Learning to Shout: In Which We Discuss The Triggers

I need to stop you before you start because if I don't, I'm leading you into a landmine without warning. What you are about to read (or quietly click away from should you decide that is best) is written in response to a news story about two kindergartners caught "having sex" in a school bathroom. If that sentence alone was triggering for you, please be kind to yourself and don't read any further. What I share was difficult to write if I stop to take into consideration the years it took to get to the point where just writing it seemed normal. I'm sure it's as difficult to read.

Just do me a favor, will ya? If we meet at a conference or speaking engagement and you want to thank me for the words you see, please know that my 6-year-old travels with me. We can talk and hug and sing Kumbaya, but just make sure it's just me first, okay?

 

I’m five. At last I think I am. A little boy I know is my hide-and-seek partner and we run off for one of our usual hiding spots. Our families are close, but it's the kind of closeness that makes grown-ups realize that it's our friends we get to choose. So we rationalize that the lack of actual blood relation makes it less bad to touch each other just because it feels good. We’re too young to feel guilty about it and we never talk about the fact that we both somehow know it’s supposed to be a secret because I’m not sure we understand why.

Sometimes I wonder how we learned this game. Today I just wonder how we are supposed to explain where are hands are when we are caught. Later I wonder only briefly about the twin bed being pushed against the wall, eliminating the hiding place. Much later, I wonder how much may have been avoided had therapy been an accepted part of dealing with obviously oversexed children who couldn’t explain how they got that way.

I'm terrified. I want nothing more than to fix the misstep before this one and the one before that until I can breathe again after having wiped the slate clean of any reason to be ashamed. I want to feel the relief I felt knowing that nothing more would come of the moment my mother and doctor stopped whispering about why I had jumped on to the exam table, laid on my back and spread my legs wide open for a rash he needed to look at on my bottom. I wasn't supposed to have done that, you know. I don't remember why but I do remember the slowing of my heartbeat and the sudden ability to breathe normally after overcompensating on the kindergarten antics to distract the doctor as I flipped onto my tummy. I giggled. I made jokes. I felt the doctor let the question in his mind sweep itself away.

And then I felt safe.

I never ask if my parents were told and they never bring it up if they were. I don’t connect the less frequent joint weekends because I'm a kid and I'm not ready to give up my presents from Santa yet. We see each other at birthday parties for friends and cousins and cousins of friends and here we are at another one.

I am wearing a blue dress that I love but itches my skin on the inside and white tights and a pair of shiny, black Mary Janes. My kinky hair, which falls midway down my back when wet, has been arranged into two braids, each hanging down from above my ears. There are balloons to sit on and pop for a prize and piñatas and cake and an the boy I now and and older boy I don't. We walk to an upstairs bedroom where I somehow understand I am to lie back on a table and let them do things I can’t remember exactly except for the older boy being on top of me because my mind learned to disconnect from my body long before I learned my ABC’s.

Magically, we are downstairs again and no one asks any of us where we were or what we were doing because there is no reason to. Nor is there any reason to blame any of the adults present for missing what isn't obvious at all no matter how so it may seem to the opinionated outsider. Every adult and every child present was on familiar territory and no one ever had to ask where the bathroom was because we already knew. Another day. Another boy. A cousin, I think, maybe just a bit older than I am. It's hot outside so we are inside, playing in the cool dark of the basement while my mother does housework upstairs and plays with my little sisters. My memory is choppy and I only recall the cold feeling of the concrete floor on my back and him on top and just as quickly, we are pulling up our shorts and my mother is calling our names and it's time for peanut butter sandwiches. He never comes over to play with me again. 

My daughter -- she's six -- and she's the Because to my Why. When she was born I was reviewing car seats and blinged-out pacifiers on a blog I don't bother including on my resume. The words I share for me I share because of her. Because she thinks horses have to get married to have babies together and because she thinks little boys and girls used to be wishes sitting on stars until their moms and dads wished them true. When a little boy she is friends with was kicked in the crotch by his sister, she told me with all the certainty in the world that her friend -- the boy -- had just been kicked in the vagina. It's because of my daughter and her innocence that I came to realize how truly fucked up my own childhood was. I simply should not have known the things I did at her age. And neither should the boys I was with. But we did, and we aren't the only ones.

It's not a pretty topic, is it? Hypersexual children and peer sexual abuse  are words laced with implied guilt on the part of the adult who was supposed to be in charge. They point the finger away from the problem instead of directing us to it. There's shame for the children and shame for the adults and sometimes it's just easier to hope the kids forget and sweep that nasty little set of memories under the rug. It's easy enough when these things happen amongst family and friends.

But what happens if two five-year-olds are caught "having sex" in the class bathroom by their kindergarten teacher? And what happens if the teacher, Kathy Mascio, reports it, not stopping to think of how doing so will reflect on her own abilities as a teacher? It's easier and more comfortable for us to point the blame and shift the focus than it is to think about a little boy and a little girl with at least a general understanding of how sex actually works.

None of us know exactly what the children were doing at the time their teacher found them, but we do know that the teacher immediately went to her principal who then contacted authorities because we all know that was the right thing to do. Now she's in danger of losing her job and that seems to be the focus of almost every news story I've read since yesterday  (and that includes the comments). It's all What she didn't do and should have done are what the media focuses on because we are not emotionally ready to think about our children as sexual beings because they shouldn't be  -- not yet.

While experts are weighing in on the situation with their thoughts, no one can provide anything more educated than a guess about what actually happened in that bathroom. All anyone knows for sure is that the naked kindergartners told their teacher they had been having sex when they were discovered. Whether that means they simply looked at each other or if physical contact occurred, we don't know, but we'd sure as hell like to know what exactly in these children's' lives that sparked the classroom incident. Somewhere, somehow, these children were exposed. Why isn't that the focus?

Information is not going to move quickly. The two children involved are very obviously minors and are most likely in individual therapy to figure out what did happen, and how to help them heal. Hyper-sexual children and peer sexual abuse are not topics we often see in the headlines, and uncomfortable or not, it's time we stop whispering when we should be shouting.

The Stupid Sister

Can I call your sister stupid? No? Does that bother you? I'm not sure why, seeing as how you don't even like your her. You tell anyone who will listen and rarely go home for holidays. What? What was that? Oh, so you think your sister is stupid? So what's the problem? Why is it that, even if you agree wholeheartedly with my sentiments, that it seems somehow inappropriate for anyone other than yourself to comment on the obvious lack of intellect with which your loved ones were gifted?

You're mumbling. I didn't quite catch that? Oh, you don't know why? That's just the way it is? You don't take too kindly to others doing the name calling? She's your family, not mine? I can think it but I'd better not say it?

Okay then. I'll play nice. But turnabout is fair play, my friend. I'll respect your right and your family and keep my jokes to myself if you can stop being an idiot about a teensy weensy little issue I happen to be dealing with, myself. I have to admit that I'm even embarrassed to be bringing it up, but I guess it's better to get it all out in the open, right?

