Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where is that soap box?

*First - I apologize in advance if I offend anyone – my teacher friends in particular.   I am open to healthy debate with people who have differing opinions.  I understand my thoughts here are biased and riddled with past experiences that cloud my objectivity.

* Second –  I am so done with talking about this, year after year, I don’t even want to hear myself.  I wish I could just let it be.  Take my position on the subject (which is likely the minority), own it, and stand facing the hurricane force winds without falling over in submission… but I can’t. 

Max… reading… school… teacher….


The latest round occurred this afternoon:

Max: Mommy!! Mommy!!  I need you to fill out this form!  I filled out the top part, but you have to fill out the bottom!  My Teacher said she wants 100% PARTICIPATION!!!  Mommy I need this by tomorrow.

I take the handout from Max and vaguely remember getting another form similar to it at the beginning of the school year.  I admit it… I didn’t read it… I glanced, I read “the majority” (of the article), I placed it among the other 10-15 pages of information regarding the new soccer program I could sign Max up for, the “does your child qualify for reduced or free lunch” survey, and every pink, blue, and yellow form that comes home in every kid’s folder but almost never has anything to do with my child.  This form is one of many that have come home this year with *new* and *exciting* enrichment programs for parents.  Seminars on how to prepare for middle school, requests for DADS to volunteer during the school year, etc. 

I immediately shuddered when I realized it was another reading log – neat columns and rows for 7 days a week – 30 minutes a day – detail what you read – parent’s signature. I hate these forms with all my might.  Only this time, I didn’t realize it was not Max’s form… it was MY FORM.  F.R.E.D. – Families Read Every Day.  This was not Max’s 30 minute reading log, it was an additional log for us to read together for 30 minutes a day. 

Read comic books / magazines / books out loud to your child
Write a play and read it together
Read and prepare a new recipe
Write the lyrics to your favorite song and sing it together

Do the people who make these things up really believe themselves?!?!

Then I was supposed to evaluate the program (check all that apply) – I feel closer to my child, I feel this enriched the quality of our time together, I feel my child is better in Math, I feel my child’s vocabulary has expanded, etc.

“Mommy!!! The Teacher says we HAVE TO HAVE 100% PARTICIPATION”

Max had gone through and written 30 minutes for every slot, every day, for 5 weeks.

I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t fill out the form “just cause”.  “Mommy!! Please!!!”

I took a deep breath.  I was bubbling with anger.  I don’t need homework.  I don’t need your help to parent my child. I will not be graded.  I will not be judged.

Breathe…. Step away from the ledge.  What are you really upset about here?

Max – I am not going to lie.  We did not do this.  I understand that you have been promised something if everyone turns in this piece of paper, but I can’t.  I will write Ms. Medina a note.  I will explain that even though we did not do this specific plan, we do read and we are making sure that we are working on this because it is important.  Do you understand?    We cannot fill out the form and turn it in for a pizza party (or whatever), because that is lying.

Sad face.


I am DONE WITH THE READING THING!!!  There!! I said it.  I hate it.  It is NOT the most important thing in the world.  It is not the focus of all that dictates the success/failure of a student.  I hated reading.  HATED IT!!  If you FORCED ME to READ SOMETHING I assure you, I remember NONE OF IT.  These forms/logs/programs do nothing but make people who are not readers hate it even more.  Guess what… I am not a reader, but I am a successful business person who has been successful in a variety of jobs/fields.  I know people who have surrounded themselves with books, but can’t hold a job or get out of bed in the morning.  I can read. I can write.  Have I read even 5-10% of the top 100 books of all time? Nope.

I am not sure how I am going to survive parenting in today’s world when it comes to my children’s education.  I cannot handle that 1 study or point of view then dictates how ALL children are supposed to learn.  I cannot handle that the way children are taught today is largely focused on how to take the tests.  Math isn’t about facts – it’s about averaging and estimating.  Why?  Because it takes too long to actually do 1476 + 273.  But if you round to 1500 and 300 – then you can figure out the answer closest to 1800 and pick that answer from the multiple choice.  You don’t learn complex problem solving, but you do learn test taking.

