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Month: December 2019

System Change

We were all reasonably crabby by the time we got the car packed and rolled up our icy driveway, hoping to get to my sister’s house in time for the Christmas Eve service. Thing2’s laundry hadn’t magically loaded, washed and folded itself over the weekend. The remaining presents on the Hoosier chest still needed to be wrapped, and we all had needed showers badly even before the packing chaos began.

Somehow, we managed to get out of the house only 30 minutes late (a road trip record for us) and (at the time of this telling) having forgotten only a few minor items. Thing1 was driving and, even though he’s skillful, his right foot, heavy with youth, makes me and the Big Guy happier to sit in the back seat.

We drove mostly in silence for the first 30 minutes. I did my makeup. Thing2 slept, and the Big Guy fidgeted with his wedding ring which he still wears on his right hand, as we both did when we lived in Europe.

“I’m thinking about switching it back,” he said innocently. In the front row, the kids had started chatting about something inappropriate. “I can’t get it off, though.”

The boys paused their conversation and then erupted.

Better parents would have reprimanded them for the quick trip to the gutter, but we both started laughing too. The humor on our ‘Group W’ bench got even more middle school for a little bit, and I didn’t even cringe inwardly.

We’re heading to see grandparents where the boys will need to be on their best behavior for several days, so I knew they needed to get it out of their system. But, after a hectic, crabby morning, the Big Guy and I also needed to get things out of our system and get in the mood to celebrate with family.

Out of Focus

“Every pound you lose takes 7 pounds of pressure off of your joints,“ my podiatrist told me. We had been going over my MRI in which she pointed out that are wrong with my right foot. There was a partial tear in this ligament, a longitudinal tear in that tendon, a ganglion cyst, and a single ligament that had, somehow, survived my pigheaded decision not to see a doctor when I broke that foot several years ago. I’m less pigheaded about going to a doctor when I need to these days, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other blindspots.

I hit the 40 pound weight loss mark on the scale this weekend. I know that’s equal to a bag of garden soil, and I was pretty happy to think about not carrying all that extra weight around on a bum foot.

That should have been enough. Just as I was celebrating being able to zip up an old favorite coat, though, a blind spot was opening up.

I got a haircut a few mornings ago, prepping for holiday dinners where we’ll wear something dressier than good jeans. The hairdresser managed to give me the perfect, idiot proof cut (I am all thumbs with a hairdryer), and that should’ve been more than enough.

As I was driving home and glancing in the mirror, however, happy with the way I looked for the first time in ages, my focus changed. I started noticing lines on my face that I hadn’t seen the day before. Had that peach fuzz always been there? I really wish I could get rid of that wart on my eyebrow.

Suddenly being able to get into that favorite old coat or triple layer my jeans for winter protection wasn’t enough. Suddenly, instead of thinking about that 7 pounds of pressure and all the other reasons why I was losing weight, I was thinking about all the outward things that were still wrong with me.

The trap was right there.

My last attempt at make-up a few months ago failed miserably (a skills deficit). I hadn’t thought about it again until that ride home. Now I was mentally inventorying the items I had kept, trying to figure out what else I ‘needed’.

Thinking about the word ‘need’, though, instantly put me on another track. I didn’t need wax or makeup or another outfit to complete an outfit or holiday, let alone my life.

I turned up the road to our house. Some of the snow from the day before had melted, but it was still beautiful everywhere. It was just the thing to get my focus back on to all the things that are going right.

Now, I’m not saying make-up or dressing up is bad. If it makes people happy, they should wear it. But I realized there is a slippery slope between a little thing to make yourself happy and letting all the little things that you think are wrong with you steal happiness that is very real.

Big Bad Drummer Boy

A few months ago, Thing2 expressed an interest in playing drums (along with guitar and piano). He had the guitar and had taught himself “Imagine” on the piano.

When the obligatory plea for drums came, I attempted what I thought would be a bit of genius parenting.

