Monday, December 26, 2011

The hangover


I woke up with a hangover this morning. Between the peanut butter balls and chocolate-decadent-kick-me-in-the-head bars, I am in gastrointestinal distress. The roof of my mouth is raw. I'm pretty sure there is a hole there from too much sugar. I've tried seeing it. I angled a compact under my chin with my mouth wide open in front of the bathroom mirror.

My consolation today is I don't have dessert binges too often anymore. Some families ski, camp, or play board games together. Our family's hobby was having dessert before bed. I held to the conviction that it was never too late for dessert. At 9 or 10 at night one of us would ask, "What's for dessert?" And I'd whip up a pan of brownies or a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. 

I think I became a dessert freak from growing up with two older brothers who devoured everything. You had to be quick, or you wouldn't get any. To get my fair share after I made something, I resorted to hiding it. But I blew my favorite hiding spot when my brother caught me kneeling in front of the couch with an apple pie.

I became more creative. I'd hide pans in the coat closet, in my mother's lingerie drawer, under the pile of clothes in my room. Sometimes the best spot was the most obvious.  One humid summer I hid a rhubarb cake in the bottom oven. We only used the top oven. I forgot it was there. That fall my mom opened the door to put in a roast and found a pan of purple and green fuzz.

I don't hide food anymore, but sometimes I still go on a short-lived bender. Today I'm nursing the effects with lots of water. If you've been junking out on sweets and have gut rot too, don't feel bad. The cure is simple. Just quit. We need to hoist our five-pounds-heaver legs back up over the side of the wagon. We might get the DTs, but we'll make it. Onward ho, my friends...

Photo from www.beauty-healthcare.blogspot.com















Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Angels and almond bark

At two. I was an angel.
When we're all grown up we spend a lot of our time at Christmas remembering when we were kids. Or if our kids are grown, remembering when they were little. At least that's what I do. It's what's fun about Christmas.

This year I sat through our church's children's Christmas program having flashbacks of when our kids were up there. It was bittersweet. I can distinctly remember when Amber was an angel. She was seven. She came out and was achingly beautiful.  I got a lump in my throat.

I remember Paige at four wearing a red velvet dress. She had the biggest smile and blond curls. I loved her so much my heart hurt. 

The year Landon was baby Jesus.
Dave and I were Mary and Joseph one year, and Landon was baby Jesus. He was seven months old and sat in my lap wearing only a diaper. His sisters nicknamed him Spike. I don't think he exactly looked like baby Jesus with his spiky hair, but for that matter Dave and I wouldn't have passed for Joseph and Mary either. For one, we were about 20 years too old.  But Landon was a little ham. He was so cute and funny. I felt blessed to have my sweet little boy.

I remember being in Christmas programs. I, too, was an angel. I was two. The littlest people in Christmas programs are the cutest and funniest. But the thing is these little guys are so sincere.  They're not meaning to be funny. Adults just can't help laughing their heads off when they get on stage. I vaguely remember singing, and people laughing. I was confused. We were doing what our teachers had told us to do, and then everyone laughed at us. I didn't get it.

Random, but I've also been thinking of almond bark. My mom made almond bark candy at Christmas time. I never saw almond bark any other time of the year. It wasn't particularly my favorite, but it was an oddity. I mean what is almond bark anyway?

I'm a purist when I bake. I don't substitute for the real stuff--like margarine for butter, Cool Whip for real whipping cream. Or in this case, almond bark for white chocolate. But after Dave looked all over Rochester trying to find white chocolate for me, he came home asking why I just didn't use almond bark.

I started using it this year for the first time. Basically, it's cheap flavored partially hydrogenated oil. From what I can tell, there are absolutely no almonds in it. It's freaking awesome. Melt it in the microwave, then pour it over everything in sight--pretzels, ritz peanut butter sandwiches, puffed corn. We've gone through three bags of almond bark popcorn already and we haven't even reached Christmas.

I've gained five pounds this month eating almond bark. I'm not too worried. I'll lose it once almond bark season is over.

Hope you, dear friends, are enjoying your memories of Christmas past and making sweet memories for the ones ahead.

God bless.




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cheaters and tweezers

Nothing like a hair on your chin to keep you humble. The first time I spotted a hair sprouting from the side of my face I considered it some kind of freakish fluke. The second time I saw one I plucked it so fast I told myself that it didn't count. But after this last incident, I can no longer deny it. I am getting chin hair.
Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

This is the worst. I used to joke about old ladies with their chin hairs. I even mentioned the topic in previous posts.  Serves me right. I never thought it would happen to me. Or if it did, I'd be 80.

A few days ago I went to my hair stylist, Sarah. It had been awhile since I had been in and she was giving me the works--haircut, color and eyebrow wax. I told her about my horror in finding the mutant hair. We had a good laugh.

But since we were on the subject of facial hair and my head was already tilted back in the sink, I asked her to check my "beauty mark" (which really is a mole on my chin) to make sure there wasn't anything less than beautiful there. Like a hair. She checked.

No, she didn't see any hairs. Then she stopped. And leaned in close. "Oh." What's oh?  "But, you do have..." Alarmed, I popped  my head up from the sink. What? What do I have?!

She got out a tweezers and yanked. A hair. Under my chin. Satisfied, she held it up. "See," she showed me. "Interesting. There's a little curl to it."

