Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

Do You Feel Appreciated at Work Today?

My company is not known for coddling its employees with comfort.  We don’t get free coffee or free spring water.  There are no free snacks sitting in the kitchen for an afternoon pick-me-up.   The majority of the employees do not work in attractive work spaces.  We don’t have nice views.  In fact, many of us don’t have a view at all or even a window.  We do have decent cubicles, a nice chair, and our own phones, which is enough to get you through the day as long as you don’t stuck staring at the gray walls for too long (why would anybody choose gray paint!).

I have accepted these conditions without complaint for 12 years, but I draw the line at a lack of air conditioning.  I got to work at 8am.  The humidity was already enough to start a little hair frizz and with a high temp expected at around 90 degrees, it was already in the 80’s at that time.  I walked in from my car, dodging goose poop the whole way (despite nary a goose in sight), climbed the stairs to the second floor, walked a short hallway and entered my office area to be hit by a wall of stuffy heat.  It was literally 10 degrees warmer at my desk than it was the hallway, and the temperature kept climbing as more people showed up and powered up computers. A work order was submitted and 3 hours later, I heard the hum of the a/c and the office cooled down. 

During this time, we are expected to continue working at normal productivity levels.  Seriously.  Now, it could have been worse, but when you are hot and uncomfortable and everyone else around you is talking about the heat, it’s difficult to do any critical thinking.

This experience was certainly not my first at this company where the temperature was not quite right.  I’ve experienced many hot rooms.  I’ve seen the use of portable a/c  units.  I’ve endured humidity that made you feel like you’re in the rain forest.  I even moved to a new building in the winter where it took them 2 weeks to figure out that the heat didn’t kick back on until 10am, consequently, leaving us all freezing for several hours every morning.  All that combined with leaky roofs, power outages and the occasional mouse problem makes me wonder how much my employer really values my comfort.

Right now, I’m eating my lunch in a nice cool office space getting ready to forget about all this negativity until the next a/c problem.  Now if only the guy hammering in the room below me would stop and take his lunch break… I could get some work done.

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The Things We Do for Charity

Ok, so maybe we didn’t make a huge personal sacrifice yesterday, but it was still not something we were looking forward to.  Every year, my sisters, my husband and I walk in an MS Walk.  It’s always around mid-April when the weather is a little bit questionable.  We’ve been blessed with a beautiful day for the walk in the past. We’ve had cold years.  We’ve had windy years.  This year was our first cold, windy and rainy year. 

After weeks of drought, the rain returned with a vengeance on one day where we really needed it to stay away.  We all secretly hoped the others would say let’s just not walk this year, but no one stepped up and off we went.  Dressed in a windbreaker and poncho, I spent the first half of the walk holding my poncho hood up to keep the cold rain from hitting my face.   It was an easy decision to only do the short loop – 2.7 miles and get out of the rain as fast as we could.  After the walk, it took a good 45 minutes before my hands would work properly after being frozen stiff.

I’m either proud of myself for sucking it up and participating or embarrassed that I actually voluntarily walked in the cold rain for so long.  I haven’t decided.  At the end of the day, the National MS Society got our donations, and we have a good story to reminisce about during next year’s walk.  Hopefully, yesterday’s experience will be the worst we ever have.

Adventures in Potty Training

My son will be 3 in less than 2 months, and ever since his second birthday I have been excited to move him from diapers to underwear.  Obviously, I have been more excited than he is.  Everyone’s advice to me was to wait until he was ready to move out of diapers.  It will be so much easier than forcing him to potty train, so for 10 long months, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for a sign that he was done with diapers.  In the end, I have discovered that despite how easy people make it sound, potty training can still challenging and time-consuming.  Here is my experience.

Be forewarned…there will be discussion of pee and poop ahead.

