Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Black Friday Shopping Works for Me

It is nearly impossible for me to get myself out of bed before 6am, except on Black Friday.  I pop right out of bed while its dark - not even close to the sun coming up - get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and am pulling out of the driveway within twenty minutes.  I have done the Black Friday shopping thing for the last three years and anticipate doing it for several more.

I'm not a crazy shopper and have never gotten to the stores early enough to stand in line waiting for the doors to open.  I'm not dedicated to one type of product enough to snatch it out of another person's cart.  I'm definitely not competitive enough to ever use pepper spray on my fellow shoppers.  Those are all just wrong.... literally not-right.  I do not understand why anyone would do those things.  Seems like a terrible way to start the Christmas season, if you ask me!  I will always spend my Thanksgiving day in the comfort of my home, eating delicious food with the people I love, NOT in a tent outside of Target.  I will always remember two rules in our household while I'm shopping: "No snatching." and "You get what you get, and you don't have a fit." And really, I have nothing to say about not using pepper spray since that just seems like common sense. 

So off I go into the "craze" of Black Friday, equiped with my coffee and a list.  This year was a piece of cake as it seems most people went out late on Thanksgiving and by 6am on Black Friday it was pretty calm.  It was actually more calm than any other day.  I went to Toys R Us first, since I had to pick up a toy that I had bought online (wait til you see what it is... on Christmas morning, I'll post a picture) and the parking lot was hardly full at all.  I got a few little goodies for the kids.  I put back several things I had initially picked up after thinking to myself "do I want to be picking this up day after day?" 

After Toys R Us, I headed to HomeGoods since I had a gift card to use there.  Obviously this is not a big "toy" spot, so it too was pretty empty.  I, however, got a good deal on some toys for the extended family kids and a bonus is that they are more unique than the toys at the big box stores.  I also picked up a few holiday decor items, much to my husband's chagrin.  Do we need more holiday towels?! Yes we do!  Plus, it was all paid for by a gift card, so it was kind of "free." Next, I stopped at Best Buy, but that wasn't really for Christmas shopping, I just needed a memory card for my camera. Then it was off to the outlet stores and the beginning of the craziness.  Talk about a busy parking lot and people all over the place. I was able to get some really great deals on a few outfits for the kids and high tailed it out of there.  

Anyway, so what's the point of shopping at the break of dawn on Black Friday?  For me, the best part is that I'm all done Christmas shopping.  I got a few good deals, and that's a bonus, but most importantly I get to spend the next three weekends spending time with my family, decorating the house, visiting Santa, making cookies, talking about the real reason for Christmas with the kids.  To me, that makes the whole Black Friday shopping ideal. The commercialized part was finished almost before it began; I got what I needed to get and I didn't have a fit.  And now I get to spend the rest of the Christmas season with those that I love the most and focusing on the many blessings we have in our lives. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My thoughts on the "Penn State Scandal"

So I'm sitting here not sure about how to write this one.

The child sex abuse scandal at Penn State is absolutely atrocious.  I know there are many many people that are justifiably irrate about what happened, how long it happened, how many people knew it had happened and did nothing, etc.  There is nothing 'okay' about the situation and just writing about it makes my palms sweaty, my throat tighten, and my stomach ache. And I have to write about it.

The thing is, I was sexually abused when I was a small child.  The abuse happened over approximately 4 years, starting at an age when I shouldn't even be able to recall memories, but I do.  My experience was pretty standard;  there was a family 'friend' who was trusted, not only by my parents but by the entire community and in the end, he should not have been trusted at all.

All I can think about right now when I see stuff about victims is that we MUST learn something from this.  We can't just sit around and talk about how mad we are that this could happen or write on Facebook about who should/shouldn't get fired.  We have to somehow use this situation to put us in a better position to not allow this to happen again. Ever. I am no expert, but I have survived abuse... so here are my thoughts:

Behavior  between an adult and a child that appears inapporpriate, most likely IS inappropriate.  I would bet in most cases, the child knows it is inappropriate too.  And the child probably wants it to stop, but doesn't know how to make it stop.  You do.  So do it. Put yourself out there, speak up, and stay with the child until the situation is resolved.

I know it might be intimidating to approach the situation, particularly if you are alone and witnessing the behavior.  However, the situation is no more intimidating for you than it is for the child.

If you are concerned that the behavior is not what it appears to be and you are worried about insulting the adult, ask yourself the following:
     * Is there EVER a reason for an adult and child to be alone in a questionable situation?
     * Would you want your child in this situation?
     * Which is worse, insulting the feelings of an adult or scarring a child for life?

