Monday, September 27, 2010

Not spontaneous, but fun nonetheless

We had a whirlwind weekend.  On Saturday, we went to a local orchard to pick apples.  P is the type who drags his feet when it comes to planned family events but once he gets there, he is totally into it.  We started with a walk through a farm area where one can feed fat goats and whatnot.  Then we headed over to the main building to get the scoop on the apples. A tractor-drawn cart transported us out into the orchard. The tractor driver would periodically stop and yell things like "Get off here if you want Macintosh!" We don't know one apple from another, so we just stayed on board until we got to a spot where everyone else seemed to want to get off. The trees were marked with ribbons.  White was Jonagold, red was Red Delicious, and so forth.  Well, P was bound and determined that we would find a tree with every possible ribbon color.  We did find most of them, and grabbed an apple or two from each.  However, the problem was that we tossed them all into the same bag.  All we know now is that they're all red. My goal was to get some for eating and some for baking.  Personally, I do not care for fruit pies.  Pies and cheesecake are pretty much the only vices I don't have (well, except for smoking and illegal drugs, I guess).  I'm more of a straight-up chocolate brownie kind of girl.  However, I did tell my other half that I would bake something or other for him because he gets very excited about baked goods full of slimy fruit. He'd better fix my frickin' brake light in return, though.

After the orchard, we went to an arts-n-crafts festibul downtown.  P was less enthusiastic about that event.  The kid made some sand art (which promptly spilled in my purse later on) and spent some time using sidewalk chalk to draw on the sidewalk.  She drew a picture of me and also wrote "I like Mama and Daddy."  For whatever reason, she is more adept at writing "like" than "love."  I told her dad that in a few years she will probably be writing something more like, "I scarcely tolerate Mom and Dad." 

Later that day, the kid and I traveled to the home of a friend of mine for a slumber party.  We invited ourselves.  You see, my friend lives an hour and a half closer to a major amusement park, and we had tickets for Sunday.  I figured it would make my life easier to break up the trip a bit (I still can't believe I am planning to drive to Oklahoma with miss-aren't-we-there-yet).  Sunday morning, A and I got up early and headed to the park.  We got there just as the gates opened at 10.  She was so excited to get on the rides.  I was excited, too, but my stomach tried to stay in the car. 

We started out with the carousel.  So far, so good. Then we hit the first roller coaster she was tall enough to ride.  I was a little apprehensive; it had been a while since I was on a roller coaster.  I've always liked roller coasters, particularly old-school wooden ones.  When I was a kid, I rode The Swamp Fox in Myrtle Beach about a skillion times.  Anyway, I was game to try this one.  I've determined that I just need to avoid rides that involve spinning or anything remotely close to a circular motion. With this roller coaster, we were seated so that I was in the back and my daughter was wedged between my legs, with her head against my chest.  Well, as soon as the car whipped around the first curve, she was giggling madly.  It was just about the cutest thing ever.  As soon as we got off, she announced that we had to go again.  And we did, too - we rode that same coaster right before we left in the afternoon, with two other coasters in between.  She ended up riding just about anything she was eligible to ride, even choosing the front car on one of the roller coasters (right after I said, "Sure, sweetie, pick any car - just not the front.") 

My stomach did make it through the day.  I did make one mistake, which was to allow myself to be coerced into riding this big ship that swings like a pendulum.  As the end of the boat swung high into the air and then back down again, I tried to focus on one spot, thinking maybe it would help with the nausea (you know, like ice skaters do when they spin).  No dice.  I thought a little snack would help my stomach, so we decided to split an order of fries and a Sprite.  The price ($9.82) caused a whole new wave of nausea.  Later, we stopped in a gift shop and the kid persuaded me to buy her a bag of magnetic rocks.  Because if there's one thing her bedroom needs, it's one more piece of useless crap.