Aaaaaccccch!  I felt woozy. This was just too, too much. So, how long had it been there? I hadn't seen it that morning when I was assessing the state of my face. Was it like a hybrid hair that morphed within a matter of hours? Or had it been there all along, but I just couldn't see it without my cheater reading glasses?

I was thoroughly disgusted. But I felt a little better when I discussed The Hair with the ladies at work the next day.Turns out about everyone my age and older has had the nasty little discovery. We all agreed you can't see the little suckers. Only when you get in the car and look in your overhead mirror can you see them. One gal said she keeps a magnifying glass on hand at all times.

I had thought I was over my midlife crisis. I had come to terms with my children marrying and moving away, my turning gray and getting age spots. But having chin hairs? Really? I refuse to make peace with chin hairs. From here on in, it's war.

I'm keeping my tweezers and cheaters stashed in the car.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's no secret

Women don't keep secrets very well.  Like that's a secret.

Women might keep their friends' secrets, but they really suck at keeping their own secrets. Why do I know this? Because when I have something about myself that I want kept secret, I tell my 19 closest girlfriends. But only after I've vowed them to secrecy.

I am not the only woman who does this.  It's not fair, really. How come you get to tell your secret, but no one else can? 

Sometimes friends just tell you too many things.  It's too hard to keep track of what you can tell and what you can't.

One of my friends does this to me all the time. "I have something to tell you. But you can't ever tell anyone. Ever. Not even Dave. Will you promise?" So, I promise. I won't tell anyone. Ever. But then I get paranoid. My memory's not all that good. Eventually I could forget the thing was a secret and will tell someone, maybe not today or next month, but like a year from now.

And that next week, I'll hear a group of ladies talking about the very thing I was supposed to keep a secret. I ask them where they heard this. They heard it from my friend who told me not to tell anyone.

Now when she tells me she's going to tell me something but I can't tell anyone, I hold up my hand and say, "Are you sure you want to tell me? I can't keep secrets."  Invariably, she'll tell me.

It's not that I can't keep a secret. I can. My best friends have shared some things I will take to my grave.  And they know a few things about me I know they will keep forever. But that's different. Those are things that you know are just too important to ever share. Plus, we have dirt on one another.

Husbands are the safe bet
If you really need to tell a secret, tell your husband. Guys don't talk like women do. They are the safest bet.  When I tell my husband not to tell anyone, he'll look at me like I'm crazy. "Why would I want to tell anyone?" And he's serious. It's one of the things I love most about him.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Follow the Drama

I went from being a skeptic of blogs (really...who wants to read about someone else's mundane life?) to becoming a follower of several blogs to having two of my own. The other is Losing It..A mom's story of weight loss and transformation: http://jacci-clark.blogspot.com/

Blog hog that I am, I'm living my life by what my next post will be. I check my stats... elated when I'm getting pageviews and so very sad when there aren't many hits.

Comments make me want to do snoopy kicks. I love getting comments. You can even say, "This post stunk." Although that would make me really bummed.

I love my followers, all eleven of them. Knowing people are following my blog makes me want to keep posting.  I don't mean to push you to follow my blog like I'm selling Amway, but if you want to, click on Join this Site in the blue rectangleSimple steps from there.

If you want more info, go to http://support.google.com/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=104226. The advantage of being a follower is you can follow other blogs easily. All the blog updates will be posted in one place when you log into http://www.blogspot.com/

My blog is here to make you laugh, if not at yourself then me. Blogging keeps me out of trouble but maybe I won't do it forever. I'll get the hint when I'm getting fewer and fewer pageviews. Or, when I'm done with my midlife crisis. Whichever comes first. I'll hang it up and quit posting. But for now, I'll keep blogging if you keep following.

P.S. I don't know why I posted the picture above. I just like it. I had a blast dancing like I was a kid--way more fun than a mom-of-the-bride has the right to have. Paige is doing her thing too. (She's the bridesmaid in the champagne dress.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunburns, undergarments and other regrets.

Tan beach bums.
I have a few regrets. Almost all have "but then" attached. Some are simply vain since I'm basically a vain person. If you've followed my blogs, you know this. Some are more run-of-the-mill.  Here are some of my but thens...

Not wearing sunblock. I didn't notice the sun damage until this year. I noticed my freckles were accelerating at an alarming rate. Actually, they're the size of a pencil eraser and are called age spots. I was a fry baby when I was younger. My face took the brunt of it. The skin under my arms--which wasn't touched by the sun--is as smooth and unmarked as a baby's bottom. If I would have been more careful and used sunblock, my face would look like a baby's butt.

I told Paige that when she reached my age, she might regret laying out. She asked, "Really, Mom? Do you regret your years of looking good and having all that fun in the sun?" Umm. Got me there. I may regret the results of sun damage, but then I had a heck of a good time.

From imagegossips.com
I regret not wearing a better bra the first time I was pregnant. Let's just say, my figure lost some of its starch and was never the same afterwards. I don't know if it was an overabundance of pregnancy hormones or what, but I went from a generous size D to being a freak of nature. 

When my bosom inflated and overflowed every bra I bought, I got specially fitted at a department store. The salesperson thought I was an F. What? No way.  She got out the tape measure. Hmm. Nope, you have to be at an FF. Maybe even a G. Cripes. I would have to get the bra specially made. I told her not to bother. Once I delivered, it wouldn't fit. Well, after I had my baby, it was like letting air out of of balloons. You can imagine. But I don't blame you if you don't want to imagine.

