How I Met Him—Part 1

Friday is a really special day for our little family. It’s my husband and I’s tenth anniversary. Our marriage has lasted a decade, and while we treat every anniversary with the reverence it deserves (have you seen the divorce rate?), this big milestone is incredibly dear to us, especially since we started out as the most unlikely couple imaginable. At a time like this, it’s inevitable to take a trip down memory lane, starting with the first time I saw the guy who would later become my BFF, the father of my kids and, the killer of all the wayward bugs in my life.

My husband and I went to the same small college, and we were both residents of the honors’ co-ed dorm. Despite the familial environment of our tiny student body, we never really crossed paths during my first two years there.

One night, a group of my girlfriends pooled our miniscule funds in order to have a cocktail-infused get-together of epic proportions. We had just received our scholarship refund checks, we had no papers due, and we were ready to blow off some steam. Mostly, we were a group of girls sowing our oats in the safety of our dorm, surrounded by fellow students that had become like one giant extended family. Among the beer and homemade jello shots, we also ended up with these:

We found these Austin Powers-inspired cocktail mixers at the Wally World. These plastic shakers were a promotional item for the recent movie release, and we were always up for trying something completely ridiculous. All we needed to do was add the appropriate alcohol, and we’d have a neon-colored cocktail with a completely cheesy name.

So, we did. And that blue concoction tasted like a cross between drain cleaner and nuclear waste. Despite our best efforts, not one of my girlfriends could stomach it. Luckily for us, we had plenty of backup drinks, but the retched blue juice remained untouched. As the night wore on, we finally decided (with the kind of logic only college students possess) that we couldn’t let precious alcohol go to waste, so we began a door-to-door campaign around our dorm to see who was brave enough to choke it down. We were already three sheets to the wind, so this endeavor was a hilarious bumbling trek that was more laughter than anything else. Door to door we went, and every single one of our peers was so turned off by the smell of the noxious cocktail that they all refused even a taste-test.

That is, until we got to my husband’s door. After knocking (and giggling) quite loudly, the door was thrown open by one of the most imposing figures I had ever seen. He was wearing pajama pants, and a black bathrobe, and his long blond hair looked like a throwback to an 80’s hair band. But what struck me most of all, was his mean-face. The guy standing in front of me had the most mean expression I has ever seen, like we had just interrupted him from writing the great American novel or discovering the cure for cancer. In my mildly inebriated state, I explained to him the now famously intolerable blue cocktail, and how no one in the dorm could stomach a sip, let alone the whole shaker. As he looked at me with an expression of annoyance (perhaps tinged with a little contempt), my husband snatched the psychedelic cocktail shaker out of my hand, downed its’ putrid contents in three seconds, thrust the shaker back in my hands, and promptly closed the door in my face.

I turned to my closest girlfriend with pure astonishment (did he have a cast iron stomach, or what?), and said “holy crap, that guy’s an asshole.”

Little did I know that, within a few months, that scary-looking guy would sweep me off my feet in one fateful night…and I would never look back.

“She Just Had a Baby…What’s Your Excuse?” Or a Diatribe About the Arm-Chair Commentators of New Moms’ Bodies

If you’ve ever read this blog in any capacity, then you probably know I’m not one to comment on news, politics or any other socially charged topic. Why? Because most of the time, I’m not cool enough or informed enough to broadcast an opinion of any significance into the chum-filled waters of internet debate.

However, after reading yet another attack on a post-partum celebrity, one who didn’t magically lose the baby weight within four weeks, I have something to say.

For weeks, a certain notorious celebrity has been dogged by the media about her pregnancy weight, her baby’s birth weight, and then her post-baby weight. In fact, we might as well call it “WEIGHT WATCH 2012,” because pictures of her are feverishly published and scrutinized, using horribly sarcastic phrases like “she poured her curves into her workout clothes.”

“Poured?” Seriously, ya’ll? Every article I’ve seen in recent weeks has something to say about her weight, chest size, or baby, and every word is a thinly-veiled jab at her for daring to be a normal, post-partum mom who may have better things to do than miss her baby’s precious milestones for hours in the gym.

As a mom who is currently struggling with my own post-partum body, I know full well the roller coaster of emotions that come in the first three months after giving birth. We may be filled with all that new-baby joy, but we also must deal with the staggering realization that your body doesn’t magically shrink back down to size the instant the baby comes out. We live in a society where baby weight is cute when you are pregnant, but becomes instantly pathetic about a week after you give birth. What new mom hasn’t felt that crushing blow when the well-intention person at the supermarket asks you when you are due, despite the fact that you have a clearly fresh infant in tow? It doesn’t help when we see highly publicized tales of those genetically blessed celebrities, rocking the catwalk in a bikini less than two months after giving birth. Their perfectly smooth tummies send the impression that everyone would bounce back that fast if we were just disciplined enough, motivated enough, or just plain awesome enough. With nary a stretch mark in sight, these lovely women represent a best case scenario that is out of reach for most moms. Too bad the media didn’t get the memo that maybe, just maybe, that’s not reality for the other 99% of women.