“If you can practice enought at school to play in a concert,” I said, “We’ll look into it.”

As it happens, thought, December is just as good a time as April 1rst for life to pull the grand-daddy of pranks on us. It’s also the time when Thing2 had two concerts at school – one for chorus and a second one for the band where he plays a number of instruments. The chorus concert was first.

Thing2 and a couple of his friends were scheduled to play as well as sing at the chorus performance, and I knew he had mentioned playing percussion. Having completely forgotten our ‘deal’, I imagined him playing a bongo drum or a triangle.

We got to the concert early enough to get a good seat and read the program. When the second song ended, Thing2 and his band mates made their way from the risers to the group of instruments. Thing2 seated himself behind an impressive drum kit and the Big Guy and I gave each other our ‘Color me impressed’ looks.

The band started playing a song called ‘Christmas in LA’, a pop song that it heavy on rhythm. And right there was Thing2 keeping the beat for everyone. Every rat-a-tat-tat made me look from my video camera to the Big Guy and back to the video of the performance.

The Big Guy is extremely musical. He plays guitar for folk music group once a month and can pick out any tune on his guitar. Watching Thing2 starting to follow in his creative footsteps was the best Christmas presents we could ask for, but there was a tiny lump of coal headed our way.

The concert ended, and we began the task of pealing Thing2 away from his friends. We were already talking about the band concert next week as we walked to the car. The Big Guy went to get the car, and Thing2 gave me a hug as we waited.

“So you really liked it?” He asked, bouncing from foot to foot.

“I — we loved it,” I answered without needing to think about it. I told him how impressed we were with the drumming. He smiled mischievously then.

“Mom?” I recognized the tone as one that usually accompanies a request for money. “Do you remember your promise?”

“Buuuhhhh,” I answered, going through my mental catalogue of promises ad requests.

“About a drum kit?”

And, suddenly, I remembered why it’s always a bad idea to think you have outstmarted your kid.

We’re currently researching kits and options. Score 1 (more) for the kids.

Got to Move it, Move it

I’d love to think that my latest round of weight loss, spurred by my job change, will be the last and final victory over my belly, but I’ve bounced the yo-yo enough times to know to hang on but not to hold my breath. What I find has really changed, however, is not the success rate or the method, but the motivation.

Twenty-five years ago, any goal weight centered around staying in a size 6 jean and being able to (almost) carry off a bikini. For most of this fall, my ‘fashion’ size goal has been squarely aimed at being able to fit a nice, heavy pair of fleece-lined jeans comfortably over my long johns, reminding me that weight loss and fitness are increasingly about function.

For me, function is about moving it at fifty so that I can still move it when I’m sixty-five. It’s about being able to keep up with my boys when we’re stacking firewood or taking that hike to the top of the Equinox. It’s about being keeping the life in a lifestyle.

Function, though, is also about fit. Anyone who’s plus-size can commiserate at how difficult it can be to find even practical items that actually fit. Stores will offer to special order sizes, but until recently, they’ve rarely carried anything over an XL.

Today is the first time I’ve tried on something fashion-wise that I really wanted to fit. I’m used to items looking like they may work and then being too small, so, even though my friends at Hiz ‘n’ Herz swore that the strings of my new Teacher Tool Apron would be long enough, until I tried it on, I wasn’t sure if I was still too big for an off-the-rack find.

When it did fit, I did a one-footed happy dance (one foot is bound for surgery in February, but that’s another story). It has pockets for my safety scissors and post-it’s and everything else you need in class. You can see their products and patterns on Etsy and on Facebook.

I tied the strings in back, and I laughed, remembering how hard I once worked to tie a swimsuit string. Being able to fit this apron was much more fun, and it gave me a new goal to lose just enough to be able to tie the strings in front so they’re easier to undo at the end of the day.

Right now, every little extra bit of function is just the right motivation to keep things moving, and, hopefully, this time that will be the recipe for success.

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