Monday, July 30, 2007

Body Issues

Many of my readers know me only through the internet. So let me give you a little bit of background about me and my body.

I am 5'9". I have been this tall since I was about 14. This made me hugely taller than pretty much every boy in middle school. I felt like an Amazon for most of my teenage years.

I was also born with a congential heart defect that went untreated for all of my teen years. A side effect of this was that I was very thin. I think I was referred to guidance at least once a year because everyone was positive I had an eating disorder. The year I got my driver's license I weighed about 125 lbs.

Because of the same heart problem, I was also never really able to exercise. I had no endurance. When we would do the mile run in school, I think my fastest time ever was about 13 minutes. I could not even run 1/4 mile without being totally out of breath. Of course, my gym teachers always just assumed I was lazy. Quite honestly, I assumed the same thing about myself.

So, once I had my heart surgery, I gained weight. Really, I was probably at a healthy weight for the first time in my life. I even started going to the gym. I was in pretty good shape for about a year.

Then I started law school, and adopted the bad habits of a law student and drank like a law student and gained a lot of weight. I think I gained about 25 lbs. Then I lost it when I finally re-joined the gym and was too poor to ever go out. Then I got a job working nights, and eating out pretty much every night with no time to exercise. So I gained it back plus ten.

Then I got pregnant and gained another 50 lbs. I lost some of that post-partum but not all of it. Then I got pregnant again and this time only gained about 35 lbs, but it still put me far far over the 200 lb mark.

After I had my daughter I was absolutely determined to lose the weight. I really started dieting. Breastfeeding helped - I burned like 500 calories a day sitting on my ass watching e/r. When she was about 8 months old, a new gym opened close to our house and we joined that - they offered free daycare as part of the family membership so it was perfect for me.

I made it back below 200, down to 180, then hit a plateau. Frustrated, I enrolled in a special weight loss program through the gym where I met with a nutrionist once a week and a personal trainer twice a week. The other ladies in my group were so jealous because I was a nursing mom and got 300 extra calories a day. Bwwaaaa haaaaa haaaaaaa!!!!

My trainer was so mean (in a good personal trainer should be mean sort of way) and during the course of the 12 weeks I lost another 20 lbs. Not only that, but I was in the best shape of my life. I didn't have the money to continue with the personal trainer, though, so when the program ended I didn't keep that momentum. We continued to go to the gym but only sporadically and slowly the fast food started creeping back in to my diet.

So over the past two years, I've pretty much held steady between 155-160 lbs. I've been able to hold that weight because I got rid of an entire closet full of plus sized clothes - when my pants start getting a little tight, I know I need to be better because there is nothing else to wear.

Most people who know me tell me how I great I look, but I secretly think this is because they knew me when I weighed 50 lbs more. I see myself naked and I know that I have a roll here and there that I did not use to have. I know that I used to have muscle definition here and there that I do not have any longer.

Lately I have been pretty uncommitted to eating any sort of healthy food and unwilling to go exercise. The scale has been slowly drifting upward again. I pretend not to notice this, but apparently my children don't believe in pretending not to notice things...

This week as I was making my son dinner he proclaimed that I was getting fat. I told him it wasn't a nice thing to say and it wasn't funny. He told me he wasn't being funny, he was just noticing my pants didn't fit so good like they used to. After a long talk about things that may be true but just not polite to say anyhow, I went into my bedroom and looked at myself in the mirror and had to admit he was right.

The truth is, it isn't even about how much I actually weigh. It's about knowing I can do better. It's about knowing I'm not taking care of myself. It's about knowing that it is a miracle of modern medicine that I can even do a brisk walk on the treadmill. If I'd been born even 50 years earlier, I'd have been dead by age 25. My health is something very precious to me because I lived the first 20 years of my life without it.

This is what's been on my mind this week. I talked with Erik about it and he's been feeling the need to work on the extra padding he's acquired on his tummy over the course of our marriage. So... here's the deal. 15 pounds by October 31st. If I can do it, I get to go to New York City with my sister in December for a weekend. If he can do it, he gets a weekend in Atlantic City. We can both win. We're holding each other to it.

I'll post updates on our progress.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Vacation - Day 15 - Home again

After a whirlwind morning cleaning and packing up, it was time to leave. We always have a moment of silence as we pull away, sad to be going home but knowing it's time to get back to life.

Our drive home was actually not that bad. Instead of coming all the way up I-95, we decided to cut over to 301 and take that home. We made pretty great time and we were home before dinnertime, even with three stops for food, and gas, and coffee.

