May 31, 2012

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

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We finally went and saw Dark Shadows on Wednesday night, and honestly?  I didn't love it.  It was okay, but I wanted it to be AWESOME.  I felt like it was kind of disjointed and I didn't really connect with any of the characters.  I also thought there were things just thrown in that didn't make sense/didn't need to be there (like the thing w/the teenage daughter near the end).  Maybe it's because I never watched the show and they were nods to that, I don't know.  At least I've heard of the show, which seems not to be the case for 90% of people I know.

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I recently discovered this charming blog called Finding Magnolia.  It's written by a woman who made her family complete with a beautiful little girl named Magnolia Zinash from Ethiopia, and they will be leaving in three weeks to get their second daughter, Elvie.  How beautiful.


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I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday morning and was paging through People magazine and there was an article about Jillian Michaels and her family in there.  I did not know that she was a lesbian, and the article was about her and her partner, who adopted a little girl from Haiti around the same time the partner gave birth to a little boy.  It struck me while I was reading how wonderful and amazing the article was.  Why?  Because I get to live in a time where mainstream popular celebrities can show off their gay life partner and multi-racial children and it doesn't seem out of place at all.  It's celebrated.  I can't wait to see how the world is when my kids are having their families.


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I seriously LOVE this blog post by Swistle where she uses hot sauce as an analogy for swearing.  GENIUS!


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If you have little boys, or had them at some point, you need to read this post 20 Things Nobody Told Me About Little Boys by Amalah.  It is hilarious!  She already had me reeled in with the first one: "You will spend a crazy amount of time clipping their weed-like fingernails, even though your own nails don't grow worth a damn."


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This makes me love Will Smith:

"We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that it is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives."


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Samuel Denn & Daniel John

Looking back through some old posts recently, I came across a letter I'd written to Danny before he was born where I talked about the meaning of his name, and I thought I'd like to have it written all in one place how my boys got their names, and what they mean to me.  Neither one of them had names chosen because of the meanings, they were both chosen because they were important to us specifically.  However, it turned out that the meanings of both of their names fit.

Samuel Denn Heiner

The meaning of Samuel is "God heard" or "requested of God."  Although I didn't know this when we chose the name, how can it possibly be a coincidence that this is what his name means?  Justin and I tried for two years to have Sam.  He was wanted so, so much by both of us, and it wasn't an easy road.  Sam really was requested of God, we whispered and begged the world for him far before he was here with us.  I longed for him and cried for him to come to me.

Samuel Denn also has meaning to us specifically.  One of the people Sam is named after is his Great (x6) Grandfather, Samuel Denn.  He was a U.S. Marshal in Medicine Lodge, KS who lived in the late 1800s and later went on to serve as a member of Washington State Legislature.



The name Samuel also has meaning specifically to me.  When I was 18, a friend of mine, an amazingly talented and incredibly smart boy named Samuel, died by his own hand.  It was my first experience losing someone so close to me, and I still think about him at least once a week.  I like that our Sam has his name, and that it's a little piece of the good part of him that kind of lives on in the world.

Daniel John Heiner

Daniel means "God is my judge." Thinking about that now, I kind of like it. To me, it means that no man is his judge. He will be free to be who he is, always. I hope that gives him strength.

To be honest, we had a much harder time naming Danny.  With Sam, things came together and we had the name picked out before he was even conceived.  But with Danny, we didn't have a starting point.  Daniel is Justin's middle name, and his mother's maiden name.  It came up as an option at some point and before I knew it, I was starting to think of him as Danny and we decided to go with it.  I believe my exact words to Justin were "If we don't want him to be named Danny, we better pick something else, because I'm starting to call him that in my head."  I found out later that it's also my Mom's husband's middle name.

John means "God is gracious." 

I was never hugely interested in naming my kids after my grandparents or ancestors, other than my Mom.  If we'd had a girl, her middle name would have been Edith.  When we started debating names for Danny though, I realized I really wanted his middle name to be after my paternal Grandfather, John Luther Hayman.  As it happens, both of my Grandfathers AND my step-Grandfathers were named John.  So I gave Justin the choice of either John or Luther, and he chose John (I fully admit that part of me wanted to name him Alexander Luther, but Alexander was nixed early on).  I figured since the rest of the boys names stemmed primarily from his family, it was my turn!  I am happy to honor my Grandfather with the name, he was an amazing, kind, smart and wonderful man.

Where did your kid's names come from?
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May 29, 2012

Week 25: On the Road Again

Current Weight:  222.4
+/-  this week:  -4.2
+/- this round:   -27.4
+/- total:    -45.6
Current Short Term Goal:  217 (50 pounds lighter)

Remember last week when I was all boo hoo because of the massive number on the scale?  Well, apparently some of that was water weight or something.  Being a female at certain times of the month can be a pitfall of the number on the scale.  In any case, I was SHOCKED at weigh in today.  -4.2 lbs in one week?  I lost the 3.6 from last week, plus 0.6 more!  Awesome sauce!

I did start getting some activity again, and earned 39 activity points last week.  I also went over my weekly points by 33, but I guess it cancelled out?  In any case, I am really happy to feel like I am back on track!  I've already earned 11 activity points - walked for 1.5 hours today and 30 minutes of it was on the uphill/downhill streets around my house.

Speaking of activity, the one complaint I have about the weight watchers app for my phone is that it doesn't really give you the option for intensity level like it does when you look in the pocket guide.  For some people, you reach medium intensity walking less than 3 miles per hour depending on how much you weigh and how out of shape you are.  So, it bothers me a little because I feel like sometimes I get less activity points than I would if I just looked it up in my pocked guide where I can account for my level of intensity/effort.  A lot of times I just use the one it says in the app, even if it isn't as much as I would have wanted, because then I'm underestimating instead of overestimating and that won't hurt anything.

Today I was thinking about how one of my goals for 2012 was to be under 200 lbs before my 32nd birthday (November 23).  When I look at my numbers now, I have lost 27 pounds in the last 6 months.  I have 6 months before my birthday, and only 22.4 more pounds to reach that goal.  Sitting here today, it seems completely attainable, and that is exciting to me.  I'll still be 40 lbs above my goal weight, but I have not been under 200 pounds in...  I don't even know.  7 years?  Definitely before I got pregnant with Sam.  I have also been doing pretty well on my goal of exercising 3 times a week.  I walk A LOT with Danny in his stroller.  I would like to start doing Zumba or something again, but it's hard to find time to do it with the kids underfoot etc.

5 pounds to go until my next goal is met!

Starting Weight 1 (Feb 2009):  267 lbs
Starting Weight 2 (Dec 2011):  249.8 lbs
Starting BMI:  41.8

Weight Lost:  45.6 lbs
Goal Weight: 160 lbs
Goal BMI:  25.1

Short Term Goal 1: 237.8 (5%) - Met 1/24/12
Short Term Goal 2: 225.8 (10%) - Met 4/10/12
Short Term Goal 3:  217 (50 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 4: 213.5 (50% of final goal)
Short Term Goal 5:  207 (60 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 6: 199.9 (under 200 for the first time in 7+ years)
Short Term Goal 7: 192 (75 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 8: 189.8 (25% & no longer "obese")

Long Term Goal: 160 lbs
Total to Lose:  107 lbs
To Go: 63.4 lbs
[Continue reading...]

