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Habitual Consumerism ARGH!

17 Oct

I am so mad and frustrated. I have a problem with habitual consumerism, you see. I “shop” to fill my empty time and I shop to relieve stress. In fact, most of us buy things we don’t need and most of us buy something or spend money every single day here in the U.S. of A. I now find myself in a situation that requires a reworking of our budget and spending habits. Er, my spending habits. Which requires a complete overhaul of my mindless habits! Yay!

 

It’s so crazy how I can be aware of this and still do it…I made a commitment to myself a week or so ago to not buy anything other than necessary food for the rest of the year. It should be simple. And yet I found myself buying a couple things that were not food. I even have a big stash of potential gifts that I hoard so I’m not even super worried about Christmas gifts. I also buy everyone’s Christmas gifts year round. I just love scanning the aisles of merchandise and when I see something that a close friend or family would love, I have a VERY hard time not buying it and putting it in my “gift stash.” More often than not I scan the aisles of thrift stores and the clearance sections of TJMaxx and Marshalls. Luckily because of this, I haven’t bankrupted my family yet. However, the principle has becoming more and more nudgy in the corners of my mind. It’s just not right to buy stuff you don’t need. There are many spiritual guides and texts, both ancient and modern that advise against hoarding possessions. In our modern world it is so hard to escape the constant barrage of “you need this new throw pillow and centerpiece because now it’s autumn!” Or because now it’s bosses day! Or this new pink bra because now it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month! I have so many home decor items just piled in my basement. I buy stuff so frequently and fill so much of my empty time with shopping and internet and internet shopping that I don’t ever manage to display my beautiful treasures!!! I mean, how absurd is that?! One of my main goals is to simplify the kids’ toys and yet I come home from Goodwill with bags and bags of “new to us” toys almost every freaking week. Then gifting occasions arise and I feel embarrassed and materialistic even making wish lists for the kids. Or myself. Like, more?! Now OTHER people are going to give us even MORE stuff that we don’t really “need.” I could do a whole post alone on the weird relationship I have with gifting. It’s like I want to be able to buy everything for everyone but for no one to buy stuff for me because I feel embarrassed of all the stuff I’ve already bought myself! Receiving gifts for me really throws a light on one of my worst habits. I do try to move as much out of the house as I move in…which sort of goes in fits and spurts. But again, it’s the principle here that really is getting under my skin. Or rather, the lack of upholding this principle and the inability to control myself.

I am SO SICK OF IT and disgusted with myself. But these habits are apparently so ingrained that I can’t simply stop. I guess this kind of thing needs addressed like any other addiction, and I think step one is to find a healthy replacement activity. For a while I was successful with reading books. What I really want to do is actually finish all of the projects piled up around the house. I want to stop buying stuff and actually MAKE the things I’ve already got piled up in every room. What happened this last time is I had a stressor shatter my resolve during a period of burnout. I had been feverishly purging possessions and working on projects and reading books and I got tired and just wanted to veg. Enter the internet, my mind numbing device of choice. It’s very hard to go on the internet and not be bombarded by consumerism triggers. So my brain started saying YES, how neat, I NEED THAT. if I had that I could make this! In fact, just now the idea of gazing out the window instead of gazing at Facebook and Pinterest occured to me. And almost immediately my brain went to “if I built that window seat on the landing it would be the perfect place to gaze out of the window!” Of course building that window seat requires a trip to the store. OF COURSE IT DOES. Mother of avarice and GOOD GRIEF!!! I can’t escape this programming it seems and simple awareness is not enough. It’s going to be a long, painful road of slip-ups and failures. But I must press on down this road. I must remake my life into one of doing over acquiring. I am making progress. Very slow and fraught with disappointment, but today is a new day. I will start again. And I will start by avoiding my triggers and brainstorming things I can DO with what I already have! Which is much. I am blessed and I must not squander my abundant blessings.

25 Things I Know About Myself

6 Jun

My friend Britt writes a blog on her website called In Pursuit of Happiness, and she posted this list of things you should know about yourself today. I love quizzes and telling people about myself with an eye to connecting on common ground or even revising misconceptions I have. And so I give you, 25 things.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

MOUNTAINS. One word: sharks. More words: people can’t breathe under water. If I’m going to die at the hands of razor sharp teeth, I better not be drowning at the same time. Or maybe that would actually be a godsend…I guess it depends what kills you first, the water or the shark. Plus snowboarding is my most favorite thing EVER.

