Saturday, February 17, 2007

Who’s going to weigh in on this one? I didn’t really believe I could say “hungry fat girl” and get away with it. For one thing I risked offending skinny people who do not judge overweight people. I was once skinny and I did not see people in physical sizes. Yes, I could distinguish large, small and medium, but I was not preoccupied with the issue. I know there are people that do not overly concern themselves with other people’s dimensions, so I apologize if you feel I was implicating you in my statement. I also knew that by raising the weight banner I would be allowing the light to shine on me and how I feel about my own size, food and dieting. And maybe I am pissing off anyone bigger than me. I know it irks me to hear anyone smaller than me complain about his or her FAT. Lastly, there are some that firmly believe that they are doing a service by passing along their ideas about the right way to eat, exercise, live, and I suppose I may have their attention too.

So, how fat am I? No. I don’t think I am ready for that confession. I am guilty though. If I read someone’s weight loss story I immediately scan the article for her weight and height. Am I as big as that? Do I look like her? I also critique skinny women. Sorry. Not all skinny women, or the obviously athletic ones. I do judge the very, very thin ones that look anorexic and I think they are self-obsessed and unhealthy looking. Then I feel guilty, because their physical condition is their own and not my concern. I am guilty of seeing anyone really exceptionally large and maybe looking a little too long. Again, I am sorry. Do you know what I think? I think, “I hope they are okay.” I worry about their health and I pray for them, because I know they must suffer a lot of unkind remarks and prejudice. I am also guilty of eating when I am stressed, and eating when I am exhausted. And I have even eaten to spite anyone that tries to impose his or her food rules on me. So, there.

So, when did I start seeing all the different sizes and thinking about them, and worrying about my own middle and my butt and the size of my underwear? The obsession is everywhere, don’t you agree? Magazines, cereal boxes, chatter, diet ads, fat jokes, television, fashion runways, eating disorders, surgical fixes… who can possibly escape the cultural mania with weight? I do know the exact time and place when it became my obsession too and I regret that I was not able to deflect the moment at its inception. I wish I could go back and be the self that did not feel fat. I wish I would not compare myself with the pretty, skinny models or the “good” moms that lost their baby weight. I wish I still felt comfortable in sleeveless dresses. And I wish that none of my happiness and self-esteem depended on losing weight, because I think that I am entitled to love, acceptance and a claim to beauty no matter what my size is. Thinking isn’t always believing, and there’s the damage.

What else? Well, I worry about my own daughter. It took seeing a little girl, a “small me” to see how much influence I have and how huge the responsibility can be. How do I nurture her pride and joy, her uncensored comfort with her own body and thoughts? I think I know. I think I have to model for her my own self-acceptance, and dare I say, love? Yes, nutrition, exercise, balance, healthy habits… those are vital, and I know that it’s a constant process of providing, supporting, facilitating, learning and teaching all the healthy habits for my family. But besides serving veggies, fruit, and whole grains, and leading long walks, I want to preserve her happy vision of herself as she was created and as she grows. I want this confidence and comfort for my sons too. We’ve been learning so much together, making mistakes too. I think it’s a difficult task to balance, especially when they are so savvy. How do you communicate, “You are beautiful and capable, now please make healthier food choices and go outside and run,” without making them feel inadequate? If you think you know the answer, don’t be so sure.

Well, I wanted to write about food, my favorite foods and favorite recipes and how good corn tortillas smell when their edges begin to toast on a hot comal. I wanted to get all giddy about gardens and cooking and sharing meals and how much better any dish tastes when it’s shared. I could have continued in my regular habit of downplaying the topic, somewhat, and obviously completely avoiding the issues of my weight and insecurities and perceptions and assumptions about other people’s assumptions. But I stepped in to an open field and raised a banner full of honest, painful, embarrassing truths and lies.

