Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Greater than, less than

My children don't mind greater than, less than problems in math. Neither did I. I have taught them what I learned from Mrs. Needham back at Darrough Chapel School in the first grade. The little greater than >, less than < symbol is a crocodile's mouth, and he wants to eat the bigger number because he's sooooo hungry. Then you draw teeth and eyeballs. Fun. Thanks Mrs. Needham.

As an adult, greater than, less than has caused me some consternation lately. Now, before I go any further, I know some people who read this that love me are going to want to make me feel better as you read. That's okay, but understand that this is part of my journey and it will help me if I let it.

As a fat person, I have an understanding of what I look like, that isn't completely accurate. I am like the man the Bible talks about, who looks in the mirror but after he walks away forgets what he looks like. I do that. I don't think I look like what I really look like. Not only do I not think I'm this overweight, I also don't think I'm this old, but that's another story. Instead, I have an image of myself that is something of a comparison. I'm not fixated on it, it's just a relative definition that I'm acknowledging is in my mind. Fat is someone who is fatter than me. Am I fat like that? No, I'm not that fat. Okay, fat is that, and I am less fat than that.

And I'm not the only one who thinks like that. We all define fat by way of comparison. I remember a painful conversation years ago, that has been repeated a number of times in some way since then, where someone described another person to me as being a little overweight. I said, "like me?" The answer, "Oh no, not like you. Just a little chubby."

So we think like that. More fat and less fat. Greater than, less than. There are people in my world (people who I love and respect), who in my mind are fatter than me, therefore, they are fat and I'm not. It's the same with tall. I am probably a really short person to most people. But I don't see myself as short. I just think most of you are either tall, quite tall, or really tall. Only people (adults) who are shorter than me are what I consider short (I know of two).

Well recently, someone I (a fat person) thought of as fat, someone who has always been bigger than me, who made me feel better in the "at least I'm not that fat" sort of way, has lost a significant amount of weight. She looks wonderful. Not skinny, but wonderful. More wonderfuller, it turns out, than me. She gave me her fat clothes. Someone who has always been heavier than me gave me clothes that are too big for her. And the worst part is: they barely fit.

The season of biggest loser that just ended had one episode, the makeover episode, where the guy who eventually won it, Michael, still had to shop at the plus-size store for makeover week, even though he'd lost almost 200 lbs. (Guys don't call it plus-size, they call it Big and Tall. Why is that?? Because the store wants you to feel good enough about yourself to spend your money there. It's cool for a guy to be "big". No woman wants to be big.) It was really hard for him, to feel like he'd come so far but was still so fat.

So that's how I feel. I have lost almost 30 lbs since January. But I'm still fat. I don't look good in my clothes, let alone my swimming suit. I've been working hard and trying, albeit inconsistantly, but I'm still too fat for a bigger lady's too big hand me downs. I am near (but not past) some huge milestones. Perhaps more importantly, I'm exercising every day, because my blood pressure will be high if I don't. But I'm having a tough time staying the course because I want to see results. I want to succeed. I want to be > than I used to be.

Well maybe I am, a little. Tonight we went to the cubbie picnic (Awana club end of year party for the little guys) and I ate 1 hotdog, 1 burger, a little pasta salad, 1 brownie and a small pile of watermelon. Oh, and a little soda. Does that sound like a lot of food to you? It wasn't. There was a plateful of brownies on the table, and another plate of cookies. What I really wanted was a couple more hot dogs. But skinny people don't eat two hot dogs or two brownies. They eat one. So I ate one.

I don't know if the scale tomorrow morning will say something that represents the self control I showed today or the workout I did tonight. I don't know if those stupid size 20 jeans my dear friend passed on to me will be loose enough that I can wear them and breath and eat and sit down without pain and trauma to my intestines.

I'm just trying to be faithful. Diligence is a man's precious possession. My laundry is still caught up. I'm exercising every day. My dentist told me I did a good job taking care of my teeth. I AM MORE DISCIPLINED THAN I USED TO BE!

So the greater than less than problem, it turns out, is not

**The Amazing Supermom is > than her previously overweight friend**

but rather

**The Amazing Supermom > than she used to be**

Friday, May 21, 2010

double major

I double majored in college. I mean, I only got one degree, but my advisor told me it was basically a double major. In order to get a degree to teach music, you have to get a degree to teach and a degree in music. It makes sense. I will mention here that my classes in teacher education were some of the stupidest hours of my life, including waiting rooms, having cavities filled, and mmmm, probably not kidney stones - those are in a class of their own.

