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Archive for January, 2010

A couple of months ago I downloaded a silly little app for my iPod Touch called Period Tracker and it does just what the title implies. My cycles were never regular before I went on The Pill and they haven’t been regular since I went off it three years ago.  The irregularity has made for some unpleasant surprises over the years, the most memorable of which was walking up and down the Vegas strip and returning to our room at the Tropicana, expecting to take advantage of the mirror over the bed and instead heading back down the strip to Walgreens for some tampons.

As surprises go, that one served a very important purpose in the months to come because I was able to tell my OB with absolute certainty the start date of the last period before I got pregnant.

Since I was going to be traveling again, I decided to be proactive and download P Tracker (as it is so discretely displayed on my Touch) to help me get a handle on what my body does and when.  And according to that little program, I was due to start my most recent cycle the day we returned from our trip to Oklahoma.

The thing about the app is that even though its purpose is to track your cycles, you already should have a good idea how far apart they are in order to project your start date as accurately as possible.  Since I did not, I used the default setting of 28 days.

So my projected start date came and went. No big deal since I thought it was pretty early in the month for things to commence anyway. Even though I didn’t have the actual number of days between cycles nailed down, I did know it usually happened closer to the middle of the month and not the beginning.

But then a week passed and Nathan started asking questions.  He is, perhaps, more vigilant about tracking my cycles than I am and paid close attention to what P Tracker was telling us.  He asked if I was worried, which I was not.

Then ten days went by. Then twelve.

And then I started thinking about babies and how Marla’s sister has a friend whose husband had a vasectomy and still managed to knock her up. It happens.  It’s rare, but it does happen.

And I actually told Nathan it wouldn’t be bad if we have another child now, especially since Autumn might be starting kindergarten in the fall leaving us able to pay for daycare for a second child.  And sure, we’ve sold every bit of baby gear we ever owned, but we could be more conservative this time and not buy half the crap we bought for Autumn.

I had it all sorted out in my head, but as I was entertaining fantasies of a surprise pregnancy, my body had its own plans and I could feel it was only a matter of time before the floodgates opened. And sure enough, on day 13 I was back to being just another cranky woman on the rag.

I was relieved. I didn’t really want to be pregnant again.  Not right now. I’ve been doing very well on Weight Watchers, but I’m still heavier than I was the day I gave birth to Autumn.

But if the weight wasn’t an issue, I don’t think I would have minded being pregnant at all.

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Early morning, rough morning

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On Friday there is no staggered schedule so we all had to get up early.

As you can see, that really sucks.

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A rude awakening

About a year ago I re-joined Weight Watchers. Actually I think I just resumed meetings after having farted around for several months. It’s very easy to fart around on Weight Watchers, especially if you pay for a monthly pass and decide not to weigh in for weeks at a time. Weight Watchers will happily take your money whether you’re following the program or not, and for most of 2008 and 2009 I was not.

Then in mid-October of last year I had a dream that prompted me to turn things around.  In the dream I was sitting in a brightly lit doctor’s office being told I’d been approved for bariatric surgery. That’s all I remember about the dream. That and the crushing disappointment I felt upon waking up in my own dark bedroom.

The thing is I didn’t even want bariatric surgery.  I’d looked into the option in late 2008 and actually initiated the pre-approval stages of the process, but after a few months and a few bills from my doctor (because my insurance does not cover weight loss initiatives of any kind), I decided to scrap that plan. I’d just had knee surgery a few months before and wasn’t looking forward to going into the hospital again any time soon.

So I woke up and felt disappointed, not because I wasn’t getting the surgery but because I had lost that euphoric sense of relief and hope I’d gained from hearing my obesity would finally be addressed.  Gone was the feeling of a huge albatross being flung away after so many years.  The weight wasn’t going to come off in my dreams and it appeared as though it wasn’t going to come off in reality, either.

