The Art of Conversation at Dinner

I believe one of the major reasons I have always struggled with my weight is that, in my mind, food is equated to love.

My mom was a brilliant alchemist in the kitchen. Not so much because she was some sort of culinary artist (said: arteest) but because every item of food that was set on our table was served, not out of pots and pans, but out of her heart. And you could taste the magic that is love, with every bite.

Sundays and Christmas hold the best memories for me. There was melt-in-your-mouth-eat-until-food-oozes-from-your-gills food everywhere. Roast, fried chicken, milk gravy, biscuits, mud pie, green beans, chocolate silk pie, red potatoes, carrots, every cookie imaginable, pecan pie, banana bread, ham, homemade bread, cheesecake... Is your mouth watering yet?

So for me, the essence of family and love were very centered around meal time.

It still is. I love to sit down to a meal and talk, laugh or fight with my husband and kids. Some of our best conversations are at dinner. You know the term quality time? Ours is usually at a meal of some sort and they are never unimaginative or routine.

For instance...

We are having dinner at Chili's (this was way last week for those of y'all who are keeping me accountable to the protein shakes), it's just the kids and me since dad is helping take equipment and supplies to Trinity for my boss...who just happens to also be his friend.

We are having a great time talking and telling stories. Eddie begins to tell me about his speech class and the 'report' that he gave where he had to take a song from a musical and act it out in front of the class.

Me: You would make a great actor because you can memorize lines, emote believably, and...

Elena: Oh he can act alright!

Me: What makes you say that?

Elena: Cause sometimes he acts just like a two year old.

(that is his come back for EVERYTHING. This tastes funny. YOUR FACE. I don't understand this problem. YOUR FACE. What 's for dinner? get the idea.)

Me: Hey! Your momma.

See? Love.

We talk some more and Elena begins to tell me about a report she is writing on the digestive system where you have to pretend you are a piece of food and what it's like. She is a cocoa-puff.

Which is funny to me for two reasons. One, we don't eat cocoa-puffs so it was odd that she would pick that particular cereal. And two, puff is the term we use in our home (an adopted term picked up from friends) for um, passing gas.

She tells me about the puff's journey down the water slide known as the esophagus and the journey into the stomach where a woman is tossing salad all about and then the puff travels into the small intestine and ...

(dirty look from table next to us fork hits plate hard)

Me: You know, maybe you should tell me about this later...

Elena: Why?

Me: Other people are eating and probably don't want to hear this.

Elena: But I wanted to tell you about the joke I made when the puff leaves your anus.

Me: *laughing so hard there are tears*

Elena: Can I?

Me: I think you just did.

Magic people. Absolute magic.

We finish, pay and walk out the door talking. Eddie's trying to tell us about something when Elena interrupts with a comment.

Eddie: Nice Elena, you made me forget what I was going to say.

Elena: Yeah, that's how I roll.

Eddie: Oh, yeah? Well, this is how I rock! *loud puff*

Elena: *singing* I wanna rock & roll all night...

Eddie: Eew.

You can't just go out buy memories like those.

I hope when they are older, they will look back on these times with the same sentiment as I did. But, that it won't be the food they equate with love, rather our conversations, our laughter, our silliness and our...our...

Oh yeah, YOUR FACE!

Oh, and this was my 100th post. Woo hoo...


99 Red Balloons



Agent 99

And that was my 99th post!

Seems like I've only just begun....(take it Nancy!)


Well the promise of ugly weather turned out to be a huge! disappointment. Just a few gusts of wind and a spit of rain. Pitiful.

Saturday evening I had to have a sleep study done in order to make sure I don't have sleep apnea since I snore. Loudly. So loud that metaphors & similes such as "dynamiting a mountain" and "bringing down a forest" and my absolute favorite "Darth Vader" have been tossed about as a comparison. Nice huh?

We arrived at 9 pm and didn't start the test until after midnight because of technical difficulties. It seems she couldn't get any readings from the sensors that were attached to my head. Insert brainless joke here.

