Friday, June 26, 2015

Kar Versus the Pigeons

Um, I just barely learned that you spell pigeons without a d.  I've always put a "d" in there!  It doesn't look right without the d...

I've never had a problem with pigeons.  I've never had them poop on my head or anything.  Even when I lived in London, and they were everywhere, they didn't bug me.  I think my benevolent feelings toward them stem from two things:  1)  The "Feed the Birds" song from Mary Poppins. What can be sweeter than an old lady trying to keep these cute, sweet little birds from starving??  2)  They make the most pleasant noises.  It really is quite soothing.  3)  I've never had to clean up their shizzle.

Well, now I've changed my tune.  Because of the third reason.

Let me first take you on a little tour of the extensive grounds on which we reside right now.  Here is our front yard:
It is a rough triangle, full of landscaping rocks.

For a family with four kids, this is a dream.

Would you like to see our gorgeous backyard??  Hark:
It's a small porch, maybe the size of a twin mattress - probably a little skinnier and a little longer. And that's it.

When I got here, I was panicked.  Where would my kids play?  The street is right in front of our triangle-o-rock, and cars frequently drive by.  There are no sidewalks.  Luckily, we have some speed bumps right before our house, which slow people down considerably.  And my kids, being ever-resourceful, have made friends in a cul-de-sac a few duplexes away.  The cul-de-sac is very safe, and kids are outside playing all day long there.  The kids cut through small, thin, miniscule yards to get there instead of walking along the street.  It really is an answer to a prayer.

I don't know.  I could go on and on about our living situation, but that's another post for another time. Suffice it to say that it's really hard to find affordable rentals in Bend, and we're lucky that we even found this place.  And there's no way we can afford a house here.  We'll have to save some money for a down payment, which will take time.  It is what it is, and we can bloom where we're planted.  I sometimes play pretend; I pretend that we live in Manhattan, where families live in apartments and don't have any green space of their own, and it's okay.  Their kids are okay.  They go to Central Park to play.  And this is kind of how we live.  We go to local parks with plenty of grass on which to run and picnic.  This is our reality, and I'm learning to accept it.

Anywho.  The duplex behind us has a little bit of a pigeon problem.  They have burrowed up under and inside the eaves of the dormers.  Here's a view of the neighbor's dormer as seen from our third floor window (sorry the pictures aren't that clear; I didn't want to try to remove the screen and have it accidentally drop three floors to the ground below).  I've seen birds hop right up inside of that right hand side:
Look at the poop, feathers, etc. that clog up the rain gutters:
There are only a few pigeons hanging out right now - it's literally 100 degrees outside today.  There's one in the shade of the dormer:
 One hanging out on the second dormer in the building:
Another one hanging out in this area:
But trust me when I say that usually, there are ten or so hanging out.  These birds roost right above our porch.  Which makes our porch look like this:
It actually looks pretty good right now.  You should have seen it this spring.  Every single inch was covered in pigeon shizzle.  I go out and sweep it with our outdoor broom once a week or so.  It's horrible, disgusting work.  We don't put any patio chairs or a grill out there, because it's pointless. They would be covered with pigeon shizzle within minutes.  You might see, in the top left corner of the picture, a shattered pigeon egg.  I probably see one of those per week.  Sometimes the contents haven't yet formed into a baby bird.  Other times, I get to clean up tiny pigeon fetuses along with their crushed shells.

Obviously, we don't let our kids onto the porch.  Who even knows what resides in that poop!! Tuberculosis germs?  Salmonella germs??

This spring, I called our apartment manager and talked to him about the problem.  He, incredibly, suggested that we buy a bee-bee gun and shoot the birds.  I was like, "Um, okay.  Thanks...?"  I was really hoping he'd take care of the problem.  Maybe because the birds roost on the duplex that isn't run by him.

So I went and bought a fake owl.  Ben hung it up from our dormer.  It didn't do jack diddly.  It has since turned in the wind so that it faces our condo in shame:
Then I bought this stuff called Scare Ribbon.  It's shiny and silver and supposedly scares birds away. The only problem is that we don't know how to put it up.  It's meant for orchard trees.  We also don't have a thirty-foot ladder with which to climb that high.

Ben went and bought a pellet gun, with little plastic bee bees, and for awhile, every day when he came home from work, he'd shoot the birds with the bee bees.  This helped a teeny bit, for awhile. The birds would hang out on the other side of the condo where they roost.  We were really hoping they would find new homes on account of getting shot by painful plastic bee bees, but no dice.

