Saturday, November 07, 2015

Some women are dripping with diamonds Some women are dripping with pearls. Lucky me! Lucky me! Look at what I'm dripping with Little girls

Over the summer I started a Girl Scout Troop with girls from Ash's grade. It's been a lot of fun, I get to be creative and spend more time with Ash. It's also had the unexpected benefit of discounts: I had no idea so many places offered discounts for Girl Scout Troops! 

One of those places is the major downtown theater here in Sunland. A touring company is performing Annie. Tickets start at thirty dollars a seat, but with Girls Scouts we could get tickets for fifteen dollars. I wasn't too excited about as that is still a huge amount of money, and the show didn't start until seven thirty, which is already passed Ash's bedtime, but the other moms and girls were thrilled so we made it our troop activity. 

Yesterday after getting ready I asked Drek if he thought my outfit was fancy enough for the theater. 
"It doesn't matter. You'll be wearing a baby. They can't kick you out."

"They can't?" 

"If they kicked out a mom with the nursing baby for any reason the headlines would be too ugly. You could be the worst behaved patron ever but as soon as they see you have a baby they can't do anything."  I smiled. It was true. I could always stage a nurse-in. 

Both Tabs and Ash fell asleep on the long drive down there, which was great because traffic was horrible and I really didn't need distractions. After spending way too long finding a parking lot that didn't cost an arm and a leg we finally parked and I woke up both girls. I strapped Tabs into my Tula, took Ash's hand and we walked the short distance to the theater and arrived just five minutes before showtime.  

Thrilled that we had made it safely I smiled as I hand my two tickets to the employee. He scanned both tickets then said "You have three tickets?" 

"No." I smiled. "Just two. Just us." 

The woman looked at both tickets. "There are three of you?" 

"Nope, just two." I smiled. 

She tried rewording. "Do you have a ticket for the baby." 

"No!" I laughed. Then I realized she was actually asking. I frowned. "She's only two months! Do I need a ticket?" 

The woman did not answer. Instead she told me to wait there. A few minutes later she came back with her manager. 

"There are three people and only two tickets?" He asked

"Well, it's just us. The baby doesn't need a seat. She's only two months. Do I really need a ticket for her?" At this point I was very nervous. The manager nodded and said he'd be right back. A few minutes later he came back with a somber expression on his face. The bell sounded for everyone to take their seats. 

"I'm afraid the rules state that every person must have a ticket, even if they do not require a seat." 

"Oh." I said dumbly. "There isn't an exception for nursing infants?" 

"You can purchase one right here at the box office." He offered. 

I glanced over at the box office and noted that the thirty dollar seats were all sold out. I wondered they would still let me pay the fifteen dollars. After all, she didn't need a seat! Then again, I was debating if I should just call it a night and drive home. Fifteen dollars for a baby was ridiculous. The bell sounded again. 

"So, I'm the troop leader of my daughter's Girl Scout Troop." I started to explain. "And the troop is here tonight for the show. Is there a way I could take her to her seat and then just wait in the lobby with the baby?" 

The manager frowned.

"She wouldn't be unsupervised. All the other girl scouts are here with their moms." 

"You're a girl scout leader?" He asked. 

"Yes, and we purchased the tickets as a troop activity. We are here for the performance and the special Q&A session with the cast afterward. I feel like I need to be there for that." 

He looked at me. He looked at Ash. He looked at Tabs, sleeping soundly in the Tula.  

He escorted us to our seats. The other girls and moms were already there. We sat down just as the lights dimmed.  Before he left, the manager warned me that if the baby made a sound, I was to take her out immediately. I nodded solemnly, thinking instead of sneaking in  I should have made a fuss and staged a nurse-in. 

The show was wonderful. Everything went well until just after the intermission, when Ash stood on her seat and her foot slipped down between the two cushions. He leg was stuck. She panicked. 

