Move It Mama Monday – Finding My Get Up and Go

I hate being sick. I had thought the cold I picked up before heading out to Vegas would be over within a week or so, but the damn thing has lingered, mutating into a sinus infection and sapping me of my will to live. I spent most of last week shuffling around the house, still one of the living dead. If I had energy, I made sure the exercise, but then I usually paid for it the next day by feeling dead again.

I talked to Patty, one of moms in the Screeching Harpies Moms’ Posse (we are NOT a mommies group), and found out she’d had similar problems, so at least I feel better knowing it’s not just a case of me being lazy. Something really is going around turning folks into zombies. But that knowledge still doesn’t solve the problem of getting me back on my feet. I really need to get back into the swing of things, and I’m wondering if I should just force myself to get back to karate and swimming (the toughest activities I do these days), or if I should just continue to languish around the house a few more days until I feel better.

Right now, I’m opting for somewhere in between. I’ve decided to get into the pool one day and do ten or so laps (not too many or I know I’ll be dead the next day), and then one other day spend half an hour on karate practice. I’m also trying to get back to daytime karate classes, because I’m too wiped out in the evenings, but I don’t know if I’m really up to that much exercise yet or not.

One other thing I’ve decided is that I do not have to do my exercise right off the bat, heading out for the gym or stepping on the Wii Fit as soon as the Princess is off to school. I’d rather ease into my day right now, taking a little time to do a few easy chores, get myself warmed up. And of course, take some time to play a little music to get myself into the mood to exercise.

This was a little trick I discovered yesterday that actually got me into the gym. I had already decided not to go workout. I’d focus on getting laundry done instead. But while I was doing laundry, I put ABBA in the CD player, and what do you know? In a few minutes, I was dancing around the bedroom. It only took two songs to get my blood pumping and raise my mood out of the depths of blah. I ended up throwing a few things into my gym bag as soon as the laundry was put away and heading out the door. I did 30 minutes of karate practice, and it felt good.

And naturally, I paid for it today. I over slept big time this morning, and have been dragging around all morning. I limped through karate class, and am struggling to stay awake through Princess’ swim class now. And I still have laundry to do when I get home.

Maybe I’ll play some more ABBA and that’ll wake me up in time to go out for the evening.

Move It Mama Monday – I’m Sick!

I have been soooo sick the past week. The cold I picked up right before my trip to Vegas turned into a full-blown sinus infection. I oozed the most disgusting grey-green snot all last week. It was really strange too. I had one day, Wednesday, when I actually felt all right, and I tried to do my normal routine. Then Thursday morning came with a double whammy of leaky sinuses and massive headache and I could barely crawl out of bed. In fact, I believe I declared that day a Blow Off Day and celebrated it accordingly.

I am still not fully recovered – I sound a lot like Donald Duck, I’m so stuffed up – but I am feeling a bit better. But last week, I was led to question the idea of exercising while sick.

If you’ve never tried the Wii Fit before, it has this little motivational character that looks like the Wii Fit balance board on speed. This cheerful little anthropomorphized tyrant likes to prod users along, urging them to do the Body Test every day, even if you can’t find time to exercise. We’ve had the Wii Fit a month now, and the only days I’ve missed doing that body test were the days I was in Vegas, and there was just no way possible I could zip across county to do the test (and I sure as hell wasn’t carting that thing with me to Vegas!). But otherwise, even when sick and jetlagged, I hopped on the balance board to be weighed and have my balance checked. It was a little discouraging. Wii Fit doesn’t care if you’re sick and you’ve decided to starve a fever and stuff your face. However, I realized that if I hopped onto the Wii Fit to do the Body Test, chances where pretty good that I’d stay on at least 10 minutes longer to do the balance games or even a little light cardio (some of the step games are easy enough that even sick, I could do them without getting winded).

I also discovered that just by doing the balance games alone, I could still work up a bit of a sweat. Balancing takes a lot of muscles strength. So I didn’t get the full blown workouts I had built myself up to over the last couple of weeks on the Wii Fit, but I did get some exercise in, and that was better than nothing.

