Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Life's Reality Check

Every so often the circumstances of life offer us perspective and the opportunity to reset our view of our own life - to balance it you might say.

My husband and I have been flooded with those little signs that remind you that you are advancing in age.  Body parts ache, memories dull, the doctor and drug store become numbers on your speed dial.  But yesterday we had the chance to see just how old we aren't.  We were on our way home from a trip to Costco and had decided to take the long way around our block to check the mail.  We happened upon an elderly couple, both with walkers.  The man was on the ground and the wife was trying to problem solve how to help him up.  We stopped and provided assistance walking the gentleman back to his porch.  He really only wanted help to stand up but he was clearly in need of some additional assistance for safety.  I would have preferred to see him into the house, but the porch was as far as he would allow.  He had wanted to walk to the mailbox (across the street and about fifty feet down from his home property), lost his balance on the way and ended up "turtled" on the ground.

I'm a firm believer that helping people in such situations deserves no reward.  But this episode carried with it a reward that might possibly come under the "priceless" category for us.  On the way back to the car I commented, "Don't you feel young now?"  And it was the truth.  We felt young, capable, and useful in a way we hadn't for a long time.  I'm sorry that it came at the discomfort of another and I truly hope that this gentleman is doing well now.  Lesson learned - we have lots of good years ahead dispite the changes we see happening to us physically every day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Quilt Waiting List Grows Longer

During my shopping trip yesterday I also visited several fabric stores to start collecting what I needed to make my two previously planned quilts.  Now I have an additional three quilts to plan.  My husband found a golden retriever panel that he would like made into a quilt, he found wool pieces and decided that a wool quilt would be nice and I will soon be planning a fishing quilt for my step son.  So now the count is up to five!!  Boy, has that grown.  I found some great pirate fabrics and some nice florals to go with my hobnail bedspread which now is going to be a traditional quilt instead of a rag quilt.  Looks like I'll be pretty busy.

Searching for THE Dress

I finally found my "mother of the groom" dress for an upcoming wedding.  This is so tied in with my weight and self image issues that it's hard to separate the two.  We've already established that I live most of my life socially invisible, but for a wedding your fashion choices and looks become immortalized in photos that will live on even after you're long gone.  While I continue to try to get my weight down, the reality of the situation is that my appearance will be much the same as what it is now.  So that leaves me with choosing the most flattering choice I can.  My goal has been sort of classic and understated.  I found a nice dress this weekend with a matching jacket that fills those qualifications.  My only concern is the lack of sleeves in the dress, but for pictures at least I'll have the jacket on.  It's a sliver/grey color which I also like.  Sizing continues to be a mystery to me.  I had to go up two sizes in the dress to have the right fit at the hips but will have to have the shoulder area altered to fit properly.  I was starting to think that I was even bigger than I imagined when I tried on a pair of pants.  These, in a size smaller than the dress, fit fine at the hips and are way big at the waist.  My husband encouraged me to also have these altered to fit properly.  I'm not as sure about them as him, but I got one pair and will see what happens with the alterations.

So, now the search for shoes begins.  At least shoe sizes don't make me feel bad about my size!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quilting Game Plan

I've decided on my next two quilting projects.  I've had a request from my grandson for a pirate quilt and found an excellent example of one at a new favorite blog of mine.  I'm having a little trouble gathering the supplies since apparently skull and crossbones are pretty much ignored in my local fabric shops.  I even tried expanding my search to nautical prints, but with no luck.  So, plan B is to broaden my search geographically to a larger shopping area about an hour from here.  And plan C is to order some fabric online.

The other project on my list is a rag quilt.  I have an old hobnail spread from my mother that I hoped to use along with some newer fabric.  I'm still figuring out the details of construction, though.  I found some directions online but they were for a pattern that didn't use any batting.  There is one on display in my local quilt store that has batting and looks slightly different in construction, so I need to ask about it.  (Here's where I miss the advice of commenters)

I finally got my cabinet for my new sewing machine.  It turned out to be more difficult than I imagined.  But now that it's here, I'm really pleased with it and anxious to start a new project.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why Do I Care What the Scale Reads?

I'm really trying to keep my focus and remain positive but I have to admit that I'm pretty discuraged today.  I feel like I"m eating much healthier and I feel like my clothes fit better, my "muffin top" is smaller and I think that the scale should reward me by showing some progress.  But it doesn't.  I have an old scale.  The kind that isn't digital so you're always guestimating exactly what the reading is.  But it's pretty obvious when you pass those big lines, like above or below 140.  And it definatly still reads above.  And I SO want it to read below.  I guess the reading on the scale is a tangable piece of data to point to and say that I'm making progress and that the whole dieting thing is worth it.  In addition to the scale disappointment, I heard from my doctor's office today about my recent bloodwork.  As usual, my cholesterol is boarderline high.  Now, it's been this way for the past 10 years or so.  It fluctuates up and down, but never down enough.  And my good cholesterol is always way high.  I was advised to follow a low cholesterol diet.  I already pretty much follow a low cholesterol diet.  When I looked online about ways to lower your cholesterol and foods and activities that help - I eat and do all that stuff.  I don't think the answer is my diet.  I truly think it's my weight.  If I could lose the weight I would lower the cholesterol.

