Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 23: Suggestions Needed

I have been talking to Lynda a bit about my seven year old daughter, Amber. The comments were getting a bit long, so I figured I would make a post out of it.

I don't know any other way to start this post than to say that Amber has issues. Lots of them. I love her to death, of course, but the girl has problems. It started out as behavioral problems when she was just 1 1/2 years old. At home she would behave fine, but at daycare she would exploit any opportunity she had for trouble. We had many parent/teacher meetings, and Amber improved, but the problem was still there.

One day, when Amber was 3, the school had scheduled another meeting. I showed up, only to be bombarded by EIGHT people -- 2 daycare staff, the director, 2 psychologists, and I don't remember who the other 3 were, I just know they weren't from the daycare. I felt ambushed. Why didn't they just tell me? I've been to all the other meetings, why shouldn't I know about this? To top it all off, a few minutes after discussion began, one of the people there asked, "And where's the mother in all this? Does she just not care?" Talk about blood boiling!!! Someone in the room politely mentioned that "her mother" was sitting right there. Open mouth, insert foot -- the lady apologized and didn't say another word the entire meeting. The only thing that came out of that meeting was that perhaps Amber should be drugged. Drugged! At 3 years old! ... That's why nothing ever came out of that situation.

Fast forward 4 years. I work very closely with Amber's teachers, and the behaivoral problems are pretty much gone. These have been replaced by socialization and emotional problems. Amber simply cannot interact with other children. Her idea of playing is telling everyone EXACTLY what they have to do. "Put this here -- no, that goes there. No, we shouldn't be a kitten. Let's be cats. No, YOU be the mom, I'll be the kid ..." Thus it's no surprise she doesn't really have friends.

Along with not getting along with anyone, she flies off the handle emotionally if anything does not go her way. And this isn't because she's used to getting her way. No, she doesn't get her way many times a day when she's at home. So, she just flies off the handle numerous times an evening. And she cries, and cries, and cries.

I don't know what to do. I give her affection, lots of it, but Amber doesn't respond well to that. She's never been very affectionate at all. I tell her I love her, I praise her accomplishments. I try to ask her how she feels and what's making her upset, but nothing pans out. I try to help her learn how to play by interacting with her and her sister. Her sister, by the way, is the complete opposite. She loves everyone and everyone loves her and she gets along splendidly with everyone but her sister (not for lack of trying). If it were both of them, I'd think that I was doing something terribly wrong. But it's just Amber.

This past week I have seriously considered a child psychologist of some sort. There are a couple problems with that: (1) I'm afraid they'll want to drug her, and I don't think that's appropriate for this situation (2)Money. My copay for a psychologist is $50 a visit (yes I looked this up because I'm seriously considering it). That's a lot, especially if she's seeing this person multiple times a month.

I could write a ton more about this situation, but at the moment I don't have time to. I didn't even explain the problem very well, did I? Oh well. Suggestions are still welcome. Has anyone been there, done that?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 22: Time To Lose It

I'm 5 weeks and 2 days into my quit. Hooray! I'm thrilled to have made it this far, but I have a problem. And it's a pretty common one: I've put on the weight, about 7 pounds worth of it. I don't own a scale, but I can tell when I need maintence. I got a chance to weigh myself today, and I came in at 136 !yikes!. That was a big eye opener. I'm on winter weight, too -- my normal, base weight, is approx. 125. But I have about 5 winter pounds on at the moment, plus the non-smoking weight. So yeah, it's time for me to get with it and take it off. I usually don't care if I gain 5 pounds of so (thus the winter weight), but 12? That's too much.

The reason I'm telling you guys this is so I make myself work hard on this. I'm too ashamed to fail at anything (read previous post) and I don't want to complain about weight to my friends or family. Yeah, I know I'm strange (especially for a girl) because in general I don't talk about weight, or diets, etc. I don't like to think about it and I'm usually happy with my weight/appearance. But, once again, I love this blog and the people involved because I don't have to keep up facades.

