Friday, March 22, 2013

Miss Hope's Lessons in Marriage

There are a few things I've learned about being married and being in a marriage over the years. I have to admit, some lessons were hard and others not so much. Keep in mind, these are my own personal revelations and don't have to be yours.

MYTH #1:

Don't go to bed mad/angry/upset.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Really? Why not? If I go to bed mad/angry/upset, that is giving my temper a chance to cool down before I say something I can't take back. The Man and I always end up talking it through after the cool down period and pretty much end up apologizing and expressing our separate viewpoints better to the other. Do we always end up agreeing? Heck no. We just come to a compromise or agree to disagree. I have an awful short term explosive temper. I will run off at the mouth for a few minutes, then I'm fine. I get past stuff pretty fast. Cooling down is a good thing for me.

MYTH #2:

Sleep separately until the anger is gone. Couches are optional or guest bedrooms.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

I think not. My bed is awesome. I have 1200 thread count sheets, memory foam, and an electric blanket. You're crazy if I'm going to go sleep somewhere else. I told my husband at the beginning of our marriage that I would never chase him out of his bed. That's his side and I have my side. We can coexist to sleep and not say a word. And we have done this successfully. Don't let anyone chase you out of your bed. Especially if you have an awesome bed.

MYTH #3:

Money is the cause of many marriages failing. (Okay, this may be true in many situations.)

Miss Hope's Lesson:

You're going to disagree about money. It will make you crazy when there's not enough or you don't know exactly how you want to budget to make it work the best. Guess what? You have what you have. Work with it. The Man and I make priority lists all the time. We have to go back and re-do the list because something comes along you weren't expecting. That's life. You're not always going to get what you want or do what you want to do. Work with it. Work with what you have. Forget about what you don't. Pay your tithes (we're pretty big on this), take care of your family, and pay your bills.

MYTH #4:

High end appliances are worth it.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

They are. We just had to replace our washer and dryer (unexpected and a cause to revamp our priority list). I did the shopping around online because we agreed that I would pick out what I use the most. I found what I wanted but those bad boys were the top of the line. I would get giddy over those machines and what I knew they were capable of doing for my clothes and to make my life easier. We went to the store and saw them in person. I fell deeper in love. We decided to get those particular machines and you know the guilt set in and I immediately started talking myself out of those luxurious pieces of machinery. The Man stood firm in that it was an investment that I would utilize to the fullest. I finally gave in. Let me tell you, high end appliances are worth it if you can swing it. The Priority List hates me, but my clothes love me. Oh, and really try to let your husband learn how to use those machines. I'm very protective of my BMW washer and dryer. The Boy can operate them as he and I do the laundry (yes, my son does better than his sisters when it comes to cleaning clothes). I was gone one day running errands and told my son to wash a load. When I called home, my husband informed me HE put the load in the washer. Mild panic set in until he told me The Boy showed him what to do. Whew.

MYTH #5:

Children come first and foremost.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Children are important. My three are my heartbeat and I can't imagine a life without them. Children are going to grow up and hopefully leave one day. The spouse won't.  Keep your spouse in your eyesight. That means treat them well. Flirt with them. Flirt in front of the children (clean flirting, people). Show them a strong united front and that you love each other and respect each other. How you and your spouse act is what your children will look for one day. I want my girls to find a good strong man who has a good work ethic and will treat them with love, kindness, and respect. I want my son to find a good strong woman who will hug him, and treat him with love, kindness, and respect.
The Man and I may not always agree on discipline, but we don't demean, belittle, or overstep their authority when one is correcting a child. One of us has corrected a child and later the other will, in private, talk about how maybe that wasn't the right way. Date nights are important. So very important. The Man and I have a date night once a week. We go out with friends for supper and some socializing. It helps us reconnect as a couple so we're not one of those couples you see in a restaurant after the kids are grown just sitting there with nothing to say. We talk about so many different subjects. We turn the radio up when going out to eat and sing and car dance together. Have fun with your children. Have fun as a family. Don't forget to have fun with your spouse.

MYTH #6:

Tolerate your in-laws.