I think it's time to identify three more things to work on.  Originally my three focuses were:  eat two servings of fruit/day; walk the dog daily; and no eating after dinner.  I'm doing fairly well on these.  I don't hit all three all the time, but overall, I would say that I'm hitting at least 85-90%.  So, I want to focus on three more while still following the original three.  My new healthy habits:  2 servings of vegetables/day; 15 minutes/day of yoga or strength training on days I don't work in the yard (since that should count as strength training in itself!) and two glasses of water/day.  I'm really bad about the water but I'm going to try.  My weight goal is still to be 135 by the end of June.  If by that time I have still failed to push my scale below even 140 I'm going to give Weight Watchers a try.  I've never done WW for a lot of reasons.  My doctor suggested it at my check up visit.  I'm just not a joiner and programs like that put even more focus on the eating which almost makes me want to eat even more!  But, if I am failing that miserably by then, I should try something and perhaps it will show me what the missing ingredient is in this whole diet/weight thing.

On another note - we are having near 70 degree weather which has made it possible for me to do some work in the yard.  I'm really enjoying that.  Today I mulched one of my large flower beds.  Tomorrow I will do one more.  Then the weather is suppossed to turn cold again so I guess I can catch up on inside projects. I'm really enjoying this retirement thing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Blogging Ponderings

So, I've been a blogger for a while now and I've been a blog reader for even longer. Here are a few of my observations:

I often hit the "next blog" button to randomly look through blogs.  I've noticed that for some reason I seem to be directed to blogs of a certain type during any one viewing.  For instance, one time I may get a lot of blogs about music, or art, or  by Moms, or in a different language.  I wonder if the "next blog" is truly random or is somehow trying to discern my preferences.

I never stop at blogs that have not been updated in a long time.  And there are quite a few that fall in this category.  Apparently it's a lot easier to start a blog than it is to maintain a blog.

I don't linger on pages that play music.  I don't linger on pages that are so chock full of visual items that it makes me crazy.  I don't linger on pages that make the text difficult to read due to background/text color choices or size or style of fonts.

I like shortish posts or at least short paragraphs.  I don't often read long rambles. 

I'm not offended by four letter words, but I dislike posts that are more about the four letter words than about the content.  I understand that often these words ARE the appropriate adjective in a given situation, but, really folks, we need multiple f-words to get an idea across?

I like pictures.  I like short antedotes about life.  The blogs that I follow are often by someone who is a good writer and gives me a little glimpse into their life allowing me to relate in some way to the joys and frustrations we all face.

I seldom comment.  Perhaps I should comment more since I would appreciate some confirmation that my posts are being read.  It seems like most blogs have only a few followers and I wonder if these followers somehow are acquainted with the blogger in "real life" or have an association through some internet activity like gaming or auctions.  I wonder if the purely "internet community" still exists. 

I'm enjoying having this place to put down my thoughts and I'm still waiting and hoping for some small amount of traffic past my virtual door.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dieting Pitfalls

I've been cruising along pretty good on my diet resolutions until this past week.  I've read that some foods have an addictive combination of salt, fat and sugar that make it more difficult for us to resist.  I think I may have found that combination recently in a Domino's pizza.  My preference is a plain cheese pizza or maybe some veggie toppings.  I dislike the meat toppings, so that is in my favor.  My husband and I ordered a half meatza/half cheese pizza but I inadvertently ordered a thin crust.  This turned out to be in my favor, diet-wise since I ate way too much!  AND I found myself going back a few hours later to eat still more.  My husband was not thrilled with the meatza side in the thin crust so a few pieces from that half are still in the frig waiting to be thrown away.

I followed that diet indiscretion two days latter with an indulgent choice at a local restaurant.  I'm not a fan of regular french fries, but this place makes the most awesome sweet potato fries.  The plate came piled with fries, pulled pork, coleslaw and sauteed zucchini.  Everything was great and while I didn't clean my plate, I did eat way more than my usual portions of all.  To make it worse, we ordered appetizers and the calamari was also hard to resist.  I kept the beverage to water, so maybe I should give myself points for that.

So, now I'm trying to get back on course.  I cooked some chicken breasts at lunch today and ate it over a modest salad.  I guess that's a start towards re-balancing.  I'm almost afraid to check my weight on the scale after my recent disappointment at the doctor's office.  My goals have been modest and to stay on course I need to weight 135 by June 30.   One real challenge to that goal will be a cruise that I'm taking with my sister in mid June!  Hopefully all the walking during our excursions will balance the glut of food that I hear so much about.  And really, I believe that for a diet to be successful, the lifestyle changes have to be sustainable.  It's not uncommon to eat more in certain situations as long as they do not occur on a regular basis.  Life would be sort of boring without awesome sweet potatoe fries, pizza and the splurg of a meal out.

Balance, balance, balance!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Tee-shirt Quilt is Finished!!

I finished the quilt in time to give it to my son this past weekend.  I think he was pleased.  I'm on my way to planning my next project, although the nice weather recently is pushing gardening to the front of my list.

