Friday, April 30, 2010

I Have Bright Red Fingernails Therefore I Am

Have you ever wanted to maim your exercise instructor? I suppose that's the sign of a good workout but ouch. I hurt. In places I didn't know I could really hurt.

We are in week two of Operation 30 -- or 20 -- for 36. Yesterday was not a good day. Today, is better. Yesterday I met with the face of disappointment -- disappointment that the scale hadn't budged an inch in 12 days. I don't think it's fair to hurt this bad and not lose one bloody pound. Of course, I welcome the pain as a friendly reminder of the ballet poster I think hung in every studio in America in the '80's that proclaimed,"No Pain, No Gain!" Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you, evil Russian pointe teacher, I hear you to this day.

I did myself no favors by indulging in a couple of rounds out this weekend. The part of regularly working out that triggers your appetite kicked in full throttle. Most of my choices were good ones but yesterday, I just didn't like myself. Why do we do this to ourselves I wondered? And then I started thinking of how I got here in the first place, how it affects my psyche and what on earth to do about it.

*insert flashback sequence music here*

If I remember correctly, the great gain started when I broke my foot. While I was pregnant. Six months to be exact. Technically, I gained 70 pounds while pregnant. Oink. Honestly, those last couple of months were pretty bad as I tried to waddle on crutches around a little one bedroom apartment and take care of myself. Sadly, I became really good friends with the following chain delivery boys: Papapjohn's and Steak Out. It was easier than trying to cook a meal while on crutches and fat as a house in a galley kitchen.

I was alone 99% of the time and I didn't really cook. My diet up to that point consisted of a lot of fruit, vegetarian cuisine and fish. Sadly, fish made me sick while pregnant as did most of the vegetables I had lived off of pre-gestation. I was at a culinary loss.

The broken foot didn't take too long to heal and by the next summer, I was back in 4" heels...much to the dismay of my doctor. What can I say, I'm hell bent when I want to do something. I am not a girl for comfortable shoes, I'm just not. Around this time, I became a single parent. A single, not very financially sound, parent. Dinner usually consisted of the child's non-eaten mac 'n cheese or Cheerios. Oh, yes, Cheerios and I had a tight relationship for many months and I dropped about 35 pounds without much effort at all.

Intermingled in this very frugal lifestyle I had to maintain was a very real and often debilitating issue that came on just after the Post Partum Depression had departed -- PTSD. In my case, the post traumatic stress would emotionally displace itself onto a food allergy (of which I have one -- shellfish) anxiety. I essentially became afraid to eat. No, it wasn't what I was really afraid of but it was tangible and I could justify to others a lot more easily. I dropped about another ten pounds.

Somewhere along the way, I got back to about what I weighed in high school (mind you, I was still a solid 10 in high school). Then I found love. And happiness. And security. And someone who understood my brain's very real need to attach itself to anxiety triggers that were deep rooted in some very real fears. So I ate. They don't call it fat and happy for nothin', folks.

More importantly than fat and happy, I'd like to point out the real health issue here. I was no longer afraid to eat (ok, well I still have moments if say there are only seafood restaurants available). I can't begin to explain to you the release of pressure knowing that I was "safe" once again. It was enormous (and in case I didn't thank you already for my husband, G-d, let me do it now. Tenfold.).

With all this happiness and frolicking in the tulips (as if), I gained about a total of 14 pounds -- 4 of which I lost, so we are looking at a total of 10 over what I was in high school with the all around goal being -20 to get me where I was post-study abroad.

Getting back to yesterday. Yes, I beat myself up. Why? I am a naturally/normally super confident person without the annoyance of having a huge ego (at least I think so; keep your comments to yourself). I was raised by two very confident people, I am educated and intelligent, I find beauty in everything not just in the standard, and I value people for who they are, not what they look like. So why the hair shirt?

Oh there are many reasons, I'm sure, but one is so very recent it shines like a recently polished silver setting. I was immersed in a very unhealthy situation with a group of people who were albeit controlled by the sick neuroses of one individual. At the onset, I thought to myself, "oh, this will never get to me. I am entirely too strong!" Given what I'd just been through as a single parent I really thought I was tough as nails.

And I am. But negativity breeds contempt breeds self-doubt breeds ill will breeds...hell for lack of better terms. Amazing that this environment I put myself in, which had a borderline illegal sizeist attitude and was every thing sick and sad as far as how women treat each other and fall prey to pathetic stereotypes, still has an impact on me. But it does. And admitting to that is a step closer to getting away from it.