I handed Tabs to another mom and tried to calm Ash down while I yanked her leg out. I did free it, but there was a huge scrape along her ankle and she was crying. I picked her up and took her to the restroom, where I washed off her scrape and wiped away her tears. After a few minutes she calmed down and we went back in to watch the rest of the show. Tabs slept through the whole thing. 

No wonder our seats were so discounted;  They ate little girls!  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It is The Most Amazing Thing You Will Ever Own

Tabs was born on the 30th of August after 6 minutes of pushing. I was vacuuming up until 30 minutes before she was born. It's a great story, but not one I will tell here.

Instead, I will tell a story with a little more weight:

I was fat in high school. I had no idea how to eat healthy, be healthy or to get healthy. I was getting up into the "obese" numbers by the time I was...14? 15? At any rate, I had hated the way I looked since I hit puberty. I felt a passionate loathing of myself in all reflections and photos, so much so that I developed a fear of getting my picture taken, lest I should end up having to look at it.  I had a long list of things I would change about my body once I could afford surgery.

At the age of 15 I started going on fad diets. I tried to exercise and I used both of these as a way to punish myself for looking the way I did. I desperately wanted to be anorexic but never was and was envious of girls so thin they died. Let me repeat that last part: I was envious of girls who starved themselves to death.

I don't think I was atypical. I could be wrong, but I think my reactions are fairly common among American girls. Our culture a toxic environment for girls. Getting sick is a normal reaction to being fed poison.

At age 17 I decided to go on another extreme diet: Vegetarianism. As I had just spent several months on the Atkins diet, it seemed very radical. I declared myself a vegetarian and started doing internet research to discover what being a vegetarian was all about. Of course, once I researched slaughterhouses my extreme diet turned into a moral diet, and after a while it became my normal.  I've never regretted the choice to become vegetarian. It's a choice I applaud my younger self for making. It's a choice I'm proud to make today. It turned out to be a choice that changed my life.

It changed my life because as it turns out, vegetarianism is not an extreme diet, but a healthy one. I lost 20 pounds in the first year without obsessing about it (I had bigger problems by then). One day I saw a photo of myself and realized I looked slim. I hadn't tortured myself into being slim; it just happened while I was paying attention to something else. Still, I couldn't actually LIKE the way I looked, that would be asking too much, so at the age of 19, even though I was in a healthy weight, I thought of myself as fat and ugly. I once again found myself on fad diets and wishing I could starve myself into something pretty.

But this time I had the advantage that my base diet was actually healthy: lots of salads and no meat. I also had the advantage that when people know you are vegetarian, they assume you are healthy and since people treated me that way I slowly began to learn more about what "healthy" actually is.  I read more, I learned more, I ate less high fructose corn syrup and drank more water.

Years later I was married and pregnant. The pregnancy became a huge problem as I realized that no matter what I did, no matter how I ate, no matter how much I exercised, I was going to gain weight. I hated my body during my pregnancy.  I felt betrayed by my body even though I had been abusing it for over a decade.

I decided to have a home-birth. I read and researched birth and home birth and came across some strange notions: A woman's body is capable. A women's body is strong. A women's body can do amazing things. I couldn't wrap my head around these ideas. Strong? Capable?  But isn't the only purpose of a women's body to be sexy?

I read more, I learned more, I grew more. The end of my pregnancy was marked by a beautiful birth that left me with something I had never before felt for my body: respect.

Four months later I was training for a half-marathon. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time my baby was nine months old. Once again, I hadn't tortured myself into running that far or losing the weight. I had to work hard, but I had to be kind to my body in order to do it.

Due to health complication, in order to become pregnant with my second child I had to drastically change the way I ate. I had already stopped eating processed foods and made whole  vegetarian food from scratch as much as possible, but in order to become pregnant I needed to stop eating sugar and dairy and really focus on eating leafy green vegetables. I didn't treat this drastic change as a fad diet intended to torture myself into getting the results I demanded, instead I treated my body with kindness. To be kind to my body I fed it foods I knew would nourish it and I kept away from foods I knew would harm it. This change in attitude had a powerful effect on my self-confidence and on my perspective.

