Archive for May, 2010

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Starvation Mode

May 11, 2010

I am not a thin person.  I haven’t been a thin person since college.  And even then, “thin” was a relative term.  I am five foot, 6 1/2 inches, and the thinnest I remember being since being full-grown is 130 pounds [size 6].  For me, it was quite thin, and I liked it.  Then I got married, and somehow put on 20 pounds in a year [size 10].  Then I got pregnant.

Need I say more?

There was a time when the Ex and I were on our downhill climb to separation and divorce that I became completely obsessed with losing weight and used exercise as my escape.  I got back down to around 145 pounds then (2001/2002).  I personally think I looked awesome. [size 8]

Ahh, those were the days.

Since then, I’ve been up and down … not as low as that 2002 low, but as higher or higher than I was when at my most pregnant with the girls.

This past December, I had foot surgery.  I had bone spurs in both big toe joints and a bone fragment from an old (2002) injury in one of my ankles.  The bone spurs had started to hurt so much that they were keeping me from exercising, and so I had to take care of it.  The surgery was on 12/22.  Yes, right near the holidays.  Which means … food.  So between the pain before the surgery, the inability to exercise for a while after the surgery, and the … well, food.  I found myself staring at the highest number on the scale yet.

And now my feet are better, and I don’t want to feel like this any more. I find myself not wanting to leave my office to go downstairs to get lunch because people will see me, and I’m fat. [size 14/16]  This is bad.

Sometime in April, I decided it was “time.”  Time to take care of this and get healthy.  At first, my goal was to reach my weight goals slowly but surely over the next couple of years so that I am where I want to be by the time I hit 40.  Long-term goals aren’t really my “thing,” it turns out.   Once I get started with something, I tend to either (a) get bored and blow it off, or (b) become obsessed.

I became obsessed.

I downloaded an iPhone app* that allows me to track calories I eat and exercise/calories burned.  It also does Basal Metobolic Rate calculations, and tells me how many calories I should eat in a day in order to lose the weight I want to lose.  And then, being me, I decided to one-up the know-it-all app, and lop a few hundred calories off what it told me to do.

In the first couple of weeks of watching and tracking calories, as well as exercising, I lost approximately 8 pounds.  WD was doing it with me, so that helped.

This was my old pattern:  Eat nothing but coffee for breakfast, eat a salad for lunch, maybe eat a yogurt in the afternoon, go home and eat tons and tons and tons of whatever delectable dinner WD had cooked for me, along with “a glass of wine” which often turned into a few glasses of wine.

When I started to track my calories, I had to look super-close at that “glass of wine”-that-wasn’t.  Because man, that’s a lot of calories.

This is my new routine:  small smoothie before I leave the house (100 calories); coffee when I get to work (90 calories); hard boiled egg or 2 (75 or 100 calories) at some point in the morning.  Then for lunch, I eat a salad.  Almost the same salad every day.  It has lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, chicken & light olive oil vinaigrette dressing.  315 calories.  Then for dinner, WD’s been keeping things low-cal, and then supplementing for the girls with rice or potatoes or noodles.  Dinner’s been coming in under 400 calories.

It was feeling like plenty of food.  And it was under 1000, and I was thinking I would lose so much weight, so fast.

Instead, the scale got stuck at the 8-pounds down mark.

I did some reading and trying to figure things out – I felt like I was eating healthy, and wasn’t hungry, and was exercising.  So why the stuckitude?

Everything I read said that if you go below 1200 calories/day, your body will go into “starvation mode” and hold onto your fat, thinking that if it doesn’t, you’ll die.

Troublesome, really, how much you have to trick your body, and manipulate it into thinking how I think.  Even though it is me.

So I kicked some calories back into my diet.

I was dubious.   How can eating more – when I’m not hungry now – be the way to lose weight?

Instead, another 6 pounds fell off in a handful of days.  Then today, another 2.

Das’ coo.