Now, I'm not saying everyone should be going around pointing fingers at others and making allegations of molestation.  Obviously, use your head and your good judgement.  Approach the situation carefully and tactfully. But NEVER EVER put the adult's career, wealth, or community standing above the rights of that child.

I can say from experience, that young kids know that any sort of abuse is "wrong." It is not supposed to happen.  For a young child, the only way to make sense of the situation is to internalize it and assume it is happening because of something they did.  Obviously, that line of thinking is so completely wrong, but it is just what happens in the mind of the child.  I grew up with unclear memories of my abuse.   However, as long as I can remember I felt there was something "dirty" or "wrong" about me.  I hated myself (I remember writing, "I HATE ME" on a ruler in 3rd grade) but knew I wasn't supposed to feel that way, so I then hated myself more for feeling that way... and so goes the cycle of just another thing wrong with me.    IF you do nothing to stop a sex offender from hurting a child you are essentially telling that child, "Yep.  You are not worth it to me to step out of my comfort zone and say something."  YOU will be doing the damage too.

I read the Grand Jury Report from the Sandusky case last night.  Soooooo many people "can't remember," "don't recall," are "unsure" about what was said exactly and when.  That is crap. Completely stinky crap. If you find yourself in the terrible position of witnessing a child being abused, I'm sorry, but you need to take responsibility.  Make a report in writing, keep a copy for your records, and follow-up with the authorities on what is happening.  If they aren't giving you information, follow-up with someone else.  Write down who you spoke with and when.

My parents spoke to us about abuse.  I do NOT blame my parents one tiny bit for what happened to me.  They were diligent, loving, very involved in our lives.  No one could blame them.  So I do not write this as "I wish my parents had done this differently" but as "This is something I have learned from my experience."
    * Do not say "Sexual abuse is 'bad' or 'wrong'." When I was abused, I knew it was bad.  When my parents told me it was bad, I thought that I had done the "bad" thing.   I prefer to say something along the lines of "If someone touches you in your private areas, you need to tell mommy because it's mommy's job to keep you safe."
    * To some extent, allow tattling. I know it gets really obnoxious when you spend all day listening to, "Johnnie is eating Suzy's cookie," "Bobby just threw his toy," "Mo-om, Tommy won't share with me." But you also need your child to know that (s)he can ALWAYS come tell you when someone is doing something they are not supposed to.  They need to know they have a safe place to tattle when tattling needs to be done.  In our house, we try to establish a "thank you for telling me, is anyone getting hurt? if not, please try to work this out on your own" response.
    * Remind your children as much as you can that there is NOTHING they could ever do to make you stop loving them.  There is NOTHING that could ever happen that would make you leave them on purpose.  No matter what happens, you are ALWAYS their mommy/daddy and NOTHING could ever change that.  I was told I would be sent away if I told my parents.  I believed it.  My parents were incredibley loving and reassuring, so I'm not sure what else they could have done. I just keep telling my kids that they are always safe in our family, that we will always love them even if someone says we don't, in the hopes that it will be so engrained in their little hearts that no one could ever make them doubt.
    * I know it is a very scary thing to talk to your kids about, but I believe if you do it calmly and repeatedly, your kids will not have to grow up being afraid but AWARE of the dangers in the world.

Schools and other child/teen organizations need to realize that child sexual abuse is happening and those children desperately need a place to go to report the abuse. The children need to know they will be taken seriously and their reports will be pursued.  If it could become common knowledge that a child in an abusive situation had a variety of outlets to report the crime, maybe just maybe that would hinder the offender.

This has been a difficult topic for me to write about.  I wasn't sure how much I wanted to share, or if I should share at all.  I have decided to limit the details of my particular experience; it is a part of my life that I am not ashamed of or want to deny, however I am not ready to put those details out into the great unknown of the internet.  

I do ask that if you have conversations about the Penn State scandal with your friends or co-workers
... please remember that the BIG DEAL of all this is not a college football team's coaching staff. The BIG DEAL is that there are many many victims and there will continue to be victims if we don't get honest about what is going on and have the courage to take steps to make it stop.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Making Some Progress

So I had two back-to-back personal training sessions.  Today I can barely type.  Everything hurts.

