Not bad for a fat girl


Five Things I’ve Learned This Week

This week I’ve learned a few things. I like that. Learning is great. I want to do more of it!


Something like this seems sweet and reasonable, but I don’t think this is what some of those new moms have in mind.

Push Present – A gift that a woman receives after giving birth, presumably as a reward for doing a good job carrying and delivering a baby. Sounds a little peculiar to me, but maybe this tradition isn’t as weird as it sounds at first. I think I’d like it to be a token of love to commemorate the milestone of adding a child to the family rather than a reward, but then again, I’m not in charge.

Cherry Eye – A red angry-looking growth that dogs can get near the eye. Apparently it can be surgically removed if the dog is otherwise healthy. Unfortunately it can prevent an otherwise perfect animal from finding a new home.

In work news – The end of this school year will mark twenty years of employment with the state for me. In preparation for filling out financial aid forms for my son, I looked up my retirement information, and was surprised that it had been this long. I was also pleased to learn that I had a little more in my retirement fund than I expected. Not a lot, mind you, but more than I thought.

ht_green_bean_casserole_jef_121115_wmainOn the culinary front – My son likes traditional green bean casserole. We haven’t had it the past few Thanksgivings, and I didn’t think anyone missed it, but the other morning he asked if we could have it. I think it’s time to teach him how to make it.

Speaking of Food – All protein bars are not created equal. I was at a different store and they didn’t have the brand I like, so I tried something else. Yuck. Protein bars are pricey, and I was disappointed. I’ll eat them (did I mention that they’re pricey?) but yuck. Clif Builder Bars all the way, baby (chocolate mint is my favorite).

What have you learned lately?

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Applications and Tuition and Financial Aid, Oh My!


We recently attended a presentation by an admissions officer from Notre Dame University. Wow. Now I kind of want to go there, but I realize that ship has sailed for me. The thing is, my son kind of wants to go there too, which is great, because it’s a terrific university with so much to offer. But, holy cow, it’s expensive!

Yes, there’s financial aid available, and loans and whatnot, but I don’t want him to begin his adult life saddled with large debts. It’s difficult enough to be out on your own for the first time, responsible for your own bills, without worrying about how you’re going to dig yourself out of a hole created by debt. He’s well aware of this concern, which is why he’s applying for scholarships.

The main one he’s going for is the Naval R.O.T.C. scholarship, which both makes me incredibly proud and a little worried. I think he’ll be accepted, but we won’t know until after he actually applies. The application process for scholarships and universities in general, can be quite involved. There are forms to fill out and questions to answer, and essays to write.

It’s a good thing he’s a good writer. He comes up with interesting responses to the questions he’s faced with, and writes them in a way that’s genuine and direct. I think the reader can get a sense of who he is through his answers, at least I hope so.

I’m trying to stay calm throughout this whole process, since I know that any hysteria on my part would only slow things down. I know he’ll get all of his applications filled in and sent out on time. I know that he will be accepted into a program that will be a good fit for him. I know that it will all work out.


C’mon Mother Nature, Enough Already

When I was a little girl, my mother explained to me about the menstrual cycle. I was both horrified and fascinated by the whole thing, and I was glad I knew about it before that awkward meeting in school where they squeezed all the sixth-grade girls into the teacher’s lounge (which smelled like smoke) to share that information with us.

The following summer at sleep away camp it happened. I got my first period. Except that it wasn’t quite what I expected. It wasn’t like my mom’s explanation or the teachers. It wasn’t even like anything from Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. Instead of the shock of red that my terrified mother saw her first time (my grandmother never told her, shame on her) I found a rusty colored streak of goo in my panties. I wasn’t quite sure what to do or who to tell. Eventually I told my counselor, which was SO embarrassing, and she got me fixed up with the proper supplies.

beltAh yes, supplies. My mother was old school. She wore Kotex sanitary napkins with a belt.
Many of you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s a good thing. When I was an adolescent, pads that stuck in your panties were new on the market. Before that, pads had long ends that hooked into fasteners that dangled from an elastic belt you wore around your waist. Sort of like garters, only not sexy. Not sexy at all.

Then there were tampons. My mother didn’t like the idea of them. She didn’t trust them. This was shortly before Toxic Shock Syndrome was discovered, but her instincts were good. Still, in my estimation tampons are infinitely preferable to pads. Especially those old-fashioned pads, that closely resembled diapers. Who wants to sit around in their own bodily fluids? Nobody, that’s who. I begged my mom to buy me tampons. I certainly wasn’t going to buy them myself. Eventually I wore her down, but she maintained some reservations, not the least of which was for her aged plumbing.