I'm not trying to be overly sensitive. But you know about the bulimia and the body image issues and the whole body image cheer-leading train I've jumped on, right? I'm not here just to blow sunshine up other people's asses, my friend. I'm here to help me by helping others because that, in that Circle of Life Kind of Way, helps me continue to help because that's usually how this shit works; Yin & Yang and all that jazz.

So when I see careless social media updates making light of eating disorders, even if they aren't meant to hurt my feelings because you'd never dream of doing that, I get a bit pissy. And then I get pissy that your words got under my skin because if I'd never stuck my fingers down my throat to let the feelings I couldn't deal with just fucking escape already, I'd probably be laughing with you and everyone else who doesn't get it. I'm jealous that you don't understand and can laugh.

I'm mad that I do and I can't.

I'm not 'bulimic'. I'm a 'conscientious recycler of edible organic material.' -- says Nobody In Particular.

I had to read that twice to make sure I understood it. Then I got mad. And even madder still when I realized I wanted to ask you if you ever actually had been bulimic because if you are or were or were planning on starting tonight, then, in a darkly comedic and self-deprecating kind of way, your joke would be funny. It would be...

...acceptable.

Can you maybe follow up with a disclaimer? No...actually it's probably better that you don't. I'm not sure how either answer would make me feel. If you made the joke because Bulimia is your stupid sister, I will smile and laugh with you.

Secret Hand Shake In The Club.

If Bulimia isn't even a distant cousin, I'm happy for you for not ever having dealt with the emotional hell that comes with internalizing everything to the point of food and self becoming the enemy. But I'm also pissed because that means you called my stupid sister stupid.

Even if she is.

 

The Me That I Am

I'm having a pretty shitty Writerly Ego day. Actually, it's kind of been a shitty Writerly Ego month, to be perfectly honest. And when I've shared this little emotional nugget with the BFF and The Husband, I've received a raised eyebrow and a "YOU HAVE A FUCKING AGENT" in response to my pity party. I get where it's coming from. I am in a position a lot of writers would kill for. I have a wonderful agent who thinks me and my writing are worth something and deserve a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to writers I admire like Jenny Lawson Jill SmoklerRobin O'BryantAnna Lefler and Heather Armstrong. It seems, however, that the platform I am currently standing on may not big enough to get there. Or maybe it just feels like that because I'm a writer and us artistic types are moody and overly emotional and maybe I just need a vodka-flavored cookie. Because really? I'm pretty proud of my little platform. I bust my ass for free because writing is who I am and what I do and the writing part is actually more important than getting paid part...for my sanity, at least. The bills sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, however, would rather I stop trying to stay Not Crazy and just get a fucking job that probably wouldn't leave me the time to write for the awesome sites I contribute to.

I love sharing the funny on An Army of Ermas and Funny Not Slutty. Getting a spot on best-selling author Lissa Rankin's Owning Pink site is something I will forever be proud of. I've been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I've got going on over here on this little ol' blog o' mine. I'm working on getting my name out there and my writing on more outlets, but these things take time. And Platforms don't build themselves overnight.

I'm by no means in the same stratosphere as the likes of Dooce or The Bloggess or Scary Mommy and that's okay with me. I'm not trying to be them. Just me. And hopefully the Me that I Am will one day be enough.

Maybe this sounds like a Poor Me post, but I don't mean it to. Instead, I wanted to let other aspiring writers out there know that the days of doubting yourself don't end the moment you sign that contract with your dream agent. And, I'm sure my published writer friends will tell me that they sure as hell don't end when a book deal is offered or the day their books were released or even the day they got their first glowing review. Because once someone Other Than You believes in your work, it's not just your ego riding on how many readers connect with that essay you got placed in that literary magazine that you love or how many hits per month your blog is getting or how much better you feel just for having taken the jumbled words out of your head and making some sense of them in a new piece you just started.

Every level of success reached is both a validation of our talents and a new reason to Freak the Fuck out, but it's a lesson in the writing life that I seem to keep having to be reminded of. Three months ago I was still waiting for the Moment All of My Dreams Would Come True and then the world turned upside down when they did because I signed with my agent. That singular moment took two years to make a reality. And you would be right of you guessed that the Freaking Out commenced after the shiny newness of my situation sunk in. It's not just me and my ego on the table anymore. It's me and my ego and my agent's time and effort and enthusiasm and Belief in What I Am and Have Yet to Become.

But if I think back, I probably went through the same little Self-Doubt Fest when I was accepted onto my college newspaper's staff and when I saw my first byline and when I was assigned to cover my first murder case at the city newspaper that hired me right out of college. And then again when I left the newspapers to freelance and when I started this blog and when I woke up this morning and my little girl told me that I'm the best mother in the world.

So maybe shitty Writerly Ego days are just part of the process and part of what makes us who -- and what -- we are. It's our literary equivalent of the trap women set for men when we ask if This Dress Makes Us Look Fat because we really only need to be reminded that in their eyes we are beautiful no matter what how that dress fits us. My platform is what it is. My ass? Probably looks horrible in that dress. But it's okay.

Because tomorrow I'm still going to write something. And someone is going to read it.

Kinky

Bruja.

It means "witch" in Spanish and was something I grew up hearing constantly as a child. It was a reference to my crazy, kinky curls that my mother insisted on brushing so much they frizzed to a static nightmare before pulling and twisting the whole mess into the world's tightest pony tail.

I'm sure my aunts and uncles didn't mean anything by it. They thought it was cute.

I probably laughed it off.

"Look at her hair," I say to my friend H.C. just a few weeks ago when out and about, "it's crazy and I love it."

I'm referring to a little girl, probably five or six years of age, and she's oblivious to the admiring glances being cast her way by anyone who passes. Her kinky curls are wild and free and defying gravity just because they can. She doesn't notice the glances because what other people think doesn't matter to her. I imagine she's been raised with "you're beautiful just the way you ares" and "the world would be so boring if we all looked the sames." It's the same message I try to convey to Buttercup every chance I get. I don't want her growing up to think everyone is judging her appearance and that her crazy curls must be manipulated to be something they are not just so she can blend in with everyone else trying not to look like they are trying to blend in, too.

My mother came to visit a few months back and good times were had by all as she spoiled her granddaughter with cuddles and toys and kisses. She spoiled me, too, with little things like mornings to sleep in and the opportunity to go grocery shopping by myself. I didn't realize until she left that Buttercup hadn't had one wind blown curl fly across her face during the entire visit. And I certainly wasn't prepared for temper tantrums and pleas to "pull my hair back, mama!" for the two weeks i "lost all the hair bands in the house."

But there it was. And here I am.

If I wasn't a mother of a four-year-old who asks me questions like why I didn't wish for two babies or if humans will become extinct if the Earth runs out of water, I might continue to pull my 'fro back into a bun at the nape of my neck because I'm not self-conscious that way. But I am the mother of a fou-year-old who asks me questions like why I didn't wish for two babies and if humans will become extinct if Earth ever runs out of water. And unless I want her asking me why I encourage her to love and celebrate her curls while I try to hide my own, it's time to celebrate what I've got, too.

For both our sakes.

Today, I went out with The Husband with my mexifro in all its glory. No one pointed. No one laughed. I even got complimented. And after I forgot about being self-conscious, I realized how lovely it felt to just let myself be.