What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

French toast. But I rarely do because gluten. I like to put peanut butter on it these days with a drizzle of maple syrup. It’s good when eaten for dinner too, by the way.

Are you a night owl, early bird, or afternoon person?

Hmmmm. I think in this season of my life I’m an early bird. I like the quiet of the house before everyone wakes up and chaos ensues for hours on end. At night I feel like there are still echoes of that chaos all around. Such as the sink full of dirty dishes. The socks and toys strewn across every open space. The dirty laundry on the bathroom floor, and so on. And it feels like a rush to get it all taken care of so I can go to bed early enough to not feel exhausted all the next day.

How spicy do you like your Indian food?

Just a hint of Indian heat, because Indians have a completely different scale for spicy than westerners do. And their scale is, like, logarithmic.

What kind of music makes you happy?

Wow. So many kinds. The only thing I just am too old for is the new generation of metal or screamo or whatever they call it.

What kind of music do you like to listen to when you’re sad?

My John Mayer pandora station.

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Cherry. Although Key Lime held the top spot for a very long time.

What’s your favorite season?

Without a doubt, Fall. I’m rejuvenated from the summer sunshine and looking forward to the color change, the festivals, and ski season. The air smells delicious and my body is ready for cool breezes.

What’s your best physical feature?

Ooooh. Always so difficult to look at oneself with an admiring eye. I’ll go with my hair. Even though it drives me CRAZY with the sweaty and the frizz and the general unruliness.

What makes you laugh?

The unexpected. And incongruity.

What kind of books do you like to read?

Fantasy and historical fiction.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

I love so many restaurants, I cannot pick one.

What kind of food do you not like?

Many kinds of seafood are not my thing. Some of it is good, but a lot of it I can live without.

Would you rather be hugged or told that you are loved?

Hugged!

What scares you?

Losing my kids, failure, the unknown, the misunderstood…

How does your creativity show up?

I think I apply it the most in home decor and homemaking in general, but I love to make things, doodle, sew, refinish, and repurpose…even if I don’t do it FREQUENTLY. Just recently I’ve started expressing my creativity in our yard. And though it’s not really what comes to mind, I think my creativity often surfaces in my thought processes. I like to think I see things differently, unconventionally a lot of the time. In fact, I look for the opposing viewpoints and speculate about the many different ways of experiencing life. I think that is creative.

What type of exercise do you enjoy?

Yoga and snowboarding. That is pretty much it. I guess spinning is ok too.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Ice cream. I’m not going to over think this one. Sometimes I get strong cravings for chocolate or baked goods (read: McDonald’s hot apple pie) but there is nothing I love more than good ice cream. Generally just plain vanilla, but I’m a sucker for strange combinations like corn & cinnamon. Yes. I had a delicious cinnamon gelato studded with corn kernels. I had a basil mint gelato once too. Yolo, man, yolo.

Where do you feel safe?

With James.

Do you enjoy horror movies?

No. Absolutely, positively NO. If you enjoyed horror movies, wouldn’t that mean you’re, like, evil on some level? Maybe not, but don’t tell me if you do because that would weird me out.

Where’s your favorite place to be touched?

Between my shoulder blades. Possibly the back of my neck just above my hairline, but that spot seems more intimate to me, so don’t go trying to touch me there unless you’re James.

What makes it hard to be friends with you?

I hide out in my house and I’m not good at making plans to get together.

What do people love about you?

I don’t know.

What’s your learning style?

I tied for Visual-Spatial and Intrapersonal.

What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type?

ESTJ

Is there anything you need to learn about yourself?

Yes. Always. ALWAYS.

Big Productive Weekend, Pt 2 (Bed Project)

10 Sep

The other part of our productive weekend involved cutting our king-sized bed in half and distributing the halves to the kids’ rooms. Originally there was no plan to remove B’s crib but we figured, “What the heck!” So now B is adjusting to a twin sized mattress on the floor where his crib used to be. He is entertained by the newness and he likes prancing around on the mattress, but sleeping there is going to take a little getting used to, I guess. I woke up alone to find James curled up next to B on the big boy bed. Judging by B’s crankiness today…I’d say neither of them got much rest. For my part, it was my night to wear the earplugs, so I slept pretty well save for 3 incidents of bad dreams in Dagny’s room. Ahhh, parenthood.