We had enough time to unpack, shower, and start laundry when Erik & I were back out the door. We had skybox tickets for the Ironbirds that night (our local minor league baseball team) and I wasn't going to miss it!!

It is also nice to return on a Friday. I had the whole rest of the weekend to unpack and do laundry and replenish the fridge and even go to the office to open mail and go through the phone messages before having to return on Monday.

I have to admit, as fun as vacation was, it was also nice to see my kitties again and sleep in my own comfy bed. There's just something about being in your own home, where you can walk around in your underwear and take as long as you want in the bathroom and your kids can be bratty with no judgement from anyone else.

Vacation - Day 14 - Carova Beach

As I ended my last post, I didn't get much sleep on Wednesday night and my stomach was not in a good state. So of course, Thursday is the day we decided to drive to Carova Beach.

When the paved road ends just past the Currituck lighthouse, you can actually keep driving on the beach. The beach is the road, and there is a whole community further up. It's a great place to spend the day - the beach isn't very crowded and you can find just amazing whole beautiful shells.

I normally love going up there, but my stomach was awful and I was SO tired. But I didn't want to be the only person left at home, so I decided to go anyway.

It ended up being pretty fun. My tummy calmed down enough that (thank goodness) I was never sick on the beach. After lunch, though, I was just so tired that I actually fell asleep sitting up in the beach chair while Marc was talking to me. I was asleep for about an hour (I think) and when I woke up I felt SO much better.

After my power nap, I played with Marc & Lisey in the waves while Erik and his family played ultimate frisbee. Soon Marc & Lisey started getting tired and hot, so I had them bury each other in the sand for the last little while. I was glad to get back to the house and shower and lay down though. It was a fun day but it was a long day too.

That night everyone went back out to Jockey's Ridge to jump off the giant sand dune. I decided to stay behind (tummy still not feeling great) and start cleaning up and packing. I was a bit horrified to start gathering things up and realize how much shit my kids had managed to collect over the course of the two weeks. It was an entire box full of toys and gadgets and papers and animals and bouncy balls and pirate treasure and t-shirts.

I had been a little bit better. I tried to limit my shopping and not go totally crazy. I had bought a bunch of stuff at Try My Nuts - because they really do have the world's best nuts!! And great coffee too - it's called Wake The Fuck Up coffee. I love it.

I also had way too much fun at the Christmas Mouse but it's really the only place I ever buy new ornaments for our tree. I try to buy each member of the family a few things that really represent the year for us. The kids loved what I picked out for each of them, and even Erik had to admit that the poker-themed Christmas ornaments for him were pretty cool.

Vacation - Day 13 - Harry Potter and Karaoke

Wednesday the Harry Potter movie was released. That was the one day of vacation that was just beastly hot, so it made sense to spend the afternoon in a nice air conditioned theatre with the Hogwarts gang.

Even my two kids made it through the movie, though Lisey was a little antsy towards the end. Marc was enthralled though. I was worried because the movie had some pretty scary parts, but apparently scary movies just don't bother my kids. They loved it.

That evening was our night out. Erik's dad watched the kiddos while Erik & I plus his two brothers and the wives all went out. We went to Mama Kwan's first, and amassed a huge collection of tiki mugs and shot glasses. Cool-Jen SIL was our designated driver for the evening, as she is pregnant and we're taking advantage of that until October.

We then went to Kelly's for awhile but other than the pool table there just wasn't a lot to do there and soon we decided to head out to karaoke. Karaoke at the Jolly Roger has become a beach tradition. We actually got there right at the beginning this year, so we had plenty of rounds to horrify the audience with our singing.

I am really not sure how much I had to drink, but it was a lot. To do karaoke, I have to have a pretty decent buzz to overcome my stage fright. The last round, I ended up singing It's Raining Men all by myself. It was great.

What wasn't so great was waking up at 5:00 in the morning with the worst case of heartburn which quickly turned into the worst case of the post-drinking fireshits I think I've ever had. Since I'd only gone to bed at 2:30, I was tired and sick and miserable most of the next morning.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vacation - Day 12 - Pirate Treasure

Tuesday was my favorite day of the whole vacation. The kids really wanted to take a day to drive to Ocracoke and dig for Blackbeard's treasure. We wanted to make this day really fun for them, so Erik and I worked on a pretty elaborate plan to pull it off.

