Sunday, August 31, 2008
What finally turned me around was the Biggest Loser Challenge our neighborhood sponsors. The challenge is free and offers, at no additional cost, nutritional counseling and fitness assessments. All you have to do is get weighed and stick to the plan.
My enlarged ass can no longer sit and do nothing. I need to do something, to find a motivation to lay off the chips and go hard at the gym. I want to fill my void with fitness and carrots instead of Fritos and television.
And just the overachiever I am, my first goal is to complete the back-t0-back 5Ks I have at the end of September. I can barely run a mile so 6 of them in one weekend will seem a bit fierce. But I need fierce to get my ass a movin...
Stick around, cheer me on, and PLEASE tell me to put down that bag of chips.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
This Stepmoms Unite blog post from the writter of The Chelle Box made me think about my blended life and my blog. The blog post reminded me that most moms, be they the biological, step-, foster-, adopted, etc. variety are wonderful women that should be applauded and not torn down.
My stepkids' mom is a wonderful woman. We don't always see eye-to-eye, but there's a lot of respect between us. We get along really well which surprises some people I think.
When the parental tripod that is the kids' mom, their dad and I are out, I sometimes wonder if people are wondering who's with who. She and I tend to sit together and gab, planning the logistics of the next few weeks with the kids. We sometimes look more like sisters than stepmom and biological mom.
I feel a sense of satisfaction and maturity that she and I can look past our differences and co-parent together. My heart warms when she mentions to me that we couldn't do all of the stuff we do with the kids without the three of us involved.
Hats off to The Chelle Box for reminding all mothers out there that blended family life isn't always Cinderella revisted.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sometimes I have a profound love for the big city near which I call home, particularly in 2008:
The White Sox.
God Bless Sweet Home Chicago
>> Should I highlight my hair a sunny blonde? This would be a no. In fact, just a few days ago I lopped off 2 inches and had it dyed a dark auburn. I'm totally SMILF hot now.
>> Should I get hair extensions? I think the "lopped 2 inches off" answered that question.
>> Should I get a spray tan? Not only did I not get a spray tan this year, I barely got any color at all. My freckles barely even touched each other this summer which is fine by me. The pale skin makes my pole bruises stand out more.
>> Toe Ring or No Ring? I looked but didn't find a toe ring for under $10 I liked. Maybe next summer.
>> Make me over? Nada...again. I've watched several episodes of What Not to Wear that have offered advice on how to make up my hazel/green eyes with amethyst shadow but that's about it.
Either I haven't been as vapid as I thought I could be this year or my priorities have changed. Oh well. At least I found a great new lip gloss.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Burts Bees Super Shiny Lip Gloss
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Pole Dance Bruises continue; however, this time I bring you the pole dance bruise diagram.
Anyone who has taken part in a pole dancing class knows the bruises your body endures; however, this details it with a sense of humor.
Special Thanks to Kristin at Tease Workout for telling me that this Pole Dance Bruise Diagram exists...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I love the wow's. While I'm sure my parents never planned on having a pole-dance-class-taking daughter, they all certainly wanted me to be confident. And trust me, it takes confidence to wear a cute tank top with tiniest shorts you own and move your body like your sex life depends on it.
It takes even more confidence to do this random act of sexuality in front of people...Lots of people. Which is why I'm excited to announce yours truly has signed up to take part in a pole-a-thon on September 20 which will benefit the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.
I'm on the lookout for sponsors so stay tuned if you're interested in donating money to a good cause (and no, I'm not the good cause). Still don't believe me? Check out the blog for the studio I dance at (full disclosure: I also write for the blog).
No pardon me, I have to find my stripper heels.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The Disengaging Step-mom: Should You Do It? on Associated Content describes it as the
a movement for stepmoms to take a step back from the biological family and, to paraphrase, let them clean up their own figurative and literal messes. A disengaged stepmom's first priority is herself, not the it's-a-dad-night cupcakes needing to be baked for school tomorrow.