See, dear teacher/school administration, I get it.  I see what is happening.  I know your intentions are true.  I know you don’t come up with these programs.  I know the difference between your project and the programs that are coming from the muckity mucks in the admin buildings 20 miles away from the school.  The important people who went to the latest and greatest conference on child development but haven’t touched foot in a classroom for 15 years (or ever).

 I will support the hell out of the cloud science project.  I am with you when you tell me my child races through the tests and he doesn’t check his work. I know not to get mad when the test score is low because he didn’t understand the concept and when to take privileges away because he went too fast and he missed questions or forgot to answer them.

But I will be damned if you pull me into your studies on parent enrichment and grade my parenting based on a log that tells you nothing.  That log doesn’t tell you that we were out late cheering his brother at a scrimmage, so no, we didn’t read.  If we had stayed up late reading then the child who needs his sleep would have been worthless in your class the next day.  The log doesn’t tell you we decided to take a family walk and talk about what it is going to be like to walk to middle school next year, and be away from his friends since they are going to different schools.  That log doesn’t tell you that in this fast paced world filled with electronic distractions and mind numbing noise, my almost 11 year old still comes down – every morning – to snuggle before the day officially starts.

Thanks for the 1 page tool with vague instructions on how to bond with my student and make him a better reader.  No – your little 1 page form did not make my child better the past 5 weeks.  We did.  My husband and I did.  We got this.  We will have our own pizza party at home.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Parental Arts & Crafts

I didn't make it to Body Combat tonight.    I have a fog around me created by a laundry list of poor choices recently.  This fog was thick and so... it just didn't happen - but THAT is a post for another time.

What did happen was what I like to call Parental Arts & Crafts (we'll call it PAC).  One of those terribly mundane tasks that would make most parents scream or jump off the nearest cliff.  Not me.  I LOVE IT.  I love it as much as I love coloring books.  I love it because it allows me (grumpy tired adult with responsibilities) to zone out and let my inner child with OCD take over.

Today's  PAC moment came in the form of school box tops. I plan for these moments.  Well, inner OCD child plans for these.  It starts in the grocery store, casually walking down the aisles and checking off the grocery list.  Then we get there.  We get faced with the HUGE decision... generic or brand name:
Grumpy adult with responsibilities: Generic - save money.. tastes the same
Inner OCD child: WAIT... look.... a pink box... THERE IS A PINK BOX.  AND OMG - it is a 3 BOX BONUS!!  Please please please... PUH-LEASE!!!

Then we get home.  The inner OCD child mantra begins.... "don't forget about the box top... don't forget (that item) has box tops.. maybe we should ruin the box now and cut out the box tops because you know those stinky boys are just going to throw it away!!"  Several days (or weeks) later, I see that cereal box in the garbage about to head out for trash day.... "UGH!! What is WRONG with you people... you might as well just throw a dime in the trash... you are throwing away money!!!  Money for the children!!!"

So the tops get collected.  They get hoarded in a zip lock plastic bag (yes a ZIPLOCK BRAND plastic bag because there was a double box top for back to school).  The bag is filled and it sits there until I need it.  It has to be full.  It has to look meaningful.  It has to wow the teacher.  Yeah - I picture it.  I see it clearly in my head.  My precious glowing child presenting the plethora of box tops that will save the school budget and pay for the teacher's lounge coffee this semester.  All because of ME!!!

So here we are... tonight.... it's time.  I need some zoning out time.  I gather my tools.  Paper, scissors, tape.  I take time to cut each box top perfectly along the pre-printed white dotted lines.  I organize them - 3 bonus box tops here.. single box tops there.  Stack them in piles of 10 then divide the piles into two - one stack for Max, one for Ben.  For one beautiful hour we have done crafts and simple math to create art.

It's beautiful.  It's satisfying.  They are clean cut little pink soldiers ready to battle the evils of congressional budget cuts.  BONUS - Ben get's to enter a give-a-way!!  For every sheet of box tops, he gets one entry into the drawing. And THIS mother-of-the-year just bought her son 4 ENTRIES to win that stuffed Despicable Me Minion or Monster's University "plush toy".  SCORE!!!

It's the little things people.  The little things that help get me through the day.

Now I am going to put my pajamas on and watch TV 30 minutes after it has aired live so I can fast forward through the commercials.