We stopped at Dirty Dick's on the drive down for lunch. They have GREAT seafood and the hush puppies are soooooo good. Our next stop was Cape Hatteras, where Lisey & Marc finished their junior ranger activitie and were sworn in by the NPS rangers. We continued from there to the end of the island, where we caught the ferry to Ocracoke.

When we got to Ocracoke Island, we drove until we found a good potential buried treasure place. I distracted the kids by looking at the wild ponies while Erik quickly finished drawing the treasure map we had started working on before we left.

We then stopped at the Blackbeard Museum. While I took the kids to look for toy swords and pirate bandanas, Erik gave the map the clerk. Earlier when the kids had said we should try to find a map, I had suggested to Marc that maybe they'd have one at the Blackbeard Museum. So, of course, he asked the clerk.

The clerk was a great sport and whispered to him that she DID have one, but she'd been told to ONLY give it to a child who loved pirates. Since Marc was wearing a pirate shirt, she decided he was the one. She gave him the map, and the kids looked it over for awhile. Marc recognized the ponies on the map and knew exactly where we needed to go.

We drove back to the spot and while I distracted the kids again looking for more ponies, Erik buried our treasure. (Before we left on vacation, I'd taken an old looking basket and filled it with jewelry, coins, stones, and anything else that looked treasure-esque.) When Erik came back to tell us the coast was clear, the kids followed the map until they found the 'X' - two crossed sticks on the beach.

Marc and I dug until we hit the basket. The kids were SO excited. They didn't want to open it on the beach because somebody might see the treasure and try to steal it. So we took it back to the van and opened it there. They were amazed at all the stuff inside.

It was getting to be dinnertime, so we stopped for food at Howard's Pub (again, wonderful seafood and great hush puppies!) then caught the ferry back to Hatteras. When we got home, the kids opened the basket and spent hours going through the treasure, oooohing and aaaaahing.

Vacation - Day 11 - Shark Week

On Monday, Erik and his dad took Marc for a plane ride. They flew out of Manteo and headed north to the lighthouse in Currituck. Erik flew the plane most the way, with the pilot doing the take off and landings. After the plane ride, the whole family met up for lunch at our favorite restaurant, the Weeping Radish.

After lunch I left Erik there with his brothers and dad to continue enjoying the beer. I took the kids to the aquarium and we were delighted to find out it was Shark Week!! Usually my kids go running through the aquarium to get to the gift shop, but this time was different.

Because Marc learned how to read this year, he wanted to read all the signs. It was so cute - he would read the little posters to Lisey then they'd go try to find all the different types of fish. They also stopped to do all the Shark Week activities, making little shark fin hats, coloring shark pictures, feeling a real piece of sharkskin, each getting a real shark tooth.

Lisey was too scared to do the touch tank, but Marc finally worked up the courage to put his hand in and feel a stingray. Each of the kids bought a stuffed octopus an a t-shirt at the gift shop, and then we stopped at Sonic on the way back the house, of course!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vacation - Day 9 and 10

For the next two days, we decided trying to travel anywhere was crazy, since the traffic on Saturday and Sunday is horrific. We were happy to spend the morning on the beach, eat lunch, afternoon on the beach, eat dinner, after dinner playing beer pong or poker or any other drinking game we could think of.

By this time, my children had turned a beautiful golden brown color. We were very vigilant about making sure they were sunscreened at all times and I'm very happy to say that nobody got a sunburn doing the vacation!!

Vacation - Day 8 - Next family!!

On Friday, we switched families. My family headed home and Erik's family arrived. Of course, the first order of business was taking the fridge previously occupied by my brother and his family's food and switching it to the fridge of beer and Mike's.

In North Carolina, the ABC stores open at 10:00... I was there at 9:58. I then immediately went to the grocery store for Magic Hat, and Red Stripe, and the Mike's variety pack. I was home by 11:00 a.m. and ready for the fun to begin!!

Erik's family wasted no time in unpacking and heading straight for the beach. For dinner that night, Erik took the fish they'd caught earlier in the week and cooked in an amazing beer batter. It was SO GOOD - even his brother who hates fish had two helpings.

It was interesting having the two families back to back. My kids, who had cousins galore to occupy them the whole previous week, immediately returned to their favorite past-time of arguing with each other. Luckily, Erik's step-brothers and their friends has brought the xbox, and Marc quickly learned to play Halo and stop bothering his sister.

And I think Erik was so glad to have beer-drinking, poker-playing folks around I thought he might die from the joy of it all.

