Category Archives: Grace Ellen

Watching the Weight

I have a job interview in a little over a week.  A great deal rides on this interview, although I suppose that’s true of most interviews.  I tried on my suit last week, a suit I bought pre-childbirth and couldn’t button the pants.  I’ve been in the fetal position since then wondering how I’m possibly going to get a job in a competitive school system when I can’t even button my pants.
I tried the pants on today, and I buttoned them…barely.  I can’t get a shirt tucked in.  But with a jacket, I think I can button over anything that’s not tucked.  That’s the conversation Husband and I had in the kitchen this afternoon, me in suit pants, no shirt, and suit jacket. The ridiculousness of that discussion led me immediately to the couch where I turned on the laptop, pulled out my credit card, and signed up for Weight Watchers.
I completed a triathlon.  I ran a marathon.  Surely I can lose the 26.8 pounds.

Hello? ello? ello? lo?

Is there anyone still out here?  The last post was by me, well over a year ago.  I guess we just drifted off and faded.  But I’m here.  And I’m going to write.  I hope that’s okay.

Not the haircut’s fault

I got my hair cut on a week ago.  It was my quarterly haircut, and I made the appointment in my usual fashion: call various salons an hour before I wanted the appointment and see if anyone had an opening.  I got lucky this time; I only had to call three salons.  Unfortunately, the salon that had the opening was the same salon where I got my last haircut-the haircut that led me to sob uncontrollably on the way home and reminded me again, when I got home, that a guy is not going to understand the pain of a bad haircut and will instead, do what he thinks is right, and say, in a soothing tone, I think your hair looks fine, while trying very hard to glance subtly at Ninja Warrior.
Try not to cry,
my co-workers encouraged me after giving suggestions on what I should do with the frizzy mound on top of my scalp.  A few minutes after assuring my co-workers that I would not cry this time, I sat in the chair at the salon telling Simouen that I hadn’t the faintest clue what I should do with my hair.  I gave her my co-workers’ conflicting suggestions, rambled for about 20 minutes, admitted that I thought my face was fat, and finally smiled and said, Do what you think is best.  You’re the expert.
So she did, and she spun me around in the chair and gushed about how much better my hair looked.  I smiled and thanked her and agreed that yes, it is much better, thank you so much.  I lied to Simouen.
I spent the evening on the couch (unrelated to the haircut) assuming the reason my husband hadn’t commented on my hair (still hasn’t, a week later), which was now much shorter than it had been when he say me 14 hours earlier, was because it was just that awful.  I tried to put the haircut out of my mind, focusing instead on the cold I had that left me lying on the couch moaning I’m dying to anyone who looked at me.
The next morning I carefully washed my hair, carefully applied the mousse in a combing motion, carefully twisted strands of hair around my fingers, then looked in the mirror.
I hated what I saw.  I didn’t cry, but I hated what I saw.  It was crooked and framed my face oddly.  Not much I could do about it, since I had to go to work.  I chalked it up to another in a long string of bad haircuts and went about my morning routine.  Then it hit me:  the chances of all of my hairstylists in the last five years being incompetent and giving me bad cuts is a pretty small one.  Maybe it’s not them.  Maybe the woman with the Eurotrash mullet didn’t actually do the opposite of everything I told her.  Maybe it’s me.
I mulled this over on the drive to work and concluded that if my face were less fat, then maybe I’d be happier with my hair.  I thought about this in a critical way-not a criticizing way, just a critical one and tried to be as objective as possible, and I thought, yes, it is not the haircut’s fault.
I shared my epiphany with some coworkers who found it appalling.  I unsuccessfully tried to explain that I wasn’t actually being self-deprecating, but they shook their heads and looked at me as though I were growing a tail.  Then one of them asked, is it possible to ever be objective when it comes to our bodies?
Obviously the answer is no.  We can’t.  I think it’s nearly impossible to look in the mirror and see what a stranger on the street sees when looking at us, and even harder to look in the mirror and see what a loved one sees.  But I think it is possible to look at ourselves and think:  That part of me is fine.  This part needs a little work.  It’s not as bad as it could be, but I’ve got some work to do.  These are aspects of myself that I can easily live with; those are some areas where I want to improve.
And that is how I made peace with five years of bad haircuts, that maybe weren’t actually bad to begin with.

