Sunday, July 26, 2009

We Are All Looking For The Magic Bullet

Weight loss is just hard. I don’t care if you are 20 lbs. overweight or 200 lbs. over, losing weight takes effort, sacrifice, and time. We want it to be simple, some easy answer we have not thought of, a Magic Bullet if you will. The only Magic Bullet I know As Seen On TVof is the blender pictured at right, as seen on TV.

I have long struggled with my weight but only recently has my weight been a problem for me. I was average size in high school. I have never been made fun of or been called names because of my weight until the Redneck in the Red Truck chased me. I was never stopped from doing anything because of my weight and my husband loved my curves. I never minded being overweight and spent a lot of time trying to show the world that fat does not mean lazy, stupid, or ugly.

I lost weight – I’ve lost 50 pounds at least 3 separate times through low fat eating or Weight Watchers and exercise. Then I got older. My blood pressure became elevated and I hate taking medication. Losing the fat got harder.

Last year I was going to Curves at least 3 days a week and going to Weight Watchers. I would gain a pound, lose a pound and at the end of 6 months, I was right where I had started . . . . . fat. So I gave up. And instantly . . . really . . . like in 4 weeks . . . I gained 20 pounds, putting me at my highest weight yet and NO, I won’t tell you what it is.

And my knees bother me. And I have no energy. I have always been big but I have never felt FAT until now. Where did these lumps come from? And what is that hanging under my upper arms? I was looking at a photo of me on the beach where I am sitting on the sand with my legs straight out to each side. I look like a six month old looks when you plop them down on the floor with all the requisite rolls of fat and splayed out legs holding them up. Ewwwwwwwww!

So it’s time. I have to do this again and I want to do it. But I have to do it my way this time. Weight Watchers has always worked well for me and it is an excellent program but I have to do something different. Armed with the knowledge I have gained from various diet programs that have worked for me, some recipes for desperate times, and my Magic Bullet blender I think I can do this. My kids are onboard and we could all eat healthier anyway. And for anyone that has ever seen the show Ruby on the Style Network, she is such an inspiration for anyone that is trying to lose weight. If she can do it, I can too.

I have done a lot of soul searching to understand the way my brain works in these situations. Losing weight is all really mental anyway. I know that I can’t set goals like most experts suggest – I just don’t work well with goals. My goal is to lose weight until I’m satisfied and healthy. I will not weigh myself until I can see a huge difference in my clothes – weight is all about a number and I can’t get hung up on numbers. And exercise is something I will work up to and get in different ways. I have always hated “exercise” but I love athletic games, hiking, and being active but I have not been getting out of the house a lot lately. Again, no set goals like 30 minutes, 3 times a week. I will just focus on getting some movement and activity in every day and not sitting in front of the TV or computer.

So now, my journey begins. I’m sure I will keep you posted on how it’s going.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009


mother and child

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new."

It doesn’t matter how old your children are, you are still their mother. As they grow older, it gets easier but some things never change. Like when they are sick, they need you.

My daughter was fighting off a virus most of the week. On Friday night, I had an appointment and my daughter met me afterwards so we could get some dinner. She was sluggish but wanted to go out to eat so we got into my car and left her car parked.

As I drove, I made some suggestions and her lukewarm reaction told me to keep going. We passed several restaurants and she again made it clear they were not options. After driving for about 10 minutes, she began whining and said “Can we just go home?”

So as a mom, I turned the car around. My stomach was growling and I suggested that I would call someplace and pick up an order. Again, whining. “Mom, I think I’m going to throw up.” I asked if she needed me to pull over and she said yes.

We were driving on a fairly busy road so my plan was to turn at the next street and when I did, there wasn’t really a place to pull over. As I pulled into a parking lot, she covered her mouth. I pulled over quickly and told her to open the door. She had one hand over her mouth and one on the door and she was gagging. I told her again to open the door. Why wasn’t she opening the door?

I quickly found out. Being the wonderful Mom that I am, I forgot to put the car in park so the doors would unlock. She couldn’t get the door open and then it was too late. The term “blowing chunks” became quite clear to me visually and there was evidence of it all over the passenger side window. And all over the seat, her clothes, the dashboard and the door.

All of my worst experiences in motherhood can be lumped into one category – puke. My son has given me many experiences in this area, stories for another day. The picture above is of a statue my mother gave me when I was 21. It embodies motherhood for me, the look of joy on the mother’s and the child’s face. But reality is, the baby is at the perfect angle to puke right on the mom. It probably happened right after they posed for this sculpture.