May 24, 2012

Friday Fragments!

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

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I saw this at Barnes and Noble this week and realized I hate it when people replace the heart in I heart New York with other symbols.  Why does it bug me so much?  I'll never know.

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Then check out Pictureless Pinterest on Twitter.  It is kind of hilarious.


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I updated our wall calendar, which is a dry erase board that holds 5 weeks, and the last day of school is up there.  AGH!  I am having a little anxiety because I had a really difficult time last summer with the kids and not having any breaks from their antics.  We have a few plans for the summer, and I'm going to try and get down to Seattle to visit friends at least once every couple of weeks.  I can't believe that Sam is almost a first grader.  It just seems so much older than a Kindergartener...

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Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Justin and I get to take Saturday and Sunday off and head to the King Tut exhibit at the science center & maybe an IMAX - so excited!

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May 23, 2012

The Trouble with Snark

It seems to be a trend these days for people to be snarky.  What is snark?  It's basically a combination of "snide" and "remark."  It's a way of using sarcasm as humor.  Sometimes, it can be funny, but the problem is that sometimes it can be hurtful.  Particularly in online forums, I feel like sometimes people use snark to say things they might not say face to face, and it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

I had two experiences recently that have left me feeling a little hurt, and wondering if the women who typed comments on my Facebook page would have said those same things to me in conversation.

The first happened after Easter, when I posted the following to my status:

"If your kid starts to cry and freak on the way home from an Easter party, you may be frustrated until the light goes on that there is an imbalance of the cookies and candy to real food ratio, and solve everything with a stop for chicken nuggets."

And minute later, this was the response I got from a friend:

"Chicken nuggest count as real food? LULZ!"

Okay...  I understand that everyone chooses to feed their kids differently, and I don't judge for it.  My son is only 6, and has sensory issues and different types of delays.  He only eats about 7 different foods EVER.  The chicken nuggets were breaded, yes.  But the majority of what they're made of is white meat chicken, and for a kid who barely eats, they DO count as real food.  They give him protein and nutrients.

When I read it, it a little bit made me want to cry.  Why?  Because it wasn't just a funny, witty, snarky thing to say.  It was judging me, and basically saying that if I think that's real food I am either a bad parent or stupid.  I am neither.  I take care of my children, and am offended by the idea that I'm not providing for them because I don't buy organic chicken cutlets and bake them in my oven every time I need to give them some protein.  I also talk to my kid's pediatrician and his occupational therapist and his special ed teacher about ways to try and expand his diet.

The second comment happened more recently, and was less personal, but still rubbed me the wrong way.  After the Glee episode where Bieste admited to being abused by her husband, and went back to him at the end, I posted this:

"Oh man... Glee just broke my heart a little."

I didn't go into details because I didn't want to spoil the show for anyone who hadn't watched it already.  Domestic Violence is a serious issue, and one that I have been involved in as a volunteer.  I thought they dealt with it well, and I was expressing my feelings about it.  A friend wrote:

"uh, by sucking for the last 2 seasons?"

I managed to respond just that it's not for everyone, but I still like it.  But it hurt my feelings. 

I just don't understand the urge to say something hurtful to be funny.  Both of these times, the people who posted the snarky comments could have just said nothing.  If someone else obviously likes something I don't like, I don't feel the need to walk up and tell them how much it sucks or imply that they shouldn't like it.  In both instances, the comments made me feel like I was being told I was stupid for doing something a certain way, or liking something that I like.

It's possible that these people would have said these things to my face.  But it's so much easier online to just say these things without thinking about how it could make the other person feel.  In the end, I just don't understand why the comments were neccesary.  There are situations where sarcasm and snark are appropriate - when you know someone well enough to know the comment will be well received or that it won't hurt their feelings.  But there is a line between being witty and being mean.  The blurring of that line, well, that's the trouble with snark.
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May 22, 2012

Week 24: Fat.

Current Weight:  226.6
+/-  this week:  +3.6
+/- this round:   -23.2
+/- total:    -41.4
Current Short Term Goal:  217 (50 pounds lighter)

Last week I didn't go to weigh in and I wrote about how I needed to get back on track.  Well, guess what I didn't do?

I went this week because I really DO need to get back on track.  And the number was not awesome.  It's possible part of it is because of wearing heavier clothes etc, but really?  It's just because I have not held myself accountable at all for the last two weeks.  I hadn't tracked any points for 8 days before today, which is something I haven't done since December - even when I have gone over by a lot, I've still tracked.

I'm not happy.  I just feel fat.  I know everyone slips, but I am frustrated at myself for letting it go and for going back on the progress I had made.  Because I can gain 3 pounds in two weeks, but it will likely take me twice as long to get rid of it again. 

My eating is highly connected to my emotions, and I've been stressed.  It makes it a lot harder for me to stay on track, because I turn to food for comfort even though I know it's not REALLY going to mae me feel better.  But I've been stressed before and I just have to work harder at this. 

I also haven't been doing any activity, so this week I'm back to my goal of some kind of walking at least every day, even if it's just going to the mall for an hour. 

I don't really feel like writing anything else right now.

Starting Weight 1 (Feb 2009):  267 lbs
Starting Weight 2 (Dec 2011):  249.8 lbs
Starting BMI:  41.8

Weight Lost:  41.4 lbs
Goal Weight: 160 lbs
Goal BMI:  25.1

Short Term Goal 1: 237.8 (5%) - Met 1/24/12
Short Term Goal 2: 225.8 (10%) - Met 4/10/12
Short Term Goal 3:  217 (50 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 4: 213.5 (50% of final goal)
Short Term Goal 5:  207 (60 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 6: 199.9 (under 200 for the first time in 7+ years)
Short Term Goal 7: 192 (75 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 8: 189.8 (25% & no longer "obese")

Long Term Goal: 160 lbs
Total to Lose:  107 lbs
To Go: 67.6 lbs
[Continue reading...]

May 16, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

If you haven't heard of Fifty Shades of Grey yet, you may be living under a rock.  I first heard about this book several months ago.  It's a breakout hit from a new author who originally conceived the story as Twilight fanfiction, and it's become seriously popular with women all over the world.  It came up for discussion as a choice for my book club, and we'll be discussing it at our May meeting ths weekend.  It's an easy read, I finished it in probably five hours or less, and read the entire first half in one sitting.  Here are my thoughts on what's become the most talked about book of 2012.  This entry contains spoilers, so if you haven't finished the series and don't want to know some of the details, come back after you've read all three books!  Also, it's long... sorry about that.  But I have stuff to say!

The Popularity

First and foremost, I don't quite understand why this book has taken off like it has.  It's all over the media, inspiring parodies, SNL skits, and terrible 50 Shades jewelry on Etsy.  The writing is pretty abominable (more on that later).  It reads like fanfiction or an online erotic story, not like a novel that's been through stages and stages of editing and been rewritten and refined (though I did see some excerpts from the original story, Master of the Universe, and they were actually worse).  At that, I have read both fanfiction and erotic fiction that are much more well written with no professional editing.  After I finished it, I began reading some articles online, and one of them that focused on the genre of fanfiction said some of what I was thinking.