Miss Hope's Lessons:

Do your best to love your in-laws. This is your husband's first family. This is your children's family. This is your family. I'm very very blessed in that I truly love my in-laws. You don't always have to agree with their views. Guess what? They don't have to agree with yours either. Call your mother in law on occasion. Keep her up on what's going on with her son. Over the years, I've called my mother in law and complained about her son. Yes! I went there! Best part? She is so sympathetic because she lives with his father....who acts the same way or does the same things. Yes! Someone who gets it! Your spouse is the best and worse of two individuals...just like your own kids. Seek out the best and know that comes from two people who are your MOTHER and FATHER in law. I'm so sorry for those of you who can't get along with your in-laws. It's a sad situation (I've been there) and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.


No need to use manners after you say "I do."

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Bull. There's even more need to use manners. I am not of the generation that my mother come from where you wait hand and foot on your husband. Growing up, I would just get so mad over how my mother would wait on my father. Fix his plate, fix his drink, fetch this, and fetch that. Boy, have I eaten some humble pie in the past couple years. Since my mother has developed health problems, my Daddy has waited on her hand and foot. He has become the most amazing caregiver and I see the love he has for my mother.This has proven to me that what I saw growing up wasn't servitude. It was my mother's way of showing love for my father as he is doing now for her. I fix my husband's plate most of the time. I'm fixing the kid's and I just keep going. I don't mind. I want to do things for my husband. He fixes me coffee when I ask him to in the evenings. We serve each other and every single time, we say "Thank you." or "I appreciate that." Use simple sweet manners. I promise it will be a good example for your children and your spouse will feel appreciated.

MYTH #8:

One person must always be in control of the t.v. remote.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Well that's a big fat false. My husband loves sports. With a complete passion. He has given up watching many games because Miss Hope hates football with an all burning passion. I can tolerate some baseball and adore the Olympics. My husband loves him some NASCAR. Bless him. On race day, he has the remote for sure. I don't watch the races as they bore me to tears. I love ghost shows. He tolerates the ghost shows and I tolerate the races. There are many we like in common and if there's a really good game going on? I understand him watching it on the laptop with headphones over one ear, while watching updates on said game on his phone, and watching a show with me. All at the same time. Share the remote. Watch family shows with your kids. Our children do not have televisions in their bedrooms. We feel that spending time together watching television is more important than them all going separate ways after supper. That's our personal belief. One gaming system located in the living room keeps play time on that bad boy to a decent level.

Marriage isn't always easy. But, it's so worth it. I like my husband. He is my friend. My very best goodest friend. I trust him with my life, my children, my heart, and my washing machine and dryer. I look so forward to growing old with this man.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Miss Hope Update

I've had a few ask what's been going on with me personally. I suppose I can give you an update on how life after gastric bypass is treating me.

As of today, I've lost 157 pounds. Yes, you read that right. That number conflicts me on the inside greatly. While I'm so thrilled to have lost that number, I'm saddened and embarrassed that I HAD to lose that number. Thing is? I still need to lose around 20 more pounds to fit in with the medical community's definition of "normal". If I don't lose that last 20, then I'm going to be satisfied. (reason #3 I'm in therapy)

I go through spurts where I'm loyal to the gym. I'll go my required three times a week and do my level best. Then something will happen, like surgery, and I get a little lax and it takes a bit to get back into the groove. I have low blood pressure now. I can't win with that pressure. Before surgery, I was an inch away from being put on blood pressure meds. Now, I almost black out every time I stand up or bend over and straighten up. It's really irritating to be honest. When I was taken back for surgery and they were doing my vitals, the nurse make this low sound of appreciation and said, "You have the blood pressure of a runner!" To which I snorted and replied, "Please. The only running I do is a brisk walk for a good sale." I admit I walk like a fiend on the dreadmill at the gym in my pathetic attempt to condition myself for the Zombie Apocalypse, but it's not an every day all day occurrence.

About the surgery. I was allowed to keep my gall bladder when the bypass was performed. It was in good shape and my surgeon wasn't one to take out something that was working. Alas, a side effect of rapid weight loss is the destruction of the gall bladder. I started having pains under my sternum radiating under my right rib cage after eating certain foods like beef stew, meatballs, or steak. (beef- it was my enemy). After the second attack and a trip to the surgeon's office, he deemed it necessary to remove it. Gah. I put it off yet again and he smirked and told me if it was my gall bladder, and he was pretty positive it was, then the "attacks" would become more frequent and I would end up begging to have it out. Also, he wanted to remove it before it was seriously diseased. If it got in too bad of shape, then laproscopic surgery wouldn't be an option and I would have to be cut open. Well crap. I kept his advice in the back of my mind and went about my business.