The people who live inside the roosting condo are...interesting.  A little scary.  They may be in a gang - they strike me as the gang type.  When they have barbecues, they all stand outside and drop the f-bomb every other word. They're a little intimidating.  But I'd been pushed to the limits with this pigeon issue.  So one day, while I was on my way out of the neighborhood, and I saw them getting stuff out of a black sedan with heavily tinted windows, I pulled over next to them and said hello.

They were actually very, very friendly to me, though someone driving by apparently looked at the man who seems like the leader wrong, because he started walking toward the car with this intense look in his eyes, and arms up, like, "You want a piece of me??"  I asked if they had pigeon poop problems, and they said that they have occasional poop on their cars, but since their front door has a really big porch with a really big awning, they kind of poop all over that, and it doesn't affect them too much.  I asked them if they had a 30-foot ladder, and regrettably, they didn't.

About a week ago, I approached them again while they were having a The Leader's birthday barbecue/swearfest.  I asked them for their apartment manager's phone number, and they retrieved it for me.  I called my apartment manager and gave him the number, and he promised to call that manager right away.

Nothing has happened.

I'm considering calling the local health department and issuing a complaint.  Ben thinks that, if someone could just get up there and affix that spiky stuff along the peaks of the building, that would take care of the problem.  We just don't feel like we should have to pay for it, since the pigeons aren't actually roosting on our building.

Sigh.  I'll let you know if anything happens...

Friday, June 19, 2015

The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland!

Hahaha!  Dude, have you ever watched Portlandia?  If you watch the first episode, you see kind of a "music video" to a song called "The Dream of the 90's," and it is hilarious. The two characters kind of talk about Portland in between the lyrics of the song, about how, in the 90's, people got tribal tattoos and random piercings, and how girls in glasses were hot (I love that part.  Because I wear glasses.).  And they say that Portland is still like that.

I haven't ever been to Portland before this year, but dude, this song is so accurate!  We went last weekend so that I could see my plastic surgeon there and decided to make a weekend of it.  As we spent time downtown eating and walking around, I was like, "Am I in the 90's?"  Flannel shirts everywhere.  Grunge songs playing in every eatery and store.  The dark, matte lipstick.  Piercings on every nose, every eyebrow.  It was crazy!  And really funny.

I'll get back to Portlandia stories in a minute.  First, I want to tell you about the visit with my surgeon.
I really like her.  She's smart, but also has a really good bedside manner and actually acts like a real PERSON instead of a robot.  I appreciate that.  I asked her what my chances were of trying to do tissue expansion again and having it be successful.  She basically said that chances of that happening were 0%.  Once the radiated tissue has protested, it will always protest.  Even two years down the road!!  They could try to do this thing where they use skin from my back, and put an implant where my left chest cavern sits right now, and cover it with the skin, but I'll have to get the implant replaced every 15 years or so, and that is only if there isn't a leak in the implant or anything.  She prefers a DIEP flap, that thing I told you guys about a few months ago.  She says that, with a DIEP flap, you put in some hard recovery time, but that's the last you ever, ever have to do surgery for the rest of your life.  The recovery time is 6-8 weeks.

Ugh.

I still have PTSD from having to get a hysterectomy two years ago, when that recovery took 8 weeks.  It was torture.  Because of that surgery, my biggest fear isn't the surgery itself.  It's the recovery time.   I just so, so, so don't want to do it.

I don't want to do anything at this point.  I just want to be left ALONE.  I'm like Greta Garbo.  (I just  vant to be left aloooooone....)

Which is why it's a good thing that they can't do it until February.  She wants me to be done with my herceptin infusions, which will be in February of next year.  And then they can take out my port (Portia!) at the same time they do the DIEP flap.

What's cool about the DIEP flap is that it acts like normal breast tissue.  If you get fat, they get bigger.  If you lose weight, they get smaller.  Almost like real boobs...

And.... she recommends having fake nipples made.  I guess they use skin from somewhere and, like, fashion nipples to go on the fake boobs.  And then they do this pinkish tattoo to complete the effect.  I was like, "I don't know....." She said, "It's obviously your choice, but I have done so many of these surgeries, and my patients find that having nipples again is very psychologically healing."  I told her I would think on it.

You know, when I was in 6th grade, and I started growing boobs, I HATED them.  I was so upset at the loss of my former, boobless life.  I would take off my training bra and stuff it in between the couch cushions.  I just couldn't believe I would have to wear a bra for the rest of my LIFE.

