Sunday, December 31, 2017

See ya 2017

We've been in a deep freeze all week, with temps below zero at night and hovering in the single digits during the day.  My daily uniform has consisted of leggings, jeggings, a cute vest that Mike gave me for Christmas, uggs and a warm hat.  At night (which sometimes starts at 4:30) I rotate between three new sets of pajamas.  I have been torturing my family with a song that I made up and sing over and over "In my Christmas jammies" which is reminiscent of Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami."

I am so ready for a New Year. 2017 has given us some great moments, but also some struggles and loses. We lost my dear 97 year old great Aunt Betti, who passed away the day after Thanksgiving. She was smart as a tack and lived alone in her apartment in Queens. She went to mass every day with a group of friends who I met after her funeral.  She leaves a huge hole in our family. I was able to see her this summer, I brought the kids for a visit where they swam in her pool and we had pizza from her favorite place (she liked to put butter on the crust).

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In March we had to say goodbye to our best friend and good boy Frank.  I'm never going to get over losing him.

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In the spring Mike's Uncle Bobby passed away after a battle with cancer.  Bobby was a musician and loved golf and at family gatherings you could find him on the couch watching whatever game was on TV. 

In the spring my friend and Fleet Feet coworker Brendan passed away unexpectedly after finishing a leg of the Seneca 7 relay.  I think I worked almost every single shift with him during my years there.  He was older than me and we were older than the majority of our team and he loved to talk, about everything!  When I picture him I think of him walking out of the store room, with his glasses dangling out of his mouth, boxes of running shoes in his hand.

Luke and Eliza both started new schools this year, E to middle school and L to Junior High. E is doing well academically, and learning how to deal with drama and mean girls.  I do worry about Luke, I remember being 13 and I hated it.  He is doing well with grades too, but I get anxious over his navigation of friendships, social media and all that goes along with it.  Parenting is hard.

On Father's Day we welcomed a new friend to our family, Gary the plott hound lab mix!  He came from a rescue in Texas.  He's been an easy addition, LOVES to cuddle on the couch, and if he hears you open a bag of potato chips he comes running.  Gary likes to run about three miles with me, there is a noticeable difference in his puppy energy when he gets to stretch his legs! 

Speaking of running, 2017 has been good to me!  After dealing with some foot issues, in January I got a new set of inserts, between those and my Saucony Hurricane's, my feet have never felt better! (Knock on wood).  When I ran my 10th Boilermaker in July it was probably one of my best! But for the first time in five years I didn't run a half marathon, which was weird, but I needed a rest.  I put my Y membership on hold for three months this fall, I knew I wouldn't get there since it's a busy time of year for us, and I like to run outside.  In true form one October day I went for a run, made it a half mile and wiped out, and sprained my ankle.  After a few weeks I was back at it, and registered for the Mountain Goat 10 miler next May,  a race that I once said I was done with and would never do again.

In August we took our third trip to Disney World. We can't help it, we love it there lol.  We went for six days, rode the Avatar ride twice (which is worth the wait), watched the lunar eclipse, and caught up with my friend Christopher, who has been my friend for probably 30 years! We celebrated Eliza's 11th Birthday while at Epcot, after we rode the Frozen ride, we headed to Paris for pastries, where the servers sang Happy Birthday to her in French!

We escaped to the Adirondack's as often as we could, and made a couple trips to NYC, and spent lots of time with family!

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We welcomed two new additions to the family, baby Phoebe in November, and baby Theodore arrived just in time for Christmas!   I think he's blowing me a kiss here:

2017 has given me much to be thankful for. 

Now it's time to look forward to 2018.  I want to be better to myself, and the most important thing to do is get more rest.  I tend to stay up too late, because after I get everything done each day I like to have some time to myself.  I must realize that the time to myself must be spent sleeping. I also need to stop looking backwards at times, to let that stuff go and move on.  

I am very lucky to have a family, friends, home and job that I enjoy. 

The possibilities are endless. 


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Be Mindful, even when your mind is full

There are times when I am in the midst of my day, driving home on a pretty fall afternoon, thinking of the next thing that needs to be done, and I look around and realize, I am in the life that I hoped for.  How lucky is that?

