Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winning is its greatest reward. Winning, not having to wear spandex AND eating a jar of Nutella the next day is better.

Whoops. I might have missed posting about a little something last week.

That bet I had with Matthew? Ahem... [totally doing my best impression of Elle Woods when she finds out she got the last intern spot] I WON!

Oh yes I did.

I lost 11.5 pounds in six weeks! Boo-freaking-yah.

I went from 139.5 to 128. I'm still in shock that I was able to pull this off, especially - and don't tell Matthew this - since I really effed off during the first week. It was apple cider doughnut season and I refused to go an entire year without partaking of that manna from the heavens that is a fresh from the fryer apple cider doughnut. I have this thing about doughnuts. It's a problem I have no desire to get help for. So during that first week I may have eaten four doughnuts...

Okay, five. Five doughnuts...

Six, I ate a half dozen doughnuts. Are you happy? I was, until I checked the scale and I went up at least half a pound. So actually, I lost 12 pounds.

I don't have any before pictures because I forgot to take them and I don't have any after pictures because every mirror in my house is in a really dark room and I can't take a decent photo. I'm going to try to remember to take my measurements later and compare them to some measurements I took late this summer but my jeans are saying I lost some serious weight. From now until I save some money to buy some new pants, you can call me "Saggy ass" because my booty has gotten so much smaller it swims in pretty much every pair of jeans I own.

But the first thing to go, I'm sorry to say, was my chest. A moment of silence for my breasts please.


That's a cruel twist and especially not fair to those of us who didn't have much in the chesticle region to begin with. I'm really wishing I hadn't thrown away all those Miracle Bras I owned.

However, I fit into my goal jeans now! And most of the time I need to wear a belt with them!

You can't see me but I'm doing my happy dance right now. It looks like a slightly less coordinated seizure.

Our weight loss challenge came right down to the wire and in the end I only beat him by something like .06%. I have to admit there was a small part of me that felt bad when I told Matthew how much I had lost. I know he worked his ass off (pun intended) and I also know I gave him the impression that I was not doing so well. That was not completely intentional. I knew it would mess with his head a little bit but I was totally on the level with him from the beginning. For the longest time I seemed to be stuck at 8 pounds lost. I couldn't lose any more than that damn 8 pounds and normally I'd be fine with that but for the sake of this challenge I had to get over that hurdle. And I did but don't ask me how. It's a mystery.

Then I broke my toe, the same one I broke back in June. But this time I didn't accidentally kick a foot stool. No, this time I accidentally kicked the five pound weights I had left on the living room floor. How's that for irony?

No pictures of me in all my skinny glory but I've got a big picture of my discolored broken toe for you. You're welcome.
But ain't it purdy?

Then I got the head cold from hell. The only bright spot in that last week of the challenge is that, thanks to the cold, I had no desire to eat, which came in handy because I couldn't work out for three days due to the sickness and the toe. But those last few days before our final weigh-in I stuffed my angry toe into my sneakers and I did intervals on my elliptical trainer until I was practically in tears and hacking so badly I needed to sit down or risk passing out. I was NOT going to let him beat me.

Stubborn? Who, me? Why yes, yes I am.

If you haven't done so yet, please go gaze upon Matthew in all of his spandexed glory - that was our bet, after all, loser wears spandex and posts pictures for the world to see - and while you're there tell him what a great job he did because I never could have done this without his motivation.


For more on my love of doughnuts, I have a review up at New England Mamas about a Sweet pastry shop and dessert lounge. If you're a local and love a good pastry, you might want to check it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Because no one else understands my obsession with Ralph Macchio like she does

My heart hurts today.

I'm going to just cut to the chase - My friend Anissa Mayhew had a stroke yesterday and today she is in the ICU. I am completely devastated by this news. Anissa is a new friend, I only just met her in July at the BlogHer conference, but I feel like I've known her forever. If you know her you probably feel the same, she just has that way about her - instantly likable. As news spread of her condition over Twitter and the internet the outpouring of love from the people who know her, both online and off, was amazing and inspiring. She is truly a loved person.

Anissa is a mother of three, a wife, a fellow blogger, founder of the fabulous community blog Aiming Low, Ralph Macchio's other biggest fan, and the most wonderful person you'd ever hope to meet. Like most, I'm worried for both Anissa and her family. If you feel like I do there are things you can do to help.

First, pray for her. Or if you have a hard time with praying, keep her in your thoughts. I believe in the power of positive thinking in times like these so send her some good juju.

Second, go here. A PO Box has been set up to receive any items you may went to send to the Mayhew family. Gift cards are important right now to help defer the cost of keeping her children occupied and fed. Anyone who has had a loved one in the hospital for an extended stay knows how difficult and disruptive it is for the family, especially small children, and home cooked meals are hard to come by when you're eating on the run. Please consider giving something, even if it's just something that will make her laugh. She loves to laugh.