at my most beautiful

I’m scanning pictures tonight.  My mom pays me to do this, to sort, organize, and scan boxes of photographs from our family’s history.  I’ve seen myself in all sorts of stages and looks.  I’ve always thought of myself as a chubby girl, but looking back, I really wasn’t that bad.  And then-I came across this photo.

me, at 21

me, at 21

I was struck-am still struck, by something lovely in this girl who used to be me.  I don’t know if I can explain it because if I look at this picture objectively, it’s a picture of a girl in pajamas with glasses and bedhead whose left eye is doing something strange and whose arms could benefit from an introduction to handweights.  But there’s something inexplicable about this girl that makes me want to cry for no reason.  Not because looking at this picture from seven years ago makes me nostalgic for freedom and college and possibility.  Just because.
In this picture, it’s Christmas morning, 2001.  I’m in Florida, because that’s where we spend Christmas every now and then.  I think at this point we all knew my grandfather was fading, but I don’t think any of us were acknowledging it yet.  My cousin’s girlfriend kept dropping hints about how she really should become his fiancee soon, and I spent my days readingreadingreading.  My aunt-who was one of my best friends at the time-put red highlights in my hair.  On this Christmas morning, I was 21.  I think I weighed around 115.  My jeans were a size 4 on a normal day, a size 2 on a good day.
And I remember a good day, a good evening, really, when I walked into the bar at TGI Fridays wearing those size 2 jeans and a blue?  grey?  turtleneck, and my friend’s friend told me that I looked great.  I remember smiling, and thanking her, and knowing that what she said was true.  I did look great.  I don’t think it was the size 2 that made that girl, that version of me look great.  I think it was the knowing that made me look great, the knowing that I was fine just the way I was, the not stressing over my weight or even thinking about it really.  I think it was the confidence to smile and accept a compliment without somehow excusing it.  And I think that’s what I miss, that’s what I long for, even more than I long for the size 2 jeans.

Yep, my butt really is that big

I got a new camera on Sunday.  My husband and I went to our local botanical gardens so Mr. Independent could have some water fun, and I could play with my new toy.  Since I’m great at sharing, I let my husband have a turn with the camera.  I clearly need to renew my dedication to losing weight and getting healthy.