New school year, new school photo!
I recently attended a session at work on mindfulness, where you try and be as present as possible in each and every moment.  To appreciate and absorb all that is around you while life, quickly goes on.

When you have children, you notice how fast time passes even more, as Luke is now a teenager, and Eliza is in middle school.  This phase in their lives has been the hardest so far. Looking back at the time when Eliza had colic and didn't sleep for seven months, was a cake walk compared to these teenage years. I have had memories of my own junior high experience, of mean girls and boys and pressures to do well.  My kids now deal with the same thing, but with the addition of social media and all the crap that goes along with it. I'm trying to figure out the line between helping them out with things to having them learn to advocate for themselves, or just put their dirty clothes in the hamper.  My problem is that it's easier for me to just clean up after them, because I feel like I sound like such a nag, or a broken record.  I gave up reminding Luke to put on deodorant or putting his rubber bands on his braces, instead I made a check list of what he needs to do in the morning and stuck it next to his bedroom door.  

I guess my whole point is that Mike and I are trying hard to raise good kids, while stressing the importance of family.  There are so many layers to life, school doesn't last forever, and you always have your family behind you.

In two weeks it will be Thanksgiving, with a new year rapidly approaching.  2016 has had it's own set of challenges, and ups and downs, but I really want to end it on a high note.  I need to focus a bit more on self care. When school started in September I put our YMCA membership on hold until December.  I can't tell you how much stress that relieved as we got into new routines, I didn't have to rush to the Y to fit in a workout.  Instead my plan was to run with our new dog Gary after school and enjoy the fall weather.  Of course in true Molly style, one Tuesday I went for a run, made it a half mile before I wiped out, rolled my ankle on the side of the road, cut open my knee and bruised my hand.  It's been a month and I think I'm ready to give it another go, I've been keeping up with getting over 10,000 steps a day, but that's about it.  

So it's Monday, and time for another re-set.  I went back to intermittent fasting when school started, and I think that has prevented weight gain since I couldn't run.  But after sampling Halloween candy all week, I'm cutting sugar, just until Thanksgiving. Things work better for me if I make small goals, one at a time.  But I do need to get more sleep, I've been going to bed way too late for someone who has to get up at 5:45 each day.  I feel like a completely new person when I get a decent night of rest.  Now that daylight saving time has arrived, it's time to hit the treadmill in my pain cave. Get back to planks, squats and all that jazz. 

I miss this blog, so I'll be back, and let you know how it goes. 

M. S. B.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Frank

I started writing this four weeks ago, the day after we unexpectedly lost our constant companion and best friend, Frank.  I never wanted to write this post, but I feel like I should. I want to remember everything about him, including his last day with us. 

Frank was a huge presence in our lives, mine in particular.  I found him on a rescue website, he was 12 weeks old and came from a kill shelter in Georgia.  I was drawn to him right away, I went to meet him at the foster home with my sister in law Jeannine.  As soon as I walked in, he broke away from the other dogs and came right to me. I picked him up and he immediately stuck his nose in my neck, like he was saying "You. I choose you." It was love at first sight.

I never thought I would feel a loss as hard as I feel this one.  Mike said to me last night that he keeps thinking that Frank is going to come back from where ever he is.  Everywhere I look I expect to see him, and it's impossible to go for a run or walk in my neighborhood.  The other day the dog down the street stood at our driveway, staring at the house, looking for Frank.

Frank had been a bit off the last two weeks of his life.  One day he didn't want to go on a walk, I had to pick him up to take him home, which had never happened before. That boy loved his walks!  His appetite also went down, but he kept drinking water.  Just when I was about to call the vet, he was his normal happy self.  

The second weekend of spring break, we went to the ADK, a place that made him so happy.  He was not himself, and I got nervous.  Looking back I wish I snuggled with him more, we were there with my niece and brother and sister and law, and he snuggled with us all. Monday I decided to call the vet, but when I went home for lunch, he was much better.

He got better as the week went on, we went for walks and on Thursday Mike grilled him a chicken breast, and I took a video of him barking and running out to the deck. I sent it to my niece and sister in law and said "Frank is back!"