The whole time she was trying to get the dang thing to work she kept talking to herself. Then she would walk in wiggle the wires, take off a sensor, scrub the spot with alcohol and trying everything all over again. After the fourth time scrubbing one spot I wanted to tell her that pretty soon she would reach brain matter and the sensor could just get stuck into that. Perhaps I had a mole or something there and she thought it was dirt.

I did that to my daughter Elena once. She was about 6 or 7 and we were getting ready somewhere and I gave her a quick washcloth bath. Afterwards I started to put up her hair and then I saw she had these really dirty spots right by under nose and by mouth. So I got the washcloth and scrubbed and scrubbed and I asked her what she possibly could have gotten into. She told me "mom, those are moles!"

Well they weren't there the day before.

I have to give her points for determination though, she hung in there until everything cooperated. The sleep technician, not Elena. She asked me to lie flat on my back and wait until I heard her voice and then afterwards she would come put me down. She kept using that term. She was going to put down the other gentleman. She would get me put down soon. Just wait a minute baby and "I'll come put you down."

Put me down? Did I look like a lame horse?

Don't answer that.

Honestly I think the term 'sleep study' is a misnomer, sleep has nothing to do with it. Or at least that's what it was like for me. I tossed and turned for several hours and then it hit me...I had to go pee. Oh great, I'm wired into NASA.

When I couldn't take it anymore I asked her if I could use the restroom and she told me she was going to end the study. That upset me. There was no way I was come back and do this all over again. I didn't even sleep. It was a waste of time. It was a waste of money. And there is no way could my poor scalp take another one of her scrubbings.

Certain that only a couple of hours had passed I asked for the time. It was 6 am. And just when did that happen? So I asked her if we had enough time recorded and she said she was positive we did "you snored beautifully!" I wish everyone felt that way.

She should have come home with me because I slept all day Sunday. And Sunday night. I don't think I even snored.

Black Clouds

Here in Houston we are under a severe thunderstorm watch and a tornado warning. And I LOVE IT! The blue eyed weatherman warns it could get ugly.

I hope so.

Yes I am a sick and twisted woman, but I am not alone. My sweet friend Denise derives just as much joy as I do from seeing the radar smeared with red. What is that about? Probably something that happened to us as kids. Either that or we just need to get a life.

And as much as I love a good thunderstorm, I've given up black clouds for Lent. Not the ones I love and look forward to, the ones that I just know are hovering somewhere around the corning just waiting to come & rain on my parade.

Not that I have parades. I've never even been in a parade. I don't care for the music. Or the crowds. And frankly, clowns scare me. Oh wait, that's the circus.

Where was I? Oh yes...clouds. Not clowns.

Just before Lent began my friend Sharon and I were discussing this particular affliction. You know the one where you think God is just waiting for you to get your happy on and wham! He hits the smite button. Or pulls the plug. Or whatever it is you think may occur when God is displeased or says no or is just having a bit of fun with you.

Now, as a child of His I know He isn't up there just waiting for me to do anything. And I know that He is not a mean and hateful old man displeased with His children's joy. I know that He in fact commands us to have joy...I said this was an affliction didn't I?

So as I was saying, Sharon and I were discussing this and we both agreed that we needed to give this foolish waste of joy right up. It isn't healthy and it was sucking the fun out of life like an Oreck vacuum cleaner. I wish I had one of those...

For instance, I was waiting not at all patiently for the news of my surgery being approved or denied and I just knew it was going to be denied and that is all I thought about most of my waking moments. I was cranky, quiet, couldn't sleep and was easily made to cry. Yes, this is different from normal.

Why couldn't I let go? Why could I not just say, "whatever happens happens and dangit, I am going to suck the life out of life"?

Miss Sharon writes about it FAR better than I do. Read her post and you will agree.

So we agreed that would be the perfect thing to give up for Lent. We decided no more black clouds. No more waiting for shoes to drop.

