a very hipstamatic christmas

oh christmas tree

Oh, Christmas. You are fast becoming my favorite holiday again. There were a few years where I wasn’t so sure about you and your glitter-filled tripe, but throw two little ones into the mix and suddenly I’m all about Santa.

penguin backpack!

I think we did better this year about not overloading Ellie with presents. Her big gifts were a penguin backpack, a Duplo zoo set and a box of art supplies. “Santa” tried to think creative & practical. But I think the gift that put the rest to shame was from my brother, aka “Uncle J”, who found the coolest play tent ever. It’s now taking up most of Ellie’s room and serves as a home to her ever-growing collection of stuffed animals:

tree tent

The rest of the family was spoiled as well. I’m proud to say I got everyone into Fitbit! Tim surprised me with an iPhone, something I’ve always wanted but could never justify given our budget. Now that he’s traveling and I’m walking more, it makes sense to have my own phone (and it means I can more easily torture my Facebook friends with photos of my kids, muwahahahaha!)

ellie at the maine jump

We also spent a day with our “surrogate family,” Tim’s family friends who we call Nana and Tom. They sent us home with a ridiculous amount of yummy food and gave Ellie a Little People school bus (among other things), which she hasn’t stopped playing with since:

the wheels on the bus go!

As far as keeping up with healthy habits over the holiday, I only cheated a little. There were two days during which I missed my 10k steps because I was either tired or too busy with holiday stuff. I also stopped tracking my food, but I don’t feel like I overindulged or ate differently than usual. I’ve been a lot more active thanks to one of my presents, Just Dance 2. All in all, I think I made it through the holidays without overdoing it, so I feel really good about that.

smug hipsta

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santa’s village

I’ve had a difficult time getting into the Christmas thing this year. Not sure why, although I’m guessing a last-minute trip to North Carolina for a funeral and the stress of going back to work had something to do with it. In any case, I just wasn’t feeling the holiday cheer… I’m way behind on shopping, we’re not even putting up a tree until Christmas Eve, and I ordered Christmas cards but I kinda forgot where I put them. Oops.

santa's village

Last Saturday I woke up and decided I wanted to do something to change that. So in a rare moment of spontaneity, we booked a motel room, strapped the kids into the van and were off to New Hampshire to visit Santa’s Village for the weekend. We figured this would be one of Ellie’s birthday gifts since she’s just as excited about experiences as toys (and she already has way too many of the latter).

cozy and warmIt was cold, but only in New England do people still flock to an amusement park when it’s 25 degrees out. We spent most of the time bundled up in layers with the occasional pit stop into a restaurant to warm up. You don’t see Gwen in many of these pictures because she was tucked away in her stroller, wrapped in a snow suit and a couple blankets with a canopy cover to keep the wind out. In fact, she slept through the majority of the park, waking only to eat and smile and smugly prove to us just how easy-going a baby can be.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the park was especially friendly to little kids… there was more than enough stuff to do in the two days we were there. I was worried Ellie would get scared on the rides but she LOVED them–the train, the monorail, the spinning cups, everything. She liked visiting with the reindeer and decorating her own gingerbread lady (and then inhaling it, of course.) The light display after the sun went down was spectacular (I’d hate to see their electric bill) and Tim and I both enjoyed watching Ellie soak it all up with wide eyes.

hi (rein)deer!

riding the carousel    gingerbread lady

Ironically, the only thing we didn’t do was visit with Santa… the line was too long for a three-year-old’s attention span. But you know, I don’t think Ellie missed out–the whole “sit on an old man’s lap to get candy” thing probably seems pretty creepy to a kid who is finicky around strangers.

cupcake girl

We know it was a successful trip because by the end of the day, Ellie was an overstimulated grouch. She passed out in the car on the way home and didn’t wake up for two hours. Operation: Exhaust the Preschooler was a success!

daddy's better than any stroller

And wouldn’t you know, I found a bit of Christmas spirit along the way (and a pound of homemade fudge from the candy shop certainly didn’t hurt).

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fat girl with a fitbit

Remember last October when I started up that exercise routine? And was doing really well and enjoying myself? And then I got knocked up and promptly forgot all about it? Yeah.