This Breath

I just had sex with my husband on doctor's orders because my ovaries finally decided to kick out a few follicles that might turn into eggs that might turn into a baby or quite possibly a litter and I've got to tell ya, I'm not sure if I'm rooting for Team Infertility or Team Modern Medicine to come out the victor. The first I already know and can handle. The second is shiny, new, and... I can't wrap my mind around what I don't know.

Disclaimer: Wait, what? Me? Sex? With my husband? If you know me in real life from before social media existed, please stab yourself in the eyeballs with the nearest semi-sharp object and let yourself continue to believe that we brought Buttercup home with us after holding hands while skipping through a cabbage patch field.

Of course, the deed *ahem* has been done and I can't undo whatever fate may have in store for us anymore than that hairdresser at Great Clips can emotionally unscar the teenage boy who broke into tears after she complimented him on his new Justin Bieber-esque look before he left with his mother who kept reassuring him that he and every other boy in America or at least Tucson younger than 20 do not, in fact, look like Belieber groupies in denial.

Even though he totally did.

I can't undo. And it's not the um, doctors-orders-homework that has me all a titter. Life is good in the land of The Married. He drives me crazy. I drive him crazy. And when things get boring we pretend to argue just to spice it up a bit. The issue that has me wondering WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST DO? is the fact that I may have voluntarily and irrevocably changed the simple reality I know and love for allowing me to not go any crazier than I already am.

She can walk. She can talk. And she's fairly self-sufficient on the potty front. She goes to school a few hours for a few days a week and makes herself laugh silly with really bad knock-knock jokes. She's four going on fourteen going on forty and she's the miracle we waited almost two years for that I didn't know would become the reality I wanted until I held her in my arms for the first time because I'm the kind of person who is so afraid of change that I've trained my brain not to want the unknown and instead accept the new today once the wind has already changed direction.

It's true. I don't want to go to Paris or Italy or dream of cruises or tropical islands because I have never experienced them. I have no desire to try something crazy just so I can say I did it because that would require planning and foresight and a willingness to not be so rigid but if I happen to be out on the town with a friend and she decided on a whim to stop in a piercing shop I can't promise I won't come home without a dainty little nose piercing. I didn't plan my wedding as a girl growing up or sign my name with the Crush of the Week's in doodle hearts while dating because I that would have required me dreaming about What If instead of focusing on What Was. And when I finally came to the moment where The Boyfriend became The Fiance who became The Husband as I walked down the aisle to become The Wife, I was In Love and In Awe and In Flux between states of complete calm because Life was Happening and Utter Terror because Life was Happening.

It wasn't until the day after graduating high school, arriving on my college campus, graduating with honors, starting my first job, moving in with The Boyfriend who became The Fiance who became The Husband, pushing the baby out, moving cross-country Anything Important that Has Happened in My Life that I've had pretty much the same thought process work itself out in my mind: That wasn't as bad as you thought it was going to be, you jackass. Well, except for maybe the pushing the baby thing out. She was totally worth it but Dude! That pretty much sucked. This is what was meant to be and where I was meant to end up. This moment is magic and I really need to lighten up and allow more magic to just spontaneously happen because that's how life works.

I know this. And yet, I sit here...wondering what I want the doctor to tell me when it's time for results and how I will react. Wondering if I can love another baby as much as I love the miracle that already is. Wondering if I am enough to mother more than once child and nurture them both completely in the way that is singularly unique to their own beings and needs without falling short and thinking I should have quit while I was ahead.

I wonder because I don't know. And I won't know until tomorrow comes. Until then, I concentrate on this breath...

And then the next...

Insomniac says...

Things you realize at 2:25 a.m.: * Insomnia isn't really your thing. It's just a way of life you've grown accustomed to. Exhibit A? Mom came to visit which meant Buttercup slept in her room for the first week. You slept like the dead. Until the New Grandma smell wore off and the baby monitor ended up back by your bed. That's when the fucking thought of even the slightest shift in the cosmos will make it impossible for you to get comfortable in bed, let alone fall asleep.

* Bed time stories entitled Go the Fuck to Sleep? Sound like the best idea ever.

* Dreams of hiring a live-in masseuse start to actually make sense.

* That Facebook Like Page that the rest of the world has? Yeah. You created one months ago, it seems. And because you couldn't sleep tonight, you created a new one, found the old one, realized it was an old one, and deleted the new one. You think. But you aren't entirely sure.

*You are convinced that you are so past the high school social anxiety related to people liking you...until you refresh your Facebook Like Page for the 143rd time at 2:32 a.m. and realize that only 39 people actually like you.

* The puppy licking your toes under your desk feels kinda kinky.

*That thinking about ( maybe possibly trying to) getting pregnant again seems like an entirely feasible way to celebrate the four years it took to lose the 45 pounds gained with the first kid.

* That if this actually works, and it takes four more years to lose the baby weight, I'll be kissing 40 before I can identify my waistline in a police line up.

* That by the time Buttercup loses her first tooth, I will probably have to distinguish between the fruit and the smartphone when I offer her a blackberry.

* And that when she hears a bird say tweet in the park, she will most likely tell me to check my phone for new messages (because that's what I'll be doing, anyway.)

* That I am not in the minority when my phone rings and I get annoyed. Who the hell uses those things to talk anymore?

* It's 2:42 a.m. And my kid didn't come with a snooze button.

Tomorrow morning is not going to be pretty.

Mamavation: Celebrating Me; Celebrating Now

I am 33.

I weigh 203 pounds.

I have kinky hair.

I have curves that fill clothes out in all the right places.

And for the first time in my life, I am appreciative of it all.

I've spent far too many years looking forward to where I wanted to be, ignoring where I actually was.

We all want to be older when we are kids. We can't wait to be 10. We can't wait to be 13. We can't wait to get our licenses. Or be old enough to not have to hope the homeless guy hanging out in front of the closest liquor store to campus will actually return with our hard earned cash and our cheap vodka.

I suppose it's normal enough. As is the eventual wish to be granted the power to slow down when our own little ones are growing before our very eyes; their hopes to be bigger and older reminding us of how fast it really goes by.

Then there are the Untils...You know, the ones that are supposed to come prepackaged with happiness and a pretty little bow?

I can't wait until I lose (five, 10, 20, 50) pounds. I'll celebrate with a cruise.

I can't wait until I can do downward facing dog without looking like a hospital patient in traction. That's when I'll know yoga is working for me.

Or: I can't wait until I get that (tummy tuck, boob lift, nose job). I'll feel so good about myself then.

But what about now? Why put our happiness and self-worth on hold for a future we can't predict, no matter how hard we workout, how many calories we count, or how much we plan to take out of our retirement funds to pay for that plastic surgery? Why not just open our eyes, look in a mirror, and be happy with what is?

I've spent so much energy planning for a better/skinnier/prettier me when I should have been saving some of that Until for the Here and Now. I'm not telling you to forget about your health goals or to give up on your dreams of a six-pack, but I am asking you to take a moment to honor the you in the mirror. The one looking back at you this very minute. The one who deserves to be applauded for getting out of bed another day and just fucking trying.