Monday, September 30, 2013

9 years

I started this blog 9 years ago today.  A lot has happened and I am thankful I took the time to document it here, which is why I am regretful that I did not document more.  It is so great to be able to go back, read the entries and take a little stroll down memory lane.

The biggest regret is the boys... the stories... the accomplishments... the funny jokes.  I am a terrible historian, and I want to remember all these moments, and not for me... for them.  I love sitting around large groups of people and hearing the crazy stories or learning from their bumps in the road.   I want my boys to know every funny moment... every challenging moment... every defining moment.

I want to come here more.  And I am going to come here more.  And I am going to write more.  Life got busy so I stopped coming here.  Then I started on the weight loss journey, and this started sounding like a themed blog.  I could't figure out how to switch the gears, so I just stopped coming.  Life got very stressful and it was so stressful, I couldn't write because I was so critical of anything I wrote.. so I stopped coming here.

But the thing is... I NEED to come here.  It's my therapy.  It's part creative, part processing, part closure.  Writing here helped me to step out of my zone, compartmentalize, work through, then leave it behind.  There were several times when people would come up to me later and ask how I was, or how are things with that frowny face of concern.  Sometimes I would honestly not remember what the issue was at that time.  Writing it out helped me to pass through it and let it be.

So... on this random 9th anniversary, I am making a commitment .. no...request to myself and only to myself.  Please come back.  Please come back here.  We love it here.  We need it here.  It is so valuable and will mean so much later on.  Process here.  Document here.  Dream here.  Create here.  Take time to step out of the zone, look at the big picture, write it down, then get back into the game.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Checking in 2 years post vertical sleeve gastrectomy

This blog quickly became a frequent stomping ground for many people coming to look for information regarding vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery.  I am glad that someone new comes pretty much every day to read up on the journey, because it is wonderful to know so many people are out there trying to change their lives for the better.  And I promise you - it is for the better.


I also feel that in order to respect the integrity of the journey, I must also be very real.  I have lost 130 pounds.  Hallelujah!  But I have also gained 10 - lost 4 - gained 1 - gained 5 - lost 7 - stayed the same - stayed the same - lost 4 - gained 7.....

You get my point.

This will never go away.  Let me repeat that... THIS WILL NEVER GO AWAY.  This is my chronic illness.  This is my cross to bare.  This is mine to deal with day in and day out.  I will never find a time when I can hang up the shovel and say "Whew! Glad that's over!"  Two years post surgery and it is still a learning curve every single day.

I still obsess over the scale
I still make poor choices regarding food intake
I still don't like the way I look in some clothes
I still have trouble maintaining my weight
I still drink diet coke like water

but I also

Exercise 5-7 times a week
I do yoga
I do pilates
I do body combat
I run
I wear the same clothes size I have since I got to my lowest weight
I plan / schedule meals
I make choices in my life to stay committed to the "new me" plan
I give myself a break when I stray from the "new me" plan
I give myself reality checks when I stray too far from the "new me" plan

I am writing this because I want to make it clear that the rollar coaster of this life changing event has not pulled into the station.  I know that when I used to research blogs/forums about this topic when I first started, people just fell off the web around year 1, sort of like I did after my last blog entry which was in May of 2012.

The fall out is party due to the fact that I just didn't want to talk about it anymore.  I just wanted to enjoy the fruits of the labor and be the new me.  Sometimes it was because I wanted to hide the fact that I was still worried/obsessed/struggling with the issues.  But that's life.  That's reality. It goes up, it goes down. The greatest achievement in this journey is learning to go with the flow and not allow the ups to go too far up and the downs to drag me into the mud and keep me there.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Happy 1 Year Anniversary

Holy Shit what a difference a year makes!! Tomorrow marks my 1 year post vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery anniversay.  Never in a million years did I ever think that the life I have created for myself was possible.