Today, I went back to the usual routine – 4 minutes of hula hooping to warm up, 15 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of balance games. The only down side to being sick that I’ve noticed is that somehow I can no longer do the hula hooping games so well. I’ll have to build back up to my original high scores. But I’ll get there. And best yet?

I’ve lost 3 pounds in the last four weeks. Not a huge drop, but a steady one, and if I can keep it up, I’ll eventually get back to my ideal weight.

Just in time to get pregnant again 😉

The Little Mermaid and The Not-So-Little Mermaid: A Cautionary Tale

A few folks have mentioned that I didn’t make many posts last week. Sorry. I spent most of my computer time searching for a new web hosting service. I finally found one I liked, and now I’m looking forward to a redesign of my computer graphics site. All this digital painting is really getting my creative juices going, and I’m eager to put together a new site with a new portfolio some time the beginning of next year. Meanwhile, I owe you folks for the missing posts from last week, so here’s an extra long one to keep you happy.

Boy, are things hoppin’ at our place! We got a package in the mail today. Seems that Michael pre-ordered the latest release of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” for Cassandra’s viewing entertainment. I’m thinking the only Disney Princesses we don’t have now are Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Don’t think we’ll be getting those any time soon, either, as they’re probably locked in the vault until the next time Disney decides to haul them out and stick it to all us parents of precocious preschool wanna-be-princess girls.

Getting Little Mermaid isn’t so bad though. This is one of the better Disney Princess movies in my opinion, if only for the Jamaican crab singing his heart out about how wonderful life is beneath the deep blue sea. Granted, Ariel is yet another one of those girls who has to have her prince and does all sorts of stupid stuff to get him. She gives up her voice, gives up her legs, and (in the original story) gives up her life for the man of her dreams. Heck, if I’d been the Little Mermaid, I wouldn’t have been giving up anything for a guy. I would have just pointed to that kickin’ little fish tail and said, “Come get some sushi, big boy!” and then we’d be having some fun. But that version of the movie would have been rated NC-17 and Disney never would have made it.

So I’m not the Little Mermaid. Instead, I have become the Not-So-Little Mermaid. What’s happened is my knees are getting worse instead of better, much to my dismay and my physical therapist’s. She’s ordered me to stop all the strengthening exercises until we can get a pair of customized braces. Meanwhile, the cracking and popping noises I keep hearing as I go up and down the steps are getting really bad. Even the neighbors are complaining about the noise now. It’s very loud and it creeps them out.

In addition to no strengthening exercises for my knees, I must also take it easy in karate class (like I was doing much of anything anyway with my broken toe). And since walking is getting to be a pain too, I’ve got to watch out for that as well. In fact, my physical therapist would even make me give up going up and down the steps at home if it weren’t for the fact that the fridge is downstairs and all the working toilets are upstairs (Michael is remodelling the downstairs bathroom – it will be finished some time before we die). Gotta eat, gotta pee, so I gotta take the steps. But while the amount of stair climbing I do during the day is enough to make my knees ache, it isn’t enough to keep me from going crazy from lack of physical activity. Thus I have decided to take up swimming.

I do not have a fish tail (so no sushi for you, big boy!). I have long red hair, but being four months post-partum, it’s a mess because all the hairs that grew like crazy while I was pregnant have now decided to fall out en mass (it’s so bad, I keep leaving a big scary hair monster in the drain whenever I shower, and I swear Sam is going to strangle herself on one of my loose hairs one day). Also, I do not have a nifty clam shell bra, but I’m not going to complain about that, since it doesn’t look like it would be very practical or comfortable for a nursing mom.

Nope, I got none of the things Ariel has. What I do have is access to a 50 yard lap pool courtesy of the YMCA and my physical therapist’s approval to go swimming as it is the exercise that will do the least amount of damage to my knees. Now I do know how to swim. When I was maybe six, my grandma’s next door neighbor, whom we called Aunt Terry, would let us come over to her house and swim whenever we were in town. I think she’s the one who taught me the side stroke and the breast stroke. I also recall taking a few Y swim classes when I was about ten, so I can tread water and float on my back and do stuff like that.

