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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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Hiatus

Just a quick post to let my regular readers know I will be absent for at least the next week.  This is an involuntary break but a necessary one since the blog seems to have become the target of hackers.  I wasn’t going to address the attacks at all, but I’m now forced with having to password protect my entire domain in order to fix the security leaks.

So I’ll see you when I see you.

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I’m taking a break from the blog to attend to some other projects that require my attention and will be posting five of my favorite posts this week. Yeah, I know they’re repeats, but they’re also some of the best things I’ve ever written.

Don’t forget to visit my new review blog for a chance to win a Nordstrom gift certificate and a six-month membership to Kidzui!

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Originally published July 8, 2008

It’s evening and Autumn has been put to bed. I’m sitting at my computer when Nathan enters the room and sets two DVDs down on my desk. It would seem my husband has been paying attention, and of the three Christian Bale movies in our collection he has chosen the two most likely to get him laid; Reign of Fire and Batman Begins.

“These are for tonight,” he says and gives me one of those comical, exaggerated winks of his. I smile and sigh, wondering if I should tell him the truth; that while Christian Bale is a mighty fine specimen of a human being, I’m not one to get aroused by a two-dimensional collection of images and sounds on a TV screen.

“Women are so different than men,” I tell J-, my cube buddy. “Men need only to look at a beautiful woman and they’re ready to go, but for a woman…everything has to be right. It’s not a visual thing but situational.” J- nods in agreement, relieving me of the fear I have that I’m really the only woman who feels this way. We discuss the situations in which we find ourselves most open to seduction and come to a consensus regarding visual aids such as porn; you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.

But men don’t see it that way, and later on I find myself undressed and in bed with Nathan watching Christian Bale break limbs in a prison yard. We watch too long, though, and instead of the movie fulfilling it’s aphrodisiacal promise, we’re only able to get as far as the first appearance of Batman before our eyes become heavy with fatigue.

The lights go out and Nathan wraps his arm around my waist. Images of the movie stay with me when I close my eyes, but they’re not images of Bruce Wayne and his fat checkbook. Instead I think of the large, doomed estate that is Wayne Manor. I think about how, in a house that large, one could get lost just going to the bathroom. I think about how a house that big could make privacy not only possible but inevitable. Of course I’d never want to clean a house that size, which makes the house I have the perfect size for me, not that I clean that one much either. The idea of privacy, though, is one that arouses me more than any beautiful Welsh actor in a rubber bat suit ever could.

Since becoming a wife and a mother, everything from my baths to my bowel movements have become a public spectacle. There is no closed door that can’t be opened and no open door that can be closed, especially when it means cutting off a child’s access to her mother. I get dressed with an audience and get undressed with the same and can’t remember the last time two large hazel eyes weren’t watching with curiosity as I put my makeup on in the morning.

My house isn’t small, but there’s no room in it that’s just mine. Autumn has her room and Nathan and I share the two other rooms, one being our bedroom and the other our office. In the four years we’ve lived here, I’ve tried to carve out a little space for myself. At one point I moved my computer into the smallest of our three bedrooms, but I had only been there a few short weeks before discovering I was pregnant. After that my computer went back downstairs to make way for the nursery and there it stayed until last fall when I got the itch to move again.

After trying to nest in various rooms upstairs, I have once again found myself sharing office space with Nathan in the basement. Unlike me, my husband never tires of the company of others and is very happy to have me back. While I don’t mind sharing with him, I still fantasize about each of us having our own space. My fantasy involves windowed rooms with hardwood floors, one room for him and one for me with a library that connects the two like an umbilical cord. The library would have built-in shelves from floor to ceiling and an Eames lounge made of supple leather that hugs your body without sticking to your skin. And once in awhile, if the mood struck us, we’d make love on the Eames without destroying it.

Sex on a leather couch in my own personal library. That’s what I call a pretty perfect scenario.

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I’m taking a break from the blog to attend to some other projects that require my attention and will be posting five of my favorite posts this week. Yeah, I know they’re repeats, but they’re also some of the best things I’ve ever written.

Don’t forget to visit my new review blog for a chance to win a Nordstrom gift certificate and a six-month membership to Kidzui!

