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Back on Track

March 9, 2014

February 2014 has not been kind to the Pattersons.  We experienced a miscarriage, and then Dan had arthroscopic hip surgery, and has been recovering since.  It’s taken quite a toll on us, physically and emotionally but finally, almost halfway through March, we are starting to see the light a bit.  Thank God.

And with that, it’s time to get ourselves back on track, health wise.  We eat well in terms of ingredients – very little processed or chemical-laden food in our house – but I joined Weight Watchers to help gain an understanding of how much we are eating.  And it’s a LOT.  A whole lot.  Apparently even when you eat the right things, too much can still make you fat.

I’m starting P90X3 for the 3rd time – I stopped the first time right before we found out about the miscarriage.  I started again the week of Dan’s surgery.  Now that it seems we are at the end of this rough patch, I am ready to begin again and see it through.  I did Insanity last summer, and will likely do it again this year.

We value health and fitness in our house, but it’s fallen to the back burner in the last 6 months or so.  I am focused on making it a priority again for us.  Dan can’t fully participate since his recovery is slow and steady, but we can both benefit from eating better.  And I just feel better when I work out, even if that means dragging my butt out of bed at 4:30 in the morning.  

In keeping with that, tonight’s dinner is vegetarian and awesome.  It’s kind of like an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ burrito, and it’s soooooo good and only 6 Weight Watchers points.

Modified from Cooking Light: Vegetable and Rice Burritos with Quesadilla Cheese
4 tsp oil
1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1 tsp chopped garlic, divided
2/3 cup water
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1 T chopped jalapeno (I leave this out)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 T chopped cilantro (I leave this out)
1 tsp lemon juice (I leave this out)
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (I leave this out)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup corn (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup halved grape tomatoes (original recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
1 yellow pepper, chopped (my addition)
1 orange pepper, chopped (my addition)
4 (7-8 inch) whole-wheat tortillas
4 ounces quesadilla cheese, shredded (about 1 cup packed.  I use monterey jack)

1. Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Add 1 tsp oil.  Add rice, 1/2 tsp garlic; saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add 2/3 cup water and 1/8 tsp salt; bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.  Remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork; stir in jalapeno, if using.

2. Combine sour cream, chopped cilantro, juice, and red pepper in a small bowl (since I only use the sour cream, I just spread it on my burrito at the end.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Add onion; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add remaining 1/2 tsp garlic and mushrooms; saute 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add corn, zucchini, and peppers; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add remaining 1/8 tsp salt and tomatoes; saute 30 seconds or until tomatoes are heated thoroughly.  Remove vegetable mixture from the pan.  Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

4. Heat tortillas according to package directions.  Divide sour cream mixture among tortillas; spread to a thin layer, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup cheese, about 1/4 cup rice mixture, and about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture.  Roll up each, jelly roll style, and place in heated pan, cooking on each side until browned.


I Have a 2-Year Old

April 4, 2013

Ryan just turned two.  I said I wasn’t going to do a big thing but, true to form, I couldn’t bear the thought of just having people over for pizza.  So we did a thing and it was fun.  Even through my haze of illness (damn stress), I had so much fun watching him interact with his little buddies, running around and shrieking in delight and having their own little toddler conversation that we all sort of understand, but not really.  It was just such a fun day, and I loved seeing him so happy.

And then we went to Elmo.  And I, no joke, spent the first 5 minutes of that stupid show holding back tears because of the utter joy written all over Ryan’s face.  God help the kid when he actually does something worth crying over (and I mean something like graduating; not something like being bailed out).

I cannot believe how fast year 2 went.  As stated here ( and here (, my first year as a mom was less than idyllic.  I am a planner.  I make lists.  I have lists about lists.  I find satisfaction in few things in life as I do with crossing things off one of my lists.  Anyone who has spent any amount of time around newborns or infants understands that they are not a favorable match for a self-professed lover of organization and structure.  That first year dragged on and on.  But this second year?  This second year FLEW by.  I cannot believe how cool my kid has become (well, in between tantrums, that is).  He is funny and smart and curious and sweet (he is also stubborn and mischievous, but that’s a post for another day).  Even on his bad days, I feel really lucky that he’s my kid.  And I can’t wait for year 3.

