Not bad for a fat girl


Caught in a Bear Trap

I had my physical the other day. Actually it was the post-physical appointment where the doctor went over all the test results with me. The physical itself was a huge undertaking with all sorts of procedures and exams and x-rays and more, including fasting bloodwork that wasn’t completed until late in the afternoon. It’s a wonder I didn’t faint.

The doctor started with the results of that bloodwork, and he was quite pleased. The iffy numbers from my last labs were replaced by excellent numbers this time around. imagesI’m nowhere near diabetes either, which is cause for celebration. In fact, according to the labs I’m in great shape. Then we looked at the cardiovascular age that one of the fancy-schmancy machines calculated for me, and, (drum roll please), it concluded that my heart age is a good decade younger than my real age. Fantastic!

We went over several other tests, all good, then arrived at one the doctor didn’t like. It was a blood pressure test that was done on both arms, both thighs, both ankles, and both big toes. It was horribly painful, especially on my thighs.  It felt more like a trip to the middle ages than modern medicine. As I waited for my bones to be crushed into dust I repeated over and over in my head, “this won’t last, this won’t last.” Thankfully I was right.

The doctor pointed out that one of the numbers from that test didn’t match the others. He told me that he didn’t like it because it was an indication of trouble. But what about the other tests? They were all good. Really good, in fact. Nope, he wasn’t having it. So much for my decade of leeway. He told me it didn’t count since I had this other thing going on. Phooey.

He gave me some directions to follow to get things under control, including once again reminding me that I need to lose a significant amount of weight. Naturally diet and exercise were discussed, and I get it, but I can’t help but feel cheated. Everything else was good. Really, it was. If we hadn’t done that one horrible test I would have walked out of there on cloud nine. I would have been the picture of health. Instead I was a time bomb. My words, not his. He is far more tactful than that. In spite of the doctor’s seriousness, I decided to push that little bit of negative news to the back of my brain and focus on the positive. I’m a positive person, after all.

I went home and told my sweetheart all the things the doctor and I discussed. I told him that I was going to focus on the positives, and that the doctor couldn’t just negate all of them with the results form that one additional test from hell. My sweetheart disagreed.

11971190921093978233ivak_Bear_Trap.svg.hiAs always, he made his point briefly and clearly. He told me that it doesn’t matter how healthy you are otherwise when you’ve got your leg caught in a bear trap. Seriously? Damn. So my healthy lungs and my normal blood sugar and my perfect vitamin D level are all happy accidents. They’re nice, but once my leg is in that bear trap they become irrelevant. All efforts must be focused on escaping from the trap, and whether my vision is perfect or my skin is clear becomes way less important.

He’s right of course. He usually is. Now I not only have to keep all the good things good, but I have to work my way out of this most recent snafu. What a mess. Still, it can’t be ignored. After all, you can’t get far once you’re caught in a trap.



The Devil, Karma, and Frito Pie


One from the archives. Enjoy.

Originally posted on BulgingButtons:

images-1You know those little angel and devil guys from the cartoons? The ones that sit on your shoulders? Well I think I have a pair of them hanging around me lately. Not only do I think I have them, I think they’re sparring like crazy. Recently it seems like when I do something positive, there’s something negative right on its heels. Maybe life is usually like that, but I’m just noticing it more, or maybe something is afoot in the cosmos.

Let me give you an example. The other day I did a favor for someone that involved a fair amount of time and effort. It wasn’t difficult, and I didn’t really mind doing it, but it did take a chunk of time that I would have rather spent doing something else. Regardless, I did it and was kind of patting myself on the back about what a nice person…

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Damn You, Pinterest Divas

pinterest-pin-boardI’m sitting here in my office/studio/craft room (I haven’t settled on one  name for it yet) surrounded by boxes waiting to be unpacked, and cursing the people who have posted all those amazing office/studio/craft room pictures on Pinterest. I have the room, I have the furniture, and I have the stuff, but I don’t have the office/studio/craft room of my dreams. I don’t even have one worthy of a photo. At least not yet.