In our process of becoming marginally less ignorant about being an adoptive parent of an African American child (that is our pursuit, it hasn't happened yet) it turns out that is a kind of double major as well.

There's adoption. Adoption is hard. A child has this family, that, no matter how wonderful they are, cannot erase the fact that his/her mother, father, family, are not in his life. Maybe they were sick, maybe they died, maybe they are wicked, maybe just weak. They are not there.

We are not great, as a society, at understanding that people grieve people they have never known. We don't get it with a miscarriage. We don't get it with adoption. Even if you never knew your mother or your baby it still really, really hurts. And the fact that you have a great family now, or whatever, doesn't make it not hurt.

So there's adoption, which is hard, and then there is the trans-cultural part. Because a trans-cultural adoptee hasn't just lost his/her birth mom/dad/family. He lost his culture. He lost the place he learns how to talk like a black man, walk like a black man, and dance like a black man. The very subtle innuendos that make culture, he now has to have a tutor for those. That's false. It's harsh and wrong.

On the other hand, (not saying the first two hands are in any way invalid) he has a permanent home. And that's a start. It is just important that we know that, in the natural, when we adopt him out of his culture, we place him at a disadvantage.

I have learned ( that there is no genetic difference between any ethnicity of people. There is one race: human. I've started to get irritated with the form that makes me pick one. It's not right. There is one race - the rest is culture.

And we are counter-cultural people. All of my children are being brought up to be different from the world (that whole "in the world, not of it" thing). We don't do what the culture says we should do. It's not how we make our decisions. American culture is not having 10 or more children, driving a 15 passenger van, wearing hand-me-downs or home schooling.

So my adopted child will also be double majoring: he/she will have a degree in feeling comfortable in the skin God gave him, and a second degree in belonging to a Kingdom not made with human hands, being a stranger and alien in a world that doesn't love us, but being confident in the One who made him.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Adoption, becoming a multi-racial family, is a whole different set of problems than we have any experience with. But even though the problems are new and different, the Answer is the same. Different problems; same Jesus. I do not have delusions that we can make all the pain of trans-racial adoption go away, but I have every expectation that Jesus can.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

forty by forty?

Nah, I'm going for it. I'm going for broke. Why?

Well, first of all, I visited the doctor and my blood pressure was high. Not pregnancy induced hypertension high. Not last trimester get the baby out high. Nope, just normal, plain ole high blood pressure. And we all know what that means: lose weight and exercise or take a pill every day for the rest of my life. I have until June 11th. And I have no choice.

I am still sitting at about 210 lbs. Still? Yes! That's why it's called a wall! I have not broken the 206 barrier in 13 years. But I am going to break it. Soon. Not because I want to lose weight, but because I do not want to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of my life. Not if I can help it.

I know taking medicine is not the worst thing in the world. But I'm actually lousy at it. I have a hard time finishing antibiotics. I am horrible about prenatal vitamins. It's just not my best thing.

So here's my plan: I'm trying to stay around 12-1300 calories. I'm avoiding sugar and white flour. I'm on the treadmill 40 minutes daily. And I'm trying to do 40 flights of stairs a day (or at least as many as possible).

So I'm not trying to lose 40 lbs in the next year. I'm shooting for 70 or so. Hey, it could happen. Why not try? I've got plenty of time and the best motivation in the world: my life.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


I think I'm ready to talk about socks now. I just matched 103 pair of socks. Does that sound like a lot? How many pairs of socks do you have? 103 pairs is about 9 per person at my house. The crazy thing is that I still have an overflowing basket of unmatched socks looking at me, staring at me, daring me to match one more pair. But I'm not gonna. In this area, at least, I have some measure of self control. I can stop matching socks anytime I want to.

I am convinced that a psycho-analyst could learn a whole lot about someone by watching them match socks. It used to be pretty important to me to get sock matching just right. I remember getting very irritated at my mother-in-law once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, for matching socks less precisely than I wanted them done, which is, of course, nothing like I do them now.

These days, if it is about the same color and about the same style and about the same size, it's a match! Once you put your shoes on, no one knows if the letters in the word Hanes are the same color. (By the way, my favorite socks to match, not to wear, but to match are the ones Hanes makes. I'm not getting paid to say that either. The whole colored lettering/stripe thing makes it so easy to match things correctly, or to get it close anyway.)