And now?  I don't know.  Part of me just wants to get my right tissue expander out and be done with it.  And part of me doesn't want to look like a teenage boy.  Wants to feel like a normal-ish woman.  I don't know.  The luxurious thing is that I can take all the time I want to decide.  And I can spend the next eight months getting my health back.  Getting stronger.  In eight months, if I still don't want to do it, then I can wait longer.  Or I can get my right expander out and be done with the whole thing.
People say, "You can at least get prosthetics."  Nah.  Not my bag.  I don't want to bother with them.  I've also heard so many funny stories about them.  My friend's mom had fakies that would kind of work their way out of the bra and be up around her neck all the time.  My Bend plastic surgeon's friend had one pop out when she was swimming, and they couldn't find it.  Her son kept diving to the bottom of the pool to look for it; little did he know that fakies float.  That thing is probably stuck in that part of the pool that sucks old water in for cleaning before pushing it back out into the pool.  You know, the part with the little white, plastic door?  And it makes a loud sucking noise?

I don't want to deal with prosthetics.  I have to put constrictive compression garments on my chest and arm all the time as it is.  I already have to deal with something that is not my skin that bothers me and makes me hot.  I don't need to add to it.  To me, prosthetics are like wigs during chemo baldness.  Don't want to deal with it.

Wow, sorry. That was long-winded.

Kay, so Portland.  We stayed in a hotel; and we actually paid quite a bit for it.  And it was a piece of craaaaaap.  The pool was an outdoor pool in the middle of the concrete parking areas and wasn't heated at all.  And it was kind of a cooler weekend.  Our kids were so desperate to swim that their teeth chattered as they splashed around, and they emerged only after 15 minutes, with their lips blue.  Good times.  The other people staying at the hotel were, frankly, really scary.  As we walked to the pool, one lady leaned out her car window and said thickly, "Hey, do you have a light?"  I politely told her I didn't, and as we entered the pool area and put our stuff down, Ben said, "I think she wanted to lure you over there so she could beg for money."
So I guess this is how we vacation when a wealthy client isn't lending us a place to stay.  I guess these are our peeps.

We liked the time we spent away from our hotel.  We went to the zoo, which was fantastic!!  So much fun.  Here is Gage on their little zooish train ride:
He was in hog heaven!  Those of you who know Gage know that he LOVES train stuff.  Haha!  He just saw this picture and said, "That Gage.  We have sandals on."  He hates sandals as much as he loves trains.  Which is to say, passionately.  He also hates shorts.  But, being the mean mommy I am, I packed only shorts and sandals.  So he had no choice but to comply.  It wasn't that cold (when you weren't in a non-heated outdoor pool), so it's not like I was torturing him.  I didn't want him to get too hot while we were there, so I just...omitted warm clothes, except for jackets.  I did the same thing to Micah, who hates shorts as well.  This will probably be the first and last time that he wears shorts this whole summer...

More zoo pics:

Sadie is the biggest ham.  Haha!

We ate dinner at this place called Killer Burgers, and while we waited for our food, my kids were getting more and more agitated with the screaming grunge music inside.  There was a homeless young man on the corner just outside the door.  My kids kept staring at him and worrying about him. He had some other homeless friends visiting him.  A girl was selling things she had made on a blanket, and she had a kitten on a leash.  After a little while, she and her companion packed up their stuff and left with their leashed kitten.  Dylan, whose birthday it was, begged us to get the burgers to go so that we could get out of the music.  As we got to-go boxes, Micah and Sadie decided to each give up part of their lunch (Micah gave up his fries and Sadie gave up her burger) to give to the homeless kid.  It was really sweet of them.

We ate at a place called Slappy Cakes one morning.  Ben's work associate recommended it.  It was fantastic.  You have your own griddle in the middle of the table, and you squeeze your own batter on it and cook your own pancakes.  You can pay extra for fun toppings.  I got blueberries and lemon meringue for mine.  Yummmm.  Our family, being our family, soon turned it into an art fest.  Ben and the kids drew Mickey Mouse, a kite, Shamu...
Yep.  It was a really long wait, but worth it.  Mainly.  Gage was really stressed out by the loud grunge music screaming from the speakers.  I had to whip out my handy-dandy earplugs (I've learned to keep them in my purse for situations like this).  And he kept messing with them, so I don't know how much they really helped him:
Did I mention that Sadie is a ham?
"Look, Mom!  I'm a walrus!" Clap, clap, clap.  Our waiter was a guy with a thin, scraggly ponytail and a thin, scraggly beard.  He was wearing a flannel shirt over his work tee and extremely, extremely short shorts.  Haha!

Portland.