I had an idea in my head of what my space would ultimately look like, but as I’m sitting in it, the reality of my environment is slowly sinking in. It’s not Tiffany Blue. It doesn’t have a hardwood floor. There is no chandelier. There are no built in cabinets. None of the furniture is white. In fact, it looks a lot less like Pinterest and a lot more like a cluttered suburban bedroom with a desk stuck in the middle. Go figure.

More or less my fantasy studio

More or less my fantasy studio

The funny part about it is that the desk isn’t really even a desk. It’s a table, and it used to be my kitchen table. It’s from IKEA and it’s not terribly fancy, but it’s a great size, and it gets the job done. Add in two matching floating shelves for my flying pig collection and family photos, my four double cube units for quilting fabric, and my two big bookcases, and you might think I would be golden. You would be wrong.

I also have a set of matching IKEA drawers and a small Closetmaid nine cube unit. The fabric cubes and the big bookcases are brown, everything else is black. The walls and carpet are beige. Not a dull, ugly beige, but a modern pretty beige. Still, beige is beige. Stunning, right?

I can’t have a chandelier, I need my ceiling fan, and frankly it’s new and it looks pretty good. I won’t be getting hardwood flooring. I live in a super-dry climate and wood doesn’t do that well. Besides, the carpet is new. The paint job is new too, so Tiffany Blue will have to run its course in other people’s homes. I do love it, but will I next year? Beige is forever, people. Looking around, it occurs to me that I actually sort of like my space. I have my books, my fabric, my pigs, my computer, and my sewing machine. I have room to work, and if I’m in the middle of a mess I can shut the door and nobody has to know. I more than like my space, I’m growing to love it.

No, there are no cute decals on the wall about home and family and living and laughing and loving. And no, I don’t have color coordinated bins for my supplies or a chevron printed office chair, but I have space. I have space to think and plan and create and design and write and sew and dream and wonder. I have space to display the things that inspire me and space to store the tools I need to help me turn those inspirations into finished products. My room may not be Pinterest worthy, but I do love it here. Now if I could only get the rest of those infernal boxes unpacked…




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Sunday Night Teacher Freak Out

stressIt’s really too early for this. We’ve just had our first week of school, and the children were only there for four of the five days. I should not be in teacher freak out mode.

Sure, I was a little freaked out last week, because last week I didn’t know my class. I didn’t know how many of the thirty-four kiddos on my list would show up (for the record, 30), and I didn’t know what they would be like (also for the record, AWESOME!). Last week freaking out was normal. This week, not so much.

I should be calm, cool, and collected, but I am not. It’s starting to get dark, my family hasn’t been fed yet (the hungry teenager keeps reminding me), and I’m starting to fixate on the stuff I need to get done for school. I can literally feel my blood pressure rising. And yes, I do mean literally (I promise, I know the difference).

A few deep breaths, a request for my son to cook our gourmet dinner (thank you Red Baron pizza company) and a quick visit to my zen place should set things right. Now, what do I REALLY need to accomplish?

1. Correct and grade a math quiz. Yes, a real quiz the first week of school. I’m hardcore.

2. Score the spelling tests (that we corrected in class). Told you I was hardcore.

3. Create the writing lesson to be used by the entire grade level. Or at least create the part that we’re using tomorrow.

That’s it. That’s do-able. That’s no reason for panic. I think I’ll go have some pizza, then maybe I’ll think about tomorrow.


Throwback Thursday – Internet

Remember the good old days, before internet? No? I do, but it seems like ancient history now. Here are some of the oldies but goodies from my personal internet past. How many of these experiences do we share?

1. Dial up. Ugh. It was so slow, and it tied up the telephone line. Some people even went so far as to put in a second telephone line. Imagine.

images2. Prodigy Online Service. I was never an AOL girl. I got my start on Prodigy and liked it just fine. I participated in a bunch of online quilting swaps through Prodigy, and really enjoyed connecting with quilters across the country.

3. Parent Soup. I loved this online community when my son was a baby. I participated in the mom’s group for the month and year of his birth and really got to know many of the other moms and their babies. We created a cookbook together, we celebrated milestones together, and one of the girls even sent me flowers in the hospital when I had surgery.