with child

My husband and I bought a baby seat for my bike. We did it after several weeks of debate, and many trips to local bike stores. I thought getting a baby seat for my bike would be beneficial for several reasons. I figured that biking to places we’d normally drive, such as Kroger or the playground would make a teeny-tiny dent in my daily rants about gas prices and what is wrong with this world. I thought biking would be a great way to get rid of some of my arm fat, and I also thought biking would, in some small way, model to my Mr. Independent 15 month old that mama takes exercising and living a healthy lifestyle seriously. In my mind, if I started modeling healthy habits now, rather than when Mr. Independent is 8 or 10 or 15 and wants nothing to do with me, they will just be ingrained in him. He won’t know anything other than daily exercise and mostly healthy eating.
So we bought the bike seat and a basket and helmets for me and Mr. Independent. My husband spent several hours installing the seat, after I spent several hours nagging him about installing the seat. Then Mr. Independent and I went out for our first wobbly ride. We stuck to the neighborhood and did a few laps while my husband sat on the porch grading papers and cheering us on. A few days later we did a more extensive (scary) ride, and while biking hasn’t completely become the norm, Mr. Independent and I are getting close. He generally loves going on the bike, and he even brings me his helmet in what I think is an attempt to tell me that he wants to go for a ride, now, Mama!
In all honesty, biking with a toddler is annoying. Or maybe it’s just biking with my toddler that’s annoying. He throws the center of balance off. I get judged from drivers, pedestrians, and bikers who don’t have a toddler attached to their seat. Mr. Independent thinks it’s an awesome idea to lift the back of my shirt up and pretend to tickle me while I’m wobbling and tettering up a hill. Or down a hill. He head butts me with his helmet, leans forward and shoves his helmeted head into my lower back with a surprising amount of force for a 15 month old. And sometimes, he thinks it’s a great thing to stick his hands down the back of my pants. I am in no way making any of this up. But despite all of this, it is rewarding to see the huge smile on his face and hear his tiny voice say “weeeeeeeeeeeeee!” or “daaa-aawg!” as we pedal through our city.
We biked to Kroger and back this afternoon. As I huffed and puffed our way up a hill, listening to Mr. Independent sing his version of the alphabet song (a-douba-g-douba-g-douba-g, in case anyone was wondering) I started to worry: Am I doing the wrong thing by putting him in a bike seat or in the stroller? I started to over analyze. What if, by putting my child in a seat, I’m teaching him passivity rather than modeling exercise for him? What if rather than teaching Mr. Independent the importance of exercise and going green in our own special way, I’m teaching him to sit on his butt and rely on someone or something to get him where he wants to go?
I tried to look at my concern objectively. Mr. Independent is only 15 months old. It’s not like he can have his own bike or run a 5k with me. When I take him to the playground, he plays pretty hard, so that probably counts as exercise. He dances all the time. I guess that counts, too. So then I tried to come up with age appropriate forms of daily exercise. The best I could do was resolving to take a daily walk with him. With him walking. I thought around the block was an appropriate distance for a 15 month old. I thought wrong. After dinner, I put Mr. Independent’s shoes (in his words, doos) on and told him we were going for a walk, only we weren’t going for a walk in the stroller. We were going for a walk, and he was going to walk. I informed him that it is important to exercise because exercise helps us to keep our bodies and minds healthy. Then I told him that the rule for going on a walk was that he had to hold Mama’s hand. That worked well until we got to the bottom of the porch steps. He spent the rest of the walk trying to wrestle himself from my grasp and wander into neighbor’s driveways and yards. I made threats such as, if you don’t hold Mama’s hand, then you will be carried. He called my bluff, and 2/3 of the way around the block, I had a fussing, squirming 22 pound contortionist in my arms, kicking, flailing, and shaking his head no.
I carried Mr. Independent the rest of the way home, let him play in the backyard some, and then tried to take him on a walk again. We got about 3 houses away before he bit me for holding his hand.
Exercising with a kid is tough. Showing a kid the importance of exercise is even tougher. I will make this work.

Quickfire Challenge Results

Last month I posted asking for snack ideas that were ideally baby friendly and able to be eaten without the use of utensils.  I’ve tried some of the suggestions and have had some success.

Snack #1:  Popcorn
A few of you suggested popcorn, so I’ve been making popcorn from scratch, on the stove.  It’s kind of a lot of work, but about six months ago I started to be really grossed out by the idea of microwave popcorn, and once I started to be grossed out, I started to think that it tasted funny when it had tasted perfectly fine before.  So here I am, working my arm muscles, slaving over popcorn on the stove.  I put about 3 tablespoons of canola, peanut, or olive oil in a stock pot that’s now become solely the popcorn pot, and heat it.  Once the oil is hot enough, I add 3/4-1 cup of corn kernels, cover the pot and shake it.  After the popcorn has popped, I sprinkle it with salt or whatever else.  I’ve done salt and pepper, as well as cinnamon sugar.  This recipe yields anywhere from 10 to 20 cups of popcorn, and a cup, plain, is about 1 point.
For a twist on traditional popcorn, I tried Maple-Chile Popcorn.  I made this recipe several times in order to work out the kinks.  I’m still working out the kinks.  The first time I made it, it was awesome, then obscenely spicy, then awesome again.  The next time, I tried it without the red pepper.  My husband and I devoured it almost immediately.  My kid’s too young for popcorn, so his opinion isn’t represented.  If I remember correctly, a 1/2 cup serving is 3 points

Snack #2:  Apples mixed with peanut butter and honey
Apple suggested this snack.  Oh, yum, is all I can say.  I am drooling right now just thinking about it.  Oh, yum.  I ate this snack as breakfast one morning after my bike ride to class.  I cut up a Granny Smith apple, threw some lemon juice on it so it wouldn’t turn brown, and put it in a gladware.  I took a smaller gladware and mixed the honey and peanut butter together.  The snack was too sweet for me to eat the entire thing in one sitting, but it was a great way to boost my energy throughout the morning.  I’m not sure what the best raito of peanut butter to honey is.  I’m still working that.  My thought is 2:1, peanut butter:honey.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I know, not much for a month’s worth of time!