Not pictured from our weekend - 1) our awesome friends Kyle and Shelly, with whom we hung out, and who watched our ninos while we went to a session at the Portland temple, and also 2) pictures of us at the temple itself.  Ben took some on his phone, and he keeps forgetting to send them to me.  What a beautiful temple it is.  I sure wish we had one closer.  It's tough to go to the temple when it's three hours away and you're on a really tight budget.  And when you have four kids. :)  It was really neat, though - we had some friends going through for the first time, and it was awesome.  Thanks, Shelly's Grape Jelly and...Kyle...  I need to find him a nickname soon.  I'll think on that, as well.  Kyle's Grape Style?

The kids are eagerly looking forward to our next summer adventure - going home to Idaho in a couple of weeks for a visit.  Yes, I still consider Idaho my home.  I'm a tad homesick.  My sister Lex calls it "Idahomesick."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Few Updates

Ay carumba.  So many things to tell you, my one reader, about!

One week later, and my legs are still banged up from my Mountain Falling Biking incident.  The poofy left leg?  Well, the poof is gone, but now I have just one huge bruise covering my entire shin.

Adults aren't meant for falling.

I mean, my kids fall all the time, right?  But they're kind of...boingey.  And smaller.  They don't take up so much area/volume as I do.  They're able to kind of rebound from falling.  Oh, and football players.  I don't know how they can stand to fall all the time.  Seriously.

Or maybe it's because my body is now an Old Lady Body that falling was such a big deal for me?  I'm lucky that I didn't break a hip!  Haha!  My blood pressure still sucks, and my bladder acts up every now and then.  Stupid chemo.  When I go jogging, it reminds me of what it would be like if I was, like, 80, and trying to jog.  It's just ridiculous.

Let's talk about something nice.  Let's talk about Kar teaching dance!!  Woot!!  It took a really long time for everything to get settled and figured out, so I didn't talk about it on here until I knew for sure.  And now I know for sure.

The first thing that happened was that I got hired at a studio here in Bend to teach on Fridays and Saturdays.  I'm going to have a chance to do lots of choreography and have some lyrical/modern teaching opportunities.  I'm really excited about that.  I mean, ballet is my Number One Dance Love.  But modern/lyrical?  Number Two Dance Love.  It will be fantastic.

I've had a chance to take some adult ballet and modern classes at this studio, and it's been SUCH A BLAST.  When I'm not huffing and puffing.  From my dang blood pressure.  The teachers understand.  Hopefully it will get better and better with each passing month.  I'll take more classes this summer; right now, both classes are preparing their numbers for the spring show, and I don't want to get in the way.

Can I tell you how great it feels to put on a leotard and tights again??  To move my body in those old, familiar ways?  Pure healing. That's what it is for me.

And then I got hired on at a studio about 20 minutes away to teach during the week.  It feels like a really good fit; the bosslady up there is a definite kindred spirit.  I'll also be teaching ballet and lyrical up there, as well as a little bit of pointe!  Yeee!  I love pointework!

I might be teaching some summer classes up there, as well.  We'll see.

Also, I'm going to be teaching ballet to a cute girl in my ward here, in her house.  Ben made me a portable ballet barre!  He had a ton of fun making it; he's immensely proud of it.  As he should be.  My darling kiddos are enamored of it.  Sadie almost thought of taking dance classes again.  For about three minutes.  And then she remembered how much she disliked it!  Haha!  I'm good with that. Ballet isn't for everyone.  I get it.
Oi vey.  Her form isn't the best, but that's because she only took, like, four months of ballet.  Haha!  Roll those feet out, girl!!

The last bit of news is boob-related.  Kay.  So.  According to my plastic surgeon here in Bend, plus a doctor my nurse-anesthetist sister works with (he actually talked to me on the phone!  He does only breast reconstruction and really knows his stuff), plus several reputable websites like the Susan B. Komen website, etc., I might not ever be able to successfully do tissue-expansion on my left side again.  They all say that once rejected, my left side will always reject them.  I mean, there is a small chance that it wouldn't reject, but I don't like the percentages I'm seeing on that.

The only other option is to do this DIEP Flap thing, the tummy tuck-type thing.  I really don't wanna do it, but do I want to go through life with a concave chest?  (Maybe.  It's kind of tempting to just take my other expander out and be DONE FOREVVVVER WITH THIS CRAAAAP.)  The more research I do, the more I'm finding that this surgery has a very, very high success rate.  And that it's not as scary as I first imagined.  It's something I'm considering.