I do love food. Isn’t it sad… other addictions require that you quit, so that you avoid the alcohol or cigarettes, but we each have to eat no matter what. I guess we’re all sort of food addicts one way or another. Some of us obsessively count each grain and calorie and know how many laps it takes to burn off a brownie. Others delight in every bite and want more and more, and if they aren’t metabolically blessed they can suffer for it too. Our bodies, our smiles, our thoughts are all as unique and individual as our tastes and habits. I would love to love food and prepare food and serve food, and be healthy in my mind, body and spirit… yes, I like that. Maybe I can get there.
The new camera is a Panasonic BBCC (*Big Black Complicated Camera*)
Okay, seriously, it says... Lumix, Mega O.I.S., and DMC FZ50. I am still studying the instructions, which is an activity I very rarely bother with. Learning the lingo and operations is daunting, illuminating, frustrating, eye opening, interesting... it's got me experienceing the full spectrum of cerebral mind crunches. Let's see some of what we can do. Disclaimer: I take pictures of all the children, but Maria is the most cooperative and willing victim and she does not prohibit me from posting, unlike some children who shall remain anonymous.

okay... I can take color pictures and I need to remember to turn off all the bells and whistles, so I don't get noise. "Noise" I am interpreting to mean "unfocused." Benjamin looks pretty good here, but the camera picked up a lot of background detail, like the window screen... is that "noise?"

The iMac can adjust color and now the camera can too, so I can shoot in sepia. He's backlit and I didn't use flash. Handsome, isn't he? Purrrrrr.

Besides color and sepia, I can shoot in cool colors, like this one. I can shoot in warm and black & white too.

There are a gazillion different options to choose and adjust and whoosh! It's very confusing. I can see it's mostly a matter of focusing on what I use most and also playing around a lot more.

Not my *best of* entry, but check this out... I took this from across the room (about 15-17' away!) Again, on the iMac I can superzoom and crop for the same effect, but this was right off the BBCC. I imagine sitting in the woods; what's that moving in those trees? Is it? Could it be? Then I superzoom and instantly we determine it is Bigfoot. Cool.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I should get up, stretch and breathe cold air. I’ve been continuing my project: Updating Chickenblog archives. It is a very time consuming process that includes labeling each post and changing the URL for photographs. So far I have finished every entry from May 2002 through May 2004. Yikes. I wrote a lot. The label system is a nice addition. At the end of every post you will find a label, which is a link that will bring up all other posts on the same topic. Sometimes it’s not easy deciding on a key word to sum up the deep thoughts of the day and I am trying to limit the number of subject heading labels. Keep it simple.

The photographs were tied to an old URL and are now being transferred to our ‘home’ address. The bummer is that when I was paranoid about Internet privacy I put a security link on many pictures. You can still access the pictures easily enough… just punch in the username: Balboa and the password is: Park. It’s a pain, I know. Later I will export the secure photographs and just let them show up without security.

It’s quite a journey to look back and read detailed accounts of life, my universe and everything. Some things I had forgotten, and other things were merely forgettable. I like it all. Reading Chickenblog is an amazing way to remember details and think on how we got here. I was surprised by some events I didn’t mention. Maybe there were things too difficult to accept or process at the time. It’s interesting to note what I have, or have not, been self-conscious about sharing. For example, I thought I had written more cooking/food posts, and then I realize I deliberately avoid the subject because I dread being pegged as a hungry fat girl. I think skinny people believe overweight people are food obsessive and that it is the root of their fall from grace. Ya, so I have censored myself there and other places. I’m glad I wrote about so many things, like the Chicas and visitors... I look forward to writing more.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yesterday I meant to take pictures of the four children, dressed in varying shades of Valentine red. Maria's tights had little hearts around the legs. They all looked beautiful. Max may hate his haircut, but I love that I can see his handsome face. William's hair hasn't been cut in a long time, but as Max notes William has the magical skill of keeping it out of his face. I look to William's calm and handsome face for assurance. He is a dependable, considerate son and brother. Alex is handsome too, and growing taller every minute, stronger every hour. Every day he is demonstrating new skills and abilities that come from his perseverance and hard work. Maria is a dancing, racing, growing light. She does not lack for admirers and she does not lack for joy in living.

I’m not sure how I could demonstrate their successes and gifts in a photograph. I need to take pictures of Max practicing piano. He plays everyday. He plays before school and after school. He plays while his soup cools and last thing before he goes to bed. He can even carry a tune whistling. Alex is approaching life with humor and a powerful moral code. He is a wonderful child. He continues to let his frog drawings express his highs and lows. He also constructed a motorized Lego frog that hops. And he improved his already amazing walking dragon. Now the dragon has no wires, since he found a way to hide the battery in the tail. The new design is a mechanical and aesthetic improvement. William, my introspective son, reads everything. Sometimes I think of something to open his mind to, only to discover he’s read all about it already. Luckily, he has Geoff and together they can explore the vast and wide-open world of graphics, software, innovation and speculation. William shares things to open my mind. He’s a patient teacher. Maria can be found wherever her family is. What I mean is: She loves her brothers and seeks them out for fun, comfort and learning. She loves her mommy and we dance and cuddle together, explore and delight in pretty things. And when her daddy is home she finds a willing playmate, one who reads to her and feeds her sliced bananas, and can make her happy no matter what.