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Originally published November 23, 2007

Today is my birthday. A couple of weeks ago I decided to write a letter to my 18 year-old self and post it here on my birthday because, wow, I’m 36 years old and that’s like ancient to an 18 year-old girl. I read a couple of similar letters on other blogs and they were hilarious. I wanted mine to be hilarious and fun, too.

As I started writing, I realized there wasn’t a whole lot of humor here. I wasn’t warning myself about the loser from Target or the disastrous attempt at bar tending school or getting into an accident with my dad’s car my first semester in college. The letter wasn’t full of advice to help my younger self avoid my mistakes so much as telling her life goes on in spite of them.

So here’s my letter. It’s sentimental and maudlin and made me cry in places as I wrote it. Yeah, I know. I’m such a baby sometimes.

Dear Heather,

I’m writing this letter to you, my 18 year-old self, because I turned 36 years old today and have now lived twice as long as you have. Your memories of the years leading up to you becoming an adult are no doubt sharp and vivid, while my memories of those same years have turned into something more condensed and abstract. It’s not so much that my memory is fading, but I am so far removed from being a child it almost seems as though I’ve always been an adult.

In spite of the added years and the added pounds and the infuriatingly persistent breakouts of acne, I have one advantage over you and that is I know what comes next. I know what happens to you tomorrow and the next day and the day after because I’ve lived it. I know you’re unsure about going to college, will drop out (more than once) and continually question what it is you’re meant to do with your life. I wish I could tell you this is something you’ll figure out soon enough, but it’s not. What I can tell you is that deep down you know exactly what it is you’re meant to do, and in spite of what others may have said or will say to discourage you, you’ll be damn good at it some day.

I know you’re worried no one will love you. I know you’re going to hurt someone and get hurt yourself before you find someone you’ll want to spend the rest of your life with. He’ll love you in a way you never knew was possible and will put up with a lot of your shit. If you don’t have shit now, you’re going to create some because that’s what we do when we get older. We create a lot of shit for ourselves.

You’re going to be a mother some day. It’s not going to happen for a while because you’ll continue to think of motherhood as an end; an end to sleep, an end to solitude and an end to your dreams. But it is so not that. It’s the beginning of something wonderful and glorious and with it comes a whole new set of dreams you never imagined before. For the first time ever you won’t care what life has in store for you as long as you get to spend it with this child.

You’ll make mistakes. Big ones. You’ll make them and hate yourself for them, but the world won’t end because of them. You’ll fight with people you love, spend too much time with people who don’t love you back and continually try to figure out who you are and what your purpose is.

You are, and will continue to be, a work in progress.

Love,

Me
(the still unfinished product)

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From the archives: Bladder reflections

I’m taking a break from the blog to attend to some other projects that require my attention and will be posting five of my favorite posts this week. Yeah, I know they’re repeats, but they’re also some of the best things I’ve ever written.

Don’t forget to visit my new review blog for a chance to win a Nordstrom gift certificate and a six-month membership to Kidzui!

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Originally published June 30, 2006

I always check in on Autumn one last time before I go to bed. I’ll go in and stand over her crib and watch her sleep. I imagine at some point it will start to freak her out. I know it would freak me out to have this huge shadow standing over me while I tried to sleep. If she’s really still, I’ll stroke her cheek or lightly poke her in the belly to get her to move. I don’t think I’ll ever get past being worried about SIDS, at least not until the girl can sit bolt upright and say, “Stop it Mom, you’re driving me nuts! Go to bed already!”

Last night she was on her back and looked very comfortable. I thought how nice it must be to be able to sleep so soundly and not have to get up to go to the bathroom. I looked at where her diaper bulged underneath her pajamas and envisioned the kind of peaceful bliss that must accompany letting it all flow out whenever it needs to.

Last year at this time I was getting up at least once during the night to pee. Towards the end it was two times or more. I understand that’s not bad compared to what other women go through (hourly!) but it still sucked. I inherited my mother’s bladder and pregnant or not, when I need a bathroom I need one stat. My mother and I know where all the bathrooms are in every store, restaurant or business in town. Target seems to have the pee pee affect on both of us because every time we go there we have to bolt to the bathroom before getting in line at the checkout. I wonder if there’s a clinical term for that. How about Retail Induced Urination? That sounds about right.

