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    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Squeeze Cheese

    Anybody out there ever tried weight loss patches? They’re like birth control patches or quit smoking patches, with the possible exception that those (at least the birth control) actually work.

    Here’s a hint, if you slap a weight loss patch on your hip and your fruit salad is still jiggling when you take your hand away, you’re gonna need more than a Band Aid to trim those jigglers down. Ask me how I know this.

    Lately whenever I make a payment to Bubba—the obese personification of my credit card debt, for those of you just joining us—I feel like I’m slapping a weight loss patch on his big ol’ pot belly. You know, $300 makes Bubba ripple and shake, but when the fat sea calms, the volume remains.

    So it is with my diet and exercise efforts. One sweaty drop in a big, big bucket. This week I went in for a Commit to be Fit appointment at the YMCA. I know, doesn’t that sound serious? Like I mean business? My very nice personal coach asked if I’d like to do a fitness evaluation. I laughed at her. As if I need anybody to tell me I’m out of shape. Even if we’re just talking a matter of degrees, what’s the point? There are two options, you’re either fit, or you’re me.

    My coach had me climb on the stair machine for nine minutes. Would have been ten minutes, but I just gave up and rode backward down the revolving stairs until I landed in a heap on the gym floor. After all, one can’t become fit if one is dead.

    Next my coach put me through a round of torture devices known as weight machines. I seem to have strained some areas of my body I didn’t know existed. Right now my armpits hurt. Okay, yes, I already knew they existed since I have to cake them with deodorant before I go workout. But there’s some other spots, well, let’s just say I try not to think about them, but it’s hard when they feel like rubber bands about to break.

    I went back today for more pain and hopefully some gain, or loss as it were, but I must confess, I felt sorry for myself the rest of the day. Nobody should have to give up all the things they like to eat and be regularly murdered at the gym. My pity party plunged to a new depth when a good friend and I had a discussion about a secret, favorite food—cheese in a can. You know the stuff. It actually says processed cheese food on the can. How reassuring, it is actually food.

    Anyway, my girlfriend mentioned how surprised she was when her hubby brought home a can of squeeze cheese and a box of crackers for her. I was immediately jealous. Where’s my can of squeeze cheese? Where are my flowers, er, crackers? Doesn’t my husband love me as much as my friend’s loves her? After all, nothing says I love you like tangy, orange goo and a box of Chickin’ in a Biscuit. Really. I’m not being sarcastic even though you think I am. Bringing your wife the thing she craves is the ultimate romantic gesture because it says, “Not only do I know what you like, but I’ll go out of my way to get it for you.”

    Later on in the day, for reasons that still remain unclear, I found myself in a health food store. I wandered from aisle to aisle searching for the processed cheese food. Not one tiny, orange glop to be found. Sigh.

    I think I’m looking for love in the wrong place. If I’m after seaweed crackers, wheat-less baked goods, or liquid miracle grow for humans then Vitamin Cottage is the place to be. But if I want love, I guess I better phone my husband and ask for what I want. “Honey, would you stop off and get me some bacon-flavored processed cheese food on the way home?” I think my armpits need some anesthetic.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    I Luurrv My New Blog Design

    Hey Everyone. It seems improving Bubba and/or myself is a lost cause, so management decided to revamp my blog instead.
    Web guru, lifestyle coach, and all around fabulous gal, Mangycat, took pity on me and stepped in with her magic wand.
    First she conjured the following snazzy photo from Flickr.com contributor, LisaBelle0705, who granted us permission to use this awesome image from her Photostream:

    Then Mangycat and I had some fun with my boys' Legos, some spaghetti, and an authentically dirty floor.

    Mangycat worked some voodoo this afternoon, and now my blog has a spectacular new design. Take a stroll by and check out the new look. I've gotta get back to my happy dance.

    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Muscle Relaxer Hangover

    This week, my doctor prescribed some muscle relaxers for me because I seem to be unable to relax even when I sleep. I don’t understand this, but nevertheless, the sad state of my neck and jaw points to a serious teeth clenching problem. And so, my doctor recommended two separate prescriptions, one for in the day, and a stronger, more sedating med. for nighttime. He gave me samples of the daytime pill and told me to try half a dose.