All in all, it was a good day, a good weekend.  Listening to my daughter's exhilarated giggling on the first coaster made the trip worthwhile.  And the minor bout with nausea, I guess.  When we got home, I asked her, "What was your favorite thing about today?"

"The roller coaster that we rode two times!"

 "Yeah, what else?" I asked.

"My other favorite thing was that you bought me those magnet rocks."  Crap. I mean to tell you I had already unpacked and I cannot find those buggers anywhere.  So, I quickly hopped online and ordered a set.  I'm hoping they arrive before she remembers/notices she hasn't seen the others.  The things we do, I tell ya.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A big bucket of self-esteem

My daughter is learning to write bona fide English words and recently strung together her first sentence unassisted. Well, she had written phonetically-spelled phrases like “I lv u” in the past and had asked for help in spelling various words, but this was the first time I’d seen her write a fully-formed sentence with no help. What did she write, you ask?

“I like me.”

This short phrase is so telling of my daughter’s personality. She does like herself – quite a lot, actually. She also assumes that everyone else digs her in equal measure. I have no idea what it’s like to go through life with such high self-esteem. I step into the world every morning with the assumption that a) I look like shit, and b) everyone else agrees with my assessment. My daughter steps into the world every morning with the thought that a) it’s too frickin’ early (she’s not a morning person), b) she’s adorable, and c) everyone agrees with her assessment.

She’s not just confident, though. She’s also highly social (I suppose the two go hand-in-hand). She told me the other day that she “just likes meeting new people.” A waves to strangers everywhere we go, chatting them up if they get within range. Therefore, it’s not too surprising that her teacher sent home this note the other day:

Mrs L wrote it at the top of a blank worksheet, which was supposed to be filled out by my daughter during class. The worksheet was blank because apparently my little buttercup has better things to do than to learn about the letter T.

I told A that she missed her chance to learn about the letter T, and now she'll have to go through the rest of her life not understanding its correct usage. She likes herself, though, and that's the important thing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's probably best if you don't ask

Every so often, I log in at Google Analytics and review the various site statistics associated with my blog. See that Google ad on the right side of my blog?  Now, I don't mean to brag here but I mean to tell you that I've earned zero dollars from that bad boy. At this rate, not only will my daughter be unable to go Ivy League or even out-of-state college, I think we are looking more along the lines of a trade she can learn in a four-hour seminar on a Saturday.

Most of the traffic reports remain fairly consistent over time.  I generally receive roughly the same number of visitors each week.  Most come to the blog directly (probably via a bookmark or email notification) and some are linked via other blogs (which I very much appreciate!)  I fantasize about being chosen as a "Blog of Note" by Blogger (an instant guarantee of tons o'traffic), but I think I've used the F word too many times to qualify for that.  The most interesting report is undoubtedly the keyword report.  This tells me what keywords visitors typed over at Ye Old Google to find my humble blog.

Allow me to share a few of these with you:

poop swamp
claudia marie (this must be from my stalker, who knows my first AND middle name)
socks on her hands
pillow pets confirmation (you need confirmation that it's a rip off? confirmed!)
chew somebody else's
neglected husband (very funny, P)
claudia marie whore (whaaaaaaaaaaaa?)
eye doctor dilation drops feel dizzy and sick (I know your pain)
fiery redhead pregnant (my little sister is knocked up again? I'm always the last to know!)
liquor store near alabaster
motorized stripper pole directions (motorized??????)
my child doesn't appear to hear me (I know your pain, too)
poop in my snow pants
alabaster and you to you big shit joke punchline (that one's hilarious!  wait, how does it go again?)

I guess it should probably depress me a little that a fair number of people visit my blog not because they think I'm a good writer, but because they've shit their snow pants and are looking for assistance.  I'll take what I can get, I guess.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Five hunnerd

Blog entry #500!  I should probably commemorate this auspicious occasion in some celebratory way, but I just attended a wine festival yesterday and my liver has asked me to take 'er easy this week. 