Then there’s my Army swim training. Do you know what the Army calls swim training? They call it drown-proofing. Want to know how it’s done? You show up at an Olympic style pool dressed in full field uniform, right down to your combat boots. The first thing you have to do is swim a complete lap in the pool with all your clothes on, and your boots as well. It’s very, very hard. But it’s actually quite easy compared to the next thing you have to do, which is to climb up to the high diving board with a fake M-16 rifle in your hands and let some jerk who outranks you put a blindfold on you when you reach the top (no, I am not making this up). Once the jerk is sure you can’t see, he proceeds to guide you down to the end of the diving board (still not making this up). As you’re inching your way along, the jerk says all sorts of helpful stuff like, “Take another step forward… and another… and another… Whoops!” At which point you start screaming because you just walked off the end of the high dive while blindfolded and dressed in full field gear and combat boots, all the while carrying a fake M-16 (again, I am really, truly not making this up). You are supposed to hit the water feet first with the dummy rifle held high above your head so it doesn’t get wet. This is impossible of course, because if you step off the high diving board fully dressed and carrying a big-ass fake rifle, you are more than heavy enough to hit the bottom of the pool which is twenty feet deep, and then bounce back out and land right back on the high dive where the jerk is just waiting to push you off again (okay, I made some of that last bit up, but it’s mostly true). If you manage to get out of the pool with your rifle and all your gear and your boots still on, and don’t swallow half the pool water while doing it, you are considered drown-proofed.

I completed my drown-proofing in the spring of 1990, just in time to attend Camp All American at Fort Brag, NC. Now let’s get one thing straight. I sucked at ROTC. Really. I was one of the worst cadets ever to wear the yellow and black patch of that proud bastion of military academics. The only reason I even made it to commissioning day was my good grades. I was a lousy cadet, couldn’t tell my ass from a hole in the ground when it came to the military, but I had a 3.4 average and I graduated with honors so they figured I’d survive being an officer somehow. Good grades were no help though when it came to Camp All American. I barely made it through by the skin of my teeth. My failures that summer were so numerous even I can’t remember them all. But I do remember my crowning moment of ignominy, one that probably anyone who was there to witness it also still remembers to this day. It was the “Forty-Foot Rope Drop.”

The forty-foot rope drop was the last event in an obstacle course that was specifically designed to kill, er, I mean weed out, weaklings, wimps, and misfits like yours truly. There was the ankle-breaking tire jump course, the virtually impossible vertical wall climb, the rope swing across the mud pits of despair, and the low crawl through a cess pool that to this day still makes me puke when I think about it. At the end of it all was the rope drop – a single strand of rope suspended by two telephone poles forty feet over a swift running stream. In the center of the rope hung a plaque bearing the Army Ranger tab. The goal was to climb up one of the poles, shimmy hand over hand along the rope to the plaque, touch the plaque, and then hang from the rope by your hands. Once in that position, cadets were supposed to let go of the rope, cross their arms over their chests, and drop cleanly into the stream rushing by below. Whatever happened, we were all told to make sure we were looking up when we hit the water, because otherwise, we ran the risk of getting a bloody nose or lip if we hit with our faces pointing down.

I was very tired when I got to the Forty-Foot Rope Drop. I almost didn’t make it up the pole, even with the help of all the hand and foot holds. Getting onto the rope was a feat that almost got me killed, and shimmying out to the plaque was an act of physical comedy that not even Charlie Chaplin could match. What really made the Forty-Foot Rope Drop special, though, was that I had to get permission to do each step from the colonel who oversaw the event. It went something like this.

Colonel: Well, cadet, you look like you’ve had an invigorating day, courtesy of the U. S. Army! Are you ready to tackle my rope drop event?

Me (gasping for breath so badly that I sound like I’m having an asthma attack): Huhn… huhn… huhn…

Colonel: I can’t hear you, cadet!

Me: YES SIR! I AM READY TO TACKLE THAT ROPE DROP, SIR!

Colonel: Okay, so…?

Me: SIR, REQUEST PERMISSION TO CLIMB THE POLE!

Colonel: Go get her, cadet! Move, move!

An hour passes.

Colonel: Gol’ dang it, cadet, have you reached the top of that pole yet?

Me (from very, very high up): YES SIR!

Colonel: Well?

Me: SIR, REQUEST PERMISSION TO SHIMMY ACROSS THE ROPE!