Friday morning I let him out like I usually do, and as Luke walked out the bus I couldn't find him.  I ran around yelling for him for a few minutes, and I got nervous. I finally went back towards the house, and he was sitting at the front door, wagging his tail and watching me run around the house yelling his name. I texted Luke that I found him and everything was okay.  I didn't go home for lunch that day since Frank was doing better. I regret this so much. When I came home from work at the end of the day, he was his normal self, so we took a walk.  For some reason I went a slightly different way than our normal route. We came home, and we got ready for Eliza's violin concert.  Right as we were ready to leave, Eliza couldn't find her violin, so I was running around the house and yelling as we looked for it.  Frank was laying down, but sitting up in front of the sliding glass door in the kitchen, just watching me.  As we ran out of the house I looked back at him, and yelled out "Bye Frank!" I usually pet him goodbye but I ran out of time.

A couple hours later we came home, Eliza stayed at school to watch a movie. The house was quiet.  We are always greeted by Frank barking.  We came inside and couldn't find him anywhere.  Luke and I ran outside, Mike checked everywhere, and he finally found him laying in the downstairs bathroom.  He wouldn't move but he was awake. I kept yelling to him. I think he might have been drinking out of the toilet, and had some kind of episode. I called the vet, and since it was 8:00 they said to call the ER, which I didn't realize was close to our house.  Mike carried him to the car, and I held him in the backseat and kept talking to him. He was completely limp. I knew something was horribly wrong.  

Once we were at the vet, we quickly learned that he was critical.  The doctor said he had a belly full of blood, and what looked to be a tumor.  It looked like it had spread to his brain, or that he had a bleed on his brain.  They were not able to operate.  I asked the doctor if I had called two weeks ago when he was first acting weird, if it would have changed anything. She said no. We look at those two weeks as a gift.

We decided to end his suffering. Mike went to the school and got Eliza so she could say goodbye.  I felt horribly that Luke had to see everything from start to finish.  I stayed with Frank to the end. 

As we work through our loss, we decided to write down everything we could think of about Frank. We miss him so much, and always will.

When I would come downstairs in the morning, he would be curled up in the corner of the couch like a deer.  When I would come close to say good morning, he would twitch his tail, then slowly tap it in greeting.

He would come running out to the car when I came home and run up to the open car door before I even got out.

He loved to lay in front of the heat vent under the kitchen sink, I would do the dishes around him so I wouldn't disturb him.  

When Mike would come home from work, his tail would wag rhythmically, tapa tapa tapa against the cabinet door and it would beat along with him.

I would sit at my desk and type with him sitting next to me.  Then I would feel him staring at me, which meant he wanted to go out or go for a walk.  If I kept ignoring him, he would reach out and pull on my arm, to let me know It Was Time to Go Out!!

We would run during the summertime at camp, or run behind the golf course, and black flies would swarm around us and his ears in particular.  I would take his leash and sort of swing it around in a small circle around his ears, and try to get them to fly away.

When we ran and it was hot out, if we reached a patch of grass, he would dive into it and lay on his side to cool off.

He was lazy about kisses. He would give them to Daddy easily, but I would have to ask for a kiss right in his face, and then he would give me one.

We sang two songs about him" Franka Frank, Franka Froo, Franka Fank, Franka FRANK FRANK FRANK FRANK!"  And the He's a Dog Song, which got louder and louder with each verse.  

Luke and Eliza's friends called him Frankie Doodle.  Uncle Chris called him Francis. Uncle Rob called him Frank The Tank.  He has such a shiny coooat.

He would rest one paw on your foot if he felt like it. He had to touch some part of you if he was next to you.

He had a nick taken out of his right ear, and it would stay down when the other ear would go up.
I loved to smooth them both down at the same time as I petted him,

He loved to eat.  He loved the sound of the opening of the deli meat bag,

Every night at 7:00 he would let us know he was ready for his peanut butter bone. Mike and I both had to give him one, he would trot off to the living room with his tail wagging. After he was done, he would come back into the kitchen.  Mike would ask "Did you want to Show Me Something?" He would walk you over to the treat box, and wait for you to give him one. When Daddy gave him a treat, he had to go over to the living room rug, and lay down, if he had a paw on the hardwood, he had to back up. When I gave him a treat I would say, Sit, Shake, Lay Down! And he would do it.