I knew I’d need some particularly powerful motivation to get back on the wagon this time. I remember from Ellie’s early days how easy it is to sit around with a snoozy, snuggly baby on my chest.

Then I came across Fitbit and was immediately intrigued. I love me some tech-geeky gadgets; even better if they come with statistics and charts and graphs. I debated with myself… it was expensive, at $100 for the fancy tracker, but I could justify that easily enough. A membership to the local rec center costs $400 a year and I wouldn’t use it every day, not to mention the hassle of having to arrange for childcare, finding a convenient time to go, etc. And I do need to lose a significant amount of weight somehow. Although I’ve yet to encounter major issues as a result of my weight, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’m still relatively young and I have a sneaking suspicion my thirties and forties will not be as forgiving on the health front.

So in short, I decided $100 was a small price to pay for the improvement of my health and clicked the “Buy Now” button.

After a month with the Fitbit, I’ve not been disappointed. It’s a huge motivator–the Fitbit is always with me. If I sit on my ass all day, it knows. And I aim to please my future robot overlords, so I’m always looking for excuses to add steps or floors to my daily totals. At first I was totally beat by the end of the day–if you’re not already living an active lifestyle, 10,000 daily steps is a challenge–but now I find I can’t sit still for very long before I have the urge to get up and do something. It’s a refreshing change compared to the no-energy-to-get-out-of-my-chair feeling I had before.

Another part of this personal project involves tracking what I eat. I’ve done this before, usually without much success. I tend to get obsessive with these things, to the point where one failure equals total failure and epic disappointment. Drama queen, me? Never. But I’m finding it’s not as difficult this time. I’m more forgiving, which I think comes from knowing exactly how active I’ve been. And thanks to Fitbit’s goal program, I realized I actually need to eat more than I thought I did… if I eat too little, my body brings my already snail-like metabolism to a screeching halt and causes all sorts of problems. So this is helpful in ensuring I get the nutrition I need so I can keep my metabolism trundling along. The best part is the food tracker that tells me how many calories I’ve “earned” as a result of my activity level on any given day. If I move more, I get to eat more–awesome.

One of the things that makes Fitbit unique as a fitness gadget is the ability to track not only your daily activity but your sleep patterns as well. In my case, it’s particularly important because we’re often up and down with Gwen at night. I was surprised to find that even on our “bad” nights I’m still usually getting a solid seven hours of sleep. Not bad for having a two-month-old!

The results speak for themselves–I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last month and I feel so much better. I have quite a way to go, but I think I’m going to be able to stick with it this time. The real challenge will come in just under two weeks when I go back to my desk job. I have a feeling it will not be nearly as easy to get my steps and floors in, but I’m already making plans. I’ll cover my current exercise routines and how I plan to stay active in a future blog post.

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who let me have children, anyway?

I didn’t write about it at the time, but Tim returned from a business trip to Hungary a couple weeks ago and at the risk of sounding incredibly un-feminist–I’m not entirely sure how I survived that week and a half without my husband.

Let me preface this by saying, I am not single parent material. Period. Tim and I make a great team and he’s an exceptional and involved father. For that I am very grateful, but when he leaves life gets… difficult. Like I’m suddenly missing a large and very valuable limb.

Case in point: Tim went to Montreal for a weekend WordCamp this summer, leaving Ellie and me (a very pregnant me, I might add) to our own devices. My mom came to help for part of the time, but mostly it was just the two of us, hanging out. I thought I was prepared for the chaos. I even dug out my giant childhood sticker collection and let Ellie have at it, thinking that would keep her busy for a while (and obviously forgetting most two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat on crack.)

Sticker fun lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of peace–that summed up my weekend. Ellie refused to nap, so by the time Sunday evening rolled around she was alternately bouncing off the walls with giddy happiness and throwing herself on the floor in a fantastic tantrum–all in the span of maybe two minutes. At one point Tim Skyped us to see how things were going and, upon answering the video chat, was greeted with two sobbing females–one child, one adult, both at the end of their proverbial ropes. Let’s just say it was intense. I’m surprised he didn’t decide to stay in Canada permanently after that.

So that gives you an idea of how I fare when I parent alone–I’m basically on autopilot, and a pretty crappy autopilot at that. I’m less hormonal these days, sure, but now I have two children to think about–twice the chaos! Half the sleep! Continue reading

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