Anyway, so our bed. Now gone. We moved our guest bed, a double/full sized bed that was residing in a guest room area of the basement, up to our room and are sleeping on that until we get a new queen mattress. I just love that full mattress. Haven’t been able to find such perfectly squishy, yet firm mattress since and I no longer have any record of who I bought it from. I just know that I got it on eBay and that it was made in the USA. Anyway…here’s how it all went down. I give you…the cutting in half of a king sized memory foam mattress:

Yay!

For the record, we did have to trim a bit off the end for the half-mattress to fit into Dagny’s bed frame. Better to have too much than not enough, right?

Big Productive Weekend, Pt 1 (Kitchen Progress)

10 Sep

We knocked a couple big project items off the to-do list this weekend! It was thoroughly satisfying to erase them from my new “central command wall” whiteboard. Very exciting, you guys.

The first thing we finished was the hanging of the Fintorp bars and Grundtal shelves I bought at Ikea. I think it looks just like I envisioned…which in real life has a different feel than my original sketch. I like it though, and it has freed up almost an entire cabinet.

Ikea Grundtal Shelves

Paleo Day 1

12 Jun

First of all…I’m not even totally sure what I’m doing is 100% paleo, but I am mainly following the guidance from Robb whatever his name is’s website. Originally I was going to go dairy free as part of the whole thing, but that was scrapped as of lunchtime, which was meal #2. I really just wanted to put up a baseline marker so I can compare my impressions a week from now…and depending how well I can manage this, a month from now and so on. I guess that means I should touch on a few things, namely, my reasons and expectations, what we have eaten and plan to eat, and my observations of how it seems to be effecting us.

So my reasoning is basically a desperate attempt to feel better. I’ve been in an epic funk. I’m tired ALL DAY long from the moment I wake up until I lay down and then I can’t sleep and I toss, turn and wake all through the night. I have no energy or motivation to do anything physical and it makes me sad that I don’t feel more excited about my daughter inviting me to kick a soccer ball around the yard. Or play her favorite game of all time, “run & tickle!” So my hopes are less depression and more energy. I’m also secretly hoping all my physical complaints will melt away but I think that is wishful thinking. My PMDD, I could live without that. Sciatica. Muscle tension. The usual stuff. Would I like it if my saddlebags miraculously disappeared? Uh, yeah. I might have an identity crisis, but it would be the most joyful identity crisis on record. Do I expect that to happen? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA. I actually expect I will gain weight because HOW COULD YOU NOT eating all that freaking meat?! Time will tell, y’all, time will tell.

So as far as what we plan to eat…

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So far we are on track and I made everything as planned. I also had to supplement with a 3 inch chunk of almond buttered celery twice, 1.5 peaches, 5 or 6 grapes, a hardboiled egg (without the yolk, because GAG,) 2 handfuls of raw cashews, and a large bowl of yonanas with almond butter and a honey drizzle. It worked out to about 1.5 bananas, a heaping tablespoon of almond butter and a drizzle of honey, because I know you are dying to know those fine details.

The kids were not super thrilled. Their milk will run out around lunch tomorrow and I have already been steeling myself for the backlash for about 2 days. They begged for ketchup (which they have been known to eat with a spoon) during breakfast and lunch, so for dinner I mixed up some homemade ketchup with tomato paste, honey, apple juice, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and some spices. Next time I will forego the lemon juice and maybe use a different more complicated recipe because this one was just meh. The kids were super happy though. They ate all the chicken I gave them with the help of the ketchup. Both of them picked at their plates and left most of the food untouched for lunch which I blame partially on the coconut oil I used to fry up the broccoli. I didn’t like the flavor myself, but James did. Next time it’s back to olive oil. I mostly used the coconut out of curiosity. Anyway…breakfast was well received by Dagny, she cleaned her plate even without the ketchup but Bode was stubborn. We gave them each half a peach at the end of breakfast. I also tried offering a almond buttered celery at midmorning and that was rejected. I gave them milk & raisins to tide them over while I finished lunch, grapes for afternoon snack and grapes before bed (when we got home from the YMCA) as well.

Overall I was slightly disappointed that I was hungry a lot, nothing really changed from my normal hungry all day feelings. Especially after spinning. I was raging hungry. I always am. My stomach growls all the way home and through our bedtime routine until I can gorge myself on something sugary and full of carbs. Sometimes I sneak downstairs and do it while James bathes the kids because I get ANGRY hungry. So, hopefully this kind of stuff, along with the intense cravings for baklava, ramen, Wendy’s Frosties and dozen donuts for $4.99 will soon abate, because I’m only human, you guys. And 12 strawberry jelly filled donuts sing a sweet, sweet siren song. But I will be strong. Donuts are evil. Duh. I know that.