I attended the wine festival with one of my fellow rescue volunteers.  We worked our arses off at a huge fundraiser on Saturday, so we felt justified in raising a little hell on Sunday.  There was a fine art fair held in the same park.  I bought a $10 ring.  All it took was one glass of vino and my friend was sporting a $75 necklace.  She cleared the purchase with her husband, but apparently she is gonna have to put out pretty regularly for the next month or so.  We had a lot of fun, though.  There was a grape stomp and we voted for a shirtless young guy.  He really worked for it, stomping the grapes like a pro and catering to the mostly female crowd.  Later, we actually discussed the possibility of following him into a port-a-potty and asking if we could lick his biceps.  Like I said, we'd had a few and these were generously poured glasses, people.  We also walked down a nearby boardwalk and met a sixteen-year-old dog with green teeth.  The sweet, bony old thing just melted our drunken little hearts.  Anyway, it was a good day.  At this point we're not sure if our husbands are going to support future play dates, however.

The fundraiser on Saturday was a lot of work but it paid off - we raised a good chunk of change for the dogs.  We were in a new location, so we have a few kinks to work out for next year, but everyone worked hard and got the job done. There were a lot of vendors there, so I bought a few things when I wasn't running around like a crazy person.  I also won a Patagonia jacket in the silent auction. P and I were working, so I kept pawning our child off on various friends and acquaintances.  A friend of mine is heavily involved in reptile rescue, and she brought a ball python for my serpent-loving kid to hold.  All day long, people were coming up to me and asking if I was aware that my child had a snake wrapped around her.  Each time I would just nod and say, "Yes, my friend brought the snake specifically for that reason." 

That's all the news for now.  I know I've been behind on posting, but the pre-fundraiser activities kept me fully occupied last week.  Thanks for hanging in and waiting for #500.  And thank you for reading my blog - I appreciate the love.  Feel free to raise a glass in my honor, but please do it quietly.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Big D

Lately it seems like quite a few of my friends and acquaintances have found themselves in the middle of a life-changing but unfortunate event: divorce. On Sunday afternoon I got together with a few of my rescue friends to prepare for an upcoming fundraiser. One of them mentioned to me that she is getting divorced – it will be final in two weeks. I felt terrible for not having realized she was going through a tough time over the past few months. I gave her a call later in the evening and expressed concern that I had been an inattentive friend. “No, I just didn’t want to be that friend,” she said, “The friend who is always talking about her problems.”

I didn’t want to be overly nosy, but I couldn’t help but ask what had gone wrong. They had always seemed to me like such a great couple. He is vegan and she is vegetarian – he was always cooking something or other for her, seemed attentive to her needs. Meanwhile, P once made me a pancake (sometime in the late 90s, I think). I get my semi-annual "You look nice today" right on schedule (typically, once in the summertime and once around the holidays). My friend said that things had simply changed and that he wasn’t the person she thought he was. It sounds like things are pretty amicable between them. She just didn’t want to live out her life in a way that wasn’t genuine and true. The relationship became more wrong than right, I suppose.

A few other friends have gone through divorces recently. Varying reasons, I guess. Yesterday morning one of my mom friends posted on Facebook that her husband has cheated on her. She’s clearly devastated (she posted in the middle of the night – always a bad sign). Obviously it’s not clear at this point that their marriage will be dissolved, but I’m guessing she’s got a tough road ahead regardless. She described it as "the worst feeling in the world." 

Whenever I hear that a friend is going through a divorce, I can’t help but turn an eye inward and examine my own marriage. Are we sturdier than the others? What’s not to say he won’t come home tomorrow and tell me that he’s found his soul mate? What if I look into those brown eyes someday and not feel anything at all?