I have to admit the concept does sound appealing on some level. I've lost count of the number of times I've made a suggestion to one of my stepkids which has, in turn, evolved into a fight about what Stepmom told the kids they had to do. Even more frustrating to me are the commitments the biological parents make when they sign the kids up for this or that extra-curricular activity yet they can't always get the kids to the events. As the value-added stepparent, the expectation is that I will swoop in and take care of the scheduling oopsie-daisies. This doesn't normally present a problem except when it interferes with plans I've already set in motion.
There are times when I'd like to just step back, throw up my hands and say 'You deal with it.' Apparently if I did that, I would start turning into a disengaged stepmom.
To be truly disengaged, according to the essay on the Stepfamily Sanctuary blog, I would have to remember "[My stepkids] are not [my] children," "[I am] not responsible for overcoming their previous 'raising,'" "[I am] not obligated to become an abused member of the household just because [I] married their dad," and "[I am] not responsible for raising [my stepkids]." And this was just the highlight reel.
Everything I read about disengaging yourself prefaces the conversation with "it seems a bit harsh."
Well, yeah, it does.
I get just as irritated as the next stepmom, but I don't think I could just up and not feel responsible for my stepkids or their upbringing. At our wedding, part of my vows included a phrase that there would be ups and downs but that we'd get through them...together. There wasn't a clause stipulating that I'd bow out when I started feeling disrespected.
I'm on the fence about disengaged stepparenting, but I'm curious, what do you think?
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
My sister is no schlump either. After overcoming near death when she was 2-days old, she's kicked ass and taken names ever since. In her almost 15 years (they're twins for those doing the math at home), she's worked her way up to a brown belt in karate (she has to be 18 to try for her black belt), she's a state-ranked flutist and competes in these elite orchestra competitions all across the fine state of Illinois. She's also the most compassionate and friendly 15-year-old you'll ever meet.
And while I'm not state ranked in anything, I have become a bit of an SEO goddess and digital guru at work and in my personal projects. I've got a number of journalism awards under my belt, am the vice president of a local chapter of business editors and as my mom and stepdad like to say, "the best damn stepmother on the planet."
Based on my achievement DNA, it's no surprise I'm attracted to my husband. While he was eyeball deep in personal drama when we met, he rose into star form a couple of years ago. He's a renowned technical evangelist, an author and the king code monkey. Between his schedule and mine, it's sometimes a wonder we see each other at all.
Now when you have a set of geeky, hyper-achievement-oriented parents, what do you think that does to you as a kid? While some kids might regress and become a lump on a log, my stepkids have taken a cue from dear old dad: my oldest is in the honors program, my youngest skipped a grade last year.
Now, I've not just run down my own personal "hallelujah, I'm great" list to see how great I think I am. On the contrary. I worry that being surrounded by people who are constantly trying to grab the brass, gold, and platinum rings will bring on success fatigue.
I know personally, I get a little sad when I think about how I've spent my hours at a computer or at an event and not hanging out with my stepkids. I start to question why I do it. I also get weary from all of the chasing. My weariness turns to depression and then no amount of goddessness or guru-like activity can be done.
But somehow, I bounce back and I take on more projects. Because it's what I do. I am an overachiever.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Even before my Stepmom Life, I had a few issues I always thought needed resolving. Most of them had to do with feeling loved, needing to feel loved and why everyone seemed so damn concerned with my fluctuating weight.
Entering into my blended life brought on even more internal drama. Add a miscarriage and infertility into the mix and it's a wonder I don't have a counselor on speed-dial.
It's true, I don't have a counselor at my beck and call; I don't even have a counselor (or therapist, psychologist, etc.). It's something I keep meaning to look into but always put on the backburner.
There are a lot of things I know about myself: eye color, natural hair color, tendency to use too many adverbs, etc. I also know my mind can be a prison if left to my own devices.
I've been extremely lucky to have friends and a mom that have talked me off the figurative ledge. Each of these people have recommended I see someone, even it's just once every few months. I always, graciously, agree and set out to find someone only to hesitate when it comes time to dial the phone.
I have a journal, a blog, and a punching bag downstairs. The frugal side of me feels like I can save money by solving my problems using one of these three outlets.