I guess my body did decide that I needed more food, or else I would starve to death.  Quite the independent thinker, this body of mine.

* Seriously. There is an app for everything!  This “Lose It” app that i use to track calories consumed and burned is definitely my most-used right now, but my second favorite and second most-useful app is by far iPeriod.  I track my period, and my PMS symptoms, and it sends me emails!  I get an email telling me “your period is expected in 2 days.”  That is so much better than every 3 weeks or so saying to Writer Dude, “so, um, honey?  do you happen to remember when I last had my period??”

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Mother’s Day to Do Lots of Things for Girls

May 10, 2010

Mother’s Day – how nice!  A day dedicated to children honoring their mothers.  To turning the tables, as much as possible, and let the kids do for mom for once!

Unless, of course, the kids have math homework that puts them into tantrum-mode.

Or if the kids are in a PLAY that requires that you spend all DAY not only going to multiple performances, but also driving many people to many places and attending extra plays that your kid is NOT in, because the organization decided that attendance at the “graduation” was MANDATORY.

On Mother’s Day.

Oh, but I am not bitter.

Because I got up at a decent hour, got a nice little run, came home to delicious-smelling brunch cooked by my fabulous Writer-Dude husband, had my own mother (and father) in the house, and was gifted with a Keurig single cup coffee maker.

The girls both “forgot” about Mother’s Day, though.  WD reminded them, but they didn’t feel they had a chance to pull anything together.  L~ made me an adorable card with some fail-safe “chore tickets” creatively inserted.  I do get a kick out the fact that based on their ages (almost-12 and almost-14), these “chore tickets” can include things like “run to the store” (anywhere from 2-5 blocks away) and “run to Starbucks” (4 or 5 blocks away, blocks comprised of very safe park-filled residential streets).

When I was 12 or 14, my mother asking me to “run to the store” would require either grossly negligent and criminal under-age driving, or a walk that required overnight provisions.

S~ gave me a hug.

And she played Mah Jongg with me, in good spirits.

Also – she was so lovely in the play, and is just maturing into such a beautiful young woman.  And then everyone says “wow, you guys are twins!  You have the same face!” and she’s beautiful, so then people are saying I am beautiful.  On Mother’s Day.

Also – while I was very bitter about attending the no-kids-play and the subsequent graduation beforehand, I ended up happy to do so.  Because the kids that weren’t-mine who were in the play are lovely, and I’ve known them for years, and their parents are dear to me, and I am glad I went.  And graduation was beautiful.  There were tears (not from me or mine, but from others).

And because L~ is feeling done with this particular community theater, the ceremony closed a rather large chapter on the girls’ childhood.  They’ve been in these plays (twice a year, each) since 2005, and it’s been a lot of fun for all of us.  I will share some credit for the strong, self-aware and confident girls that they are with this organization.

Maybe next weekend, without calling it “Mother’s Day” (because I got my coffee pot and my brunch and my run), we’ll do what I would have chosen to do — dinner & a movie (Robert Downey, Jr., baby!), just the 4 of us.

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First Dates

May 6, 2010

L~ is almost 12.  She is in 6th grade.  She is absolutely adorable (no bias here), and really fun.  She has a great sense of humor (although I am often concerned about the laughter that spews out of her evidencing a clear understanding of double meanings that I don’t think my baby should understand), she’s kind to others, and she is strong.

L~ has always been a social magnet.  Starting in kindergarten, her teachers told me that all of the kids loved her, wanted to be near her, wanted to sit with her, wanted to be her friend.  Sometimes, it caused arguments, and the teacher had to step in.  I have been proud of the fact that even in our most recent parent/teacher conference, the teachers continued to assure me that L~ treats others – all others – with respect and kindness.

But yet, I am surprised.  I am surprised that I am the first in my L~ circle of mom-friends to have a daughter with a “boyfriend.”   This snuck up on me.