That is, until he actually cuts those 2-year molars and doesn’t sleep for a week.  Then I may rethink this entire post.

This Post Does Not Make Me Look Good

February 1, 2013

Once upon a time, a boy and a girl fell in love.  And they went on dates and took vacations or weekends away and generally enjoyed each other’s company, even when that company spent 9 hours on a Sunday watching football.  In true form of all people who don’t have kids, they laughed at parents who seemed to forget about their relationship and their interests and their lives in the wake of infancy and toddlerhood.  And then, they had a kid and God laughed at them.

Ryan is nearly two years old.  I stayed home with him for a year.  And truthfully, most days I forget I have a husband.  Not because I don’t love him.  Not because I find my parenting skills to be superior.  Not because I find him to be disposable.  Simply because the daily grind keeps me too damn busy to think about anything but the task at hand, the list of tasks to be completed, and the toddler whose fondness for the toilet and garbage can has resulted in many a missing set of keys or wallet.  And so, I feel that it’s appropo that February be dedicated to Dan.

The goals:
1. Be nicer
You’d think that I had a masters in nagging.  I don’t know what it is about parenting and working that makes me even more short tempered and impatient than normal, but it’s not particularly fair.  So I need to stop.  That’s the long and short of it.

2. Listen to him
In my desperate search for 3 minutes where I don’t have to intensely focus on what is being said to me, I tend to tune Dan out when he’s speaking.  Again, not fair, especially when he listens to my endless and repetitive ranting about the same things.  Which brings me to my next point…

3. Stop dumping all my annoyances and frustrations on him
I have a propensity for doing 1 of 2 things: blabbering on and on to Dan about the same topic I whined about the day before, or flipping out on him because I am frustrated or angry about the same topics that I’m trying not to complain about yet again.  I basically need to build a bridge and get over myself.

4. Fight fair.
I hold in nasty, sarcastic comments all. day. long.  It’s a hazard of working directly with 65 7th graders and among 700 of them on a daily basis.  Sadly, when I come home it’s like I have Biting Sarcasm Tourettes.  Again, not fair (sense a theme here?).  And when I’m not sarcastically snapping something, I’m doing my best Kristen Stewart and silently scowling while waiting for Dan to pry information out of me.  Truly.  Complete with an eye-rolling, “NOOOOTHING” in response to the innocent, “What’s wrong?” question.  Time to take a deep breath and say what I mean while not being mean while I say it.

5. Tokens of gratitude
Because who doesn’t love presents?

So that’s how I plan to improve my marriage is 28 short days.  Fingers crossed it goes as well as January!

January Recap

January 31, 2013

It’s nearly the end of January and time for my month 1 recap! 

Goal 1: Excercise more
I set a weekly plan for myself: Long Run Sunday; Spinning Monday; Toning Tuesday; Yoga Wednesday; Toning Thursday; Spinning Friday; Off Saturday.  I was surprised that I stuck to it!  I realized that I love mornings with Ryan and Dan and a cup of coffee, so on Mondays (when I have to leave the house at 5:30 to get to Spinning) I reminded myself that on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I could cozy up with my coffee and ease into my day.  I also fall prey to the after-work excuses: too much work, a meeting, cleaning up, etc…so I now bolt for the door asap on those days to get home and work out before getting Ryan.  After 4 weeks of this routine, I’m getting stronger (I actually just started using heavier weights because – for the first time ever – I discovered the lighter ones were too easy and I was bored) and I’m running farther (4.3 miles!) and faster than I have in literally 15 years.  I’ve found that it keeps my crazy at bay…so maybe other people need me to work out, too.  I’m sure my students appreciate a less nutty Mrs. P.