Lately I've found myself being very angry -- at my husband, my stepkids, traffic -- for reasons which I've self-diagnosed as relating to the events of this past year. Stepmotherhood, particularly in the wake of infertility, can be an upward battle. It can consume you if you let it; and I think I've been consumed.
I think, after a year of dealing with this, it's time to defer to the experts. I've tried depending on my husband and circle of friends, but none of them have dealt with the stepparent-miscarriage-infertility trifecta so their words of wisdom are somewhat limited.
It's time to take the first step toward healing my beat-up psyche. Is there anyone out there that has had a therapist or a counselor? Any words of wisdom on how to find and how to know if it's a good fit?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Thanks to the fine folks at Croft and Barrow and Kohl's I have in my possession this tan tote that has so far stood up to:
> a Football game pounding
> 3 books, one laptop and a pile 'o can't-live-without-it-crap
> a throwing from one floor of our house to the other
> many trips to the store and/or food vendors
The little extra accessories have renendered me even more organized which, in turn, makes me even calmer.
When I started this blog last year, I did it to try out new things: new digital media ideas, gadgets, etc. I also wanted to try and humanize stepmothers, who often get characterized as mean or evil.
I didn't set out to make friends or influence people, but wound up finding Stepmom Sisters and a group of great women who have great advice.
Izzy Rose (http://www.stepmothersmilk.com/) is one of those wonderful people who I've befriended along the way.
That being said, I'm totally honored to be profiled as the Stepmothers Milk August 08 Stepmother Spotlight.
Now where's make-up and hair again?
Monday, August 18, 2008
I put together a Facebook page, a Blog and a Twitter stream for the Naperville Pole Dance studio I go to. The studio is branching out and I'm just creative -- and dangerous enough with social media -- to help.
Even more exciting is the creation of Stepchicks, an online community for stepmothers. Stepmother's Milk's Izzy Rose and I came up with the idea during my recent trip to Austin. The community is still in the infancy stages, but it will grow into something huge and successful and we can all say we were a part of it from the beginning.
What are you waiting for? Join already!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I think I had more rules governing my life than most of the kids around me.
As I've grown up, those rules have helped me maintain personal boundaries and a well organized life: always do your chores right after homework, don't go to extracurriculars if you didn't go to school (or work), always keep bills stacked in the same place (if you're not going to file them), etc.
I've grown so accustomed to rules that I feel agitated if others around me don't do the same thing. It's almost a grown-up version of "I had/have to do it so why don't they?"
I think one of the hardest parts of being a Stepmother has had to do with accepting other people's parenting "rules." Not only do you have to accept it, but you have to be party to carrying it out.
In my own blended family, I'm sometimes guilty of throwing in a private "If this were our child..." to my husband. When I don't agree with the rules, I'm reminded of the fact that I won't ever have my own child to raise.
I'm never really sure what to do with my emotions when I'm in this kind of situation. I've been accused of being an overly involved stepparent, which I attribute to not having my own child. I feel compelled to parent the kids in my life like I would my own child, which is when I get into trouble.
When presented with a scenario that I don't agree with, I'm never sure whose morals, ethics and rules I should stand by: mine, my husband's, or the family unit that was in place before me and my rules ever showed up.
In your own life whose do you chose to stand by?
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I've been on a 5-month hiatus from my pole dancing classes, but I start again on Sunday. In those five months, I'm afraid the firm grasp and stronger core I once had may have weakened. This might seem to some as not a big deal, but when you're 10 feet off the ground with only your clinched thighs and arms keeping you from plummeting, you suddenly remember why Pilates doesn't suck so much.
I don't think I've ever felt sexier in my life than when I started those classes last year. I'd just had my miscarriage and desperately needed a pick-me-up (or pull-me-up if know anything about pole dancing).
I'm looking forward to the high that I got every time I successfully pulled off a pole trick. I've even committed to strength training classes to strengthen my core muscles so I can -- finally -- do a pole inversion.
So what, exactly, does pole dance class training involve? Lots of ab and arm work and a freaking awesome soundtrack.