During my session yesterday I came to the realization that I was having a bit of trouble making it through the workouts without getting down on myself.  I thought, "Man, I'm just so tired of sucking at all this." I talked to my trainer about it and told her how frustrating it was to feel so weak day after day.  I acknowledge that I'm only 9 sessions in... but that's 9 hours of feeling like a wimp.  Steph confidently told me I had been improving and she could see it.  She also pointed out that I'm not paying her to make easy work outs for me. True, true.  When we finished up the workout, she told me she would go back and look up what I did during my first workout with her and we would do it again. She guaranteed me it would be easy.

So when I met with her today (after running a mile on the treadmill - which I hadn't been able to do without A LOT of complaining and contemplating quitting just a few weeks ago) Steph told me we were going to do bits and pieces of my first two work outs... with a little tweaking to make sure I would still get a good workout today.

First up were planks with jumping jacks (plank position on hands and toes, then jump legs apart and together).   First session I had to do 10... and I barely made it through.  Today, I did 30. I was panting a bit, but I did them without stopping.  Yes! The second set of these today I had to add "up downs" where I go from being on two hands, down to my elbows, and back up again, in between each jack.

Second, sitting on the mat I leaned back about halfway (probably less than that at the end), knees bent, feet off the ground.  She tossed a medicine ball at me, I caught it, tapped it on the ground to the right then the left, and then tossed it back to her.  Three weeks ago I couldn't hold my feet up and we did 10 with a lighter ball; today I managed to keep my feet up and we used a heavier ball.  I admit I had to take a break or two though.

The session went on and on, the exercises became more and more difficult and less and less like my first session, but I got the point,  I've made some strides; gained some strength and endurance. Most importantly, I have had a mental shift from "there's NO WAY I can finish this and I don't want to try," to "I'll give it a go, not sure I'll make it through all the reps without stopping, but I can push through it."

It's nice to know these sessions are working. I'm getting stronger and learning an important lesson about what I am capable of doing.  Meanwhile, I can hardly move!

***I just took a photo of my sneakers since they are my training partners and are "with me every step of the way," but my camera battery died while trying to upload it.***

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Case of PDD - Pre-Deployment Dread

And so begins the countdown clock.  Deployment will begin in a month, give or take (please, please give) a day or two.  Every military family knows the dates will wibble and wobble based on ship movements and who gets to fly-on or walk-on; but a month is pretty much what we are looking at.  It seems like a long time and a short time... all at the same time.  With each day, though, the knot in the pit of my stomach grows and is more difficult to ignore.  It's a severe case of Pre-Deployment Dread.

If you are unfamiliar with PDD, let me break it down for you*:

Causes: PDD is generally caused by an upcoming military deployment.  In most cases, the severity of the dread is directly related to the length of the aforementioned deployment.

Types: PDD can be present in two differing, yet quite similar forms:
              A. Actual Pre-Deployment Dread: This form is evident when a deployment date is real and set     on the calendar. (A)PDD shows more consistent and long-lasting symptoms.  Oftentimes, symptoms are intense and experienced on a daily basis.
             B. Rumored/Hypothetical Pre-Deployment Dread: This form of PDD is experienced when military spouses have discussions with other military spouses or their spouse about the possibility of a deployment.  At times this dread can show itself when a military spouse is sitting alone and just thinking of possibilities in their spouse's career. (R/H)PDD has symptoms that generally last only as long as the discussion/day-dreaming session. (R/H)PDD can prove to be as intense as (A)PDD.

Symptoms: A person experiencing PDD may experience all or some of the following:
      * An undeniable knot in the pit of your stomach making you feel like you may 'toss your cookies' at any moment.
      * Always being on the brink of tears and never quite knowing when they are going to get tired of waiting just beneath the surface and erupt.
      * An intense need to hang on to your spouse when giving hugs.... just about when a "normal" hug would end, you just need to hang on a little bit longer.
      * The inability to complete a chore during the day without thinking of the next stretch of months when you will be doing the chore alone.
      *  Continually looking at the calendar and doing mental math as to how many more weeks or days you have until D-Day.
      * Grumpily picking up supplies to make calendar squares.
      * Day-dreaming of holidays and family celebrations that you will celebrate with your 'better half' half a world away... and either feeling super-sad, super-irritated,  or super-bold in your determination to make it a fun celebration anyway... or feeling all three emotions at the same time.
      * Alternating between a deep sense of pride in the military branch that your family is serving in and a deep sense of hatred; always knowing full well you will circle back around to the pride.
      * Making many mental lists of how you are going to improve yourself, organize your house, keep your kids busy, stay in touch with your spouse, and somehow enjoy the deployment.
      * Making many metal lists of how you are going to stretch out in the bed at night, watch whatever you want to on television, eat popcorn for dinner if you so feel like it, and not pick up dirty underwears off the floor.
      * Snapping at your spouse for no particular reason, while knowing deep down it's just because you don't want him to leave.