When I was in the hospital about to give birth, the nurses were prepping me for the c-section and told me they were going to insert a catheter. They said they usually save this procedure until after the patient has been given an epidural or a spinal block but since they were all there anyway…Well that right there should have been a clue that getting a plastic tube shoved up my urethra was not going to be a walk in the park.

Let me tell you though, that catheter was like a gift from God. After weeks, nay months, of being a slave to my bladder, that little plastic tube was worth every second of excruciating pain I went through to have it inserted. For nearly thirty-six hours I didn’t have the urge to pee at all. The nurses would come in and change my bag and I was very happy to let them. When it was time for me to get up and start moving around I was told the catheter needed to come out. It was like saying goodbye to a maid or a babysitter or some other laborer who does all the hard work for you while you go out and cavort in the Land of No Bathrooms.

So in my dream world I’d be in front of the TV on a comfortable couch. “Law and Order” would be on every channel and they’d never show repeats. I’d have an endless supply of Snackwell’s cookies and Costco cake and a catheter so that I wouldn’t have to miss a second of Jack McCoy’s riveting closing arguments.

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I’m taking a break from the blog to attend to some other projects that require my attention and will be posting five of my favorite posts this week. Yeah, I know they’re repeats, but they’re also some of the best things I’ve ever written.

Don’t forget to visit my new review blog for a chance to win a Nordstrom gift certificate and a six-month membership to Kidzui!

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Originally published May 22, 2006

After a three week absence, we finally made it to church yesterday morning. We decided to leave Autumn in the nursery this time because she’s been getting a little noisy. She babbles, screams and farts very loudly to the point that we’re not as quick to claim her as ours. Instead, we’ll turn our heads from side to side with annoyed looks on our faces as though it was someone else’s child making the rude noises.

Much to my relief, she didn’t seem at all traumatized by her stay in the nursery. She had Conner (Ryan and Marla’s boy) to hang out with not to mention a room full of brightly colored toys at her disposal.

When we picked her up after the service, I noticed the nursery coordinator had put a name tag on Autumn’s back but the “n” at the end of her name was crossed out so that it read “Autum.” I went over to the nursery log where I had signed Autumn in and, sure enough, I had misspelled her name.

Autum

The crossed-out letter on the name tag was evidence that someone knew the correct spelling of my daughter’s name but that someone was not me. I do that a lot. I’ll leave letters off words or insert them when they’re not needed. I am totally spell check’s bitch, but there’s no such tool when you’re checking your kid into the church nursery.

The lost “n” bugged me so I tore the name tag off Autumn’s back and went over to the log to insert the missing letter. Even though we’d already picked her up, I couldn’t let the church people think Autumn’s mommy was an illiterate slob, or worse, some fruitcake who would actually name her daughter Autum.

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I’m taking a break from the blog to attend to some other projects that require my attention and will be posting five of my favorite posts this week.  Yeah, I know they’re repeats, but they’re also some of the best things I’ve ever written.

Don’t forget to visit my new review blog for a chance to win a Nordstrom gift certificate and a six-month membership to Kidzui!

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Originally published February 28, 2006

This morning I woke to the sound of Autumn filling her diaper. I heard it through the nursery monitor; that distinct, wet, farty sound that means two cycles through the washer and lots of pre-treating.

I looked at the alarm clock. It wasn’t quite 5:30. The mommy part of me forced my legs to swing out of the bed to search for my slippers while the tired part of me thought that extra laundry wasn’t all that bad compared to an extra half-hour’s sleep. Of course I couldn’t let Autumn stew in her own juices for a half hour so I did the right thing and went in to check on her.

The diaper wasn’t bad at all, which was surprising. Autumn has been known to produce some beautiful works of art, most of which go up her back and stain her clothes. I think that’s a breast feeding thing. I hear most breast fed babies have loose bowel movements, but that knowledge doesn’t make the task of changing a diaper any more pleasant.