I regret not getting the bra. But then, the great fall may have happened anyway. It's not so bad really. If you buy a steel-case bra, you can keep the girls elevated to where they belong. I've only found one bra that has that capability. It's going to be a sad, sad day if Bali ever discontinues it. I should buy enough of those babies to last me until I'm 90.

I regret not working out earlier. No matter how much I work on my arms, I still have granny flesh under my triceps. Landon says it's too late. I should've started sooner.  But then, I do look better than before I started. Besides any future grandchildren will have a ball jiggling them back and forth like I did to my grandma's.
I regret not encouraging my kids to wash dishes when they were young. That was very dumb on my part. They loved getting on chairs in front of the sink and washing dishes, soaking their shirts and floor. I looked forward to the day that my kids would be too big to stand on chairs. Well, they got big and didn't do dishes unless nagged. But then, now that they're moving out they do their own dishes. I miss them standing on chairs next to the sink. They were so darn adorable.

I have other regrets. Maybe not so vain. I regret the sins of my youth, but then I wouldn't have the life I have now. There would be only one regret that wouldn't have an upside. And that would be rejecting Christ. I'm eternally grateful that I don't have that regret.

So there you have it. I really don't have regrets. That's okay with me. How 'bout you? Do you have a few regrets, but then....?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bailing out on the way to church

I'm on the left. Lars is holding Vicki. Bill is standing.
My son recently asked if I liked church when I was a kid. His question was borne out of his own lack of enthusiasm for getting up on Sunday mornings to go to church.

The honest answer? No, I didn't. Growing up, Sundays were stressful. My dad was a dairy farmer. It was a challenge to get the cows milked, chores done and four small kids ready. Invariably we'd be running late.

Once everyone was finally ready, we'd pile into our 1964 Ford--Dad and Mom in the front with the baby in between them. We'd pick up Grandma on the way, and she'd join the rest of us in the back seat to referee our fights.

Every Sunday one of us kids would get car sick. It was no wonder, really. Our Ford didn't have shocks. Dad would careen around the sharp curves in the river road while mom would liberally spray her hair with Aqua Net. Hymns would be playing on The Bible Radio Hour.

One Sunday Lars just couldn't take it anymore. Bill said he was going to get sick. Lars knew what was coming, and before Dad even had a chance to slow down, he bailed. Just opened the door and jumped.

I still remember seeing his white belly rolling down the ditch. My mom screeched, "Bill! We just ran over Lars!" My dad slammed on the brakes. We all jumped out of the car (not before Bill threw up on both of us). We peered down the ditch. My parents were shaken but relieved to find Lars alive. Just a little banged up with twigs stuck in his hair. Bill and I were a mess though.

Dad looked at his watch. "Well, we won't make it to Sunday school, but if we hurry, we can still make it to church."  My grandma quietly pulled Kleenexes out of her purse to clean us up. 

As a parent now, I understand how hard it was for my parents to get us to church. But they believed it was important. Their prayer was that each of their kids would coming to a saving faith. I understand where my son is coming from. I was there too when I was his age. Despite parents' best efforts, sometimes our kids' experiences growing up are less than ideal. 

My awesome parents, Bill and Shirley, in the '60s
I did recover from my early church memories and eventually came to my own faith. I look forward to going to church. I love the worship and being with my brothers and sisters. I come away encouraged every Sunday.

I am glad our church does mostly contemporary worship songs though. To this day, I don't care much for the old hymns. I start to get car sick every time I hear Bringing in the Sheaves (which I thought was Bringing in the Sheets).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving...Pie my eye

 Hoping no one notices a few pieces missing.
For most people Thanksgiving is just the precursor to Christmas, jump started by stuffed turkey, football, and black Friday. Not for me. I don't do cards, shop, put up a tree, or hang the lights. I'm not thinking Christmas. Thanksgiving is my holiday to rock.

I love Thanksgiving's simplicity. The story of the pilgrims and Indians feasting together (even though I bet present day school texts will have twisted the story, I'm sticking with what I learned in school).  Giving thanks with friends and family. And food. Lots and lots of food. What's there not to love?

Every other year Thanksgiving is at our house and I take the whole week off work. I play the domestic. I get projects done I normally don't have time to do when I'm working. I get the house ready for whatever size crowd we have coming. This year, it's 23. Other years we've had over 30. I delegate what everyone is bringing. I do the turkey and trimmings. And, I bake pies and rolls from scratch like my grandma did.

Grandma O'Hara got me to love baking. During school breaks, I'd get to spend a few nights at her house. What I remember is when we weren't watching the Lawrence Welk Show, she'd be teaching me to bake.

We started with pies. Grandma was the world's best pie maker.  She showed me the fine art of making crust. To make a flaky crust she told me to mix it quickly or it would be tough, not flaky. You'd know it was right when you could form it into a ball and it would crumble slightly around the edges when pressed. 