Sonia Bolasco, in her article On Fan Fiction, Open Secrets, and Shades of Gray, says:
"If you don’t know what Fifty Shades of Grey is, I’ll enlighten you. It’s a novel that began as a piece of Twilight fan fiction and became a best-selling phenomenon. It’s a romance, I guess, about a mysterious man and a woman who falls for him. As far as I can tell, without having read any of it, it’s mostly about sex. They have a lot of kinky sex, tie-me-up and hit me sort of sex? And people like to read it, especially – according to the media – women.

Do you ever have what I like to call a hipster moment? Like, when you realize you’ve known about something forever and the rest of the world has just discovered it? This is how I felt reading Entertainment Weekly’s article about Fifty Shades of Gray. There seems to be a lot of tittering and blushing going on in the media about this book, with the undercurrent of oh my, women like to read about kinky sex? What is this madness? I know, right? It’s insanity. The next thing you know women will be enjoying sex too, and then what will we do? THE WORLD WILL END.

The slightly quieter but ever-present element of this debate is also: Fan fiction! What is this fan fiction?! As if author E L James was the first person on earth to think: Hey, I like that story and those characters, I think I’ll write one of my own where things go a little differently! In this case I guess the Bella and Edward-inspired characters have more sex of the BDSM variety, though from my impressions of the actual Twilight saga, that’s not that far off from what those of us in fandom call “canon,” or the original source material."
So, what IS it about this book that has women all riled up?  Is is the fact that they have never read erotic fiction before?  I've read erotic fiction, both in books and online, I've read romance novels that border on erotica, and I've read Laurell K. Hamilton.  It does occur to me, however, that a lot of women have never read anything close to this explicit before.  Which is too bad, because it can be a lot of fun.  I hope that maybe in reading this, women will realize that there is a whole other world out there they might want to explore.

Maybe another part of the appeal is that you can read this, and have the excuse that it's been everywhere and EVERYONE is reading it.  A lot of women would never, ever pick up a prince charming romance novel, or even venture into the romance section of a boostore.  Here, they can get their romance novel without admitting it.  Indulge in their fantasies without feeling quite as silly as they would picking up a Harlequin novel.

For me, part of the appeal WAS it's popularity.  I am really interested in both books and pop culture, so when this thing took off... it was inevitable that I would read it.  Even if the topic didn't interest me, I find a value in reading a book or watching a movie that is getting so much attention and has become important in the media.

The Writing

To put it bluntly, the writing is terrible.  I consider myself a writer, and I am hard on myself a lot of the time, but I feel like I could have written this better.  I just don't understand why once this started to take off, it was not put through a better editing and polishing process.  Although I guess it doesn't really matter since it's managed to become this popular even with the writing the way it is. 

In an interview in EW April 6, "The stuff she wrote before FIFTY SHADES was, by her own admission, "terrible. But I thought it was God's gift! I just had to sit down and get it out of me."  They refer to it as Fifty's "rough literary style" but I would disagree with using the word "literary" to describe these books at all.  There is a difference between writing in a rough style on purpose and just not being that great a writer.
The dialogue includes a lot of repetition of phrases, and has Christian Grey talking as if he is about 80 years old a lot of the time.  This is one of the places we run into the problem of this story having started off as fanfiction - speaking in a dated way would make sense for Edward Cullen, he has been around for a while.  But for a modern day 27 year old man?  Not so much.  Beyond the dialogue, there were a few huge sticking points for me...

If I had to hear Ana inaccurately talk about her subconcsious one more time, I thought I was going to stick a fork in my eye.  She constantly refers to her subconscious with sentences like "Maybe he thinks you haven't woken up yet, my subconscious whines at me in a sneering mood again."  Or this particular gem, "Stop! Stop Now! - My subconscious metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration."  I could have done without ANY of her subcinscious OR her 'inner goddess'. 

First of all, your subconcsious is called that because it's something you are not conscious of.  I could not get past the fact that James was using Ana's subconscious as another full on character in the story.  To me, it just felt like a lazy way to write what Ana was thinking or feeling without being more descriptive or thinking of a better way to show those feelings.
I couldn't get past the overuse of the phrase 'fifty shades of grey.'  It happened over and over and over.  In many variations, in Ana's head and out loud in Christian and Ana's dialogue.  It was ridiculously overdone.  You can work the title/theme of your story in without beating the readers over the head with it every two chapters.

Finally, I think the writing was hugely inconsistant in terms of the language James decided to use.  One minute she is writing "oh my: and "I could gaze at him all day, but I have needs - bathroom needs."  Then, next thing you know, she is turning around using literary references to Tess of the D'urbervilles or using words like profligate and saying he is richer than Croesus. Ana thinks about her brain ("My medulla oblongata recalls it's purpose. I breathe...") and at one point in the story, James refers to Ixion's wheel...  I am not ashamed to admit I had to look that one up, and in a book like this?  There shouldn't be analogies and language the average adult can't understand.

Then there are things that are just... weird.  Like at one point she randomly refers to Christian as Bluebeard for a few pages... what?  I don't get it.  Then she describes his S&M cave as "womb-like."  At one point, James mentions fond memories of playing snooker on the billiard table, which makes no sense because no one in the US even knows what snooker is.  I realize that's not a huge thing, but I get really bugged by things like that because it would have been so easy to fix.

Details are lacking in some areas, and overabundant in others - Ana loves "Twinings English Breakfast" tea, and it comes up several times that it's her favorite.  I'm not sure why that detail is so important, it's not an artisan tea or anything, they sell it at Walmart.  She randomly inserts this gem to remind us they're in Seattle: "...reach into the glove box and retrieve the baseball caps. The Mariners. He likes baseball." and namechecks Voodoo Donuts in Portland.  These details are only going to connect with people who are from the Pacific Northwest.  The Esacala is a real condo building in Seattle, but I only know that because I saw an article about it, and I live 2 hours from there.

The Story

When it all comes down to it, the actual story and plot don't vary that much from either Twilight or from a run of the mill romance novel or chick lit book.  In one scene from the first book, Ana is almsot plowed down by a bicycle, and the similarity to the scene where Edward rescues Bella from being crushed by a car is ridiculous.

I found a couple of huge problems with the story.  The first is Christian's wealth and empire.  His wealth at such a young age makes sense for Edward, since he was not actually young, but not so much for a human that young.  In book 2 he enlightens her that he makes $100,000 an hour... how?
Also related to the business side of things, Ana continuously questions Christian about situations that arise in his business.  This made no sense to me.  For one thing, he is a businessman and she is young, naive, and far from a businessperson.  Yet she continues to a. question him about his affairs as if he should be telling her everything and b. get upset when she doesn't understand everything he's doing.  I didn't get that at all.  In the 3rd book she wonders why she didn't know he has business with people in Taiwan, but a better question would be why WOULD she know?

As  I got into the second book, the story developed more and I felt that the plotline got more interesting.  However, I also felt that things moved way, way too fast.  With Twilight, at least it took place over a year or more.  At the end of the second book, Ana is saying yes to moving in with Christian, then to marrying him... after, what, a month?  When they get back from their honeymoon, they have only been together for three months.  It's just too unrealistic.  I know that the story is told without gaps in time, but sometimes gaps in time can make a story better.