There's a photo of me on my dresser that The Husband took on our first vacation together. I was 21 and looking happy, care-free, and thin...

There are times I look at my former self and wish I could look like that again. That my thighs would be as toned. My waist as trim. But that's the hindsight talking. If you had asked the me in the photo how I felt, I would have told you I couldn't wait until...

Until what? I lost 10 more pounds? So I could look exactly like I did in high school?

But the high school me wasn't happy, either. She was miserable and lost in sea of self-loathing, only coming up for air to binge again in preparation for the next purge. But both the 33-year-old me and the 21-year-old me wish that we could go back in time and explain to the 15-year-old with the eating disorder that she is beautiful. That she is not meant to look like the cheerleaders she admires.

That her curves are something to be admired, not cursed. That her body is exactly what it should be.

Maybe the 15-year-old would have listened. Maybe she would have realized that the reflection she sees in the mirror needs acceptance and love. Maybe it would have made all the difference in the world.

I am 33.

I weight 203 pounds.

I have kinky hair.

I have curves that fill out clothes in all the right places.

And I am beautiful.

Now it's your turn. What will you tell the woman looking at your from the other side of the mirror?

***

This post originally appeared on Bookieboo.

Grading on a Scale

As a child, I spent more time than I care to remember hiding in the pantry at home, eating away feelings I couldn't process. Maybe my brain was wired in such a way that I was just prone to falling prey to eating disorders, or maybe my body image issues stemmed from growing too tall too quickly. I'm not sure. But I'll bet skipping training bras in the second grade and borrowing my petite mother's jeans the same year (she stands 5' 1'') probably had something to do with it all.

I eventually averaged out, reaching my adult height of 5'6'' at the age of 13. That's  when my hips developed and my curves made me feel even more out of place with the Caucasian girls I went to school with. I was bingeing before I knew it was a word and by the time I was 15, I was in denial about my bulimia.

And almost all of the hell I put myself through manifested from within. I can't even imagine having had to deal with having my school measure my BMI (body mass index) and stick a corresponding grade on my report card.

Can you?

Can you imagine being a child with any bit of uncertainty about themselves and their bodies (think about that for a minute) and suddenly have the requirement of a BMI grade thrown at you?  Eating disordered or not, rare is it that a child of any age is self-assured enough that a little number such as that won't have some kind of negative effect on them.

Before I go any further, let's talk about BMI. I have never been a fan of this particular acronym; mainly because it's been a cause of --- let's just call it frustration--- since I learned of its existence. BMI is nothing more than a measure of body fat for an individual taken against their height and weight. Figure out your number and then the BMI scale will tell you if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. I was 156 pounds in high school, wore a size 10, had curves that didn't come into vogue until after Jennifer Lopez insured her ass, and played varsity tennis. And according to the BMI scale, I was overweight (bordering on obese.) I also was a full-fledged bulimic.

One of my best friends is also 5'6''. She's a teeny little thing with a size four ring finger (I wear a 7) and fits in the underweight to normal range on the BMI scale depending on the day. As an adult who has finally come to terms with different body types, bone structures, muscle mass, and every other little physiological fact that makes us unique, I understand that my friend and I only have  height in common. I understand that her being smaller than me does not make make me fat by default. But as an insecure teenager?

Hell no.

Slate.com has a very informative piece on the history of the BMI. The well-written ladies over at The F-word paraphrased and added their own commentary here.

And I quote:

Here’s the kicker: Like Quetelet, Keys never intended for BMI to be used in this way.  In fact, his original paper warned against using BMI for individual diagnoses, since the equation ignores variables like a person’s age or gender, and I would also add, also their ethnicity, frame size and muscle mass ratio. Writes Singer-Vine:

It’s one thing to estimate the average percent body fat for large groups with diverse builds, Keys argued, but quite another to slap a number and label on someone without regard for these factors…  Now Keys’ misgivings are gaining traction across the world of medicine: BMI simply doesn’t work when it comes to individual measurements. --- source: The F-Word

Now, tell me why these schools think it a good idea to add a number that marks us all yet fails to take into account all the factors that help to determine it? I won't argue that childhood obesity is a problem that needs to be addressed, but is this the way to approach it? Take out the sugar-laden vending machines. Maybe stop cutting back on physical education programs and extra curricular activities. Hell, bring in Jamie Oliver and stage a Food Revolution to help teach kids and their families how to eat and cook healthier. But this?

Turns out even The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) wanted make sure the new policy's potential risk to students was reduced. Following are the CDC guidelines from their Executive Summary on the matter:

To reduce the risk of harming students, BMI measurement programs should adhere to the following safeguards (1) introduce the program to school staff and community members and obtain parental consent, (2) train staff in administering the program (ideally, implementation will be led by a highly qualifi ed staff member, such as the school nurse), (3) establish safeguards to protect student privacy, (4) obtain and use accurate equipment, (5) accurately calculate and interpret the data, (6) develop efficient data collection procedures, (7) avoid using BMI results to evaluate student or teacher performance, and BMI (8) regularly evaluate the program and its intended outcomes and unintended consequences -- source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

I, for one, am wholeheartedly against this. Thankfully, I am not the only one. Cheryl Rainfield and Sarah Littman have started a petition, (which you can sign directly on my sidebar) in an effort to put an end to what we consider a very dangerous practice. Please, take a moment to sign.

I will also go on record now with this statement: If my only option for my 3-year-old daughter's future education involves her being subjected to being graded on what the scale says, I will search for another option. She will already have societal pressures, magazine covers, Barbie dolls, Hollywood starlets, and her own interpretation of body image to deal with. And I'll be damned if I let her report card add to the reasons I can only hope she avoids the same path I traveled before I found myself.

A Tale of Two (Patterns)

My world has to match. It has to make sense.

Which is probably why Fashion Week, Vogue, and What Not to Wear all give me the hives just thinking about all the patterns arguing with each other.

My own wardrobe is bland by comparison. My favorite color is brown. Well, not literally, but you'd think it if you took a look in my closet. It matches everything (else in there) and I defend my lack of Pop by referring to my color choices as "earthy" instead of "drab." And it's fiscally responsible. If I bought red ballet flats, I would only be able to wear them with like, 3 outfits. How much sense does that make? And yet, it's those little rainbow kisses that The Husband celebrates. He never tires of telling me how good that color looks on me or how nice it is to see me in something other than that damned brown.

It's probably no surprise I wanted to be Punky Brewster when I was growing up. She was who she was and celebrated it every day when she got dressed. And screw you if you didn't like what (the wardrobe people) had decided to dress the character in for that day's episode. She was who I wanted to be.

Reality was who I was.

It's who I am.

Which is why I sometimes find myself struggling as Buttercup grows up into a free-thinking little person with definite opinions on what she will and will not wear. The child has been dressing herself since she was 18 months old, but it was a lot easier when she couldn't see beyond the two pre-planned outfits I was letting her choose between.

Now?

Some days, she picks stuff like this...

...and I find myself biting my tongue. Who gives a shit if the pink socks should be white? Or if I would never have paired those leggings with those shoes?

She's happy.