That was 6 days before I found out my surgery was approved and I cannot explain to you how freeing those 6 days were. Amazing.

Now 10 days in, I am looking forward to black clouds again. But not the ominous "just sit in the corner and eat your porridge" black clouds.

No baby, those bring no joy. I am looking for the "color my radar ruby red and watch the lightening streak across the sky" clouds. Now there's a parade!

Did you hear the one about the fat lady who....?

Well the last post went over like vegetable night with my kids.

Let's try this again shall we? NO, not a repeat of the last post. Something entirely different.

I've struggled and struggled with how to write this post. I started out writing the history behind the news I'm about to share, but it became so danged mopey. Besides, it would take several pages and we all know I'm long winded already. :-)

Then I tried to take the funny route, but just not sure how to go about that because in reality the whole thing is not funny.

So the only way I can do this is to just jump into it and go from there.

On March 10th I am going to have gastric bypass surgery.

I know all the possible complications. I know all the difficulties, horror stories and what ifs.

But I also know that I've been overweight all my life, struggled with an eating disorder for 13 years and I am now morbidly obese and have been for 10 years.

I've tried every diet, lifestyle change, and pill faithfully. Even medicine, good old excercise and low-caloric intake. Bottom line, my years of abusing my body have made it very resistant to anything I do. I've seen Dieticians, Endocrinologists and Nutritionists. They all agree.

1 1/2 years ago my Dr. finally agreed we need to pursue this avenue (he was very much against it before). Last year we sent in a request, feeling we had met all the guidelines and requirements only to have my insurance company deny me.

At first I was depressed, then I just became numb. I wouldn't discuss it at all. I said over and over that I wasn't mad at God, He is in control after all and He is good no matter what. That is what my mind and mouth said, but my actions spoke differently. I pulled away and withdrew from our daily talks.

It took time but I've since crawled out of the pit of self pity and despair and quietly walked back towards the Father in timid trust.

I am excited beyond any words I could put on this blog. I am in no way afraid or worried. I am at complete peace.

I am looking forward to the many changes this will bring to my life. Mostly I will once again want to be active with my family. See I usually stay home and read or write when they go for a bike ride or head to the park. So I have 2 goals that I want to share here with you:

1. Going bike riding with my family.
WITHOUT the image of a circus elephant riding around in my mind. :)


2. Going horseback riding with my daughter.
WITHOUT the poor horse crying "Why me Lord?!?!" when I try to saddle up. :)

And I am having just as much trouble ending the dang post as I did starting it.....

Okay, bye!

Something Different...

The air was clean and light this morning. I stood on my porch and took several deep breaths, relishing the brief moment of calm and silence. There was much work to be done and the gentle weather made the reality a bit more tolerable. When the day is heavy with humidity one can hardly move through the thickness, much less work.

We began the sizable project by bringing everything outside. It was quite a collection of unwanted and useless items, mostly of my husbands doing. Now I'm not one to just blame the man, no indeed. But me personally, I'm all for tossing it out or give it away if it's broke or not being used. He on the other hand isn't one to say no to anyone giving him their hand-me-downs.

At one time or another over the years together I've asked him not to keep most of the treasures he stored up. On several occasions I found myself asking just why he felt he needed this particular gadget and questioning what he could possibly manage with that unidentifiable object. He would always hold tight and say you just never know and then put it in the pile.

After some time I stopped asking and just accepted this as one of my husband's quirks. He would let go when he was good and ready or when he was tired of climbing over it to find what he needed. Or maybe he wouldn't and I would just have to live with it. I guess by the time this day had come he had finally reached a point of letting go.

So once we had all our unsightly junk on display for the neighborhood we began the task of preparing for what we were going to keep. Sweeping out the cobwebs and the dust that had collected just as easy as the clutter. Hanging shelves and hooks for the better storage of and access to our necessities.

Next we began to sort the piles into needs, wants and just plain old junk - I'm sure there's no need to tell you which pile was the biggest.