See, while I’ve known that L ~ knew how to be kind to boys, and to get along with them, and to work well in groups with them, I’ve never been able to get her to admit to being friends with ANY of them.  When we’ve passed boys in her grade [which consists of all of 60 kids, by the way] on the sidewalk, she looks the other way.  Even while they smile and wave.  When she was super-young, it seemed like she was reacting out of shyness.  But in the past few years, she made her opinions known.  “he’s mean.”  “he’s obnoxious.”  “he’s a jerk.”  There was usually a story to go with each comment.

“He was so mean to me in 4th grade when I accidentally dropped a full water bottle out of my locker onto his head.  He yelled at me and he even swore, and he told me he wanted to put me in a microwave until I died!”

[true story – microwave & all.]  I bet the water bottle did hurt, though.

When we were at a school event a few months ago, and I walked up to her and her friends to hear the friends saying “did you see him looking at you??!  He was all, ‘awwww!'”  I may or may not have freaked out a wee tiny bit.  With a little, “whatareyoutalkingaboutwhodoyoumeanwhatisgoingon!?”  The friends informed me that L~ was going to the dance* with a boy.  She was aghast, and said, “we aren’t going to the dance together!”  “oh, right,” her friends corrected, “they’re going to dance together at the dance.”

Because of L~’s up-until-now refusal to acknowledge that she doesn’t go to an all-girl school, I know very few of the boys in her grade.  And this boy who she was “dancing” with was not one of the ones those few.  Her friends decided to find him so I could know him … but they attempted to accomplish this by walking into a crowded auditorium and SCREAMING his name.  I’m pretty sure he fled as fast as he could the second he saw them standing there with me [I had a public role at the event we were attending, and had to speak to a crowd and introduce myself, so he definitely knew I was L~’s mom].

The dance was the following Friday night.  Writer-Dude, S~ and I had dinner plans for the duration of the dance, and when L~ left to meet her girlfriend who lives across the street to walk to the dance, WD and I left to go buy some dessert to bring to our friends’ house.   When we drove back around the block, we were met with a gaggle of girls heading to the dance.  Like … 20 of them.  I scanned the crowd, but didn’t see L~.  I opened the window and said hi to the girls, and one them informed me: “they’re right there – see??!!”  And I saw L~, and I waved and said, “hi honey!” while practically hanging out the car door.  Then I saw that The Boy was walking with her.  Huh?  He doesn’t live on our block!?  What’s going on??

I found out from my neighbor that as all the girls had met up in the street to walk to the dance, The Boy strolled around the corner [he lives ridiculously close, just not on our street], and right up to L~.  The neighbors were impressed with his bravery, to walk through the crowd that had gathered for dance-walking, and to approach L~ and say hello.

[But … does this mean they were going to the dance together?  And she just didn’t tell me?]

After the dance (where they slow-danced for all 5 slow-dance songs), they were then officially a “couple.”  Or, as they’re saying this year, they were “dating.”

Earlier this year, there was another “couple” who was “dating.”  They met at the park once, and were swinging on the swings.  It didn’t last very long.  Otherwise, most kids – according to their parents – weren’t “there yet.”  Including L~.

But after this dance, and all the slow dances, almost the entire grade seemed to be “there.”  Nevertheless, L~ and The Boy were one of the first “couples” in the class – enduring beyond the dance into “dating” territory.  (I miss the old phrase of “going out” – it sounds less mature than “dating.”)

And I felt pretty darned uncomfortable.  And shocked.  And confused.  How did this happen so fast?  What does “dating” mean?  Does she really want to do this, or is it peer pressure?  What will we allow her to do – as far as “dates” are concerned?

Last year, S~ was in 7th grade, and the kids were starting to “date.”  We talked about what S~ would be allowed to do, if presented with an opportunity.  This was the decision:  She was allowed to go out on a “date,” but only during daylight hours.  She could stay in our town, or go short distances on the train to see a movie (our favorite theater is 2 stops away).  We said that as time went on, we would consider allowing her and a “date” to stay in our town center after dark.

