-Old. I can hardly believe it. Before another month flies by, here’s a look at what he’s been up to the past couple of months.
The Tenth Month:
Alexander became an expert at eating real, non-pureed foods. He eats a little bit of everything these days and, so far, he doesn’t seem to be a picky eater. My only real concern is that he doesn’t seem to fully appreciate cheese yet. Sure, he’ll eat it, but given a plate of fruit, veggie, meat, and cheese, he’ll devour everything except the cheese, which he only picks at before throwing the rest to the dogs. Considering he was grown almost exclusively on cheese while I was pregnant, I’m not sure what the problem is. He’ll come to his senses eventually, right?
He also started teething in a BIG way. The first two bottom teeth he got a few months ago were no big deal, but then his top teeth started coming in, and it’s been a months-long ordeal of drool, gnawing on everything in sight, and more drool. His two front teeth finally broke through a couple weeks ago, but there are more coming in right along side them, and the droolfest continues. It’s tons of fun for everyone involved.
The biggest change during the tenth month is that Alexander started attending daycare. We found a home daycare, recommended by several of Tm’s coworkers, and we absolutely love it. The woman who runs it is great with the handful of kids she takes care of, she has a big friendly dog who all the kids love, and she positively adores Alexander. (How could she not?) One day, when Tim picked him up after work, she told him, “If I could have a dozen Alexanders, I would.” I love that our son is so loved.
Alexander’s making friends at daycare, too. There’s a super sweet three-year-old girl there who plays with him all the time. One day when I arrived to drop Alexander off, shortly after he started going to daycare, I walked in the door and heard this little girl’s voice excitedly exclaim from the daycare room “He’s here! He’s here!” My heart just about melted.
When he’s not at daycare, odds are he’s in the tupperware cabinet. We put baby locks on all the cabinets except this one, and Alexander positively loves hanging out in his little baby cave and “organizing” the tupperware for us. Did you know that the best way to store your tupperware is to scatter it all over the kitchen floor?
Alexander doesn’t go back to the doctor for a well-baby visit until he’s a year old, but he happened to come down with a virus right around his 10-month birthday so we got to take a bonus trip to the doctor. Turns out he just had a nasty head cold, but while we were at the pediatrician’s office, we found out that he was over 21 pounds and 29 inches long. Growin’ like crazy, as usual.
The Eleventh Month:
In the past month, it seems like Alexander has grown by leaps and bounds, both physically and developmentally. He’s ridiculously smart in so many ways. He doesn’t say any actual words yet, but he’s good at mimicking noises we make, and he’ll blow motorboats back and forth with you all day long. (It’s a messy game, what with the ongoing river of drool, but a fun one nonetheless.)
He started waving when you tell him to say “Hi” or “Bye Bye,” and one of his all-time favorite activities is waving at the dogs every time he sees them. This little boy sure loves his dogs. (And they love him, especially when he’s sitting in the high chair dropping food for them.)
And, perhaps most important of all, he dances. Every time he hears music, he stops whatever he’s doing and starts bouncing along to the beat. Sometimes he even hums and dances along to his own song, and then I die from the cuteness. The kid has good rhythm, too — he’s always right on the beat of the music. I guess going to tap class with me for nine months before he was born taught him a thing or two about rhythm. I couldn’t be more proud.
He’s not walking yet (although I can tell he’s thinking about it), but he’s a crawling maniac. He loves to crawl away from you and let you chase him. He’ll even stop and look back at you with a mischievous grin as if to say, “Bet you can’t catch me!” And when you inevitably do catch him, he laughs and laughs.
He also does this amazing thing we call the Happy Crawl. Remember that Friends episode where Phoebe goes running with Rachel, and Pheobe’s running style is a less controlled and more flail-y than most people’s? Well imagine if Phoebe’s running style was embraced by a crawling baby — all flailing arms and big goofy grins as the baby speed-crawls toward you as fast as his chubby little thighs will carry him. It’s the most adorable thing ever.