In November I went for my well woman checkup. I have given birth three times and STILL hate that visit with a passion of great proportions. Another side effect of GB (gastric bypass) is screwy messed up monthly cycles. I was no exception to that rule. I dealt with horrible cycles that just about incapacitated me for a week at a time. I asked my OB/GYN what could we do. After a moment, she decided to do a biopsy on my uterus (mother trucker, that mess hurt! After she was done, I said...did you get a good sample? She replied yes. I then said...good, because that is the ONLY shot you will ever get to do that!). If the biopsy was fine, then we could do a uterine ablation procedure called Novasure. She gave me the option of a hysterectomy, but I declined as I didn't want the recovery period of that serious procedure. I waited for a week to see what was going down in the uterus. I went in for a follow up and all was fine. That meant we could go ahead with the ablation. Out of curiosity, I asked if she would be willing to go in with my surgeon and do a two-for-one. Ablation and gall bladder removal. She shrugged and said sure. Have his office call her office. Sweet!

I saw the bariatric surgeon and asked if he would willing to do this gall bladder deal and let my OB/GYN do her thing. He shrugged and said sure. His office said they would work out the details. I left thinking it would March or April before their schedules could work it out. Wrong. I got a call within two days saying that February 1 worked for them. Uh...ok. That was less than two weeks away. I agreed and when I got off of the phone, I realized that was the night of my daughter's birthday party. Crap. Mama went into combat mode then and I had that party all settled and ready to go no matter if I was home that evening or if it was decided to keep me over night.

I can't lie. I hate surgery. Hate the thought of it. And here I was going willingly into the operating room to have TWO procedures done. The morning of surgery, I had two NSV's (non-scale victories). First, the hospital gown was a regular one and it was huge! No big girl gown for me! Second, my husband was sitting there with me waiting for go time and I made the comment that I had room on either side of me in the bed. No overspill! The nurse laughed and said that I used the big girl bed last time for bariatric surgery and this was a standard bed. Say what?

My arrogant ass doctor (yes, I said that word and I meant it) was 40 minutes late. My OB doc was fit to be tied and ill as she could be. I can't blame her. He finally strolled in like he had all the time in the world. Next thing I know, these two nurses came in and started whipping up rails, started to roll, and talking 90 miles an hour. Hold up!!! I stopped them and told better put the happy juice going in the I.V. because if you don't? I'm going to panic and make a run for it. She shot back that she needed me alert to get on the gurney in the O.R. I shot right back...I was out of it when I had bariatric surgery and you managed just fine. Knock. Me. Out. She did.

I woke up with my husband sitting there and hurting like nobody's bizness. Once I managed to potty, they let me go home. Laugh if you must, but I had that man stop at Mickey D's enroute home to get me a coffee. I dozed most of the short trip, but that coffee was mine when I was alert enough to drink it.

It was a tough week. I hurt. Badly. Liquid pain killer (liquid works better for GB patients post-op), pajamas, and coffee were my best friends for a solid week. By week 3, I was feeling pretty decent. Except for a sharp pain in my right side. I found out at my post-op visit that the surgeon had to put an extra stitch internally in that incision as I was bleeding and it would dissolve on it's own in about three months. Good to know. The gall bladder was ok looking, but it was going to need to come out. Here's the kicker. When you lose a massive amount of weight, your internal organs have a much bigger area to move around. I had a space in my bowels (he took a look around while inside to make sure all was well) that was heading towards being a kink with an internal hernia. He fixed it and feels like that, in conjunction with the gall bladder, were the roots of my evil. I got to say I think he's right because I'm now able to eat beef with no problem and haven't had any pain like before when I would eat. I have to add here how I love how God works. I was second guessing my decision to have surgery the first of the week. I ended up having the worst cycle in history the week before the ablation AND two gall bladder attacks with hours of pain. I was so ready for that Friday morning to get here. God has to slap me around some times to get a point across. I respect that. I'm stubborn.