I've made a few pies in my life, but I've never been able to master fluting the edges like she did. She'd hold the pie plate on the palm of one hand, twirling the pie around while she fluted the edges with her thumb and forefinger. When I got frustrated trying to do mine, she'd laugh and say she had just a few years of practice.
<>   <>  
Showing Paige how to make pie crust. Making a mess is a requirement in making a good pie.
As I was finishing up the pies today, I was thinking about Grandma O. She used to mutter to herself while she cooked especially if what she was making wasn't cooperating. I caught myself doing that last night, as I was showing Paige how to roll out the crust. I admit I might have even said a few swears as I was trying to work with the sticky mass. The wet crust stuck to my hands, the roller and the counter.
I told Paige, this is not the way it's supposed to work. I finally realized the problem was that I was using the wrong  shortening--creamed. I had a much better time of it after Dave went out and bought the plain old variety for me.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's a ton of work. But I don't care. I love the time giving thanks and hanging with family and friends. And at the end of the day, it's so worth the pie.

This was taken several Thanksgivings ago when I didn't take the week off. I'm looking pretty haggard (not to mention heavier).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm craving something

It's almost midnight and I'm craving something. It started with a jar of green olives.

I thought I was craving green olives yesterday, so I bought a jar. This afternoon I cracked the jar open and ate 10, sucking the pimentos out of each one. Good, but didn't quite do it for me.

I guess it must be the salt I need, so I eat a handful of of ripple chips. Huh. That wasn't it.

While I'm making cookies for church tomorrow, I eat three chocolate-peanut butter-chip ones.

Wow. I'm really thirsty. I drink two glasses of cold milk.  Still thirsty. Drink another glass.

Better. But I think I need something healthy. Maybe that's why I'm not getting satisfied. I make a chicken-almond and spinach salad and toss five green olives onto the salad.

I eat the salad. I try to distract myself. But I'm still thinking about the olives. I eat four more.

I'm contemplating draining the juice and drinking it. But that sounds like something I shouldn't admit to.

I eat two more olives.

There are five olives left in the jar.

I'm probably going to get up in the middle of the night and finish them off.

Tomorrow my rings aren't going to fit and I'm going to be putting my mouth under the faucet all day.

The bloat should be gone in a few days just in time for Thanksgiving. I asked my sister-in-law to bring the green olives.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are you a Facebook creeper mom?

Moms hijacked Facebook. It was this really cool site for college students and high schoolers to interact with their friends, and then moms crashed the party.

My daughter said that the day her mother got Facebook was the day she closed her account. True to her word, she did. But that was a few years ago. Now she's in college, and she wants to talk to me and is disappointed if I don't comment on her posts. But this wasn't always the case.

My kids and nephews and nieces have all informed me that moms are out of control on Facebook. They gave me a list of things we do. I added a few of my own. Yeah, it might be true.  Ask yourself if you do any of the following:
  1. Do you regularly look up kids' pages, see what they're up to, and then tell their mothers?
  2. Do you see a bunch of kids commenting on other kids' posts and then put in your two cents?  Like, "Oh, yeah, I've had that problem too. Just eat a few prunes before you leave."
  3. Have you invited kids to be your friends? (I can say I've never done this. I have kids as FB friends, but only when they've invited me. And I don't accept friend requests from kids I barely know...why are they asking a middle-aged mom to be their friend? That's weird.)
  4. Do you spend so much time on Facebook, that your house is a pit and your children are tugging at your sleeve asking to be fed?  My kids tell me that moms are the worst at wasting time on Facebook. They've asked, "Doesn't she have kids to take care of or a job to go to? How can anyone put up status updates every 10 minutes?"
  5. Do you write a paragraph as a status update, complete with correct grammar and punctuation? As far as poor grammar and misspelling, I can't intentionally bring myself to do that. I do admit I used to post chapters on my life on Facebook until my kids told me I needed to write a blog. Now I'm an out-of-control blogger mom.
  6. Do you talk about Facebook when you're not on Facebook? When you get together with your girlfriends, do you talk about the clever posts you just put up and what everyone commented? My kids tell me that what's on Facebook stays on Facebook. Facebook is not the real world world, Mom. Oh.  Didn't know that.
  7. Are you living your life by what your next post is going to be?
  8. Do you get anxious when you haven't been able to check your Facebook for 30 minutes?
  9. Are you disappointed when no one comments on your posts?  And if you do get a lot of comments, do you think of another one right away so you can get the rush of more comments?
  10. Are you a little offended by these questions?
If you've answered yes to any of the above, you may be out of control.  If you answered yes to the first three, your kids and their friends are calling you a Facebook creeper mom. If you answered yes to all of them, you are a Facebook creeper mom who's out of control.

Don't feel too bad, you're not alone. Share this link  We'll start a Moms in Recovery group to join on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Women over 40

I was going to devote a whole blog to the advantages of being over 40. My list was short. When I come up with more, I'll write one. But here's one that Andy Rooney did... from a man's point of view. Love it...and loved him. (Thanks, Kristi for posting it on Facebook...I'm stealing it.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gray and playing the field

A few years ago, silver and sassy
I found my first gray when I was 25. But I didn't start coloring until I was in my 30s. My friend, LaDonna, told me I wouldn't look so tired if I ditched the gray. I was resistant, but she convinced me to let her color my hair near black--the color she said most closely matched my natural color. When she was done, I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was exactly the color of black shoe polish. I was a 35-year-old female Elvis.

I tried again, this time choosing a lighter shade. Not so bad, even though I looked like I had a dark hair helmet. I continued to use a box until I was in my 40s. It started getting tedious the more gray I got. I was curious to how gray I actually was. My hair stylist peered at my roots and told me I was at 50 percent. It sounded like a particular stage of a terminal disease.