Generally speaking, I think our marriage does work well. We’ve been together for over 18 years, married for over 13. Before meeting P, I’d dated enough to know what I wanted and didn’t want. What I definitely did NOT want was someone who would smother me. I didn’t want a man who would call me ten times a day and ask way too many questions when I leave the house. P is not like that. Be careful what you wish for, though, because if I go on a solo vacation to visit my family out of state, I can be gone for a solid week and it won’t occur to him to call me even once. It’s not that he doesn’t love me, he’s just not the “oh I just wanted to hear your voice” type. I am surprised that his friends are still willing to be his friend – he doesn’t call them either.

I think the real key is that we have lots of things in common (food, music, etc.) but we don’t insist upon doing everything together. I always envision the two of us like a Venn diagram. Our circles intersect in such a way that the shared area is substantial without precluding independence. I think we communicate well and have respect for each other (even though P does collect comic books). Really, though, I don't know that our bond is any more or less tenuous than the ones my friends knew. I'm sure they thought their relationships were solid, too.  How does anyone really know?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thinkin' crazy thoughts here

I’m pondering the unthinkable: driving to Oklahoma to visit my muddah for Thanksgiving. My youngest sister, my brother-in-law, and two of my nephews live in the Sooner State as well. You caught the “driving” part of the first sentence, right? We’re talking about a 17-hour drive, with an unruly Kindergartner in the back seat. At first, when I brought it up, I thought P wouldn’t go for it. He’d be staying home, after all. I wondered if he might be concerned about having his only wife and only child on the road, far from home. As it turned out, though, he had no concerns about our personal safety whatsoever. I am pretty sure his head was immediately filled with visions of him playing online poker 24/7 and eating Taco Bell three times a day. And possibly not changing his underwear regularly.

There is a method to my madness here. I did some math on what it would take to fly.

Two plane tickets: $900.00 (no lie - I just checked)

Rental car: $336.00

Baggage fees $100.00

Long-term parking @ airport: $50.00

Approximate total: $1386.00

If we drive, we have gas, tolls, food, and two cheap hotel rooms (since we would split the trip into two parts, each way). I estimate the total at $500ish. The biggest toll would be to my mental health, of course. I would expect to hear "are we there yet?" a few thousand times (probably before we even crossed our own state line). With our finances being what they are lately (the water heater died this week – rock on!) though, the driving option is starting to look awfully attractive. Well, not "attractive" so much as "do-able."  I don’t know for certain that I can take that week off from work, but I’m hopeful. The technology biz is typically a bit slow over the holidays anyway.

There are a few other benefits to driving vs. flying aside from the cost. Normally, when we visit my mother, she likes to buy stuff (large, impractical stuff) for her granddaughter and then we run into the issue of a) it won’t fit in the suitcase or b) it might put the suitcase over the weight limit. This way, she can buy toys and whatnot to her heart’s content. My coolmobile has room aplenty. We won’t have to worry about paring down what we bring (and what we bring back). We could even bring some food/drinks from home and save money that way.

So yeah, I’m giving some serious thought to this trip. This may be the surest sign yet that I am slowly losing it. Buying the mini-van was the first sign.  Driving cross-country in the mini-van is the second. My mother and sister are assembling an incentive package in order to convince me and A to make the trip. We require some wooing, you see. So far the package includes a $15 iTunes gift card and the offer to sleep on sheets with a freakishly high thread count.  I think I may hold out a bit longer to see what else they might come up with.  I'm waiting to hear words like "free babysitting" and "expensive vodka."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brand Awareness

When my daughter was a wee toddler, she had little to no exposure to commercials on television.  She watched "The Letter Factory" DVD (literally, hundreds of millions of times - I must admit that as a result, she knew her letters and corresponding sounds by 18 months, but I lost a little piece of my sanity) or she watched a channel called Noggin, which was commercial free.  Eventually, though, she outgrew Dora, Diego, Max, and Ruby. This summer, when we weren't at the park or at a festibul, she watched Phineas and Ferb and of course the ubiquitous Spongebob Squarepants.  The various Nickelodeon channels do have commercials aplenty.  And she absorbs their content remarkably well.  When I am making dinner, I frequently hear this sort of thing from the other room:

"Mama! You have to buy the Perfect Brownie Pan!  Right away!"