Her world doesn't have to match.

And it still makes perfect sense to her.

Famous Enough

I need a platform.And while Platform The Secret Agent Monkey seems to have taken over my blog, I doubt he alone is going to make me Famous Enough to get an agent or a book deal. But don't tell The Husband that. I'm still working on convincing him that I need a finger monkey or my dreams will never come true. Until that happens, I need to come up with some other Platform Building plans. Right now I am considering any and all of the following:

*Move to Jersey Shore. Make friends with Snooki. Steal a Bumpit. Make it work with my Mexifro. Say something to piss Snooki off (on camera, of course) and let her beat me up (on camera, of course). When she offers hush money to keep me from suing, I counter offer with a contract with her agent and give her back the Bumpit I stole from her dressing room. It didn't work for me, anyway. Then? Wait for book deal. *Divorce The Husband. Move to Hollywood. Shack up with a Rock Star. Divorce Rock Star after granting exclusive interviews to the paparazzi hiding in my garbage cans. Move back in with The Husband (who was totally in on the plan) and grant more exclusive interviews to the paparazzi I invited over for pizza. Wait for book deal. *Get pregnant with 15 babies at the same time. Force The Husband into a reality show he wants nothing to do with. Make sure to get all the free plastic surgery I can while my 15 minutes is still riding strong and a few more when no one will touch me except for my garbage paparazzi crew. But I draw the line at the reverse claw mullet. My Mexifro already has enough "character." Wait for book deal. *A murder rap. Wait for book deal. *Buttercup's cute enough, me thinks. Talk The Husband into moving to Questionable Parenting-ville so we can join up with the Toddlers and Tiara's circuit. I figure just a few appearances is enough to get my name out there before Buttercup is scarred for life. (side note: this plans is banking on a sizable advance, since I'm gonna need a chunk to spring for the preventative therapy to keep my kid from going all Celebrity Rehab on me when she gets older as payback.) Also? Wait for book deal. *Rob a bank. Get lipo and a boob life. And a tummy tuck. Oh, and cap my baby teeth.  Approach Sports Illustrated and get the cover. Parlay that experience into a television show host gig. Divorce The Husband so I can hook up with an ex-actor-turned-musician who is now only famous in Europe and in the States for being married to me. Wait for book deal. *Buy a time machine with the leftover funds from the bank heist. Become a cute child actor who grows up to be a messed up adult who also happens to be broke now because I spent my millions on too much crack and crystal meth. Clean myself up, find and marry The Husband, have my Buttercup, and hire a ghost writer to pen my story, because being famous once is usually Famous Enough for a memoir to actually happen, even if it's socially acceptable to not even be expected to write it yourself. And? I probably wouldn't have to wait very long for that book deal.

I'm still working out the kinks, of course. The Husband is being all You're crazy and Just Be Patient and You wrote a great book and it's cute, but seriously?

I'm just me. I'm not a name. After I end up on the cover of The National Enquirer?

Oh yeah. That's the ticket.

Platform? Here I come.

Milestones and Mexifros

I started blogging here with the mindset that no one was reading. That no one would read. Why would you? I wasn't famous. I wasn't giving anything away. I was just sharing my words. But I guess that was somehow enough. And 100,000 page views later, I am sitting here in awe. I am not the same person I was when I started here. And I am definitely not the same person who tried blog after blog of what I thought people would want to read before realizing I had to be true to myself for anything I said to not sound like a PR pitch.

I'll admit I was a scared shitless to drop my first F Bomb. What if I offended people? Turns out I was just being that much truer to myself and my voice. Which, yes, is peppered with profanity. You have no idea how fucking liberating that was.

Every blog post, every story I shared, was just one more piece of me opening up to the world. And each step brought me that much closer to the self-acceptance and confidence I sorely lacked while growing up.

That's me, in the fourth grade, I think. I was awkward. I was geeky. And I felt every bit the ugly duckling with my mini #mexifro in all its glory.

Before I started writing here, I never would have shared this photo. Before I started writing here, I probably would have burned this when I found it in my mom's stash of memories.

But I'm not that girl anymore. Instead, I'm this girl.

I'm sassy.

I'm confident.

I'm snarky.

And I'm loving the little bits of me that make me who I am.

Including the hair.

And the crooked smile.

And my F(Ph)at ass.

You might not think that's a big deal. But you have no idea how hard I tried to be what I wasn't. There were chemical perms to straighten the kinks. There were copious amounts of aqua net used in a misguided effort to make the bangs I cut look like the white girls I went to school with. There was that yellow sweatshirt and those glasses.

Maybe it took becoming a mother. Every day I wake up hoping to provide my daughter with a positive example of self love. I can't very well expect her to love what she sees in her own reflection if she sees me hiding from my own.

Maybe it took hiding behind my words before I became confident enough to start sharing myself in photos and videos.

Maybe it took you.

In either case, I am here now to thank you all for reading.

And? For the free lesson in the cheap therapy that is the magic of social media.

Power to The Mexifro, people. Power to the Mexifro.

Desperately Seeking You...Desperately Seeking Yourself

Listen up, mujeres. (That's Spanish for "ladies." Which makes that sentence "Spanglish." Yeah, I know...I feel cool for just having written it, so I can't even imagine how it feels to have read it.)It's been a while since I mentioned the anthology. Which is funny because I've been sitting here floundering in the Unpubbed Writer version of the After the Wedding Blues wondering what the hell I was supposed to be doing to occupy my time. No writing project keeping up till 3 a.m...now what do I do to keep The Muse busy? Keep myself feeling like I have a goal to work towards (other than not saying anything that rhymes with "Fuck" when I open rejections because Buttercup now believes "Truck it" is an acceptable phrase to utter when something didn't quite go her way. Okay, I'm kidding. Really, I am. But a little part of me wishes I really wasn't.) Where was I again? Oh, right. Me thinking I had nothing to do other than that Mom thing and that Wife thing and that Holding Me Breath While Query Responses Roll In thing and occasionally remembering to mention the Anthology thing on twitter in a lukewarm attempt to drum up interest for submissions and...wait a minute... That sounds suspiciously like a writing project. Maybe, because it is. *Faceplam*

And? So far, so good. I've received a few more submissions and have received word from two very respected writers that they are totally on the Baby F(Ph)at Band Wagon, which has me all kinds of giddy. Now, the only question is, when are you going to share your story?

Here are the updated details (also available in a bit more detail on this link).

I am seeking submissions from moms out there who wants to share their own stories regarding weight loss. I know I'm not the only mother out there who is wondering what the hell happened to her waistline after the baby came. Or the only one who's wishing Karma didn't take names when I was on the other side of motherhood and passing judgment on women I knew for "letting themselves go." Forget Hollywood moms and the fairy-tale disappearing baby pooch...I want real moms to come clean with their own stories. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me want to call you up and meet for coffee (sugar free and skim-milked, of course!). Make me connect with you as a mother and as a person. Just make it real.