Eventually my curiosity won out. Amber encouraged me to go sans color. She said the silver coming in around my temples made me look cool and chic.  Growing it out was the worst...mousy and skunky at the same time. It took months before it was long enough to cut off the remaining colored ends.

I got a Jamie Lee Curtis-inspired cut. I liked it. A lot actually. My hair kind of had a marbled effect of blended silver, white and gray. My family liked it too. Although it took my husband awhile to get used to his seven-years-younger wife being gray, he at least tolerated it.

I also got mostly favorable reviews from friends and co-workers. But one comment I heard consistently was, "You look great gray, but I could never do it. I'd look too old."

Hmmm. I realized that every woman I knew under the age of 70, colors her hair (with the exception of my sister-in-law, Karin, who sports a beautiful shock of snow white). With everyone coloring until they are in their 70s or 80s, it's no wonder gray means you are really, really old. No longer sexy.

The reverse is true with men. Men are considered sophisticated when they are gray, and some are downright hot. Think George Clooney, Richard Gere, Anderson Cooper.  Not cool is a guy who does color his hair. He ends up looking silly and self-absorbed.

I tried to get other women to convert to my Silver Sisterhood. I even wrote an essay entitled "On Going Gray," and e-mailed it to all my friends (this was before I started blogging). No one was brave enough to convert except for one co-worker in her 60s. She was a burgundy. She looked younger when she finally went au naturale. She said I was a traitor when I colored again.

I stuck by my silver stance for a few years.  But after I lost weight, I wanted to celebrate with a new do. This time I went to a professional who gave me an overall caramel color with blond highlights. Much better than my out-of-a-box furniture stain color.

Now I can go either way. I liked the gray. And, I like being blond. But I feel like I'm kind of edgy when I don't color. So there. I'm not fickle. I just want to play the field.

Gray can be sexy. Take a look at some of the silver celebs. Gray doesn't necessarily mean frumpy.

Ladies, I dare you to cross over to the other side. I'll be silver and sassy with you. Who knows? Maybe we can start a trend.  I'll even reinstate The Silver Sisterhood.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Less jiggle in my wiggle

I did a whole post on Jillian in my Losing It blog, so I won't beat the horse to death (not to say that Jillian is a horse...well, she does kind of look like one, but in a good way).  (See, http://jacci-clark.blogspot.com/2011/05/shredded.html.)

But I am still getting my butt kicked by her workouts--both figuratively and literally. She has you do butt kicks during the cardio part. I began two years ago doing the 30-Day Shred. I was winded after just doing the jumping jacks at the beginning. And I had to take plenty of bathroom breaks. Because at my age and after having several babies...well, you know. 

After I mastered The Shred, I moved on to the No More Trouble Zones (worked that one for a year, I highly recommend it if you want to get rid of saddle bags) and did 6 Week Six Pack.  Okay, I only did the Six Pack three times. My abs were not sore at all, but my neck muscles were strained, my shoulder was impinged, and a muscle in my inner thigh was pulled. Not lying. Jillian just kind of goes psycho on this one, shouting and making you do moves that aren't even natural. Sorry, but I'm just not coordinated enough to twist myself into a pretzel.  So I guess a six pack is not in my future.

I am now doing Ripped in 30. I like it. More strength training. I'm only on week one of four, so I know what's to come in the next weeks. Jillian torture. She's sadistic. It's very effective.

But  after she's laughed at your pain for a half hour, she gives you kuddos and a pep talk during the cool down that almost make you want to forgive her. She says a couple things at the end that resonate with me.

You can eat yourself through any amount of exercise. Uh, yeah. I should've figured that out a long time before I did. But I finally got it. No amount of running can compensate for eating half a pan of brownies before bed.

Transformation is not a future event, it is a present activity. It may sound hokie, and it may seem obvious. But it is the absolute truth. We make it awfully difficult for ourselves. We tell ourselves it will happen tomorrow, or when we throw out all the food in the cupboard, or when our knee quits hurting and we can start exercising again. But change really happens right now with simply putting the fork down and taking a walk.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It's about effort. When you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens. That's how change occurs. True, my friends. Change happens when you go just a little more than what you thought you could.  And then the next time you push even harder until pretty soon you're surprising yourself.

Okay, enough pep talk. I need to go to bed.

I thought about a picture to put with this post. I didn't want to pull a picture off the internet of someone's jiggly butt. That wouldn't be nice. I do have a "before" picture of myself in a two-piece that I could have used. But, it might end up on someone else's blog.

Doing a 5K this summer with a little less jiggle in my wiggle.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My brain is addled...it's a good thing

I'm forgetful, and I'm thinking it's only right. For the last 25 years, besides working outside the home, I've kept track of five people's schedules, paid the bills, balanced the checkbook, done the taxes, filled out the FAFSA (by the time our last is through college, I'll have filled out that dang form 12 times), paid for the lunches, signed permission slips, kept track of the college loans, refinanced the house, made the meals, done the laundry, made doctor, dentist, hair, and vet appointments, and a load of other stuff that I'm not remembering. Which is kind of the point, isn't it?

It's not that I resented doing any of these things. But my brain's tired. It's just like a computer with too much data stored for the amount of memory it can hold.

In response to my last post (Are you hot or not?), several moms commented that they could so totally relate to the memory loss of middle age. I had a revelation this week. Our forgetfulness is for our family's own good. If we stayed as sharp as when we were young, our families would have no reason to grow up. Our kids are old enough to take care of themselves. It seems obvious. But when the mom's been doing for so long, it becomes a chronic habit.