I looked that disappointment in the face and I Yoga Booty Balleted myself into a frenzy (I can't bend today, so I'm just hoping I don't drop anything on the floor). I ate well, I moved around, I shook off this ugly and sometimes ferocious memory of a sad individual who had nothing better to do with their day than to chip away at the sanity of others hoping it would provide her with some in the end.

Today is another day. Yes, I hurt, but it's worth it. Eventually I will get to where I want to be and that memory, with others, will drift away and matter no more. I got up this morning, I had apples and oatmeal, took my child to school, and painted my nails bright red. Now is not the time to succumb to other people's thoughts, other people's hang ups, other people period. The reason there are so many successful and confident women in the world is because they believe in themselves, the way that they are, with the skills and gifts that G-d gave them. Not because some whooha told them they were pretty or skinny. Rally on, girls, rally on!


p.s. for my GFCF readers: we finally tried Almond Breeze milk this morning and he loved it! Yea!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mother of Doom

I may rub off, in all the wrong ways...

In case there was ever any question that Jude is my child, yesterday morning would have proved it to be so. Julian gets what he calls "rhino hair." Rhino hair is a medical follicular condition that my father, myself and my son all suffer from. It occurs when our thick, coarse black hair gets anywhere within a five foot radius of a pillow. When this happens, large chunks of hair immediately stand straight up as if they've been erected with some sort of shellac. It's a somewhat frightening experience for those who have not been subjected to it before and often calls for multiple styling products, a hat, or a stylist to deal with.

Jude prefers to have "cheetah hair" (this is the state in which hair is perfect and lacks any sort of Alfalfa tendency) and when he has "rhino hair" he can get quite out of sorts about it (gene inherit from Poppy -- ok, and me). Yesterday we had the mother lode of all "rhino hair" situations. He asked me politely to fix his hair, went to the mirror and said,"um...let's try that again." He went back and forth from that mirror to the bathroom seven times before stating that he "needs a haircut before I go to school!" Ok. He didn't state it. He insisted. More like on his head, face turning blue, I'm not going anywhere with my hair like this insisted. Uh-huh. He's one of us. No doubt about it.

He wound up with more of my hair product in his hair than I use in a week. In his determination, he also landed himself in time out and with one not so happy mother. Not the best way to start the day. But he wasn't entirely wrong, he was starting to resemble a Beatle, and not in a good way. So I made him a hair appointment.

By the time we left, he had everyone hooked and wrapped. Not only was he perfectly coiffed, he was an absolute prince the entire time and ridiculously entertaining to boot. I am so done for with this child. Women, guard your daughters.

In other my-child-makes-me-completely-come-undone news, last week he reportedly called his substitute teacher, ahem, an Effing B. Excuse me? I think I felt the world tilt in the wrong direction and the cement blocks of the hallway started to melt into the floor like some kind of Dali painting as I covered my face in sheer humiliation. I know I'm no saint when it comes to watching my language around him but I can't recall going there!

After carefully listening to him all week, hoping that my mommy secret decoder ring would decipher what he really said and disprove the sub's theory, restoring my child's innocence and perfection (cough, cough), we noticed that he has taken to calling people "fussy boilers" (thank you, Thomas). When spoken really quickly and under his six year old breath, I can see where someone would be confused and think that he was saying the other. This is what I'll tell myself when I go to bed at night wondering how much more time we have left in the public school system.

However, what is up with a sub that thinks a six year old could even use that in the correct context? Interesting. Husband's two cents were: "well was she?" I'm glad I was alone that day for pick-up.

Since this is Day 5 of the Great Diet of Aught 10, it's been a nice little distraction listening to my child's every word hoping to solve the Effing B mystery. I am open to any and all kinds of distractions included to but not limited to cleaning insanely at 8 a.m., watching disturbing appetite suppressing television programming (Fatal Attraction -- the show about big cat owners who subsequently get attacked or eaten, not the movie from the 80's), and sewing just about anything that I can put my hands on to keep me from eating mass quantities of chocolate. What is it about not being able to have something that makes it so much more enticing? I swear to G-d I could have eaten husband's head off the other night if someone had covered in it Hershey's Syrup. Sorry, honey. Hopefully they won't find me at the end of this diet thing sitting on the concrete floor of the Little Debbie factory, Swiss Cake Roll bits in my hair, rocking back and forth but I really can't make any promises.