4. Geocities. They hosted all sorts of cheesy webpages. Our baby webpages from the Parent Soup mom’s group were hosted by Geocities, and by golly they were adorable.

5. Yahoo Message Boards. My scrapbook buddies and I were part of a group that used a Yahoo Message Board, and it worked really well for us. In addition to all the conversation threads, there was a chat feature, which we used for a formal chat session once a week, and informally all the time. It was so cool to chat with friends in New Zealand!

Today’s technology makes these formally cutting edge services seem antiquated, or at the very least, quaint. I wonder what’s around the corner to make today’s internet seem like it’s from the dark ages. Whatever it is, I’m sure there will be a place for me.


Ten Essential Back to School Supplies That Money Can’t Buy

What supplies does my child need for school? I heard this question over and over the other evening during Meet the Teacher night at my school. It’s a legitimate question. School is starting next week, and needless to say, parents want their kids to be prepared. They are ready to head off to the mega-discount store or the office supply store or the drug store to do some serious damage.

They are bracing themselves for the cost of all those new notebooks and colored pencils and glue sticks and dry erase markers. They know what’s coming and they want to get it over with. I hear them. I’m a parent too.

That’s why I don’t have a long list to hand them. That’s why I don’t require size “x” notebooks and brand “y” crayons. In fact I don’t require those items at all. For most of my career I taught in a high poverty school where we were forbidden from asking parents to supply anything for their children. Anything. I learned how to take what little budget I had and make it stretch. Yes, I spent my own money. Yes, I gathered freebies. Yes, I shopped the back to school sales like a fiend. But my students had everything they needed and their parents never had to give it a second thought.

I’m in a different situation now, and most of my families are ready, willing, and able to outfit their kids with brand new items each time a new school year rolls around. I’m happy that those kids are being raised in homes where back to school items are considered a necessity rather than a luxury. The thing is, most of it isn’t actually necessary.

From my years of collecting, I still have a fairly decent stash of scissors, pencils, correcting pens, paper, and rulers. Last year I received tons of cleaning wipes, so we’re good with those. Our PTA reimburses us for some of our supplies, so I was able to get some nice new name plates and some bulletin board items, as well as notebooks and folders. donationdriveThe PTA also gifts us with various items throughout the year, which is wonderful. So far they have passed out white board markers and new electric pencil sharpeners. I also have a good supply of colored pencils, markers, and crayons, but most of the kids bring their own anyway. They also bring a pencil pouch of some sort, which is great for organization, but not necessary. I’ll give them a ziploc bag if they don’t have a pouch. The only thing they really need is a backpack for taking their items to and from school.

Most parents are relieved to hear that they don’t have to go on a shopping trip. Many go anyway and donate the items to the classroom for general use. There are always generous folks who bring in tissues and hand sanitizer and wipes and give freely of their time and talents. We are blessed with abundance. I want the children to understand this. I want them to know that while we have much, we don’t truly need most of it in order to learn.

These are the real back to school supplies that I would love each child to bring each day.

1. A strong sense of self. I see too many children who lack confidence, and others who are overly sure of themselves without really understanding who they are or what their true talents are.

2. A well fed body. We feed kids at school, both breakfast and lunch. If you are unable to provide good food for your child please take advantage of our food services program. Also, please make sure that your elementary schooler isn’t bringing sugary drinks and chips to school for her breakfast or Hot Cheetos and Oreos for his lunch.

3. A rested and exercised body. Too often kids are tired in school because they don’t go to bed. Please create and enforce a reasonable bedtime. If your child isn’t sleeping well think about unplugging him, checking what she’s eating and drinking, and making sure that you are all getting some exercise. Children in particular need to MOVE!

4. Knowledge that someone at home cares. Kids need to know that you not only care about them, but about what they’re doing and how they’re progressing. They need to know that you’ll be proud of them when they do well and you’ll be concerned about them when they struggle. They also need to know that you’ll be disappointed in them when they make poor choices.

5. Time to do what they need to do. Kids are frequently scheduled very tightly. They have scouts, music lessons, sports, religious instruction, and more. Often they are not only participating in their own activities, but sitting through siblings’ activities too. They rush around all over town and get home late. They don’t have time to study their science or complete their math homework or write their paragraph. They end up stressed out and behind. Too much is too much. I don’t give a lot of homework, but what I do give I expect to be done well. Please allow your child the ability to do that.