Anissa is the most magnificent person with a smile that could light up whole cities. Last night was a dark one. I missed seeing her in my Twitter stream desperately.

I love you, Anissa! If anyone is going to make it through this, you are. Ralph Macchio is counting on you!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sometimes a cough is just a cough and not the end of days

Flu hysteria is solidly upon us, and by "us" I mean the country. I'm still only mildly concerned, but as the season progresses and more kids get sick (Hello, my town's high school was closed for five days due to an outbreak of what might have been H1N1. Freaking out? Me? Nooo.... Um.), mildly is slowly making its way toward moderately. If I watch another 60 Minutes expose on this flu I may be purchasing child-sized hamster balls dipped in Purell, but for now I'm still walking on the mild side.

In my house, we can't even get the flu shots, whether seasonal or H1N1. I did manage to get the seasonal flu shot for CC last week but as of today there are no boosters. Who knows when they'll get more. We're on the list. I'm starting to resent "the list". I have no faith in it. "Lists" can not be trusted.

As for Chicky, I have had no luck in getting her any flu vaccine. The kids' pediatrician simply does not have any for the 3 year and older group. According to the medical group's website, as of last week they had ordered 40,000 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine but so far have only received 1,400. I check their website regularly hoping for an update and we're on another notify list when the shots become available [*grumble*], but it all comes down to who gets an appointment the quickest. And don't get me started on flu clinics in the area dolling out the H1N1 vaccine. I can't, and won't, stand in line for 4 hours for the slight possibility of getting my kids vaccinated only to be turned away because they ran out.

Normally I don't fall for sickness hype. I'm not the type to watch the news and get freaked out because of the latest flu scare because I am simply too laid back about things like that, and if you got a good look at my carpets you would agree. Germs don't scare me, (some) germs are good. They build up immunity. That's why I let my kids lick the dogs, they're working on their antibodies. Also, I know that despite my best efforts to keep everyone's hands cleaned (which I do now, obsessively) and surfaces properly Lysol'd, we'll probably end up with at least one if not all of us sick this year. I have one child in school and the other who has a strong need to taste the world, no matter how gross and germ infested. I also have a husband who travels extensively, and as everyone knows an airplane is just a flying petri dish rapidly growing new and interesting viruses. Will we get sick this year? Oh, you betcha. At this point I'm hoping we won't get as sick as we possibly could.

But what about other sicknesses not related to any sort of flu virus? Like, say, the common cold?

Mr. C told me about a satirical cartoon he saw in a magazine, where a sign was posted outside of an eating establishment that read, "No shoes, no shirts, no service, no children under 16 with a cough." Or something to that effect. Satire, yes, but this seems to be the prevalent mood in most public spaces since news of the H1N1 virus caught fire. Every major news outlet is running stories on the so called Swine Flu and the devastating effect it can have on a person's body. Vaccinate your kids! Vaccinate yourself! Stay away from sick people! Every time I turn on the TV I see the same thing - Chicken Little in a conservative suit and heavily sprayed hair clucking about the flu.

Maybe I'm exaggerating a little but honestly, I'm surprised there hasn't been a color coded alert created for flu outbreaks posted on the front doors of public spaces.

As parents, where do we draw the line between keeping our kids safe and healthy and making little Timmy cry because he has a runny nose and can't go to playgroup?

Back in late September Chicky had a low grade fever, a cough and was sneezing so I kept her home from school for a couple of days, as I was supposed to do. You just don't mess around with a fever, especially when combined with other symptoms. She was fever free for a couple of days but still had the cough so I continued to keep her home.

After five days of being quarantined I thought it would be safe to send her to her weekly gymnastics class. I waffled since she still had the cough but I had something to do that morning and after discussing it with my mother in law, who was taking Chicky that day, we decided she was definitely well enough to go. When she was brought home later that evening she was very quiet and not herself and it seemed like it had nothing to do with her getting over a cold. It took me awhile but I finally found out that the source of her sour mood was the lecture the entire gymnastics class got about not coming to the gym while sick.

I asked her if any of the other girls were coughing and she said, No. I asked her if her coaches talked to grandma and grandpa and she said, No (My in-laws later confirmed that). I asked her how she felt about what her coaches said to her class and she shrugged without looking at me and said she wanted to go to bed. She clearly knew they were referring to her.

I was livid.

Not then and not since has any of the gymnastics coaches, and there's three of them, talked to the parents directly about when to send the kids to class and when to keep them home due to sickness (or anything else for that matter, but I won't get into that right now). There are printed guidelines that were given out at the beginning of class and I followed them to the letter, and yet my child was made to feel like she was doing something wrong because she had a cough. A cough, I might add, that she still has more than a month later. A cough, I will also add, that her doctor doesn't seem to be all that concerned with because it's just a damn cough. She didn't have any sort of flu, she wasn't even going to pass a banal head cold off to anyone else. And if she did, so what? It's a cold. The sky is not falling. A little bit of clear mucous, yes, but the sky? No.

