Monday, December 27, 2010

Tip to avoid holiday weight gain: poison yourself on Christmas Eve.

It's still a guess as to whether I poisoned myself, if I had the stomach flu, or if it's all part of some strange twisted scheme in the universe to make sure I can't truly enjoy a holiday, but I started my Christmas Day at 3:00am, hoping Santa had filled my stocking with Pepto-Bismol.

Let's rewind a day...

Christmas Eve gets a little hectic, so I planned ahead and tossed some food in the crock pot so dinner would be ready when we needed it. So when mealtime came, I ate all my food, my children picked at their plates (as usual) and my husband also downed a fair portion.

Fast forward to Christmas morning, and I'm seeing my crock pot creation in a way no one wants to.


My husband, having ate his fill as well, also wasn't feeling the best, but he was managing better than I.

Of course we had grand plans of traveling on Christmas Day to my parents house. I have a strong will and was not about to let nature ruin another holiday for me.

Last  year, a state-wide blizzard kept everyone home on Christmas. Boo! Hiss! And my Thanksgiving travel plans a month ago also got whacked due to inclement weather. I was NOT about to let some pot roast ruin my Christmas!

So I showered, packed our van, and was determined to hold my digestive track hostage for two hours. With the lack of "rest stops" on the route to my parents, it would require a lot of prayer and a little Lamaze breathing to get me to our destination without the need to throw open the passenger door and dot the fresh, white snow with something a little less fresh. (My husband also noted that he has never driven that fast to my parents' house. God bless him.)

I made it, but as I swung open the door to my parents' home that smelled of ham, potatoes and all the fixings...I didn't even get out a "hello" before I dashed into the nearest restroom. (Sure glad they built one right off the entry!)

But here's the 'up' side to it all. The table spread with every delectable fudge, peanut cluster and candies galore that normally would have me salivating and filling my plate to excess...didn't appeal to me in the least.

I managed to escape this calorie-packed holiday weekend unscathed. I even managed to lose a couple pounds.

I have now developed a ferocious head cold so with no sense of smell, I still have little desire to eat.

So you could say it turned out to be the perfect holiday. I was able to spend it with my family, I didn't eat too much, and I don't feel the need to crank up my gym routine in order to drop the holiday weight.

I guess the biggest thanks goes to the farmer who blessed us with contaminated beef several months ago. Or, if it wasn't food poisoning, I should thank whoever shared their flu germs with me.

After all, Mary didn't let some intense labor pains keep her from traveling. If she can make the trek on a donkey, wind up in a smelly barn and still produce the Savior of the world, I should certainly be able to rejoice in my own circumstances!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Road Less Traveled...only because I can't find it!

I don't consider myself to be a slow learner. Honestly, I can typically pick up on things pretty easily.

For instance, I was the first kid in my high school typing class to master the skill.

I could do a lay-up with very little practice.

I figured out how to repair my own toilet with a paper clip.

I can even understand the various steps of the oil refining process.

But this. This one thing has me gripped in ineptitude.

It has left me frustrated, confused and completely at a loss numerous times.

The problem? I cannot figure out how to get anywhere in my neighboring town.

I just don't get it. It is a smaller community than where I currently reside.

It is just a bridge-crossing away.

And yet, I have not - at any time - successfully driven into that town on the correct route to my preferred location.

Here's the problem: there are at least 4 different entrances and I will inevitably choose the wrong one.

Take today for example. I needed to travel to that "city across the river" to deliver a small package.Was it critical that I deliver it?


As a matter of fact, whenever possible, I just mail stuff that has to go there. That's how much I fear venturing west.

But I felt it was important to hand-deliver this, so I diligently mapped my route online, printed a copy of the map and directions and thought SURELY nothing could go wrong.

But it did. Because I'm apparently cursed to repeat the same mistake over and over and over.

I can NOT drive into that town correctly. I forever choose the wrong exit.