Still, I found myself falling back into self-loathing at my pregnant self  for gaining weight. It takes a lot of hard work and a long time to break old habits.

When my second daughter was born I spent one morning looking at her perfect, beautiful, tiny body and wondered if she if she would hate it one day. I gasped out loud. I had just spent nine months creating that beautiful body! I had spent eight hours pushing that beautiful body into the world! I had sacrificed so much, including MY body, to give her that body! She better be appreciative! She better be grateful! She better not, not for one second, EVER hate her body!

And yet, when my second daughter was nine months old I looked in a mirror with despair: I weighed just as much as I did on the day she was born. I was overweight and unable to exhibit self-control over my food or exercise routines. What was wrong with me? If I hated the way I looked,  I should be determined enough to change it. If I couldn't lose weight by being kind to myself then I should force myself into being thin! I just HAD to lose weight! And then I had a small epiphany: Why? Why did I have to lose weight? Did I owe it to society to conform to their idea of sexy? Was my only worth a number on a scale?

I wasn't getting up and running in the morning because I was exhausted: my nights were spent feeding, loving, and soothing a small human being that needed me every two hours. My days were spent caring for and nurturing an active, bright three-year old, and spending time with my wonderful eternal companion.  I volunteered in my community, I tried to magnify my church calling. I ran a household, I spent time with friends and family. I read and wrote, discovered and developed talents and passions and was still trying to recover from a life-threatening kidney infection. And yet, I hated myself because I wasn't sexy? Because lowering a number on a scale wasn't my highest priority?

So I gave myself  time. I took care of what was important, and my love-handles did not make that list.

This came about because I had recently realized that there were women all around me who hated their bodies with the same passion I had toward my body as a teenager. In my eyes these women were beautiful. They had strong, capable bodies and nothing to lose in terms of weight. Still, they hated themselves and I didn't understand why.

So I went and did some research. My incredible sister-in-law recommended a documentary, I read several blog posts, I watched a few short clips on You Tube and I viewed and contemplated this statement of art. I was stunned by the enormous, disgusting mess our society had created. I was angry that women were suffering, that young girls were hurting themselves, and that I had spent to much time in self-loathing, why? So some people could make money? We were suffering because of money?

I was so angry and disgusted and hurt. I couldn't quantify how big the problem was and I couldn't even begin in to figure out how to change it. This was the exact time I was called into Young Women and put in charge of an activity to help the girls who were dealing with feelings of hate towards their bodies.

In an effort to to put together that activity, I turned to the gospel for help and was amazed to discover that our prophets, apostles, and leaders were very aware of the problem and had the solution.

Eventually, when my kidney infection was gone, when my daughter slept through the night, and when I found the motivation through friendship instead of through the desire to be sexy, I was able to devote my some time into working out and eating better. This time I didn't judge my success by the falling numbers on the scale, but my energy levels, my ability to more push-up than I did the day before, and in respecting my body.

As of  November of last year, I was at a healthy 897* pounds. In January, I found myself 12 weeks pregnant, at a doctor's office, and being asked to step on the scale.

I hesitated. Seeing numbers on a scale really messes with my mind. Even though I understand I am a person, a human being with a meaningful life, somehow when I see the numbers, I feel as if they are telling me my value, not my relation to gravity, and no matter what they say, I always want them to be lower. ALWAYS.

I stepped on the scale backwards, so I couldn't see the numbers and explained to the nurse that I didn't want to know how much I weighed.

She acknowledged my request and pressed whatever buttons you have to press to get the machine to tell you the numbers.

"Ok." she said, "you can step off and put your shoes back on." She then took up my chart and as she was writing down the results, she announced "897."  I assume she has a disease where she has to say aloud everything she writes?