This adventure all started with the purchase of a potty seat.  My mom had given us a little kid’s potty that played music when pee hit these nodes at the bottom of the bowl.  We wondered if it would motivate Gavin to pee on the potty to hear the music or the scare the crap out of him (no pun intended).  We didn’t wait to find it.  The stupid manufacturers put a button underneath the potty that played the music when you pushed it.  Of course, that potty was always flipped over so that Gavin could have access to that button.  Steve also had a good point with the portable potty…one benefit of moving out of diapers was to reduce the mess we had to clean up.  With a potty, the mess was just in a different place.  One day while I was at Target, I bought a potty seat and the portable potty disappeared from our living room into our basement.

Gavin was very excited about the potty seat and loved to sit on it.  We couldn’t get him off of it.  Of course, we encouraged him to use it by bringing the iPad in the bathroom and letting him watch videos.  It seemed like a great idea until we realized, he was only interested in being in the bathroom to watch videos.  We stopped bringing in the iPad and guess who didn’t want to spend any time on the potty?

We waited for a couple of months until he was older and one day we caught him getting ready to poop.  We grabbed him, threw him on the potty and success!  He was excited, we were excited.  I thought – this is the start.  And it was –on and off.  Now that he knew half of what to do, he told us when he had to poop and off to the potty we would go.  This success was a phase.  Despite rewarding him with M&Ms, he would lose interest after a week or 2.  We would go back to diapers until he suddenly  became interested in using the potty again.  I would get excited that maybe this was it only to watch him again lost interest after a week.  It was a vicious cycle but still we remained patient and didn’t push it.

One day, something very exciting happened – he peed while sitting on the potty!  At this point he was old enough to start putting things together and understood what we wanted him to do.  Every time, he sat on the potty, he would pee.  I got excited again thinking that this was it.  We went out and he picked out some underwear, and I repeatedly explained that to wear the underwear, he needed to use the potty every time he had to go to the bathroom.  The underwear lasted maybe a day.  What a disaster.  I concluded that he wasn’t ready and back to diapers we went.  Eventually, I invested in Pull-Ups, thinking that it would be a good transition to underwear.  Another mistake made.  The Pull-Ups were Cars themed, and he loved them and didn’t want to wear anything else. 

Around this time, I started hearing a few stories about people whose kids just didn’t show interest and they had to actually potty train them.  Here I thought potty training was basically not practiced.  You didn’t push your kid but educated them, and they would figure it out.  I started talking about underwear with him again, and he actually asked to wear them one day.  He had an accident about an hour later and immediately asked to wear a diaper.  I obliged him but realized that this was the first time in all experiments with underwear that he seemed upset about the accident.  We tried again the next day with the same result.  Back to diapers we went, but I had made up my mind.  We were going to potty train.  I prepared him extensively for about a week of what was going to happen and got him excited about it.  Starting on a Thursday, he began wearing underpants all day long.  Every 1-1 ½ hours, I would take him to the bathroom.  The first half of the day went well but then he got tired of being taken to the bathroom and started resisting.  I persevered and amply rewarded him.  The next day was more of the same, but by the 3rd day, he stopped resisting and used the bathroom when we told him.

It has been 2 weeks, and I am happy to report that it is working.  He is starting to figure it all out.  He frequently tells us when he has to go.  We still need to make sure he goes regularly so that he doesn’t forget.  Despite a few accidents, he hasn’t once asked to go back to diapers.  I wouldn’t call him fully potty trained yet, but he is doing great.  We are proud of him, and he is proud of himself.  I believe that he was ready, but it still took some work. While we are all excited about his success, I freely admit that potty training is hard.  It takes perseverance, patience and commitment.  It is also time-consuming with all those trips to the bathroom.   So, whenever someone tells you that the transition from diapers to underwear is easy once the kid is ready may not be telling you the whole story.

Making Stainless Steel Look Like New…Without Chemicals

In December, we purchased new stainless steel appliances.   They look beautiful, but the fingerprints that accumulate on them is ridiculous!  My son and daughter like to help close the doors, so there are always handprints starting around 2 feet from the bottom of the fridge.   I have tried everything to clean them and make them look like new with no success.

