Saturday, March 28, 2015

One month back at the ol' dub-dub

I've been back at Weight Watchers for one month. I've attended five meetings in a row. My plan is to attend a meeting every week until I leave for vacation in July. So far, so good. I had a good week last week. I bought a new cookbook and am trying out some new recipes. I've also been working out more than usual. My motivation is pretty simple: I just want to fit into some shit this summer. Also, the kid and I are running/jogging/walking a 5K in May. We may also run/jog/walk a 10K in June.

I've lost nine pounds this month. No, don't congratulate me. I've lost and gained these pounds a hundred thousand times. Being in a losing mode is much better than the alternative, though. That much is true.

Lately I've also been watching "My 600-lb Life."  Have you seen that show? It's hard to watch, for several reasons. One is that it's like seeing a ghost. For anyone who has struggled with weight, you can almost convince yourself that if you have dessert, even just once, the next step is full-on immobility. Another reason is that the subject of the episode typically seems to have very little insight into his/her situation. I remember one episode where the woman was put in the hospital so that the weight loss surgeon could monitor her diet closely. Her family continued to smuggle food into the hospital. She was surrounded by white paper bags from fast food joints and yet she was still saying, "I have no idea why I'm not losing."

I can almost see how people get to that bad place, though. You gain a few pounds and start buying stretchy pants. You make a few bad decisions and then it just sort of snowballs from there. 

All I can do is keep on keepin' on.

Just slightly less fat than I was last month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mandala

A friend of mine is in training to be a Mandala facilitator. She held a class at our church on Saturday night, so I signed up. I was curious about Mandalas and plus, she mentioned that "no art skills" were required. I clearly have no artsy-fartsy skills, so I decided to give it a go. Before the class, Jean asked the participants to think about something they want to let go of or something on which they want clarity.

Lately, I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety and a little bit of anger. Well, the anxiety is nothing new. That's been a life-long issue. In fact, before the class, my thoughts were like this: "How long will the class take? Will it end on time? Will the house be a wreck when I get home? Will my husband remember to tell the kid to put her headgear on? What should I wear to church tomorrow? Do I need to iron something? The class is $25 - should I bring cash or should I write a check?"

When I got to the class, I sat down and suddenly thought: "It's Saturday night. You have nowhere you need to be. Knock it off." I really tried not to look at the clock and just to focus on the class. Jean started by telling us about the history of the Mandala. I was at least loosely familiar with the concept. When I still lived in the DC area, I loved to go to the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival on the National Mall every summer and have gone back a few times even after moving away (side note: if you ever go to the festival, just be prepared for searing, unholy heat - I have never once attended the festival and not felt like I would pay any price just to lick an ice cube). Typically, the festival highlights one U.S. state and a few different countries. One summer, I watched as a group of Buddhist monks created a Mandala out of colored sand. To this day, I still think it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. When they are done, they just blow the sand away (because nothing is permanent). Check out a sample photo of a Mandala here.

After the introduction, Jean led us through a guided meditation and explained the supplies we had in front of us: black paper, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, etc. We were then supposed to work in silence for 45 minutes or so. We had each drawn a different "inquiry card" that was meant to help us come up with some symbols and such. My card said, "What is the next step?" (or maybe it was plural - I can't remember).

I started drawing. I also started sharpening the bejeebers out of my pencils and managed to break two of them. I mean, I snapped them off inside the pencil sharpener. Then I started knocking the sharpener against the table to see if I could dislodge the tips that were stuck in there (apparently I'm not too good at the "observe silence" thing). If I ever take another Mandala class from Jean, I'm pretty sure I will be told to bring my own pencils.  When it came to drawing, I was stumped from the start. There were stencils stacked on a table nearby, so I wandered over there a few times to see what I could use. I started by making a circle in the middle of the larger circle. Later, I realized that it was not even close to being in the center. I wanted to use a few symbols: water (for both tears and bodies of water), stars, and crescents that represent smiles or frowns.