Colonel: Go for it, cadet! Move! Move!

Another hour passes.

Me: SIR?

Colonel: Zzzzzzzz… huh?! What? Where? Oh, it’s you, cadet. Are you there yet? Did you touch my Ranger tab?

Me: YES SIR!

Colonel: All right, now we’re getting’ somewhere. So what’s next, cadet?

Me: SIR, REQUEST PERMISSION TO HANG!

Colonel: Hang, cadet! Hang!

(Let us pause for a brief explanation on the term “hanging.” At this point, I was supposed to slide off the rope so that one leg was dangling free. I was then supposed to execute a pull-up while carefully slipping the other leg off the rope, and end up hanging by my hands from the rope, ready to drop into the stream below. The pull-up was supposed to prevent me from swinging so hard that I got yanked off the rope by my own body weight. Keep in mind that I sucked at physical fitness in those days, and have never, ever in my life managed to do a pull-up).

Twenty minutes later…

Me: Um, sir? Request permission to drop?

Colonel: Now cadet, you still got one foot hanging on that rope. You need to do a full pull-up while slipping that foot off the rope, okay? Then you can ask permission to drop.

Me (struggling to keep hold of the rope): Um, sir? I really think you need to let me drop.

Colonel: No cadet. That would be cheating. You got to hang first. Hang! Got it?

Me (desperately trying to do a pull up with arms made out of limp spaghetti): I really, really think we should just skip the hanging part, sir. Please?

Colonel (throwing his hat on the ground in frustration): Gol’ dang it, cadet! I told you to hang!

Me (as my foot suddenly slips off the rope while I am NOT doing a pull up): AAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE- WHAM!

When I finally came up for air, another cadet told me what happened. My foot slipped off the rope, causing my entire body to swing so wildly that I did a complete 360 in mid-air, followed by a half twist that put my body in horizontal position, parallel to stream below. I plummeted like a rock, arms and legs spread eagle. Now this all happened very fast, but I do remember thinking as I fell, “Make sure you look up… Make sure you look up!” Well, I was looking up all right. I hit the water flat on my back, making a splash big enough to soak the colonel who was standing on the far bank.

The colonel was still wringing out his hat when I crawled out of the stream. “Cadet,” he said. “That was pitiful. Do you see that sergeant major over there?” I did. It was the sergeant major from my school, as it turned out. “He’s the one what put together this rope drop,” the colonel went on. “That means this is his rope drop, and his stream that you hit so hard. I want you to go over to that sergeant major and apologize for bruising his water.”

So I straggled over to my sergeant major and said in a really squeaking voice, “I’m sorry I bruised your water, Sergeant Major Jeeter!” And Sergeant Major Jeeter just sort of rolled his eyes and shook his head, and maybe he prayed a bit too, but I was still kind of dazed from hitting the water so hard, so I’m not sure. He might have been cussing me out for all I know.

But that’s Army swim training for you. The good news is, it didn’t kill me, so I guess it just made me stronger. The even better news is that sixteen years later there is no Forty-Foot Rope Drop at the YMCA where I go swimming now. There’s just a bunch of seniors doing water aerobics as I doggy paddle back and forth in the pool, and none of them seem to mind if I bruise the water when I jump in.

***

Here’s the artwork for today. I’ve been working on this sketch on and off over the past week. Drawing the initial figure happened in one session, but now I’m stuck doing research for the details – the costume, the jaguar, the background (which you don’t see yet because it hasn’t been drawn). This one’s going to take a little while, but I don’t mind. I’m almost past the drawing stage with it and I plan to do it up as another digital painting. One of the two books I picked up on Friday was about digital manga, and I’m looking forward to using this sketch as an experiment for all the new techniques I’m reading about.

Pencil sketch, Temple Of The Jaguar (WIP) – 4 October 2006

Shake Your Booty, Mama – Dancing To Get Some Exercise

One of the biggest problems I’ve had the last six weeks is fitting in exercise. Normally, I have no trouble getting in at least 30 minutes a day. It’s part of my regular schedule – karate class three times a week, yoga once or twice a week, weight lifting and cardio twice a week, etc., etc. It’s easy to do when I’ve signed up for a class and paid for it out of pocket. And since childcare is provided at most of these activities, I can usually just go do my thing without having to worry about a little rug rat tagging along, constantly asking “Are you done yet?”