Vacation - Day 7 - Water Country USA

The last full day with my family, we decided to drive up to Williamsburg to go to Water Country, USA. We did this last year and it was one of the best days of vacation. The weather was great - Sunny, in the high 80's but with a nice breeze. My mom and my brother came with us, as did the younger cousins. It ended up working out very well. We had four adults and 7 kids total. Plenty of hands to divide and conquer various rides.

This year Marc was feeling much braver, so he was able to ride some of the larger water slides with Erik. Lisey was happy to ride the smaller slides over and over or even just splash around and play in the kiddie areas. I had a blast just spending some one on one time with Lisey sitting and playing in the shallow pool. We stayed longer than we originally planned because we were all just having too much fun to leave.

And, of course, on the way home we had to stop at Sonic for dinner... Again...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Vacation - Day 6 - Fireworks!!

Wednesday was the 4th of July. We spent most of the day at the beach, then ventured up to the Whalehead Club in Corolla for the fireworks. I'd had the foresight to order a huge box of red white & blue glow in the dark necklaces which I handed out to everyone. Each of the kids had several.

My husband thought I was being cheesy until it got dark and he realized how amazingly easy this made it to identify every person in our group. The fireworks were fabulous, as they always are. Lisey panicked when the first one went off, covering her ears and crying to go to the car. After a few minutes, she calmed down enough to enjoy the show, but kept her hands over her ears the entire time anyhow.

Traffic was a bitch, as it always is. We planned on sitting in the parking lot for an hour and that was pretty much what we did. We had a DVD for the kids to watch and by the time we actually started moving along towards the beach house, the kids were asleep.

Vacation - Day 5 - We get rid of the men-folk

My father took all of the boys in the house fishing on Tuesday, so we had a girl's day. We spent some time at the beach, and I was glad that my younger sister got to spend some quality bonding time with my daughter Lisey. They played together in the waves on the beach for hours.

That afternoon we watched Chick Flicks. Even Lisey sat with us while we all watched Pride & Prejudice, mindlessly noshing on M&M's on raisins and appropriately sighing when Mr. Darcy professes his love.

After the guys got back from fishing, the adults all went out for a nice dinner. We decided to go to Owen's, one of my favorite restaurants in Nags Head. So far the vacation had been completely dry, so hubby and I, along with my younger sis, volunteered to drive to the restaurant early to put our names on the list. We then had a nice half hour to sit in the bar and enjoy a drink. Sis & I both got mojitos and they were SO GOOD.

It really was nice to have a night to just sit and talk with my brother and sisters and spouses and my parents. Having us all at one table, we start to talk about growing up and funny memories and the things that make us a family. Despite the things that separate us all now (distance, religion, politics) I was glad to have that chance to sit and have fun and remember that we really do still have a lot in common.

Vacation - Day 4 - Elizabethan Gardens

My youngest sister flew in late Sunday night from NYC. It was wonderful to have all of my siblings together. It's been a long time since we've had a vacation together. Monday afternoon my mother, my two sisters, my oldest niece and myself had a girl's day out. We stuffed ourselves senseless at the Weeping Radish on Sauerbraten and potato pancakes and spaetzle. Then we decided to tour the Elizabethan Gardens.

My husband mocks me because I love going to the gardens. There is an episode of Futurama where they go the park and there's a sign out front that says, "Yes!! We have tree viewing here!!" Anyway, I find it to be very peaceful and meditative. But that's because I usually go by myself. This year I went with my sisters...

I laughed so hard that my sides were hurting. First of all my older sister made the mistake of allowing me to push her 6 month old son's stroller. Gabriel and I were doing mad extreme stroller tricks and my sister was having a heart attack. I had to stop when the baby fell asleep though - apparently my off-road stroller adventure lulled him to an early nap.

Then the hydrangea - my mother loved the hydrangea and kept touching the blossoms. So my younger sister says, "Mom, don't re-arrange-a the hyndrangea." And my other sisters says, "Unless you are the range-a." And then I say, "Yes there might be dange-a." And my younger sister then says, "And you are only a strange-a." And then all three of us dissolved into the giggles and it was downhill from there.

Vacation - Day 3 - Finally, the beach!!

Sunday morning while the rest of the family dressed in their best and headed off to church, my apostate children and husband put on sunscreen and headed to the beach. I had totally forgotten it was fast sunday, so I did feel a little bit bad for fixing breakfast for both my kids while their cousins sat there starving.

That morning, I took my laptop to a local internet cafe and checked my email for work. I also went to the grocery store and got a load of laundry done. I had my kids fed lunch and re-lotioned for a 2nd round at the beach before their cousins returned from church. Sometimes I forget what a completel time-sucker church can be!!

