Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Sometimes I find myself getting a little nostalgic. This week has been one of those times for a number of reasons.

First, it's my mom's birthday tomorrow (today by the time many of you read this). As most of my blog followers know, my mom passed away in January after a very long and difficult illness. We took the kids up to Grass Valley last weekend to leave flowers at the spot where we scattered her ashes. Grass Valley was one of her favorite places, and for many years it was her childhood home. She still has relatives there, including her cousin and her husband, as well as her aunt and uncle. We spent the afternoon with them, visited the site, enjoyed lunch and reminisced.

It was the first time we visited the spot with the kids. It rained, which was a bummer but also fitting, so we couldn't stay long. We did stay long enough for the kids (and my husband) to enjoy the Halloween Oreo cookies that my mom's cousin brought up with us, along with a quart of milk. Being so close to my 40-pound weight loss goal, I didn't partake in the indulgence.

I took what is one of my all-time favorite pictures of the kids that afternoon. They had Oreo cookies -- with bright orange frosting -- stuck in their teeth, so I asked them to smile with their mouths closed. I love this picture and hope mom was smiling down on us as she watched the kids enjoying their cookies, milk and each other after they each laid a flower down for her.

I've also reconnected this week on Facebook with several of my elementary school-aged friends, something  prompted by me being "tagged" in a 5th grade class picture from John Cabrillo Elementary School in Sacramento. The original post, which was made by a classmate who I am now friends with on Facebook, had "dunno" as the caption for me, something I gave him a bit of a hard time about given I thought I was somewhat more memorable than that.

He promptly told me that he just couldn't remember my name, but remembered that I was Christen's friend. Of couse he did. All the boys knew Christen, who was my best friend from Kindergarten through high school. Sometimes (actually a lot of times) I felt very much in her shadow, especially because a lot of the boys had crushes on her. I distinctly remember my mom telling me -- in elementary school, no less -- that the boys like her because she has "bedroom eyes." She added that my eyes are more "Let's go out and play basketball" eyes. I recognize that it's a bit of an unusual comment for a mom to say to her fifth grade daughter, but she was right.

In this fifth grade class picture. I'm the one in the yellow snoopy shirt on the far right in the second row. Christen is in the fourth row, smack dab in the middle. I have to say, it was probably not only the eyes, but the amazing feathered hair that caught the boys' attention.
So it struck me funny when my fellow elementary school buddy and my new Facebook buddy, Annette, today commented online how she remembers she and I would get in trouble because we wouldn't go to the library with the girls, but would instead go play football with the boys.

Now I will let you in on a little secret. While I was very much a genuine tomboy growing up, by fifth grade, I believe my primary motivation for playing football with the boys may have indeed been the possibility of an accidental tackle now and then. But I digress.

So as a tribute to my childhood and my week's walk down memory land, I would like to list my Top 10 favorite memories from my youth:
  1. Hello Kitty
  2. Trading stickers
  3. The ice cream truck
  4. Atari
  5. Hopscotch with chicken rings (do you know, my son doesn't even know what chicken rings are?? I guess they use rocks now).
  6. Must-have accessory? Comb in the back pocket!
  7. Roller Skating at Cal Skate (and, yes, the boys would ALWAYS ask Christen to couples skate, while I stood on the sidelines)
  8. My friend Christen's car, a red VW bug convertable with a black top, broke down on the way to high school on what was "Nerd" dress up day. She dressed up; I didn't. She ended up having to get out in traffic and push the car (with taped, horn-rimmed glasses, plaid skirt, knee high socks and all), while I steered us to safety.
  9. Going to my very first concert, Wham!, with Christen and our moms
  10. The day my longest friend and neighbor, Barbara, came to my house after school with one side of her formerly long hair buzzed with a cross shaved into it. The other half remained long. She was in high school at the time, and she'd had a dream about this particular style and decided to go ahead and do it without getting permission from her parents. She asked me to come home with her because she didn't think her mom would yell at her if I was there. It was her parents' anniversary. With a bouquet of flowers in her hand and me by her side, poor Barbara opened the front door to a very surprised mother who very promptly and sternly asked me to go home. That was the only time Dorothea ever asked me to leave their home.
To all my childhood friends: Love you guys and am so glad for Facebook to have a chance to reconnect with you.

To my mom: Happy Birthday and I miss you terribly.

To my faithful followers of my journey to lose 40 pounds by my 40th Birthday(ish): I am pleased to report that I'm down another pound this week, thanks to Weight Watchers and putting in some more time at the gym. This brings my total weight loss to 37.5 pounds.

2.5 pounds to go! Here's this week's picture:

Until Next Week,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Better Late Than Never

For those of you who know me, you'll know that I tend to like to be fashionably late. Sometimes, I'm really really fashionable. This started early in life for me. I will have to ask Melody, my mom's cousin who was 14 years old at my birth, to confirm my facts because she likes to remind me of them, but I was born nearly two weeks past my due date. Melody knows because she stayed with my parents for a week or so near the anticipated time of my birth, and she was so disappointed that I decided not to be born until after she had already gone back home. I must have hit the womb-snooze button just a few too many times. It gets me every time!