But in my defense, it is a poorly designed area. I mean, come on. What's with these exit signs? They couldn't be more confusing.

They all have 14 names for one road on them. Unless you're a speed reader, you'll likely miss the one word you're looking for!

But today I was feeling confident behind the wheel. I truly thought I would conquer my shame of always getting lost in this town.

Alas, it was not to be.

The directions seemed simple enough...until you're actually on the road.

"Merge onto I-94 W toward Mandan."

Okay, I would like to merge, but I'm frozen in fear because the very next line says (if you reach I-94 W you've gone about 0.3 miles too far.)


I was to merge onto I-94 W and yet if I get there, I've gone too far?

Someone please explain the logic in that!

So as I approach that exit, I have to make a split-second decision because the brainiac highway engineers made sure you only have a one-lane option, and if you're in the wrong lane, too bad. You're well on your way to circling the city multiple times.

Which, incidentally, is what I've done more times than I care to admit.

Yes, I am quite familiar with the long stretch of highway that seems to be leading to a great abyss, only to surprisingly pop you back onto the interstate with very little warning.

So the trip that was detailed to be 8.1 miles became closer to 30 miles.

If this was the first time this happened, I wouldn't be so annoyed. But sadly, this is typical for me whenever I attempt to drive the route that hundreds of people travel every day. I realize there are very likely people who could do the trek in their sleep.

I, on the other hand, am white-knuckled and terrorized by the mere mention of the destination just over the hill.

You would think with all the times I've driven or been driven to that town, at some point it would click. That my brain would finally say, "OH! Now I get it!"

But my brain hasn't even remotely gone there. Not even close.

At first, I felt like the entire community was out to get me. But now I've found myself in complete awe at all the people that reside and work there. They're like superheroes.

They can actually drive the roads leading to their town and not end up on a "scenic byway."

And it's a shame, because I have friends over there. And business contacts.

But I resign myself to the fact that they will forever be a P.O. Box to me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

If you visit me when I'm old, please remind me to smile.

I had the privilege this weekend to visit a seniors housing facility. I call it a privilege because observing people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond is incredibly interesting.

People that age don't naturally look happy. I realize there is that whole elasticity thing where our skin sags and our eyes droop a little more with every passing year, so some of it you simply can't help. But while wisdom comes with age, so does the realization that we're falling apart.

One body part at a time, sometimes two.

I observe the elderly woman in a wheelchair with a white board up against her nose in order to read the instructions from her caregiver. Obviously her hearing and sight isn't what it used to be.

And even though the physical ailments grab my attention initially, it isn't long and I'm enthralled by the social activity.

Or the lack thereof.

Six women, all lined up side to side - some in wheelchairs, others with walkers and a few with just a cane. Their formation reminded me of the stereotypical cheerleading squad. Was this the old widow's version of a 'clique'? I was fascinated!

They didn't speak a word to one another. Even as I smiled at them, there wasn't a single movement of a facial muscle to acknowledge the pleasantry.

But they were lookin' fine. They were all dolled up - the way old people get when they finally have a chance to leave their room for something special.

They stand together like the front line of an army - piercing the room as if to say, "Watch out. Here we come."

I can't help but wonder if there are a handful of other women around the home coveting a spot within that band of babes. Do we revert back to junior high tendencies when we inch closer to the century mark?

My gaze drifts to a daughter who has come to spend the day with her aging mother. The resemblance is uncanny. Just fast forward 30 years and this daughter is easily peering at her own image. The mother takes the daughter's cell phone to make a call.

It's a sight to behold. It's odd, yet fun, to see someone that old holding a cell phone. I feel like I should run for a rotary dial plate.

But it's not long and she's connected...speaking so loudy it would be uncomfortable anywhere else. But not here.

Even with the amplified volume, very few people seem to notice.

But finally, the best picture of the day was smack dab in the middle of the entire party: an elderly couple snuggled together on a sofa.

They don't say a word to each other.