So my goal, for the moment (until Spring hits), is to get back down to 130 pounds. I will do this by cardio and/or weight activities 4 or 5 days a week. I will cut the soda down to one can every 2 or 3 days. I will cut out my weekly Monster energy drink. I will not overload my plate at dinner. It's a large plate and there's no need to fill it up. I will eat my oatmeal each weekday for breakfast, instead of skipping it in favor of crackers every other day. I will take a daily walk at work (this one is already in practice).

Let's say this goal started yesterday (Monday). Yesterday I played DDR (Dance Dance Reveloution) non-stop for approx. 2 hours. That's excercise enough for me.

1 workout down this week, 3 or 4 more to go.

Monday, January 28, 2008

5 Weeks

Today is my 5 week anniversary! Hooray! Oddly enough, it doesn't feel that significant. What am I waiting on, I wonder? Six weeks, or three months? Maybe 6 months, or a year? Two years, three years, or five years? I'm just wondering at what point I'll be impressed by my length of time as a non-smoker. I guess I'll find out, eventually.

I'm glad to report that I'm back into my job, full force. Those first 3 weeks I did extremely little at work. In fact, I did very little at all. I didn't even call a single friend in that time. It's odd, because most people reach out for support from friends and family, but I close in and try to deal with everything myself. I guess I have this persona I feel the need to maintain. It tells me that I must deal with these things myself, so that I can be a strong example for friends and family. I can't show emotion. I can't let them know I'm struggling. I smile and act like it's all fine.

This is a recurring theme. I did this for 5 years, while I raised children, worked and went to school full time without taking a single semester off, not even summer. People tell me they don't know how I did it. All I said was that, well, somehow I did it and I'm glad it's over. When I graduated, I had to work 210 miles away from my husband and children for 6 months. I would spend 8 hours a weekend driving so that I could see my kids. I never missed a weekend. By the end of the 6 months I was exhausted. But did I let anyone know? Of course not. Even when people offerred opportunites for me to let some emotion out ("I can't imagine how hard it is on you"), the reply they'd get from me was basically, "Yes, it is, but I manage."

These are the reasons that I'm so THANKFUL for this blog, the people who read it, and the support I get. I don't have to pretend. No one here knows me and I have no strong reputation to uphold. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for leaving your supportive comments. Thank you for writing the blogs that I read to get through my days as a non-smoker.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 33: Slowly Forgetting

I think that an entire day went by where I did not think about smoking, or not smoking. This is such a vast improvement. My cravings over the past few days have been minimal. I think this is the point where my blogs need to switch over to general life instead of smoking. That's probably why I haven't been writing as much, because there's not much to talk about, besides the fact that I'm not smoking.

So... the lease on our house is up at the end of May. My husband and I have been out of school for one year now. We needed to make a decision: do we try to buy a house now, or wait another year? We are very conservative about finances, and strive to live well below our means, so those considerations caused us to decide to wait a year. But then I started to talking to people I work with. A LOT of people, all in the same boat, out of college one year; and many of them are buying houses, or just bought a house. So, after talking to all of them, my husband and I decided to go for it.

I put in a few calls to lenders, and, presto! Funding secured, great rates, zero down. This is such a HUGE relief. 5 1/2 years ago I was a freshly divorced, single mother and struggling greatly with finances. I screwed my credit up BAD. The past couple years I've worked very hard to clean up my credit. It seems my efforts paid off, and that's a HUGE relief. I can't even explain how big of a relief it was. In my head, the hardest part of buying a house would be to find someone who approve us for a loan with decent terms. Also, the down payment thing. We save -- we fund retirement accounts, college savings accounts, our savings accounts -- but we live on my income alone, so the rate of savings isn't significant enough to put a down payment on a house. Yet it kills me to throw away $1250 a month on rent, when I could be building equity.

Now the hardest part is over. Let the fun begin! House shopping! We look at our first one tonight!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day (4 * 7) + 3

Wow, I can't believe it's been a week since I posted. I've been super busy with this project I'm working on.

Overall this is getting a lot easier. I have now been off the Chantix for about a week or so, maybe a bit longer. I do have more cravings now, but they aren't strong or hard, and the frequency has been less over the past day or so.