Soooo, I'm going to Portland on Friday to see a specialist there about it.  We'll see what she has to say.  (Nobody here does this surgery.)  She'll probably look at me and see if I'm a good candidate, etc.  We'll ask lots of questions and just get more of a feel for what this surgery might entail and if it's the right choice for me.  I'm not saying I'm ready to commit to anything.  But I think that at least exploring this option is an okay thing to do for now.

So yeah.  I'll let ya know what she says!  And what I decide!  My only decision right now might be just to wait a year.  I did ask my surgeon here about that - I asked him if I could just...take out the right boob tissue expander while I think about things for a year, and he said it probably wouldn't be a good idea.  If we try fakies again, it would be dumb to cut out all the skin I've expanded for the past year.  If I do a DIEP Flap, there's no guarantee that I'll have enough tissue for both boobs.  So we have to keep the right one in just in case we need to do one fakie and one...creatie.  That's what I'm calling the boobs that a DIEP Flap can make.  Creaties.

I'll let you  know what happens.  Right now, I have to stop typing and help Gage find his damn train toys.  Sigh.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Masochistic Mountain Bikers

Dude.  I am in so much painnnnnn!!  Wanna see?
Can you see how swollen my left knee is?  Ouch.  Ouchity ouch.  And obvi, you see the bruises and scrapes everywhere.  I will refrain from showing you the enormous bruise blossoming on my hip, because it's in close proximity to my Buttocks Flesh, and I wouldn't want to show you my Buttocks Flesh.  I've been scandalous enough to show you above my knee.  But I'm not that tarty, to show you my Buttocks Flesh as well.

This is from falling while mountain biking.  Twice.  Yesterday.

And yesssss, I was wearing full biker pants.  Which are now torn up.  Apparently I should have worn knee pads and elbow pads as well?  I obvi was wearing a helmet, thank goodness.

Ben's coworker/buddy is way into mountain biking, and he invited Ben and I to do on this group ride that some bike shop sponsors. They let you rent the bikes and helmets for free; probably to help people "catch the bug" of mountain biking and lay down some major moola for their own bikes and gear.  One of the dudes in our group said that my bike was worth $6000.

Ay, carumba!  Whoooo spends $6000 on a bike?  Maybe people without kids?  (Kids are really expensive little creatures.)  Or really rich people?  Bend contains many kidless rich people.  Many, many, many.

Anyways, the shop sends a few of its employees along on these rides.  What did they call themselves?  Ambassadors.  Ambassadors.  Haha!  I love it.  One of them kind of leads the pack, and one is in the middle, and one is at the end, to make sure everyone is safe.  Which I appreciated.

I had zero idea of what we were getting into.  I figured that, since this ride was for beginners/investigators, it wouldn't be too hard core.  Um, I was wrong.  There were these places with two trees really close together, and you had to go in the middle of them, with these enormously wide handlebars, and try not to get the handlebars to hit the trees...Eeeee!  Ben calls that "Thread the Needle."  He used to do a lot of mountain biking before we were married.

And then there were these little hill things that had huge boulders on either side, so you had to try not to get your pedals caught on the boulders.  And then going downhill and trying not to skid...  Eee! I'm such a wuss!  There were times when I was kind of...squealing...nervously.  Squealing really is the best descriptive word for it.  I was going, "Eeeeeeeeee!!"  Like a little squealing piggy.

Ya know, I never wanted to be a wuss, growing up.  Whenever we went waterskiing, I pretended to be nonchalant and totally brave when preparing to jump in the water with my ski.  But inside, I was quivering a little bit.  It's a little scary!  And all of my sisters will attest to my extreme wussiness when it comes to rollercoasters.  O.M.Geeeee.  All three of them laugh really hard and raise their arms in the air and smile ear-to-ear.  I scream bloody murder, and then my throat runs out of sound, so my mouth is still in an O, but nothing comes out of my mouth. And then I nearly faint from sheer terror.  They love to take turns sitting next to me, because they find my roller coaster fear quite humorous.  I have a really funny picture somewhere of Dad, Nat, and me riding on this big, scary ride at Lagoon.  They tie you all together in a bunch, and then they swing you way, way back, stories off the ground, and then let you go.  You swing back and forth a few times, and then they reel you in. And in the pictures, Nat and Dad have their arms stretched wide like birds, and they're smiling, and they're looking at the scenery from up there.  As for me, my eyes are tightly screwed shut, and both of my arms are clamped to Dad's arm.