My family gets frustrated with me that I don't remember their schedules. I keep forgetting, and they have to keep reminding me. But it occurred to me. Who is keeping track of me besides me. I asked Paige what hours I worked on Wednesday. She didn't know. When's my next hair appointment? She asked why should she know. I looked at her. So if you don't know what I'm doing, why should I know what you're doing? She said she could kind of see my point. "But, you're, well, you're the mom. You're supposed to know everything."

I am knowing a lot less these days. My kids are getting smarter right at the time my brain cells are dying. It couldn't be better timing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are you hot or not?

I'm not hot. Not yet anyway. I work with a bunch of women who are though. They're turning the thermostats down until it's snowing in the middle of July.  We're all at different stages of estrogen, waxing or waning. I call it being Pre-, Mid- or Post-Tribulation. I guess I'm Mid Trib, otherwise known as perimenopause.

When you're young menopause is not something you want to dwell on. I really never much thought about it. I kind of figured you could get pregnant right up until your last period, the last hurrah. I asked my grandma how old she was when she was done. Grandma said 54. "Wow, Grandma, you could've had a baby in your 50s!" To which she replied, "Grandpa wasn't an old fool." I kind of surmised what that meant and it couldn't have been good for Grandpa.

In my early 30s, a coworker prompted me to think briefly about the big M.  I had just returned from work after having my last baby. I was nursing at home and pumping at work. She was hot flashing. With her hair plastered to her forehead, she told me I better get ready for it. Good grief. I was on the other spectrum of estrogen--raging, not diminishing. I was lactating, for crying out loud.

Nope, menopause would be here before I knew it, she told me. She gave me a book called something like The Change. On the cover was a photo of a trail leading into a misty woods. Suggesting, I guess, that menopause was mysterious, a journey into the unknown. Kind of like those nifty little pamphlets we got in fifth grade that smelled like baby powder and had pink daisies on them. The pamphlet led you to believe that getting your first period was magical and you'd smell like baby powder.

I skimmed a few pages of The Change and got vaguely depressed. What I took away from it was the word dry. Dry hair, dry skin, and dry... well, yeah, dry. And hot. Very, very hot. Hot and dry. I decided not to think about it any further until I went through The Change. The day I entered the misty woods.

What I didn't realize (maybe I should have finished the book) was there was all this stuff that happened beforehand. In my early 40s my brain started to short circuit. I'd be talking to my kids and mid-sentence I'd blankly look at them and ask, "What?" They'd look at me funny. "I don't know, Mom...what?" I'd respond, "I dunno. What were you saying?" They learned this was the new normal for their mother and would just roll their eyes.

I also started to get words and phrases mixed up. Like instead of "pass the salt, please" I'd say, "pass me my shirt please." And, I couldn't seem to hang onto people's names.  I worried I'd forget my own name.

I requested prayer at a women's Bible study. I was pretty sure I was going into early onset of Alzheimer's. My friend, Deb, told me it was perimenopause. She said symptoms could start 10 years before you actually were menopausal--loss of memory, insomnia, depression. Goody. But at least there was a reason I couldn't remember things. I mistakenly thought it was a temporary condition and I'd get my memory back after I went through menopause.  Not true. It just meant that the memory was gone for good.

Two years ago strange stuff started happening with my plumbing. I'll spare you the details. The gynecologist told me my problem could be fixed with with ablation, but I had to be sure I didn't want to have more babies. Pregnancy would be out of the question. Huh? Really? That hadn't been in the plan.

I asked what the procedure involved. She said the inside of my uterus would be cauterized. You mean you're going to fry my uterus and then leave it inside of me...like an old, dried-up piece of bacon? That's just wrong. If you're going to do that, just take it out for Pete's sake.

She said a hysterectomy wasn't necessary. She'd put in an IUD instead. I wouldn't have any periods for five years and by then I'd have already gone through menopause. Cool. But I also felt somewhat sad. I went home and told my husband that we really were done having babies. He was fixed 15 years ago,  I was getting an IUD, plus I had a rotten, old uterus.

Since then, it's been good. The flashes haven't started. The memory loss is still there, but I don't think it's gotten any worse (I don't remember). I may never really know when the magic ends and I enter into the misty woods. But if I get lost, come find me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Worst fears

If you imagine your worst dark fears, they won't happen. Right?

I found a Facebook message I sent my niece, Anna, a few weeks before the wedding. She had asked how the mother of the bride was doing. This is what I said:

Mom of the bride is good. Haven't been too stressed, but that's only because I've been in denial. Now my stomach gets occasional twinges and I feel like I need to go pee. Nerves.

It has started to hit. We are throwing a party for 250 and feeding them dinner. And two very different extended families will be partying together. It might all cumbust. Figuratively and/or literally.

Grandpa is sitting in his lazy boy and worrying about the candles burning the place down. And then I get worried about that. And, I wonder if they have a sprinkler system. And the horror of the sprinkler system being set off from the smoke of 200 burning candles.

Or, some little kid tipping over one of the candle jars and the tablecloth going up in flames and the fire jumping from one table to the next.

Or, Amber getting a migraine and passing out at the altar.

There. I think that covers my worst fears. I think if you verbalize your worst dark fears, they won't happen. Right?