Back to Judisms because my child doesn't just distract, he fully entertains (he just got done dancing for us kind of like the white white guy Kevin Bacon is friends with in Footloose). Here are some of my favorite lines from the past week...

"Mommy, you are such a ridiculous." (As if there was any doubt.)

"Mommy, are you out of your mind?" (Why, yes, yes I am. Thank you for noticing.)

"I prefer the yellow Dyson. I like it's curvy ball thing." (Good to know.)

"Yes, I'm narrating." (No, I don't think he knows what that means.)

"Green Planet is good. Snakes are good. Duh." (Duh, in the instance in which my child uses it, has about 7 syllables. Apparently he got the South Carolina gene, too.)

"Meet my spiders: Spinerette Seven and No Teeth." (Gotta give it to him for creativity.)

"Daddy, I need your help. Because I'm sweet and kind." (Translation: "Daddy, I messed up and I'm sorry and please come help me do [whatever] because I'm so cute you can't resist me.")

"See Mommy, milk doesn't make me throw up. Nana gave me milk." (Ahem. Nana actually gave him a quart of chocolate soy milk not knowing that soy is our number one trigger for really impossible mind boggling behavior. Let me tell you how fun Sunday and Monday were. Not.)

"What store is Nana taking me to to buy me something?" (After telling him Nana was on the way -- we are all just really a means to an end at this age.)

"Is Hannah the one with necklaces on her teeth?" (She has braces, to be exact.)

To Hannah: "I certainly like you the best." (Hannah and Keira Knightly, specifically Elizabeth Swan, are his girlfriends. No, he does not understand that Hannah is, in fact, a relation.)

"Can we go to Monkey Joes where Kiki lives?" (Apparently he has a helicopter, plane or other on standby.)

"Mommy, you are letting your anger take over." (Grocery shopping will do that to a Mommy when she tows a husband and a child with her. Grocery stores should have mommy-only hours where full bars are offered in every department and jello shots are given at the door.)

"Let me get my anger under control." (Sometimes he has a moment of lucid wisdom.)

"But I'm so cute..." (Uh-huh.)

I am so ruined. So very, very ruined. But for all his omg-calm-down-whose-child-are-you-ness we have amazing moments of omg-you-are-so-perfect-ness. For Earth Day, we hung our birdhouse, repurposed a mail tin and spent a few hours in the yard working. As I was painting said mail tin, Jude was working on his very own canvas. He drew "Rosie's Walk" which included the mill, the beehive, the pond, the fence, the coop, and the yard for Rosie, the chicken. Rosie actually looks more like CatDog or some sort of dog/chicken combo but his handwriting was perfect and he was oh so proud of his art work. Those are the moments that erase the other know the ones where I want to pull my hair straight out of my head and go screaming into a busy street.

And speaking of pulling my hair out, I scrapped the entire new Wordpress site and started over. One day it'll be ready. I promise.

Until then, adult beverage time!

Monday, April 19, 2010

GF Update

Every now and then I get ridiculously excited about things we find that my child actually LOVES that are gluten-free. It's the little things in life, people. Sadly for us, on this day, we are getting our Girl Scout Cookie shipment. Sadly for me, I started this diet yesterday and sadly, for child, said cookies are not Gluten Free. I am considering hosting a GS Cookie Party...who's in? Bring your appetite because I am not putting one Thin Mint near these committed (commit-able?) lips.

Anyway, moving on to products! I was just sending over an email to Joyce at the Indy Weekly who has been writing articles for them of late regarding the issue not only of GF eating but focusing on allergens in general. Can I just tell you how much fun it is to fanagle a menu/restaurant option out of a shellfish allergy, a peanut allergy, and a GFCF diet? And people wonder why I'm so high strung.

In writing Joyce, I wanted to give a little spotlight to our favorite GF bread because I really feel that in doing all this mad research I do and grocery store hopping (yesterday we hit four) is completely pointless if I don't share it with other mothers. Help yourself but help others. And then it dawned on me that we've also recently found a potato chip alternative, new chocolate chip cookies, and more pancake/waffle alternatives.


Glutino Harvest Corn Gluten Free/Casein Free/Preservative Free Bread of Greatness. Finding ready made GF Bread is a challenge. And as much as I love to bake, I have little to no experience with bread making (hence the "fat" 365 Whole Foods Bread debacle of 2010). And honestly, I lack the time to Betty Crocker my way through this every week so this was a G-d send.