Back to mountain biking.  I guess that, when you're going through or over these obstacles, you kind of stop pedaling for a minute and hold your pedals at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock spots to avoid getting snagged by big rocks, tree stumps, bushes, etc.  And I didn't know that, so my first fall was because my pedal ran into a tree stump.  That's when I hurt my right knee and hip.  I was wearing my compression sleeve and glove on my left arm, and they did a good job of protecting that area. Luckily, compression stuff didn't rip, but it is a little on the fuzzy side now.  My OT is going to kill me.

The second time I fell, it was my own fault.  I had been taught the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock pedal rule by then, but I kept forgetting, and this time, my pedal ran into a big old rock that was sticking in the ground.  I landed in a bush, but the bush didn't really break my fall very well, because that's when I got my left leg injuries.  Sigh.

I almost cried that time.

Ben did great.  He was taking all these jumps, threading the needle with much proficiency, and not getting winded when we summited big hills.  I was quite jealous.  I was really huffing and puffing up those hills, mainly because my blood pressure remains obstinately low.  And here is Mr. Never Works Out, kicking my trash.  That's how it always is.  We went jogging together a couple of months ago, and he hadn't jogged since...high school?  I don't even know.  And he was totally outlasting and outdistancing me.  Rarrr.  The healthy jerk. :)  Haha!

I need to remember that my body is still in reconstruction mode.  My OT put it this way:  "Karlenn, your body just experienced Hurricane Katrina.  Everything was wiped totally out.  You're at the point right now where maybe you have running water again in some sections, and some electricity again in some sections, but for the most part, there is a massive reconstruction happening.  And it's going to take a really long time to get you to where you were."  So that makes me feel better about my physical limitations.  I can't expect so much from myself.

We stopped at a summit, and I was breathing pretty heavily.  This cute older guy (who kicks my butt at mountain biking) was like, "Here, drink this packet of goo.  It has some sugar in it and will totally help you."  So I swallowed a gulp of goo and nearly vomited.  It tasted just like that horrible orange drink that you have to ingest before a gestational diabetes test.  But in goo form, which made it worse.  When I told the others that, they all looked at me blankly.  Because none of them had ever been pregnant.  Because they're Rich Kidless Dudes. And One Rich Kidless Lady.  So then the nice old dude gave me this almond granola bar thing instead, and that was yummy.  And gave me more energy, I suppose.

Ben's buddy let me drink from his water bottle.  Ben and I were grossly underprepared.
Do you like my shirt?  It's my fave.

So today, I've been very, very lazy.  Sitting on my buttocks flesh and not moving around very much. Not so much because I'm lazy, but because moving hurts.  :)

I told Ben he can go solo next time.  I prefer my exercise in the Will Not Cause Bodily Harm category.  He can go bond with the other males (and one female) who haven't ever had to drink the gestational diabetes drink, and I shall remain at home, blissfully intact.

Monday, June 1, 2015

YOU were keeping me fat???

So dude.  Do you remember The Sixth Sense? (Best movie EVER!!  I'm really hoping that M. Night Shamalama [Yes, that is what I call him.  Shamalama.  Like "shamalama-ding-dong."] can go the distance with this new TV show he's doing - I think it's called Wayward Pines.  I think he's seriously misunderstood.  Yes, his version of Avatar:The Last Airbender was really, really awful.  But think of all the good movies he's done, people!!  The Sixth Sense!  That one with the aliens!  Lady in the Water [Hey, don't diss on Lady in the Water.  It's one of my faves.]!  That one where red is The Bad Color!  What is that one called??  The Village!  My sister's kids called that show The Billage, and her son called the color red, "Bad Color."  Not "red."  "Bad Color."  Just for a little while.  It was super cute.)

Um, major Dickensian parenthetical paragraph [hey, that's alliterative] up above.  And I hate Dickens!!  Sowry.  (I'm saying that like Gilbert Blythe says it in Anne of Green Gables.  May the actor who played him rest in peace.  I'm still in mourning over that.  Gilbert Blythe was my first imaginary boyfriend.)

So anywho, in The Sixth Sense, there's that part where Haley Joel Osment goes to Mischa Barton's funeral, right?  And she very creepily slides this box with a VHS tape in it out from under her bed to give to her dad.
*Shiver.*

So then Haley Joel Osment takes the tape to her dad and is like, "She wanted you to have this."  And he watches this tape, and in horror, realizes that his wife had been poisoning their daughter with, like, pinesol or something.
And then he comes up to her, and he says, "You were keeping her sick???"  And she's like, "What?  I'm the only one wearing red at my own daughter's funeral.  I feel so symbolic."