Thankfully I decided to tell that pessimistic little voice to piss off.  A week and a half later I was back at my local Weight Watchers center because I wanted to feel that hope again.  Surgery wasn’t my only option and in spite of so many false starts throughout the year, I did feel hope as I stepped on the scale again.  I hadn’t weighed myself in eight weeks and was prepared for an introduction to my highest. weight. ever.  And while I did hit that unpleasant milestone, I was only two pounds heavier than I was at my last weigh-in.

Getting started again was hard. It’s always hard to look at your problems and decide to deal with them.  I take comfort in food.  I eat my stress and my anxiety and I enjoy a very sedentary lifestyle.  I hate being accountable for everything I eat and my body is no longer a vessel built for physical activity.  I have arthritic knees, a sore back when I stand for more than five minutes and I can’t find a pair of jeans that fit to save my life.

But I do have the hope, and I’d take that over a good pair of jeans any day.

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So far the week on the new schedule is going smoothly. We had a hiccup on Monday when Autumn had a meltdown as we arrived at her school. One second she was fine and the next she was on the floor refusing to step through the door. I literally had to drag her into the school while she screamed.  The director, whose office was in close proximity to this spectacle, waved me off and told me she’d take care of Autumn if I had to go.  And so I left my child screaming in the doorway, wondering why I had chosen to sacrifice my time when she had obviously not reaped any benefit from sleeping in.

After I’d had a chance to think about things, I realized this was a change for Autumn, too.  She’s usually one of the first children at the school every morning, but now she arrives in media res and finds things have started without her.  The nearly empty school is now full of children and I think she experienced a moment of stage fright. It happens to even to the most outgoing of drama queens, I guess.

Happily Monday’s incident was not repeated yesterday or today and we’re starting to get into a groove with our morning routine.  The extra hour has been wonderful, especially since I’ve taken advantage of the time to get some exercise in.  I’ve also found a surefire way to wake Autumn without having to actually go into her room and pull the covers off of her. I simply put on Spongebob Squrepants.

The Pants, they are magic.  Just a few bars of that twangy little soundtrack will wake my daughter out of the deepest sleep.  Monday and Tuesday she stumbled out into the living room saying, “Hey, what’s going on here?” only to fall into a catatonic state at the sound of Spongebob’s tinny little laugh. She’s seen every episode a dozen times and yet she still finds the little yellow dude as appealing as she did the first time we happened upon him on Nickelodeon all those years ago.

There is a downside to using Spongebob as an alarm clock and that is he has an adverse effect on Autumn’s motor skills.  She eats slower when she’s watching the show and it took half a dozen requests to get her to put her shoes on this morning.  The simplest of tasks take twice as long when The Pants are on, so I may have to wean her off the show or find a less seductive alternative.

But today we arrived at school with several minutes to spare, which in turn put me at my desk before my scheduled start time.  That hasn’t happened in a long time and I can’t remember when I last plopped down at my desk feeling relaxed and ready to tackle the ever present mountain of paperwork.

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Recently the internet had a coming out day or delurking day or something like that. I was alerted to the fact via Twitter and decided to do nothing about it because apathy was so much easier than sitting in a cold basement trying to think of a clever post that would elicit comments.  I like comments, but I don’t live for them and if you feel safer on the other side of your browser or feed reader who am I to say you have to make yourself known? Do you know how many blogs I read but never comment on?  Yeah, either do I, but it’s a lot.

In spite of my non-participation during National Delurking Day, I did realize, after it had passed, that it provided an excellent way for me to broach a subject I’ve been wanting to write about for weeks but have avoided because:

a)     I’m lazy.
b)    I’m a busy person (like you’re not, right?).
c)     Believe it or not there are some things I don’t like to share.
d)    It has the potential to change the direction of this blog.

We’re talking about my weight here.  Wait, you all know I’m fat, right?  I just wanted to put that out there so we’re on the same page because there’s only so much you can see in that smokin’ head shot in the sidebar.  I am fat and I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life.  It’s not a subject I write about much because this space started out as a parenting blog and there never seemed to be much room for discussion about obesity.  Or rather, I didn’t want to make room for it.