There were also inconsistencies in the story that I felt were just... sloppy.  For example, about 100 pages into the third book they have a conversation in which Ana says that "of course" she has made out with other guys.  She won't tell him with who, and she starts to say "Well, the first time..." and he interrupts and you can guess where it goes.  I thought she had never kissed anyone before and was left confused by the whole scene. 

In the 3rd book she finally starts to get things - like that sex is his coping mechanism.  She doesn't see it before that largely due to her complete obliviousness to the world (see next section). 

I saw Ana's pregnancy in the third book coming from a mile away.  Why else would James have put such a freakisly huge emphasis on Ana's birth control throughout the two other books?  Every time they had sex she had to mention the 'foil packet' of the condom.  On a side note, when she gets pregnant, the dr. says "Looks like the shot ran out early.  Oh well, that happens sometimes."  WHAT DO YOU MEAN OH WELL?  If my doctor said that to me, I might punch them in the nose.  It just happens sometimes?! 
 
The Characters

Ana

I read Twilight.  I get that Bella was naive, so James made Ana naive.  However, I did not feel that it was realistic that someone could be THAT sheltered and unaware of the world around them.  Really?  You've never held hands or kissed a boy or masturbated?  And didn't seem to grow up in a particularly oppressive or religious home?  How does that work?  It just seems cliche and not real.  Especially since she claims to have never WANTED to kiss anyone. 

I know that there is the rare person out there who doesn't kiss before they get married, but it's just that - rare.  And it seems that most of the time it's a result of a strictly religious or sheltered upbringing, not a normal childhood which includes her mother having four different husbands.  She claims never to have felt desire before, which is just ridiculous.  I don't believe there is a single girl out there who goes through puberty without liking a boy or dreaming about her first kiss or feeling SOME glint of desire.  Ana feels naught using his toothbrush and is shocked when he puts on his jeans without underwear despite the dirty sex they just had.  It got old.

Her naivetai extends far beyond men and sex though.  When Christian gives her the laptop and she opens it, she thinks, "I have an email address?"  Really?  She didn't use email at college?  She says she doesn't want or need a computer indefinitely... what?  Honestly, there is no way you could get through college in 2012 (or even in 2001, which is when I was in college) without using a computer extensively and having an email address set up.  I'm pretty sure I don't even know anyone who doesn't own a computer, even if they don't use it that much.  It is a necessity.  Ana is interested in the world of publishing, so she's on a track to go into a business work environment.

I found her naivetai regarding Christian's past disappointing as well.  Ana doesn't glean a thing from his obvious issues with food.  She never suspects that he might have gone hungry?  As you get into the second book, she finds out more about his past, and she is shocked that his sadism has anything to do with his abusive mother.  Really?  I can't believe that she could possibly be SO naive.  Example:

"You know I don't like talking about all that shit. It's done. Fishished," he says quietly.
No, Christian, it isn't. The thought saddens me, and for the first time I wonder if it will ever be finished."

It takes her until 50 pages into the 3rd book to finally come to this.

I found myself annoyed with Ana for constantly fighting against his gifts. I know that it can be hard to accept gifts when you're not use to it, but this guy is basically that tophat guy from Monopoly.  Or Daddy Warbucks.  In other words, these things are like chump change, so why get mad about him buying you a gift?  She gets pissed when he upgrades her to first class... really??

The most grating thing to me about Ana may have been how she was constantly doing things that she KNEW were going to make him mad, but then acting surprised when he actually was mad.  Okay, listen.  Either you're making him mad on purpose, or you are just that stupid.  It's like she doesn't ever think ahead by two seconds or bother to consider his feelings about anything.  She acts like a selfish child who can't be honest with her partner, doing things like deciding to 'defy him' by going out for drinks, but not bothering to tell him, then acting surprised when he gets upset even though she knows how controlling he is.  I can't believe someone could continue to be that unthoughtful or naive when they're spending 24/7 with the other person.

When she finds out she is pregnant, she is not sure whether she is allowed to drink alcohol anymore or not.  I think the thing that bothers me most about all of this is that she is supposed to be written as a self-assured, strong female who stands up for herself... But she doesn't pay attention to the world she lives in, and to me, I don't think you can be strong without being aware. 

Christian

Ana wasn't the only character I had problems with in this story.  Christian was inconsistantly written as a character.  He is supposed to be cool and hard, yet he keeps referring to  Ana as 'baby.'  It just didn't fit with his character at all.  He also continuously refers to his mother as "the crack whore."  I don't buy that at all.  I totally buy the idea that he could hate his birth mother, that she hurt him and that it was an awful time in his life.  But I can't actually think of a single situation where someone would continuously use those words to describe the mother that they hated.  I could see not using her name, or not referring to her at all, but this was just over the top and it really bothered me.  Especially since he goes to extensive therapy, and I feel like that's an issue his therapist would have addressed after the 10th or 20th time Christian had referred to her as such during a session.

More than halfway through the 3rd book, he finally realizes that his relationship with Mrs. Robinson was bad for him.  This is a good thing... but at the same time I don't see how he can be seeing a therapist (who is presumably highly expensive and educated and well lauded) and not have figured this out after years and years of talking about it.

Christian's character is developed more in the last 2 books, and he comes out a bit more fleshed out.  He's supposed to be smoking hot, and a little control can be a turn on.  But in an article on CafeStir, Maressa Brown voices something I thought too:
"Although Christian is ultimately a three-dimensonal, sympathetic character, he's also described repetitively as mercurial. Ana can't keep up with his ever-changing moods that blow breathtakingly hot to bone-chillingly cold. At least through most of the first book, Fifty's mysterious nature and hair-trigger mood swings have Anastasia walking on eggshells, petrified that he's going to snap. And this is somehow supposed to be ... sexy as hell?
I'm sorry, but what a crap message to send women!"
The problem is, Christian is kind of an asshole.  I know a lot of romance novels start out this way - guys is closed off and has a temper, but it turns out there's a legit reason for it.  That doesn't make it okay that he's being an asshole in the first place, and we end up with another "woman fixing man" story.  And I don't know about you, but I've learned that in real life?  You can't fix/change a man, only they can do it for themselves.

The Sex

Let's get into the real reason women are devouring these books, shall we?  I struggled a lot with the sexual aspect of the book, but not because I didn't like it.  Some of the sex was hot, I'm not denying that. The first time Christian pushed Ana up against the wall in the elevator I felt that little flutter. The problem is, by the end of the first book, the ratio of story to sex scenes was so out of balance.  I felt like I was becoming desensitized, in fact I started to skim through the sex scenes instead of reading every word.  The problem continued into the second book. 

I think that one of the reasons that these books have been so popular is because of the BDSM element to some of the sex.  I did think that the erotic scenes exploring Christian's dominance and Ana's limits were the best ones.  When it came to the 'vanilla' sex, it seemed to me that the hottest part of the sex scenes was the beginning- he pushes her up against the wall of the elevator and kisses her, he bends her over the piano.  It was best when it was unexpected and he wanted her so much, because that's a part of the fantasy - what woman doesn't want a man to desire her that much?  But it was the day-to-day normal sex that became way too plentiful to the point of me not even caring anymore.