    So I took half a pill before bedtime, watched a movie, and didn’t feel any different two hours later. I know what you’re thinking, but, no, I did not take the other half and repeat my Vicadin disaster. I just figured I’d take the whole pill the next night and see if that made any difference. Meanwhile, I went to sleep. I woke up around 3 a.m. weighing approximately one thousand pounds. The reason I woke up gradually became clearer. Aside from kids crawling in bed with you or loud teenagers mistaking your sidewalk for a urinal, what other reason is there for waking up at 3 a.m.? I HAD to go to the bathroom. I felt like Shamu after he drank all the water in his tank.

    I’m not sure how long it took me to get out of bed, but once I finally hoisted my anvil butt up and off the mattress, I faced another challenge—getting to the bathroom. I dragged my redwood trunks across the bedroom and into the bathroom where I encountered yet another problem. My fine motor skills seemed to be affected by the muscle relaxer too. Just take a moment and imagine the difficulties this caused. Door knob. Light switch. Toilet lid. Er, um, . . . . Toilet paper. Toilet lid again (BANG!) Door knob again. Faucet. Towel. Back to gross motor skills.

    I made it to bed once again and passed out like a tranq-ed elephant. By seven a.m. I’d lost about three hundred pounds, but helplessly plastered to your bed by invisible weights is no way to face exuberant boys in the morning. At least, not if you want any hope of surviving the morning ritual of pounce, thump, and roll. Thankfully, I was able to communicate my incapacitated state to my husband, who bravely defended me from the attacking hordes until I was able to roll my massive self out of bed and hide in the closet.

    The heaviness subsided as the morning went on, but I wasn’t prepared for Slow-Motion Mom. This hit at 11:04 a.m. as we exited our van and began the short hike from the parking area to Wonderland Ranch for Kory’s company picnic. My husband took off hauling our gear in the wagon, and the boys happily followed taking side trips to pick up irresistible pine cones and sticks. I was still at the van. I took a few steps. They were half way to the first building. I walked past a tree. It took five minutes. By the time I finally got there, they’d dumped the gear and thoroughly investigated all the air jumpers. All I can say is, Daddy had to move double time to keep up with two boys while Mommy moved half time and kept up with nobody.

    I think it’s safe to say that I’m very sensitive to medication. Thankfully, slow-mo is better than barf-up. I’m thinking I need to try Prozac or Zoloft next. I’ve always wanted to fly.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Mild-Mannered Missionary Moments with Mary

    The first thing you need to know is that I’ve been given permission to share the misadventures of my friend Mary with my wonderful blog readers and random strangers who happen along Breathe In Breathe Out in their search for tips on asthma management. I think Mary’s exploits have left her a few muffins short of a continental breakfast. There’s no other explanation for her giving me free reign to relate her wacky experiences however I see fit. So let’s get to it. Here’s the first in what will be an ongoing tell-all peek into the life of a mild-mannered missionary, mom, and married woman.

    The Decoy

    Mary grew up somewhere. I’m thinking it was California because she looks like one of those babes you see everywhere in Cali. You know--beautiful blond hair, big blue eyes, and a cute little figure that makes me jealous. At some point, probably between the ages of 16 and 25, she met a charming and dangerous man. We’ll call him Bill. Mary fell in love with Bill despite his predilection for radical service to God. They got married. I’m sure there’s more to this story, but that will have to wait for another time.

    Now, Bill was (and is) a pretty wild guy. His idea of fun is sneaking Bibles into places where the government contends they’re not wanted or needed. Bill knows differently. So does Mary. She and Bill took a little trip to China back in the nineties.

    Their mission? Establish a base camp in Hong Kong. Smuggle Bibles across the border (this was when Hong Kong was considered part of the Western Empire, before China’s lease with Great Britain was up—yeah, I don’t understand that either.)

    The plan? Members of the team, including Bill and Mary, would hide Bibles in suitcases along with normal stuff like clothes and hair dryers in order to fool the scanning machines at the border. In addition to suitcases, there were other means of concealing the Bibles—skirts with pockets sown on the inside. Obviously, the skirt wearing fell to Mary, since Bill would attract too much attention in one. (Mary says he has really nice legs.)