On August 26, we had Alexander baptized. It was a beautiful outdoor service at our church in the forest, and we celebrated the event with a big family brunch. I was stressing out in a big way in the week leading up to the baptism about cleaning the house and getting all the cooking done, but it all worked out wonderfully. What I foolishly forgot (but was happily reminded about that Sunday morning), is how generous and helpful everyone in our family is. As soon as we got back from church, everyone who could fit in the kitchen was in there cooking hash browns, scrambling eggs, and mixing mimosas. Thanks to all their help, the entire day was a great success, and we got to enjoy a wonderful day with our families. My family drove down from Ft. Collins and Denver, Tim’s parents flew in from Virginia, his sister flew in from Texas, and our friend John, who is Alexander’s godfather, made it back to Colorado only a week after moving to Florida with his family just to attend Alexander’s baptism. We have the best friends and family in the world.
Alexander celebrated his 11-month birthday with his very first camping trip. We packed up the Jeep and headed to the mountains unsure of how well he’d do, and, honestly, we were half expecting to pack up camp and drive home in the middle of the night if it was a disaster. But Alexander did really well! He loved crawling around in the tent and snuggling by the campfire. He was a little frustrated that we wouldn’t let him crawl around outside and scrape up his knees on the rocks, but we assured him he’d have more fun on camping trips next summer when he can run around with shoes on his feet. We were most nervous about how he would sleep and whether he’d stay warm enough in the tent on a cold mountain night. We bundled him up and put him in his carseat with the bunting so he’d be nice and cozy, and he slept there for a couple of hours. But then he woke up and started fussing, so we let him snuggle up between us in the sleeping bags. He slept comfortably there for the rest of the night. Honestly, I think he slept better than the rest of us. Camping season’s pretty much over now for those of us who are wimpy about being cold at night, but we’re looking forward to more camping trips with the kiddo next summer.
And now, my baby boy is 11 months old, just weeks away from his first birthday. He continues to be the Best Thing Ever, in case that wasn’t obvious by the way I can’t stop gushing about him.
(Getting a picture of him with the Boppy pillow, however, continues to become more difficult the more mobile he gets. We do what we can, though.)
About this time last summer, I sat sweating on the side of the highway, cursing the mechanic who, mere days earlier, had given my Corolla a once-over because the “check engine” light had come on. He’d rattled off a list of minor repairs that could be made, but he couldn’t be certain any of them would correct the random misfire that had triggered the check engine light in the first place. The list of repairs was long and expensive, and gave the impression that he really couldn’t identify the problem but was hoping I’d empty my savings account in his shop in an effort to solve the mystery. Still, I trusted him when he told me none of the repairs needed to happen immediately. After all, my car wasn’t in perfect condition, but its few problems were “nothing that’ll leave you stranded on the side of the road.”
He used those exact words. I remember because they replayed themselves over and over again in my mind a few days later when my car up and died and left my pregnant self stranded on the side of the road.
My sister-in-law came to pick me up in her beautifully air-conditioned car, and later that day Tim stood sweating under the hood of my car replacing O-rings in the fuel injector. (Do you like how I just rattled that off as if I have any idea what it means?) It was a long, hot day, but eventually my car started again, and Tim was able to take it to a (different) mechanic who examined Tim’s handiwork and proclaimed my car was once again in good working condition. Hooray for my handyman husband!
However, the damage was done. Every day after that, I spent every driving minute wondering when my car was going to stop working again. I over analyzed every slightly unusual noise, every atypical sputter from the engine, every brief hesitation between the time my foot hit the gas pedal and when the car actually moved forward. I no longer trusted my car. It’s not a good feeling any time, but it’s especially not a good feeling when you’re mere months away from driving a baby all around town in said car.
But, we’d just bought a house, and we had a new baby on the way. It wasn’t exactly the best time to add a car payment to our budget. Besides, the car was still running fine, despite my paranoia, so we kept our fingers crossed that the car would hang on for awhile longer and tried to stop worrying about it.
As the months went on, however, the car’s minor issues became harder and harder to ignore.