I will usually do 20 minutes of arm work, 15 minutes of lower back work and another 15 minutes of ab work. I do all of this while listening to the likes of Tila Tequila, Marilyn Manson and Christina "dirrrty girl" Aguilera.
I come home every evening with sore muscles but that's nothing compared to the awesome pipes I'm going to be sporting come next spring.
Bring on the pole chicas!
Friday, August 15, 2008
I would imagine a group like this, if it existed, would have clean, organized, well-coordinated meetings (all set up by iPhone of course), that employed all kinds of social media to connect with potential attendees.
If that group existed, I'd be there.
Tonight my blended family will have a family meeting. Both my husband and I have stumbled upon good fortune in our professions -- my husband just signed a contract to write a book and I am working on several new projects with some wonderful women in my life.
Our good fortune has afforded us an opportunity to ask something I never imagined I'd ask: Should we hire help?
My husband has been spending the better part of his non-consulting hours writing while I've been doing a lot of social media web work. I'm also a cleaning and organizing freak which means that if I spend my non-working hours keeping the house out of shambles then I'd never have time to sustain a healthy marriage.
Our good fortune has afforded us an opportunity to ask something I never imagined I'd ask: Should we hire help?
After reviewing our finances, my husband and I concluded we could should bring someone in once a month to help out with the deep cleaning that I haven't had time to get around to. We're also hiring someone to take care of our other major time suck: the lawn and garden.
This decision was not made lightly and comes with a couple of caveats, which is where tonight's meeting comes in:
- While dad is writing his book, everyone must pitch in around the house. It's not going to be all Stepmom all the time.
- Everyone will have increased chores and won't be paid allowance unless all chores are done.
- Everyone will step it up a notch with picking up after themselves and others.
- Everyone will learn a new "chore" that will ultimately help them as they grow up. For my stepdaughter it's how to use the dishwasher and washer/dryer, for my stepson, it's recycling and kitty cat maintenance.
- Stepmom will stop using the line "I AM NOT THE MAID!" every time she gets frustrated with the clutter around the house.
The idea to host this meeting was my idea. I was resistant to hiring someone in the first place. I didn't want the kids to see it as a Stepmom Fail or as a passport to Lazytown.
As the really organized, detail-oriented Stepmom, I'm in an odd position to host this meeting. Biologically, these aren't my children and until 5 years ago, they hadn't been subjected to this kind of housework. But if there's anything I loathe more than laziness, it's families that don't hold their children responsible for contributing to a clean house.
By marrying into this family, we've all subjected ourselves to a cleaner, organized life. Some will go willingly, some will kick, others will bail. It's all a matter of who does what.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It was a good twist, too. One that knocked me down to the ground and had me limping for a good 10 minutes. Now that I'm back to my desk and have taken my sock off... well, let's just say I don't think my skin was that shade of purple when I put the sock on.
Tonight's biking and/or walking workout has been postponed. Strength training will be held in its place.
Monday, August 11, 2008
My stepmom life appears to be imitating the movie Stepmom today.
For most of the summer, my stepdaughter has talked about doing a slumber party for her August birthday. At 12, she's outgrown the bowling alley and Libby Lu.
We've talked all summer long about having a slumber party at our house. I've mentioned to her on numerous occasions that she should check with her mom first before we plan it. I also mentioned it to my husband, too, so he could say something to her and she wouldn't think I was trying to be too involved.
The party was going to be a mini-spa themed ordeal complete with manis, pedis, facials and hot rocks.
This past week when conversations turned to which house the kids would be at which weekends, I mentioned the conversations my stepdaughter and I have had. I was careful to add that I didn't to step on any toes and that it's something my stepdaughter and I had talked about all summer.
And then, today, picking up my stepkids from camp I see my stepdaughter has a stack of party invitations. "Those are for my slumber party" she tells me. "It's at my mom's in September and it's totally green, spa-themed."
If you've ever seen the movie Stepmom, you'll recognize the similarity. The Stepmom (Julia Roberts) asks to take the stepdaughter to a concert and the Mom (Susan Sarandon) shoots down the idea only to do the exact same thing on the exact same night -- looking like the hero.
