In case you didn’t already know… Part 1

Wow! It has been quite some time since I have written and the reason why is for another day, another post. This, in fact, will be quite different from my other posts because it is born of different stuff. It was actually born in a dream, almost nightmare you could say.

About 2 weeks ago, I dreamt that I was told (God forbid!!) that I had cancer and just a year to live. In my dream, I knew that I wanted to spend every minute with my family but I immediately decided that I should be keeping a journal for all the things that my children should know but might not. At this very writing, I have no reason to think that I am anything but healthy; however, what a great opportunity to say a few things in case they didn’t already know. That having been said, I plan to write a few open letters here to my three children.

Kline Session 10.27.13-88To my beautiful children, in case you didn’t already know…..

I have loved you forever, before I knew if you were a boy or a girl, if you had dark hair like me or had light hair as your father did as a child, if you were quiet or cantankerous, curious or shy, and I loved the idea of you before you were even conceived. This you may have guessed but you may not know how that translates into your life and decisions you will make along the way.

I love to watch you grow. I will always long for you to be a baby again but I am so grateful that you are my own. I am your biggest fan, your not-so-secret admirer, your loudest champion. I think you are amazing, beyond my wildest imaginings. I love you more than ever could be expressed, measured or understood. You are by the very fact of your birth, my dream come true.

It doesn’t matter what you decide to do with your life. I don’t need you to become any thing, achieve any thing, or attain a certain position or annual salary. Find your passion, live your dream, enjoy the journey; whatever those might be. It’s not for me or your dad to decide. God has given you gifts, talents and sparks of interest. They are your clues and only you can hear them. If you want to be a doctor and that makes your soul burn, do it. If you long to create art, then paint away and I will be your biggest collector. If you want to be a man that lives in the wilderness, follow Bear Grylls, make the mountain your home and I will count on you to come home for Thanksgiving every year and bring the wild turkey. I gave you this life to live it with passion, exuberance and fire. If you do that with honesty, no matter what it is I will always champion your choice.

It doesn’t matter if you fall in love with a girl or a boy. If they are your choice, they will be welcome at our table without as much as a sideways glance.

It doesn’t matter if the one you love practices a different religion than we do. As long as they treat others kindly and honor the lives of those who believe differently than they do, we will look forward to blending our customs with theirs and we will honor their right to their beliefs. If you choose to adopt their religion or customs, I will accept that as well. Your dad and I believe that God is one person and religion is just an avenue to have a relationship with Him. Each person will find what is most comfortable for them.

It doesn’t matter that the one you love is a certain race. We are all the same on the inside and we all have fears, hopes and joys. Loving someone for the color of their skin or the country of their ancestors is as arbitrary as loving them for the size of their foot or their favorite vegetable.

It doesn’t matter if you decide to have children or not. This is your life to live, not mine or your dad’s.

It DOES matter that you are always kind, to ANYONE and EVERYONE! Your words and smiles may be the only bright spot in someone’s day. They cost you nothing to give them away and they make this world a better place to live.

It DOES matter that you are a good person, that you live with integrity, compassion, honesty, thoughtfulness, patience, courage and love. In short, don’t be an asshole. This does not mean that it’s acceptable for you to be a doormat. Don’t confuse the two. If someone doesn’t treat you with respect, they do not belong in your life.

It DOES matter that the person you chose to spend your time with respects you. That means not only treating you in a loving manner, but being faithful, honoring your beliefs and wishes, speaking to you kindly, never raising hands and keeping your home a peaceful place, which means keeping addiction and abuse out of it. I WILL be that crazy person if they are not treating you appropriately. I WILL also “have a chat” with you if I see you doing any of the above.

It DOES matter if you have lived your life based on someone else’s approval besides your own. This may take you a long time to understand but one day you will realize that the only person who is in charge of your happiness or unhappiness, is you. You will never, ever make everyone happy. You will never be EVERYONE’S cup of tea. What a ridiculous waste of time to ever try. Live in vivid Technicolor! Don’t ever go for the pastel version because someone might like you better. If they are worth your time, they will want the most genuine you. Be the best you, you know how to be and you will rest your head peaceful every night. Wake in the morning with the intent to do better than the day before.

Have faith when things seem to be at their worst. Life has a funny way of working itself out, sit back and know you are meant to learn something at this time and that nothing in life is forever. You are stronger than you will ever know and you will only find that out when your strength is truly tested. Whether I am on this earth or in some other plane, know that I will be right beside you. Never forget that a good dose of humor helps everything and anything and when nothing seems to be going your way, that’s when you need to sit down, take a deep breath and count your blessings. Be grateful every single day and you will find happiness at your fingertips.

You are the most precious thing in the world to me. Take care of yourself. Don’t take needless risks with your safety, or hang with others that do. There isn’t a drug made today that can compare with the highs of life and amazing experiences you will enjoy. Don’t smoke, drive drunk or eat poorly. It will all come back to bite you in the ass.

As I said in the very beginning, I have loved you before you were born. You have no condition to meet to keep that love. It is unconditional and without end. Even when I don’t care for your actions, I still love you madly and I won’t desert you. That doesn’t mean that I won’t tell you what’s on my mind. If you are being a shit, I will tell you that this is not a shining example of your highest and best self, and then I will squeeze you and kiss you on your forehead.

I don’t have a favorite child, regardless of what you think. To me, you are 3 gorgeous diamonds laid side by side. When the light hits each of you, a different facet sends out the most magnificent burst of color and incredible shine. There is no comparing one to another because you all send that same magnificent light out depending on how the light hits you.