But L~ isn’t in 7th grade. She’s in 6th.  I mean … she’s eleven.  School events?  Fine.  But what else?

The first time we were confronted with the decision was about a week and a half after the dance – L~ and The Boy wanted to get pizza with two other friends after school on a Wednesday.  They wanted to go to a pizza shop that is across the street from the school, and approx. 3 blocks from our house.

We said yes.  She was home inside an hour from when school let out.  She said she had a good time; she said the other “couple” didn’t talk at all, so she was the one who had to do almost all the talking, although The Boy did his part.

And then I started to hear grumblings from other parents.  Some directly, some through the grapevine.  People were “nervous” that there were kids that were so “advanced” in the class.  That I was allowing L~ to go “out on dates” was scaring people.  As if an 11 yo boy were driving up to my house in his racy car while my 11 yo girl, decked out in a mini skirt and fake fingernails hopped in, and they raced off to some secluded spot so they could make out all night.

No.  They got pizza.  In a place with plate glass windows where all teachers, parents and other close-knit community members could see.  And then they went to their separate homes.  45 minutes later.

About 2 months after the pizza “date”, they started to make plans for their next outing.  That was this past weekend.  They went to a park (again, about a block away from our house, and in plain view of the universe).  It was just the two of them this time, and L~ brought popsicles. Because they’re eleven.  They hung out and talked for almost 2 hours this time.

Otherwise, their relationship has consisted of hundreds (and hundreds) text messages, and whatever conversations they have at school.  Both WD and I have been known to pick up her cell phone now and again and peruse the text messages.  Guess what we see?  That The Boy is very sweet to my girl.  That they are definitely age-appropriate:  They complain about homework;  They talk about having to run home from the park in the rain;  They talk about their siblings and their pets and their teachers.

My initial freak-out is over, and I’m fine with the situation.  WD’s theory is that after years of this grade’s gender segregation (which did not exist in S~’s grade, by the way), the only way they know how to be friends with the opposite sex is to call it something romantic.  I’m not sure I’m 100% in agreement.  Something definitely happened in the past few months with these kids.  Some sort of mud was cleared from their eyes, and they realized that they have a larger class to be friends with than they’d been operating with before.  L~ isn’t only hanging out with and talking to The Boy.  She now talks to, texts with and hangs out with the other boys in her class, as well.  There is a lot of talk about who “lyks” who, and they’re definitely new at all of this and fumble around awkwardly at times.  But it’s okay.

I think some parents are still freaked out that L~ is “dating” a boy.  But I care a lot less than I did in the early days.  If they  have different ideas in their head about what it means to be “dating” in the 6th grade, I can’t change that.  There is really no reason why they aren’t talking to me about it – some of those who have expressed concern to others are people who could talk to me.  They are far from strangers.

And now that I’ve come to terms with it, I think L~ has become tired of the situation.  Texts go unanswered, requests to get together are blown off.  Then I’ll go back to being a non-scary mother.

I guess.

*  Our town has several small elementary schools, that are K-8.  Those schools don’t merge until high school.  The town’s recreation program has a pretty robust “teen” program that helps to intermingle the kids from the various middle schools starting in 6th grade.   They organize trips (ice skating, skiing, beach, Red Sox games, etc.), they have “open gym” times, and they have dances.  In 6th grade, the dances are only for 6th graders, and there are 3 throughout the year.  They are casual dances – kids wear the same thing they wore to school (i.e., athletic shorts & grubby t-shirts – running pants or jeans if it’s winter), a D.J. plays nasty music, and the kids have a blast.  At the first dance, there was little to no slow dancing going on.  For the second dance, there was a little bit more, and by the third dance … well, yeah.  There were 5 slow songs played, and most kids participated in all 5.

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The Battle of the Leggings

May 3, 2010

Last week, when the girls got off the airplane after their visit with their father, the Writer-Dude and I took our usual step back to look at the girls from that one-week vantage point.  Have they grown?  Do they look happy?  Have they been crying?  Have they been eating?  Have they been eating nothing but ice cream?