The driver’s side window stopped working. (No problem; Tim swapped the motor with the one in the back door. None of our backseat passengers [baby and dogs] needed to roll down a window, and they probably didn’t mind that much that it was permanently stuck in a just-barely-open position.)
The engine started burning oil. (No problem; when the usually quiet engine starts to sound like a motorcycle, remind Tim to pour another quart of oil in to quiet it back down for a couple of weeks.)
The car trembled at any speed above 60mph. (No problem; just think of the vibrating steering wheel as a relaxing hand massage for the duration of your 2-hour road trip to Ft. Collins.)
The “check engine” light came on again. (No problem; just take it to the auto parts store, use their device to determine that it’s just another random misfire, turn the light off, and carry on.)
The light came on again. And again. And again. It got to the point where it was constantly on for months on end.
You guys, we tried like hell to get that car to hang on. We took it to a good friend who is a trustworthy mechanic to make sure nothing Major and Scary was going on under the hood. We kept pouring more oil in it whenever it dried up. But in the end, it became clear that the time had come to retire the old Corolla and get a new, more reliable car.
Enter, The Mommy Mobile:
Isn’t it pretty?
It’s a 2009 Prius, and it’s wonderful.
I could take you through the whole boring process of how we decided to get a Prius, but what it boils down to is this: I wanted a hatchback with more cargo room and more roomy/comfortable seating than my old car. I wanted people to be able to sit comfortably in the backseat with the carseat in place. I was extremely spoiled by my Corolla’s gas mileage (27-30mpg in town, 35mpg highway) and was not interested in anything that did not have good fuel efficienty. I wanted it to be reliable and safe. I wanted it to be cute.
The Prius fits all of these criteria. It’s roomy — oh, so roomy! – on the inside, with loads of room for people, dogs, babies, etc. Being a hybrid, it gets killer gas mileage (48mpg in town, you guys). It’s super safe, super reliable, and super cute. I love it.
Can I also just take a minute to tell you how much I loved buying a car from Carmax? I promise I’m not being compensated in any way for writing this (Ha! As if I would have enough readers to warrant a sponsored post! Right.), but it was such a good car-buying experience. When we first started car shopping, we went to the Toyota dealership to test drive a few cars and evaluate our options, and the whole process was ridiculous. We sat in the sales room for hours with a fussy baby while they held my Corolla key hostage so they could “evaluate” it and determine the trade-in value. They were purportedly having a Huge! Sales! Event! which, somehow, didn’t seem to apply at all to the car we were considering. Both the trade-in value they offered for my Corolla was a complete joke, and and the interest rate they offered for the financing on the new car was ridiculously high, especially for two people with excellent credit. When we finally wrestled the Corolla key out of the salesman’s hands, we walked out of there feeling frustrated and defeated.
Our experience at Carmax, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. The salesman wasn’t pushy at all. (Okay, he did push us ever so slightly to purchase the extended warranty, which we declined, but then later he apologized. For being too pushy! When he was hardly pushy at all! And he told us he respected our decision! It was surreal, in the most refreshing way.) They gave us a reasonable trade-in value on the Corolla — four times the amount Toyota offered us. And the interest rate on the amount we had to finance? SUPER low. Tim was over there having the Corolla appraised and checking out the Prius while I was at work, and as soon as he saw the interest rate he called me and told me to get my ass over there and bring the checkbook. It was too good a deal to pass up. There was no haggling. No sitting around trapped in the sales room while mysterious things happened behind closed doors. It was a very pleasant, straightforward transaction, and we drove away in the new Prius feeling confident in our decision. When Tim’s car needs to be replaced (hopefully several years down the road), Carmax will be the first place we go.
But enough about that. Have I mentioned how much I love my new car? Because I really love it. It’s so nice not to constantly worry about ending up stranded on the side of the road. And also, it’s super cute. Win-win!
So, it turns out I accidentally went a super long time without writing anything new over here. Stuff kept happening that I kept wanting to write about, but then other stuff happened and I got distracted and then I couldn’t decide what to write about and then suddenly it had been 2 months. Ummm…sorry about that. Anyway, who’s up for a quick recap? Ready…set…bullets!