About halfway through the month I also made a conscious decision to not weigh myself anymore.  Weighing myself does not do anything good for me: if I’ve gained weight, I berate myself and eat my emotions; if I’ve lost weight, I use it as an excuse to eat like crap.  My clothes don’t yet feel like they fit better, but considering I could keep Land O’Lakes in business before in my attempts to pull on my pants, I have a bit to go before noticing a difference there.  Instead I’m just focusing on tracking what I eat and working out regularly, and I guess everything will fall into place after that.

2. Eat healthier & Aim for vegetarian
This also went really well!  Since we already plan meals and have been eating clean for several years, we really just wanted to limit how much meat we were eating.  We started eating fish twice a week and vegetarian meals three times a week, which means our meat consumption is down to chicken one night and beef another night – and I’m starting to find that if I think too much while eating said meat, I want to throw it up.  We’ve found some alternatives to meat (hello, TVP! Where have you been all my life?) and have been trying to eat lentils and beans more often.  My girl Sue added me to a vegetarian group on Facebook, which I am grateful for – it’s all new territory to me, so I want to learn as much as I can!  So another win here!

3. Do more yoga
Well, this went well for two weeks.  Then I didn’t do it last week, and I was supposed to do it today.  Oops.  It is definitely my worst workout habit – I constantly feel the need to stretch out but yoga is the first thing to go on a busy (or, let’s face it, lazy) day.  Must. Do.  Better.  I just hate it so much!

4. Sleep more.
Ha.  Ha ha.  Hahahahahahaaaaaa.  Who am I kidding?  I feel like I’m the only person in the world whose kid does not require 10-12 hours of sleep.  Instead, mine is up between 4:30 & 5 like clockwork and often at least once a night.  I haven’t slept well since 6 months before he was born.  But I am getting off the computer by 8:15 and into bed by 8:45 and that IS making a bit of a difference, though not much.  My body craves 9 hours of sleep – no more, no less – and Ryan’s up before the birds crap does not coexist with that need.  So I’m still constantly sleep-deprived.  A friend of mine posted a fact that it should take 10-15 minutes to fall asleep at night; if you fall asleep faster than that, it means you’re sleep deprived.  Most nights I don’t even remember pulling up the covers before I’m waking up for the day again.  I think I have my answer.

So that’s it – I’m working out more, eating better, skipping my yoga and sleeping more but still sleep deprived.  It was a successful first month, to be honest.  Now, I have to continue my momentum (Goal: must look better in 2nd birthday pictures than I did in 1st birthday pictures) and work on February’s focus: Dan (you know, that whole Valentine’s Day thing sort of lent itself to this).

The Most Important Thing to Learn in Life I Learned from my 22-Month Old Kid

January 21, 2013

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting – well, sort of.  Since I don’t have much free time during the day anymore, my mind prefers to reflect throughout the night; as of late, its favorite time is somewhere between 2:45 & 3:15 in the morning.  And it likes to go on and on and on.  The most random crap runs through my head at that hour.  But one topic that seems all-pervasive is Ryan.  Whether his tantrums are normal or a sign of something more serious.  Whether the other kids at school like him (its hard to distinguish toddler behavior from bullying.  Truly.).  If he’s learning how to not be an total jackass (because seriously, isn’t that the goal of the parent of any 2-5 year old?  To not have the jackass kid?).  If he’s feeling loved enough at home now that we are both away from home for roughly 12 hours of the day, and only see him for maybe 4 hours total (and that’s on a good day) in a 24-hour period (which then leads to a whole train of thought in and of itself…but I digress).

Anyway, I worry about the kid.  I don’t want to be the helicopter parent, but now I see how that can happen.  I just want to put him in this bubble from all things evil.  I want to shield him from all the bad stuff in the world: sadness and loneliness and cruel people and fish Fridays.  I know that’s not real life.  I know that’s not good for him.  But seeing that crushing disappointment take over his tiny face when his block tower falls makes my heart ache.  I can’t imagine what it’s like when it’s real crap and real disappointment or heartache or loneliness.