I was also disappointed that the reason behind all of his behavior turned out to be that he was abused as a young child.  Why?  Because it just makes it so that the BDSM stuff meant that Christian is messed up/broken and not really doing what he wants, but what he's compelled to do because he's fucked up.  I would have liked the story better at face value if he was more normal and just had these preferences because I feel that would have been a better introduction into this world for all the women reading these books. 

I do understand that people who are truly sadists - which it turns out that Christian did struggle with - often have abuse in their pasts.  However, I found myself wishing that there could be a more realistic portrayal of the more common BDSM relationships that exist.  In the third book at one point he tells her he wants to punish her and "really beat the shit out" of her, and I felt like that was the first time we really get a peek at how he truly has sadistic thoughts beyond a playful dominant submissive situation.  I just don't like it being both ways - for two books it comes off as a preference, then suddenly he is coming off as really wanting to hurt her, and it rubbed me the wrong way.

In the EW article I mentioned above, they talked to a professional:
"Not everyone is charmed by the sex in Fifty, either. Some believe Ana and Christian have an abusive relationship that misrepresents BDSM sex play.  He tells her when to eat, he stals her and goes into jealous rages every time she's talking to her male friends. I'm like, that has nothing to do with BDSM. That's just a good old-fashioned abuseive, controlling boyfriend," says sexologist Jill McDevitt, owner of the feminist sex show Feminique Boutique, in West Chester, PA.
This is part of my problem.  Ana is turned on by him, but also continues to do things she is clearly uncomfortable with, ultimately culmiating in letting him actually hurt her then turning around and blaming him then running away. I feel that this is giving people the wrong idea about real D/S relationships, which are build around mutual desire, trust, and respect. At one point, he is telling her that this type of relationship is built on trust and that it won't work unless he knows that she trusts him... but they just met, she's naive, and he springs all of this on her. Why SHOULD she trust him?  This is part of my problem with the story moving so fast, and of Christian trying to enter into a contract with someone who not only has never heard of this world, but has never even kissed a boy.

Beyond the issues behind the sex itself, the actual erotic writing was full of language I just couldn't take. If you're going to write erotica, much less bondage erotica, please, please learn to use words other than "behind" or "backside" or "down there." Stop talking about a sexy man's "happy, happy trail" or "oh-so-happy trail."  It seemed like James couldn't decide if this was romance novel fluff with throbbing members and velvet caves, or hard core sex.  She describes an orgasm as "pushing me higher, going to the castle in the air" and then turns around and they talk about butt plugs and fisting. Is this hardcore, or not?  It was muddled and confused.

Not only that, but Ana's ability to climax constantly seemed unrealistic.  Her roomate Kate says "yeah, took almost a year to have my first orgasm through penetrative sex and here you are... first time?"  Really?  Because I'm pretty sure it takes the majority of women years, or it never happens at all.  That is so far removed from most women, as is the fact that multiple times she reaches orgasm just by having her nipples played with.  On top of that, every time they have sex Ana climaxes first, then Christian climaxes immediately after... that is just not the way it usually happens.  Not only was it unrealistic, but it got old having every single sex scene end the same exact way... how about a little variety?  I suppose maybe this is all part of the fantasy, but part of a good fantasy is relatability, and I'd venture to say those things are not relatable to a significant portion of the female population.

It bothered me how he was always constantly telling her to keep still and be quiet while they were having sex.  Perhaps that is part of the fantasy too, but like a lot of things in the story, it was just SO overdone.

The Worst of It

I could not stop myself from bookmarking some of the worst pieces of writing as I read, so here they are.  I can't help it.

"Next, I set up the mini disc recorder and am all fingers and thumbs, dropping it twice on the coffee table in front of me."  Isn't everyone always all fingers and thumbs?  Wouldn't it have made more sense to say all thumbs?

"Ray is a skilled carpenter and the reason I know the difference between a hawk and a handsaw."

"Portland disappears in front of us as we head into US airspace..."

"His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something."

"...and I don't know if I'm running toward something or away from it... it's just not clear."

On several occasions, he feeds her wine. By putting it in his mouth and basically spitting it into hers. EW.  Also, it wouldn't be cool and crisp after having been in his mouth.

I don't even know what to do with this: "Weirdly, all the wood, dark walls, moodly lighting and oxblood leather makes the room kind of soft and romantic... I know it's anything but; this is Christian's version of soft and romantic."  Not really...

"His pants hang from his hips, in that way... oh my..."

"I close my eyes and surrender to his oh-so-adroit tongue."

"My subconscious loos up from her book - The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1 - with alarm."

"Damage report? Argon? It rings a distant bell from chemistry class - an element, I think."

"My inner goddess is celebrating her inner bitch."

One word:  tampon.  If you've read it, you know what I mean.  WHAT THE...?  How is that necessary??

Also, I would now like to ban the following words/phrases:
  • oh my
  • just-fucked hair
  • quirks up (as in, he "quirks up his lip at me")
  • smirk
  • laters, baby
  • calling your spouse 'mr. lastname' or 'mrs. lastname'
  • Mr. Mercurial
  • twitchy palm
  • kinky fuckery

Final Thoughts

Yes, I thought it was poorly written.  Yes, the main characters grated on my nerves.  Yet, I continued to read, finishing all three books within a week.  Obviously, there was something there pulling me in to the story.  In the end, it's just a romance novel - the classic fantasy of a rich man sweeping you up and giving you everything. It's a Cinderella story, and one I'd say most women have dreamed about or fantasized about at one point or another.  I like romantic movies, this is basically the equivalent, with a little kink thrown in.  I liked the story okay, but I LOVE books with really, actually strong female characters and that was not this.

If you're curious about it, why not read it?  It's not going to take up that much of your time.  If you need some inspiration for your daydreams about meeting a rich man and being swept away, this could work.  But if you are only interested because of the erotic element, why not just go to the erotic fiction section of your bookstore, or if you're not ready for that, try literotica.com...  You'll find fiction that's better written and just as hot.

Now, you've read enough. Enjoy this video of the SNL skit.

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May 15, 2012

Week 23: Getting Back on Track

Current Weight:  223.0 (last week)+/-   
this week:  -?
+/- this round:   -26.8
+/- total:    -44.9
Current Short Term Goal:  217 (50 pounds lighter)

I had a pretty bad week.  Didn't get a ton of activity and went way over my weekly points.  I decided not to go get weighed today.  First, I left my book at home, then after thinking about it I decided that I don't need to.  I know I didn't lose, and I might have gained, and I've been off track.  I don't need a number on a scale to tell me that.  So instead, I am going to get back on track and go back next week.  I think that skipping every once in a while is fine, as long as you're not doing it solely to avoid thining about where you are or how you've been doing.

In other news, I have an awesome problem.  My pants don't fit.  Most of my long pants are too big, and it's starting to get warmer so I'm wearing a lot of my capris and pedal pushers, but I need at least a couple of pairs of long pants that fit.  Especially since where I live, there are plenty of days even in the summer where it's a bit chilly.  The problem is that I have not been able to find new jeans that fit, are comfortable, and are within what I want to pay.  Part of the issues it that all of them seem to be so LONG.  I don't get this... I am 5'7", which is 3 inches above the national average height... so why are all the pants several inches too long on me???  I am even long legged/short torsoed... it makes no sense.  I'm going to try going back to  Labels, a local consignment, to see if I can find any there.