All the fabric in this quilt is from shirts from my son's high school and college days.  The only new materials are the thread and the batting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Diet Low Spot

Yesterday was my doctor's appointment for my yearly check up.  I decided to try a different doctor this time.  I've had some problems with the office management at my former doctor's office so yesterday I went to my husband's doctor.  He practices a bit differently than my old doctor and his office is much simpler with the older equipment.  I was hoping to make this a "weigh in" check point for my dieting.  But somehow, the difference between my scale at home and my weight in the office was 7 pounds!  I could understand a few pounds but 7 puts me right back where I was two months ago and I just can't deal with that.  I know I've lost weight because my scale at home has gone down and my clothes fit better, so presumably I would have weighed a lot more if I had climbed on his scale two months ago.  I want to blame it on his old equipment since the scale was sort of rickety.  But, it any case it was pretty depressing.

He did think that perhaps my blood pressure has been overtreated and has asked me to stop the medicine and continue to monitor my pressure daily.  If it goes up I'm to call for more medication.  He doesn't want to see me for a year.  He encouraged me to lose weight to prevent the onset of my familial Type II diabetes.  I told him I was trying but weight has always been a struggle.  He told me to join Weight Watchers or to just eat once a day.  He claims to eat only once a day.  I'm not so sure I believe that.

In preparing for this visit I went over some old medical records of mine that I have at home.  My weight gain has mostly occurred over the past 10 years and I've weighed about this same weight (varying up and down by about 5 pounds) for that whole time.  If you go by my scale, I'm now about 141.  I should be 125.  And I WAS 125 about 10 years ago. 

The doctor reminded me that 100 calories extra/day equals 1 pound/month.  I'm choosing to reverse that and remembering instead that 100 calories LESS/day equals a loss of 1 pound/month.  100 calories is not much.  It's 2 pieces of chocolate, 1 slice of bread, 1/3 of a bagel or donut, 2 small cookies or a few breath mints.  It's also a walk with the dog, a bit of yoga or some gardening.

So still, it all comes back to balance.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Time for a Name

I know I went through a bit of an identity crisis with the name of this blog.  But, now I think it's time that my profile name become something other than "justme" which is the google default name.  As I mentioned in the previous entry, names are not easy for me and I've been pondering this issue for several days.  Many people choose names that represent something about themselves. But, people have many sides and I couldn't think of something that was significant enough to represent me.  I spent many, many years of my life being known as someone's mother and I considered now being Seamus' Mom (that's my dog) and while that's true, I'd like to be more than that.  So in the end I went with the sort of vanilla Ms. N.  The Ms. part was a conscious choice.  I usually choose the Mrs. title since I AM a Mrs.  But these writings seem to represent the Ms. in me.  I don't mean that in a woman's rights kind of way but in an individual person kind of way.  I know it's not the most individual name, but at least it is one that I actively choose instead of one that I ended up with for lack of a decision.

Oddly enough, the only name I remember choosing without a struggle was the name of my imaginary friend when I was a child.  Her name was Mary Lou.  I was the youngest in my family by many years so I grew up in a house of adults and near adults and spent a lot of  alone time.  At some point, as children in this situation often do, I adopted an imaginary friend to keep me company.  My sister was introduced to her one day after school.  She walked in the front door as she always did and the door closed as always, but I reacted with an exclamation of "You shut the door on Mary Lou!!"  My mother had to provide her with an explanation.  I even subjected my family to a birthday party for Mary Lou complete with cake and candles and a place set for her.  I remember my dad asking my mother with concern if I was "all right".  I know he was referring to my mental state.  My mother covered for me saying that it was just a phase.  I think I must have learned to believe the best of a situation from her.  She was right, of course.  Mary Lou no longer lives with me.  I have to admit, though that I DO talk to myself and Seamus when I'm here alone.  That's normal, right?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Parenting Allegory

I undertook a rather large sewing project this winter.  It's one that I had thought about for a long time.  So, when I got my new Bernina 330 I decided that it was time to begin.  My oldest son had left behind a large collection of tee-shirts from his high school and college days.  As a collection they tell a lot about those busy years of his life.  I decided that I would make him a quilt out of the shirts.  I've done similar projects in the past and was acquainted with the various challenges - particularly getting the layers smooth and avoiding puckers in the back layer.  I took special care to minimize such problems, but my work is far from perfect - or at least not at the level I would hope to be able to achieve.  I've corrected as much as I could, but some places just can't be made perfect.  I've learned so much along the way, though and if I make another such quilt, I know that this experience will make the second one go smoother.

As I was sewing yesterday I was pondering all this and thought that this quilt, much like my first parenting experience suffered from my inexperience.  I'm hoping that my son holds neither my first parenting of him or my first tee-shirt quilt attempt against me and recognizes that in each case I did the best I could with the skills I had at the time.  Both were done with much love and with the very best of intentions.  So, if you ever read this son #1, know that I wish my parenting as well as my sewing abilities had been more perfect for you.  Know that I'm very proud of you and that even though tee shirts are no longer given out as a record of accomplishment in your life, you have more successes in front of you than behind.  You're talented is so many ways.  Keep dreaming big.  I love you lots.