FYI for the womenfolk. I have not had a cycle since the procedure. Granted, I would have only had one but it wasn't there! I pray that the procedure works for me and I don't have to worry about that mess again. I'm also hoping that not having heavy cycles will improve my iron levels because I sure could use a boost in that area.

I feel good. I still get irritated that food is still my main focus. Making sure I get protein in and fluids every single day. It still feels like a full time job that will never end. Therapy is showing me that I'm still in the learning phase of this area of my life. Eventually it will be a way of life and I won't have to spend so much time obsessing over food.

I'm still a food addict. I still want stuff that isn't good for me and I want to graze all day sometimes or just forget this altered digestive system for one freaking day and be "normal". Guess what? THIS is my normal now. Yeah, therapy is definitely one of the good decisions I've made in life.

I find it hard to believe when people tell me how good I look. I mean, I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart but Big Girl Brain butts in and tells me it's not true. I am a victim of my own poor choices. I have loose skin (which I knew would happen) that is just crazy. Hopefully, next year at some point, I will have a tummy tuck (insurance will pay to remove the loose skin- I will have to kick in the rest for a contour and shape up of the abdomen area. Oh. Dear. Lord. I just realized I am yet AGAIN planning to go into an operating room willingly. I need to have my head checked again. And again. And again.) when I'm finished losing what my body will allow me to lose.

Don't get me wrong. I see how far I've come and I know it wasn't "free". I am human. I see my flaws before I see the positive. I really need to get past that.

Can I offer up a small piece of advice? You don't have to take it, but I sure wish you would consider it. When you come across someone who has had a weight loss surgery, PLEASE don't feel compelled to tell them that your best friend's second cousin's Aunt's daughter had this surgery and she gained ALL her weight back. We really don't need to hear that. We know we can gain the weight back. You telling us this is like a hammer on a glass window. All we hear is "You look good now, but you're going to fail and be obese again." Just don't, okay? Each person is different and telling these stories is an insult to those who have had this surgery and maintained their loss. We, the ones who have braved the knife, want to be successful. We want to know we made the right decision for our health. Don't knock us down. We're like pregnant women. Don't tell us horror stories about births gone wrong. It's just not necessary. Thanks.

I don't have a picture because, again, Big Girl Brain never thinks she looks good enough to take one for the update picture. I will take one within the week and have the oldest work her magic for a collage. Remember now, when you see me, you'll see a person who's lost weight. I see a person who has loose skin under her neck, more wrinkles around the eyes, and skin baggage around the middle area.

Positives from the past six months are:

-Crossing my legs. I never get tired of crossing my legs.
-Wearing tall boots with skinny jeans or leggings. I am a complete diva in my mind when I wear those boots.
-Discovering that the new hair growing on my head is curly. Really curly. To the point my stylist finally told me it was time to stop fighting it and work with it. Wait til you see it.
-Finally agreeing to fly to see my in-laws this summer. I haven't flown in ten years because I didn't want to buy another seat. True story. That, and I hate flying.
-Having amazing friends that are surely so exhausted from hearing the ups and down from this surgery, yet still talk me through the hard parts and lift me up when I need them to do so. Thank you, Neighbor Debbie and Sherry Lou!
-My family has adjusted to my new way of eating. My almost 9 year old son knows what Mama can't have and he doesn't mind reminding me. I need that.

I suppose I need to quit saying life after gastric bypass eventually. It's simply life. My life. I'm loving it and working on loving it more and more each day. My marriage is strong and we celebrate ten years this September! The Man has something up his sleeve and I'm content to sit back and wait for it to happen. My children are beautiful and healthy. Each child is walking their own path and I'm lucky enough to be along for the ride to shake the pom poms when they succeed and hug them when it doesn't go just right. 

Yeah, it's simply just life.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Fourteen is the new Twenty

Yeah...hello. I must be getting old for sure because time has flown by and I really didn't realize how long it had been since my last post. Have I been busy? I honestly have. In the past couple of weeks my middle child voiced to me how upset she was with me. I was confused. What had I done?

It was what I hadn't done.

Her birthday blog post.

* Apologies to you, Internets. I am halfway through writing this thing and it is long. I guess that's what happens when you don't blog for a while? Go ahead and grab a're going to need it.*

I suppose I need to find that missing birthday post now, don't you?