You'd think after being around this long I wouldn't still be imagining the worst possible scenario. But I do. I think the worst and hope for the better. It seems to work for me except that I'm neurotic most of the time.

I think I come by worry naturally. My dad was a worrier. When we were growing up, he was a ball of nerves. He worried about the farm, the cows getting out, possible hail damage. He worried about the country going in the wrong direction, his kids going astray...well, he worried about everything.

He still worries, but it's more out of habit. It's mostly about things like if he's taken his pills on time. Or, if the candles will burn the church down. On the biggies, he seems to have a peace. He's no longer taking on the worries of the world. 

My dad's time on this earth is coming to an end. He's 83. He has a long list of health problems. But he has a grateful, sweet spirit with his personality intact--minus the anxiety. Recently, when I was visiting my parents, I asked him if he was worried about where he'd be going after he died. He said with absolute confidence, "Not a bit." I asked him if he wondered what it would be like in heaven. And, he said, "Oh, sometimes I wonder a little." He gave a small shrug and then smiled. "But I'm looking forward to it."

Really, there's only one thing that is worthy of our worry and that's spending an eternity being separated from God. My dad knows where he's going. He's put his trust in Christ for his salvation.

My dad has no worries.


If you like my Mama Drama blog, check out my first blog: Losing It: A mom's story of weight loss and transformation:
http://jacci-clark.blogspot.com/2011/04/diving-for-pie.html













Sunday, October 23, 2011

Here until I have a dried apple face

I just turned 49. Next year is supposed to be the milestone. I think my milestone began two years ago. My great Aunt Bernice was turning 99. It occurred to me that Bernice had been old for as long as I could remember. I hadn't even reached half of Bernice's age. All my great aunts lived to be at least in their 90s and many in their 100s. If I inherited the longevity gene, and barring sickness or an unfortunate event like being run over by the shuttle bus (which isn't all that unlikely since the driver's just about taken me out several times), I'll be doing my life as a do-over--but as an old person. Yeesh.

This was the trigger of my midlife angst. I know, I know, it's a privilege to live so long, especially when many pass before their lives get started. I feel guilty for even ruing getting old. I can hear the protests now: But you're not old. You are only as old as you feel. True that. I don't feel old.  But I can't seem to help it. I am growing older. If God allows me to stay here for another 50, I gotta accept that one day my face will look like a canned, spiced shriveled apple. My mom used to make those when I was a kid. When you're little, you see things with a certain clarity. I thought an old lady's face looked like one of those shriveled apples.

I have been blessed with much: good health, a wonderful family, and parents who are still living. Our son is becoming a confident young adult thinking about colleges. Our daughters are marrying guys of whom we approve and adore. I'm a lucky gal. So what's my problem?

I am a 'tween. Midlife is just like the stage of being a two-year old or a gangly teenager. It's awkward. I have an emptying house and no grandchildren yet. What to do, what to do?  I've become very shallow.  I'm working out to stave off the eventual menopausal stomach pot. Using a lot of concealer to cover up the darkening circles under my eyes. Noticing a new crop of age spots from years of baking in the sun. And considering face tape to pull up the growing turkey waddle under my chin.

But besides all that, I'm also thinking more about eternity. Looking at the stars at night and being in awe at how vast God is.  Praying that I will be useful in God's kingdom no matter what age I am.

The older women who loved and prayed for me when I was growing up were characterized by selflessness and an inner grace and beauty. Like my friend, Marcie, or my Aunt Betty. They laughed at their wrinkles, gave generous hugs, invited you to stay awhile. I hope to be like that. Less self-focused. Living more for eternity. Even when I have a dried up apple face.

Giving a generous hug to my niece, Anna

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

These are not your mother's granny panties

This one is a girl post. Boys, stay out...

Call 'em underwear, unders, grunders, chonies, boxers, drawers, boy shorts or girl shorts--just don't call them panties. My mom called them panties and to this day the word grosses me out. My sister feels the same way about the pantie word. So it's not just me.

It was how our mom said panties. Before we left for church, she'd whisper, "Jacci, do you have clean panties on?" Eew. Or worse, she'd call clean ones, fresh panties. Double eew...

Panties had the association with another word: nasty. Once when I was little I thought I'd be clever. When Mom asked if I had clean ones I giggled and said I wasn't wearing any. She scolded me, "Jacci, that's nasty!" So the next time we were at church, I hiked up my dress to show everyone I was wearing big girl panties. I found out that was nasty too. Whatever nasty meant.

I don't know. I guess moms just have a hangup about underwear. For a time I was on a crusade against thongs. I'd start in every time I saw one on the laundry room floor or when our dog, Ozzie, had one in his mouth running around the living room. Good grief, why would anyone wear something like that? That has to be so uncomfortable. Why would anybody intentionally put something up there? I even used the word nasty I think.

Finally, one of my daughters put an end to my thong tirade. "Mom, they're underwear. No one sees them. You wear them so you don't have lines. Thongs aren't going away. Get over it."

She had a point. I tried to be more open minded. When I went down several pant sizes and got to wear something other than mom jeans, I figured it was time to give it a twirl. I bought one. 

Only thing, when I pulled the thing on, it went right up the hoo ha. Ouch. I hopped around for awhile before I yanked it off. I told my girls how sick it was. They asked me which side the pink ribbon was on. Then they laughed 'till they cried. They informed me I had put it on backwards.

