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Archive for February, 2010

Oh, the horror…

When you walk into your child’s bedroom, the last thing you want to see is this:

Followed by this:

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And piles of this:

As you might imagine, there was some finger-pointing going on afterward. Nathan was the one who gave her the scissors. I am the one who keeps telling Autumn I’m going to get her hair cut if she doesn’t stop struggling every time I try to brush it. Neither of us were in the room when she did this. Obviously.

As far as hack jobs go, this one wasn’t so bad. Once we brushed the hair out and assessed the damage, it was apparent she only took the scissors to the front.

There is this goofy little sideburn she created on the right side of her head. We can tuck that behind the ear.

As you can see, we have some layering going on now. Even though this doesn’t look as horrific as I thought it would, a visit to the salon might be prudent just to clean things up.

Here’s what was cut off:

It looks like a lot, doesn’t it? At least the damage was minimal and we don’t have to send our kid out into the world looking like this:

Oh, and the hair isn’t the only thing she cut.

The scissors have been put away.

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Narratives

On the drive home yesterday I found myself telling Autumn stories about when I was a kid. I don’t remember the particular story that started it all, but as each story ended she begged for another, forcing me to search the recesses of my memory for something interesting.

One of the stories I told was how my brother and I would walk to school together in all sorts of weather and how, sometimes, I’d forget the house key and have to go next door to our neighbor’s house to borrow the spare.

My neighbor’s oldest son, who was forced to walk me to school before I was forced to walk my brother to school, did not like me. He did not like me knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell since his father worked the graveyard shift and was often sleeping in the afternoon. I was scared of him and only asked for the key if the weather was really bad.  Otherwise my brother and I would sit on the porch and wait an hour for my father to come home.

As Autumn and I pulled into the driveway, she asked a question that has popped up frequently these past few weeks.

“When am I going to have brothers and sisters?”

I have come to hate this question. I hate it because no answer ever seems to be the right answer. If I had the right answer she’d stop asking the question, right? But no. She has asked and asked again for something Nathan and I will not be giving her. She has expressed her desire for siblings to us and to her teachers and the guilt I feel for denying her that can be crippling.

This time, however, I decided to push the guilt aside and answer the question as I would any other.

“We’ve talked about this, honey. Daddy and I are not bringing home any more babies. You aren’t going to have any brothers or sisters.”

“But why?” she asked.

So I told her what I had told her before, that her daddy and I just wanted a small family and it is and always will be just the three of us.

“But I want brothers and sisters,” she said.

We were parked in the garage by then, so I turned around to look at her. “Why?  Why do you want brothers and sisters?”

“Because I don’t want to be lonely,” she said.

There it was. The guilt. It was coming back and trying to rip out my heart.  I’m not unfamiliar with the woes of only children. I know they can feel isolated and alone, but we’re talking about my child here, the one who makes friends wherever she goes. I do not see the threat of loneliness looming in her future.

“I don’t think you have to worry about being lonely,” I said.

“But who will sit with me if I get locked out of the house?” she asked.

Ah. So that’s what it was. My story had sparked some separation anxiety, so I told her we’ll make sure there’s always someone around to welcome her home.

I don’t know if she heard the answers this time. The question will come up again, but nothing I do short of providing a sibling will keep my daughter from feeling like a have-not in a world full of haves. Everyone she knows has a brother or a sister, even her parents, and I know how much it hurts to be told you’re not going to get what you want.

Our reasons for having just one child are complicated and she’s not going to understand them until she’s an adult. Maybe she’ll never understand. Maybe our reasons will seem petty and selfish and she’ll end up resenting us. Who knows?

I tried to soften the blow of the finality of my answer by telling Autumn she can have as large a family as she wants when she grows up. Maybe that’s how it works anyway. Your parents’ family planning subconsciously affects your own.  I didn’t have the best relationship with my brother, especially in our teen years, and it’s usually our worst moments that come to mind when I think of what I’ll be sparing Autumn by not adding to our brood.

But as I think of all the “good” stories from my childhood that I told yesterday, almost every one of them included my brother. So I know exactly what she will be missing, too.

Hello, guilt.