Why do we have so many socks? Other than the obvious reason that we have a lot of feet, and the other obvious reason that I have a tendency to get behind on laundry, it is also because we are pretty hard on socks. I have 4 to throw away from this batch alone. I remember a sweet older lady telling me in a marvelously patronizing voice about how she taught her daughters AND her sons to darn their socks. I wanted to say, but didn't, we don't just get holes in our socks, we annihilate them. You can read through a sock before we throw it out. There's nothing there to sew up!

So, when someone gives me a bag of socks (it is beyond me that anyone would have socks to give that are matched and don't have holes in them) I take them. We will wear them until we A) lose them, B) wear them paper thin, or C) leave them at a friend's house.

We don't buy socks that often, usually. We buy them at Christmas, when we are in Indiana and run out of socks before it's time to come home, and just before KOV (church day-camp) when finding socks to wear is the last thing this amazing super mama wants to think about, when I'm packing lunches for 10 or 12 or 14, washing everyone's shirt for the next day, and trying to get all those people in the van before 8:30, 5 mornings in a row.

No one really has their own socks in our house. My husband sort of does, but I bum from him when I run out. I almost do, but the big kids bum from me, also. The rest of the socks are downstairs in two drawers for anyone's taking. They do a pretty good job, mostly, of being able to tell if a pair of socks is too small for them. They are not as good at knowing if the socks will be too big. And a couple of them are downright lousy at putting a pair of socks back, folded together, if they don't fit. Alas.

And then, sometimes, just to keep me near the edge of the cliffs of insanity, some bright eyed adorable children get the idea that it would be great fun to put socks on our hands AND feet, maybe multiple pairs (if 1 is good, 4 is better, don't you think?) and pretend to be dogs or skate around the slippery floor. Socks are also wonderful (who knew?) for carrying small treasures, money, rocks, legos, marbles, polly pockets, small sleepy beanie babies, and those little decorative glass pebbles we call dragon tears.

Summer is (or should be) the answer to all these problems. I beg my children to wear crocs (fake ones), flip flops, sandals, aqua socks, anything that doesn't require socks. I offer them tax incentives, increases in allowances, extra minutes on the computer, easier math homework next year, if they will just show mom a little love and stay away from the socks.

My eldest has some hillbilly blood in her, and would be happy to go bare foot all the time. But society (a.k.a. the department of health) insists that she wear shoes when we go places. So she respectfully wears them to wherever we are going and promptly takes them off as soon as she gets in the van. Does she sometimes forget to bring them into the house???

My sons tend to wear their socks until a few seconds before they fall asleep. B3 recently got assigned the job of tidying up the boys room each day. What that means is that it is his responsibility to harvest all the dead socks from the sock graveyard every morning.

The shoe closet is also a prime location for going on a sock hunt. Stuffed in the shoes, on the floor, scattered from the closet door up the stairs, it seems the best place to leave dirty socks is anywhere but where they ought to be.

And why is it that the butt-ugliest socks in the house never, ever get lost?

So, like much of my life and yours, the battle wages on. It has no end. Well, Heaven. I am as sure as I am of anything that I will not have to match socks in Heaven. Oh that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me. When by His grace I will look on His face (and not have to match socks anymore) that will be glory, be glory for me.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

tribute to the amazing super mom

I have a confession to make. I realized this weekend that I am not the amazing super mom. But I know her. In fact, I'm related to her. Okay, I'm her daughter.

My mom is both super and amazing. She flew in (she came in a car) to my world and in two days (mostly one) she not only found the floor in my laundry room, she cleared it. She dragged me kicking and screaming (for once I didn't complain) down the path of laundry-caught-up-ed-ness, and at this moment, I can honestly say that I am, in fact, in that mythical state of "caught up", which I had heretofore thought only existed in fairy tales (and houses where there were less than 7 or 8 people).

She cleaned my bathroom. She cleaned my kitchen floor. She cleaned the laundry hallway! My house is sparkling and clean, and I am a nervous wreck.

The songs going through my head while we cleaned: "I don't ever want to hear that song again" by Olivia Newton John, and "I guess that's why they call it the blues" by Elton John. I think I hung up a thousand shirts.

She did most of it in her pajamas, wearing a funny hat some of the time. She pulled g2 in on the action [I have decided to dub my children by order and gender in my blog from here on out, so g2 simply means second daughter]. Actually, we pulled everyone in many times, but g2 became her sidekick, complete with her own funny hat.

I tried to give her my cape, but she wouldn't take it. (there is no charge for awesome-ness or attractiveness, apparently) Now, if I can maintain it for, say, a month without thrashing my children or taking drugs, then maybe I'll have earned my title back again. But right now, I'm just a bill, I am only a bill and I'm living here on capital hill . . .