Monday, February 13, 2012

I Will Follow You into the Dark

I met Brian on a beautiful night in September.  A friend of mine and I had plans for a "girls night", i.e. wine, wine, wine and a night cap of grilled cheese sandwiches at a downtown bar.  Really, I was in no mood to go out and grumbled as I pulled on a long sleeve charcoal t-shirt and a well-worn pair of 7 for All Mankind Dojo jeans.  I didn't even bother to restyle my hair ( at this point in 2007, I was rockin' an asymmetrical 'do modeled after Victoria Beckham... but mine was also low-lighted a deep reddish-purple). I don't remember when we arrived at the Dubliner, but I do remember snagging a bar stool next to a handsome blond haired, blue eyed boy in a cute polo shirt.  I sipped on my stoli raspberry and sprite and chatted with my friend.  The night went on and the bar became crowded- our barstools moved closer and closer together.  The other bar patrons were definitely looking for love and at some point, the guy next to me struck up a conversation, annoyed by all the people on the prowl.  We talked and talked and talked.  Our conversation moved from the barstools to a booth, from the Dubliner to Lucas Park, from Wash Ave to the balcony at my old apartment on Waterman (don't get any funny ideas - all we did was talk... and drink tea :)  ) 

We had a bit of a whirlwind courtship - met in September, first getaway together in November, met each other's families on Thanksgiving, spent New Years in Chicago, headed to Steamboat Springs in March, spent my birthday on Marco Island, celebrated two of my best friends' weddings (one in Jacksonville and then we tagged on a trip to Savannah) and got engaged on the one year anniversary of the day we met (after enjoying a lovely dinner at the Dubliner!).  We were married at a winery outside of STL in May 2009 and managed to visit Breckenridge, New Orleans, New York, South Beach, and Key West before August 2010 when I learned I was expecting.  We knew that we wanted children, but Cameron was a bit of a surprise.  I still remember sipping a glass of Riesling with some Habitat co-workers on a HOT Thursday evening and not feeling quite right.  Brian had just gotten home from walking Mowgli and, as I lounged on the couch trying to keep my cool, he commented on how he'd love to take a "staycation" one day.  I had to bite back my laughter as I said " How does next April sound to you?"  His eyebrows shot up as he stuttered, "Are you... PREGNANT?" There was laughter and tears, and I'm pretty sure about 5 minutes in to our revelation, Brian started calculating the cost of college in 2029.

I thought I was the "luckiest" girl back then.  I had met and married this sweet, funny man who loved me and with whom I was sharing all kinds of new experiences and adventures.  It was the month before our second wedding anniversary that Cameron was born and I had my SCAD.  Wow.... we hadn't even been married two years when it all happened.  Hindsight is such a funny thing. Really, I didn't have a clue about "luck" and how truly wonderful my life is because Brian's in it.

Having a baby with someone you love is an amazing experience.  But it's not all sunshine, roses, and rainbows.  It takes your relationship to a whole new level - both good places and bad.  There's a lot less sleep, a lot less traveling, and a lot more stress.  When you have a newborn at home, the best kind of love you can show your spouse is letting them nap or taking the 3am feeding.  You get a warm fuzzy feeling when you see bits of your spouse in your baby - Cameron's face is me from the nose up and totally Brian from the nose down.  For the first five days after my heart attack, Brian had to give me shots in my stomach to prevent my blood from clotting while my body got used to all the new medicine.  It wasn't so much the needle prick that hurt, but the actual injection of the medicine that stung- it felt like having a match lit underneath your skin.  My mom, a nurse, always went slow because that was the right way to do it. I begged Brian to do it fast and he would, even though it caused little bruises under my skin.  Honestly, I would rather have the bruises than the feeling of being burned.  Brian giving me those shots quickly - that's some good husband love :)

I'm pretty sure I could be a better housemate - neater around the house, more timely in bill paying, proactive about taking out the recycling....couldn't we all?  I'd like to think those things don't matter as much as the time we spend together on date night, or doing something fun with Cam, or snagging small moments in the week where we get the chance to catch up in between the madness that is a 2-working-parent household.  This was my year to plan Valentine's Day and we celebrated on Saturday with a pedicure (that took 4 years of convincing!), a couples massage and a fun cooking class - things I usually enjoy on my own but have never done with Brian.  I'm happy I was able to share these little ways I relax with him and that there are still plenty of "new" things we can do together. I feel like we've been through so much in such a short time, but if there's anyone I'm going to share my life with - the ups, downs and inside-outs- well, he's stuck with me :) 

"I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know

That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest" - Ben Folds

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Poison Apple

You know the story, right?  The apple looked so good, Snow White had to take a bite.  Little did she know that what looked so good, so healthy, was going to be sooooo bad for her.  Luckily, fairytales have a "happily ever after" and all Snow needed was a smooch from Prince Charming and the healthy glow returned to her cheeks.  Can you imagine living in a world where making out made you healthier?!  Bring it on, I say :)  Alas, in the real world, sometimes it's hard to figure what healthy is and if you're doing it right.  Most, despite the best intentioned efforts, are tricked by a poison apple fairly regularly.