So no, I didn’t like to write about obesity here, but I figured at some point I might want to start writing about it somewhere and set up a blog last summer for that purpose. Remember when I said I was going to quit this blog?  Well the new blog was where I was going to go until I decided I didn’t want to take the time to figure out a brand new blog design and cultivate a brand new blog audience.

Did I mention I’m lazy?  And busy?

But what does this have to do with delurking, you say?  Well let me introduce you to someone who’s been hiding for many, many years:

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This is Heather circa 1992.  This 20 year-old is a bright, cheery young woman who knows nothing about mortgage payments, unfulfilled dreams or feeling like a shitty mother. She thinks she knows what it’s like to be trapped in an unsatisfying job, but she’s a fool.  This Heather is an optimist and is certain something FABULOUS is waiting for her right around the corner.  This Heather, in spite of her unfortunate perm and early ‘90s fashion sense, is beautiful and happy.  And she has only one chin.

I miss this Heather, mostly because I know I’ll never see her again.  This photo was taken the year she lost 50 pounds, quit school and caught the eye of a certain alcoholic co-worker (you go, girl!).  The person she was back then saw potential and possibilities everywhere, but she was also insecure and horribly lost.  She’d also been known to crush on gay men obsessed with Madonna.

I also miss her because she’s half the size of this Heather:

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This is Heather circa 2009 and she’s only slightly more put together than her 1992 counterpart.  She’s not unhappy, but she still doesn’t know where she’s going and is certainly not the optimist she was when Clinton took office. She’s been hurt, both physically and emotionally, and has labored in an unrewarding job for eight years.  She’s known depression, unrelenting stress and insecurity when it comes to her parenting skills.  But time has given her as much as it’s taken away and she has developed an honest, outspoken nature that serves her well as much as it gets her into trouble.  This Heather does not care so much about looking good as she does about feeling good.   Makeup be damned, she’ll go to the grocery store wearing purple velour stretch pants with a hole in the butt if that’s the more comfortable option.  And it usually is.

I know for a fact 1992 Heather would have been horrified to meet her 2009 self.  Everything about 2009 Heather would have repulsed her; that she was still living in the same town, that she was working in some clerical job instead of being a writer and that she had gained so much weight she didn’t even look like the same person anymore.  She would have run away as fast as possible screaming, “That’s not me! That can’t be me!”

The thing 1992 Heather wouldn’t know is that 2009 Heather is pretty awesome. She’s funny and has a quick wit.  She graduated from college in 2001 while married and working full-time at a factory.  A few years after that she had a beautiful, perfect little baby.  She’s a wife, a mother and an aunt and has found friends in unexpected places.  But like so many other people, 1992 Heather wouldn’t take the time to know any of these things about 2009 Heather because she wouldn’t be able to see past the fat.

And you know what?  I’m really tired of the fat being my defining characteristic.

So in a move that’s ironic considering the above statement, I’m going to start writing about the fat.  I’m going to start writing about what it was like growing up as a large child, what it was like being an overweight teenager and what it’s now like as an obese parent.  I’m going to discuss all of this while I try to take off the weight.  As fabulous as I am, I’d still like to be able to buy clothes off the rack.

I hope those of you who read this blog will continue to do so. I’ll still write about what I’ve always written about, but I’m tired of pretending the weight doesn’t matter. It has always mattered and it will always matter.

It’s 2010. I turn 40 in less than two years and I’d really like to see if there’s any part of that 20 year-old left in me.

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On Christmas Eve I was running around on some last minute errands for the holidays when Nathan called me on my cell.

“Um, you received a letter…” he said.

Oh crap. When he starts sentences like that it’s never good. You received a letter about the bill you forgot to pay and they’re going to shut off our water. You received a letter from Comcast about illegally downloading episodes of Spongebob Squarepants. You know, BAD news.