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Every time I get serious about weight loss I pose for the obligatory “before” photo. You know the one where you stand expressionless in front of the camera wearing the most unflattering ensemble in your wardrobe?  Yeah, that one. It’s meant to bolster your enthusiasm and remind you how far you’ve come, but what it really does is document one of the most miserable moments of your life; you at your heaviest weight ever.

This time I didn’t pose for that picture.  I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I never expected to get this far. I’d had so many stops and starts over the years and it had been ages since I’d lost more than 10 pounds.  I guess I just figured my enthusiasm and my resolve would wane during the holidays and I’d find myself right back where I started.

Ah, but I did not.

So here I am months later and I’m searching for a suitable “before” picture.  The problem with being the family shutterbug is there is very little photographic evidence of my existence outside of my driver’s license.  That’s usually how I like it, but at the moment it’s inconvenient.  I can feel the changes in my body, feel my clothes getting looser and I can even see the weight dropping from my face, but I’d kind of like to see how the whole package now compares to the whole package before.

Then I remembered a particular picture taken of me at BlogHer last summer.  Of the few photos I posed for during the conference, none was so hideous as this one:

Before Disclaimer #1: Had I known when I woke up that morning I’d be having my picture taken next to a giant bottle of Ragu, I would not have chosen to wear that orange shirt.

Disclaimer #2: Even though I am within five pounds of my heaviest weight ever in this picture, I’m far from miserable.  I think this was the second day of the conference and I was just really tired.  There’s no way I could be miserable having finally met Meg.

Sorry, Meg, but you’ve unwittingly earned a spot in my weight loss saga by being a part of my “before” picture.

Since I found that picture it was time to take the first progress photo. For that shot I entrusted my camera to my husband and flashed my best smile.

Can you tell the difference? I think I can. Granted my body is turned inward a little in the first photo and I’m not standing next to a giant bottle of Ragu in the second, but I think I can see a visible reduction of body mass in the second picture.

Rock on!

I was originally going to show you these pictures and finally reveal how much weight I’ve lost so far, but then I thought it would be more fun to use this information to my advantage and offer a little giveaway.

I don’t do giveaways very often so pay close attention. Here’s what you have to do.

You’ve seen the “before” picture and the current picture. What I’m asking is that you GUESS how much weight I’ve lost.  Don’t worry about guessing low and insulting me. This is all for fun and I promise your puny estimates will not offend.

The person who offers the most accurate guess will win an Amazon gift card equivalent to the number of pounds I’ve lost as of tomorrow’s weigh-in.

There is one catch, though. This contest is taking place entirely on Facebook.  This is a completely self-serving stipulation as I’ve just recently set up a page for the blog on Facebook.  Don’t judge. I’m giving away free shit.

Here be the rules:

  1. Become a fan of my blog on Facebook.
  2. Submit your entry with your best guess under the “discussion” section of my page. Right now there’s only one thread there so it should be easy enough to find.
  3. Only one entry per person.
  4. Your entry will only be valid if you are a fan at the time I select a winner.
  5. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to contact me to receive your prize.

In the event more than one person has submitted the most accurate guess, their entries will be numbered according to when they posted to the thread and I will then draw a winner using a random number generator.

The contest will remain open through Tuesday, March 2nd. The winner will be announced via a Facebook message to fans on Wednesday, March 3rd.

If you don’t have a Facebook account or if the Facebook stipulation of this contest doesn’t appeal to you, I can promise there will be another giveaway in the future in which entries can be submitted here in the comments section.  For this particular contest though, it’s all happening on Facebook.

Just to clarify, your guess needs to be as close as possible to my total pounds lost as of tomorrow’s weigh-in. Don’t be afraid to use decimals in your guessing. Weight Watchers scales display in increments of .2 pounds, and I will be reporting my total loss down to the last tenth.

Good luck!

In the interest of full disclosure, this giveaway is sponsored by none other than yours truly. Neither Amazon nor Weight Watchers have contributed and I have not been compensated for this post.

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Serial matrimony

It’s official. My father-in-law is getting married.

Again.

Nathan broke the news the other night. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who learned something from the second marriage. FIL and the wife-to-be want the family to attend the wedding this time. So instead of getting married in a parking lot in Ann Arbor (FIL and Terrie got married during half time at a U of M game), they have wisely decided to involve more than just their tight circle of friends.