On February 6, I finally had to face the fact that my baby girl had both feet in the teenage world. She turned 14 and I also had to admit she was going to start high school next year. I'm sorry, what? Surely, the math must be wrong. She is my baby girl. The one who loves to sit and read and fly below the radar.

Ahhh..time waits for not one single soul.

Allow me to fill you in on her busy life since we last spoke.

In September, she came home from school and informed me that her chorus teacher suggested she try out for the local theater group and audition for the Christmas Carol musical. I went to the website and was immediately overwhelmed. I sarcastically shot back, "And is she going to go with us to this so called audition?" The reply after school the next day was an absolute yes.

Fast forward a week or two and we are two parents and a school chorus teacher at a a room...with over a hundred kids. We had to fill out an application with all her experience. A theater resume, if you will. One of the lead volunteers running the show is hollering something about "Please note on your application if any rehearsals interfere with cotillion." Are you kidding me? I discovered that a majority of these kids auditioning went to fine art schools, took lessons hours a day, and lived for this way of life. Well, crap. I knew right then and there we were in over our heads.

I asked Makenna if she was sure she wanted to do this. She was firm in her decision and when they took her back with a small group to learn a song, sing it, and speak with a British accent, she took off without looking back.

Then we waited for a couple of weeks. We checked the website every single day (okay, maybe a few dozen times a day) to see if maybe, just maybe, she made the ensemble and could sing in the background. We pretty much psyched ourselves and Makenna not to make it. (Seriously, the crowd of children auditioning was just crazy.) Imagine my surprise when I opened the website one morning before school and there was her name! In the ensemble. Woot!

I took her to the first practice and when she got in the truck afterwards, she literally glowed. She had found her people. People who loved the sing and who were really good at doing that.

It was a commitment that we supported and she never missed a rehearsal/practice. In fact, she was in district honors chorus for school and after her performance, we literally ran from the building to get across town so she could make the last of practice. She didn't want to miss a minute. As The Man was in a funky shift work kind of deal, there were many nights with me and my son sitting in the Tahoe for hours while she sang inside. He was smooth and never gave me issue. When I would take him inside to potty, I would tiptoe to the door and listen to the group singing. I was just blown away.

One night she jumped up in the truck with this huge pile of papers. I said...what is this? She said a copy of the script. Know what I got it? I GOT A SPEAKING PART! Yes, she did. She had four words to say in her very first play. I didn't know this at the time, but it's kind of a good thing to pull that off.

The week of performance, we moved from practice place to the theater itself. Wow. The Imperial Theater was a sight to behold. The history in this place was just amazing. I sat with other parents in the dark seats and watched the magic of pulling a play together. I heard the director holler insults and have tantrums of the Hollywood variety (or what I assume to be the diva attitude of Hollywood). I didn't know if they were going to be able to have a play by week's end, but they sure enough pulled it off.

She missed two days of school doing day performances for local schools. (I found out later this was the dress rehearsals for the weekend play and the days were excused from school as they qualified for public volunteers hours.) Every single show was better than the last. I pulled Stage Mom duty a couple of times. The kids are put up in a room over the lobby. It is dank, old, smelly, and a way to keep them corralled. They would come down the stairs, go down the alley to the back of the theater when it was their turn to perform. I graciously declined staying up in the room with thirty plus kids running around on adrenaline. My kid was potty trained and knew how to act. I had no patience for the others. So, I did alley duty. No kid was allowed to go down the alley without an adult watching and protecting. During day performances, I became great friends with the coffee shop next door. The Sunday afternoon performance of alley duty? I took a thermos of coffee.

Our family dressed up in Sunday finery and attended the Saturday evening performance. Paige said it was more fun watching me watch the play. By this time, I knew it pretty much word for word and I was leaned forward in my seat watching each scene intently, mouthing along with the talented actors on stage. I sang every song that was performed (we still go around the house singing a favorite or two to this day). I almost couldn't see my child on stage because of the tears of pride...or was it exhaustion? (Performance weeks makes for long hours. I'm talking midnight here.)

She had been bitten. By the Stage Bug. She has found a new love called the stage. It was an amazing experience and she was off to audition for more more more!!! Since then, she has auditioned for two other plays, but sadly didn't make either one. There are more to be had and acting camp is in her future this summer. I have a feeling we'll be doing the Christmas Carol again this year.