Before we talk food, I have a digression.  I was FLOORED by the love and support that came my way on Wear Red Day.  Even my grouchiest, grumpiest of friends managed to sport a red tie.  Far away friends in Chicago, Iowa, New York, and Boston slipped on red shoes, wrapped up in red scarves, or donned red hats.  Facebook friends advocated for heart disease awareness using my blog, to make sure that women know that I'm what heart disease looks like.  Brian and Cameron both wore red when they took me out to dinner on Friday evening. A grade school friend, who I haven't see in about 16 years, used her role as chief resident for University of Miami to educated her 50 medical residents on SCAD and heart disease in women.  My three little cousins in Texas each wore red on their day off from school.   Thank you for celebrating my survival and raising awareness. 

Getting back on track - the poison apple.  It's that restaurant chain the flaunts a healthy menu or the great finds you stumble upon at the grocery store that you feel so good about purchasing as a substitute for less healthy fare. How can you really know what you're eating if you aren't growing it in your backyard?!  And sodium, oh sodium..... in pretty much everything we eat.  Sodium does get a bad rap - after all, when we get the right amount, it helps keep a fluid balance in our body, transmits nerve impulses and assists with muscle contraction/relaxation.  But if you're not paying attention, it's very easy to overdo it on sodium intake.  The average person in the U.S. gets 3400 miligrams a day; the FDA recommends 2300 and under 1500 for people on a heart healthy diet.  Even if your food doesn't taste salty, it's still laced with sodium - in bagels, lunch meat, bread, pasta, soup and cheese.  Even vegetables have sodium, which really does make tracking sodium intake challenging.  But if you made a new year's resolution regarding weight in any way, you're probably at the point where you've given up OR can't figure out why you feel bloated all the time..... blame it on the sodium.

The best thing you can do is check the nutrition label (or give the myfitnesspal app a shot!).  And don't be fooled by "low" or "reduced" sodium product.  I have taken to purchasing my lunch meat at the deli counter so I can control how much meat we have in the house and because each selection carried the American Heart Association seal of approval.  That being said, I was shocked to peruse the nutritional fact brochure and find that the 42% less sodium items weren't even the lowest sodium items available - they just had less sodium than a like counterpart (oven roasted turkey vs. 42% less sodium oven roasted turkey - both had more sodium than a chicken option).  This may seem a bit silly, but when you're trying to stick to a heart healthy diet and still enjoy/savor the foods you eat, you don't like being fooled by lunch meat!  I feel the same way about St. Louis Bread Co/Panera.  Do yourself a favor - hop on their website and use their nutrition calculator.  You may think what you're eating there is better than a fast food option - you would be wrong.  And at that restaurant, low fat = sky high sodium.

All this being said, you can find good-food-made-fast..... which is very helpful on the evenings when you are running in heels to fetch your baby from daycare.  San Sei, Noodles, The Green Bean (new in the CWE), and Starbucks all have healthy option that you can pick up quickly and not feel bad about.  I would even feel comfortable letting Cameron try something off my plate (or really, let him put in his mouth what he grabs off my plate!)  One of my latest faves is the Giddy Up Breakfast Bar at Atomic Cowboy in the Grove.  If you haven't yet, pop in M-F between 7:30a & 11:30a and visit with Kate.  I won't claim that her baked goods are heart healthy (but I've munched a sample here and there and they are GOOD) but she's kind enough to make my breakfast to order.  Yogurt parfaits with honey, oats and fruit or scrambled egg whites with veggies sans cheese with wheat toast.... the woman even makes her own hot chocolate and marshmallows.  So - you can find heart healthy food fast - you just have to know where (and be willing) to look!

And, by the way, a small apple only has between 1-2 mg of sodium - classified as a sodium free food.  So eat up.... :)

“If there is one single secret to long life, that secret is moderation.”
― George Gallop

“As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.”
― Joan Gussow