Little chubby "Jen Jen," as my Grandma used to call me, at three months old.

Well, as most of you who read my blog anticipate April 15th as tax day, for the last couple of years, I've opted to file an extension, allowing me to work down to the wire and submit our taxes by October 15th.  Well, part of this reason is that for some godforsaken reason, we got hit hard last year on our taxes and currently still owe $800 to the IRS (we're on the lovely payment plan). Well, I wasn't in a big hurry to find out how things would go this year, so I lived in the Land of Denial for a few extra months.

This morning, my husband and I were greeted with an early morning e-mail from our accountant. Good news, our taxes are finally filed. Bad news, we now owe just over $3,000 more in taxes between the State and Federal governments. And frankly, I'm not even sure how that happened as my colleagues and I took a 10 percent paycut with mandatory furloughs last year. Talk about adding insult to injury!

This fiscal fiasco caused my husband and me to reminisce about the days, pre-children, when we lived in my grandparents' old house on V Street in Sacramento just after we were married. My dad was the landlord and we only paid $500/month in rent for a cute little 2 bedroom, one bath home. We both worked in media, and had 2:30 - 11:30 p.m. shifts. (He was a media analyst at a news monitoring service and I was a videotape editor for the 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. newscasts at the CBS affiliate.)

Jen and Christian in the "good 'ol days" honeymooning in Hawaii

My husband and I agree that this shift was the best we've ever had. We'd wake up at 10:00 a.m.. Go out to lunch. (Our favorite lunch hotspot was Original Pete's on J Street, where we would order the lunch special that included a side salad and personal pizza, for which we would always order a side of Ranch dressing to dip it in.) We would then go to work, get home at around midnight, and watch David Letterman and Conan O'Brien before heading to bed at around 2:00 a.m. Then we'd start all over again the next day.

In those days, we could carry on a conversation at the dinner table without being interrupted. We could go to the movies at a moment's notice. I had the metabolism to support my pizza and Ranch dressing addiction. And we always got a tax refund.

Of course, it goes without saying that we wouldn't give up our two beautiful children, hectic lifestyle that comes with being working parents, and toy-strewn hardwood floors that so desperately need refinishing for the life we led back then.

But, I wouldn't mind getting that metabolism back.

However, I will say, that today (and featured in the picture below) I wore the very same skirt that I purchased to wear to my bridal shower more than 14 years ago. It's a size 6.

Take that, Internal Revenue Service! I'm now 3.5 pounds away from my 40-pound weight loss goal.

And yes, I'm going to miss my new 40-pound weight loss deadline of October 15th. But as Melody can attest, I will get there....eventually!

Until Next Time,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weigh It Forward

When I originally thought of the concept of creating my Jen's 40 by 40 blog, my single intent was to provide a venue that would hold me publicly accountable to stick to my diet. At the time, I couldn't think of any other way to motivate myself. Turns out, I was right. And now I'm only five pounds away from my 40-pound weight loss goal.

But what has proven to be the most surprising part of my blubber battle on the blogosphere is how many other people it has motivated to battle their own bulge.

I received quite a surprise last week when my friend Katie, who had just celebrated her 30th birthday, posted her own blog link to my Facebook page. I originally turned to Katie, who lives in Portland, when I first thought of starting my blog back in February. She had been blogging for a while at that time, and was able to give me some pointers on getting my own blog started. She's been a faithful follower of my efforts, and has been one of my greatest cheerleaders.

Her blog post for last week was entitled "30 by 30." Inspired by my own effort, she decided to begin following Weight Watchers and started her own exercise program. By her 30th birthday (she makes me feel so old), she had been successful in losing 32 pounds! It was amazing to see her before and after picture and it literally made my day.

But then it got better. I posted her blog link on my own Facebook page. And my friend Patricia commented that she's hoping to have a similar story to share by her December 31st birthday. Turns out Patricia, who also followed my lead and enrolled in Weight Watchers, has already lost four inches off of her waist and is down a pant size. Way to go Patricia!

Then a colleague of mine, Kay, commented on my Facebook page, "She's not the only one who was inspired by your efforts. Your blog was very instrumental in my getting on the weight control bandwagon." Kay, by the way, is looking fabulous and just has this great glow about her now.

And then, another colleague of Kay's and mine chimed in saying that both Kay and I have motivated her to get healthier.

In addition to these fabulous women, my sister-in-law, Cheryl, who began going to Weight Watchers and hiking regularly after following my 40 by 40 efforts, recently e-mailed me to let me know she has lost 18 pounds!

It occurred to me that, much like the movie "Pay it Forward," I had started my own "Weigh it Forward" effort.  It's been quite an unexpected outcome, and I guess that's why it feels so good. Almost as good as fitting into a Size 8 again.

And I have not doubt that Katie, Patricia, Kay and Cheryl will also inspire others and "Weigh it Forward" themselves. Way to go ladies, and keep up the great work! You're all helping to keep me motivated to shake these final five pounds.

Here's this week's picture:

Until next time,