Each using our gifts where appropriate. Eddie making us laugh and helping his dad move the heavy items. Elena keeping our conversation fluid while making our work seem as easy as play. Jesse knowing where and how he wanted each item, handling the heavy work with ease. I was there motivating, encouraging and giving my ideas as we went. Individually moving as a team, united in our effort to be done with the whole mess.

Of course there were road bumps in the day. Take for instance around noon, after 5 hours of hard work we were all moving noticeably slower and just a tad bit cranky. So I made some lunch and grabbed our iced water and we took a rest and fueled our drained bodies. At this point Eddie and Elena had lost interest and had wandered into the house to find anything else to do. I went to round them up and rally the troops toward victory and of course I worked in a few ominous threats of torture and punishment as well. (Although I'm pretty sure they felt as if they were already being tortured).

Then we loaded the trash pile into the borrowed truck. We began by loading the big items and it took most of us to move and lift them in. Then one by one we chunked the rest on top, relief mounting with the growing pile. This was good.

Then we turned around and looked at the evidence of our long and hard labor. It was clean, we could move around in the whole of it without danger. There was easy access to each area. This is how a garage should look, worked in yes, unpolished of course, but also functional and accessible. No longer did it resemble a salvage yard with nothing to salvage. This was very, very good.

Will he ever bring home another hunk of metal? Absolutely. And I'm more than certain he won't say no to the next offer of "hey Jesse, could you use...?". Maybe it's because he sees the underlying value in each item. Perhaps to him each offer represents the essence of possibility.

When I set out to type this post it was merely to share the day of hard work. But several paragraphs into it I began so see another story, the symbolism of a separate but mirrored truth. But I won't share that with you. Everyone comes away with varied significances from a story. The fundamental notes and overtones resonating incomparably dissimilar to each ear that would listen.

Maybe it was just me. Maybe not. I'm not asking for a critique or fishing for compliments - unless you would like to offer either of those. What I am asking you to do is tell me if you caught a glimpse of another meaning, the shadow just beneath the surface. Let me know, write it out in the comments. Make it as short or as long as you like. And don't forget to check the box for follow-up comments. I talk back!

I'm It...

The lovely and beautiful Miss Courtney from Schiskablog fame has tagged me for a Book Meme.

Of course one must post the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

So I looked around and the first books I see are:
Lowe's sale magazine and My Teacher is an Alien.

But I don't think I will use either of those...

So I didn't exactly follow the rules, but when have I ever?

The next book I see is one of my favorites. Ever.

The Sonnets & Other Love Poems of William Shakespeare

Page 123
From Venus & Adonis

She, marking them, begins a wailing note,
And sings extemporally a woeful ditty,
How love makes young men thrall, and old men dote,
How love is wise in folly, foolish-witty.
Her heavy anthem stili concludes in woe,
And still the choir of echoes answer so.

Her song was tedious, and outwore the night;
For lovers' hours are long, though seeming short.
(and the rest because who can end here?)
If pleased themselves, others, they think, delight
In such-like circumstance, with such-like sport.
Their copious stories oftentimes begun
End without audience, and are never done.

But that is not a Sonnet and the sonnets are my favorite I give you

Sonnet 123

No, time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!
They pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange,
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondr'ing at the present nor the past;
For thy records and what we see do lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be:
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.

And yes, the whole of it, because if I followed the rules like a good little girl, we would be into Sonnet 124...

And now I am supposed to tag 5 of my friends.
Here we go:
I tagged Ali because she is funny. Very funny and her mum is too.
I tagged Sharon because she is an inspiration to me. And very dang funny as well!
I tagged Kelly because she gets all up in my business and encourages me in many ways.
I tagged Pluto because he has the coolest accent on the planet. No pun intended. (I think Pluto is still a planet. How can you be a planet one day and not one the next?)
& I tagged my baby girl, Elena because she is one of the most beautiful people in the world to me. But she doesn't want to do this. Her words "Do I have to?" Teenagers. Sigh.

