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.
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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.