Not really.  She just looks around.
Anyway, the look on that dad's face is so sad.  He's so betrayed, right? Betrayed by his beloved wife!!!  She killed his daughter!!!  And was working on his second daughter!!

I find a parallel in this situation with my own life.  I do.  With the Love of My Life, bean burritos.
I mean, look at those babies.  Aren't they just crying out to be eaten?  So melty.  So warm.  So squishy.  So awesome.

My love affair with bean burritos has been a long and happy one.  They have gotten me through many a harsh time.  When Ben was in China for a year, I ate two every. single. day. for lunch.  My high school friends will attest to my eternal love for the bean burrito.  I had two for lunch.  Every. Single. Day.

So I had this little boyfriend that I met at EFY when I was sixteen.  He lived in California.  We wrote each other prolifically.  I mean, we were serious.  Until I started crushing on a guy at my school.  But for a good six months there, we were in lurrrrve.  One week for mutual, my laurel group made, like, clay pendants and cooked them in the oven and then glazed them or whatever, right? 

I made a bean burrito pendant necklace, put a leather string through it, and sent it to my California Man. 

I'm sure he appreciated it a lot.

I was kind of a spaz.

(Was?)

He loved that about me.

Anyways.  Bean burritos.  The love of my life.

So last spring, I was like, dude, I need to lose this extra weight.  My cousins were all looking so lithe, and I asked them what on earth they were doing, and they were all, My Fitness Pal!  So I started doing it.  Calculating my calories.  Learning how many calories are in the food I was putting in my mouth.  And when I saw the calories in a bean burrito, I was shocked!  SHOCKED!!   

For one of those skinny guys in the picture above, probably 300 calories.  And it's tiny.  Is one of those going to fill you up?  No.  Last spring, I had been regularly eating some big old honkin' bean burritos.  One a day for lunch.  Every day.  Do you know how much those were costing me? 

1,000 calories. 

And I was supposed to be on a 1800 calorie-per-day diet!!  How was I supposed to keep supporting my coke habit?  And my bean burrito habit??

What about my Ben & Jerry's habit??

I felt so betrayed.  This is me:  "You were keeping me fat??"
This is the burrito's response:
"It was you?  All this time???  Youuuuu were keeping me fat???"
Response:

You betrayer.  I see you wearing your symbolic red bandana.  You should be arranging a vase of red flowers, you evil, calorie-filled meal of lusciousness.

So I realized the evil of the bean burrito and started staying away from them.  With My Fitness Pal, I was slowly learning what I could get away with and what I could NOT get away with.  If I had a bean burrito, I couldn't have one of my other meals that day.  And that's not such a good plan.  I did find that I could still have a coke if I didn't have Ben and Jerry's.  Or, if I knew there was going to be dessert at the Relief Society activity, I skipped my Coke-o-the-Day.  I was slowly learning.  And losing.  I lost about 14 pounds until cancer hit.

And during chemo and radiation, you don't give a rat's about what goes into your mouth.  You are just trying to survive.  If something tastes amazing, you go with that.  I did a lot of grilled tuna, for some reason.  Did I count calories?  Nope.  And I gained it all back.  Which happens when you're on steroids during chemo, I've found.  So poofy.  So, so poofy.

Anywho, I lost a little bit after chemo, when I was off steroids, and then I lost a little bit more when I was doing radiation, because my appetite was so poor.  When it was done and I lost my fake boob and all the dust settled, I started feeling better, and I started My Fitness Pal again.  I've slowly but surely been losing about a pound a week.

And I'm down 25 pounds!  Almost to my goal!  It feels amazing.  People ask me all the time what my trick is.  Here it is:

No more bean burritos. 

I can't find a place here with burritos that I like. So...that helps a lot.  I still hit the Ben & Jerry's occasionally, but not, like, every day.  I no longer indulge in a midnight bowl of cereal.  I drink buttloads of water.  I get sick of just plain old water, so I drink a ton of propel.  It helps me with my coke cravings.  I still drink one coke per day.  It's pure bliss.  I have a strict rule about lunch now:  I eat a big old salad.  Or a tonnnnn of vegetables and a little bit of lean meat.  I eat normal dinner and still adore my cereal breakfast.  I know I could do better, and there are times that I rock it.  And other times that I don't.  Oh, and at dinner, I fill half my plate with veggies or salad and make sure I eat that first.  Then meat second.  And then I'm usually too full for the carbs.  That's a nice trick.

But mainly, no more bean burritos.  They're just not worth it.  Especially here.  (I shall be gorging myself on my Idaho bean burritos when I visit there this summer.)