My daughter was fine. She stripped down, cleaned off herself and the door, wrapped a towel around herself and we headed home where she crawled into bed and slept for about 14 hours.

I spent the evening reminding myself that motherhood is a wild and wonderful ride.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Family is Family

Andie, Josh, and TajMeet my family. At left is my youngest sister Andie. We all attended her wedding this past weekend to her man Josh. With them is Andie’s son Taj who is six.IMG_7037_1064_18 On the right is a photo of my sister Mickey, new brother-in-law Josh, my brother Chip, and my Dad. We were all enjoying the reception.

We LOOK like a normal family.

When I was younger, I thought we were an average family, pretty much like all other families. But as I grew older, I learned the truth. Not that we were crazy dysfunctional or anything – that would kind of be normal. We just did things differently than most families and we have very strong personalities in our family.

My mom was a calm, steadying force in our family. But mom was also one that encouraged creativity, exploration, and individuality. She was all of those things herself. And that is what we have – four children with four distinctly different personalities. Put us together and you never know what you will get. Usually you get a really good story to tell later.

My youngest sister, Andie, has led the most interesting life. She is much younger than the rest of us - I am the oldest and Andie was born when I was in college. Without going into all the stories of her life, I will say that she lives her life on her own terms, doesn’t really care what others think, and she is one of the smartest people I know. That’s just the way she handled her wedding.

Andie and Josh stood in a circle of crystals and stones under a huge tree in a butterfly garden at Balboa Park in San Diego. Andie wore a necklace that contained our mom’s ashes in the form of a butterfly. They combined their family faith traditions using a Celtic handfasting ceremony and a Jewish breaking of the glass at the end of the ceremony. Mazel tov!

Participating in the ceremony were the 2 children that were born of eggs that Andie donated to a gay couple. Each man has a biological child of their own, created with Andie’s eggs. They are the most beautiful children and their dad’s are wonderful amazing men that I consider part of my family. It was interesting to compare genetic traits and to see where they come from. And I love that Andie, Josh, and Taj have a close relationship to their family. My mom would have loved to have known them all.

Andie’s friends were so welcoming and friendly and intensely loyal to her. Some people would call them hippies – I know I do – but in a good way. There are lots of dreadlocks, hemp, and patchouli – how can you not call them hippies? But I would rather spend those hours with open, honest, friendly, non-judgemental hippies any day. We had a great time at the reception. Of course the reception was vegetarian and vegan so some of us were looking for a steak about 7 o’clock but everything tasted really good, great music and dancing, lots of fun.

I shared some of the stories from the wedding with a co-worker upon my return. He kept saying “Really? Really?? REALLY???” Then he told me I had one of the most bizarre families. I said “Yes, yes I do”.

And there was so much more that I didn’t tell, to him or here in this post. Those are stories for another day.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Quest for Mennonite Bread

My friend Rose and I went with some friends on a scrapbook weekend retreat last fall in Crossville, Tennessee. While there, a group of us went to a nearby country store run by members of the Mennonite Community where they have the most wonderful bread and home baked goods and cheeses. Many conversations since then have included the bread we had that day and we have said that we just need to go and find that store again. But neither Rose nor I could remember the name of it.

On the 4th of July, Rose and her husband were in the vicinity of Crossville and looking for the store. She called me to see if I could remember the name. I could not but my daughter looked it up on her phone and found Muddy Pond General Store. That didn't really match mine or Rose's memory of the store but hey, it was the only listing for a Mennonite Store around Crossville so that must be it, right? Rose and her husband went looking but before they found it, some locals told her they were closed for the holiday. Ahhhhhh, no bread for you.

Since then, I have been thinking about that bread. Since I had to go to Nashville today, I thought it would be a good chance to stop by on my way back. I looked up the address online and saved it in my GPS. The description still didn't sound like the store we went to but again, Mennonite store, Crossville, how many could there be? It probably wouldn't be open when I was on my way back from Nashville but at least I could find it and we would know where it was, right?

Heading back from Nashville, I took the exit indicated on the GPS and wound down the curvy roads of little Monterey, Tennessee. I turned, I turned again. Down another country road to Muddy Pond Rd. Then Glenda, the GPS lady said "Arriving at destination, on left". I looked to the left . . . nothing but trees. I looked to the right . . . nothing but a huge open field. I went a little further. Nothing for miles.