They have unwisely decided Autumn would make the perfect little flower girl. More power to them, I say. I have no doubt she’ll adore whatever dress they pick out for her, but I can’t wait to see what happens the first time someone tries to touch her hair. Won’t that be fun?

Mommy will be amused.

Also? Autumn + audience = trouble. Shenanigans will ensue.

I’m going to put on my serious hat for a moment and say I have mixed feelings about this marriage. I am happy for my FIL because obviously the guy cannot survive on his own. We have vowed to be nice and not keep our distance for months at a time like we did when he was married to Terrie. We’re actually amused at how quickly he’s moved on. Again.

But I guess that’s also the problem. This marriage has become a punchline. Everyone I’ve talked to about it has busted a gut because it’s just. so. funny. that my FIL would be marrying again so quickly.

At least he’ll have waited six months this time. Last time he only waited four.

It’s hard for me to take the relationship seriously when my FIL chooses marriage over dating. It seems like just another social activity to him. He could be widowed a hundred times over and he would always wind up living with a new woman within two months of the last one’s death.

And really, why get married? Shouldn’t two people past the age of 60 be able to fool around without feeling obligated to stand in front of an official and bind themselves together for eternity?

Obviously I’m making these statements never having lost a spouse, so I don’t know for sure what I would do if I were widowed. I think I know myself well enough to know I’d be okay on my own. I do know I’d be a wreck for a long while. I’d be a single mom with a headstrong daughter and I’d be lonely as hell. If I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing with my kid now, I can’t imagine doing it all alone, but even then I also can’t imagine getting married again just to have someone take care of me.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: dareppi

I’ll let you in on a little secret; my marriage to Nathan is his third. He was married and divorced twice by the time he was 25. I jokingly say he married the other two women because he hadn’t met me yet, but it’s true. They were completely wrong for him and he never should have married them in the first place. I didn’t know either of them but I know they were wrong for him because he’s completely right for me.

Nathan reaches out when I draw back. He bites his tongue when I speak out of turn. He’s judgmental when I am neutral and we both indulge in a shameful level of geekery we seldom come across in others.

So my standards are high and I don’t anticipate ever lowering them. And when I tell people our marriage is Nathan’s third, I never say it’s my first because that implies there’s more than one in the cards for me. But honestly, I think I’ve found the one and only man in the world willing to put up with my shit.

And I intend to keep him.

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Determination

It’s been almost two years since I had surgery on my knee. I’ve recovered about 85% of my mobility and every day it gets easier to forget I spent the better part of 2008 hobbling around with a limp.

There’s still that 15% that reminds me I’m not completely whole. I have osteoarthritis in both knees.  I can’t get down on my hands and knees with ease and getting back up is just as difficult. Both of my knees click now and both ache constantly if I don’t take at least one naproxen (Aleve) every day. I’m trying to transition to taking glucosamine instead of naproxen, but a few days without the naproxen left my knees screaming. So naproxen it is for now.

If I’ve taken my naproxen I can ascend stairs like a normal person. That right there is a huge accomplishment. For a year and a half I was only able to take the steps one at at time. Step up with the right foot, bring the left foot up, step up again with the right foot, bring the left foot up. Now I can take one step with the right and the next step with the left. Sometimes I’m even able to do that while carrying a laundry basket and when I’m at work I will try to take some of the steps around campus without clinging to the railing.

Now that I’m exercising again, I’m starting to miss what my body used to be capable of. I used to be able to spend 45 minutes on an elliptical machine. I used to be able to run if I wore a very good sports bra and I used to be able to get down on the carpet with my daughter and play with her.

Lately I’ve been tempted to get back on the elliptical again. My orthopedist has told me the elliptical, as low impact an exercise as it is, still puts too much strain on my knees.  You need to stick to swimming, he says. Swimming with a paddle board using a straight leg kick.

Screw that.

I want to sweat. I want to feel my legs and heart pound after a workout. I want to soak my clothes with perspiration and wash the stink off me with a nice, hot shower afterward. Hell, sometimes I even want to run and I hate that I have these bum knees that limit my options.

I think it’s possible. Of course I don’t want to damage my knees further, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve done absolutely everything I’ve needed to do to become whole again. I haven’t been doing the isometric exercises my orthopedist prescribed to strengthen the muscles around the knee. They’re not hard exercises, just…boring, and until I start doing them and strengthen those muscles, I can’t go back to my orthopedist and ask him what we need to do to get me back on the elliptical.