Oh yeah and since it was appalling. Grocery bill for that little plan up there was over $250. My usual bill is between $60-$150. Some stuff was ramp up stuff, and I did buy $17 worth of toilet paper, but that is still really high for us.

Kitchen, Chalkboard Mostly Complete

11 Jun

Well, the chalkboard is completed to my satisfaction. I think some people might have gripes with it, but I’ve love it. I think it looks great, reminds me of the many chalkboards I stared at in college. I was taken by surprise that it reminded me most of college, particularly my time at Mines. There was also a strong memory of a chalkboard from fourth grade that surfaced as well. But hey, I’m getting off track.

I chose green probably because I hate doing things the way everyone else does them. Maybe it could be considered rebellious…or more likely just contrarian. Maybe it also had some kind of sub-conscious mid-century feel for me too, I have no idea. I did not know green chalkboards were mid-century until I did a little reading about their history. And that only underscored my desire for green. I also was really scared to add dark colors (this will prove to be ironic when I share my next project with you) like black because of how much I struggle with the weeks long stretches of days without sunshine. I thought green would be a splash of summer (in a way) that would last all year. Although my green looks very much like a standard chalkboard green, I chose it from the wall of green samples at Lowe’s based on my own preferences. I was trying to achieve that look, I admit…but I chose a color I thought was a bit more verdant than standard  chalkboard green. I went brighter than I originally thought I would. And I am SO glad I did. The chalk definitely mutes it. The green made me super happy as soon as the first stroke was brushed. It was so rich and leafy. And since I can almost hear you yelling at me to tell what the color was, it was Balsam EB44-4 by Valspar Signature, OK?!

I followed Martha Stewart’s instructions for custom color chalkboard paint. I had some problems with trying to use just one coat not being thick enough. When I tried to sand it smooth with a random orbital sander, a lot of the paint came right off, all the way down to the wall.

To achieve the look that I ended up with, I used about four coats of paint, which worked out to about 2.5 cups of paint I would estimate. I let each coat dry for at least 8 hours. Then I waited 3 days after the last coat was finished and sanded it by hand. I had plans to take the orbital sander to it as well, but decided to scrap that at the last minute for fear of it breaking through to the wall again. Plus, it looked pretty cool the way it was and it was already smooth. I decided not to fix something that wasn’t broken.

There are definitely imperfections but you know what I realized…it’s going to be covered in chalk dust anyway. If you want your chalkboard to look like it’s just been washed all the time…well, why do you want a chalkboard at all? There are little white dots here and there where tiny bits of grout did not get perfectly mixed in.

Martha says to carefully break up clumps and I didn’t get serious about that until the last cup I mixed. For that I used a small strainer to sift the grout in and slowly mixed and sifted. It probably took me 10 minutes to get 2 tablespoons of grout sifted and mixed into the paint, but OH WAS IT WORTH IT. The texture of the sifted mixed paint was MUCH smoother than the previous batches. Had I done that from the outset, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have nearly as many tiny white dots. Which are completely and totally camouflaged by the chalky dusty look of a conditioned chalkboard.

Other than that, my lines are not perfect and the cheaper painters tape (Blue Hawk brand, I believe) I used pulled some of the paint off my wall. Easily remedied with some deep breathing and touch-up paint. I also noticed what looks like hairline scratches on the chalkboard that showed up after the conditioning step. I don’t know if it was the chalk I used, (Rose Art Washable…which is the only kind I could find at my Target,) or what. Again, totally blends in and doesn’t bother me at this point. Adds to the look of a well-used chalkboard…which brings me to my next point. Ghosting. A lot of people complain about ghosting on homemade chalkboards apparently. There is definitely some mild ghosting, but I thought it looked totally normal and about on par with ghosting I’ve seen on MANY commercial chalkboards. What chalkboard does not have some mild ghosting? I don’t know of any. If I firmly erase it (I’ve been using an old cloth diaper) there is a very faint ghost left, but you can’t really see it unless you get really close, which is fine with me. I think of the layers of faint writing as the patina of an authentic chalkboard, nomesay? Oh yeah! I skipped the step of wiping the “conditioning” chalk off with a barely damp sponge. I just sort of wiped over it all with the old cloth diaper and called it good.