"Can we get a Big Top Cupcake?"

"Mama, I think you need a Mister Steamy for the dryer."

If she tells me I need a Shake Weight, I'm kicking her out.  And who can forget the video of my little pixie advertising Danimals Crush Cups (a product she is desperate for me to buy even though she does not like yogurt in any form)?  My point is: the advertising folks can rejoice, because your plot is clearly working.  Fortunately, we haven't gotten to the point where she is rejecting products that are not name brand or items that may be used (pre-owned, if you prefer).  She wears a lot of Gymboree dresses, true, but I buy many of them on eBay.  She doesn't seem to notice the difference. Yet.

However, the other day we were in the car after I picked up her from school and we talked about her day.  Normally, she does not wear sneakers, but I knew she had gym class that day and had persuaded her to wear a pair to school (along with a skort).  She looked down at her Kohl's brand shoes.  "Mama," she started, "You know these are NOT Skechers, right?"   As a matter of fact, I was aware of that fact and advised her accordingly.  She likes the Skechers "Twinkle Toes" shoes that came out recently, and those buggers are $40! Not happening, particularly in the case of a little girl who only wears dresses and normally shuns sneakers.

On Sunday, we attended a concert at church.  It was held outdoors and the kids played on the swing set while the adults enjoyed some excellent folk music.  As we were driving home, I noticed she had a massive grass stain on her new pink leggings.  "I have no idea how to get that grass stain out," I told her, frowning.  She sighed (how frustrating it must be for her to have such a slow-witted parent). 

"You would just use an OxyClean PowerPak."  Well, duh.

The kid is planning to ask for a Pillow Pet for Christmas.   I'm not sure if she's getting one or not.  Not getting one would build character, I say.  Just like the character-building I did when my parents refused to buy me some Jordache jeans back in the day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I might just be a little verklempt here

A couple years ago, I received an email from a woman who had just had her third miscarriage.  A mutual friend put her in touch with me.  She was trying to decide what to do next, a common scenario for couples that encounter infertility.  Do you put money into treatments, do you put it towards an adoption, or do you decide that maybe childlessness is your fate?

I responded to this grieving woman through this blog entry.   I figured, if it could help one person, maybe it could help two. Who knows who reads these things.  I visit an adoption message board on Babycenter and I know this decision is a common struggle.  Many are driven to carry on their genes, but maybe their genes won't cooperate.  On a related topic, may I pass along a pet peeve of mine?  The phrase "can't have children of my own" makes me cringe.  I see it all the time on the message board. I don't try to pretend that my daughter carries my DNA, but I have taken care of her every need since the moment she was born.  I tuck her in after a bad dream wakes her up. I read to her (and yes, I alter voices accordingly). I make her eat vegetables against her will.  I know every inch of her and I can pick out her "Mama!" from a sea of other children. My heart knows . . . she is my own.

The other day, I received an update from the woman who emailed me two years ago.

I don't know if you remember me.  I am a friend of J's and about 2 years ago, you wrote a blog post for me as I was trying to decide if adoption was the way to build our family.

I thought I'd give you an update.  Well, my husband and I made the decision to pursue domestic adoption and signed up with our agency in Oct. 08.  We were home study ready in Mar. 09 and our son was recently born out of state in May 2010.  He is now nearly 4 months old and the absolute light of our lives!  All of this time I thought we were waiting to be parents and in reality, we were waiting for C, so we could be his parents. 

Sometimes when he is sleeping in my arms and looking particularly angelic, I will look at my husband and almost say "Can you believe we made this (him)?" and then I remember "Oh, right, we didn't."  Even though realistically  I know that I did not give birth to him, I honestly think I feel the same connection and love as if I did.  I can't picture loving anyone any more. He is my son and the one we were waiting for.  I feel so blessed that we pursued domestic adoption.  The suffering beforehand sucked, but what was waiting on the other side was totally worth it. Thanks for your support all that time ago.  I just wanted to let you know that your words really made a difference.