I should really color more often - I mean, sit down and just color. It did feel sort of therapeutic. I gave myself permission just to be there and not to worry about anything else. I felt tears behind my eyes as I reflected on the good things and the bad things in my life. Did I get any clarity on the issues that are currently plaguing me? I don't really think so, but I think I'd consider taking another class and trying again. Earlier in the day, I was expecting a call that never came, so I was a bit distracted and disappointed by the time I arrived at church for the class.

Fixing my anxiety . . . well, I just don't think it can be done. So, it would be a lot to expect a major change in a two-hour class. I just tried to focus on accepting what I cannot fix.  I need to try to move on. In the past year, I've lost two close friends and a family member. Not to death, of course - they're all still alive. They just don't want anything to do with me, and that's painful. I can't help but think . . . what's so awful about me that I had to get the boot, you know?  The Mandala didn't tell me.

I've always been a little bit suspicious of self-reflection, so I had to let go of that a little bit. I think there's a fine line between self-reflection and self-absorption. You know how everyone has that one friend on Facebook who posts only about him/herself? That. I shy away from self-help books. I remember feeling so annoyed when Oprah came out with all of her "Remembering Your Spirit" segments on her show. I think I just felt like . . . get out and DO something. BE the change . . . enough talking, you know?

So, what is the next step? The question I was supposed to answer? Just let go, I guess.  Focus on the good stuff. Get past the feelings of rejection and abandonment. After all, I have a kid to raise here and she still thinks I'm awesome (until she's a teenager, anyway).

"No art skills required." It looks like I drew this with my foot.
However, you are not supposed to get attached to a Mandala so . . .

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A whole new world

My other half got a bonus at work. Once taxes and his 401k contributions were deducted, it wasn't a huge amount. However, it was enough for a brand spanking new TV. He asked me to do some research first. My main method of doing research was to ask my co-worker Suzi what TV we should buy. She pointed me in the right direction - name brand, smart TV, 1080 resolution. Doing the research ahead of time was helpful because when we went to Best Buy on Tuesday night, we were in and out in less than five minutes. We bought a Samsung 50-inch Smart TV.

We ran into one snag after the purchase which is that we couldn't fit our daughter and the TV in the back of my car. We thought about leaving her at Best Buy but I guess the law frowns on that sort of thing. So, she briefly had to sit in the front seat with her dad on the way home. I took the back roads home lest a friendly police officer might see us. When we got home, P managed to set up the TV in the living room with minimal cussing. The old TV (32-inch flat screen) got moved into the bedroom and then the really old TV from the bedroom was moved into the basement, where I imagine it will stay until our daughter moves us into an assisted living facility of some sort.  The old TV from the bedroom was a lot of fun to watch - you had to smack it on its side at least three times until it had a chance to warm up. We'd had that one since our dating days so I think it had served honorably for as long as it could.

The next thing we did was to switch our Netflix account to streaming-only. As you may recall, a few years ago, Netflix caused a big headache for everyone by attempting to separate its DVDs and streaming services into separate companies. This apparently enraged my husband and, to punish Netflix, he downgraded our membership to the two-DVD plan with no streaming. Netflix has a lot more stuff available for streaming these days, so I was able to convince him to ditch the DVDs and go for streaming-only.  The good news is that I can now watch all that stuff on my Kindle at the gym, too. I'm currently getting into "Orange is the New Black."  My sister told me to watch "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" so I've started watching that as well.

I haven't really been able to get near the new TV because my husband is obsessively playing a game called Diablo. I just walk by periodically and mock the game. Because really, what are wives for?

He's at work this evening so I did get to play with the new toy a bit. And, excuse me, but have you seen Tom the builder on Restaurant Impossible? Oh myyyyy.

Behold the glory!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weeeekend

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a little getaway weekend with some of my fellow rescue volunteers. It was a chicks-only sort of thing.  There were eight of us. Some of us didn't know each other that well (we live in different parts of the state), so it was nice to have an opportunity to get to know everyone a little better. We all have Boxers, so of course we have something in common right off the bat. I've been feeling really down lately so I was glad for the opportunity to get away and do some fun stuff.