And I found a new question I have to check on:  Have they been fighting to the point of leaving marks on one another?

I was talking to S~ and noticed some … cuts.  On her arm.  Cuts with little pieces of skin all around them.  The sight of them brought me back 25 years to my own pre-teen years.   I said, “who scratched you?!!?”  Knowing that the answer was that blond girl standing 2 feet away talking to the Writer-Dude.  S~ tried to cover th evidence and shrugged it off.  But I pushed.  I asked L~ “what did you do?”  and she went instantly to the spit and sputter and the “butshepunchedme,” and had to show off a bruise to prove it.

A bruise whose origins I am quite suspicious of.

You know how when kids are small, and they figure out that if they suck on their arms (or other skin … but where else can they reach, really?), they can make a little red spot?  i.e., they give themselves hickeys?  Yeah.  That’s what L~ seemed to have.  A self-inflicted hickey.  She said it was a “bruise” because ‘lem elbowed her “over and over!”  and of course, “it really hurt!”

I’d been pretty content all throughout this parenting gig in the knowledge that while my girls bicker, they don’t get physical with each other.  I suppose that contentment is now gone.

It was funny how those scratch marks were so familiar.   Because I had sported them on my own arm many a time from my younger sister, and she may have had some herself (you know, from me).  They aren’t “scratches,” necessarily, but rather claw-marks.  Where nails dig in, and don’t let go until ripped off, probably with a shove or a kick or a punch (or an elbow).

Unacceptable, of course.

For the entire next week, a battle raged on.  It was all about the leggings.

Around the new year, we had an event that required semi-dressy clothing.  L~ didn’t have a thing to wear because she’d grown considerably since the last time she liked or needed a dress or skirt.  So we went shopping.  We found a cute dress, but it was on the shorter side and it was winter.  So we bought leggings to go underneath.

Four months later, and the dress hasn’t been worn a second time (although she looked adorable), and neither have the leggings.  S~ has in the same four months decided that she likes some of the cute short skirts that are currently in style, and we’ve bought a few.  Because she also is not interested in being anywhere close to naked, she needed leggings under her skirts.  And the first time I saw her in her new skirts, the leggings were on.  L~ saw her, too, and said nothing.

Flash forward three weeks, and WD is letting me know that the girls had a show down one morning about the leggings.  L~  decided her sister had to give them back “right now,” (while she was on the way out the door, wearing the leggings), and that ‘lem had gone in her room and taken them without asking (3 weeks ago), and that she could NOT wear them, not EVER, and how DARE she.  WD did not force ‘lem to take them off, and ‘roni just had to deal.  He told them they’d revisit the issue later.

I was frustrated, because there had been so many earlier opportunities for her to protest S~’s use of the leggings.  Just the night before, S~ did a small load of laundry just so she could wear the leggings the next day.  L~ hadn’t worn the dang things since January, and was giving no indication that she had any desire to do so.

Turns out that L~ was mostly upset because her sister had gone in her room without asking, and that her sister is “mean” to her and she was generally feeling put upon.  She said she doesn’t actually care about the leggings, but that S~ cannot just go in her room whenever and take whatever she wants just because she wants to.

And so I’m struggling with how to reinforce reasonable preferences – made even more reasonable in light of S~’s frequent insistence that she’s entitled to the very privacy that her sister now demands – while not allowing for unreasonable reactions.  If I let S~ keep the damned leggings, L~ thinks I’m telling her she has carte blanche to wander in any old time and do whatever she wants.

For now – we said that they are not EVER allowed in each other’s rooms.  Not even with permission.  Because often, even when it seems like they’re the loving sisters I’ve always dreamed of producing, things deteriorate quickly.  Permission is revoked, said revocation is not immediately responded to, and cries of pain spread through the house.  So it’s just completely not allowed.

And these are the joys of motherhood.