Happy birthday, Josh

I pride myself on usually being able to come up with pretty thoughtful gifts for my friends and family. I like to go beyond what some may thing is sensible or wise to really make people feel special. And as my brother’s birthday loomed closer and closer last week, I found myself lacking any really good ideas on what I could buy him that would really describe how I felt about his role in my own life, his recent marriage, and his general circumstances that have given him much peace.
I laid awake late Saturday night, knowing that I would see him the next morning, and had nothing at all but a full heart to give. So I wrote.
And with his gracious permission, this is what I gave him for his 26th birthday:

Your birthday is here, and I seem remiss
Almost empty handed, save solely for this:
At an ungodly hour, scratched out on a page
Due service to celebrate this upcoming age.
I pondered what I might possibly buy
That might not be stuff to just toss aside.
Or money to commemorate the anniversary day,
But none of these things would serve to convey
The memories that rush over me in powerful waves…
A sister to a brother in much simpler days
Passed by in a breath of bickering, confiding,
Building, destroying, consoling, contriving
Nothing more than laughing and dreaming
Nothing better than playing and scheming.
I wept for you when your heart was breaking,
As you did for me, when my life I was taking.
Where would I be, if not for your care?
What would have you done if I were not there?
Consider this my one gift to you:
An open ended I-O-U.
For days to come, if you’re ever in need,
Or want, or wish, or desire with greed
For babysitting your handsome brood
Or listening to a rant about your foul mood.
Your dear mother’s love will never expire
Your wife is your companion, your playmate, your fire
To be just your sister, to witness you grow
Means much more to me than you’ll ever know.

I found myself more than a little weepy as I wrote; and I could tell as he read, he was affected too. And I am so completely grateful for all of my family. Today, I am celebrating my brother Josh.


While Brandon & I were going ‘out’ for a walk around the mall on Friday, we stopped in to the jewelry store to take a look at wedding bands for me. Et voila! We found one that’s lovely & put it on lay-away. (So retro, I know.) Definitely one of those little big details I’m glad we don’t have to worry about anymore! Wahoo!

Dear Flabby Armed Woman Lifting 2lb Weights

*Today I am in agony. It is the second day after my official return to the gym. I knew this would happen. It always does. I did take it a little easy: didn’t lift my max weights, didn’t do multiple exercises working the same muscle groups, and was generally cautious about how much I wanted to immobilize myself due to aforementioned muscle aches. It did work, a little. While I can’t move my arms or legs, my avoidance of ab work keeps me somewhat functioning. Plus I keep getting up from my desk and walking around and secretly stretching to keep from turning myself into Gollum. In an effort to perk myself up, I’m writing this open letter to a person I saw at the gym on Wednesday.
I’m not in love with my gym. Some of the equipment is getting really old and abused, it’s missing a few pieces that I really wish they did have, the classes are kind of ‘meh’, and most of the time the only staff on hand look like high school or college students, not trainers. But it’s decent, and I can go and get my lift on without too much interference. Usually I’ll start with a stretch (both static & active), then a bit of cardio for a warm up, and then go downstairs to the weight room to lift. So on the day in question (Wednesday, two days ago), I was headed up to the treadmills when I spotted some fantastic looking calves on the stair stepper. I’m going to go ahead and assume it wasn’t an accident that this machine was placed directly at the top of the stairs, but what do I know. Anyway, I walked down to the nearest empty treadmill & started to jog. I caught a few of the stairmaster woman out of my periphery, and I was perplexed, to say the least.
She looked to be in her mid-to-late 40s, although it’s impossible to tell because she clearly had also been spending a lot of time in the tanning beds. She was very slim, and had what most people consider ideal muscle tone from the waist down. But her arms. Ug. Bronze sails in the wind. Why would she neglect one area of her body so bad?
Anyway. I finished my warm-up, went on with my tasks at hand. And then I spotted Stairmaster Calves again: in a dark corner of the gym, doing dozens of tricep kickbacks with what appeared to be a 2 pound weight. Seriously.
Here’s the deal. You can lift that 2lb. weight a thousand times, and it’s not going to change the shape of your arm, except possibly make the muscle smaller. The only way to fill out all that flabby skin is with muscle. And to build your muscles, you have to lift heavy.