So what’s the deal? I wrote Baby F(Ph)at: Adventures in Motherhood, Weight Loss, and Trying to Stay Sane…and that is my journey. I want to read about yours. How motherhood changed your perspectives about body image, weight loss, and getting into or staying in shape. I want honesty. I want to laugh. I want to relate. And I want it to read like a conversation between best friends over a few bottles of wine (after the kids are asleep, of course, which means you are totally allowed to swear.)

So far, I have a few awesome pieces which will be considered for the final project, and am in search of more.

Here are the guidelines:

* Stories must be between 500 and 1,500 words and be told in first person. This is your story…not your neighbors. Make sure to include a short bio with contact information.

*Essays should focus on the topic of weight. Suggestions include:

—Your expectations prior to becoming pregnant versus the reality

—How pregnancy changed your body

—How you lost the weight

—Acceptance of your new shape

—Balancing the needs of your children with your own

*Birth moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, grandmothers with custody...if you carried a child or carry the responsibility of raising one, your story counts, too. Motherhood changes all of us and how we see ourselves.

* No anonymous or author unknown submissions.

* Please submit only stories or poems that have not been previously published. An exception to this rule is, of course, those previously published works to which you own the reprint rights.

* Submissions should be sent to aspiringmama@gmail.com with “Anthology” in the subject line.

* By submitting a story, you give www.aspiringmama.com the right to re-publish and distribute your work on this website, and in any other formats (including, but not limited to, the site’s Twitter feed, RSS feed, and possible publication in a book).

* By submitting a story, you give www.aspiringmama.com the right to re-publish and distribute your work on this website, and in any other formats (including, but not limited to, the site's Twitter feed, RSS feed, and possible publication in a book).

Deadline for submissions is April 6, 2011. Feel free to email with any questions. I look forward to reading your stories.

And that’s the deal, peeples. So who wants to share?

F-Bombs, Secrets, and Random Facts

1) I'm afraid of spiders. 2) Real shredded coconut "tastes" like paper to me. Shut. Up.

3) I still follow after Buttercup and her dolls to carefully comb their hair back into place. Call it a throwback to my Pre Mexifro Acceptance Days.

4) Strangers can read anything I write. I'm not afraid of you judging me.

5) It took me a long time to get comfortable on my own blog to drop an F bomb. And look at you still reading, you naughty, naughty person, you....

6) It was liberating as hell when it finally happened.

7) I may have to move in with an Amish family after joining the Blogger Protection Program if and when my family figures out I have a blog and like to drop F-bombs. (Please refer to #s 4 and 5.)

8 ) I swear like a sailor but blush when people say that P word that rhymes with hussy (Hint: smartasses who try leaving comments containing that word will be deleted. Me and my virgin eyes can't handle it, so don't try it.)

9) I'm thinking of starting a podcast but am wondering if I have a voice for blogging.

10) I never got  pregnancy/labor amnesia. So we got a new puppy.

11) Related? Only people without kids can say that raising a puppy is like having a child. We used to say it all the time. Then we had a child. All I'm saying is rubbing your kid's nose in their pee spot on the carpet might not work out so well for you, so I'd advise against being stupid.

12) I was 5'1' when I was 8 years old. My mother is 5,1", which means I was wearing her pants in the third grade. Which also means I have only grown 5-inches since I was in the third grade.

13) My mother brought me home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking.

14) I was left standing on my porch, dressed for senior year Homecoming, with tear tracks in my blush, when I realized the high school friends who had invited me to "go stag" with them never showed to pick me up.

15) I had my first kiss with my first boyfriend at 16 years old.

16) I speak really good Spanish when I'm drunk.

17) I never have time to get drunk.

18) My Spanish usually sucks.

19) My mother dressed me as a clown for Halloween one year and combed my Mexifro out into an afro and sprayed it to look like a wig. She must have done a really good job. I spent the entire Girl Scout party beating Brownies off my head as they all tried to yank my wig off so they could try it on themselves. (Related? I hate clowns.)

20) I had a reverse boob job when I was 24. The Husband looked like a proud new father when he told his friends that his wife's former GG's were now cute and perky DD's.

21) Buttercup fit in one of my old bikini cups when she was born. Don't judge. Like you wouldn't have tried?

22) You know that scene in the original Blade movie where the vampires are in the underground club dancing in wild abandon as the sprinkler system showers them in blood? Yeah...that's the song The Husband and I were introduced to at our wedding reception.

23) #22 was my idea. The Husband is still grateful.

24) I didn't know MTV existed until I was 14. i also didn't realize that our car radio played anything other than Mexican music or oldies stations. My social life? Sucked.

25) I'm the oldest of five girls. The youngest two are 10 and 11 years younger than me, and Mom used to make me wake with the crying babies at night and still go to school the next morning. You might think it evil. I think she was genius. No High School Sex for me!

26) I hate it when people refer to how big my daughter is. She's tall, assholes, not big. Can we talk about how big you are now? Oh right, that's not polite.

27) Milk makes me sneeze. A lot. Which makes me miss ice cream.

28) This is my third blog. The first two were me trying to write what I thought other people wanted to read.

29) Are you still reading?

30) I'm not gonna lie: the idea of 2012 scares the crap out of me. Watching Jessy Ventura's Conspiracy Theory doesn't help.

31) I'm equally relieved and frustrated that The Husband refuses to let me start a twitter account for him. On one had, I always want to put the @ in front of his name. On the other, my tweet stream would get a lot more boring if he had access to what I sent out into the twittersphere.

32) I typo. A lot. Deal with it.

33) I actually had to ask The Husband how old I was so I could make sure I had the right number of random things in this list. And I'll probably have to do the same next year.

Mamavation Monday: Classified Information

Shhhhh. *Glances about furtively*

I have to be careful with what I say here.

It has recently come to my attention that you are not the only person reading my words. There has been, it seems, a very large leak in security.

For those that are unaware, Pauline's Public Blog Privacy Policy reads something like this:

Strangers, come on in: My innermost thoughts about writing and motherhood are your playground. Point. Laugh. Call me a jackass. Relate to my cellulite and cry with me as we both step on the scale. For you, my life is an open book.

People I Knew Before I Started Blogging: Unless given express permission to even acknowledge the blog exists, stay the hell out of my head. And if you do happen to stop by? You are to pretend you didn't just learn how fat my ass actually is.

Fine Print: Friends made through social media and BFF Mel are included in the Strangers clause of this policy. The Husband, however, is totally not allowed to get all psychic just because he can log onto my blog like the rest of the world. Which might make him believe it's slightly unfair that the people in front and behind him in line at the grocery store might know about my current search for that wagon I am not supposed to have fallen off of--or what I actually weigh--but I'm totally good with this.

Turns out, it's entirely possible that when I post things like this and this that inquiring minds have taken advantage of this free speech and open internet by logging on without my express permission. And? The Husband is currently in major touble.

We were out and about yesterday, as we we are prone to do on his days off before he decides he needs to go to bed at 4 p.m. because he works midnights, and I took a minute to check my blog stats from my Droid X. I am querying right now and the only thing I can do to keep my friends from killing me with the constant verbal obsessing is the self-stalking kind that involves me, my blog, and no one else telling me to shut the hell up. But something was glitchy when I tried logging in and I got an error message.