They, too, have stoic frowns stamped on their faces.

And yet they don't look unhappy. They look content.

And maybe that's the secret.

Let's face it. These people don't have their health. They no longer have the home they raised families in. Many no longer have their spouse.

But they seem more content than this frazzled mom of three, trying to keep on top of homework, art classes, housecleaning and my own work demands.

And for a moment, I'm a little envious.

There are no little kids tugging at their pant leg screaming for attention while they attempt to make a meal that is slightly healthier than chicken nuggets and a juice box.

There are no bosses or co-workers to put demands on their time.

A trip to the grocery store doesn't require Hercules strength and agility to push a mile-long cart with a race car attachment, a battle at the checkout for suckers and gum, or stuffing a parka-puffed child into a car seat.

They get to nap whenever they want.

And they have a chauffeur for every outing.

Sign me up.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NOT a good bedtime routine.

There are certain pains we incur that will debilitate us to the extent of utter paralysis.

For instance, a stubbed toe. Isn't it odd that we can walk, run, skip, kick and beat the living tar out of our feet, and yet clip that toe on a chair leg and we're cryin' for our mommas?

Or the infamous "funny bone" that is anything but funny when you smash it against a desk or door. Again, it takes us to a place where speech isn't even possible. We just writhe in pain.

And don't even get me started on a paper cut.

Last night I plopped down in front of my computer in hopes of cranking out some work to put myself at ease about looming deadlines. I admit, I was tense. But then I made a foolish mistake.

I got up from the computer and crawled directly into bed.

Remember, I was tense.

So I went to bed...tense.

But due to exhaustion, I slept anyway. But I slept...tense.

So when morning arrived, every muscle in my neck, shoulders and back was wound tighter than the belt of a Baptist minister at a church potluck.

I could not move. But nature was calling.

I enlisted help.

"Honey, I can't move and I really have to go to the bathroom. Please massage my neck for a minute so I can get out of bed."

My heroic, yet comatose husband asked no questions, just obliged. I am convinced he was not remotely coherent. The sweet soul just naturally defaulted to caring for me. Good thing, or he would have awakened in a pool of urine.

I managed to sling myself out of bed and whimpered to the bathroom.

I had become immobile overnight and I was starting to panic.

I shuffle to the cabinet for the muscle pain relieving cream and try not to scream like a banshee (yes, I just used the word banshee. I'm not myself when I hurt. Apparently, I'm my mother.) as I attempt to lift my arm to rub it into my neck and upper back.

Back pain, of any kind, is arguably worse than giving birth. And my last childbirth was a doozy, so I know of what I speak. It is the pain above all pain, because everything is connected. There's really no such thing as "just back pain" because eventually it creeps into everywhere else. Soon you can't move your arm, your head is throbbing, and the mere stubbing of a toe could quite possibly send you over the edge.

That edge is where I found myself this morning. I tried to be strong. I had kids to feed and send off to school, after all. I had responsibilites. There was no time for back pain.

But despite my best efforts, I was soon scrounging for the phone book to make a chiropractor appointment. I haven't been to one here yet, so the first office I try says, "I'm sorry, we don't have time for a new patient this morning."

Well, then guess what. I will never be your new patient.

My second option was successful. Hooray! They could get me in within a half hour. I was hopeful I'd be feeling better in no time.

But the diagnosis was not good. I was misaligned, my joints were surrounded by swelling, and I had massive muscle spasms. Sadly, I couldn't even get on and off the exam table without significant help.

It is a dreadful feeling to be so crippled.

Two treatments later and I'm not experiencing any greater mobility. I want to pluck the muscles out of my back and drive over them.

Years ago, I remember being prescribed muscle relaxers. I have been dreaming about them all day. I may find myself at the walk-in clinic by morning begging for a prescription.

But just watch, I'll finally have those relaxers within reach and in my excitement, I'll snatch the bag from the pharmacist...and get a paper cut.