Now look at this woman, I’m going to guess that’s at least a 10lb weight she’s holding. Now kickbacks aren’t easy, so ten pounds is kind of a big deal. And that’s five hundred percent of what Stairmaster Calves was doing. And if you want less flab still, well there’s another muscle on the other side of the arm called the bicep, and it works much the same way.
“Won’t I get all bulky and manly?”
Zomg. Just ask a man how hard it is to get bulky. Just ask! And they have the genetic composition to build more muscle mass than women any day of the week. So, NO, you’re not going to start looking like a She Hulk, if you trade in your Barbie-bells for something that requires actual effort.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I had been on this train myself before. I thought going to the gym was about burning calories, not necessarily about building muscle, especially for women. But then I started doing a little reading and research, and found out that muscle is good for everybody! In particular it helps prevent osteoporosis, reduces chronic back pain, along with aiding weightloss by burning more calories. Quite frankly I had just been concerned with whether or not I’d be able to keep up with my someday-children, but the idea of ending up a shriveled up cripple in my later years was just as daunting.
So this is why I’m putting myself through this. For good health, and the people I love.

All or nothing

You might say I’m a chronic over-thinker.
I want to become an expert at something before I attempt it. I always want to know the Why. It’s sort of a moody, anxious way to be, I’m aware. Brandon has developed a keen eye for the brow furrow that means I’m starting to drown amongst my own thoughts.
Lately I’m getting a little obsessed with what sort of long-term fitness goals and/or plan I should have (made all the more ironic by the fact that I haven’t been to the gym more than a couple times since August.) But like I said, I need to have a definite sense of purpose. Besides getting ‘skinny’. Besides looking good on my wedding day. I guess I’m trying to quantify healthy, in some other numbers besides body fat percentage.
Obviously I’m not a personal trainer, and reading their writings will never make me one. I’d seriously been considering hiring one, except the trainers’ blogs I do read aren’t generally kind to the average-Joe-CPT. This might make me a bit of an elitist on a topic I know little about, but when I keep hearing the same names and the same training styles endorsed over and over, it starts to sink in: hey, this guy sounds pretty smart.
So anyway. I need to get back to the gym. I need a regimen, and some instruction on form. I need to do more than the same 10 things I’m already familiar with to really get my body at the level of health, strength, and injury-prevention-readiness that I want. Yes, I just made up that last term. “Mobility” maybe.
So do I pay someone who might not give me the level of training that I want? Do I buy one of these boxed systems from someone I do respect? Do I just keep doing what I’ve been doing?
I really don’t know. I do know that Brandon thinks I’m slightly cuckoo for getting so mentally engrossed in a project my body hasn’t begun to invest in. Fair enough. I guess I’ll be going to the gym tonight.


I don’t know what I was thinking. We spent the whole day yesterday being hilarious and couple-y. But I forgot to take any pictures except when we absolutely had to.
Such a fool!
Yesterday started with Brandon practically jumping on me and shaking me awake. As soon as my eyes opened, he grinned at me and asked me if I was ready to go “register for stuff.”
Okay, okay, I’m up. I caffeinated, breakfasted & bathed, and we were out the door by noon. The idea was to get to Sears and Bed, Bath & Beyond first since the malls here close really early on Sunday. Also Brandon succeeded in ripping out the butt of one of his pairs of jeans on Saturday, so he needed to get another pair.
So we headed out to Sears first. I’d heard it’s not uncommon to not get very far there because they frequently have computer issues. Sure enough, we fiddled with trying to even set up a new registry, and were entirely unsuccessful.
We gave up for the time being, and went down to Bed, Bath & Beyond. Whew! They were awesome: totally courteous, prepared, and technically adept. We spent a solid two hours meandering through the store, scanning potential loot. It was glorious, and a little bit tiring! We broke for lunch at Panera (nom), and then went home to test out a theory.
Maybe if we set up a registry online at Sears from home, it would work when we got there to add things with the scanner. Maybe?
The answer is ‘no’. I’m generally understanding of computer systems that go down. But when the generally unhelpful staff keeps giving you dirty looks, like “What do you want now?” every time you have to ask them what is wrong with your device that won’t add anything, and then they just shrug at you when it doesn’t work for them either… well, that I’m less than impressed with. We gave up on the scanners and meandered around for a little bit to look at some items he might want to add online later. Sort of a joke really.
And with that we escaped Sears a second time.
When we got to Target, our energy and excitement were definitely waning.  The computers were more than a little gummy from countless hands pawing at the keys, but once we moved on to the scanning, it was kinda fun again. I was really surprised by some of the quality stuff they offered, and seriously reasonable prices. We don’t actually shop at Target very much with Meijer being so close to our house, but I was feeling a little store envy perusing the housewares.
So after 6 hours of mentally color coordinating our future lives together, we were completely exhausted.We stopped by Starbucks to kill a little more time while the kids were still trick-or-treating our neighborhood, and then settled in at home to chill and soak in the full effect of the sugarbuzz. I told Brandon he had free reign to set up our Sears registry with whatever items he saw fit, and I’ll say, he did so very well.
I’d say we are official registered.