In the beginning, changing a diaper was a bit more stressful than it is now. The first two weeks of Autumn’s life were spent tracking input and output. I was given a chart at the hospital and was told to log how long I was nursing her and how many wet and dirty diapers she was producing. I guess it would be safe to say my first two weeks of being a mother were all about crap. How much crap, what color crap and how often we saw the crap.

At Autumn’s two week appointment, the doctor praised us and told us we were doing everything right. Autumn was no longer jaundiced and she had gained back the weight she lost in the hospital plus some. He also told us filling out the feeding chart was no longer necessary and I happily obliged. Being a parent, though, you never really stop tracking the crap.

I ended up calling the doctor’s office the first time Autumn went more than a day without having a bowel movement. I explained to the nurse that this kid’s usually a pooping machine and that she hadn’t gone in over a day. The nurse patiently listened to me and then suggested a few things to try to get Autumn to go. “If she doesn’t have a bowel movement within the next 24 hours, call us back.”

About five minutes after I hung up the phone, Autumn let go with the “grunt and squish” I now know so well. Relieved, I swept her into her room and placed her on the changing table. I must admit a gasp of horror escaped as I pulled back the diaper. Later on, I called Nathan to describe what I had seen. “It looked like a whole jar of Grey Poupon exploded in her pants!” I said.

Now such sights are commonplace and I’ve pretty much accepted my role in the circle of crap. I do laundry twice a week, most often running a few things through more than once in order to remove the stains. I’m so glad I never pay full price for anything I buy the girl.

The good thing about getting up early this morning was that I was able to spend some quality time with my daughter. After she ate, we sat quietly in the rocker together. I held her against my chest as she slept, tipped my head back and enjoyed every minute. When the time came to get her ready, I set her on the changing table and selected an outfit for her to wear for the day. After dressing her, I held her for about a minute before she puked all over the both of us. Yep, I’ll be doing laundry tonight.

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This week we received a notice from our bank concerning a surplus of three hundred and some odd dollars in our escrow account.  Since they’re legally required to give that back to us, we’ve been told to expect a check in the mail sometime soon.

Our contributions to our Christmas club account were few and far between this year, so this modest windfall of money that is really ours anyway was welcome news.  Then the dryer broke.  Again.  Apparently some higher power in charge of serendipitous monetary disbursements was not at all confident we’d use that money wisely.

Two years ago the dryer stopped drying.  It stopped putting out heat and we called someone out to fix it.  We actually called out two someones, but the first someone turned out to be a flake and we brought the second someone in to do the job.  Which he did to the tune of over two hundred dollars.

I can’t remember who that second someone was or what the problem with the dryer was in the first place, but I do remember the two hundred plus dollars we had to pay to have dry clothes again.

This time I am not so eager to pay to have the dryer fixed right away, especially since this seems to be the same damn problem we had the last time.  The dryer tumbles, but it does not dry.  And again, do I remember what causes this?  No.  And can I call the guy who fixed it the last time?  Probably, if I remembered where I put his invoice if I kept it at all.

Nathan suggested it might be time to get a new dryer.  He doesn’t believe in the three strike rule.  The dryer has screwed us twice in as many years and he wants to give it the boot.  But then there’s Christmas and the eight members of our family who have birthdays coming up in the next six weeks.  I believe the dryer can be good to us again if we get it fixed.  Eventually.

Yesterday was spent washing and hanging up every item of clothing we’ve worn this past week.  I trekked on over to the store and bought a folding drying rack, more hangers, clothes line and clothes pins.  Back when we first moved into the old duplex, we had yet to buy a dryer and hung our clothes up every week, though I don’t remember the task being as irritating as it was yesterday.  I know for some of you this is a way of life and you’re probably thinking “air does the same thing to clothes as a dryer and it’s free.”  Yay for air, but turning our unmentionables into wind socks really isn’t our thing.  Except now it is since the neighbors can tell exactly how wide my ass is from looking at the jeans hanging off the railing of our back deck.  Sometimes green living isn’t so pretty.

I guess we could use the escrow money to get the dryer fixed.  We’ll just have to tell a few members of our family that Santa was more interested in giving us dry clothes this year.