"What the hell? My blog is down?" Instant panic grabbed at my soul. I have a zillion queries out right now and the last thing I need right now is an agent logging on to see NADA.

"Lemme look on mine," The Husband said as he grabbed his phone out of his pocket. "You might have just entered it wrong."

Sure enough, a quick goggle search brought Aspiring Mama right up onto his screen.

"Operation Google Stalk, huh?" he said, a smile in his voice.

I sped read the post in my head and nodded my approval. "Yeah, you can read that one."

"I can read that one? Whatever..." He reads off the blog post titles on the first page."

Mamavation Monday: Ams and Am Nots

The Stars Say

The Typo queen Strikes Again

On Looking into the Light

I didn't recall one of them mentioning anything I didn't want to hear about at home, except for maybe for last week's Mamavation post with the Dorito mention and all.

"Okay, you can read it all except for last Monday's."

The Husband laughed. "I can, huh? I'll have you know I log on from time to time."

"Without my permission?" My eyes are wide. My voice is shrill. I am imagining his eyes scanning over classified information like this and this. "Are you insane? People who know me aren't supposed to read this! That's like peeking into my diary without permission! I write that shit for strangers!"

The Husband laughed. Loud and hard. And the rational part of me didn't blame him.

"You're joking, right?"

I thought about every pre-natal visit he tagged along on only to turn his back, plug his ears, and whistle a happy tune when it came time for me to step on the scale because he knew that I didn't want my 200 pound , 6-foot hottie to know his formerly curvy wife had ballooned to 245. Or how he knows what I've lost...but not what I weigh.

My life is a need to know basis, people. And I? Like to pretend that people I know...don't actually know about anything going on inside of my head.

But you?

And you?

And you, too....

Come on in. Pull up a chair. Let's talk motherhood. Let's talk evil scales. Let's talk muffin tops and cellulite and assmoflauge and falling off the wagon and temptation and whether or not treadmills should just be re-branded as overpriced closets. Let's get into whether sleep is more important than working out or how exactly you manage to get it all done and make time for yourself versus me looking at the end of the day wondering how exactly I ran out of time for yoga but found the time to coordinate my cute workout gear before attacking the pile of laundry.

But if you said I DO? To ME?

If you know the color scheme at my wedding? Or the song I walked down the aisle to?

We need to talk about you pretending you have no clue what is going on over on this little blog o' mine.

As long as I don't know that you know? It's all good.

Move along, people. There's nothing to see here...

The Stars Say...

My horoscope for Tuesday:

Capricorn Nov 30 2010 Whether you're in search of the perfect job, the ideal friendship, or a wonderful marriage, you cannot attract it if you aren't honest with yourself and with those who are critical to your pursuit. You may be playing a role now, Capricorn. You want to be the person that a potential job, or friend, or marriage partner would need you to be. But you can really only be who you are. If you were to attract someone while you were playing a role, then it would not last. And, even if it did, it would not be fulfilling. Be yourself now, and you will find your heart's desire.

My translation?

So if I want an agent and a book deal, I need to stop pretending I can spell?

Awesome.

Official Announcement:

Dear Publishing World and Future Agent,

I can write. But let's face facts, here. I suck at this spelling business. (Note the spelling of Apocalypse in my comment on Juliette's  #zombiesurvivalcrew post here. What I actually wrote kind of resembles Alpaca Piss. Hey, at least it's entertaining for you.) Once we both admit I only think I have caught my typos (Say it with me now: Post Mama Muff Top!) and you have to deal with everything that made it through, the world will be a happier place.

There...now that we have that out of the way, I'm off to email and blog stalk myself. Which reminds me. I also have no shame.

So! Where do I sign?

Mamavation Monday: Ams and Am Nots

@aspiringmama: Sometimes? Doritos really are the answer.

Let me tell you who I am not.

I am not:

*Perfect

*Able to spell anything corretcly

*Interested in geting over my Tofu Phobia

*Friends with my scale

*In posession of a heaf of hair that actually moves when the wind does.

*An expert in Pubic Relations (Click on the link above for this one to make sense)

*Working out right now. (I know...I know...But my Christmas cards are almot done and the tree is up and it's preeeeeety! And, And, And? I finished and hit send on a zillion queries, mostly typo-free, so I'm busy writing a blog post as I wait for the rejections to start pouring in so I can stare longingly at The Husband's unopened bag of Doritos while I read them because I will physically need some at that point.)

Now for what I am:

*Honest.

*The Typo-queen (Exhibit A? My tweet stream)

*An expert in making the Post Mama Muffin Tops and Cellulite look gooood. And? I know how how to turn a hoodie into Assmoflauge by trying it around your waist and making it look like you did it to coordinate your outfit and not hide the circumference of your badonkatonk.)

*Trying my damndest to not get discouraged by my body's utter lack of interest in anything I AM doing right to try and shed some flab off my ass. (Damned Doritos.)

*Proud owner and curator of the world's first social media approved Mexi-fro.

*Still looking for my point in this post.

Oh right. I wrote a book about trying to lose the weight after the baby blew out the candles on her second birthday cake. But do I have the answers? No. Do I have a rockin' bod to show for my efforts? (Note the lack of photos in this post and assume the worst.) Hell no. Do I plan on going to the gym tomorrow? Nu-uh.

 But do I want to?

Yeah. I do.

Even when life kicks me in the softly padded ass, even when emotions sneak up and make bad things sound good (like that Doritos tweet above), I am still trying. I am still wanting to better myself and provide my daughter with a healthy example. SO i almost always eat right. I don't bitch about my thighs or my muffin top out loud. I tell her she is healthy. I tell her she is strong.

The truth of the matter is that I have health issues that aren't making anything easier. But that isn't saying I want it any less. And while I am in limbo, I am figuring the best thing I can do is look in the mirror and love what I see. Mexi-fro, muffin top, fat ass, and all.

If I can show my baby girl I am happy where I am now while I work on getting where I want to be, then it's all good. And if I never get there? I need to be able to smile and laugh and hug her close when she asks if eating her dinner will make her grow up to be healthy and strong.

Because it's all about her, people. I'm just along for the ride.

Mamavation Monday: A Picture and 823 words

I wrote a book about the size of my ass. Well, to be more specific, I wrote a book about how motherhood has changed my body and how my mind is still trying to play catch-up while doing my best (most of the time) to get back into my pre-pregnancy Happy Place. And in that book, I mention a lot of intimate details: * What my body is like * What I eat * What I shouldn't be eating * The juggling involved with trying to fit in working out and taking care of Mama while Mama takes care of the world * And, of course...the number on the scale. So it's not like I'm a stranger to sharing. Baby F(Ph)at may only have been read by a few people so far, but still...I put it out there...in black and white. So why did I get butterflies in the pit of my belly when I was reading over the application instructions for the next Mamavation campaign and saw that participants are required to post a photo of their scale number every week? I mean, really? Haven't I kind of been doing that all along? Painting a picture with my words?

The truth is, as a writer, I'm used to hiding behind the picture I am painting. While my brain to mouth neurons have a pretty decent filter when it comes to what I share with the world, the ones connecting my brain to my fingers must have not been in my share of the family gene pool. Because while I might hesitate to verbalize something, my fingers have no shame when it comes to sharing details with the world. Looks like I need to work on a new kind of brave.