My mind raced. In a matter of seconds this is what I thought: 897? I'm twelve weeks pregnant and haven't gained a single pound? It must be because I'm eating so many vegetables! It must because I'm throwing up so much because of morning sickness. It must be because I'm staying so active. How can I make more of my food vegetables? How can I make myself throw up more and eat less? How can I be more active? How can I make it so that I stay at this weight and not gain anything this whole pregnancy?

Not one thought was "Is the baby gaining weight? Is the baby growing as it should? Am I giving my body what it needs to nurture this baby?"

I had to talk sense into myself then, and several times over the following weeks as I entered my second trimester and did start gaining weight. I had to ignore the numbers and instead tell myself the baby was growing and that my body was amazing, I had to tell myself that my worth was far deeper and more complex than a number could ever represent. I told myself that being sexy wasn't anything compared to the ability to grow a human inside myself.

That was the key for me; to be able to say that I was of infinite worth, and being sexy was negligible. That I was important, and more important things to do that worry about my looks.

On September 6, a week after I had pushed a new life into this world, After taking a shower I glimpsed the reflection of my naked body in the mirror. I stopped and turned to examine that reflection. I looked at it not with the eyes I had developed over the last several years: eyes that looked at a whole person, at a human being, and a force of life with dreams and fears and hopes and insecurities, but with more critical eyes; ones that look at a leg, and then at a hip, and then a bulge or a puff.

But instead of loathing what I saw, I was impressed. A week ago my stomach was stretched at least four feet, today it was sucked back into a surprisingly flat position. A week ago I had been stretched out to the point of breaking in half, today I was walking around, feeling fine. My hips were round, my thighs large, but they looked like the pictures painted by the masters, and I was happy with that.

"Looking good." I said to myself.

While being constantly bombarded with society's image of bodies, society's opinion on the value of women, and society's sickening perversion of sexuality, I find it so very difficult to keep a positive attitude about myself.  Having lived so long with thoughts of self-loathing and habits of criticizing my body  I find that the change to set positive habits is a daily struggle.

And yet, It's a much better life to live. When I love and accept myself as a beautiful human being with flaws and strengths and hopes and accomplishments, I can accept others as beautiful human beings with flaws and strengths and hopes and accomplishments, I can set a good example for my daughters, I can try and change the world so they will not have to go through what I did, what I see so many others struggling with.

The world would be so much better if every woman accepted herself and others. The world would be so much better if every time a teenager saw herself in the mirror she would smile, instead if scowl.

My world would be so much better if every time I saw my body I simply told myself "Looking good."

* Numbers have been changed to protect the readers and writer from comparisons

Monday, August 24, 2015

John Hamish Watson. Just... if you're... looking for baby names.

Drek and I are having trouble coming up with a name for the baby that is due tomorrow (but won't actually come tomorrow, I'm sure I'm looking at another week at least). I'm really particular about names. There is a long list of rules names must follow in order to be "good names." Some of the rules are obvious like "Cannot be made-up" and some are finicky like "cannot end with same sound as the ending sound of the last name." 

Drek and I both really like the name Tessa for a girl. However, "Tessa" is diminutive; It is a nickname and therefore, not a real name. Tessa is usually a nickname for Theresa which neither of us really love, so we thought of a few other names that could be shortened to Tessa. 

I love the name Tesla, nicknamed Tessa. Drek thinks Tesla Model-S-withrearseatsupgrade Lastname is too long to fit on a birth certificate or into a baby blessing. I think if we send a baby announcement to Elon Musk there is a chance he might give us a free Tesla Model S with rear seats upgrade and I think that's a chance we have take. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Air conditioning repair will be your life, a life of secrets you'll be unable to share with outsiders. you will be an air conditioning repairman...and nothing else, until the day you die

When our air conditioner gave out I mentally prepared myself to go the rest of the summer without it. Getting an air conditioner repair man to your house is never easy, but from my experience if you wait until a heat wave, the wait is around four weeks.