That's about it for this week.  Today or tomorrow I'm going to make a new menu plan and go shopping so I can start cooking delicious meals again because that always helps keep me on track.  How was your week?

Starting Weight 1 (Feb 2009):  267 lbs
Starting Weight 2 (Dec 2011):  249.8 lbs
Starting BMI:  41.8

Weight Lost:  44.9 lbs
Goal Weight: 160 lbs
Goal BMI:  25.1

Short Term Goal 1: 237.8 (5%) - Met 1/24/12
Short Term Goal 2: 225.8 (10%) - Met 4/10/12
Short Term Goal 3:  217 (50 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 4: 213.5 (50% of final goal)
Short Term Goal 5:  207 (60 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 6: 199.9 (under 200 for the first time in 7+ years)
Short Term Goal 7: 192 (75 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 8: 189.8 (25% & no longer "obese")

Long Term Goal: 160 lbs
Total to Lose:  107 lbs
To Go: 63 lbs
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May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother's love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star. ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

Me and my Mom, 1981

Me, my Mom and my sister, 1982/3
Justin and his Mom, 198?
Me and my Stepmom, or as I explain to my kids, "2nd mom", 1998

Me and my Mom & Stepmom, 2003
My sister and my paternal Grandmother, 2005

Me and Sam, 2006

Me and Danny, 2010
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving
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May 11, 2012

My President, My Hope

On a Thursday afternoon, I found myself sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Bellingham trying not to cry.  I am the first to admit that I am not super politically active.  Yes, I vote.  And I have political views which are based on the morals and values by which I choose to live my life.  But I generally don't go to rallies, read message boards, or choose to get into political debates.  There are few issues that get me worked up enough to feel emotional.

Today as I was reading through old birthday letters that I had written to my boys, I came across a letter that I wrote to Sam two days after Barak Obama was elected President.  Reading through it, I became teary eyed, because I remember the feeling of relief and of how proud I was that the people had spoken.  We said that what had happened in this country for the last 8 years was NOT okay.  What had been done in the name of patriotism was NOT okay.  We stood up and we said we needed a change.

This week, Barak Obama sat in front of the nation for which he was elected leader, and declared that he supports same-sex marriage.  I cannot even type those words without tearing up.  I have written before about gay marriage, both in relation to California's and then Washington's legalization of gay marriage earlier this year.  I feel incredibly strongly about this issue.  I have gay friends, and my cousin Emaleigh, one of my favorite people in the world, is a lesbian.  The idea that she cannot be legally married in the state she has lived in for her entire life breaks my heart and at the same time fills me with anger.  Where do people get off denying rights to an entire group of people in this day and age?

I am so proud of Obama.  For showing his support for the basic human rights of people who just happen to be gay.  For showing that ideas can change, and evolve.  For, one again, giving me hope.  Michelle at Burgh Baby wrote a great post today called Thank You, Mr. President.  I loved how she put this:
"The facts, as I see them, are as simple as this: love is love. If two people want to celebrate their love by making a lifelong commitment, it should be their decision to make. My life will change in no way when  same-sex marriage becomes a norm. There may be benefits that come about, but there most certainly will be no harm.
My marriage will mean just as much then as it does now."
She talks about how this makes her feel in relation to her young daughter, and the world she will grow up in.  This is where I get even more sentimental.  I want my boys to grow up in a world that is good.  I hope that by the time they are older, they will not even realize that people used to be treated differently because of their sexual orientation.  I hope that they will see it in the same light I see women or black people getting the vote, and feel disbelief that those basic rights were denied so recently.  I hope that same-sex marriage will be something they don't even think about as not having existed.  I want them to grow up in a world where tolerance quashes hatred, where love conquers oppression.  I hope that when they watch this video, they will find nothing out of the ordinary about seeing an African-American President declare that same-sex marriage should be legal, and that I will have to explain to them why it was a big deal.



There are those who like to say that Barak Obama has not done enough for our country.  Frankly, I don't care.  I could point out that Obama's spending is less than a quarter of what Bush spent.  I could show you fact after fact about what he's done.  Beyond all that, he has given me, and millions of others, something to believe in.  He has started us back on the path to having a country we can be proud of again.  Things are changing, and it is beautiful.  I know there is a long way to go before it's a reality everywhere like it is here in Washington, but I am so happy that we are on our way.  And I'd echo Michelle and just say this: Thank you, Mr. President.  For giving me hope again. 
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May 10, 2012

Dear Danny - Two!


Dear Danny,

I absolutely cannot believe that you are turning two today.  Two years ago today I was having a birth experience that was much different than I'd imagined, but perfect in it's own way.  I don't think I will ever get tired of sharing the story of how you came into the world, no matter how old I get.

You are still the happiest kid I've ever known.  You are smiling more often than not, and you have this way of scrunching up your face and grinning that makes it impossible not to smile back.  

During the times you're NOT smiling, lately your feelings have become clear, and it has been patently obvious that you are now a two year old.  The other day you screamed bloody murder as you walked inconsolably back and forth between the kitchen and living room.  Why?  Because I would not let you have more than two spoons to put in MY cereal which it turned out you did not even want to share, just wanted to play with.  Daddy and I don't remember Sam being this way.  But with such happiness being the norm, it only made sense that your twos would be more terrible.

Those times are in the minority though.  Most of the time, you are delightful.  You have started talking more, and in the last week alone have started to say 'up', 'help', and 'hi'.  You say 'yeah' and 'car' and 'dog' and 'mama' and 'e-e' for Grandma Edie.  When you say 'dada' you almost always say it in a funny growly voice, and when you say 'cat' your voice gets really high.  I just can't wait until we can really talk to each other.

You love to play with cars and are starting to enjoy puzzles a lot.  You love to take things in and out, and stack, and line things up.  Your favorite toys are your Mickey Mouse toys, the alligator you pull, and the ride-on pony that our friends got you for your birthday last year.  Even though you still don't ride it right, you stand up and lift it with your hands and walk around with it between your legs.  It's actually really funny.  You love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Octonauts.  You like to jump and bounce, and you give the best hugs.  You will eat most foods, as long as someone nearby is eating it too.  Your favorite food right now is clementine oranges.

My love for you can't be contained in words, and I can't REALLY explain to the world how fabulous you are.  I captured this photo of you at the Tulip Festival, and it is just so... YOU.


I love you, little man!  Happy Birthday.

Love,
Mama
[Continue reading...]

May 9, 2012

Week 22: Keep on Truckin'

Current Weight:  223.0
+/-  this week:  -1.2
+/- this round:   -26.8
+/- total:    -44.9
Current Short Term Goal:  217 (50 pounds lighter)

Another good week at the scales!  I didn't expect this much of a loss since I went over my weekly points again (imagine how well I might do if I STOPPED doing that...) and didn't get a ton of activity points because Justin was out of town and other people were in town, and it just wasn't quite a normal week.

I've got 3.2 pounds to go before I hit 30 pounds down for this round, and then less than 2 pounds after that to his minus 50 overall.  I hope that I can keep going steadily and get there soon!

I know that there was something I was thinking about talking about this week related to weight loss and food, but I am so exhausted that I can't remember what it was.  Maybe next week!