I am, however, losing weight, and the more weight I take off my body, the more strain I take off my knees. So far I don’t feel it. I don’t feel as though my joints are under any less stress than they were four months ago. I think I’m going to have to lose a lot more before my knees start thanking me for my efforts.

Maybe my desire to get 100% of my pre-accident mobility back is born out of denial. My osteoarthritis is only going to get worse as I age and maybe I don’t want to admit there are things I’ll never be able to do again.

But maybe I’m a little bit like John Locke from “Lost.”

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

What I can do is lose the weight. And that’s a start.

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This is Ladybird, a.k.a. “Birdie.”

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Don’t let the soft fur and sad Mastiff eyes fool you. This dog is trouble.

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She has absolutely no respect for personal space.

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She’s been known to nibble fingers and sniff places you’d rather not have sniffed.

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She is, however, a pretty good dancer. With the right partner, that is.

She is also one of the reasons why we are missing Oklahoma.

When I would tell people I was leaving for Oklahoma the day after Christmas, they would all ask, “Oh, do you have family there?”  Apparently Oklahoma is the kind state one only visits if they have family there because no one asked if I had any awesome friends in that state.  Which I do, by the way.

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The pretty lady in the Longhorns sweatshirt is Meg, my dear friend who willingly put up with me and mine for a few days back in December. Her daughter Cambry is four days older than Autumn, and it was our experiences as new moms that first brought us together nearly four years ago.

The girls got along well. Sometimes.

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I guess they got along as well as two four year-olds who have no siblings and are suddenly forced to spend time together were able to get along.

Thankfully we had a Wii to keep them occupied.

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I hear playing Wii while wearing fairy wings brings the console to a whole new level. I’ll have to try that sometime.

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The grownups had other things to keep themselves occupied. Things like a brined roast turkey that traveled all the way down from Michigan.

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His name was Jack and we brined and roasted him after we arrived in Oklahoma. We named him Jack because Meg’s Christmas tree was named Toby. As if that makes any kind of sense.

We like to name things.

We also like to drink and made The Pioneer Woman’s sangria.

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Who needs a fancy glass jar with a spigot when you’ve got a home brew fermenter?

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Cheap wine + lots of fruit & flavored liquer = happy people.

Shortly after the sangria was mixed Amy joined us and we had a little BlogHer reunion.

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Can you believe Amy lived only 20 minutes from me and that evening was the first time I had gotten together with her since BlogHer? She just moved to Vegas and is challenging everyone’s notion of what can and cannot be accomplished with coupons in Sin City.

Her husband Gary is a trip. Seriously. Funniest.Guy. Ever. He came up with the name for the next big blogging conference.

Blog Y’all.

Our night with Amy, Meg and their families was magical. There’s really no other word to describe it. Meg’s sister, brother-in-law and niece joined us and we had the best night of laughs I’ve ever had. It’s kind of funny how things worked out. Meg found me through my blog and I found Amy through a message I posted looking for a roommate for BlogHer last year.  It turns out Amy and Gary both grew up not far from Meg’s family so the Okies had a lot to talk about that night.

And they also erected a Festivus pole.

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But the fun didn’t stop there. The next evening we went to Savastano’s Pizzeria in Tulsa for some deep dish and disco poses.

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Very nice napkins. Mommy needs to work on her composition.

The final day of our visit was spent at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

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“I am not amused. But I am native to Oklahoma lakes.”

We saw turtles doing whatever it is turtles do.

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Wait…um…

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Oh hey, STINGRAYS!

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The sharks were pretty killer.

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As was the shark cage. The people who get into these things are completely nuts.

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I rest my case.

The other day Autumn asked when we’re going back to Oklahoma.

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“Not for awhile,” I said.

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But what I should have said was, “Not soon enough.”

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Adventures in denim

A week before Christmas I was walking down the hall towards my bedroom when I tripped on the hem of my jeans and fell flat on my face.

The fall knocked the wind out of me and I struggled to cry out as pain radiated up and down the right side of my body, the side that had taken the brunt of the fall.  I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk and I worried I had injured my one relatively healthy knee.

Nathan rushed over to help me up, and as I slowly got my bearings I couldn’t help but laugh since the reason I’d tripped over my hem in the first place was because my jeans had become a little too big and and were constantly slipping down my hips.