I could not be happier with how this turned out. The kids seem to like it, although apparently having an entire freaking wall is not enough canvas to preclude the need for testing the chalk on every surface within reach…such as the carpet, moulding, adjacent walls, cabinetry, tile floor and so on. I am optimistic they will someday grow out of that.

The finished product will still be more refined in that I am planning to touch up the edges, maybe put up a wooden border and hopefully conceive of some clever way to store chalk that is accessible and looks cute at the same time. Currently I’m envisioning a small basket that will hang from the pot rack that I intend to install above the whiteboard that I intend to install above the chalkboard.

So there you have it! Chalkboard painting phase is done. Lots of touch up and additional details before my kitchen project is complete. I’m super excited about it and rejuvenated by my success with the chalkboard! Onward!

 

Kitchen, Early Phase 1

4 Jun

I’m taking the plunge on a chalkboard half-wall in the kitchen. It’s still drying, then I’ll sand it and condition it with chalk! I’m super duper pleased so far. The color, which I was fretting over, turned out to be AWESOME. I might do a more detailed post on the whole thing if there’s any interest, so let me know in the comments if you’d like more info.

I’m also uploading my sketch of the kitchen plan I have in mind.

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Crazy Hairy Hippie Legs

2 Apr

So far I’ve only really mentioned this in passing, right? I am, in fact, currently working on one of my Bomb List items. I am growing out my leg hair. And my armpit hair. I started around the first of the year, definitely some time in the first half of January. I just…got curious. Last year, I had to grow out my bikini mane so I could have it properly waxed and I think that might have planted a little seed of possibility in my mind regarding the legs. I’ve tried to do this before and failed miserably. It was years ago, I was single at the time and I may have overdone the natural approach. I stopped shaving and decided to forgo wearing a bra for several weeks. The shaving moratorium lasted less than a week, if I remember correctly. This time around I am more determined, obviously.

They definitely look like man legs, whatever that really means considering this is how God made me, and I am a woman. I have now been through 3 distinct phases of stubble. The initial one was the hardest, I think. But the second one caught me off guard. About 3 weeks after the initial itchy, prickly, crazy-making phase of growth I went through a second itchy, prickly, crazy-making phase. And then about 3 weeks after that, I had another one and I’m just now recovering from that one. I knew there were phases of hair growth and stuff, but I just didn’t put it all together that this would be an ordeal that would last weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. Some hairs are like an inch long, others are barely poking out from my skin. I don’t know how many more of these I will go through before all of my follicles will be grown out, but I hope it is none!

I figure I’ll give it until June. At that point I’m not really sure what I’ll do. I really like not having to shave. However I don’t like feeling self-conscious during spin class and sexy time. Speaking of sexy time, my husband is an incredibly accommodating supporter of mine. I get no flack from him about the hair. He almost seems as curious as me to see how it all turns out. Maybe I will just let them be natural until my kids start to get embarrassed by them. Maybe I’ll start waxing them. Maybe I’ll go back to shaving, although I find it to be somewhat futile.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! My armpits!!! So those grew out really fast and with no itching or discomfort at any point. The hair is fairly soft and I honestly forget it’s there until I catch a random glimpse of it in the mirror. It’s going to sound weird but I feel like having the hair grown out makes me sweat less under my arms. And I also think it might be less stinky, but that is debatable. I definitely take extra care to really scrub under my arms with it being grown out and I actually use shampoo on the hair under there. I think I will probably give up shaving my underarms for the foreseeable future. However, I think I will take up trimming it from time to time. It is barely noticeable from afar (I think,) even as long as it is, thanks to my fair complexion. I think if I trim it, there will be less of a shock factor when tank top season finally arrives.

So anyway…I had James take some pictures and I tried to wear something…distracting. Partly to see if the distraction would work and partly because I find the dichotomy amusing.

My new alias is Harriet Pitts.

My hairy man legs. Damn those are sexy shoes.

Remember that scene in True Lies where Jamie Lee Curtis is posing as an escort and trying to be all sexy. That is pretty much how this all went down and here is the proof. James was saying ridiculous things like, "Pretend you're a cat rubbing against the wall..." And I was laughing so hard I was crying.