Not wanting to tempt fate and not having the slightest idea where I was in deliverance country, I punched "HOME" on the GPS. Glenda said "In 1.2 miles, turn right". I would just head home and save this adventure for another day. Glenda was talking to me again. She was telling me to turn right. Ummmmmm, all I see is a gravel road but on the GPS it is very well laid out. Maybe Glenda is taking me on a short cut to a main road. I trusted Glenda and headed down the gravel road.

The gravel road was very long but every curve and turn was showing on the GPS screen. I've seen stranger things so I kept going. Then Glenda betrayed me. The gravel road became a dirt road all of a sudden and I was on it. I call it a dirt road but it was more like two dirt tire tracks with a patch of grass between them. I was looking for a place to turn around. There wasn't one. Ahead of me was big puddles of water. NO WAY was I going through that. I will just turn around here thank you very much.

I backed up and turned the wheels, running across fallen brances and brush then turned the wheels back the other way and pulled forward. Back and then forward, back and then forward, turning a little more each time and crunching the fallen tree limbs and sticker bushes behind me. Then, all of a sudden, the front tires were spinning and mud was flying up all over my windsheild. I cut the tires and backed up. Mud sprayed down the driver side of my car. I said my curse words that cannot be written here. I was stuck. Sideways on a dirt road.

I am very lucky to have a company car with great roadside assistance included. The problem was . . . what t road was I on and in what city? They might need to know that. Glenda, the GPS lady says I am on Low Gap Lane but am I in Monterey or Crossville or Muddy Pond or some other hole in the wall? I explained my confusion to the road side assistance guy who probably wondered why anyone that would follow a GPS down a dirt road could be expected to know what road they were on. But he found me a tow truck and said they would be there within an hour.

Tim, the owner/operator of Norrad's Garage in Monterey, showed up within 30 minutes. He looked at me, looked at the car and I know he wanted to laugh but he just shook his head. He said "Well, we can't pull you forward and we can't pull you back, hmmmmmmm." As far as I was concerned he could hook up under the side of the car and pull it out by the axle or the door frame but just get me out of here. He assessed some more and then starting hooking up cables and straps. "We are going to drag the front out sideways". Uhhhhh huh.

So I got in, put it in neutral and followed his directions - Foot on the brake, let off and turn the wheels to the right, hold up, turn the wheels to the left, hold on, foot on the brake again. And he dragged the front across and through the mud, turning it 45 degrees and straight back onto the road. I was smiling, he was smiling. Yay. If you are ever stuck in the mud near Monterey, Tennessee you should call Tim!

After I followed Tim out to a paved road, I decided to trust Glenda to get me out of there. She turned me down a couple of windy narrow country roads and then said "Turn right onto Hwy -62". I can't say I have ever been happy to see paint down the middle of concrete before but I knew when I saw those two painted yellow lines that it was leading me to civilization.

I called my friend Rose and asked her to remind me that the bread really was worth all this. I shared my story while she rolled on the floor laughing. Then about 30 minutes later she sent me a text saying she found the name of the store and it's address and Muddy Pond General Store was not even the right one. REALLY!!!!!!

So I am still on a quest to find the store and get some Mennonite bread. But not anytime soon.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Vacation Conversations

Every year, my family, along with my friend Robin and her family venture off on a joint vacation to the beach. While this started very small, as a girl's weekend away, it has evolved into a larger gathering that includes friends of children and significant others.

Our requirements for accommodations have evolved also. We require a house due to the number of people. And now . . . after various experiences . . . we require a house ON the beach. Right on the beach. Not a cheap proposition.

This year's trip came close to not happening. About a month ago, Robin's boyfriend of 5 years, Matt, had a motorcycle accident and broke his clavicle. Then two weeks later he fell, re-breaking it, requiring surgery to repair the damage. The next day he notified his employer of the need for surgery and that afternoon they called to tell him he was laid off. There was quite a lot of drama swirling around this trip, money issues, emotional outbursts and such. But, in the end, we were able to work it out and everyone piled into the vehicles and we started out on the 9 hour drive.

As we arrived, this was the conversation:

Them: There is nothing around here.
Me: Exactly!
Them: It's like 6 miles from the back door to the beach.
Me: Wow, that's a lot farther than it looked in the picture.
Them: Cool, we can build a fire on the beach at night!