Unfortunately, my obstetrician put the kibosh on my normal activities for the first six weeks post partum. My body needed time to recover from labor and pregnancy, he said. What he didn’t mention was that while my body was recovering, my brain was going to explode from the lack of stress relief. Apparently he thought I’d be able to relax and take it easy while constantly breastfeeding an infant and simultaneously chasing a three-year-old around the house.

So I’ve been looking for ways to exercise while being saddled with two kids. It’s not easy. I’ve been trying to walk on a daily basis, pushing Cassie in the jog stroller and wearing Sam in a Baby Bjorn front pack as I zip through the neighborhood, but that has its draw backs. For starters, it’s too damn hot to wear the front pack with a heat-producing infant in it. And second, it’s been raining here a lot lately. Walking around with a screaming baby strapped to myself while pushing a cranky wet preschooler in a stroller doesn’t do much to relieve any stress, although it does provide exercise.

So for rainy days I tried riding our stationary bike. Problem is I have to keep Cassie entertained while I do it. Otherwise, she’ll crawl up under the pedals and get herself kicked in the head, so she ends up screaming bloody murder. That’s a real no-win scenario for me.

As a last resort, I turned to my small selection of DVDs collecting dust in one of my bookcases. Unfortunately, Cassie seems to think the purpose of any DVD is to watch it for sheer entertainment value. She refuses to get up and participate. The last thing I want is to turn my kid into a little couch potato, so every time I do an exercise DVD, I tell Cass she either has to exercise with me or go play in another room. As you can imagine, this has led to more than a few arguments. Cassie starts out promising that she’ll do the DVD, only to stop and plunk her butt down in front of the TV after two minutes of marching around. When I tell her to get moving or go to her room, the whining kicks in big time. She can’t do the exercises, it’s too hard, can she just watch me do it, can she play in the room while I exercise, etc., etc… The whole scenario ends up with her in time out and me fuming as I try to get back into my workout. All of this does nothing to relieve any stress I’ve been feeling, and in fact only increases it.

Then on Thursday I had a moment of inspiration. It was raining outside again, and Cassie was busy dancing around the living room to one of her Wiggles CDs. I knew if I turned off the CD to play an aerobics DVD, she’d howl and then plunk herself down to watch rather than work out with me. What to do? While I pondered the question, I noticed that Cass was actually working up a sweat dancing to “The Big Red Car” song. Hmmm. If she could work up a sweat while dancing, why couldn’t I?

I decided to try it. I turned on my heart rate monitor, to see how much of a workout I was getting and I joined Cassie on the floor. I’m happy to report that after twenty minutes of shaking my groove thing to toddler tunes, I got my heart rate up as high as 130 beats per minutes and ended up with sweat pouring down my face.

Ah ha! Now I had a way to burn calories and involve Cassie too. Even better, Sam seemed fascinated by the music and the dancing. She never made a peep during the entire twenty minutes we were jumping about the living room. I could do this!

“Mommy! We’re dancing! We dance like the pirate girls!” Cassie shouted as we finished up another song on the DVD. That’s when I recalled the Scottish dancers we had seen the weekend before at the Mariner’s Museum. They had performed as part of a pirate festival held that day and Cassie had been entranced. She’d obviously been paying good attention too, because as we danced to the Wiggles music, she started performing some of the dance steps to a Highland jig.

That was my second “Ah ha!” moment. If Cassie liked Celtic music and dance, I didn’t have to limit myself to dancing to kiddie tunes. I took Cassie to our local Borders the next day and picked out an instructional DVD on Irish step dancing. The cover blurb assured me that I too could dance like Michael What’s-his-face in River Dance. Pleased with this idea, I headed to the cash register, day dreaming about jigging my way to a jiggle-free behind. Then a little hand tugged on my sleeve.

“Mommy, what’s this?”

Cassie held up a DVD that showed several little girls dressed in tutus skipping around on a hardwood floor. I read the cover – Baby Ballet: Includes ballet, jazz and tap lessons.