If you know us at all, you know that Ryan’s first year of life was not easy.  He was 5-weeks early; he wouldn’t stay awake, let alone nurse; he lost the ubiquitous 10% of his body weight in his first few days. He wouldn’t nap; he wouldn’t sleep.  He was not a smiley, cuddly, giggly baby.  He was serious and focused and demanding.  He knew what he wanted and he wanted it FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO, MOM!!!!!  His godmother even joked that when you first came upon Ryan, he would study you quite seriously, trying to figure you out, and after a moment or two, he MIGHT smile at you.  She said it was like  he was deciding whether or not you deserved it and you had to earn a smile from him.  And there was nothing you could do to get a smile from him; he and he alone made that decision.  For a person who craves feedback, it was a long, unsatisfying time.

You see, Ryan taught me how to love.  And not in that “love at first sight the second they put him in my arms” kind of love.  No, between my incredibly demanding baby and a doozy of a bout with post-partum depression & anxiety, it was more obligatory at first than anything else.  Because while I would have loved to curl up in a ball and lament the life I’d lost, this tiny little being who had turned my life upside down needed me to do EVERYTHING for him.  And so I went through the motions, everyday, of providing him what he needed.  And he never, ever gave me any indication that I was doing a good job.  Long past his ability to discern me from anyone else, he didn’t reach for me when he was distressed.  He rarely smiled and giggles were even more difficult to come by.  He showed very little interest in anything I tried to engage him in.  He constantly cried and whined and just never seemed happy, like other babies I’d seen.  He said about 10 or 15 other words (including Daddy, Elmo, and Patricia, his teacher’s name) before he said Mommy.  For the better part of his first year, I felt like I was doing a terrible job…and every indication from him pointed to yes, that’s exactly what I was doing.

Ryan made me work for his love.  He made me fight and claw and scratch my way to it.  Just like his godmother joked that you had to earn Ryan’s smile, I had to earn his love.  I didn’t just receive it, like so many other mommies do from their little ones.  I had to love him when he was doing anything but.  I had to love him when he was unpleasant and difficult and unwielding.  He made me prove to him that I was in this for the long haul and no matter what he did, he wasn’t getting rid of me (God, please don’t let that be a premonition).  And now, as we near the end of his second year, I can say it was worth every effort.  Hearing him say, “Mommy hand.  Mommy, come” when he wants to take me somewhere is irresistible.  Seeing his face break into a huge grin (and he’s got a GREAT smile that lights up his entire face – it’s just awesome) whenever I pull up to the house or come out of our bedroom or come home from a run makes MY heart smile.  And when, after a horribly long day of work, he sees me down the hallway at school and he breaks free of his group and comes running toward me, arms stretched, yelling, “Mama!”, I don’t remember a single minute of that long, difficult year.

There’s that saying that nothing worth having comes easy.  That’s exactly how I feel about Ryan.  He’s a challenge: he’s independent and determined and willful and fierce.  He knows what he wants, which doesn’t always align with what I want from him.  I anticipate any number of battles as we navigate the toddler years, and then again the teenage years…and many in-between.  But he’s also sweet and affectionate and funny and smart (so damn smart.  I’m in so much trouble.).  It was a long fight, but I earned the right to bear witness to the unfolding of this amazing little personality.  And I’m a better person for it.

Week One – Not Terrible!

January 7, 2013

So, week 1 did not go too badly.  I kept to my workout plan (more on that in a minute) and I did sleep more.  Eating, as it has been in the past, was my total downfall.  For some reason, I totally forgot about all my goals until after I’d down 4 cookies or eaten a brownie.  This week, I am going to really focus on tracking what I eat to help curb this apparent mindless munching.

Workouts went great – except my Jillian Michaels Thursday & Spin Class Friday translated to barely being able to move yesterday & a run turned into a walk today because my legs were still so sore I couldn’t straighten them out during my stride.   I’m planning on Spin tomorrow, so here’s hoping!