Letting Go of Fear So I Can Begin Grasping

26 Mar

There were lots of “signs” indicating that today is maybe the day to write this post. I don’t even know what this post is. But let’s start with these. Trayvon Martin. Rage. Undercurrents of racism. Riptides of racism. Prejudice. Hopelessness. Hopefulness. Motherhood.

Oh boy. I am not even going to pretend that this is going to come out eloquently with coherent theme or message. I just hope that at the end, most of you still think I’m a good person. What I’ve been wrestling with, for many years, boils down to this. I am aware of and do not like racism. I recognize that I am prejudiced and I loathe it. Now before you burn me alive, know that although I concede prejudice, I fight it. I fight it within myself. There is internal dialogue, I actively examine my reflexive thoughts and try to correct and replace them. I’ve never read a more perfect description of how I feel than Glennon Melton’s post today on Momastery…which was the final straw that pushed me to write all this here.

Let me back up and “establish credibility.” I am a white female in my early thirties, in case that isn’t obvious yet. I grew up in a white, Catholic, middle-class family, and have rarely come into contact with (what do I say here?) black people in my short life. I have no black friends. I have one friend on Facebook, a person I know from high school, who is black. But although I adore that person, I wouldn’t call our relationship anything more than acquaintances right now. I would love for it to be more (hello Facebook friend!). I admire that person and would welcome a friendship if one develops. I have two (that I know of) friends that I’ve met through the local social media scene that have mixed children. I have one neighbor who is black and another who is a self-described mulatto. I once slept with someone who is black. These relationships embody all of my worldly experience of black people. And then there is the popular media and our social culture, and in general the social norms I learned in childhood. And that all leads me where? I don’t know. A pretty heavy fog of confusion from where I’m sitting.

All I know is that my heart is absolutely BROKEN about this whole Trayvon Martin case. I believe that as mothers we are bound together by that transcendental experience of bringing children into our hearts. Or are they placed there by God? Whatever you conceive God to be. Or hormones? In any case, I look at the pictures, I read the stories and I see my own son, my own daughter and I grieve for the pain my sister in motherhood is suffering. My absolute greatest fear in life is that I will lose a child. I literally don’t know what to do with myself right now…with this incredible empathy that has been placed in me. I just spent 20 minutes milling around in circles in my kitchen trying to decide if I should blog about this. Maybe I should write a letter to my one black aquaintence/friend? WHAT DO I DO!? How do I, little old, insignificant me, add my own stitch to mend together this awful injustice and the collective broken heart of our nation?

You know, months and months ago I went in circles with myself about posting something about the internal conflict I abide that is my reflexive prejudice and my desire to eradicate it from my mind. I went on Amazon and looked for books about black-white relations, and you know what? I was so put off by the venom in the comments that I never bought a single one. It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to reach out and know what to do but I get this overwhelming impression (from those comments and the random things I’ve seen & heard) that black people do not want to have to educate me. And really, should they have to? It irritates them that I don’t completely understand black culture, black history and the fine (or even obvious) details of the black experience. And all I know to do is beg from this stupid blog. I don’t know. How can I ever learn if I am shamed for wondering?

Overwhelmingly, I feel that this case, this Trayvon Martin tragedy is a huge call for society to join hands. I want to join my hands with yours, all of yours and be friends, be advocates for one another. It seems ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous that I could be so ignorant about something seemingly as basic as black culture, black people, everything. I mean, I should know all that, right? The civil rights movement? Desegregation? I should in this day and age, by default, be up to my eyeballs in my deep understanding of what it’s like to be black. I mean, I listen to rap music. (That was a joke, people. Although I do like some rap) The fact is, I think it’s taboo to discuss. So taboo, in fact, that I have never had the balls to discuss it other than once. I was a flight attendant at the time and I attempted to discuss a race relations current event with a black crew member. It did not go well. Suffice to say that she was very polite and although we had a really cool connection about something BEFORE I went out on the talking about racism limb, she never called me to host that “toy party” we discussed. I don’t blame her. I’m sure most people don’t really want a “project friend.” They just want to be normal, like there’s no weird tension there. So, yeah, haven’t done that again because I was clearly a complete tool about it, although I’m not exactly sure how. So better to stay safe and not drive away any more potential friends. Which I seem to be pretty good at, regardless of whether they are black, white or whatever. So yeah, maybe not a good idea to write a letter to that Facebook friend about all this.