- To pick up where we left off, SangriaBaby still has the same name he did 2 months ago. I think it’s safe to say we picked a winner. But we’re still not telling what it is. Luckily, he has about a million nicknames already, so we are not without adorable things to call him around other people. My parents usually call him Tiny Tim (for obvious reasons), but lately have started calling him Zachariah (kind of an inside joke). At the dance studio, he’s Baby Mack (our performing group is called the Mack Divas, and we each have our own “Mack” nicknames…mine is Big Mack [again, obvious reasons]). My boss calls him Fred Astaire Jr. Another woman at work just calls him Junior. To my sisters-in-law, he’s Pablo. Tim’s parents alternate between calling him Little Peep and Tiny Dancer. I can’t wait to see which nicknames stick after he’s born and what new ones we come up with once we finally get to meet him.
- I’ve been so focused on all things baby lately that I totally forgot to tell y’all when we finished landscaping our back yard. And, you guys. It is so gorgeous. 90% of the credit goes to Tim, who spent his entire summer vacation digging and planting and sprinkler system-ing and mulching and sodding. I helped with the sod a little, but he and a few of our very generous friends did most of the work. After fighting for 6 summers to make our mess of a yard at the old house somewhat presentable and still not being satisfied with it, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have this yard finished and beautiful and requiring only basic maintenance in the summers to come.
- In also-yard-related-but-totally-deserving-of-its-own-bullet news, we also managed to build a spectacular deck this summer! And when I say “we,” I of course mean “Tim and my parents,” because once again I didn’t help much beyond providing moral support. We weren’t anticipating being able to build a deck until next summer, but we managed to find room in our landscaping budget this year, and I am so glad we did. Spectacular as the new house is, the one thing it was missing was a nice place to sit outside with a cold beverage and good friends. Thanks to about a week of hard work from three of my favorite people, we now have the nicest deck (and yard, in my humble opinion) in the neighborhood.
- Tim finished the bulk of the yard work about a week before his summer ended, and he spent that last week of summer playing with his new grill that has a built-in smoker. That week, I came home from work every night to a different smoked meat, and every day was more delicious than the last. We’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year and seriously considering smoking the turkey.
- I am having a small love affair with Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.
- We had a couple of truly wonderful baby showers thrown by the most amazing family and friends. This child is so loved and spoiled already, and it warms my heart to know he’s going to grow up surrounded by so much love.
- One thing about pregnancy that has caught me by surprise is how uncomfortable I am going to the liquor store. I feel like I need to walk around announcing “It’s not for me! It’s for my husband/friends/deck builders! Stop judging me!” I can’t remember the last time I felt so self-conscious, and I don’t like it.
- We’ve been working hard on the nursery, and it’s officially the cutest room in the house. But that’s a topic for another (picture-filled) post. Which I will hopefully write sometime after we get all the finishing touches in place but before the room explodes from having an actual baby in it.
- I’m still dancing a couple hours a week, but I’m officially done performing until after the baby arrives. I danced in my last show about a month ago, and it was pretty much the best thing ever. We dance at a lot of local community events, so there’s not always a guarantee that we’ll get a decent stage or an enthusiastic audience, but this particular performance was in a real theater, on a real stage, with the most incredible audience. They were there to see live music in tribute to the woman who ran the local Cotton Club 50 years ago, and we got to come on stage during a 30-minute band break. We had no idea what the audience would think of a bunch of white girls tap dancing, but (excuse me while I brag a moment) they freaking loved us. It was the best performance we’ve had in a long time, and it felt incredible to go out on such a high note.
- Remember the dogs? They’re still adorable (laser eyes and all). And completely oblivious to the fact that their entire world is going to turn upside-down in about a month. (And here they thought moving to a house where they’re not allowed on the couches would be the most traumatizing event of the year.)
- In conclusion, here’s The Baby Bump at 35 weeks. At my last appointment, I was measuring about a week ahead of schedule, so either the boy child is going to arrive a little early (we’d be okay with that), or he’s going to be rather large (less okay with that). Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the former, shall we?