 I have made it to my goal.  I hate using that word really.   I don't want to say goal weight, or pin myself to a number.   Goal is such a final word, and let me tell you - there is no end to this journey.  It is a daily force in my life, one that I am constantly keeping in check.  I am not obsessed, but I am very aware.  I would be lying if I told you that ice cream or high calorie foods never touch this mouth because they do.  But I am ever vigilant in the checks and balances of a healthy lifestyle.  I have managed to figure out the difference between an indulgence and a trigger food.  I have made activity and exercise a high priority.   I know the difference between allowing my body appropriate rest and being lazy.  I have managed to fill my emotional bank with way more positive deposits then negative withdrawls.

 I guess it is best to say, I have achieved my goal of balance and happiness. For the first time since this 11 lb baby body was welcomed into this world, I feel radiant in my skin. I have found a place of peace and connection with my body, where I can have a healthy conversation - I know when I need more, when I need less, when I have fallen off track, and when we are full speed ahead.

 The stats - I have lost 130 lbs.  I have been stable for about 2 months, meaning I hover within 3 lbs up or down of the same general weight.  I have felt comfortable/stable enough to broaden my wardrobe and buy new clothes (versus resale shopping to get by).  I have a secret desire to lose 15 more lbs.  This would put me at my ideal fighting weight, but the reality is, I know I would not be able to maintain that weight.  The amount of exercise and harsh diet/calorie counting/planning that would be required is just not a lifestyle that I am interested in ... period.  So I would love to train for it, just once, but it would be kind of like training to climb Mt Everest.  Once I reached that mountain top, I would think - huh, wow, I did that - don't care to live here, but cool to know that I could.

 So - I can't really think of anything more to say but different versions of can you believe it? or I am just so happy! or who'da thunk it?   So let's just show you:

 The first picture was taken just before my surgery last year, the second was taken a couple of weeks ago:

The first picture here was taken from the video Kyle and I did for the Biggest Loser, the second was taken at this year's gala for Catastrophic Theatre (doesn't Kyle look phenomenal too?!?!?):

And oh yeah - there is the other life achievement that happened this year - the Warrior Dash!!  This is probably the point when my mind caught up with my body.  Prior to this, I would hear the positive comments, but couldn't believe them.  After finishing the dash and seeing these pictures, I could finally start to see what everyone else was seeing!

Again - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!?  So there you have it.   I am thinking this kind of closes the chapter on this VSG story.  From here on out it is more about me and my choices than the surgery.  Let me make this clear.  The surgery gives you a 6 month lottery pass with a 6 month reprieve to prove to your self that you can keep up with the new life.  That's it.   I guaruntee you - if I had not worked my ASS off this past year, making the sacrifices, doing the work, figuring it out - I would be writing to you in a year about how it all slipped away.  And it still could.  But I will be damned if I will go down that road again.  I am more scared of meeting that sad dejected Becky from 2-3 years ago along the road then I am scared of gaining the weight back.   It really was never about too much ice cream.   It was always about stress.  And I never want to put myself in a situation of stress that is too much to handle and the only way to comfort myself is through food.

 Happy New Me!!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Put the bat down and step away from the scale

So here’s the truth. Scales are a@)#&)es. Any way you cut it. They are mean ugly inventions that give information which, in truth, is only one corner of the picture. It is merely a few trees in the forest, but sometimes they are the only bright red trees we can see when we look at the big picture.

The following information may be shocking to find out – but scales and I have never been friends. Since the very first one I was placed on merely seconds from the womb, we have been enemies. 11 lbs. But it didn’t just say 11 lbs. It also said I was different, unhealthy, shocking, chubby, etc. Not like the other babies….

From that point, getting on the scale has ALWAYS been an unpleasant experience reserved for times when I was sick, miserable, or challenging myself to stare the devil down. Sometimes I was pleasantly surprised, other times I was heartbroken. But ALWAYS filled with anxiety.

When I started on this most recent weight loss journey – I tried really hard not to focus on that stupid piece of metal and how far it was sliding to the left. I did not have a scale in my home. I only weighed myself at the MD office, my mother’s house, or at the YMCA. No more than once a week. Sometimes, it would be 2-3 weeks between my weigh in(s). I made it 100+ lbs without a scale in my home. I felt good. I was starting to feel like I had turned a corner. The scale and I were letting bygones, be bygones and .. dare I say it…. becoming friends.

