Monthly Archives: January 2012

Charles the Home Ec Baby

January 25, 2012

Remember the school assignment where your home ec teacher made you dress up a 5-pound bag of flour or sugar and carry it around like it was your little darling? The point of this exercise was to terrify you out of teenage sex.

Even at 13 years old I knew that having a child would be nothing like schlepping around a wheat product dressed in a onesy. For heaven’s sake, our sugar babies didn’t even cry. Someone must have had a similar thought, because I recently had a run-in with a rather high-tech sugar baby.

Before I tell you about Charles, the Home Ec Baby, let me give you a run down of mine and David’s 3-tiered plan for becoming parents:

Step 1: Acquire a plant and keep it alive for 3+ months.

This step took quite a bit of trial and error. Who knew a basil plant couldn’t be expected to thrive with no water while we vacationed in Europe? It’s not like common sense has anything to do with plant parenting.

Step 2: Acquire a pet and keep it alive.

Success. He is a fearsome 13 lbs, and grumbles at the slightest provocation. Yesterday I found 16 assorted squeaky and/or chewy toys in David’s office. He is also the worst jump-up-on-you kind of dog imaginable. Sorry house guests.

Step 3: Baby.


 Step 3: BABY.


Oh yeah. I guess its getting to be that time. We’re in our first house. A beautiful one. And as the song goes: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a house!

Or at least that’s how our song is going.

So the day we moved into our house I enlisted my little sister Jo to babysit The Grumbler, as he and his jumping were not going to be an asset to our move. Jo ended up watching his high-maintenance little booty for hours. So I couldn’t say no when she called and asked if I would babysit Little Baby Charles for a few hours.

You see, it was Jo’s week in her Home Economics class to have a weekend with the “Baby Think It Over infant simulator.” Sounds cute, right?

It isn’t.

Baby Think It Over is basically a computerized baby doll that is programmed to cry, eat, and make a general nuisance of itself.

Every weekend Baby Think It Over gets a new name and a new parent. The junior high parents are supposed to care for Baby Think It Over as though it were real. Its head has to be supported, it has to be fed, and it wakes up in the middle of the night. Oh, if Baby Think It Over could talk.

My mom and Jo met me for a morally questionable baby hand-off in a parking lot. Baby Charles and his stuff was passed through the window, and just like that I became a parent.

For the first hour nothing happened, and David and I continued unpacking the house. Then I heard some snuffling from the next room. My computerized baby motherly instincts kicked in, and I raced to Charles’ aid.

First I waved my special parent key on Charles’ back so he would know I was there. Then I tried changing his special magnetized diaper. He kept crying. I tried rocking him. He cried harder. Finally I grabbed his bottle and smashed it up against his painted mouth. He cooed. And then I had to feed him for 20 minutes until he finally quieted down.

It was still funny at this point.

But a few minutes later he started snuffling again. I tried the bottle. No go. I tried the diaper. Nothing. I rocked him. His whimpers lessened. I rocked him for 13 minutes.

It was now less funny.

I was tired. I’d been moving all day. And I had an extremely needy doll.

When it was time for dinner we drove to a 50’s style drive-in restaurant so as to avoid stares. Halfway there I realized I had’t buckled in Baby Charles’ carrier. I wondered how many drivers had seen our moderately lifelike baby shifting around the back seat.


But my pity for the baby was short lived. Because Little Baby Charles cried in the car. Little Baby Charles cried as I tried to order dinner. Little Baby Charles cried as I desperately texted Jo. Little Baby Charles cried until David swore at it.

Finally, Jo and my mom came to pick him up. I was sitting in the middle of our new living room with boxes and assorted Little Baby Charles stuff all around me. I was frazzled. I was exhausted. I may have just grown my first gray hair. The baby had cried about every 15 minutes. Jo told us that he had cried only a handful of times for her the whole weekend.

That’s when I had to tell my mom that the grandchild project had officially been delayed due to the bad influence Little Baby Charles.

I’m not sure if we were the intended target, but Baby Think It Over had a profound impact on this couple.

At least Jo got an A.