I got up early on Saturday (because the dogs say it is against their religion to let me sleep past 5:30 a.m. even on a weekend) and went to Weight Watchers at 8. I knew it would be chilly yesterday, but I also needed to wear lightweight clothing. If you've ever been a member of Weight Watchers, you get what I'm saying. I mean, I will blow my nose and take out my contact lenses if I think it will help me on the scale. Anyway, I wore leggings. I mention this because we all met at 11 a.m. at a St. Patrick's Day parade. The wind was whipping around and I think it was only 30-something degrees. I was a weeeeee bit cold in my leggings and lightweight clothing.  It was a lot of fun, though. A lot of the "floats" consisted of people drinking beer and throwing candy at children.

We then went out to lunch (I splurged on a Falafel burger and fries) and then went to a winery and did some shopping before checking in at the resort where we were staying. We hung out for a little while and then went to the nearby market to grab some stuff for dinner. We mostly ate munchies and stuff for dinner. I had a spinach salad. My friend Rebecca brought an extra vegan walnut bugger so I ate that as well. My friend Laurie brought vegan Oreo cupcakes that she had made. I have to say I was really touched that she went to the extra trouble to make something I could eat, too. Now, I have to say that vegan baking can be a little tricky. A lot of times, the ingredients are so weird that you can't find them anywhere. Then the baking itself can be a little hit or miss. However, they were fabulous! I only ate one but it was well worth the gazillion Weight Watchers points.  I swam a few laps in the pool after dinner in case that might help.

After swimming (half of us brought swim suits and the other half "forgot"), we mostly just hung out and made fun of the Kardashians and whatnot.  There was a lot of shop talk, since we all volunteer for the same rescue.

When it was time for bed, I got a king-sized bed to myself and that was pretty exciting. There was no snoring and no doggies. Ahhhh.

The eight of us met for breakfast this morning.  The resort provides breakfast, but I had brought some fruit and a granola bar from home just to make sure I got back on track today. As soon as I sat down, Laurie's phone rang. We have a general number for the rescue and it rings on multiple volunteers' cell phones at once. I had left my phone in our suite. Anyway, Laurie fielded the call and it turned out to be a woman who needed to surrender her sick dog. The dog was in the emergency clinic and she could not afford the care. I couldn't really blame her - vet bills can get very high, very quickly.  The vet didn't know what was wrong with the dog, but we learned that Prince had a 106 degree temperature, a pain in his neck, and he wasn't eating or drinking. Pancreatitis and meningitis were possible suspects.

No one kicks into high gear quite like a group of rescue volunteers. Many phone calls were made and before I knew it, I'd made plans to meet the owner this afternoon to have her sign a surrender form. I also talked to my vet about transferring Prince from emergency care to his clinic (which the rescue uses regularly). Our local emergency vet is only open when the other vet clinics are closed.

Before calling the getaway a done deal, we squeezed in a little more shopping.  In one shop, I handed the nice owner guy my phone and asked him to take a photo of us.  He took this:



Then he tried again and got our group this time:


After meeting Prince's owner and taking care of paperwork, I took Sheriff to his new home this afternoon.  I can't say that my dogs are too sad about it.  They're getting too old for Sheriff's brand of craziness, I think. I'm happy for the big nut, though. His new family is totally ready for his shenanigans.

Here is the new guy I logged into rescue today. Prince seemed pretty scared but we'll make sure that he gets everything he needs. He is stable right now.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When the dad is out of town, the estrogen can flow freely

"Mom, how long do we have to listen to this?"

"Listen to what?"

"Your music." This was accompanied by a wrinkled nose that seemed to liken The Smiths to broccoli or asparagus.

So it was that my daughter and I spent the weekend together last weekend. Her dad was out of town on a "guys' weekend." He was asked to bring poker chips and condiments. I quizzed him about it because I was suspicious about the industrial-sized containers of mayonnaise and ketchup he had purchased. Part of me wondered if perhaps had been asked to bring condoms and he had misunderstood.