Diagnosis: If you answer "yes" to these three questions, you can go ahead an diagnose yourself with PDD:
1. Is/Will your spouse be deployed in the future?
2. Do you feel grumpy, sad, and dread-ful about it?
3. Are you experiencing any of the listed symptoms?

Treatment: Treatment for PDD varies depending on each person's personality.  Some treatments include:
       * Allow yourself a Day of Dread. Just wallow in it for a bit but tell yourself you're going to have to get over it.
       * When suffering the symptom of needing longer hugs from your spouse, go ahead and hug longer. Hug more often.
       * Make those mental lists into real lists that you can add to instead of re-hashing them in your mind.
       * Talk to another military spouse about how your feeling, but make sure it doesn't turn into a complete complain fest for you both... otherwise symptoms will most likely increase.
       * Talk to your spouse about your dread.  (I highly recommend beginning this conversation with something along the lines of, "I'm not mad at YOU and I'm not blaming you, I know you would stay home if you could.  I just want to tell you how I feel.")
       * Pray about it.  No one on Earth understands you better than the Big Guy Upstairs.
       * Go shopping, but instead of picking up random things, try to come up with something that will be useful during the deployment.  (a workout DVD, a long-term craft, cards to mail to the hubster, a bottle of wine for each month of deployment, whatever works for you... )
       * Accept that it just sort of SUCKS right now, but before long you'll be experiencing Deployment Daze and then Homecoming Highs.

*PLEASE NOTE: this is completely made up and is just what is floating through my head when I'm not making mental lists of Things I will Hate During Deployment and Things I will Enjoy During Deployment.  If you are experiencing real-life symptoms of depression, please please please respect that and go talk to your doctor about it. 

And in honor of my PDD, here's a picture of my most-favorite Deployer (from two years & one kid ago... but it's my ultimate favorite photo):


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Results Are In

POUNDAGE: the same... not one little difference on the scale
BODY FAT %: down 1% - I feel great about this
INCHES: a little bit here and there, but the biggest change was a 1/2 inch off my waist (around the ribs) and 1 inch off my other waist (around my belly button)

Feeling good for two weeks.  Now I need to focus on my eating.  Much more motivated when I see results.   More weight loss news to come in two more weeks at next weigh-in (scale only... we do measurements monthly).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Remember that Weight Loss Goal?

So I got pretty distracted from my weight loss goal during September.  There was always something else to think about, focus on, and keep me out of the gym.  I honestly don't even know if I made it into the gym one time during the month.  Bah.

However, once we arrived in California, I was pumped to get back on track and continue where I left off. I had read a few friends' Facebook posts about great Zumba classes so I decided that was the gym I would join.  I'm proud to announce I am a new member of 24-Hour Fitness. I also decided that I had proved to myself (and the blogging world) that I can NOT do this on my own and decided to throw caution to the budget wind and hire a personal trainer.  When I was signing up I was pretty much putty in their hands and followed their suggestions.  I have a trainer hired for 3 days per week for 8 weeks.  It's go time.

Holy cow, I have NEVER worked out so hard in my entire life.  I used to think that I knew how to work out. I did not.  Steph has me doing box jumps, jump ropes, frog jumps, and wall jumps.  She has me doing regular planks, high-low planks, and (for the love of pete) walking planks.  She has me hating burpies, burpies, burpies, and more burpies. I've bear walked around the gym, sprinted then push-up-ed, boxed and kick-boxed, lunged throughout the cardio machines, ran on a treadmill, walked backwards on the treadmill, and even PULLED the stinkin' treadmill with my hands.

I used to be able to run a quick errand at Target after working out... not anymore, my friends.  I had to go buy new shirts to workout in because cotton tanks just don't cut it anymore.  I am a sweaty gross mess.  Pushing myself so hard and finding out what I am actually capable of is pretty awesome but I disgust myself with my own stench.

Tomorrow is my first measurement day since signing up two weeks ago.  I added one extra training session this past Saturday, so I have completed a total of 8 sessions with Steph.  I'm feeling stronger in just two weeks but am doubtful about the actual weight loss.  It usually takes a month or so to see the results show up on the scale so I have pretty low expectations.  I'm getting a lot of motivation from seeing a bit less pudge and a little more muscle, and have my sights set on FINALLY getting back to wedding weight!

'Til tomorrow....