From previous posts, you may remember that for the past few years, I have been trying to use non-chemical cleaners.  To combat the handprints, I have tried my all-purpose cleaner, wet rags, straight vinegar and baking soda.  Nothing worked, except for the baking soda but what a mess!  I broke down and bought some pledge because the guy at the store told me that is what they use to clean the appliances on display.  That didn’t work.  I’ve even tried some Windex with no luck.

Yesterday I did what I should have done a long time ago.  I googled it.  I found this link and decided to give it a try.  All you need to do is wipe down the fridge with olive oil and then wipe it down with white vinegar.  Sounds easy, but I admit that I was skeptical. I was shocked to see that it worked perfectly.  My fridge looks brand new!  I went to bed and that fridge had zero handprints or fingerprints anywhere on it.  Of course, this morning all of that changed, but at least now I have an easy way to clean my appliances without using chemicals.

30 Days Later: Am I Still a Vegan?

Aside from my cheating on day 30, I think that I was pretty successful on the vegan diet. I felt great on the diet, tried new foods and made a positive impact on the environment. With all those positive results, you would think that I have fully embraced the vegan lifestyle. The answer is no. I am not a vegan.

Don’t be too disappointed yet. It has actually been 3 months since this experiment, and I have had time to see how my experience with veganism has changed me. I have made some significant changes in my diet because of this experience, and I try to lean more towards vegan food choices. I’ve acquired a fantastic vegan cookbook called Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and have made some delicious new foods. I often try to eat vegan at least for breakfast and lunch. I very rarely eat cheese on my tacos, pasta or in my sandwiches. I’ve mastered cooking tofu! This accomplishment is huge for me and look for a future blog posting for a tofu and cashew stir-fry. Another significant change is the amount of whole grains that I eat now. I only buy whole grain pasta and whole grain or whole wheat bread. I consciously make meals with whole grains as the key component. I no longer cook with white rice. It’s brown rice all the way.

Why and how am I not a vegan? I missed cow’s milk –a lot. I thought that I would miss yogurt more but not as much as actual milk. Now, I will drink a glass of milk when I feel like it and use it my cereal. Truthfully, this reversion back to my old diet makes me happy. Cow’s milk is healthy for you, and I buy my milk from a local dairy farm where we frequently visit the cows. They are not ill-treated and like to come to the window and moo at us. Eggs are another forbidden food in veganism. I rarely eat eggs plain, but I do cook with them. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I enjoy baked goods which require eggs. I also occasionally use eggs in main dishes when the recipes call for them. Every once in while I eat some old-fashioned French toast. Seafood is back on the menu in my house. We probably eat seafood twice a month, but I really enjoy it. I eat shrimp, crab, salmon or haddock. I like the taste of seafood and again, it is healthy food. I don’t over-indulge because I understand the impact of commercial fishing on the fragile ocean ecosystems. And finally, there is honey. When I first discovered that honey is considered a non-vegan food, I laughed at what I thought was a ridiculous notion. When I did more research on honey farming (or is it bee farming), I realized that there are valid reasons to avoid honey. I am more aware of what food products I buy have honey in them, but that hasn’t affected my food choices.

At the end of the day, I am not a vegan – most days, but I am more educated and make more informed food choices. Overall, I am healthier than ever before and enjoyed my 30 days as a vegan. I’ve walked away with valuable information, and who knows, maybe veganism is in my future.

The Vegan Experiment: Day 30

Day 30

Breakfast: Kashi Island Vanilla cereal with vanilla soy milk
Lunch: Risotto, apple
Snack: Crackers and hummus
Dinner: Pasta with cilantro pesto, cake

I made it! I spent 30 days as a vegan! As I boast and brag about my success, I must also admit that on this very last day, I cheated. I intentionally cheated. I hope that I didn’t disappoint too many people, but let me explain what happened.

It has actually been several months since I did this experiment. I journaled about my experiences and decided that it would fit well on my blog and enable me to share my adventure with others. Day 30 happened to fall on my birthday. For those that know me, cake is on my top 10 list of favorite foods. It’s the best part of any birthday party, a highlight at weddings, and may favorite part of any bridal or baby shower. Cake isn’t a dessert that I eat on a random evening. It signifies a special event or celebration.