All I knew was that my competition for the use of the living room television was temporarily reduced.  I let her have it on Friday evening as I had other stuff to do. The little Minecraft addict can play for hours.

Normally, on Saturday mornings, I get up and go to the gym or to yoga, run errands, hit the farmers' market, etc. Often, it's nearly lunchtime when I return home. My family is almost always still clad in pajamas at that time. So, the kid is used to a very leisurely Saturday morning. Not on my watch, mister. I hauled her out of bed by 7 a.m. so that we could make it to a Weight Watchers meeting at 8. She was still partially unconscious when we left the house, I think.  She played on her iPad during the meeting. After the meeting, she ran to the car so that we could head to the bakery to buy her favorite bread (her Highness prefers a particular brand of French bread that's $4.00 a loaf). And then it happened. As she ran, she dropped the iPad. It flew out of its case and landed face down in the parking lot. "It's okay, it's fine!" she exclaimed as she climbed into the car.

And then it wasn't fine. "It's cracked!" she wailed, her eyes filling with tears. I knew she felt terrible. I assured her that I would get it fixed but that she would need to do chores to work off the cost. After that, I dropped her off at her friend's house so that she could get in on a sledding excursion in the park. I went to the gym in peace and then hit Home Depot. I am in the process of replacing all of the cabinet/draw pulls in the house. I was also determined to put new blinds in my bathroom. The bathroom featured pink blinds when we bought the house 17 years ago. Coincidentally, 17 is the number of years I have hated those blinds. Anyway, I picked up the drawer pulls and the blinds and headed home to grab a shower.

Later, the kid and I headed to the mall and that's when I got the bad news about the iPad repair. $139.00. Argh! "You. Will. Do. Chores." I said with a tightened jaw.  I mean, that is a lot of money and I am cheap.

Speaking of cheap, I had a good coupon for The Children's Place so we popped over there and picked out a few spring-y things for the kid. Right about then, I got a text from Mr. Guys' Weekend. He said he was playing cards and was up $100+.  "Oh good," I replied via text. "iPad repair is also $100+. Win more $."  While we were in the fitting room at The Children's Place, my daughter informed me that I am too strict. Girlfriend has NO idea what strict is.

We had a quiet evening at home. I installed the new drawer/cabinet hardware and then set my sights on the blinds. I could see that a drill would be required.  I have never used a drill but I was pretty sure we have one somewhere.

"Where is the drill?" I asked my husband.

"Why?"

"No reason!"

Anyway, I managed to get the new blinds installed and the Pepto Bismol ones are gone at long last.  I was playing music as I worked and that was when I got the "how long do we have to listen to this?" question. I feel like I should mention that a Stevie Nicks song was playing at the time and if not liking Stevie isn't a criminal offense, then I just don't know what is.

Sunday was pretty uneventful. I had to haul her out of bed early again because I needed to get to church early.  We were having a special service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Selma and I was coordinating the service. Later in the day, we went to an art festival. 

All in all, it was a good weekend, despite a few mother-daughter clashes. I capped off the weekend by registering both of us for a 5K (to be held in May). It is billed as being a good event for beginners and families, and that it's okay to walk, too. So, I figured it's something we can do together before the day comes when I'm so embarrassing that I get banned from the mall altogether.


Friday, March 6, 2015

10 years ago

As my daughter's 10th birthday approaches, I can't help but think, "What was I doing ten years ago?" Anxiously waiting for a curly-haired hurricane to make landfall, that's what.

In the summer of 2004, my husband and I started filling out adoption paperwork. We would fill out a pile and then mail it off to the agency. Then they would send us a new pile, and so on it would go. We had to have criminal background checks and physical exams.  Once we were done filling out paperwork, we had to wait for a spot in the pool. The agency with which we worked only accepted a certain number of waiting families into its active pool of applicants.  They have a rough idea of how many placements they do each year, so I guess there is no point in accepting applications from a gazillion couples/families at a time.