That is when I met her….a sleek silver metal beauty with big digital displays that tells me my weight to a decimal point. It even gives me the time and room temperature for shits and giggles!! She was a great deal and I bought her. I thought … it’s time. It’s time to let you back into the house to see if we can make this work. We deserve to try to work on our relationship in more healthy situation – one were I can can pee and be naked and weigh myself seconds later… because yes… those ounces make a difference. I told you it weighs me to a tenth of a pound, didn’t I?!?!?!

At first – it was beautiful. I “lost” a pound just from the night before when I took her out of her package to the next morning. And it was a weight I had not been to since Jr. High, so I was really happy to look at that number. So happy, that several hours later, I wanted to see it again. So I go back on the scale – same number – but some additional numbers to the right of the decimal point – no biggie – still the same number and those numbers after the decimal point didn’t matter, right? RIGHT?

Then that bi(&^ had the audacity to add 2 pounds the next day!! ADD?!?!?! Are you freaking kidding me!?!?! Don’t you know WHO – I – AM?!?! I am the woman who has lost basically another whole human being in less than a year and you are gonna add 2 pounds to me?!?!?! You are broken. That is the only explanation. You are going back you worthless piece of (&(&%^….

The next day I apologized. We tried again. 2 lbs were gone again. The next day 4 ounces down. The next day a pound up. A week steadfast at the same exact number to the decimal point, then the next day 3 lbs gone. This has gone on for a couple of months now.


Well… I will tell you why. Because that damn number changes every minute. Every glass of water, every workout, every meal. Every day, every "time of the month”, every almost “time of the month”. It changes. It will continue to change. It will go up and yet your clothes will be size too small… and ya wanna know why? Because your legs and ass muscles look amazing from kick boxing this week! It just doesn’t matter what the hell that b(*(&^% says, because if you are focused and on task, you will feel amazing!! You will feel healthy and strong and look great.

I have come to realize – we will never be friends. Never. I will need her. She needs to keep me in check, but I cannot have her out in the house. She is too dangerous for my new mind. I have come to the realization that I have played this up and down game for a year, but just didn’t know it because I wasn’t getting on the scale 3-6 times a day (yes… I am admitting it…I have gotten on that damn thing THAT many times in one day!)

So – more baby steps in this journey. Like the old saying goes, one step back, two steps forward. This is a marathon, not a sprint… and all those other crappy inspirational phrases written in pretty fonts on pinterest.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You gotta move.... Exercise post VSG surgery

It is exactly one month to the Warrior Dash!!! I am terribly excited and overwhelmed! This is the first time I have ever committed to something like this, that is so different from the old me. Something outside of my comfort zone that requires weeks and weeks of commitment to accomplish. And I am very excited to be doing it with my friends Kyle (oh my friend - the path we have walked together!), Karina (working out with you last year was the foundation to my current workout regime) and Noel(you inspire me with your never changing positive attitude!)

Oh the love hate relationship I have with exercise.

I love being active. I never allowed my size to hold me back, even as a kid. I did tap dance, ballet, cheer leading, and rode my bike down Braes Bayou while my dad jogged. When I started getting involved in theatre, I hand-jived and chorus lined with the best of them. I will admit that I threw myself into these activities in a futile attempt to pretend to be normal - "See.. I am not fat.. I can do this just like YOU!!"

Over the years, most of my attempts at dieting always started with exercise. I would convince myself that if I could first get moving again, my body wouldn't feel so deprived when I started modifying my diet. It was my way of easing into the changes. And usually I would hit the plan hard. I would walk for 45 minutes or so 3-5 times a week. It worked well for me because I love to listen to my music and I love to wander. I learned more about my neighborhoods here and in New York by just walking around. I talked with God, thought things through, came up with plans, listened to that voice deep down inside.

SO - walking. Lots of walking. That was it. I convinced myself that I was giving it my all. But guess what - nothing changed. Yeah - I felt better. I lost 10-15 lbs. But it was never life changing.

Fast Forward to early 2009. I was done. I could no longer pretend that I was not fat. I could no longer hide behind "Oh it's just holiday weight" or "I'm a big boned plus sized woman, I am supposed to be this way!" No - I was fat. I was uncomfortable in my skin fat. So I emailed Kyle - I wanna try out for the biggest loser. His response - me too. I said, I am serious. He said - me too. And we did - see here , here , and here . But we didn't get picked.