Heart Songs

What makes music in my heart?

Listening to my daughter Elena sing...
"O Christmas Tree"
While making homemade chocolate chip cookies.

(The cookies made me hum a little tune as well...)

You know what else makes my heart sing?

Hearing my daughter Erienne's voice at 5 am.
Calling all the way from Kuwait.

"Ode to Joy"
And another thing that makes my heart sing..When my son Eddie tells me, "Geesh, you sound just like my mom."
My response?
"Your momma"
And the ensuing laughter.

Oh yeah, he...
"Loves Me Like a Rock"

F Alliteration

[Edited to add: Sounds like I am giving alliteration the old finger. But no. I am not cussing. Not now anyway. So, I guess I could say "Working titles: Today's show brought to you by the Letter F. or Adventures in F-ingham. (A real city. Just ask my boss.) or F it All (but then you would really think I was trying to cuss.) or The answer is F.) All of the Above.]

Finally, Friday, February First.
I am glad to have made it to February. Seems rather fatuous, but I do feel a reprieve from the onslaught of muck that hailed down from the heavens upon almost every moment of January. But yeah, enough of that.

Festivities, Friendship and Food
Friday we celebrated the birthday's of my favorite friends Candie & Sharon.

Happy Birthday Candie and Sharon!

We met after work at Ciro's for some fine Italian fare. Mmm, Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp. YUM. I love going out to eat with them, we always go somewhere different. And no matter where we go, the company is what's most flavorful.

One of the things I love about our unlikely friendship, is that we can be completely without makeup, masks or airs with each other. No judgments, just love.

I say unlikely because I never would have believed 2 or 3 years ago that the three of us would have become so tightly knit together. Yet here we are. We do not go a day, sometimes an hour without talking or emailing one another and never once have we run out of words.

As hard as it can be at times, each of us speaks Truth into one another's lives and I don't know what I would do without their support and encouragement, I truly don't. Next to my husband and kids they are the best thing on this earth I have.

During our coffee and dessert (chocolate mousse cake - more yum) a familiar face was seated beside us. If you've seen the show Trading Spaces, then likely you will know who I am talking about. If not, then, won't. Texas' very own Frank Bielec was there with his very beautiful wife.

We left, and left them alone. I've never been one to want a picture with a star or have their autograph, never made sense to me. But just for a brief moment I thought I should just snap one discreet picture with my phone for my blog, but I refrained. I cannot imagine having your life always on view where people feel it's their right to barge in uninvited into a private moment

Candie had to leave so Sharon and I strolled in and out of stores a little ways down. Marshall's, Pier 1 Imports, and DSW Shoes kept us entertained for several hours.

Flashback to earlier this week: while talking with co-workers about the amount of plastic surgery Joan Rivers has had, I said it was ironic since she had once made fun of Gloria Vanderbilt for the very same thing. The joke went something like, anymore face lifts and Gloria will have a goatee. And one of the girls asks "Who is Gloria Vanderbilt?" Can we talk? Oh, I felt so old.

Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were THE jeans to wear in the 80's. If you didn't wear GV's, then it was Jordache, Sergio Valente's, Chic or my all time favorite, Levi's 501 Button Fly. So...

Flash back to Friday: While we were in Marshall's I spot this tag on a pair of Jeans...
I couldn't believe it. I laughed out loud, I mean who knew they still made them? I guess...someone...might. They were noticeably without the famous stitched swan on the pocket, which leads me to the question, why bother? That was the whole point back then, so people would know what brand you advertised across your butt. A free billboard if there ever was one.

Alas, I am not one to like shopping, but it was precious time with a precious friend. I hated to end the evening, but it grew late and way past my bedtime. So by now I was ready for the comfort of my home.

When I walked in, everyone rushed to greet me. There were arms that surrounded me, paws that jumped up and clawed me, welcoming words, happy barks and all the familiarity of home.