Struggling through my period each month was agony. First of all, I never quite knew when it was coming. I envied those “every 28 days” girls who could plan ahead. Not me. All of a sudden it would just be there, and with a vengeance. I lived in constant fear of bleeding through my clothing and dying of the embarrassment that would follow. I was never without “supplies” and I worried about it often. I ruined pair after pair of panties during those years. I kept a spare pair in my backpack.

The mysterious timing of it wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was the cramping. I was miserable every month. I would writhe on the couch, curling into a ball trying to get comfortable. I just couldn’t find a position that would ease the discomfort. I couldn’t eat, I was sure I would puke up anything that passed my lips. This happened month after month. It was agony.

The only thing that eventually helped were birth-control pills. They regulated my cycle and eased my symptoms. They also provided that nice little benefit of birth-control, but really, that was secondary to improving my quality of life.

I stayed on the pill until I was in my thirties, married, and ready to start a family. For my thirty-second birthday my (now ex-) husband told me that his gift to me was that we could at last try to conceive. I know. That’s a whole separate post. Anyway, I stopped taking the pill and let nature take its course. Bleeding in July. Damn. Bleeding in August. Damn. Bleeding in September. Damn. Bleeding in October. Damn. Bleeding in November. Damn.

On December 23 I had an ob/gyn appointment at a new clinic through my insurance. I told them I’d been trying to conceive. They gave me a pregnancy test and put me on the table in stirrups. Hmmm, first try didn’t manage to get a sample for the PAP. Try again. Try another speculum. Try another doctor. “Are you sure you haven’t had your cervix removed?”

Yes, this all really happened. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LATER I quit. Trust me, if this happened today I would have walked out after five minutes, but I was young and stressed and scared. I sat in the waiting room for the pregnancy test results and received the most joyful news of my life from a sour-faced lab attendant who said, “You’re pregnant. Congratulations, if that’s what you wanted.” Wow. Thanks.C

I got my due date from the receptionist. She was the only one to talk to at that point. She fished around in her desk drawer and pulled out a little cardboard wheel give-away from some drug company. She fiddled with it and proclaimed that my baby was due August 17.  I got NO prenatal counseling, literature, or vitamins. I was told all that would come at the next appointment, four weeks away. Couldn’t I do a lot of harm in those four weeks if I didn’t know better? Shouldn’t someone have at least talked to me about alcohol and tobacco? Nothing? Really?

I made my appointment, but for a different office. I would never set foot in that place again. Four weeks later a nurse practitioner thought I looked fine. At my next appointment I would finally see a doctor.

Fast forward to February 28. Finally I was set to see a real, live ob/gyn. He walked in, introduced himself, and asked me how many weeks along I was. I told him what I believed to be the correct answer, and he did a double take. “I don’t think so,” were his exact words. He measured me, and sent me to the other side of the office to get an ultrasound immediately. I was alone. It was late Friday afternoon, and there was no time for my husband or my mother to get there for this ultrasound. I was worried.

The technician was silent as he examined my baby. There was such a mix of emotions as this was happening. I knew the tech was too quiet, but I was awed at the images I saw. Eventually he left me to get the doctor, who confirmed that there were some concerns. He declared that I was MUCH further along than I thought, and that my baby was due April 17, not August 17. He told me that I had fibroids and they would likely grow along with my developing baby. He was concerned that space might become an issue.

April 17, huh? So I conceived in July, the month we started trying. So what was the deal with the bleeding each month? Spotting? On a schedule? And how could I have been FIVE months pregnant before I even knew it? Granted I’m a big girl, and I can hide a lot, but FIVE months? True story, I swear.

Well, the race was on, and a follow up ultrasound convinced my doctor that waiting until April 17 would be risky. I’ll spare you the whole birth story for now (it’s a doozy) but long story short, my boy’s birthday is April 1, April Fool’s Day. How perfect for him.

Now how did I get here? Oh yes, the good old menstrual cycle. I’m nearly fifty years old. I’ve been dealing with this nonsense since I was twelve. I’m over it. I’m over bearing children. That one experience was enough for me. I’m over not knowing when it will strike (yes, we’re back to that, and yes, I keep spare panties around just in case). I’m over the copious amounts of body fluids that I have to contend with (much more at this stage of the game, go figure). I’m just plain done with it. I’m ready to move on. C’mon, Mother Nature, cut me some slack. I feel as though I’ve earned it.



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