And they did just that. And during the evening around the fire, the mosquitoes were horrible, biting feet and ankles the whole time. We vowed to get bug spray the next day. Except that the bites were horrible during the night and why did they only bite around the ankles and feet? Robin's boyfriend and my daughter's boyfriend's feet swelled up due to the number of bites and itching. My daughter got on the internet. Sand fleas? Or Yellow Biting Flies? Either way, we might be in hell. Baking soda and water, a locally recommended anti-septic, and leaving socks and shoes on at night were the solution but the bites and itching lasted all week.

We have to have a canopy on the beach. Some of us, those with Irish ancestry, cannot take the direct sun for long periods. And some of us, those who take medication, simply burn right through the 50 spf sunscreen. We have been borrowing other people's shade canopies for the last few years but I decided to splurge and buy one this year. A good one. Good ones cost money. But it would be worth it.

We enjoyed the canopy. Lots of space, great shade. The second night, the wind got a little rough and turned the canopy over. The boys caught it and set it upright, not noticing that there seemed to be some damage to one of the supports. And also not thinking to put the stakes in so that wouldn't happen again. The next morning, Robin, my daughter, and I headed for the beach and noticed that the tent was sagging a little on one side. As we examined it, we found that one of the supports was bent. My daughter pushed on it. It snapped. Ummmmmmmm, really? $200 and this is what I get? We got some packing tape and rigged the side back together but it was obvious that it would not last.

Later that afternoon, the wind picked up. Then it picked up some more. We were surprised by a gust of wind that picked up the canopy, turned it over and danced it down the beach. It looked like a gymnast doing floor exercises during the Olympics. It flipped and rolled at least 10 times, followed by us and some of our neighbors yelling and chasing after it. When we finally got it stopped, it was a tangled, twisted mess, suitable only for the dumpster, to which we quickly dragged it. My conversation:

Me: Really??? Did that really just happen to my $200 canopy? The one that was supposed to last 10 years?
Them: We really should have put the stakes in it.
Me: You think? I have to have a canopy.
The Neighbor Guy: We got ours for $70 at Piggly Wiggly in St. Joe.
Me: I'm leaving now. $70 huh? It will probably last forever.

So I bought another canopy. For $70. And when they put it together, they put the stakes in it. And it lasted all week and will probably last forever.

Sooooo . . . anytime you put 11 different personalities and ages and lifestyles in a house there are bound to be conflicts. That is to be expected and was anticipated. And we had our share of minor conflicts but they were resolved easily. But Robin's boyfriend had a hard time. I think it all boiled down to the fact that nothing in his life was in his control. So he tried to control the vacation.

I'm not sure if you realize this from reading my blog but . . . I am NOT easily controlled. While I was understanding of his situation, it was wearing on my nerves. It wasn't any one thing that got to me, just a lot of little minor things. Along about Wednesday, this conversation took place:

Me: What is wrong with him?
Robin: I am going crazy. He is making everyone crazy.
Me: He did NOT act like this last year.
Robin: I think I might hate him right now.
Me: You, me, and everyone else. But we will be nice, I promise.

Later that afternoon, I went up to start making the hamburger patties for dinner. When I got there, Boyfriend had made them and put big hunks of onion in them. About half the people with us hate onions and won't eat them. I told him that. He said "They'll be okay" and he walked outside. I started to load the dishwasher to take my mind of the fact that I really wanted to rip out his jugular. I reached into the bottom rack and was stabbed in the finger by the tip of a knife. Boyfriend obviously doesn't understand dishwasher etiquette and now I was bleeding! I couldn't help it. I started to cry. How embarrassing. I couldn't stop. So the conversation went something like this:

Robin and my Daughter: Oh my gosh, what's wrong? Are you hurt?
Me: No. Nothing's wrong. Nothing! NOTHING!
Robin and Daughter: Tell me!
Me: NO! Somebody make me a drink. With . . . THIS . . . much rum and . . . this . . . much diet coke.

After that, I just stayed away from him. I tried to remember what he was going through. Everyone was having a good time despite the sand fleas/yellow biting flies, the long walk to the beach, the canopy disaster, the 100 degree heat, and Boyfriend's obstinance. So I had a good time too. But the girls made a decision. This is how the conversation went:

Me: I miss the girl's weekends.
Robin and Daughter: We do too.
Me: I don't want to give up these weeks with the whole family and friends but it doesn't have the magic that the girl's weekends did. So why can't we do the girl's weekends too?
It would be cheaper and less stressful.
Robin and Daughter: We could. We could do a 4 day weekend, just the girls, in addition to the week in the summer with everyone.

So that's what we will do. That was my favorite conversation all week.