Obviously her mom has every right to host the party. In fact, it's probably expected in most normal blended families. But I feel like I, and the idea I've spent the whole summer collaborating with my stepdaughter about, has been completely forgotten, thrown by the wayside and recreated as a new idea by someone else.
I'm feeling mad and annoyed and right now and I'm not sure how to react internally.
Until I figure it out, I must go use my $50 Target Anniversary Gift Card...
Photo from www.imdb.com
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Every once in a while I'd see the post-mortem of the posed shot. Every time I caught my image on the screen I wanted to throw up in my mouth. I swear to hell and back that I looked a lot hotter and tighter when we left the hotel room but to see me in the pictures I look like I ate my cute, hot self.
How in the hell did I get so fat?
I know how I got so fat...Too many trips to the pantry or the salad bar; way too many rolls from the bread basket and wwwwaaaaaayyyyy to many helpings of potatoes (fried, mashed, roasted you name it; I've never met a potato I didn't like).
I've been trying to make healthier food choices lately: I've swapped chicken dinners for fish; consuming salads instead of chips and salsa; hummus instead of cheese dip. I feel like I should look like Riki Lake by now but I don't.
Paranoia has also turned me into an angry, green monster. My husband has never commented about my weight and has been 100% encouraging about my efforts to lose weight; however, when we're out at a club as we were last night, I can't help but be pissed at myself that I don't look like the cute girls in the club. My husband is married to a fatty and I sometimes worry that he's ashamed of me (is it wrong to want to be groped incessantly by my husband when we're out in public?)
I seriously need to get my ass into the gym. I know one of the big reasons I look like Erin the Whale is I don't exercise nearly as much as I need to. Hell, one of the reasons I'm on standby right now is so I can get home and take a walk (nevermind the fact that I'm at an airport with 2 hours to spare until my potential standby flight and miles of slick airport terminal space to walk).
Next week I start back to pole dancing which should help reignite that sexy sway I used to have in my step. My dire need to do a pole inversion is also going to serve as a means to turn my core into a rock-solid 6-pack (actually, I'd settle for a 2-pack). I want to do a few races this fall so I need to get my body back in 5K shape.
All of this public self-loathing/motivational tacticing would be fine if it weren't for the fact that at home, I have a stepdaughter with the complete opposite problem. She's rail thin, small for her age and totally adorable, yet at nearly 12 she smuggles mom's Jenny Craig bars into her lunch, won't touch a french fry (or walk into a restaurant where they're served); and will only drink water unless she's given a vanilla skim latte from Starbucks (for the record, I'm not buying the Starbucks).
My stepdaughter and I are complete opposite ends of the spectrum yet we have the same problem: body image
She doesn't want to get fat and I don't want to be fat anymore. As a stepmom, I have to be careful where and how I tread on this touchy topic. I don't want to work out too much or cut out too many of my calories in front of my stepdaughter for fear that she may replicate that very same behavior which would not only make her dad unhappy but her mom as well.
Somehow, worrying about whether my stepdaughter would like me five years ago seems less daunting than this...
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I'm nursing a hangover thanks to the huckleberry margaritas I sucked down last night (3 'ritas really shouldn't have had this effect should it?)
I'm down in Austin for an anniversary present/stepmom blogger meet up. This evening is the big reveal where I get to meet other stepmom bloggers in person (think a mini-BlogHer for stepmoms). Right now the only blogger I know of is IzzyRose of Stepmothers Milk (http://stepmothersmilk.com) fame.
I'll try to remember to take pictures tonight and will post them as soon as I can.
Now....back to bed
Friday, August 8, 2008
It's my blog. I can change my mind.
The title of this post sums up how I've been feeling lately -- not just with my health but in nearly all areas of my life.
Emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes phsyically, I feel like the equivalent of a stalled car.
My test results have come back from my primary care and obgyn doctors. Nothing is showing up as abnormal. For most people, this would be great news; for me, it just means that whatever is wrong with me is deeper than a battery of blood tests.