Outcome of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge

January 11, 2012

Remember when I posted about the 90 Day Fitness Challenge I started on October 15th? Those 90 days have come and gone. A few people have asked me recently how it went and I realized I went completely silent about it on my blog.

(It’s not because I gave up.)

Although I’m not pretending that wouldn’t be very me to do. I am very good at sticking with things, but I am also very good at getting excited about new projects and dropping them before you can say Apple-Pie-Should-Never-Be-Served-With-Cheddar-Cheese. (Which it shouldn’t.)

I think it’s because things suddenly got very personal. I write about a lot of stuff here–about my husband, my books, my friends, my home, heck, even my boobs, but body stuff… Well, you know how it is.

When I started the 90 Day Challenge these were my goals:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Build some mean muscles
  3. Get good at Obsidian
  4. Blog often about health and fitness

I worked my booty off. Even with a persistent setbacks (they will always be there), most of which had to do with my feet, I worked out a ton. I tried my absolute hardest to eat well. I bought a scale to help me measure my foods and calculate calories. I wore my DASH wristband to remind me of my goal.

Wow. Can I be totally candid here? I am shaking just a tiny bit while I write this. I know from your comments that you people are good people–supportive, loving, friendly, so I’m going to keep telling you about all this–but bear with me. This is not my usual topic. Or tone.

Yes. The Green Lemon just got all serious on you.

Let me give you a little bit of history.

When I was younger I lived and breathed ballet. I wanted to be a professional ballerina more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. When I turned 12 I was accepted into a professional company’s school and I danced like my life depended on it. I also stopped eating. I weighed 90 lbs. and didn’t think it was good enough. I learned how to count calories and just how few I could live off of before my starvation mode kicked in and I had to down bowl after bowl of Lucky Charms. Teachers praised my weight loss, but I knew something was wrong because I was so tired all the time that I couldn’t make friends. Somehow (divine intervention?) I managed to catch myself right before going over the edge. I stopped counting potato chips. I kept dancing, but I worked hard to keep a positive body image.

Really hard. To the point that it became one of my defining features.

That lasted a long time.

Then came the anxiety. When I was in college I started having all sorts of issues ranging from anxiety attacks to depression. During that time I gained some weight (now that I look back I feel it is most likely due to new medications I started taking) but took it off with Weight Watchers.

A short while after I got married something went awry. Amidst some other health problems I gained 20 lbs. with no apparent changes to my diet. I completely panicked. If I’m honest I’d say I probably tried about 20 different diets–one for each extra pound. At one point I was eating only vegetable juice and salads and still gaining weight. That was a bad, bad time in my life. I felt like I was going crazy. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t do anything, but obsess about my weight.

After getting some medical issues resolved the weight slowly started to come off. But the experience left some permanent damage. I went from confident about my body to obsessed with weight. My sweet, sweet husband was completely bewildered. I’d lost my body confidence–something that was as me as could be–and it didn’t seem to be coming back.

So then I started the DASH fitness challenge.

A few weeks into the challenge one of the teachers offered a relaxation and guided imagery class to help everyone who was doing the challenge. I’m not new to that sort of thing–I love meditating and doing yoga–so I knew I wanted to take part. The teacher led us through some mental relaxation then she had us visualize ourselves looking in a mirror. She had us picture unzipping ourselves from our extra weight, and stepping out of it like a pair of pajamas, then looking at ourselves in the mirror.

I saw myself right away. And I was gorgeous.

I was slim, and strong, I even had long hair and clear skin, but what I really noticed was that I seemed to be glowing. The person I was looking at was so calm, and so loving and so peaceful. It was like she had been patiently waiting there for me all along. She knew what I’d been dealing with, she knew about all the changes in my life, and the health issues, and the emotional issues, and she didn’t judge me for one second. She didn’t care about my jean size, or whether or not I looked good in a bikini. She just was.

Then the teacher asked us to realize what emotional reasons were keeping us from losing weight. My answer came immediately–there was a definite reason I had struggled to get rid of the extra weight–and it wasn’t because I love snicker shakes. That reason is too personal for me to tell you here, but can i tell you that it was real?