A couple of weeks later I was at Meg’s house wearing a different pair of jeans, a pair that weren’t as comfortable as the loose-fitting jeans that nearly killed me.  They were a little bit tight, not as tight as they’d been when I bought them, but there was some definite constriction around the belly area that was uncomfortable when I sat down.  But still, they were looser than they were before, so I reveled in the victory by putting them on and sitting my butt down on the couch.  Thankfully I was wearing a long sweater that covered my belly as the denim ripped and spilled my granny panty-clad stomach out through the gaping hole.

I cursed under my breath as I got up from the couch and changed into the only other jeans I owned that fit, the Jeans of Peril that had caused my fall.  On our drive back home from Oklahoma, I tossed the ripped jeans into a waste bin in a Walmart parking lot, vowing never again to buy a pair of denim anything from Catherine’s. Every single pair of jeans or denim capris I’ve purchased from them have split in the exact same place.  Note to Catherine’s-if you’re going to make clothes for fat ladies, make sure they hold up. I’m just saying.

I should have bought new jeans after that, but I’m very cheap when it comes to clothes and figured I could wear the Jeans of Peril a little while longer.  I tried clipping folds of denim together with paper clamps.  When that didn’t work, I started wearing knit pants underneath. The knit pants didn’t keep the jeans from going south, but they did keep me from feeling a draft.

When the jeans started to actually fall off and puddle around my ankles as I ascended the stairs at home, I figured it was time to visit Lane Bryant.  I hadn’t been there for several years, not since before my pregnancy. Their clothes had gotten a little too trashy for my liking and at my heaviest I was too large for the largest size they sell in their store. I had often fantasized about not being able to shop at Lane Bryant anymore, but I never imagined it would be because I was too big.

Sadly my trip to Lane Bryant did not yield a new pair of jeans.  Lane Bryant has complicated the jeans-buying process by changing their sizing system and color coding their stock based on body type.  I learned I was a Red but that I am still several pounds away from being an 8 or 9 or whatever size the clerk handed over before ushering me into the dressing room.  And of course they didn’t have the size the clerk suspected would fit me.

This past Friday I finally decided to retire the Jeans of Peril. I wore them to work with knit pants underneath, but at the end of the day as I walked out of the building towards the parking lot, I could feel the jeans slowly slip down my hips with each step. I prayed they would stay up long enough for me to get to my car and promised myself I’d forgo Jean Friday until I had a suitable replacement pair that wouldn’t require constant hiking and tugging.

I stuck out my stomach as far as it could go and tried not to make any sudden movements that would push the jeans past the point of no return. As I passed a car stopped at the crosswalk, I dropped a bag on the pavement and quickly bent over to retrive it.  Please, God, I thought, please just let me make it to my car.

I suppose this story would be pretty awesome if it ended with me dropping trou in front of a Nissan, but luck was on my side. I made it to my car without incident, gave my waistband a vicious tug and swore that would be the last time I wore the Jeans of Peril to work. Or perhaps ever.

Epilogue: Sunday night Nathan and I were in the bedroom and I held the Jeans of Peril up in front of me.  “I’m afraid it’s the end for these,” I said and folded them up.  I stuffed them into my closet and pulled out three pair of jeans that hadn’t seen daylight in several years. I tried on one pair and was surprised to be able to get them up over my hips.  I could just barely get them buttoned but couldn’t get them zipped.

“Thirty more pounds,” I said to Nathan.

“Thirty? More like ten,” he replied.

Ah, such a dreamer, that guy. “Nope. Thirty,” I said and folded the jeans back up.  The next pair were impossibly small and I didn’t even try to get a leg in.  The last pair, however, showed promise. They were very worn, so much so that I could see light peeking through the fabric in some places.  A seam had started to unravel on one side, but as I slipped the denim up over my hips, fastened the button and zipped them up, I felt a thrill one can only feel when shopping in her own closet.

“They’re perfect,” I said, remembering why I had stopped wearing them. They had become uncomfortable because I was getting bigger and I was afraid I would eventually burst out of them like a sausage kept too long on the stove.

“Well,” I said, “I hope these hold up for the next 30 pounds.”

“Ten,” said my husband

“Twenty-five. Maybe,” I said.

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