Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Hate My Husband

So I'm not into New Years' Resolutions. I think they're lame. I don't get why you have to have a special day to make commitments to change.

That said, the timing of my commitment to get into better shape and lose some weight was, well... coincidental.

I refuse to call it a New Years' Resolution because if I do, I will surely break it.

For the past few years, as my metabolism has slowed and my diet and exercise regime has remained unchanged, the pounds have crept on. My recent goal for the dreaded "Holidays" has been to not GAIN any weight, and I have succeeded.

Weight gain or no, however, I am always left with a "holiday hangover." Not the alcohol-induced kind, but the overindulgent kind. I love good food. I have a horrible sweet tooth. And in a social situation, it's very hard for me to monitor what's going in my mouth. So while I might not eat in excess, I certainly eat poorly. Fat after fat, carb after carb. By January I feel like a giant beached walrus. Every year.

Well this year, I decided to make a significant change. Until recently, I didn't need to exercise to lose weight. Cut the portions, moderate the simple carbohydrates, watch the fats: PRESTO! 20 lbs lighter.

Not so much this last year.

Is 35 a magic number? Did my metabolism hit a predestined wall? Who knows. Who cares?
The end result is the same. Dieting alone wasn't working.

I'm not stupid. I KNOW exercise is important. I have always done some form of core/strength training. I love resistance training. Isometrics. Yoga. Pilates. Abs, buns, thighs. Bring it.

I despise cardio. Always have. Even in high school, in my prime, running track, I hated it. Hate the feeling that I can't catch my breath. Hate the burning in my lungs, the coppery taste in my mouth. The hammering heart. The rubber muscles. The lactic-acid buildup: the "burn."

And conventional cardio is just plain Bor-Ing.

I don't run. I won't ever run again...on purpose. As in - if I'm not being chased. My knees, hips, and ankles can't take it with my arthritis. It hurts my back when my, *ahem*, ample bosom is bouncing along (trust me, they don't make a bra that can restrain these girls on a jog!).

Treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals, stationary bikes: dull, dull, boring, dull. Music? Not a distraction. TV? Book? Nope and nope.

So I finally found the solution... SNEAK in the cardio. Get it with your resistance training!

I joined Curves. 30 second intervals of intensive targeted-muscle-group resistance training, with 30 seconds of recovery (cardio) in between. For 30 minutes.

You get the cardio from the resistance training. GENIUS!!

But this isn't an ad for Curves. Do what you want, I don't care. Whatever works for you.

The point is, I'm proud of myself. I've been vigilant about my diet. I've been busting my butt at Curves. Hey, baby... I've lost SEVEN pounds. In three weeks. Not bad, you might say.

What's the problem?, you might ask.

It's HIM. JeepMan.

My rat-bastard husband.

Don't get me wrong, I love him.

But I hate him too.

That Man has not lifted a weight. He has not done any form of cardio outside of his daily routine. He has not changed a THING except his diet, which is essentially the same as my diet, just slightly bigger portions.

And he has lost 20 lbs since Jan 3rd.

Stab me in the eye with a fork. Push bamboo splinters under my fingernails. Put me in a roomful of chocolate that I can't eat.

It's not fair. I hate him.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Sorry I've been AWOL. I've been swamped with work, trying to be a mom, and sticking to my new exercise routine. I have a big meeting coming up next week, ALL week, and I seem to be getting behind in everything, including blogging and visiting blogs.

I've also become somewhat addicted to Facebook, and I'm trying to wean myself. It's a process.

So please don't leave me. I will be back.

Thanks. :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas: The Afterword

Sorry I've been away but I've been kinda busy with work and I actually joined a GYM! If you can call Curves a gym. It's circuit training, and it's kicking my butt. In a good way. I think.

Anywhoo - I promised you a belated crappy Christmas gift story, so here goes. Coincidentally, this gift was also from "Unclue" Mike, the giver of the aforementioned stolen coffee. He got the kids each a book, one that you special order from some company that then inserts the child's name into the story as a protagonist. Sounds like something any 4 or 7 year old would be pleased with, right?