Starting Weight 1 (Feb 2009):  267 lbs
Starting Weight 2 (Dec 2011):  249.8 lbs
Starting BMI:  41.8

Weight Lost:  44.9 lbs
Goal Weight: 160 lbs
Goal BMI:  25.1

Short Term Goal 1: 237.8 (5%) - Met 1/24/12
Short Term Goal 2: 225.8 (10%) - Met 4/10/12
Short Term Goal 3:  217 (50 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 4: 213.5 (50% of final goal)
Short Term Goal 5:  207 (60 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 6: 199.9 (under 200 for the first time in 7+ years)
Short Term Goal 7: 192 (75 pounds down)
Short Term Goal 8: 189.8 (25% & no longer "obese")

Long Term Goal: 160 lbs
Total to Lose:  107 lbs
To Go: 63 lbs
[Continue reading...]

May 8, 2012

Mommy Burnout

This week, I am struggling.  After being alone with the kids all last week while Justin was in Mexico on his mission trip and not getting a break over the weekend, I am feeling totally burned out.  It was hard to be without a second parent, and combined with the emotional aftermath of a great visit with my stepmom & sister, I am just exhausted.  

I hate feeling this way, I am tired and on the verge of breaking down, and I really don't feel like playing with my kids.  How awful.  And yet, here I am.  I keep going because I have no choice, but I admit that right now Sam is watching TV and Danny is passed out on the couch.  I need a vacation.  In fantasyland, I have a week to myself, to do whatever I want without thinking about anyone else.  To take care of my needs instead of theirs.  To stay up late and sleep all through the night, restfully, until I decide to get up.  In reality, when is that EVER going to happen for most Moms?

I know they're just feelings, and that I take good care of my kids.  But that doesn't stop that little part of my mind telling me right now that I'm failing.  I know it will get better eventually, it always does.  I think I should be able to keep giving, but today I just feel like there is nothing left to give.  

So, that's that... for today.
[Continue reading...]

May 6, 2012

Waiting To Be Filled

The end of the day leaves me exhausted, lying in the dark warmth of my son's bed with my arm draped over him.  As his breathing shallows, for a moment I let my guard down and the warmth of tears starts to rise in the backs of my eyes.

I push it back down, that's what I do with this heartache, I push it and I turn my head away and try not to feel it.  Because I know how it feels if I give in.  It is an ache deep within myself, the pain of having a piece of my heart given back to me and of being made more whole for a few days only to have it taken away again.  Every time I have to say goodbye, I feel like a part of my life is missing.

If I let myself feel it, I'm afraid I'll start to cry and I won't be able to stop.

My sister is 13 now, and she'll be in high school next year.  She is beyond beautiful, and with her new contact lenses you can see her eyes and I know that she will hate this picture but to me it is wonderful because of the joy.  She was laughing and covering her face to stop me from taking a picture, but got distracted, and her hands went down and the shutter clicked and this was made.  That is the joy I feel when I get to be with her.


Sam adores her, and she is amazing with both of my kids.  I wish that I could be there to go to the movies with her on the weekends, to be someone she could confide in, to watch her dance at her recital every May and feel the familiar burst of pride in my heart.  

When Sam was younger, we got to visit with my family back East 3-4 times a year.  Things have changed for all of us since then, and now the cost of 3 or 4 plane tickets for me and the boys or my whole family is just too much.  None of us can afford it, and the frequent flier miles are running out.  Last year, I only got to see them twice, once in January and once in June.  It's not enough.  This time, as they walkout the door, I have no idea when I'll see them again, and I hate that.

Danny had not seen them since last June, when he was only just turned one.  I was surprised by how he acted this time.  I don't know if he could somehow remember them, or if it was just the familiarity I have with him, but he didn't treat them like strangers.  It was like he knew them.  I don't know if that's even possible.  I want him to know them.  One day I will be able to explain to him that Helene is my second Mom, and that Lianna is my sister, but he is still too young.

This morning, they stopped here before driving down to catch their plane.  It was 7:20 and we said our goodbyes, and as they were getting their shoes on, Sam woke up and came out of his bedroom.  They gave him hugs and said goodbye  After the door was closed, I watched from the couch as he just stood there staring at the front door, a silhouette in the light, sleepy and frozen for several moments.  I have no idea what he was thinking, or if he was even thinking of anything.  I said his name and he came over and hopped up on the couch like it was just another day.

And in the end, it was just another day, but a day where I felt exhausted and drained and overwhelmed by the shadow of sadness underneath my thoughts.  We drove, and we played, and I snapped, and my fuse was short, but those moments passed, and I managed.  And then they were asleep, and I wrote and I cried and I finally let myself feel, just for a few minutes.  And tomorrow will be another day where I won't have time to think about it, and the pain will fade, and I won't feel the empty space in my heart quite as much.  But  it will always be there, waiting to be filled again.
[Continue reading...]

May 5, 2012

Saturday Share

A while ago, I used to use Saturdays to post things I found around the web that I loved or that made me laugh. I haven't done it in a while, but especially now that the 'share' function is gone from Google Reader (boooo), I am finding that I don't have a good way to share these things anymore.  So, I'm going to start doing Saturday Share again!  I hope you'll enjoy these things as much as I did.

The Day My Son Left for Boot Camp at Joy Unexpected - I have been reading Yvonne's blog for a long time, and it's one of my favorites.  She has totally inspired me with her efforts to lose weight despite a jerk of a thyroid.  Her love for her kids is big and amazing, and she is honest and sometimes raw.  On Wednesday, she drove her oldest son to the Military Entrance Processing Station and sent him off to boot camp.  I almost can't think about it without crying.  Letting go of your child, sending them off into the world, and knowing they will be going through so many trials is more than I can comprehend.  Man, it's bad enough putting your 5 year old on a bus to Kindergarten, and that's nothing comparatively!  Yvonne's words are beautiful.

The Instinct of Birth at Bellies & Babies - If you're new here, I'll let you in on a little secret.  I'm a bit of a birth junkie.  I have big opinions about how birth and pregnant women are viewed and treated in our culture, and I am very interested in everything having to do with it.  Sometimes I consider that maybe when my kids are older I'll become a childbirth educator or a midwife.  This is a great article about how instinctual birth can be if women feel comfortable and free.  The third story in particular touched my heart.

It's Ok. at Magneto Bold Too - I love Kelley.  She is hilarious, she is honest, and sometimes crass.  Sometimes you forget that she is also an incredible mother and writer.  Until she posts something like this.  And you get something in your eye.  And you remember how glad you are to be reading the words of someone so amazing.

About a Boy at Girl's Gone Child - Rebecca's was one of the first blogs I ever started reading.  When her book Rockabye came out, I went to Seattle and met her and listened to her speak.  She is an amazing writer, and her family is just beautiful.  I love ever post she writes, and she is certainly one of the best writers online anywhere.  I love that she shares her family with all of us.

What did you read this week that you loved?


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May 4, 2012

Welcome SITS Girls!

Me and the fam on Easter
I was so excited to get my email last week telling me that my day as the SITS Featured Blogger was coming up!  I feel like I just signed up yesterday, and the time went by quickly, but perhaps it's really just that time is always getting away from me.