But, to my surprise, Drek did a little googling, watched a little Youtube, then went and found the problem. He ordered a replacement part off of Amazon for $25 and two days later when it arrived in the mail he took it out to our air conditioning unit. About fifteen minutes later he came back inside, switched  the thermostat to "cool" and amazingly, the air conditioning started right up. I had no idea I was married to such a handy man. It was very impressive.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I'll imaginary-sleep when I'm imaginary-dead

It is the middle of August. We are suffering from a heat wave and every day there is heat advisory. I'm nine months pregnant and yesterday our air conditioning broke.

I'm having contractions. They are painful and irritating, but also erratic. I had these same contractions about 3 weeks before Alexa was born. I'm assuming I can look forward to three more weeks of this stuff before the baby finally decides to make an appearance.

I caught a cold from my calling in Nursery. Then I caught a secondary infection and have a horrible hacking cough.

Basically, I'm hating everything right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Did You All Hit Your Heads on Each Other's Heads?

The last clue of my birthday treasure hunt lead to my birthday dinner at a park. The kids had a wonderful time playing and we had a wonderful time eating! At the very end Sera stood up and tried to walk on the bench of the picnic table. She fell backwards and hit her head on the cement. 

There was nothing to break her fall; she fell headfirst and it was a loud and hard hit. Her pupils weren't dilating like they should, so even though she didn't loose consciousness and wasn't throwing up I decided to take her to the E.R. 

Because of the treasure hunt date she hadn't taken her usual afternoon nap. Thus, after she had screamed for a few minutes, she fell asleep, which was alarming. Once I arrived at the E.R. I was dismayed to find it packed. Ash was out in the car with Drek so I had hoped it would be a quick process. 

The two women at the front desk were very kind. They were very concerned that I was holding a sleeping baby, instead of an awake baby. I told them I had another child in the car and they said they would get me back to triage as soon as they could. I got back in about 10 minutes, so it's wasn't bad. There was a doctor and a nurse in triage and both seemed very concerned about the fall, assuring me They needed to do an MRI and I could not just take her home. 

They ordered the MRI and while I waited Drek took Ash to Anna's house. While he was gone they called us back for the MRI. They got her tiny little body onto the huge machine, covered her in a heated blanket, and then said because I was pregnant I could absoluetly NOT be in the room while the machine was on. They shooed me out and I paced the hallway for the five minutes it took them to take the picture. 

An hour and and a half later Alexa had her MRI. Drek, Alexa and I were finally called back into a room. We were in there for about twenty minutes when a nurse came in to ask insurance questions. On her way out she asked if the doctor had told us the results. We explained we hadn't heard anything since the MRI. She causally announced the MRI showed no bleeding, Alexa was fine, and we could leave now.  It was a actually quite anti-climactic for being such a relief. 

Fast forward almost a month and a day later. Ash is sitting at the kitchen table with an unusual amount of energy. She moves from sitting on the seat of the chair to the arm of the chair, then loses her balances and smacks the side of her head on the tile floor. Once again there was nothing to break her fall; she fell headfirst and it was a loud and hard hit. She didn't lose consciousness, and her pupils dilated like normal, so I left with Sera to go to a previous engagement while Drek tried to calm Ash down by reading to her. She calmed down for a bit, then started crying again because her head hurt. Drek put her in the bath, which calmed her down for a while but then she again started crying because her head hurt. Drek was about to make her a snack when she threw up. 

So Drek called me and I rushed home with our family's only car. I gave Alexa to Drek and I took Ash to the E.R. On the way there she threw up.

This time the E.R. was empty. besides the two people checking in before us, there wasn't anyone at all in the waiting room. When it was out turn to check in I recognized one of the women at the front t desk from when I checked Alexa in, but luckily she didn't recognize me (or I'm afraid there would have been some awkward questions). 