Yesterday I finally started reading the user’s manual for the new camera. It’s dense and full of instructions, details and codes for using my highly advanced and complicated new camera. I thought I was doing well enough feeling my way around the new buttons, but I really have not been satisfied with the results. Maybe it’s the children that inspire me. They are so curious, determined, disciplined, and they work so hard to accomplish things. So, if I want success capturing their beauty and skills, then I had better muster more curiosity, determination and effort in trying to be master of the camera.

Our Valentine’s Day was not too different from most other days. There were more treats and favors from school. I brought home pizza for dinner, which we LOVE, but that was more about being too sick to cook. Yet the day was special… I paused to reflect on the generally exceptional health we enjoy, the ample and warm shelter we share, and the fabulous taste of hot pizza… Geoff came home before 9, we laughed some and talked a lot. No hothouse roses, no diamonds; we’re in this for keeps and that takes a whole other kind of gift.

Here are two pictures for fun...

Monday, February 12, 2007

And suddenly it’s Monday again. I’m still sick, in case you’re wondering. Someone asked if I could help them at the Floral Trade Center tomorrow; she wants to make bouquets for the middle school bake sale… no. No. I am usually very weak and unable to utter the word ‘No.’ I was going to give some examples of past weaknesses, but I realized I was implicating myself. Suffice it to say, I do not need to take on more than I already have and I should learn to say ‘No’ more often.

The other thing I am trying to resist is offering suggestions. I always feel compelled to share my wisdom and bright ideas. I have great driving directions on the tip of my tongue. Geoff calls me his onboard Nat-vigator. I love to offer advice to tourists and point out for them exceptional local attractions. I say things like “It may rain, take a jacket,” and “The Old Highway is more scenic,” and “You might want to skip going on a Tuesday, because they don’t serve fresh pie until Wednesday.” I once saw a dad slam his car door on his little girl’s finger. I was immediately by his side with compassion and ice, but he was not receiving. “I can manage,” he told me as his daughter wailed. People don’t always want help.

There are times when help is wanted and I do not want to come through, like with this bake sale. It’s possible that I am being selfish and petty. The bake sale is a fund-raiser for the middle school trip to Washington D.C. Alex is not going to join the other students for a 6-day trip to the nation’s capital. It’s a big expense, and we had trust issues. (Okay, let’s have it all out: The school director was campaigning for the program to the students before she discussed it with the parents, even going so far as to guilt them in to going. Yes, this really pissed me off. The decision was mine and Geoff’s to make and Alex did not need to feel responsible for the success or failure of the venture.) Though we couldn’t afford the trip we are expected to bake for the fundraiser to ease the costs for the rest of the students. (Here’s where I get petty…) The parents at the D.C. meeting were whipping out their checkbooks and seemed none too concerned about funds, so I don’t feel like adding more hours to my volunteering quota so they can save $50 on airfare. We helped a lot with all previous fundraisers, and guess where all those funds are going? I volunteer weekly, and I add extra time every day. Do they really need me to do more?

Geoff helped me see things in a kinder light. ‘Alex will learn organizational skills and he will participate in a group activity, which will advance his social skills. Helping with the bake sale is just another aspect of school culture that is part of his school experience.’

Selfish Petty Mom countered with ‘The bake sale is one more expense and effort expected of our family, on top of tuition and fees, that serves the other families. So, maybe the real lesson is a political/economic one. It’s like taxes. The middle classes pay a greater percentage of their total earnings and the upper classes leap through loopholes and reap the benefits.’

I love the Floral Trade Center, and I love making floral arrangements. But I’m sick and dragging, and Maria needs me and William needs me, and I already volunteer at school Tuesday mornings, so I didn’t decline out of selfish pettiness, but because of real practical issues. I like baking, and participating and showing support, which is why I suggested to Alex that he sign up to bring heart shaped butter cookies for the fund-raiser tomorrow. I mustn’t forget to take out the butter, so it can soften. And I have to remember to take in the cookie decorating supplies for Max’s Valentine’s Day class party.