    So, the day the operation was going down, Mary donned her clunky, Bible-laden skirt and thwacked her way to the border patrol station. Bill, being the extreme guy that he is, threw caution to the wind and loaded his backpack with Bibles, not even adding so much as a sweatshirt to conceal the contraband.

    Mary got to go first. Being particularly suited to the role (blond hair and all), she decided to go for the dumb tourist approach. She moseyed her way through the checkpoint, ‘forgetting’ to put her suitcase through the x-ray machine. She only got a few steps before a guard caught up with her, waving his arms and yelling, “Hi. Hello. Hi. Hello. Hello. Hi.” Two words—unmistakable meaning. Mary made a valiant, “Who me?” argument, but nobody bought her clueless routine.

    They scanned her suitcases and found the Bibles. Our lovely, and very innocent-looking Mary was hauled off down a long hall to a cold room where she met Hel Ga, the sole member of the Chinese Gestapo. Hel Ga confiscated all the Bibles in Mary’s suitcase while Mary nervously pondered her precarious place in the universe. When Hel Ga finished with the suitcase, she turned to wide-eyed Mary and demanded she remove the Bibles on her person.

    Mary, having already lost one of her intellect muffins at this point, decided to continue with her dumb blond routine. “What Bibles?” she asked.

    Hel Ga pointed to Mary’s skirt.

    “Oh, those Bibles.” Mary rooted around in her skirt and produced a couple of the books.

    “All of them,” said Hel Ga.

    Mary turned on the baby blues. “That is all of them.”

    They searched her, removing Bible after Bible from her skirt.

    Mary feigned surprise. “Oh, look at that. Where did those come from?”

    After taking every last one of her precious Bibles, Hel Ga held the door open and told Mary, “Welcome to China.”

    With tears in her eyes and a much lighter skirt, Mary shuffled off to find Bill and tell him what a failure she was at the whole Christian espionage game. But Bill wasn’t at all upset by Mary’s incident. In fact, he was grinning. While Mary provided an excellent distraction, Bill got through the check point without so much as a peep into his backpack. Mary was labeled ‘The Decoy’ and learned that she could use her special gifts of a pretty face, eye-catching figure, and uncannily accurate silly woman impersonation to further God’s kingdom by getting caught.

    Next time in Mild-Mannered Missionary Moments with Mary: The story of the Puking Angel.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Back to School Bewilderment

    Monkey started back to school this week. I confess our district’s back-to-school routine fascinates me. First, the kids have an open house night when they can come to school, meet their new teacher, and drop off their wheelbarrow of school supplies. That was Tuesday night. Nothing happened on Wednesday. The official first day of school was Thursday. So the kids went two days and then were off for the weekend. Next Monday, they go back, but Thursday and Friday are test days so they’re off again. Then, of course, we run into Labor Day weekend with Monday off, and just for grins, they get Tuesday off too.

    What exactly is going on here? I’m confused, and I’m an adult. What’s a first grader supposed to think? “Am I in school?” “Why was I in school yesterday, but not today?” "Why in the world should I go to school tomorrow?"

    My theory is, the powers that be are trying to ease the kids into school without the children even realizing it. You know, a few days here, a few days there, and eventually, the kid looks up sometime in October and discovers he’s in a classroom. “Wait a minute here? What am I doing in school? What happened to summer? Weren’t we just playing in the sprinkler, and what are these pumpkins about?”

    Actually, this is good preparation for life. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked up and said, “Hey, who are you? Am I married to you? When did that happen?” And, of course, there’s, “Why is this kid calling me Mommy and expecting me to feed him?” And the classic, “Wait a minute, I’m 29? 29!!!”

    Yes, these bewildering moments descend upon me frequently. I’m perpetually dazed and wondering just how I acquired the latest inch on my hips and that long gray hair that surely I should have noticed months ago. “29?! Really?!”

    At least I know my kids are getting practice in bewilderment. Makes me rest easier knowing they’ll be prepared to have no idea what’s going on or how they ended up where they are. After all, functioning amid total confusion is an important life skill. I should know.

    Excuse me, there’s this kid here asking me for chips. I have the feeling he’s going to take it personally if I don’t give him some. Wait a minute, how long have we lived here?