Plato got one of these when he was 3, also from Mike, who spelled his own name throughout the book as "Unclue Mike." Plato couldn't have cared less, but it made JeepMan and I snicker-snort every time we read it.

So I wondered, as these books arrived in the mail, if the same mistake would have been repeated. Plato would certainly notice now, and even Lulu might: she writes her name everywhere she can, and has even learned some other words to read and spell.

The wail that erupted from her as she opened her book was pathetic. I tried to calm her and find out what was wrong, and finally just grabbed the book. He'd spelled her name wrong. Phonetically. As in "Loo-Loo." She was so mad that Plato got his own book and she didn't that she flung the book in the trash and had a temper tantrum right in the living room.

Poor thing. All I could do was comfort her and explain that Unclue Mike isn't the best speller in the world, but at least he tried.

She was having none of it. I think he's on her naughty list until further notice. That girl can hold a grudge, big time.


The next Christmas epilogue involves MIL. You didn't think it would all just stop because Christmas is over, did you? Oh, no!

It must be understood that MIL had specifically asked us not to get her the usual college-team apparel and knick-knacks that we usually get her (she's a knick-knack fiend), and instead asked for some music CDs and maybe a bottle of wine.

My MIL fancies herself a wine snob. Because her friends fancy themselves wine snobs. So I suppose she is a wine snob by osmosis, because she certainly hasn't studied wine or had a wide range of exposures to wine. Regardless. By turns her self-proclaimed snobbery can be humorous (she calls "Riesling" "Reasoning"), annoying, or downright embarassing (complaining over a perfectly good bottle of wine at a restaurant).

Well we got the CDs, and ended up getting her 2 bottles of wine. She only likes sweet whites. Recently she's begun to try reds, but only with ice in them, as she thinks they taste horrid at room temperature. Hmmm....her friends must be dabbling in reds as well...

We didn't go too much out on a limb for fear her head might explode: we got her her favorite brand of Riesling, and a second bottle of the same brand's Late Harvest Riesling (sweeter). Reasoning (ha ha) that the sweeter the better, I figured we could introduce her to something new while not venturing too far outside of her, *ahem* 'area of expertise.'

She seemed pleased with the wines when she opened them, and we had her favorite with dinner. I suggested she open the other so we could compare, but she refused. We told her to just let us know what she thought.

JeepMan went to visit her the week after the holiday, after dropping me off at the airport. He'd actually forgotten about the wine, but he hadn't been in the door for 10 minutes when she told him, "That wine you got me? I had to dump the whole bottle down the drain. It tasted like VINEGAR."

This is nothing new. A few years back, someone she hangs with poured a bottle down the drain for tasting like vinegar, and ever since that has been the fate of approximately 1 in 3 of the bottles she opens. I myself have been told by a sommelier that I have a discriminating palate. Who knew? But at a wine-tasting with a group, I was able to pick up on some qualities of the wines that many others could not discern. Cool. But the point is, of all the wine I have drunk over the years, I have only opened 2 bad bottles. And only ONE of them was actually vinegary.

But here's the real kicker. She asked JeepMan: "Did you even look at the date on the bottle when you bought it?? It's from 2006!!"

(forehead slap)


Were I the benefit-of-the-doubt-giving kind, I might say, "Well, maybe she knows something I don't. Maybe 2006 was a really bad year for late-harvest Riesling in the Sonoma Valley..."

I can't extend that sort of latitude here. She thinks 2006 represents some type of shelf-life recommendation. A "Use By" date.

She thinks the wine was expired.

So what do you think? Wouldn't a normal person just not bring it up? Or if pressed, lie? But she did neither.

That makes me think she is:
a) self-aggrandizing;
b) condescending;
c) both.

I'm going with c.

And next year, I think I'll just skip the preliminaries. She's getting a gallon of distilled white vinegar. She can just dump it straight away.

And hey, it'll clean her drain too!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas With the In-Laws: A Synopsis

I abandoned, years ago, the hope that whomever I married would be bringing me into a family similar to my own: full of harmony, love, acceptance, goodwill, and contentment. Those dreams were laid aside, albeit sadly, when I knew that JeepMan was the man I would marry - IN SPITE OF his family.