It was pretty amazing to see all the cousins play together. We had 10 kids total and for the whole week, I never saw one big fight. Even my kids were just too busy having fun with their cousins to fight with each other.

Sunday afternoon we got a visit from the a/c repairmam - one of the units had broken and needed to be replaced. At one point, my family was saying the prayer before dinner when the guy came bursting into the house making a huge amount of noise and yelling something to a co-worker outside. He saw my family was praying and immediately stopped and bowed his head. When the prayer was over he apologized for interrupting and a thick southern drawl said, "It's alright. I love Jesus too!!"

For the rest of the week, anytime anyone did something embarassing we'd just repeat that - It's alright. I love Jesus too!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vacation - Day 2 - To the Baptism we go

We left fairly early to head back to Va Beach for my niece's baptism. The baptism was very nice and both hubby & I got to take a turn holding my sister's 6 month old baby.

We realized as we started driving back to the Outer Banks that this was the worst idea... ever... The traffic going into the Outer Banks on a Saturday afternoon is truly horrendous. And on top of it, I had an evil migraine but no medication - I'd left it all at the beachhouse. Mix that with the four children in the minivan (we were transporting an extra niece and nephew) and I was pretty much in tears for the three hour traffic jam.

I did figure out that once we got on to the island, there was a back road that led to the beach house. We ended up getting back to the house at the same time as my parents, who had left almost 45 minutes ahead of us. Yay, me - Master of the Alternate Route!!

I took a Frova, put in my earplugs, placed a cool washcloth over my eyes and drifted off into the nicest sensory-deprivation sleep I might have ever had. I woke up to the smell of my brother's chili (most excellent). I made myself a chili cheesy frito laced bowl of heaven and felt about 500% better.

I had to answer a few questions about the baptism for my kids. Marc seemed to think it was pretty cool and wanted to know if he could be baptized too. I told him if he got baptized into his cousin's church then he had to go to church every Sunday for three hours. He decided that wasn't so cool.

He was also very concerned because they said at the baptism that everyone had to be baptized. I told him that his cousins go to a church that believes that is necessary, but that we don't believe that is. He seemed fine with that explanation and just mostly seemed relieved that during the nightly scripture/hymn/prayertime he got the PlayStation to himself while his cousins had to sit and read a "really boring book".

We also had a bit of a controversy when we realized that Lisey didn't have any swimsuits packed. Erik took her to buy some new ones and, of course, they were two piece suits. Lisey refuses to wear a one piece suit because what if she has to poop?? Anyway, the female cousins were most upset and felt like this was NOT fair and begged Uncle Erik to PLEASE talk to their mother because they thought it was a dumb rule to begin with.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Vacation - Day 1 - Great Dismal Swamp

It was a wonderful long needed two weeks of vacation.

We left Thursday afternoon and stayed the night in a lovely motel in Suffolk Virginia. I say lovely, as it was one of those motels that you have to slip the clerk cash under the teeny slot in the bullet proof glass. And the train that ran every ten minutes RIGHT BEHIND the motel was also a nice touch.

Anyway, we couldn't get into the house until Friday afternoon, so I decided to be adventurous and visit the Great Dismal Swamp. Folks, there's a reason this is the called the Great Dismal Swamp. George Washington named it that in the 1700's for a pretty goddamn good reason. And the only reason I think the NPS owns it today is because nobody ever wanted to buy it from the government over the past 300 years.

Our trip to the Great Dismal Swamp involved us getting out of the car, immediately being swarmed by the biggest fucking biting flies I'd ever seen and running back towards the car screaming. The flies then swarmed the van. I was screaming to Erik, "Drive! Drive! Before they pull out the rocket launchers!!"

One thing I do love about going to the Outer Banks is that there are like, 3 Sonics on the way. So of course, we had to stop at the Sonic for lunch. Over the course of the next two weeks, I think I went to Sonic at least 6 times and no, I am not exaggerating. Because I love the Slush. LOVE IT.

After lunch we drove to Bodie Island and the kids worked on their Junior Ranger activities with the help of the friendly NPS folks. I love those park rangers. Seriously, I've never met a park ranger that wasn't nice. We were going to finish their Junior Ranger up that day but a huge nasty thunderstorm blew in and so we just ran to the van and headed for the house.

We love this house. We stay there every year. My kids even know the address of the beach house. Driving up is like seeing an old friend again.