And there is something wrong. I've followed dietetian's recommendations and eat 1500-1600 calories a day; I eat very little processed foods and try to eat a well-balanced diet of proteins, fats and carbs. I work out 5-6 days a week, walking, biking, dancing, doing martial arts and pole dancing. I've taken a medicine for my pre-diabetic blood sugar. After 1 month of a medicine that's supposed to help the normal person drop 10 pounds in a month, I'm still wrestling with the same 3 pounds that go up and then down on the scale.
Readers have commented or emailed me with diet ideas. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the advice -- the problem I (and my doctor) have found is that nothing is working.
At the moment, I'm venturing down two roads: trying to find an endocrinologist and meeting with a bariatric surgeon. Either way, something will change or else my health may be the death of me.
The stress of not being able to get healthy (I don't even look at it as losing weight any longer; it's more about making my body healthy) is taking its toll. I'm irritable and depressed and wish the motor that is my metabolism, hormones, or whatever is defunct, would move for the love of god.
On the career front, I feel as equally stalled as I do with my body.
To know me well is to know that I am an ass-kicker who goes big or goes home. I'm an over-achiever and I don't do well what feels like my own mediocrity. I aspire to big things and feel deflated and starved if I don't achieve them.
Intelligently, I know I've got many great accomplishments under my belt in my 36 years. I can't help but want more and I feel like I've failed myself because I haven't achieved these things yet.
My family. Lord save them all from me and my no-longer-on-an-anti-depressant irritability. I keep on a cheerful demeanor for most of my loved ones; but my poor husband and my mother have been on the receiving end of most of my vents. I'd probably be sleeping under a bridge in the southside of Chicago if it wasn't for them. I've started to question how much more frustration-infused contemplation I can throw their way. I suppose that's why I've retuned to write this blog post.
My dear readers, I need help.
How do I find contentment? How do I quiet the voices in my head that tell me I have failed myself for not being better than I am right now?
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I've offered my husband exclusivity when it comes to reporting about things that go on in the marriage which is to say unless something major happens or is celebrated, don't look to this blog to read the latest goings' on our lives. My life is one thing; Mr. E is off limits (save for the times I feel like bragging about him).
I've taken a vow of silence about my own marriage but that's not stopping me from dispensing other people's marital advice.
I just stumbled up on The Simple Marriage Project blog (http://www.simplemarriage.net/)through the Zen Habits blog (http://zenhabits.net). I haven't read the entirety of The Simple Marriage Project blog, but I'm going to subscribe to it. In the few posts I've read, I like what I've seen. If you're married, getting married or in a long term relationship, check it out.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I started reading Such a Pretty Fat on vacation and dug her writing style so much that I went and picked up two of her other titles: Bitter is the New Black and Bright Lights, Big Ass. She's hilarious and bawdy and best of all -- unapologetic.
She also blogs and is from Chicago so I actually know some of the places she's referring to (a big plus).
Ladies, gentleman, if you're looking for a good read, check her out.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Sometimes I don't thank you enough for what you've taught me in the past 32 years. Seeing this book about raising Geeky Kids made me think of all I had to thank you for:
> Thank you for raising me to think independently.
> Thank you for engraining in me the need to walk to the beat of my own drum and to stand up for what I believed in.
> Thank you for marrying my stepfather, who in turn, taught me how to be a good stepparent
> Thanks for meeting my dad, for whom I wouldn't exist without
> Thanks for making all of my birthdays special even if you, Katy and I are the only ones who believe you should be a princess on your birthday
> Thank you for Katy and Andy, whom I resisted at first, but couldn't imagine life without now.
> Thank you for being there last year when I had my miscarriage and driving to the house as soon as you got the call
> Thank you for all of the trips to IKEA and Target where you've put my things on your tab
> Thank you for being my matron of honor three years ago and for being my best friend
> Thanks for paying for college when most of my friends' parents didn't contribute a dime
> Thanks for raising me in a stable home and setting boundries
> Thanks for teaching me hospital corners and proper ironing techniques
> Thank you for letting go when I went to journalism camp, college, Italy, Australia and Romeoville. I know it was hard, but it was necessary.
Thanks for being you.