On my birthday, I love my cake, more than I love whatever special dinner that I’ve eaten. My request every year is for a round, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Yes, it can be a boxed cake with tub frosting, but it has to be round. I love that layer of chocolate between the 2 layers of cake. This year my husband told me that he was going to make a vegan cake for me. I know – he’s pretty great. The problems started when he had problems finding a recipe that would substitute for my favorite cake. Here we go again – problems with food substitutions. The other problem is that I know my way around baked goods pretty well, and I knew that a cake without eggs and milk just wouldn’t be a cake.

I made the decision that I would cheat and have real cake. It was delicious, and I don’t feel bad about it at all. I enjoyed every bite. The question is whether or not I will be having leftovers. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out if I’m still a vegan!

Bye-Bye P90X, Hello Sidewalk

I’m not surprised that my passion for P90X has waned. It’s only been 5 weeks. I’m very proud to say that my husband is still going strong, but I missed my laid-back, tv-watching, early-to-bed (if you can call 11pm early) nights. We were in a routine of putting the kids to bed and then heading to our pseudo-basement gym and working out. Sounds great, huh? I had a workout partner that was committed to the exercise. How much more motivation did I need?

One issue for me was that I don’t enjoy exercising at night. Exercising when you feel your best is a cardinal rule for sticking to a fitness routine, and I was breaking it. I am a morning person, always have been, and despite many attempts to make me into a sleep-late, up-all-night person, I am still a morning person. If we were working out at 7pm and then having some downtime before bed, I’d be ok with that but lifting weights at 9pm just doesn’t mentally work for me.

The workouts themselves are challenging or maybe I should say that they are as challenging as you make them. The truth is that I don’t really like lifting weights or doing hundreds of pushups. I like to move. Cardio has always been my thing. Even though it is 2011 and very uncool, put me in a step aerobics class, and I’ll be in my glory. I won’t deny that the plyometrics session is a really intense cardio workout, and I will admit that I loved the kenpo workout, but I just didn’t like all the other workouts enough to stay committed.

I knew that I was faltering with the workout program and thought that a week off would give me the rest I needed physically and mentally to hop back on the P90X train. After that week, I still hadn’t found my motivation and instead started finding excuses – “I’m fighting a cold”, “I have so much to do around the house”, “I need to run an errand”. Now I really didn’t know what to do. I need exercise in my life but what should I do if P90X isn’t it. I decided it was time to strap on the running shoes and hit the pavement again.

I got up early yesterday morning and headed out for the first time since the beginning of June when I did a 5K with my sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all of my P90X workouts, I felt strong but wasn’t sure if I had the stamina to run for any period of time. Imagine my surprise when I knocked out a 5K like it was nothing. It wasn’t a fast run (I’m not a very fast runner), but I was excited to be out there moving. It was humid and I worked up a sweat for 6am but felt great.

For all of you morning –haters, you don’t know what you’re missing. Early mornings are special. There is something about the sun just coming up and the quiet of the neighborhood that is a unique experience. We walk regularly in the same neighborhood, and people are always out working on their lawns or playing with the kids. The mornings are empty of that. You might pass a few other runners that you wave to because you’re both part of that special morning club of runners (kind of like how motorcycle riders wave to each other). You’ll definitely see people out walking their dogs and maybe an occasional walker. I confess that as I did my little wave to the other runners that I felt a little bit of a fraud. After all, it was only my first day back.

I returned home feeling pumped for 2 reasons. Number 1- I had actually gotten back on the saddle and number 2 – I didn’t feel like I was starting from the couch. My body felt like it was ready for the runs. I guess I can thank Tony Horton for that. Then today came, and boy, am I sore. My quads are sore. My back is sore. My abs are sore. While I worked all of these muscles in P90X, I guess running is just too different of an exercise, and my body really wasn’t quite that ready. Oh well. Muscles heal. It just keeps getting better from here, and I’m still psyched for my run tomorrow morning.