I gained a lot of weight during all my pregnancies. With the first two, it never really came off…but I really never tried to make it come off with any degree of commitment. However, once my youngest was nearing school-age, I did finally decide to get less fat. I had no magic diet or expensive gym membership. I just watched what I put in my mouth, and worked out with nothing more than my kids’ Wii and the streets around my house. It took nearly nine months, but I lost 60 pounds, and wore jeans I hadn’t donned since middle school. It was amazing, and glorious, and I managed to keep the weight off for two years. However, even with the weight gone, my poor body was a scarred landscape of stretch marks, surgical scars, and the inevitable skin “pooch” that many c-section moms can’t shake without a visit to the plastic surgeon. Even skinny me would not dare a bikini, because my abdomen looked like Freddy Krueger had a go at it.

Having conquered my weight once, I figured that my post-partum weight loss this time would be a breeze. I had done it before, I could do it again. I had the knowledge and the experience, so I fully expected to be back in my skinny jeans by now.

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

When I lost the weight last time, I had one child in school, another was nearing school-age, and I worked out over an hour a day every day. I did a workout program during Bear’s afternoon nap, and went jogging in the evenings when my husband came home from work. My kids were on a predictable schedule and fairly easy to manage, so carving out an hour a day was no great task.

It’s taken me several weeks to realize that losing the weight again is not going to be so quick this time. First, I am a nursing mom, and while I can eat better and make smarter choices, my caloric intake can’t take a nosedive without compromising both my and Bean’s overall health. Furthermore, Bean is a high-maintenance infant, so free time is thin on the ground right now. When or if she does nap, I have things like laundry, cooking, and two other kids that require my immediate attention. When it comes to jogging, leaving my husband with two self-contained kids was a piece of cake. Asking him to manage those two kids plus an infant, all after having worked all day at his own high-stress job, is asking a lot. Even when I do, exhaustion from lack of sleep means I would rather lie down than strap on my Nikes and brave the 100 degree heat (don’t even mention a gym…we are flat broke and childcare for workouts is out of the question). Don’t get me wrong, my husband is the most helpful, supportive person in the world, but after a long day, I’d rather have help with the dishes, kids or the current poop-apocalypse. Mostly, I just want to bathe without interruption.

I know that eventually, I WILL be in the position to rock my skinny jeans again. But, it’s just going to take time. A year from now, will I regret that I didn’t get my full hour of workouts in a day? No. Because I’ll be too busy NOT regretting the fact that I didn’t miss basking in Bean’s smiles, milestones, fresh baby smell, and first-year magic. In the meantime, I’ll eat the best I can without starving myself or Bean, workout when I can, and try not to let insecurity about body image ruin the most incredible time of my child’s life.

So, as much as I avoid social commentary on this blog, I want to say that the perverse expectation the media puts on new celebrity moms is awful, disgusting and pathetic. Even if they have the expendable income for gyms, personal trainers and nannies, they are not obligated to melt the baby weight away at super-human speed, just because a gossip column says so. God forbid they focus their energy on bonding as a family, becoming a good parent, or getting some much needed rest. In fact, for every media outlet that publishes an analysis of that certain celebrity’s baby weight, I say we take a scale to their office, and make EACH AND EVERY staff member weigh in on a live, streaming internet feed for the entire world to see. When all is said and done, I bet we would be able to say, “She just had a baby…what’s your excuse a$$hole?”

It’s July—So It’s Time to Think Christmas

Sounds crazy, right?

No, I’m not one of those obsessive holiday people. I don’t treat holiday shopping like an Olympic sport, and the only way you’ll catch me out on Black Friday is if we run out of booze. Priorities, people, priorities…

What I am is a stay-at-home mom, in a single-income family, with three kids. Not to mention a mountain of medical bills, school tuitions, and a summertime electric bill that looks like we are air-conditioning Hades. Finances are not my friend these days.

I firmly believe that the holidays should be about making memories, not increasing debt, so planning early is the only way to go for us. By starting now, I have time to spread out expenses, and plan homemade/hand-crafted gifts for all the adults in our family. I love working on their gifts, because it helps remind me (and show the Heathens) the true spirit of the holidays. We spend time planning and thinking about the people we love, instead of just doing a mad dash through overcrowded stores, spending money we don’t really have. If all goes well, we’ll have most of our Christmas gifts done by December, so our holiday season will be one of relaxed togetherness instead of frantic shopping. Even if we did have infinite expendable income, I still don’t think I’d want to spend my December sitting in my car, navigating congested parking lots and snarly shoppers. I’d rather be at home, baking cookies with the Heathens, and watching Charlie Brown Christmas for the 1000th time.

Even if homemade presents aren’t your thing, you might want to keep an eye out, and start picking up a gift here and there. You’ll probably find more stuff, better deals, and you won’t have to arm-wrestle anyone or defend yourself in an unexpected stampede of crazy-eyed bargain hunters. They bite, ya know…

It may only be July, but I’d definitely keep the holidays in the back of your mind. Your end-of-the-year budget will thank you later.