Found at Harmony Farms, it costs exactly $6.31 with tax. A bit pricey maybe, but having the ability to now send my child to school with a peanut butter sandwich is worth it. Worth the trip, worth the money, worth it. Thank you, Glutino.

Potato Chips

I rarely go into Trader Joe's mostly because it is always too entirely busy and too entirely annoying and because for all their GF flag waving, ours doesn't have the greatest GF selection I've ever seen. But I will hail these popped chips (particularly the BBQ ones), in all their processed glory, because my son loves them. Definitely not an "eat every day" item, but he is the same way I am about BBQ Sauce (actually, that's a family trait and we officially call this addiction to condiments "KyahKyah" -- but I digress). At $1.99 a bag and a lovely afternoon treat that keeps him in his chair and at bay from causing any sort of casualty in his South America elective, you can't beat it.


Whetstone Home Grown is a local bakery based out of Wake Forest, North Carolina. I was skeptical of the cookie (seen here to the far right) at first because we've had a lot of bad GF cookie experiences but after two, I was surely addicted. They offer baked goods as well as jams, all without corn syrup, artificial colors, preservatives or flavors. GF cookies are also available casein free by request. You can find them every Saturday at the Wake Forest Farmer's Market March-December or order them directly. I actually think I'm going to eat one right now....oh wait, diet. Nevermind. Dang it.


Maple Grove Farms of Vermont makes the best GF Pancake mix, in my humble opinion...or rather Jude's humble opinion since he's the one who eats them (I have never been a fan of the cake from pan). They are made from rice flour and they smell so scrumptious when they are cooking in the skillet! I use rice milk and sometimes toss in a little cinnamon depending on his mood. Oddly, I can only find this mix at Target of all places. Specifically, Super Target, which means a long a** drive out to North Raleigh but it's near the Saks so I mean really, who can complain?

I'll be honest, not only am I not a fan of pancakes, I am even less a fan of the frozen variety. But I couldn't help but pick these up at Trader Joe's the other day because well, multiply how much I don't like pancakes by like infinity and that's how much I don't like mornings. And the stress of not only getting child dressed, fed and his lunch packed in under an hour while feeling good about the nutrition choices I made are enough to drive a mama mad.

My child likes 3 things for breakfast: eggs, waffles and pancakes. That is it. That is all. So, we haven't actually tried these yet but I will let you know how they go over. We did, however, try these today...


...and they must have been damn good because normally my child eats breakfast like some kind of food critic working on his 5th book. It's painfulllllly slow. Today, I turned around...waffles. Turned back waffles. In a matter of minutes. Oh joy! Oh rapture! Whatever is in the TJ wheat-free toaster waffles must have been made from the same nectar as pixie dust. Child is a fan.

And whatever child is a fan of, so is mom.

More later...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"But I'm Going to be 40." "When??" "Some day!"

Whenever it is appropriate, I like to use quotes from "When Harry Met Sally." Script-wise, it is some of the greatest dialogue ever penned. All hail Nora Ephron.

What does this particular quote have to do with this particular day? Well, I woke up this morning cranky as a recently sheered sheep and although I was somewhat sleep deprived, I couldn't quite put my finger on the pulse of my discontent.

Then it hit me. I am approximately 3 months away from my 36th birthday. And approximately 30 pounds away from my goal weight. Ok, really I'm only 20 away from where I was at my greatest shape, but I like to lop that extra 10 lbs on there just to really stress myself out and totally self-deprecate.

Now you ask, what does this have to do with Atypical Mother's main focus which is being a somewhat left of center parental unit to a somewhat atypical child? Well, I'll tell you. I kind of forgot that the equation of parenting actually includes me, ie. I need to remind myself continually that being a good parent does not just mean making sure that my child is happy -- it also includes keeping me happy. Huh. Amazing the clarity that comes with age. (Or is it dementia? I'm not entirely sure.)

But the moniker Atypical was never meant to just incorporate the behavioral and developmental challenges we experience with little man, it was also meant to incorporate the usually quirky way I go about doing things. For example, I am probably the only mother at school who looks forwards to any occasion to rock victory rolls; I just watered my flowers with a mason jar; my child sat under an art market table yesterday assisting in the sale of our wares like some gypsy waiting to get back into his caravan; I really want to sell everything we own and move to a far away land. I don't fit the mold, and I like it that way.