“That’s a dance video for little girls, sweetie.”

“I want to be a ballet girl, Mommy. Please?” she asked, staring at me with huge blue eyes.

How could I resist? I got her the DVD. As soon as we got home, though, I realized I was in trouble. The little girls on the cover of the DVD had tutus, so Cassie decided she needed one too. Fortunately, one of her dress up costumes has a tutu-like skirt, so I convinced her to wear that. Then Cassie demanded ballet slippers. Again, she had a pair of Tinkerbelle slippers that looked close enough to satisfy her. She wanted tights too, but considering that it’s 101 degrees in the shade right now, I convinced her she could do without.

Appropriately attired, Cassie set herself up in the living room while I popped the DVD in. She spent the next twenty minutes following along with a quartet of little girls who danced and glided their way through a series of ballet moves. Cassie did more galumphing than gliding, clogging her way along with so much characteristic three-year-old enthusiasm that I nearly hurt myself from laughing. She was dancing though, and as soon as she was done, she was tired enough to take a nap without any fuss. I had it made, I thought. Little did I realize I had created a monster.

That evening, Michael and I had plans to go out. Our babysitter Megan showed up at 6 PM. Cassie was eager to show Megan her new dance moves. Before heading out the door, I set up the DVD and told Megan Cassie could dance as long as she liked. Four hours later, Michael and I came home and found Cassie dancing along to the DVD. Megan was swaying along with the baby in her arms, looking slightly dazed.

“Wow, she decided to do the DVD again?” I asked.

“We never turned it off,” Megan replied. “Cassie’s been at it the entire time. She did the tap lesson and the jazz lesson a few times too. I think she has them all memorized by now.”

Needless to say, I made Michael give Megan an extra $5 for extreme hardship pay.

Ever since then, it’s been nothing but Baby Ballet. Cassie can’t stop dancing, unless I pop in my Irish step dance DVD. We tried that one yesterday and much to my disgust, I found that I can’t follow the damned thing, much less expect Cassie to do so. Oh, I could probably do it with a year’s worth of lessons under my belt and a couple of jog bras holding the Grand Tetons firmly in place on my chest, but that’s the only way I could do it. So there’s another fitness DVD that gets to collect dust on my shelf.

I did accomplish one thing in all this, which is to get Cassie up and moving. Now if only I could find some way to get me some exercise, we’ll all be doing just fine. Hmmm. Maybe we should try swing dancing?

We’ll see.

Weight A Minute…

I’ve had a couple of things weighing on my mind lately. The first is the number of hours there are in a day versus the amount of stuff I’ve got on my to-do list. The second thing worrying me is… well, my weight.

I’ve written about my workload and my interest in fitness before in this blog, and I know I’ll write about them again. They’re big issues for me, both as a parent and as a woman who likes to wear size 12 jeans. I have a lot of stuff I want to do with my life, including staying fit and trim, but there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want, which makes staying fit and trim a bit of a challenge.

So I yap about these topics a lot. They’re my personal obsessions. But why, you may ask, are these two issues so troublesome right now? That’s easy to explain. I’m pregnant again.

Last September, my husband and I went back to the infertility clinic where we succeeded in conceiving our first child, Cassandra Jane. After weeks of injections and an inter-uterine insemination, we got good news. I had “a bun in the oven.” The baby is due in June. I have to admit I was initially ambivalent about having a second child, especially since it had taken me three years to get my life back together after having the first child. The issues I faced when deciding to have more kids was twofold. First, as much as I like to exercise, I had a hell of a time losing the weight from my first pregnancy. I just couldn’t drop those last five pounds. I was overjoyed when the infertility specialist told me I weighed exactly what I weighed prior to having Cassandra. Then I got depressed as I realized I was about to toss out my girlish figure again in pursuit of child number two. Bummer!

The second problem was time. Before Cassie, I was a free woman, working only for myself, and how I spent my day was entirely up to me. After Cassie, I suddenly had a very short, very cranky boss who kept me hopping twenty-four hours a day with constant demands for breast-feedings and diaper changes. I was lucky if I could find time to sit on the toilet and pee, let alone do anything else.