But then he continued.  “You won the Paula Deen contest,” to which I replied, “Huh?”  I did not remember entering a contest involving Paula Deen, but I fill out a lot of forms on the internet in order to print off coupons.  This particular contest was sponsored by Smithfield meats and Meijer and I vaguely remembered seeing Paula’s face on the Meijer website once upon a time, though I couldn’t be sure.  Anyway, the letter stated I won an opportunity to see Paula in person during a local appearance at the Frederick Meijer Gardens.  I’d get a free cookbook out of the deal, get it signed by Paula and get to see her cook.

And since I was stressed out about the holidays and my upcoming trip to Oklahoma, this was happy, happy news.  It seemed my streak of good luck had not ended with winning the Johnson & Johnson sponsorship for BlogHer.  And here I was thinking I’d be a loser for at least another decade.

And guess what?  My mom won too, though neither of us can remember entering ourselves or the other in the Paula Deen contest.  Where I like to fill out forms online, Mom likes to fill out forms at every kiosk in the grocery store.  And both our names were drawn. Go figure.

The Paula Deen appearance was this past Thursday.  I brought my friend Marla, a huge Paula Deen fan, and my mom brought her best friend Marge, who prefers Bobby Flay, and the four of us had a blast.  We arrived at the venue just before it’s start time of 6:00. The line was very long, almost out the door, and the night was freezing cold and windy.  Thankfully things moved pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before we were inside and had pretty things to look at:

And it wasn’t long before we spotted the table where Paula and her husband Michael were signing books.

See, there’s Michael looking very much like Santa Claus.

And just above where Paula and Michael were sitting was this chandelier sculpted by Dale Chihuly.

I was quite taken with this thing. Absolutely gorgeous.

Hey, we’re getting closer.  I can see Paula now.

The dude in the striped sweater seemed to be her handler or something. He hovered around Paula most of the night and had an impatient air about him. That’s a nice way of saying he seemed like a douchebag. But that’s just my observation.

Seriously, this thing is THE SHIT.

Oh hey, we’re at the table. I handed Striped Sweater my cookbooks and he very efficiently stacked them and slid them over to Paula.

Paula looked up at me and smiled. “Wow, that’s a serious camera!” she said, to which I replied, “Yes, it is.” And that was the extent of my interaction with her, though she very graciously agreed to pose for me when I asked if I could take her picture.

Beautiful, no? Let’s hope we can all look this good when we’re 63.

After I got my book signed, I had a moment of camera geekery with the event photographer who eyed my SB800 while I drooled over her D5000. Then we went into the auditorium where a Smithfield coupon and the night’s recipes were waiting for us in our seats.

And of course I was all, “Ooh! Coupon!”

About a half hour later Paula took the stage…

…larger than life, asking us if we preferred to be called “yankees” or “midwesterners.”

Michael joined her and the two of them whooped it up. They were the perfect comedy team.

And there was some business about cooking. They prepared some fancy grits and a Gooey Butter Cake.

“Yall put WHAT in your grits?”

Um, maple syrup, ma’am?

Once the grits were cooked, Paula plated them up and, of course, added more butter to them saying, “If they ain’t good enough for me, they ain’t good enough for ‘yall.”  And look there’s Striped Sweater again.  Here he’s waiving his fingers at Paula to get her to pass him the plate to give to the audience.

But we all did not get to try the grits because they were short on spoons, and by the time the plate with the one spoon made it to our row, we politely declined our taste of Paula’s cooking. Which is a shame because I wound up getting sick this weekend anyway.

I did, however make the Gooey Butter Cake that evening when I got home and brought it to work the next morning. Two sticks of butter in that dish, y’all, but it was so worth it.

So that was it.  She cooked, she talked, we laughed, we left.  But the greatest thing about Palua’s appearance in West Michigan was not what she did that evening but rather what she did that morning. She and Smithfield brought in 150,000 meals for a local food bank.  Thankfully for her and for us, she did not get hit in the face with a ham this time.

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Can you guess who I met last night?

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Details to follow shortly. And by shortly I mean later today or tomorrow.

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