Let's face it, the days of the "American Ideal" where we all live in houses in the burbs with a 3.5 member family, a dog, 2 cars and a dual and steady income are basically over. Not that that was ever my goal. Don't get me wrong, I have killed myself over the years to ensure stability and a sense of security in our home, but I have always been of the mind set that home is not where you live but who you are with and where your heart resides. Call it a by-product of moving around. A lot.

So when I think about my pipe dreams, I am caught somewhere between longing and determination. See, I haven't given up on those pipe dreams. I don't believe in giving up on pipe dreams. Regardless of your age, your financial situation, or how many you have hanging on your apron strings, I firmly believe, in the infallible words of Eleanor Roosevelt, you are never to old to be what you were going to be.

Being relentlessly predisposed to dramatic overtures and lots of time under bright lights on a stage, I still have the want for the following: to sing with my husband, cut a record with my husband, be in a play and dance in a musical, with a group, with children...wherever. I want my son surrounded by music, creativity and plenty of interpretation.

Still what does this have to do with my age and, subsequently, my weight goals? Well, all this recent talk of body image (from my beloved cauldron gals: Kitschen Bitsch and Shades of Gray) and from the fashion world (which I covered ever so lightly back in February on Frock Paper Scissors), got me thinking about my own body image. There is nothing more motivating than positive reinforcement and negative proof, as much as we may hate to admit it.

Weight has always "stood in my way." No, I've never been a skinny girl. I was on my first diet in the first grade -- seriously. It was an 1800 calorie a day diet and it allowed me no sweets but one scoop of vanilla ice cream at the end of the day. To drink, I was only allowed water and a lovey water/sweet tea blend which consisted of 3/4 a cup of water with a 1/4 (or less) cup of sweet tea (honestly, I still do this because I love sweet tea but it doth make me fat).

The struggle would continue, well, permanently. Or at least in my mind. When I got to high school, I was dancing every day and very active. I rode my bike every afternoon; I ate tuna out of can with no bread and no mayonnaise. I thought I was enormous. Recent photos of me from high school proved me wrong. No, I wasn't Sally Stick or Bonnie Bulimia Ballerina (like most people expect when you say you are a dancer) but I wasn't as large as I was in my head.

When I hit about 27, I was in the greatest shape of my life. Somehow shedding the preconceptions of high school and discovering my femininity and drive did wonders for me in my 20's. And for all those people who may say that I'm not dedicated to being fit, I dare you to dance for 2-3 hours 3 times a week in a dance club and tell me it's not a work out.

Between doing that and walking the streets of England, I somehow wound up being thinner than ever...keep in mind that thin for me still meant a size 8. And let me clarify, I have never been ridiculous enough to think that:
A) my self-worth is based on my dress size or that
B) all of these curves will ever fit nicely into anything smaller than an 8.

And that, I can honestly say, I am A-ok with.

So new goals. Because in my mind, in this world where every day is either a huge hurdle jumped with our atypical child -- who is making excellent progress -- or a major step backwards, and where I want to be an example to him of what you can be, how to pursue your dreams, and not shoving yourself into everyone's vision of what life should be, I can't be strong mentally if I'm not strong physically. And if that level of confidence isn't there, those dreams will remain mountains in the distance that never come into focus.

In an effort to keep myself in line, I'm going to journal this here. We'll call it "30 -- or 20 -- for 36." No, I'm not going to write a long winded list of 36 things I want to do before 36 because, honestly, I don't need that kind of pressure and by this age, your list is much shorter -- which it should be. But I've only got 3 bloody months!!! For the purposes of this experiment, I am only going to have 1 thing on said list:

1) Lose 30 or 20 for 36. I'm putting it out there like that because I don't think I need to lose 30 pounds, and the doctor said 15, so I'm going with 20. 20 is my cup cake. 30 is my icing. Or rather 20 is my rice cake and 30 is my soy peanut butter? Yeah. That works.

And spare me the lecture of "that's too much in a short amount of time." It's called muscle memory and willpower. I've worked this body enough in the past 35 years that it will remember what it's supposed to do or I will whip it into submission!! (Starting with the 2 most treacherous hills in our neighborhood which I conquered this morning...almost threw up...but conquered nonetheless.)

I think if I can get my son past the hurdle of barely speaking to "OH MY G-D STOP TALKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I should be able to accomplish this. And then hopefully, my top will just pop off and all that, excuse my language, shit I've been holding in for 8 years will just burst out in all of its creative splendor. Or I will just be hungry and cranky.

I'll keep you posted, either way.