By early 2005, we were done filling out paperwork and were accepted into the pool. We were elated! The next step was to create a scrapbook about our lives. That endeavor was more of an "I" than a "we." My guy doesn't really know his way around a glue stick. We were required to take three copies of the book to the adoption agency. We also had several interviews with social workers, but I can't remember if the interviews happened before or after we were accepted into the pool. A social worker also came to our home to inspect it. I was so nervous. I was afraid the dogs would be obnoxious (Lucy and Karl were still alive at that time) or that I had created the fire escape map incorrectly or that the smoke detectors weren't situated properly. We passed, though. Whew!

In early February of 2005, the social worker let me know that a young pregnant woman had seen our profile and wanted to meet us. I thought I might fall over when I got the news. A few days after the meeting (which I have detailed in other blog entries), I got the call from the social worker: we had been selected. The call didn't come exactly on my 35th birthday, but it was close. I've gotten some good birthday gifts in my life, but this one sure stands out.

And so it was that ten years ago, in the spring of 2005, I was busily preparing for a baby.  The kiddo was due April 26th. I painted the nursery. I sanded and painted a dresser. I read books about babies and adoption. I shopped like no one has ever shopped. My mom got her sewing machine ready and started churning out baby stuff. We didn't know the baby's sex, so we had to stay neutral. J (my daughter's birthmom) had had an ultrasound, but the baby was "too active" for a doctor to attempt to determine whether there was a penis or a vagina in there.

As April 26th drew closer, I felt like I had a constant knot in my stomach. I remember sitting in church, staring at my silenced phone just in case I missed a call. I had heard that babies prefer not to show up on their actual due dates, so I didn't want to risk missing the call. I wasn't sure how things would go once we got to the hospital. Would we be welcome? Would we be in the way? We didn't want to make any assumptions.

The baby was a week late. I've written about her birth many times so I won't recount it here. It's just an odd feeling to think back on all of it. It's hard to believe that ten years have passed.  What did P and I do with ourselves before she was born? What did we do with our time and our money? Were we rich? We can't seem to remember. 

This evening I was cleaning out the silverware drawer and found one of my daughter's toddler spoons.  It made me a little verklempt. :::sniffle sniffle:::

She asked me to buy her some deodorant at the store today. She was looking longingly at the bra tops at Old Navy last week. She's currently reading "Are you there, God? It's Me, Margaret." She has boy troubles already.

Me not ready!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Let's try this again

I dragged my sorry ass back to Weight Watchers on Saturday. It was a bit daunting, but my leader (who is also a friend) welcomed me with open arms. Literally. I lub her. So, I'm back to tracking and am trying to, once again, reduce the width of my self-destructive streak.

Last week, I completely botched two vegan recipes. One was a pasta recipe and the other was vegetable soup. Normally, I'm a halfway decent cook but I got too adventurous and made some mistakes. However, I also made vegan chocolate chip cookies last week and I must say . . . they were spectacular. I've perfected them, man. I don't know what it says about me, though. Instead of learning to live without baked goods when I went vegan, I promptly found a workaround. I also know how to make vegan brownies and several varieties of cookies. That tells just you how determined I really am. As a vegan, the list of stuff I can't/won't eat is pretty long. I also have a food allergy (flax) so that knocks more items off the menu. And yet, I manage to overeat and to be overweight. I must be pretty determined.

In other news, my roller skates came today. My sisters gave me gift cards from Dick's Sporting Goods for my birthday so I ordered my skates last week.  My new skates (the old-school white kind) are so uncool they don't even sell them in the store. I drove over there and they only had roller blades. So, I drove home and ordered them online. I don't care what anyone says. I shall wear them with pride.

Check this out, though. The manufacturer is prohibiting me from dangerous and aggressive stunts. I can't do jumps or ride rails. This is an infringement upon my civil liberties. This is 'murica, dammit.