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  1. It’s one thing to reveal your weight on national television.  It’s another thing entirely to reveal that it all resides within your sports bra.
  2. Alison Sweeney.  Someone needs to bitch slap that woman.
  3. Having to explain to my employer that I’d like to take a leave of absence from work to attend “fat camp.”
  4. No one should ever have to die wearing spandex shorts.
  5. Four to six hours a day of workouts and challenges leave very little time for surfing the net.
  6. Missing several weeks of reading bedtime stories.
  7. No one is going to make me feel bad for losing “only” two pounds in a week, especially not some woman whose day job is wreaking havoc on “Days of Our Lives.”
  8. Displaying all my trigger foods in a lighted curio will only make them look more appealing.
  9. Jillian would totally make me cry.
  10. Recreating pig-out scenarios for the camera.  Folks, we all know I eat too much.  Do we really need photographic evidence of how I got this way?

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The magic hour

My kid wears me out.  The three hours between between the time we get home in the evening until I put her to bed are hers.  Please sit down and eat your dinner.  Don’t stand too close to the television.  Don’t jump on the chairs (“sit down or get down”), don’t touch Molly and then touch your dinner and don’t climb on the bar stools.  I’m sure I’m missing a few don’ts in there, but that’s pretty much what our evenings are like right now.  We’re just trying to contain the chaos.

I love bed time.  I love it not only because it means we finally get some peace and quiet, but it also means I finally get some wonderful time alone with my kid that doesn’t involve pleas, threats or exasperated sighs.  Bed time is when I read to my child and it’s one of those things neither of us likes to miss.

I love to read and always imagined my child would have a wonderful library of books from which we could choose our bed time stories.  Autumn does have a pretty good start on that library, but one thing I didn’t realize is that children, especially kids as young as Autumn, become married to their favorite stories and are reluctant to try out something new.  When you read to a toddler, you read the same books over and over again.

Luckily Autumn’s on a Dr. Seuss kick right now.  We started out with a board book version of A Wocket in My Pocket a few months ago and were faithful to that one until she shoved it behind the headboard of her bed one too many times and I refused to retrieve it (seriously, what is with this obsession with shoving things behind the bed?).  We then graduated to The Cat in the Hat and are now on to Sneetches and Other Stories.

It took some cajoling, but we’ve added Horton Hears a Who to our repertoire so that I’m not always reading the exact set of stories every night, though we always have to read about the Sneetches, the scary green pants (“What Was I Afraid Of?”) and the Zax.  I leave it to her to decide if we finish with a cat or an elephant.

Now that I’m reading stories to my child that involve a plot, conflict and resolution, I’ve sort of discovered my inner actor.  I don’t just read the words to her, I try to convey the emotion behind them.  And the look on her face as she responds to that emotion is delightful, as it is every time we get to this passage from “The Zax””

And I’ll prove to YOU,” yelled the South-Going Zax,
“That I can stand here in the Prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
And I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!”

The first time I read this to her, I shook my finger and raised my voice to a bellow as I read the last two lines.  She loved it.  Loved it so much that she now shakes her finger with me and raises her voice in concert with mine so that there’s such a ruckus coming from her room you’d probably not believe we were actually settling in for the night.  A couple of times my reading has been rewarded with a high five or a “good job, Mamma.”  How about that?  My kid thinks I’m cool.

Tonight I’ll have to miss story time.  I’ll be in class and Nathan will have to take my place.  While it’s only one night a week, I hate missing it.  It’s one of the few times I actually enjoy being around my kid.  I know that sounds horrible, but she’s two.  I’m not going to lie and say being a parent to a headstrong toddler is just a big tasty sundae topped with a cherry that is a well-behaved child.  Our sundae has melted with ice cream dripping on the carpet and chocolate sauce smeared on the ottoman.  Nathan and I are just the bowl trying to keep it all from making a bigger mess.

Story time makes it all worth it though.  For thirty minutes or so every night, I become that idealized version of my parenting self I imagined when I first became pregnant and Autumn is the child I imagined I’d be reading to.  For thirty minutes or so every night, we are each other’s world and everything is perfect.

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