I don't think we'll be returning to that gymnastics center when this session is over.

So where does the hysteria end? Are we going to start ostracizing kids with a history of sniffles? Hand out masks at play centers and schools and any other place kids might gather? Maybe a velvet rope and a check at the door, a la Studio 54, and turn away those who seem sick and allow only the seemingly well in? Internment camps maybe?

Obviously, I'm a little sore about the whole subject. In my mind, it's a case of common sense versus hysteria. But how do you feel about it? Would you take your kid out of a public space because another child he or she was interacting with was coughing or sneezing? Would you feel resentful of the parent for bringing their child out in public, even if you didn't know for sure how sick the kid was? Or would you just take out the sani-wipes and start spot cleaning everything around you in a twenty foot radius?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


CC and I went to a local children's store today to exchange a hat and mitten set I had bought for Chicky. Despite my insistence she stop growing, she seemed to have had a growth spurt and needed a larger size. We were just going to run in, get the next size up, and leave because I had many more errands to do before we needed to head back to preschool for pickup when a family caught my attention on my way to the hat display.

There was a woman about my age with her two young children, the oldest barely out of infancy and the little one around 4 months old, accompanied by someone I assumed to be the woman's mother. The grandmother was pushing the double stroller, casually picking up whatever full price item she liked and adding them to the already huge pile of clothing hanging from the stroller's handle, while the younger woman looked over the racks of discounted 6 month-sized outfits.

"Do the kids have matching Christmas pajamas yet?" she asked her daughter, and without waiting for an answer she added two more pairs of pajamas to her stack. The daughter, seeing what her mother did, sighed with what seemed to be exasperation and went back to looking at the sales rack, shaking her head. She seemed resigned to her mother's shopping spree.

Try as I might I couldn't stop my throat from constricting and my eyes from tearing up. It was exactly something my mom would have done. I could easily put myself in that woman's place and my mom in her mom's. Mom would have spoiled her granddaughter's silly and would have ignored all my pleas to stop buying them things they didn't need. Secretly, of course, I would have loved every second, knowing how much pleasure she would get from dressing up the girls. She would have bought them little trinkets for no reason other than she saw something they would have liked and they were never far from her mind. It would never be about the purchase but what she could do to make her grandchildren happy. All at once I was overcome with longing for the inevitable bickering between us. Five hundred different emotions hit me all at one time.

I coughed, dabbing at my eyes while I knelt down pretending to look at a satin holiday dress I had no intention of buying, willing myself to not turn into a huge puddle of tears in the middle of the store. Sweat started to pool between my shoulder blades and behind my neck. I was alternately furious at the hand life had dealt us and overcome with loss, both for me and my girls. I had a hard time seeing through my anger at the younger woman. I couldn't think straight because I was too busy imagining myself in her place. Honestly, I wanted to shove her for not seeing how good she had it.

Leaving the store seemed like a very good idea at that moment. In my haste I almost forget to grab the larger hat and I would have if I hadn't snagged the arm of my coat on the rack as I rushed by. With it in hand, I pushed the stroller containing a very tired and cranky CC toward the register and waited for the lone sales associate to ring up the three customers in front of me. While we waited the grandmother and her overflowing stroller got in line behind us and CC, the social creature that she is, waved furiously at the woman.

"Hi!" she called. "Hi!!"

"Hi to you," the grandmother replied with a smile. "What a pretty hat you have. Did your mommy get you that hat?"

"Hi!" CC answered. She put her hands in front of her eyes. "Boo!" She cackled at her own game.

The older woman laughed and returned the gesture. "Peek-a-boo!" CC roared with laughter.

I didn't say anything, just smiled and tried to stop the prickly feeling behind my eyes from coming back. So many things my mom missed.

Finally it was my turn at the register. Beside it was a display of fleecy holiday pajamas. Normally I'm put off by those displays, obviously intended to entice the shoppers in line to put more in their cart, but this time I grabbed two pairs, size 12 months and 4T, and put them on the counter with the hat.

"Did you find everything you were looking for today?" the girl asked me.

You don't have what I need in this store, I wanted to say.

"Yes," I answered. In a shaky hand, I signed my name on the credit card machine.

The grandmother smiled at me as I gathered up the shoe CC had thrown while waiting for me. "She's beautiful," she said. "I bet she'll look really cute in those pajamas."

Tears were threatening again. "Thanks," I mumbled over my shoulder as I turned to leave.

I placed the bag with the Christmas pajamas on the handle of our stroller while CC yelled, "Bye bye!" all the way out the door.