Now, obviously I realize that my words were only a teeny, tiny fraction of what went into this decision and subsequent placement, but I can't tell you how happy I am that she is a mom now.  Pretty soon, she will start to wonder what she did with herself (and her time and her money) before she became a mom.  So many firsts are ahead: first steps, first words, first violent stomach flu. One moment my daughter hugs me around the neck and tells me she loves me, the next moment she stomps down the hall and informs me, "You make me one hundred sad!"  (That is very sad indeed, ya'll.) As with the woman who emailed me, the journey was tough, but this mom thing ain't half bad.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Like seeing a ghost

I hauled my carcass to Weight Watchers this morning. I have a scale at home - an accurate one - but I purposely did not weigh myself for the past two weeks.  I was afraid that if I knew how far adrift I was, I wouldn't go to the meeting, wouldn't face the music.  I feared I'd convince myself, "You can get back on track next week" and then repeat that scenario ad infinitum.  I had a good week (two strenuous workouts, one bike ride, some dog walking, and fairly decent eating habits), so I went.

I was up five pounds over my last visit (in mid-July).  The kindly WW employee who weighed me in offered to make today's weight my starting weight.  "You could start over," she said.  I declined.  It's all part of my journey and I can't pretend that last year did not happen. It is what it is.  The meeting was a good one - the topic was exercise and how to fit it into one's life.  After five years as a member, I've sat through every possible meeting topic and variation thereof, but it's always helpful to hear how the other members interpret it.

I had the kid with me, and after the meeting I took her next door for pancakes.  I had a five-dollar gift certificate for the joint so I figured it was time to use it.  The breakfast rush was on, and we had to wait a few minutes for a table.  After a bit, we were seated in the section belonging to a hard-working middle-aged server who was all double negatives and "what can I get you, honey?" I ordered two pancakes and a side of hash browns.  For my companion, I ordered the kids' pancake and porky breakfast with no porky. While we waited for our order, A colored yet another rainbow and I looked around at the lunch crowd while thumbing through emails on my phone.  The median weight in our immediate area, I think, was around 300.  I spotted one couple who sat diagonally from each other at a table for four.  They spoke nary a word, just kept chewing.  Across from us, four Rubenesque ladies struggled to get out of their booth. From table to table, the food portions seemed overly generous. 

Now, please know that I was not looking upon my fellow diners with disgust or anything close to it. I have struggled far too hard with my own weight issues to cast stones at anybody else.  I came to the realization, though, that I can never give up the fight. A size 10 quickly becomes a 14 become plus-size becomes a Discovery Channel special about your life. A lady in the meeting this morning shared with the group that she'd had a heart attack.  "My cardiologist is a great guy," she said, "but I don't want any of you to meet him." She had learned a hard lesson about her health (five stents later) and now found the time to take care of herself.

I ate 3/4 of a pancake (I had not realized quite how large they'd be) and a few bites of hash browns and split. By the time we left, the server had called me every possible term of endearment except "sweet lips."  She was like the Midwest's answer to Flo from Mel's Diner. To counteract the pancake, I ate sparingly the rest of the day, and delighted my family with fresh green beans for dinner (and by "delighted" I mean "disgusted").

Anyway, I am feeling motivated and certainly hope it lasts.  I suppose it helps that the season of festibuls is over.

I'll leave you with a tune to which I've been tapping my foot all week.  This video has embedding disabled, but I hope you'll check it out.  I dare you not to at least bob your head a little.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day of the Big K

My baby started Kindergarten this week. It was hard to tell if she was excited about her first day or not, in as much as she is never fully coherent until around 10:00 a.m. and I leave for work at 6:55 a.m. I just sort of dress her and then prop her up on the couch. So, it’s the same now that school has started, but with the addition of a backpack attached to her shoulders. She is going to the same school as last year, and some of her friends are in her class (for 4K you can choose to send your child to any accredited center – it does not have to be your home school, so only a few of the kids from her 4K class are in her Kindergarten class). Not that she would care much if she didn’t know anyone. My outgoing child truly lives by that old “there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet” adage.