Now lest anyone get the wrong idea, I really do want to have this second child. I’ve enjoyed my pregnancy so far and I look forward to having another baby to care for and love. Cassie is excited too. She can’t wait to become a big sister and she frequently talks about ‘Baby Sam’ and kisses my rapidly growing belly every chance she gets. I can’t stop worrying though, about what lies ahead.

It took me forever to adjust to having Cassie in my life. Before Cassie, I filled my days with writing, computer graphics, web design, art classes, karate classes, running, and frequent trips to the gym. If I wanted to spend a day goofing off at Barnes and Nobles, I did it. I had the ideal life, doing what I wanted, when I wanted. Then one day I had a baby, and suddenly everything I did revolved around a squiggling, screaming bundle of colicky joy.

I couldn’t go anywhere without taking Cassie with me. And I couldn’t just take Cassie wherever I went – I also had to take fifty pounds of stuff packed into a diaper bag too. The good news was all that lifting and toting turned my upper body into a real powerhouse. For the first two years of Cassie’s life, you could pick out every single muscle in my back and arms. The bad news was, I couldn’t do anything else while I was holding Cass, nor could I seem to get anywhere with all that stuff in tow. Leaving the house required careful, time-consuming preparation. I had to remember to bring bottles of milk, diapers and wipes, toys, a spit up rag, and a change of clothes. That made exercise hard. Going for a jog around the neighborhood wasn’t so bad, as long as I did it between feedings (Cassie nursed every two hours on the dot), but karate class seemed right out. The dojo didn’t provide childcare, and I couldn’t hold her while taking class. Trips to the gym were damn near impossible too. Cassie screamed her head off whenever I took her to the YMCA nursery. And getting there, like getting anywhere else, involved the whole preplanning and packing routine. At one point, I had to allow for three hours in my daily schedule just to fit in 45 minutes of exercise at the Y.

Some folks might point out at this point that I could have just exercised at home during Cassie’s naptime. I suppose so, but I decided to reserve those hours of peace and quiet for my work. I can at least jog with a screaming child. I cannot write with one though. Believe me, I’ve tried. So I set up my daily schedule to let me get my work done when Cass was out cold and do my exercise when she was fired up. During her first eighteen months, that meant I worked from ten to noon and then again from two to four in the afternoon. Not nearly as much time as I had had before, but I was able to get some stuff done. On the exercise front, I pumped a lot of breast milk and arranged with my husband to take karate classes on alternate evenings so we each got at least two classes a week. Then I just struggled to get out to the Y or the jog path as often as I could.

Of course, as Cassie got older, things changed. Eventually, she stopped screaming when I left her in the Y nursery. When she went from two naps to one, I had to give up my morning work hours for a while, but that gave me more time before noon to go exercise. When Cassie got old enough to occupy herself, I switched from evening to afternoon karate classes and let her play quietly on the sidelines as I punched and kicked my way to a slimmer waistline. And when she finally switched from diapers to “big girl” panties, I happily gave up toting two tons of stuff everywhere we went and got out the door a hell of a lot quicker every day.

My life’s still wasn’t as free as easy as it was before I had Cassie, but I eventually adjusted and got back on track. Now though, all that is about to go right out the window. In fact, it already has. The first trimester of my second pregnancy more often found me asleep on the couch during Cassie’s nap than typing at my computer. Plus morning sickness forced me to crawl through the day, going only as fast as my queasy stomach allowed. As a result, I got so far behind on work, exercise and house cleaning that I’ll never catch up, and I know it’s only going to get worse. Having a new baby means sleepless nights, exhausting days, and hours spent breastfeeding in the glider rather than working at my desk. No matter how well Cassie plays on her own, afternoon karate classes probably won’t happen with an infant. And while the Y nursery will take babies six weeks old, I’ve still got to figure out how to get out the door with two kids instead of just one.

I know I’ll survive this. I’m not the first woman to have two children, nor will I be the last. But I can’t help wondering if I’m going to have any sanity left at all when I can’t find time to work and exercise. Remember, I’m obsessed about these things. My mental stability depends on whether or not I feel I’ve had a productive day.

People often say one of the biggest challenges of parenting is going from one to two kids. I hope I’m up to the ordeal.