January Rules

January 3, 2013

So Health is the big focus for January and within that, rules to help me with this.  Today I’m back to elaborate on each of my ‘rules’:

1. Exercise more.
I know that exercise makes me feel clear-headed and accomplished and just…well, good.  But I’ve found that if I don’t work out first thing in the morning, then I just don’t work out.  Excuses are made, exhaustion sets in, etc. etc. etc.  I wind up doing lots of thinking about exercise and not much actual doing (right now would probably be a good example of that).

I am most successful when I do a workout first thing in the morning, when I plan out my workouts, when I actually lay out my clothes, and, most importantly, when I just go.  On autopilot.  Without thinking.  That’s how yoga got done this morning.  I just did.  I didn’t want to.  But when the most yoga I was interested in accomplishing was my patented fetal position curl under the covers position, I rolled my tush out of bed at 5am to do my ‘om’s’ and downward my dog.  That sounds weird.  Ew.

I also know that I prefer group classes to individual workouts, but I also enjoy running (at least for the moment).  I do hate yoga, even though I know I should do it.

I am also most successful when I have a schedule; the less thought I have to put into working out, the better, because I spend less time hemming & hawing and eventually running out of time to do said workout.  So my schedule is like this:
Sunday: Run
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Kettlebells
Wednesday:  Yoga
Thursday: Jillian Michaels
Friday: Spin
Saturday: NOTHING!

2. Eat Healthier
For the most part, we eat a fairly healthy diet.  We plan our meals in advance, purchase only the food required to make those meals, and stick to it pretty well.  We eat two meals out each week: Pizza Fridays & usually a breakfast or lunch sometime on the weekend. 

My shitstorm begins when I’m outside of those very controlled circumstances.  Mindless snacking & consumption of all things sweet are my serious downfalls.  And I mean serious.  I can tack on an additional 1,000 calories a day on snacks and sweets, those bastards.  They are SOOOO sneaky!

That said, I want to become more mindful of my mindless eating – all those nibbles, bites, and tastes that go unnoticed but add up to major results (and not the good kind).  Some things to help with that:

  • Pause before eating a snack
  • Limit sweets to homemade deliciousness & dark chocolate
  • No more visits to workplace disaster zones
  • Continue to enjoy a decadent Sunday dessert
  • Continue monthly meal plans

Today is January 2 and I’m am epically failing at this.

3. Aim to become vegetarian
I don’t think I could ever commit to full time vegetarianism.  Those people are amazing.  And vegans?! Don’t get me started.  But I do have room for improvement in terms of our meat consumption.  We eat too much of it, too often.  So I want to increase our fish based meals from once a week to twice a week (a prospect that will not be looked forward to by either myself or my husband, who will bear the brunt of my incessant whining about how much I hate fish.  I do.  It’s gross.).  I also want to increase our vegetarian meals to at least once a week – and that meal may NOT consist of whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce.  No, I’m going to bust out that vegetarian cookbook and tap into my inner-crunchy person.

4. Do more yoga.
I hate yoga.  So very much.  In fact, it has the OPPOSITE effect on me; that is, instead of getting in touch with my inner being and becoming one with my breath and hearing my third eye and all that crap, I want to throw my yoga block across the room while also tooting in the instructor’s face as she gives yet another encouraging, “Deepen the pose” comment during downward dog.  I really hate yoga.

But, I can’t deny its benefit, especially after I tear my body to shreds with those crazy intense workouts I lined out above (truly. They are hard.).  And so, I will Namaste my way to flexibility.

5. Sleep more.
Stupid, right?  But totally true.  As a mom who works full time, has little to no local support, and has a kid who isn’t a huge fan of sleep & likes to wake before the birds, sleep is a golden commodity around here.  As in, I might choose it above anything and everything in the world.  Except trashy tv.  Because I really do miss endless hours of crap tv.

Anyway, part of this is getting my butt to bed by 8:45.  And part of THAT is getting off the computer by 8:15.  Which I have overshot tonight by 10 minutes.  So good night. 🙂