6. A sense of humor. Kids are funny. Life is funny. The ability to find humor in everyday life can be cultivated. Lighten up a little and let your kid do the same. Childhood is short. Yes, education is important, but so is having fun. Let’s have a good time with this learning thing, I guarantee you it will be more effective that way.

7. The ability to stick to a task. Human nature makes us want to avoid that which is difficult, hence, I am still extremely overweight. Success comes when we overcome that desire and stick to a task that we may not particularly enjoy. We have a generation of children who are being raised in a digital world, and they spend a lot of time looking at screens that give them instant feedback and constantly changing images and sounds. Many of these same kids have difficulty reading for ten minutes or writing for five minutes. If a math problem is difficult they often declare defeat within one minute. Literally. Often children get stuck, they get bored, and they get restless. They want to quit and do something else. The problem is that all of life isn’t about being entertained, and in order to be productive citizens, they will need to learn to stick to tasks and see them through. This takes practice. Lots of it.

8. A sense of empathy. Children who are able to put themselves in another’s shoes are much nicer people to be around, so in the long run this wonderful trait is not only beneficial to others, but to the child him or herself. These children are sought out, because they make others feel good, and they do it in a way that isn’t manipulative or goal oriented.

9. An understanding that everyone has something to offer. When we are able to see each person’s contribution and to understand our own strengths, we come together as a strong and productive group.

10. A love of life. Some people are dealt a difficult hand. Homes break. Parents die. People hurt you. Kids get sick. Many bad things can happen, and sadly many of my students already know this first hand. Those who have a love of life bounce back far more quickly. Instill that love of life into your child. cute-quotes-sayingsFind and share beauty with him. Let her know how much she is loved. Spend time together. Talk to him or her. Share quiet moments and well as silly ones. Celebrate each day. What a gift that would be for your child.

So yes, parents, pack up the backpacks with the newly sharpened number two pencils and the three ring binders with the latest pop stars on them, but don’t just fill the backpacks, fill your children’s hearts and spirits too. Let them know how mighty they are and how proud you are to be their parent. Let them know how you expect them to be their best and do their best, but also let them know it’s okay if they mess up because you’ll love them anyway. Let them know that school isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun, but it is a gift and they will come to appreciate it as they grow up. Most of all, let them know that you love them, always let them know that you love them.


Mirror, Mirror, Go Away

My new home has a rather large master bathroom complete with a walk-in closet. It’s quite posh, really. It also features many mirrors. At least it seems that way. And these mirrors are hung at all sorts of angles from one another, creating something of a fun house effect. Or maybe house is horrors is closer to the truth. At least for me.

As I walk through the bathroom, I can’t help but view my entire body from angles that were previously unknown to me.

Picasso's Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror

Last night I caught sight of my full profile, and I stopped. I looked. I saw what everyone else sees all the time. You see, my body doesn’t carry weight the way most bodies do. I carry the majority of my extra weight in my belly, and it sticks way out. I am bigger front to back than side to side. When I look in the mirror I think I know what I look like, but I rarely catch a side view. Now I have one available all the time. Oh goody.

I stood there and gathered up as much of the belly fat as I could and took stock. There’s a lot. Then I let go and looked back in the mirror. I imagined what my body would look like if much of that belly were gone. Yes, there would still be plenty of jiggle to the thighs, and the back fat would still be in place. Yes, the beefy arms would still exist along with the double chin, but I would look pretty darn good. Not photoshop good, mind you, but fit and trim. That body could shop in a department that doesn’t have any sizes with the letter X in them. It would be nice, but it won’t happen by itself.

Those mirrors aren’t going away. They will remain in place to either encourage me or taunt me, as I see fit. It’s up to me to approach them with self love, not loathing. Too many of us hate our bodies, but our bodies deserve our care and tenderness, not our hateful thoughts. Regardless of the body I’m in, I will care for it and thank it for all the wonderful things it can do. And when I’m feeling really motivated, I’ll take it out for a spin, just to make sure all the parts are still working.





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