Thank goodness for friends, because I almost smoked Friday night! I knew I should have avoided the bar scene, but I really wanted a drink badly. It had been forever since I had been out with MY friends, so I really didn't want to turn it down. I thought I'd be okay, because no one from that group smokes. Well, some friends of friends showed up, and they smoked. So, after the tequilla shot, sex on the beach, irish car bomb and apple martini, I just didn't care! (imagine that). So I went in search of a smoke. I ALMOST had one, but then a friend saw what was happening and stepped in, with a loud "NO NO NO NO NO -- I DONT THINK SO ..." and I begged for a while, and she said no. And you COULD buy smokes at the bar, but I didn't want one enough to buy a pack. So, I relented and was fine the rest of the night.

I am feeling healthier and stronger and happier and more energetic. I cut 14 inches off my hair yesterday and I LOVE it. So, I'm doing pretty well. I'll write more often, I promise! Thanks for still checking in on me!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 23: Lovin' It!

In a previous post I mentioned how I wasn't ready to make the "mind shift" over to the benefits of not-smoking; I was still focusing all my energy on not smoking day to day. Well, I'm starting to like being a non-smoker. Actually, that right there is the first time I have called myself a "non-smoker." Up until now I've said "quitting smoking" -- even though it's been 24 days since I've had even a puff from a cigarette. But I think I'll follow the advice of Tracee -- no, I'm not writing all over my wrist, but I will start thinking and referring to myself as a non-smoker.

As a non-smoker I:

  • Am not decreasing my life span

  • Have more time to spend with the kids, both because I'm not slipping out for that smoke AND because I should be around longer for them

  • Can breathe better

  • Have more energy

  • Save money

  • Smell nice

  • Am not prematurely aging

  • Am not a plague to be avoided and stared at by children and glared at by adults

  • Like myself better

I know there are MANY more points than that, but there's a short list to get me started.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

3 Weeks, 1 Day: Feeling Awesome

I've passed the three week mark, and I'm really feeling a difference in my energy levels. I'm usually tired all the time. I've been trying to combat this with multivitamins and exersize. While those things have been helping, I've had an extra surge this past week or so. Suddenly I feel like doing things, instead of grudingly getting up from work, then going home and sitting on the couch until I force myself to get up and do something productive.

This morning, while I was putting on makeup, I noticed something odd: the spots under my eyes were BRIGHT. Now, I'm a red head and thus have the white white skin that loudly announces the circles under my eyes. And I always have circles under my eyes, no matter how refreshed or well rested I am. So what a nice change to notice brightness under my eyes instead of circles!

I'm attributing the extra energy & missing circles to quitting smoking; I can't think of anything else to attribute it to. I've been taking a vitamin every day for 6 months, and it hasn't helped me like this. I guess my body is feeling healthier. Have other people seen changes like this since quitting?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Day 20: Doing Great!

First of all I'd like to apologize about going AWOL this week, but I'm trying to make up for it by leaving an uncharistic weekend post. So, for those of you wondering if I stopped writing because I slipped -- nope! Still have not smoked.

I'm off Chantix. I have been since Thursday. At the end of last week (not yesterday, but the week before) I forgot to take my second pill. And then I found I didn't miss it. So, from Friday to Wednesday I only took one pill a day. Thursday I just didn't take it. I had them on hand, just in case (I still have them) but I've been fine. I know there will be concerns about going off it so soon, but really I don't like to be on medication. I feel like Chantix has served its purpose -- it got me through the hardest part: the first 2 weeks. If I start back now, no pill is going to keep me from doing that. And I have no desire to start back up.

I've been really busy at work this week which is why you haven't heard from me. The fact that I've been busy at work shows a vast improvement in my mental state since quitting smoking. In general I'm a very productive person. I work well and do it quickly. Normally. I've been feeling like I've been off my tracks these first two weeks. I think I figured out the problem, though. Most of the time I didn't WANT to smoke, but I did. The exception to that rule was when I was working hard. Basically, I love to code. So when I'm coding and feeling really good, I smoke, which increases the good feelings even more.

These last two weeks at work I've done extremely little. As little coding as possible. I had a big project to undertake this week, and I found myself afraid to start it. Afraid that it would make me miss my cigarettes even more. But I got into it, didn't stop, and really enjoyed the fact that I wasn't interrupting my routine for a smoke break.