When he was a puppy, we had people over, and I looked in the dining room, and he was standing on the dining room table, and his face was in the bowl of greek salad.

Another time we had two blocks of cheese on a platter  on the table, he jumped up and ate them.

Another time he took a chicken thigh off the counter and swallowed it whole. We fed him a bunch of rice so that it would pass through his system okay.

He loved pizza crust.  As he would watch me eat, and I got near the end, he would shift himself and get impatient because he knew his chance to get something were coming to a close.

He was the Bacon Bandit! He once ate a whole plate of it up at camp, one minute it was there, the next it was gone. He loved steak, but his favorite was Filet Mignon.

He once got into the box of treats and we had to put a hand weight on them to keep the box closed.

He loved to lick the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

Another time he ate while so excited, and inhaled so much food Mike had to give him the Heimlich.

He used to make Rmmrmm noises as he ate. He would drop his food on the floor and eat it that way.

He loved the sunshine.  He would politely wait at the sliding door, and when I would go to open it, he would look up at it and wag his tail so happy to go outside.

He loved to lay in patches of sunlight, especially the front door.

He loved to stretch out and lay on the deck on the bench in the sun. He would sigh with contentment

Up at camp I would go outside to read and he would go with me. If I went inside for water or a snack he would bark to come in.  Once he was in, after a bit I would go back outside and sit down. Then he would bark to come out.

He loved to run with me in the campgrounds, he loved to drink the cold stream water.

He LOVED to swim, I can hear the splash/clomp as his feet went into the watter,and he would try to eat it.  When he was deep enough he would use all four legs to swim and his nose above the surface of the water made a sound as he exhaled.  Once he got out of the water he would walk a bit, then puke all the water out on the road.

When he got off the couch to stretch, he would then lay on the floor and sort of throw himself down and roll to the side, exhale and sleep.

He loved to stand in the middle of whatever game the kids were playing.  He would stand there wagging his tail and just look at me if I asked him to come.

He followed me into the bathroom. If the door was partially closed he would look in, then nudge it open and come in. If it were my bathroom, he would turn around and jump on my bed and wait to see what I would do next.

He loved Daddy's blue and grey suede work gloves, he would find them and run off with them.

When Daddy was on the deck with him, he would say to Frank every night,  "you know you make me very happy."

We would sit and wait for the school bus in the afternoon, I would sit on the step, he would lay down at my feet. Sometimes I would bring him to the bus stop. If he was inside he would lay down in front of the screen door with his head level to look out and watch us.

When we were on a walk and a dog would come up, he would sit, then lay down as they walked by.  Little dogs made him nervous.

I loved the bone at the top of his head, I would pat it down, and rub under his chin that was going grey.

He loved to lay on the deck at camp, his head would make a thud as he laid himself down.  He also would dig a hole under the deck so deep that he could stand up underneath.

He drank out of the stream. He loved to wander in the woods.

When he ran his ears would be back and he would trot along in a perfect rhythm.

He got so excited when I started to get ready for a run, especially my shoes. He would hear my garmin turn on and come running.

He loved all our shoes, he would knock you over and kiss your face as you tried to put on your shoes.

He loved to look out the guest room window, and Luke's bedroom window, and the couch so he could keep an eye on outside.
Daddy blew the deck off with the leaf blower, and cleared a path so that Frank could have somewhere to go in the snow.

If he laid on the leather couches in the dark, you couldn't see him because he was a black doggie.We loved how he smelled, and his coat was so shiny and soft. He had a very shiny coat, he smelled like Frito's sometimes!

Sometimes if you let him out, he would stand in the front yard, then just lay down like that' where he was going to hang for a while. He would go in the bushes in the front yard and chase whatever was in there.

When he needed to go out, he would sit patiently by the door to the garage until we noticed him, he would look up with just his eyes.

Frankie want to go out? go OUT? and he would look at us sideways. To get him to come back in I would say Frankie want some ham?

I would tell him to go get that squirrel to get him to go out, he would bark like crazy.  He loved to run around the house outside as fast as he could in a circle.