Part of the reason I love him has to do with the fact that he has overcome such a crummy childhood and forged his own path to his destiny of choice rather than stumbling blindly down the well-trodden path that so many of his family before him have chosen. You can read more here about The Story of JeepMan. For now, I'll move past that to this very Christmas.

I am frequently reminded, not-so-nicely, about the stark differences between the family I was born into, and the family into which I married. But never so harshly as the annual debacle they call Christmas.

Invariably, it begins with the fact that no one seems to be able to remember where our little family spent the actual day of Christmas the year before (we do "every-other-year" for Christmas and Thanksgiving). This year, it was Christmas with the In Laws, even though we did Thanksgiving with them as well, since they came on vacation to Moab with us.

Did MY family complain? Did they act jealous? OF COURSE NOT. Their comment was, "Well, with Tiff's new job she doesn't get Christmas off this year anyway, so that should work out great! We'll have it next year!" God love 'em...

Christmas at the In Laws it was: and so the Rube Goldberg Machine was set in motion.

The task: get through Christmas without permanent harm, physical or emotional, being inflicted on any family member. Sounds simple, right?

Well, HA!! I say... HA!

It's NEVER simple when the InLaws are involved.

It started about a week before Christmas. A letter arrived at our house. Addressed to the children. FROM SANTA. Postmarked? you guessed it: the InLaws hometown (forehead slap). The kids didn't seem to notice, nor did they seem to notice that "Santa" writes an awful lot like Grandma. The content was fairly benign, and the kids seemed to forget about it quickly. Until MIL mentioned it out of the blue a couple days later and I was on damage-control duty once again.

I am making the most of these very few years of Santa-Faith, which are numbered, I know. Plato is 7 1/2 and has already expressed doubts. Lulu is darn sharp, and it won't be long after he abandons his belief that she will follow. So who knows? This (and every year to follow) could be IT; The Last Year. I'm determined not to make any false steps and give it all away.

MIL certainly has good intentions, but is severely lacking in the stealth department. The kids stayed with her for 3 days before Christmas as MIL had those days off and I was out of town. Rather then make the kids go to daycare we figured they'd have more fun at her house. Which they did...

When we arrived for Christmas, Lulu ran into my arms screaming, "Mama, Mama!! Santa Claus called us at Grandma's HOUSE! Plato wouldn't talk to him. He was scared. But I did! I told him I was a good girl this year and I want a horse for Christmas!!" Aside from the obvious issue with the horse, I was instantly pissed. I looked at MIL and she was grinning smugly. I raised my eyebrows, she didn't flinch. I looked at JeepMan and he was stunned as well.

But Lulu seemed happy, so I figured, whatever. Not worth ruining Christmas over something like that.

Later Lulu whispered breathily in my ear, "Mama, I don't think it was the REAL Santa who called us...it sounded like Grandpa! I think he was just teasing us." I told her she was probably right, but not to tell Grandpa she knew.

We've told the kids that Santa only brings presents and fills stockings at our house; that at each Grandparents' house the Grandparents fill them. MIL will not go along with this. She insists that Santa fills her stockings (she also calls them "socks" which raises my hackles, but I grit my teeth and stick with "stockings"). As the kids plowed into the stocking booty this year, out tumbled unopened Happy Meal toys and multiple little gifts with Hobby Lobby price tag stickers on them. {{**sigh**}}

You know, because the elves shop at Hobby Lobby and have a contract with McDonald's for their overflow toy inventory.

Hopefully the kids are listening to ME about Santa not actually coming to Grandma's...

Gift-opening proceeded without incident; in fact, I have to give props to MIL for not going completely overboard on the gifts this year. It helps that she bought us a Wii, so there wasn't much left over to create the usual piles of useless, cheezy, lame gifts. One exception: the gymongous gaming table she bought the kids.

It has pool! Air hockey! Foosball! Backgammon...! Ugh. It's big and cheap. And we have no where to set it up in our small house with no storage! And SHE KNOWS THAT.

I don't know why, but we get one of these types of gifts every year from her. They're in a pile in the basement, or at Goodwill, or in the landfill. What a waste.

On to dinner. This is where it got interesting.