Miss Thing has also discovered a desire to sew. To make things she can wear and show her fashion flair. She can't follow a pattern, but she loves a good you of tube tutorial. She has claimed the playroom/guest room as her sewing room and she will lock herself away for hours whipping up some creation. She saves her money for trips to Joann's or Hobby Lobby so she can spend it all on fabric and craft supplies. The mall is an afterthought and she has no desire to hang out there with groups of kids her age.

She loves a wig, too. I believe her hair to be amazing and I refuse to let her cut it off or color it some ungodly color. The compromise is a wig. Santa brought her a bunch of Styrofoam mannequin heads so she could carefully place those wigs and whatever hat is popular at the moment (did I mention the love of hats, too?).

How many of you are Whovians out there? You know who you are. This child is a great fan of Doctor Who. Her favorite is the tenth doctor, but she tolerates the eleventh one well. I've watched a few episodes and it's a pretty interesting series. I decided to see if I could pull off a Doctor Who themed birthday party. She was giddy with excitement. We did loads of research and I was bummed that most everything Doctor Who related would have to be ordered from the UK. I put out a plea on the face of books and was shocked at how many Whovians came out of the woodwork to help me give this child an amazing party. The 11th Doctor wears a fez. She insisted everyone coming needed a fez. Gah. I didn't want to spend the money. What did she do? Bought the material and made them herself.

During the planning, it was discovered I was to have some surgery (more details in a later post). I was frantic to have this party fully ready to go as it was the night of my day surgery. I wasn't going to punish her because I had to get a few cuts. I had every detail taken care of before I left for the hospital that morning. The pizza was ordered, paid for, and to be delivered that evening. The cake was there and ready to go. All that had to happen was kids show up, Dad and Sissy chaperon, and let the fun happen!

I still can't believe it all went down without a hitch. I was still loopy from surgery, but managed to hang until around 9:00 p.m. The kids were fantastic and had an amazing time. The limit to invite was ten and nine made it. They were so sweet to me and I don't remember too awful much. (Yay for liquid painkillers!)

Now here comes the mushy part.

Makenna, you have no idea on this earth how proud I am of you. You make my heart swell with love and amazement at all you do. You have dreams and you're not afraid to chase them. If there is a task you want to do, you jump in with dogged determination and come out the other side successful. Your heart is generous and you love your family and friends fully. I am secretly sad that you will be grown and ready to chase those dreams into the world before I'm ready to let you go. I love you dearly and will always be the one in the audience clapping like crazy and telling everyone around me, "THAT'S MY BABY!!"  Thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your dreams, your thoughts, your journey.


Now, are you all ready for a few pictures?

This was her microphone she wore. This was at a last late rehearsal. No pictures allowed of the play itself due to copyright issues. Bummer.
Here is Martha Cratchit. She is the eldest daughter of Bob. Big sister to Tiny Tim. This is the alley behind her to the back of the theater. Not a dark scary place at all.

Opening night! The weather was beautiful so The Man, Boy, and myself sat outside on park benches and waited to go inside.

Sunday performance. A little on the tired side. She sat downstairs outside with  me to get a breath of fresh air.

Boy, does she look tired here! That would be snow from the last scene in her hair. She went through every performance and avoided that plastic snow until the last show. They seemed to try to use the last of it and everyone was covered.

Night before the party. We invited the tenth Doctor to attend in cut out form. This thrilled her beyond belief to have him there.

And here is the tardis. The time traveling machine. It and the Doctor now reside in her room.

So thankful for an amazing bakery that saw my vision and rose to the challenge of making a tardis cake. A picture is displayed on their face of book pages. The background is a galaxy gray with fairy dust mixed in to make it sparkle like stars. We all agree that we will never have a cake without fairy dust mixed in to make it sparkle.

Yes, this is The Shirt she has worn since she was 8 years old. I'm wondering if she'll be able to wear it for at least ten more years? That's my girl. The Birthday Princess.
Happy Birthday, Makenna!
We'll have to do a post on her wigs so you can see the different looks she has now. Thanks for sticking with me. There are quite a few things to catch up on so I'll be back very soon.