Example #1: I weight 224.5 pounds right now. That is actually a relief to me considering I was 236 pounds when I started writing Baby F(Ph)at last year (I finished the book at about 218). It's an even bigger relief to me because I haven't made a real effort to work out since the week before leaving for BlogHer10. And? The Husband recently shared that he also gained about 5 pounds during our three week family vacation in Michigan, so yay for team spirit. Oh, and it's important to note that that Doctor Office Scale had me at 233 last week, and here are my reasons for thinking that scale had it in for my ego: It was mid-day. I had just eaten lunch. I was wearing jeans AND sneakers. And I wasn't naked, starving, and still yawning, which is my usual state of being when I weigh myself at home. (It's not just me, is it? Those doctor office scales are like the mean girl in high school who lived to amplify my flaws. So I just stopped listening to them.)

Example #2: I am happy to report that I have decided to focus on the positives this week. So instead of telling you that I had a Snicker's bar when my hormones took control of my brain, I will tell you instead that I love Ezekiel bread and am going to make a truck-load of homemade and sugar free applesauce and apple juice this week. Oh. And I drink enough water on a regular basis to float a house because pop (or soda, depending on where you are from) tastes like syrup to me and that is just nasty.

Example #3: How was my week? Aside from the Snickers Incident of 2010, I ate like a champ. There were plenty of complex carbs, fruits, lean proteins, and veggies. And I'm thrilled that Buttercup is now a fan of my ground bison and black bean chili recipe. I'm making good choices when we go out to eat, planning meals as often as I can to make the cooking thing easier as well as not break the bank at the grocery stores we frequent, and perfectly aware that while I am doing pretty well, I can do better.

Example #4: I'm going to spend the next 5 days or so thinking of what I need to say and how to say it without sounding like an idiot in that Mamavation video I plan on submitting. That's right. I am officially going to throw my hat in the ring. And I'll tell you another secret...my fearless fingers are actually a little trembly right now as I type this. Example#5: What are my plans for this week? More good eating, dusting off the jogging stroller and taking Buttercup for a few long walks, trying out my new Just Dance game for the Nintendo Wii, and taking a good look at other activities that I might want to try (like the gym membership that The Husband just reminded me we are paying for and not using. Which makes me think he has a point. So add that one to the list of Things to Do for Pauline.) Yes?

Pardon me, people. I have some things to attend do. And I'm starting with making time for me.

Ask me how long I lasted

IMG00425-20100303-1342Looks good, right? Well, it actually was. I was on day 1 of South Beach, Phase 1 (against my dietitian's advice, mind you) and thoroughly enjoying my Turkey and Cilantro Mayo lettuce wrap and crispy bowl of cucumbers and lemon juice. It was kind of like paying too much in a fancy sit-down restaurant I can't afford for food real people just don't bother preparing for themselves. Only I had purchased the ingredients myself, made the cilantro-mayo on my own, and didn't have to worry about the anorexic Hollywood types I imagined sitting at nearby tables pointing and snickering because the fat chick was nixing the bread.

For breakfast that day I had eggs.

And the next day.

And the next day.

By dinner time on day three I was crying about the though of cracking another egg the following morning, having major fruit withdrawals, and wondering why uber-healthy things like 1-percent milk and Ezekiel bread were on the no-no list for the first two weeks of this insane diet.

Yes, yes, i know it has worked for tons and tons of people. But really? I wanted a fucking bowl of strawberries. In the very worst way.

And I was not going to make it 11 more days with eggs for breakfast without kicking a chicken going off the deep-end.

So I bailed. Went crawling back to my dietitian (who is a genius I will no longer ignore) and started incorporating low glycemic food choices into my own version of South Beach, Phase 2.

On my version, carrots and bananas are not evil, eggs are not the only breakfast food known to mankind, and I don't think I'll be tempted to make a habit of knocking over fruit stands and chancing jail time as I make a break for it for an apple.

And that makes me a very happy woman.

***Note for the curious: My dietician is Monika Woolsey and you can find her on Twitter as @incyst.

Going for silver? Or just going crazy?

"Are you crazy? Why not just stay fat and get pregnant and then worry about the weight when you're done?"IMG_0028The question has been posed to me by many of my friends multiple times. The first time the conversation came up was at a get-together with some college buddies. Buttercup was a little over a year old at the time, and that fits in with the usual timing before people start that "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" thing before asking when the next baby is coming along. "No way in hell am I getting pregnant before I lose this weight," I vehemently responded. "The first time sucked enough and I was in pretty decent shape. I don't need to add 30 pounds to the equation. Maybe we'll go for silver when Buttercup turns 3." A lot of time has passed since that discussion and I'm still dodging the question. The last time it came up with friends was after learning a mutual friend was pregnant with her second child. Her oldest is just a little younger than Buttercup, so it made sense to everyone else to look at me like I was nuts for holding out. That clock ticking and all. Before I could give my practiced "I need to lose the weight first so I can have a better chance at a healthy pregnancy" speech, The Husband answered for me. "Nah," he said laughing. "Pauline would rather torture herself by getting skinny first so she can get fat and have to do it all over again." Well thanks a lot, asshole. To his credit, The Husband has not pressured for a new baby yet. Nor has he looked at me sideways for still dealing with the same poundage I left the maternity ward with almost three years down the road. But sometime between the first "Just stay fat and deal later" conversation and the last, I've started wondering if I really am crazy. Since I've actively started trying to find my waistline again in the Land of Cellulite, Thunder Thighs, and Muffin Tops, I've yo-yo'd like a champ, started and quit various weight loss plans because they weren't working for me, found out I have to make nice with my body and my PCOS and Insulin Resistance before the scale will agree to be my friend, and started (and gotten pretty far into) a book that was supposed to be the Big Motivator for me to finally get off my ass and make things happen. After doing the math (which, trust me, didn't take very long) I've learned that I've lost a grand total of 11 pounds in 7 months. And that was before I got all pms-y and gained 4 back with that nasty little monthly bloat that likes to point and laugh at my self-esteem. And considering the fact that Buttercup is just a few months away now from her third birthday and I'm still rockin' my fat pants with all the snark I can muster, I may have to re-evaluate things pretty soon here. Granted, nothing is happening until my doc gives the green light. Nor am I asking her to at the next check-up. But I'm not in a never-ending limbo anymore. The Husband will be 37 in July and I'll be 33 in December. No matter what happens with the scale, I have to put up or shut up before the year is out. Not on getting pregnant, mind you. Just on the decision as to when to um, start that Olympic training. And because my life operates under the Laws of Murphy, this was all a long-winded way of saying: Watch me suddenly figure myself out, lose 20 pounds, and find myself pregnant a week after I start shaking my wild thang in skinny(er) jeans...and then have to do it all over again. I'm sure that at that point, I may have to concede that my friends were right. I must be completely certifiable.

****This post originally appeared on Bookieboo.ning.com! ****And the photo? That's me at 36.5 weeks. I became a mom 3 days later.