Ash threw up for a third time while I was checking her in, which I assume would  make them put us at the front of the line, but since there was no line I'm not sure it made any difference. We went straight into the triage nurse, who called over a doctor. He didn't seem very worries, explaining that "Sometimes kids just throw up." He said he wanted to observe her, and we were taken back to a room where Ash happily lay on a bed and watched a movie on the tablet. After an hour another doctor came in and examined her, checking her head and her eyes. He was just getting ready to say something when she threw up again. Apparently throwing up three times could be normal, but four is crossing a line. He immediately ordered and MRI and less than ten minutes later I was once again pacing the hall outside the MRI room, because I am still pregnant. 

Fifteen minutes later the same doctor came in with the results: no bleeding. She had a concussion, but should make a full recovery.

I come away from both experienced feeling very grateful that my kids haven't been permanently damaged and that I have access to technology that can reassure me when they get hurt. I also feel like I should give both my kids sitting lessons. Seriously, how hard is it to sit at a table? 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

See, this is another sign of your tragic space dementia, all paranoid and crotchety.

Yesterday Anna spent several hours planning a date for me and Drek. When we showed up at her house, she took our kids, gave us a book, and sent us away. Inside the book was a piece of paper with lots of numbers. A treasure hunt! How exciting!

After spending several minutes trying to decode the numbers, Drek gave up and texted Anna, who sent him back the answer, which he announced without even telling me he had given up. I was still working on it! I would like to think I would have come up with the answer on my own (the code was so clever!) but sadly, that is probably not true. In any case, we figured out the next location and went off in search of another clue!

When we got there, I spotted the envelope duct taped to the clue right away. We opened it up and decoded clue number two all by ourselves, with no spoilers. This time we were to look under a bench in front of Cold Stone. Once again we were off!

At Cold Stone we looked all over, under, and around the bench. Finding nothing, we looked some more. My phone rang and even though I shouldn't have (Hello! I'm on a date with no kids! This never happens!) I answered it, thinking it might be a clue, because I am crazy. It was not a clue. It was someone with which I had the following conversation:

Them: "Happy birthday!"

Me: "Oh! Hi! Thanks!"

Them: "So, you're thirty years old now, huh?"

Me: "What? No, I'm twenty-nine today actually."

Them: "Right, ha ha, you were twenty-nine last year."

Me: "Uh, no I'm twenty-nine this year, Really."

Them: "Ha ha ha ha. You need another year to get it right, huh?"

Me: "No, I was born in '86. I'm really turning twenty-nine today."

Them:  "Uh, huh, yeah right. How long have you been twenty-nine?"

Me: "I may never speak to you again"

During that distracting conversation Drek had texted Anna, who informed him we were in the right place; the envelope with my name on it was supposed to be duct taped under the bench. Inside the sealed envelope, in addition to another clue, there was a Cold Stone gift card for free ice cream. They deduced it had been found and stolen. Anna gave him the next location and Drek lead me to the car. We reached it before I got off the phone. When I finally hung up he told me what had happened. I wanted to go back and search some more, or ask the clerk at Cold Stone if some kind soul had turned in the gift card, or some evil soul had used it, but we were already at the car, so away we went.

We found the next location and I quickly found the hidden envelope, only to discover it was empty. There was no clue. After looking all around and trying to decide if the envelope had invisible ink, we called Anna, who realized the person who stole the gift card probably followed the clue, hoping for more rewards. She gave us the last location, just a few blocks away. When we arrived, I saw the envelope, and once again it was empty. Someone had indeed stolen not only my gift card for Cold Stone ice cream, but my treasure hunt as well. They left behind the envelopes with my name written on them, but had taken the clues. What kind of person does that?

Disappointed, Drek and I headed back to get our kids, The treasure hunt had started out a lot of fun, but had quickly turned frustrating. I'm trying to focus on the fact that Anna really went out of her way to make the day special for us and not on the fact that there are people in this world who steal treasure hunts.