Anyhow, we sent her off to Kindercare on the first day of school, where she was then bussed over to her elementary school. Her Princess Tiana backpack contained her lunch, a kitten folder, and a writing journal. What I’ve decided to do about lunch is to send food on days when there is not a meatless option, and to have her eat lunch at school on days when there is. I think it will work out to be approximately 50/50. I put $25.00 in a lunch fund to get us started. How fabulous it is that kids don’t have to carry cash to school these days. I remember losing my lunch money more than a few times. Of course, my youngest sister had our dad convinced that lunch was something like $5 a day, and I believe she collected enough to have a beer fund for her entire first year of college.

When I picked the kid up after her first day of school, I asked lots of questions in order to get a feel for how her first day as a big Kindergartner went. She seemed over it already ("we played at the park, we rested because teacher said we have to rest our bodies, we ate lunch"). All was well until I opened the backpack. Ugh. Now, this is one of those things that you would think you don’t need to spell out for a kid, but if you think that, you’d be wrong. It seems I never explicitly told her not to returned half-consumed food to her lunchbox. So, she ate half a container of Mott’s applesauce and put the rest of it (lidless, open plastic container) back in her lunchbox. Then she drank half of her Juicy Juice box and put that back in the box as well. So, I was met with a backpack full of leaking juice and applesauce. It got on the kitten folder and the writing journal, among other items. Noooooooo

I had to email her teacher on the very first day of school and request a new writing journal. I was able to salvage most of the 88 papers sent home on the first day, or at least I was able to read them before tossing them into the recycling bin. I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long year. Just 13 years until graduation!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Five years ago

. . . I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting for the first time. It was early September 2005. My daughter was just four months old. Unlike most new moms, I was not overweight because I'd just given birth. It's hard to hang your hat on that particular excuse when your baby did not, in fact, live in your uterus at all. Indeed, I had reached maximum density all on my own.

I had been putting on weight for a while. For most of my life, I think I've been what you'd call average-sized. I've been a size 10 for virtually all of my adult life. I've been as small as an 8 and as large as a 12, but never anything outside that range. I don't know if it was the cascade of miscarriages that caused me to give up on my body completely or if it was something else that is outside my consciousness (and yes, I'm a vegetarian and yes, you'd think that I'd be thin as a result, but let me remind you that there is no meat in brownies). Once my daughter was born, though, I had a new reason to care what happened to me. I am planning to do a lot of things to embarrass her as she grows up, but I didn't want my weight to be one of them. The final push came when I saw some photos of myself that were taken during a vacation in the summer of 2005. I am fortunate in that when I gain or lose weight, I stay fairly proportionate. It's not as if any particular part of me takes on elephantine proportions. But still, I didn't like what I saw. Pudgy knees, puffy face, chubby me.

So, I joined Weight Watchers (walking into that first Saturday morning meeting was not easy!) and lost over six pounds the first week. Exhilarated, I stuck with the program and steadily lost pounds until finally reaching my goal weight in 2006. Since then, it's been an ongoing battle of gain and loss. Mostly gain. My job situation got very rocky starting in September of 2009 and my willpower decreased as my anxiety rose. I have gained back far more weight than I'd care to admit (not all of it, but a frustrating amount nonetheless).

Sure, I can still wear most of the same clothing I could wear a year ago, but I can't say that it fits well. I have a new appreciation (and hatred) for the term "muffin top." The days of indulgence must end now. Now, on the fifth anniversary of my original journey's start, I start anew. A friend of mine is joining me in recommitting. Self-sabotage is getting us nowhere.

Onward and upward.