If you're visiting from SITS, welcome to Scientfic Nature of the Whammy!  I am so glad you're here.  I finally got more time this week to sit down and write, and I'm feeling so happy.  This blog is my space, one of the only spaces I have to myself in life anymore!  I have a husband, Justin, who I've been with for 11.5 years, and two little boys.  Sam turned six on Wednesday, and Danny will be two on May 10. 

As you can imagine, most of my real-world space has been taken over by laundry and toys and little boy socks and mud and chicken nuggets.  This is where I come to get back to myself - to be ME again.  Though I cherish my time alone, I find that my relationships with my women friends are what really rejuvinate my soul, and that's what I do here.  Here, I can rebuild my spirit through writing and the community I've found online.

I write about whatever catches my fancy.  Sometimes it's prose, sometimes it's about my kids, sometimes about issues that get me fired up, and sometimes about my weight loss journey.  I love to read and share my thoughts about books - right now I'm immersed in the third book in the Fifty Shades of Gray series, and I'll have a whole big post about my thoughts on that coming up next week.

If this is your first time here, I'd love to share a few of my favorite posts with you!

My Journey of Faith - A short series of posts about how I came to be baptized on a rainy September day at 25 years old.

The WeightThe Hunger - Two posts about my weight loss journey that get to the heart of how I feel about everything I've been through when it comes to trying to get healthy. 

A Perfect Moment - I experienced a near perfect moment at my Mom's wedding.

Pulling on the Past - I find myself haunted by my past so often.  Some days, I dream and the heartache stays with me long after I wake up.

10 Things that are just NOT okay - Exploring some of my worst pet peeves

You can also explore the tabs up above to find more favorite posts, more about me, my posts about my weight loss journey, and a link to some of my photography.  I also happen to have a small nail polish obsession.  If you're interested, check out my little side blog, Nail Me.

I am so glad you are here!  Thanks for reading!
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May 3, 2012

This is Me from A to Z

I saw this over at Ramble Ramble back in February and wanted to do it.  The main reason is because I am a list-o-holic.  I love lists.  Just as my husband.  Since tomorrow is my SITS feature day (squeeeee!) it seemed like a good time to share some random stuff about myself with all of you!

A. Age: 31

B. Bed size: King.  My Mother-in-law bought it for us just before Sam was born and I love it.

C. Chore that you hate: Cleaning the shower.  I hate it.  There is just something about the way you have to bend and scrub.  Also, mopping.  I don't mind vacuuming but I despise mopping.

D. Dogs: I like them, but don't have any right now.

E. Essential start to your day: Protein of some sort.

F. Favorite color: Cerulean blue, interstate green.

G. Gold or Silver: Silver, mostly. I have a few gold pieces though.

H. Height: 5’7″

I. Instruments you play: I used to play the piano, and I hope to re-learn it someday.

J. Job title: CEO of the Heiner Household

K. Kids: Sam turned six yesterday and Danny will be two in a week
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L. Live: Bellingham, WA.  It's pretty great here!

M. Mother’s name: Edie.

N. Nicknames: Mommy, Mama, Ray

O. Overnight hospital stays: Once when I was very young and got dehydrated, and once when I had Sam.

P. Pet peeves: Misuse of apostrophes, pants with words on the ass, dreadlocks on white people.

Q. Quote from a movie: “If you're gonna eat like an animal, take your food out to the barn." - Prancer

R. Right- or left-handed: Right

S. Siblings: Two younger sisters, Kira is 29 and Lianna is 13.

T. Tattoos & Piercings: Three holes in each earlobe, seven tattoos - pictures here and here.

U. Underwear: Mostly Lane Bryant cotton, nothing fancy.

V. Vegetable(s) you hate: Celery (is that a vegetable?), mushrooms

W. What makes you run late: My kids and the ridiculous amount of stuff that needs to go everywhere with us.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: My collarbone when I was 4 and broke it.  Other than that, mostly just my teeth.

Y. Yummy food that you make: Guacamole, spaghetti with grape tomatoes and chicken, tacos, pizza.

Z. Zoo animal: Red panda.  Any big cat.  Tapirs and wombats.
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May 2, 2012

Comment on Comments

To those of you who have left comments recently & had them disappear, were you posting them from your mobile phone?  I did a little digging and I can see your original comments in blogger, but it looks like if you have the mobile templates enabled (which they did automatically), Disqus doesn't transfer over so it would show the original blogger commenting form and then those comments were not translating to Disqus.  Annoying.  Anyhow, I disabled the mobile template because I don't care about it that much, and that should fix the problem, and no more comments should get lost.
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To Sam On Birthday Number Six

At the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival two days before turning six.

Dear Sam,

Lately, you have not been listening to your CD at bedtime and you've been asking me to sing to you again.  Most nights, you say you're not tired even though you've been yawning for an hour and I can tell that you need to sleep.  When I carry you to bed, you are heavy in my arms and I can't believe how big you've gotten.  You're still skinny, but not as much as you used to be.  I lay next to you with my arm around you and sing you The House at Pooh Corner and I've Got Six-pence and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - the songs you call 'bedtime songs.'  As I sing I listen to your breathing and it often takes only a song or two before I can tell you've drifted off.

One day maybe you will have children and you'll be able to understand the love I feel for you.  It's so big that I can barely wrap my head around it, and I struggle to find the words to even convey it.  I am so proud of you.  Every time you sound out a word, I am fascinated and amazed.  When you write words on paper, I am left reeling at how much difference just a few months of school has made.  When you help your brother with something he's struggling with, my heart grows five sizes thinking about how amazing you are.  You are such a nice person.

Sam took Danny to school for 'share day'
Sometimes I get this feeling that I don't even know how to describe.  It happened last week when you called me while Daddy and I were out.  You called me from Grandma's phone to tell me to have a fun date night with Daddy.  It was unbearably cute, and after we hung up it happened.  I don't want to describe it as a sadness, because I was happy to be having grown up time.  But it is almost like I felt disappointed to be so far away from you.  I need my time to myself, but sometimes when I think about you a part of me wishes I was with you and wonders what you are doing at that moment.

There is so much about you that I never want to forget.  The way your freckles spread across the apples of your cheeks.  The chips in your two front teeth.  The way you count and then tell me I don't understand what a second is when I tell you to "just wait a second," even though it's irritating too.  The way you share with your brother even though he doesn't understand how to share with you just yet.  The way you play with the other kids, and give your friendship so freely.  You are so full of love and every kid has their moments, but your joy outshines anything darker almost all the time.

Building animorphs at the zoo with Aunt Kira
You are my first baby, and you will always be my baby, even though you are six and started walking in to school by yourself a couple of weeks ago.  I watch you dilly dally as you walk into the building with your Mario backpack and you look so big and so small at the same time.  I don't think it will ever change.

Happy Birthday Sam.  You are amazing.

Love,
Mama

Some Favorites at Six

TV - Octonauts, Adventure Time & My Little Pony
Food - Pizza, Chicken Nuggets, Macaroni & Cheese, Vanilla Ice Cream
Games - Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, Rayman Origins
Books - Scaredy Squirrel
Clothes - Mario shirts, pants without buttons (no jeans!)
Activities - Playing at the park after school, drawing
Future Wife - Either your babysitter Noelle or your friend Ruthie
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