I really do feel better this week. I am on the uphill climb!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Day 15: Two Weeks!

Hello. By now you've probably figured out that I'm bad about posting over the weekend. Sorry.

So, today is the 2 week milestone! I'm so psyched! I spend my time between 2 projects at work, projects A & B. Well, the middle of last week I switched over to project B, which I will be on for another couple months. Anyway, the woman who is the "client" is a total b*tch. To everyone. Today, for the first time since I moved over, she pulled one of her fits. And completely pissed me off. She IM'd me a nasty note. I knew I needed to calm down before replying, but HOW was the question. It was right then that I realized I had never had to cope with her without cigarettes before, lol. My normal solution would have been go downstairs, have a cig or two, then come back relaxed, less angry, more focused.

The good news is I that I did not want a cigarette. But I had to do something. So I walked around the floor and went to a coworker's cube, and chatted for a while. And you know what -- it worked!! That simple, and I felt so much better! I was able to come back and write a nice reply (no sarcastic undertones, just purely nice and apologetic) . She never replied back, but I didn't expect her to. The point was, I handled it. And I didn't even want to smoke!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Day 11: About Me

I can't believe I've made it so far! I see a lot of differences between the past few days and the first week not smoking. For the first few days my thoughts evolved around not smoking and not being able to smoke. Constantly. I don't know how many times each day I thought about it, it seems to have taken over my mind. That's not so true anymore. I think about it a couple times a day, but only in passing. My work day is flowing through without the smoke breaks. I've taken to walking around the 4th floor of the building instead of going outside. I'm just not thinking about it, and that's the big improvement at the moment.

I know the Chantix side effects are nothing compared to those of smoking. It's just that I'm not ready for a "benefit of not-smoking" frame of mind yet. I *know* the benefits of quitting, I *know* the harm it causes, but for the past 11 days I've been more focused on not being able to smoke, and overcoming each day as opposed to all the ways it will make my life better. My mind is starting to switch over, it just takes a little time ;-)

I realized that I have all these people reading my blog and cheering me on, but no one knows much about me, because all I've talked about is smoking and not smoking. So here goes:

I am 25 years old and live near St. Louis, MO. I work downtown (about 3 blocks from the arch) as an "Associate IT Analyst" -- which basically means I'm a computer programmer. I have 2 children, both girls, ages 7 and 4. I got married in July of 2007 to the father of the second child (we had the kid, lived together for over 5 years, just never sealed the deal till then). Although Alex is not technically the father of my oldest, you wouldn't be able to tell. The most major thing in my life at this moment is quitting smoking, but you already know that. Seeing as how I work full time and have two kids, free time isn't something I have much of. But when I do get an energizing moment, you'll probably find me playing the Sims 2 or DDR. You also might find me at the club, dancing my heart out (but I don't think I can handle the smokey clubs for a while yet).

So, that's me and my life in a nutshell.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Days 8, 9, & 10: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I apologize for the delay in posts. There was the holiday, and then yesterday I simply didn't feel like sitting at the computer on my day off.

Let me start by saying that I'm still smoke-free! But goodness, New Year's Eve was the hardest of them all. I came so close to smoking that I'm truely surprised I did not smoke. I thought I had to smoke, I was going to smoke. All it would have taken was for my husband to go, "What would be the harm of one?" and I would have been out in that garage. Thank God that when one of us is weak, the other is strong. Basically, I had worked all day (up since 5:30) and was tired. I had a very rough week with the quitting smoking. I was bored out of my skull and drinking, and, to top it all off, even though they were smoking outside, the smoke was coming in under the door to the garage. And, seeing as how we were at Alex's friends' house, I had no where to run and hide. Or anything else to do to avoid it. But somehow I did it. Yay me.

The Chantix gives me bouts of nausea all day and all night. It's starting to annoy me, but it's not terrible. As long as it doesn't make me throw up, or think I just might have to, then I guess I'm okay. And hey -- over $16 saved already! I don't really feel the financial benefit of it yet, but once I get through my first couple paychecks as a non-smoker, I bet I will.