    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    My Husband's Ambition

    Early in our marriage, my husband crossed some unknown airborne allergens with some soy and corn. He topped that off with a walk through a weedy field, and the whole mix put him into anaphylactic shock. What he remembers most about the ER is the oxygen tank. After they hopped him up on Benadryl and Epinephrine, he was pretty comfortable, and with the oxygen on, he found he didn’t need to breathe as often as usual. In fact, he had to remind himself to breathe, because the oxygen pumped in regardless of whether or not he moved his lungs.

    Since that night, it’s been Kory’s dream to somehow get back on that oxygen. You see, engineers are smart, but they’re also somewhat lazy. If they can find a way to do something quicker and easier, they’ll pursue it. Even if it’s just breathing. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but if you know any engineers, you know it’s true.

    Now, about the time I really got enthusiastic about writing, Kory got it into his head that should I ever make a living off my work, he would retire early. But since being at home would drive him bonkers, he thought he might get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter, which fits in perfectly with his oxygen tank/fewer lung movements fantasy. That’s right, my husband’s goal is to tote his oxygen tank around Wal-Mart, waving cheerily to harried customers, and probably spending his breaks in the electronics department. Sniff. “Aim high, my love.”

    So, being the supportive wife, I am pursuing this whole writing books thing. In fact I’m going to a huge Association of Christian Fiction Writers conference in September. When I asked Kory to help me prepare a one sheet (kind of like a resume for a specific book), he enthusiastically agreed. After all, he used to be a graphic designer. But I wasn’t ready for how far he’d go in preparing a sample of my work to hand out to editors I might run across.

    The other night he proposed we burn CDs with my resume, picture, and sample chapters. I have to admit, it sounded pretty good, until he suggested we include some footage of me running on the beach. I had to draw the line. All that would get me is a shot at being the “before” spokesperson for a Weight Watchers campaign. But it’s nice to know he believes in me, even if it is only a means to an end, namely, his oxygen tank.

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    Spicy Enchiladas

    I’ve never been what you would call demure. My poor mother tried so hard to raise an innocent little lady, but instead she got a daughter who once smuggled mini bottles of alcohol into a U2 concert in her bra. (I knew that extra padding would come in handy someday!) Yes, the wild side has always had a certain appeal to me. But I do have standards. You’ll be happy to know they’ve elevated somewhat since the sloshing push-up incident.

    Take bodice-rippers for instance. While I enjoy a good, full-bodied romance as much as the next twenty-nine-year-old mom (maybe even a little more), I simply can’t tolerate a book with a plot existing solely to move the hero and heroine from one clinch to the next. Frankly, I find that boring. Give me some hidden desire, an undercurrent of passion, intense longing, but please, keep the heaving body parts to a minimum. I have an imagination.

    That’s why I fell in love with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. Don’t get me wrong, these books are hot. I wouldn’t let my thirteen-year-old daughter read them—if I had a thirteen year old daughter. (Of course, if I did, she’d probably be like me, and I’d be in a world of hurt even without books about sexy vampires.) But I found the Twilight books refreshing because they were incredibly sensual even while arguing for old fashioned ideas like reserving sex for marriage (be that a living or undead commitment) and even respect for human life. I know, shocking, isn’t it?

    I’m not saying the books are above reproach, but I enjoyed the plots, characters, and fantastic writing as much as I enjoyed the sizzling romance. I read all four books in about a week, which meant several late nights. I’d force myself to go to bed around 1:30 where I would find my cutie-pie hubby dead to the world. I’d snuggle up next to him, feeling a little more affectionate than I usually do after midnight, and he would reward me by lifting his head a quarter inch off the pillow and mumbling something sexy like, “fnurg,” which means, “I am not awake, but my body told me to react in case a psychopath has joined me in bed and is contemplating testing my reflexes with something sharp." Ah, your classic wrong place, wrong time scenario.

    More than once, I’ve found myself embarrassed over my more va va voom tendencies. When we go out with our friends, I’m the one laughing with the guys over that marriage joke that crossed the line a little bit, while my sweet girlfriends are blushing appropriately. Oh well, I figure, God likes spicy enchiladas as much as He likes cheese quesadillas. Pass the hot sauce, baby!