After I got it right, it wasn't too bad. A little creepy, if you know what I mean. But you get used to it. I still prefer hipsters, but I do the thong thing when the jeans necessitate it.  At least they're not called panties.

*If you like my Mama Drama blog, you might like my first blog: Losing It: A Mom's Story of Weight Loss and Transformation
http://jacci-clark.blogspot.com/2011/04/diving-for-pie.html

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jacked up on coffee


I've had a love affair with coffee ever since college. When I was a sleep-deprived nursing mother, I survived on coffee, lots and lots of coffee. I got my kids addicted early.

It's my only bad vice. Except I don't think it's so bad. The pros outweigh any cons I think.

PROS:
  1. It's something to get you out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it's the only thing.
  2. It gives you a caffeine jolt, which is kind of fun. After a strong cup of joe, I feel manic, excited, and awake. For like 15 minutes. Then I crash and am groggy and sloth-like until my next fix. I guess that should be on the con list.
  3. You get to go out for coffee with friends. Sorry, but going out for tea, or going out for water, just doesn't have the same sound or draw. Maybe going out for drinks does, but I usually don't drink nor do my friends, so we'd be going out for water at a bar.
  4. The whip cream. I drink my coffee black unless I'm going to Starbucks. And then I savor the taste of good, tongue-burning espresso mixed with a dollop of whip. Lately I've been asking for a double shot of whip cream. I'd really like to order all whip with one shot of espresso. But I know that's worse than ordering skim milk in a latte with whip cream (which is what I do when I order a latte).
  5. I like it.
CONS:

  1. Stained teeth. Solution: buy Crest whitener strips.
  2. Spills. I've tipped over cups on car upholstery, my clothes, tablecloths, homework, the church carpet, and all over library books. For the latter I press the pages out the best that I can. The pages will be pasted together and a little crunchy, but usually the print is still legible. I say nothing to the librarian. I haven't been fined yet. I think the librarian drinks coffee herself so she understands.
  3. Bad breath. I fix this with gum. I don't really like chewing gum because I start chomping it like a cow chewing its cud. So I pop in a piece, chew it for a minute, and then spit it out.
  4. Expense. It's not bad if you buy coffee in a can. There used to be five pounds in the can. But then coffee producers started putting less and less in each can figuring consumers wouldn't notice. Now the weight is measured in grams. And since Americans have never actually mastered the metric system, who knows how much is actually in the can. So, we're not really getting much coffee for the ten bucks we pay for the can. But it's still cheaper than Starbucks. If you do Starbucks (Four Bucks, now maybe Five Bucks) every day, your coffee is as expensive as a pack-a-day cigarette habit. And, if you add the $1.27 for the pack of gum needed to cover up the bad coffee breath, it's actually more than a cigarette habit.
  5. Shakiness. Now this is bad on my job which involves doing an invasive procedure with a needle. When my hand is shaking while I'm holding a sharp instrument, it makes people nervous.
So, there's my list. It's a tie. If you want to argue about it being bad, we can talk about it over coffee.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Examining my belly button

Going through midlife crisis is a lot like examining your own belly button. You look at your life long and hard and take inventory. Too much introspection, if you know what I mean. Much less, all you're likely to find is lint.

I always heard about people going nuts when they got in their mid-40s, 50s. I was sure I'd be above such silliness. Besides I thought midlife crisis applied mostly to men. You know, they buy a Porsche, unbutton their shirts to show off their nasty chest hair, put bling around their neck, and do other foolish things.

And, here I am doing almost the same thing. Shoot. Maybe I've been as bad. I hope not. But then there was that lapse of judgment when I squeezed into a bikini, squeezed being the operative word. I think that a midlife mom wearing a bikini is the equivalent of a midlife man wearing a speedo. It's just plain wrong, unnatural even.  See my previous blog, Losing It: Bikini Summer and the Last Hurrah: (http://jacci-clark.blogspot.com/2011/05/bikini-summerthe-last-hurrah.html .)

And I've done other crazy things. I don't know what's driving me. It's like one day you look in the mirror and say, "And, so it has come to this."  The kids are leaving, your parents are in assisted living, and you're getting this stretchy thingy under your chin.

But, even worse, you find a long, black hair sprouting out the side of your cheek at a 90-degree angle. And, you're horrified when you wonder how long it's been there. Is it some kind of mutant hybrid caused by a surge or a plummet of hormones (I never know how the hormone thing works at my age). Either way, you're beyond mortified. And, you demand from your best friend why she didn't tell you when she admits seeing it earlier that day. She says she forgot.  How do you forget something like that?! And, you tell her that if she ever, ever sees something hanging off your face again and she doesn't tell you, you'll cross her off your favorite persons' list.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I need to get over myself. I know it's selfish not to want to get old. I think of all the older people in my life who were there for me. My Grandma O'Hara who had a soft bosom and jiggly arms. And I wouldn't have wanted her any other way. When Grandma enveloped me into those soft arms and ample chest, I felt secure and loved.

I now wonder, did Grandma ever have a midlife crisis? Did she try to get into a bikini? How come I think she didn't?

I've found the best way to get through anything is to laugh until you snort. So, that's what I've been doing. That's why I'm writing this blog. Hopefully, it will give some other midlifers a few chuckles. And, even if it doesn't, I'll have fun laughing at my own expense. And, by my last post I think I may just be done with picking the lint out of my belly button.