For the first time in, like, 15 years, I'm really happy in my skin.  I'm taking ballet and modern classes right now, and I can jump!  I can move through space!  It feels so great not to be ashamed of my body.  I can wear a leotard and not shrink away in shame.  I'm a dance teacher now (yes, I got a job!), and a dance teacher needs to be able to heft herself around.  To spin.  To jump.  My goal isn't to look good in a bikini.  I don't wear bikinis.  And that skin has stretched to its max, guys.  There's no bouncing back from four babies, dude.  My goal is to be strong.  And that's it.  I'm trying to see if I have a picture that shows the lighter me...  Here might be one:
Ben and I at the Hawaiian temple.  We did a session there.  I don't know.  I don't know if that's a very good picture of me.  Oh well. I'm down a couple of sizes and liking it a lot.  Theeee end.

Oh, and I'm going to make you look at more pictures of Hawaii for a sec.  You know you want to:
 My one boob looks super-awesome, no?
 Waimea Falls!
I felt like I was in South Pacific, that part where the army dude and that Hawaiian girl are frolicking on Bali Hai, and like, going down natural rock water slides and stuff.  Ben and I didn't do all of that underwater kissing stuff, though.  How can people doooo that without feeling like they're drowning?  Certainly it's not comfortable.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

You down wit' PCC? Yeah, you know me!

The third day we were in Oahu, we visited the Polynesian Cultural Center.  It was one of the highlights of Hawaii for me 20 years ago, and was just as awesome this time.  I love learning about the cultures of each island nation and watching the native dances and listening to the native songs.  I wish we had had more time there.  It's arranged kind of like Disneyland...?  You walk around, visiting little "villages":  Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, etc. and watch presentations and play games and make stuff.  It's fantastic.

Do you know how much I love the Mauris??  Their chant-with-chest-pounding thing is my favorite thing ever!!!
In the Hawaiian area, we made these fish yoyo things out of palm fronds.  Ben is holding his and posing in front of one of the boats the natives used to use:
I saw on our flight home (the only free TV available was this docuseries on Hawaii) that there has been a revived use of these old boats to sail to other islands like they used to.  I thought that was interessant.  More stuff from the Hawaii area:

The dude in the above picture who is singing and playing the gourd thingey told us that only 25% of the population of Hawaii is made up of native islanders.  He said it's too expensive to live there, so many islanders have to move to the mainland to live.  Isn't that a shame??

Oh, and Ben and I got temporary Mauri tattoos.  Mine stands for strength.  His stands for family, I think:

They had this cool parade-on-a-river thing that was fun to watch.  I watched all of the dancing closely that day, obviously.  It was interesting to see the differences in the style of costume and dance.  The Fijian dance that the men did mimed warfare and battle:
The dancing of the Samoans was just very fun-loving.  They wore tall plumes in their hair and tilted their heads sometimes to make the feathers tilt. 

They also did a lot of hooting and hollering.  So did the Tongans.  I feel like Samoa and Tonga are the party islands.  :)
Tahitians are the ones who have exaggerated hip movements and lots of drum-playing:

We did this luau thing.  It was kind of cool.  It was kind of a taste of the show to come later that evening.  And speaking of taste, man, is their pork salty!!  Of course, my taste buds are still (!) oversensitive to salt and spice.  Four months after my last chemo.  It's crazy how long the effects of chemo last.
Another lasting side effect of chemo:  dry eyeballs.  I have to wear my glasses most of the time.  Contacts obviously irritate the eyeballs.

BTDubs, lais are so itchy!!
 Hawaiian dancing is very smooth and gentle, whether the pace is fast or slow:
The emcee guy for the luau was the cheesiest man I have ever seen.  I was literally like, "Are we at a Vegas lounge show?"  He had that cheesy voice and told cheesy jokes and just... I don't know.  As you know, I have a low tolerance to cheesiness:
There was a little bit of fire dancing at the luau and tons that night at the show (where we weren't allowed to take pictures):
I couldn't tell if the girl on the right had singed her hair off at some point.  I swear I could see shorter hair on her right side, dyed blonde.
I think these girls were Samoan. 

Oh, and...they asked for volunteers to dance the Tahitian style.  I was across from Ben, facing away from him, watching the people pick members of the audience, not knowing that Ben was pointing at me.  And I got picked.  Haha!  I had a blast but looked like such a nerd!  The video is too big for me to upload here.  I'll try to put it on Facebook.

The night show was really, really awesome.  Tons more dancing, singing, fire dancing...  Fantastic.  Such a must-see if you go to Oahu!
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