JeepMan's cousin Shawn has been in and out of the family's lives for years. He's my age; read: "old enough to know what's right and wrong." He found out a few years ago that he has a son, who is now 9 years old. The poor kid lived with his mother, who is dumb as a rock, for years. Shawn is smart, and managed to get custody of his son. Great, right?

Well, being smart does not mean you make smart choices, or live as a productive member of society. Here's the picture. Shawn has been in and out of jail in several states over the years for drug possession. Finally, he moved back to his hometown, found out he has a son, found himself a stripper girlfriend (ahem, "cocktail waitress in a strip bar," says she), and proceeded to father two more children. They've never married because the welfare (or whatever) is better if she's a single mother.

In the meantime, they've managed to purchase motorcycles for the whole family, drive a Cadillac Escalade, breed pit-bulls, and move to a 3000 sq/ft home on an acreage, brand new. All on the salary of a cocktail waitress and on-again-off-again construction worker....

Doth my nose detect a rodent?

Well, the shit hit the fan a few months ago for them: Shawn was arrested for drug trafficking, the kids were taken away, his girlfriend was arrested but the charges were eventually dropped, everything they own except their home was taken away, the 2 kids of theirs were returned to the home, and his son was sent back to his mother.

"Dumb as a rock" trumps "drug-lord" any day, I guess.

So he's currently in jail for (presumably) a long time. Now if I were the girlfriend, would I show up to the Christmas festivities of my imprisoned-boyfriend's family? No way!! I'd be so freakin' embarrassed I would want to crawl in a hole and die. Not this woman. Nope! She trucked the kids right over and made herself at home. And guess who got to sit by her at dinner? Moi. I heard all about how he's innocent, how hard it is without him, how she has to get home by 4pm to catch his Christmas Day phone call, blah blah blah. Just shoot me, ok? With a tranquilizer dart would be nice.

Also gracing the Christmas table were: JeepMan's grandma, Unclue Mike, JeepMan's cousin LT, and LT's girlfriend.

JeepMan's Grandma is a bitch. I don't use that term lightly. She truly is mean-spirited, manipulative, and consummately negative. When she walks into a room, she just drains all the good energy right out of it. She never talks to anyone, just sits in a corner and glowers, occasionally rising with a dramatic showing of strain and pain, and shuffles out to the garage to smoke. What a wonderful role model for my children, huh? They can't stand her.

Unclue Mike [sic] (that's how he spells his name, really!) recently moved back to be near MIL. He's her brother and he basically exhausted the Workman's Comp system in several states before deciding to come back home and see what he could mooch off his family. He's the one that gave us the Stolen Coffee for our present. He's friendly enough, but is so full of shit his eyes must be brown. A few years ago he had hatched a plan about how he was going to come to the Midwest and find him a bunch of night-crawlers (for free) and drive them back to Colorado for a profit. He's a real thinker, that one! Also a smoker, and suspected former client of his son, Shawn, details above.

The cousin I mentioned is the one MIL decided to give a new life a couple of years ago. It was a rocky situation then, but has turned out as well as could be expected. The cousin and girlfriend are as close to "normal" as any of the family gets; mostly because of the influence of the girlfriend. She comes from a stable and caring home, from what I can gather. They're young, their relationship is volatile, and I suspect they are up to their eyebrows in credit card debt...but they can function socially for the most part. They were an hour late to dinner with no excuse, which severely irked MIL, and they later had some kind of major argument (with lots of obscenities) during which I hustled myself and the kids from the room.

After dinner, all the negative energy had me exhausted, so when Lulu went down for a nap, I fell asleep beside her. Ahhh, bliss. When I got up, half the clan was gone. We left not long after, to go see what Santa left at our house. MIL was all atwitter, telling us not to give any stuff to Goodwill (she hates that), and that she would be checking with the kids and would find out if we did...oooh, I'm a-scared.

We made it out exhausted but unscathed. The kids had a great Christmas at home, and at my folks' house. I guess if nothing else, the kids are getting to witness the dichotomy between families, and they can make their own choices with this valuable knowledge, right?

Next up: A belated crappy gift and the story of my MIL, aspiring sommelier.