Fast forward to Fall 2009 - joined the YMCA - more walking. This time inside on a hamster wheel. Would eye ball the other machines - but could not convince myself to go there unless no one was around. Eventually made it to the other machines. But success was slow. I was healthier, but not skinnier.

Fast forward to January 2011. This is it - do or die. I will make a commitment to myself and make serious changes. I made appointments to meet with the weight loss MD and set myself up on an exercise plan and come hell or high water, i was sticking to it. And I did. And I lost 30 lbs before surgery.

Surgery came - and I actually missed the gym. I didn't have the stamina to go from the bed to the chair, so treadmills and elliptical were certainly out of the picture. 3-4 weeks after surgery, I was already rehearsing for the summer show, so the gym wasn't going to work. No problem. This where Karina, Kyle, Noel, Tamarie and a few other great people in the show come into the story. Karina (a fitness instructor) agreed to work out with us 2-3 times a week before rehearsal. AWESOME!!! And the really great part of this story, this is where I started to break out of my shell when it came to exercise. We did lots of cardio, ab work, combat work, intervals. It was awesome!! And I could do it. I may be slower, my stamina wasn't as great as the others, but I did it. I wasn't just walking anymore.

After the show closed, I was more focused on variety. Still committed 5-7 times a week. I was educating myself on heart rates, and strengthening, and stamina. And I noticed... I was stalling. I was losing crazy weight because of the surgery, but the workouts were getting easier, so I wasn't getting the same hard, sweaty results.

So I did the unthinkable in my world. One Saturday morning, Edge of Glory came on Pandora and the craziest thing happened. I found myself hitting the speed/pace button... higher and higher... until damn it if I wasn't running... on purpose... with no one chasing me. I only made it a minute or so, but I did something I swore I would NEVER do. And it felt great!! Walk for 3-5 minutes, run for 1-2 minutes. Nice.

I told myself, I wanna start running. Really. I want to do the Warrior Dash. I have seen many friends all over the country do them and post pictures. I want to do that. I WILL DO THAT!

Text Kyle - I wanna do the warrior dash. Kyle - okay. Becky - I am serious. Kyle - me too.


So now I have stepped it into serious gear!!! I am running 3 times a week, taking two cardio interval and combat classes. I still even manage to get some long distance walking in on my "rest" days because my family (especially the boys) are in on the new game too! I have made the commitment to myself and refuse to stand down. I schedule my life around this because I refuse to let life get in the way this time. My schedule is on the fridge and everyone knows. This is the new me. This is what is important. This is my focus. I stand in the classes, staring at myself in the mirrors, and I honestly have no clue who I am looking at. I am dripping in sweat throwing blows and side kicks to the old me, pushing her further and further away.

And I love it. It feels so good to be exhausted at the end of the day. It feels great to get home, shower and know I gave it my all today. And even on the days when I am not into it at all, if I can just get my shoes on, I am already done. The hardest part on those bad days is reminding myself how great I am going to feel afterwards. Let me make this clear... I don't like running. I get no runner's high, there is no euphoria. My euphoria comes afterwards, the pride in the accomplishment, when cold and viruses are all around me and I am in perfect health, when going up and downstairs is nothing, when I see results, when total strangers at the YMCA stop to tell me how amazing I look or ask me what I am doing because they have seen me coming and going for awile and notice the results.

It has not been easy. The battle in my head between the "you're not good enough girl", and the "shut up and move girl" has been loud and long. But this battle is necessary. The surgery was a tool. A wire your mouth shut tool. It helps you to lose a lot of weight fast. But if you do not take that gift and make serious changes, nothing is going to change. You will get a few good years, but nothing will change.

So go.... MOVE.... do what you can... and then do what you think you can't... because you can!! Stop making the excuses and MOVE. A LOT. You may not thank me today, or even next week. But I promise you will thank me next month, this summer, or next year! I would like to say it seems just like yesterday, but it hasn't. It has taken 2-3 long years to make this change and I have felt every ache along the way, but I am thankful that I kept moving because if I hadn't I would be where I am today.