I called him Mommy's Baby, Mommy's Last Baby. "Say hello to Frank" Hello to Frank!! I would pet him and say "He's a baby, he's a baby dog!" Mike would say "He's a good boy Mommy" I would say "yes he's a very good boy Daddy!" 

He would get between us when we would kiss, he would nudge us or jump up on us.

He would bug out when we were packing up for camp, he would jump in the car before it was time to go so that we wouldn't leave him behind.

He could smell deer as we got closer to camp and would get worked up.

He liked to lean into the front seat of the car and see where we were going. He would be asleep in the back and if Mike slowed down he would come up front to see what was going on.

If a doorbell rang on TV, he would freak out. When someone showed up at the front door, he would start barking, we would say "Bathroom!" he would go in there and keep barking, and watch us as we closed the door.

We couldn't say "here" or else he would bark, we had to use code words. If we came home and saw our shoes all over the place, we knew someone had come over.

He would be a bit unsure when we dropped him off at Kountry Kennels.  I would go in his pen and set up a bed for him, I always felt sad leaving him there, even though it was only once or twice a year. When we would come and get him, he would hear our voices and start barking, and be so ready to come home.  On the way home, he would fall asleep in the front seat because he was exhausted.

When I was going downstairs I would say "Frankie lets go" and he would come next to me, and run down the stairs with me.  He had to go down the stairs with his back right leg up in the air, that leg used to bother him sometimes.

Aunt Ali, Uncle Chris, Aunt Meagen, Uncle Darrell, Erin, Juliet, Caroline, Grandpa Sleeper, Donna, Uncle Rob, Aunt Jeannine, Alyse, Aunt Tina, Uncle Norm, Nate, Olivia, the neighbors on the street, my running friends, my Fleet Feet friends, and so many others, all loved Frank.

Grandma and Grandpa Baker loved him, Grandpa especially.  He wasn't keen on too many dogs, but he liked Frank. He once took Frank on a small hike at camp, which was a big deal. After his stroke, Grandpa was fine with Frank jumping up on him to give him a kiss.

We would ask if he wanted to go for a ride.  If he saw Mike getting ready to go somewhere he would hover and when Mike would say, let's go, he would race to the car. He loved to go and drop the kids off at summer rec.

He once jumped out the living room window when religious people rang the doorbell.

He jumped into the trunk of Daddy's new car right when he brought it home

When I would turn my garmin on, it would beep and he would come running,

He chewed the metal around the window on the deck, there are teeth marks from where he ripped it off.

He always found a pillow, and would flip it around until he got it just right.

If we were outside, and he was inside he would bark and bark because he wanted to be out too.

We would go in the garage and he would come with us.

He didn't like the cold because he was from Georgia,

He didn't like the rain.

He didn't like the wind.

He liked the snow.

When we heard his toes tapping on the floor while he walked, we knew it was time for a nail trim,

He was so funny at Petsmart when they put the collar on him to trim his nails, he would keep his ears back.

He would come into the kids rooms and jump on their beds as we said goodnight.

He would always lick the inside of Luke's mouth

Whenever daddy wanted to relax Frank would jump on him like a maniac

Frank would always snuggle with Grandma Rohan, she always gave him a slice of American cheese.

Frank ate grass and threw up after.

Frank almost ate a cicada but it buzzed in his mouth before he let it go

He did not like the owls in our backyard, and he didn't like the vacuum. The UPS man and postman drove him nuts!

We have dings on the floor where he dropped his bone, and toe scratches on the bathroom door.

Frank was the best dog in the whole world.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Intermittent Fasting: Weeks One Through Seven

Rockin' the pants for Boeheim's 1,000th win
This is the first time I have attempted Intermittent Fasting to lose weight.  I have tried: low carb, low fat, no sugar, cabbage soup diet, writing down what I eat, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, watching what I eat, and exercise. Over the past two years I have put on almost 30 pounds, due to family and work stress, early menopause, chocolate, and wine.  I finally got fed up after Thanksgiving, and really wanted to feel good for my 45th Birthday. A friend of mine has had success with IF, so I figured, What The Heck, lets try it for a few weeks and see what happens.