But there IS that tension for me. I am ashamed of it. I want to get past it, but I don’t know how other than by the grace of others who are willing to set me straight and not dump me like yesterday’s garbage if I make a misstep. There is so much fear in me of saying or doing the wrong thing, I never reach out to get to know people in the first place. Like that mom at the mall playground I wanted to introduce myself to.  It’s so sad and pathetic. And yet here is this blinding beacon of a sign that I need to force myself to grow, force myself to go back out on that limb, and as one person begin to mend part of that national broken heart.

My heart is holding Ms. Fulton.

64 Weeks Later aka 14.5 Months Later aka The Grand Finale

25 Mar

So this is what I looked like yesterday, on March 24th, 2012, 14.5 months after I gave birth to my second child. To put that into a bit of perspective, I was 5.5 months pregnant with Bode 14.5 months after I gave birth to Dagny. And I STILL weigh more than I did 9 months postpartum from giving birth to Dagny. So in my experience, it was definitely harder to lose the baby weight the second time around. I still cannot fit into certain pairs of jeans that I was wearing when I got pregnant with B. But I CAN fit into my favorite shorts, so I’m a happy camper.

So anyway, I got a makeover at the local Giant Eagle and figured it was therefore a good day to take pictures. It was also the worst day of my period and I “felt fat.” I have to say, I haven’t “felt fat” since I looked over the pictures. In fact, “mental image of me” was way worse that “IRL (in real life, for those of you non-internet types) me.” I think I look pretty good, but strangely I can’t stop thinking about liposuctioning my saddlebags. Which then leads me to thinking about a boob job and a tummy tuck. Sigh. I want smooth, round, melon-y boobs, what can I say? I would love a less shriveled, less wrinkley midsection, but then again a Frankenstein scar that extends hipbone to hipbone is a bit creepy. But let’s not talk about that. Or as Dagny would say, “Let’s not do that.”

What have I done since June 7th, 2011 when the last pictures were taken to assist in losing pregnancy weight gain? Well, I quit yoga about 6 months ago. About 3 months after that James and I joined the YMCA and started going to a 45 minute spin class twice a week. I bought 2 yoga blocks and 1 yoga blanket that have languished in the basement since I excitedly unwrapped them. I moved some hand weights up to the TV console and placed them next to my Bar Method dvds. And every night I hoped and hoped and hoped really hard that I would wake up refreshed and ready to exercise at 6am. I don’t really do much in the weigh (hello, Freudian slip) of “watching what I eat.” But I had several weeks where I was eating a lot of bakery treats. And then several subsequent weeks of planning our family meals to include a lot more fresh fruits, veggies and a lot less…cake and donuts. And this is what I have to show for all of that…

TA-DAAAAAAAAAA!

So what do you think? If you looked like this, would you wear a bikini this summer?

I'm not sucking in as much here and hopefully you can see that the shrivelly look is much less pronounced

Not a lot has changed here. Any purple or reddish color has faded from my stretch marks and I expect will continue to fade until it's pretty much white.

In this picture I am sucking in as hard as I can and trying to flex all my muscles in an attempt to look thinner, as well as resting my hands on my legs to hide my saddlebags. As you can see, it pretty much made ZERO difference, except that my lack of skin tone on my belly is more apparent.

I think this candid really shows how big my bathing suit (especially the bottom) has gotten, although it also makes me look thinner than I think I do IRL. The suit is pretty much falling off, and I even had to hold it up in some of the close-ups. I am very pleased, to say the least.

So yeah, did you notice the COMPLETE LACK of boobs. What is very ironic is that pre-pregnancy I was wearing a 34A/B and now I am wearing a 34 C. But they look and feel a lot smaller to me. The skin tone is totally shot beneath both breasts and looks a lot like my tummy. I did not get any new stretch marks on my breasts with the second pregnancy, but they did fall a bit more. All of the real damage was done during the first pregnancy. And I think the best way to describe that damage is with one word, and that word is…deflated.

Anyway, so that’s it. That’s the Grande Finale! As far as I’m concerned, Project Shrinky Dink has come full circle and by that I mean it has come to an end. I hope this has been enlightening for everyone who’s followed this series. It was crazy fun for me, mostly the high I’ve gotten from site views. And a bit creepy considering some of the search terms people used to land on these posts. And if there is an extremely skilled board-certified plastic surgeon out there who wants to sponsor a sequel series, which I like to think of as Free Mommy Makeover, you know, uh, email me?

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