When I got home that night I looked in the mirror. I felt good. I felt calm.

The next day I looked in the mirror again and what I saw made my heart jump. I had just seen a flash of the woman I’d seen during the visualization class. Only this was real. But that couldn’t be right. My BMI was still higher than the chart said it should be. There was no way I could be okay with 5 extra pounds holding me back.

A few days later I saw the girl in the mirror again, but this time she stuck.

I had one of the most shocking realizations of my life. I already looked like the girl in my  meditation. I looked great. I looked fit. I was wearing skinny jeans and had noticeable triceps. I had a curve from my ribs to my hips. I wasn’t quite there, but I was pretty darn close.

I yelled for David and demanded that he take a good look at me. I asked him if I’d changed drastically in the past 48 hours. I made him swear he was telling me the truth that I’d looked this way for a long time, and hadn’t he been trying to tell me that for ages? I pulled off my shirt to make sure I was really seeing my torso correctly.

It felt like I’d taken off a pair of dark sunglasses. My head had been so trapped for so long that I hadn’t realized all of the progress I’d made over the past year. I couldn’t even really see myself.

And then I felt free. Free, free, free.

It felt so good.

Two weeks ago I started working at DASH. That place is the kind of environment I want to be in.

And I do regularly dance around in front of the mirror in my skinny jeans when I’m home alone. It doesn’t mean all my body woes are gone. It doesn’t mean they all magically disappeared. It doesn’t mean I’m a size 6, or even a size 8. But man, I made some progress.

And that is good enough for me.

Another Actual Conversation From an Actual Marriage

January 9, 2012

We’re sitting on our new couch. The very first piece of furniture we’ve ever purchased. Okay, we’re not sitting, we’re sprawling. His head is on one end, mine is on the other. Its a microfiber heaven. There’s really no reason for us to ever leave it.

And then I say “I’m thinking about writing a post on what my Christmas list would be if I could have absolutely anything. Guess what #1 would be?” (It was a tiny giraffe that runs on a treadmill, like on THIS commerial. People have actually tried to order them.)

But he says “A baby elephant?” And that stops me. Because not only did he guess some sort of infantile jungle creature (close, very close to my original number 1), but he was totally right. I would choose a baby elephant.

I have a fierce love for baby elephants. Ever sine baby Zuri was born at the Hogle Zoo. She was 251 lbs of pure joy. I went to see her 3 times after her unveiling. I once saw her resist a nap for so long that she fell asleep standing up and fell down. Another day she spent a full ten minutes trying to climb over a log and me and the whole crowd clapped when she finally made it. I almost peed my pants when a friend recently told me that Zuri taught herself to do headstands. Please watch this video of her if anything is wrong in your life. Or maybe this one. Your problems will instantly go away.

That’s when the following happened:

HUSBAND: If me and a baby elephant were tied to train tracks and you could only rescue one of us, which would it be?

WIFE: (Long, thoughtful pause. Then in a hopeful voice) Will it always stay a baby?


WIFE: Does it like watermelon?

HUSBAND: Loves it. And popcorn.

WIFE: Does it have theme music that plays wherever it goes?


WIFE: Will it ever get to be over 500 pounds?


WIFE: Can I ride it?


(WIFE pauses for dramatic effect. They both know what’s about to happen but WIFE wants to make it look like she’s at least a little conflicted.)

WIFE: (patting husband lovingly) I’m sorry. But I guess this is G’bye.

(Scene fades.)

Note to readers: If anyone knows a guy who knows a guy who might be able to get me a baby elephant, please email me promptly. I promise the elephant will have a very good home. A new split level house with a large garden, a room painted with tinkerbell fairydust, a nearby dog park for all her haloomphing, and a shihtzu to keep her company. Plus a devoted mother who will never tire of watching DUMBO with her and makes a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies.

And in case you were wondering, here’s what the rest of my fantasy Christmas list would be:

  1. Baby elephant.
  2. An old fashioned bath tub with feet. That I’d never have to leave.
  3. A chocolate fountain that runs 24/7.
  4. A sky blue T-bird convertible.
  5. For someone to include me in a flash mob.

Yep. That about does it.