At first the idea of not eating for several hours at a time was daunting.  Then I looked at what I ate for breakfast, and brought to work for lunch. My bag was full of snacks for when hunger struck, carrots and hummus, trail mix, cheese sticks, apples.  This is in addition to the turkey sandwich I ate at lunchtime.  Then the piece of chocolate I had in the afternoon for a treat.

The funny thing is, even with all this food, I was really hungry in between.  Then a light bulb went off, and I figured, if I'm going to have a grumble in my stomach, just let it grumble, and not feed it.

The week before Christmas I decided try to IF. I googled and went on Pinterest and read about the three different methods to fast.  Fasting has been practiced for various reasons other than weight loss, during a fast insulin levels drop, human growth hormone increases, cells repair themselves, and hormones regulate.

I decided to fast for 16 hours and fit my food into an eight hour feasting period.

The first thing I do in the morning is drink water, followed by one cup of coffee.  I put a tablespoon of natural creamer that is 30 calories in my coffee.  Apparently if you stay under 50 calories, your body will remain in a fasted state.   There are recipes to add grass fed butter to coffee, to help the body feel full as you fast, but I haven't tried that yet.  I drink a great deal of water, between 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m I drink 50 ounces.

I tend to break the fast around 2:00.  Mike and I eat dinner late, a habit that we formed when we were living in NYC, So if we eat at nine, I don't eat again until 1:00 the next day.  Every day is different, it was tricky to try this type of eating during the holidays.  The first few days I was really hungry.  But I kept busy and during my lunch hour I went to the library or did errands.  As my co-workers brought in treats, it was easier to avoid them completely, instead of having a little taste that kept me yearning for more.

After Christmas break I looked forward to getting back to a routine, it was easier to be at work with no temptations.  When it's time for lunch, I have an apple or a salad to start, then eat whatever leftovers we had the night before.  I still have a cookie or chocolate for a treat, as well as wine with my dinner.  I didn't restrict any foods, I wanted to see how my body reacted to fasting alone.  My plan was to try fasting until January 31st, my birthday.

I started to feel lighter, less bloated.  My skin looked clearer.  I have been working out when I can, on the weekends I go to the Y before I eat lunch. If I can't fit a visit during the week, I walk on my treadmill or walk the dog.  I am still waiting for my new orthotics so I can't run, but I have been using the step machine or the elliptical, followed by whatever weight machine that is available. This is a busy time of year at the Y!

Last week wasn't the greatest workout wise. We went to the SU game at noon on a Saturday, we had passes to the free beer and snack tent, which was fun. My birthday was a few days later, which meant not one, but two birthday cakes.  I had PTA meetings and dinner out with a friend another night, so my Y visits and walking did not happen.

That said, I have definitely lost weight. I wore jeans to work the other day, not my size 12, not the size 10, but the 8. Granted I had a muffin top but I wore a sweater.  I put out my clothes for work tomorrow, not the size 12 dress pants but the size 10.  I wore a dress last week that I hadn't worn since Thanksgiving, it was noticeably looser,  I'm not going to get on the scale, because I don't want anything to mess with my momentum.  I have a long way to go, and I know slow and steady is better, so I'm going to continue IF until April Break.  I usually go for my yearly check up then, so getting weighed then is unavoidable.

I am hungry during the day, and there are moments when I am STARVING, but I drink water or have decaf tea, and the moment passes.  I thought my energy would drop, or I would feel lightheaded, but it hasn't.  Although when it gets close to lunchtime, I am more than ready to eat, but when I look at the clock and see that I have a half hour to go, that time is nothing.

I do need to be much more consistent with my workouts.  I get up at 5:45 so there is no way I'm working out before work.  After I get E off the school bus, I'm heading back to school to get L from swim practice which narrows my workout window even more, as I have to make dinner and so forth. But there is a way and I will figure it out.

I also need to focus on my diet.  The daily chocolate (Christmas and Birthday leftovers...don't get me started on Valentine's Day) needs to be more of a weekend thing.  I do feel fuller sooner than I used to, so maybe my stomach is shrinking.  There is even more meal planning now, to make sure I fit enough of the right foods into that 8 hour window.

I feel good, which is more important than anything, and will keep in mind that summer bodies are made in winter.

Wish me luck!