It doesn’t matter if you are 2 or 82. If you call me, if you need me, I will be there. I will come even if I can do nothing more than hold your hand.

When it comes time that we can no longer care for ourselves on our own, we want to go live in a home. We are not your burden and it would break our hearts if we became one. I plan on starting a small coup in there anyway and you can visit me often and bring all sorts of contraband. In fact you should probably have a few homes lined up so that when I am kicked out of one, you can have me transported quickly. I plan to be a handful for the rest of my days, that should do wonders for whatever is left of your father’s hair…

Until next time,

Your loving mother

I will show you mine if you show me yours…..

I would rather trip and face plant than cry in front of someone.

I can’t sleep when my husband drives on long road trips because I think he needs my eyes to keep us from wrecking. I do the same thing when I fly.

I love violent weather and I sleep like the dead the nastier it is.

Wet paper skeeves me out. I don’t like to touch it, look at someone who is touching it or even think about it.

I can’t help but laugh uproariously at anyone who trips, falls or walks into anything. I hate it and desperately wish I could change but I cannot.

These are just a few things that make me Stephanie Kline. There are millions more and uncovering my quirks sometimes takes me by surprise. The difference is when you are young you struggle to find a way to make yourself more homogenous. Then as you grow older you accept your idiosyncrasies and even grow to love them about yourself and embrace them when you find them in your friends.

So here lies my conundrum. I am very comfortable in my own skin. I call my food baby (when I fall off my diet) as I see it, I am the very first to poke fun at myself and invite someone else along to join me in the merriment, and for the most part I am an absolute open book. I am blessed to have wonderful friends who are each so unique and lovely that they add a tremendous amount of color to my life. Given that I am happy and transparent, I love to meet other people who are the same.

But what happens when I meet someone who is reticent and a bit shy?

Well I can just fill in the blanks for you… It’s not going to happen for us. I am too damn old to go digging around to try to figure out if I will ever figure you out. And just so you know, I need to figure you out. I need to know that you are genuine and in that I find honesty. Chances are if you don’t delight in hurting another person and are not maudlin, we are going to get along famously. But just in case you need a bit more information, here are a few tips-

1. Swear. I love when someone lets one slip because in that minute they aren’t worried about how they are being judged.

2. Don’t get gossipy or preachy. I will just mentally insert my name in place of whomever you are speaking about and determine that one day you will throw me under the bus.

3. Don’t play keeping up with the Jones’. I don’t care about your material things. I have been a child on Welfare living in an apartment above a family where the bathroom was outside our front door and surviving on food bought with food stamps and I have been a millionaire living in what most America considers a mansion and everywhere in between. I am the same person with different circumstances at different points in my life. None of them define who I am. If that is what you think defines you, you are only as interesting as a set of random numbers assigned to your bank account. Don’t be that person, you are so much more than that.

4. Laugh with abandon. Show your joy!

5. Do not take yourself so seriously. We are all guilty of making a jackass out of ourselves on occasion. Sometimes even more often than that. It’s experience, it’s life and it’s wonderful. Celebrate it. My husband and I call each other when we do something stupid so the other can laugh and share in our embarrassed laugh.

If at the end of all of this you are saying, who the hell does this chick think she is? Maybe I don’t want to be her friend! I wouldn’t blame you at all, I am not for everyone. Perhaps, you take this as an invitation to go live genuinely with unabashed appreciation for whatever makes you you. You know, go fly your freak flag! Make strong and deep connections with other people based on your truest version of yourself.

As for me, it’s time to either bite the bullet and either tell my husband we are eating out again or try to make something passable from the rotisserie chicken I picked up. Either way, the fact of the matter is that I am just too damned lazy and unprepared tonight to do anything different! I am very ok with that. 🙂

The 6th Anniversary of our Final Tax Deduction

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This may seem vaguely reminiscent of last weeks post but what can I say, we often vacation during July.

Back in May, 2007, I needed a break. I had this grand idea that I could be the General Contractor when we were renovating our home and I had absolutely no experience. Eighteen months of fun and spent the dollar equivalent to 3 modest homes before we moved in while last minute work was being completed. I was fried! I approached my husband with the idea that we would take roughly 6-8 weeks to go see what we can see and get a break from home. He was all for it.

Off we went and finally when we were tired of hotels, we went home. Day 2 home and I had both laundry rooms filled with laundry as I vowed to get us back on track. I was walking downstairs, on the second stair down with a basket of said laundry when the thought came from nowhere that I was pregnant. Where did that come from? I wasn’t trying, in fact quite the opposite. We left the door open for conversation but with our first two children only 15 months apart we are always busy. I count the days until I could take a pregnancy test and realize that would be about 3 more days away. So I say nothing and I wait it out.

Three days later I wake and take the test. I KNEW IT! Really, someone should write a poem about my reproductive organs, they are that impressive. So I save the test and wait to have a free minute with my husband. Finally when the kids are in bed, I walk into our master where he is lounging quite comfortably on our bed watching golf. I ask him to turn the TV off. He turns the volume down. I say firmly, “Turn. It. Off!” He turns it off with a click and a smile. I drop the pregnancy test on his stomach and he picks it up. He takes one look and says…. Get ready for it….

“Is this yours?” What? That’s disgusting! Why would I have someone else’s pregnancy test? Instead I say, “No, it’s Dr. Partenope’s.” (Doc is my 96 yr old male neighbor who is 4’10” and smokes a 12″ cigar constantly.)

“I don’t understand. How did this happen?”, he says. We have 2 other children, I am not recounting Bio 101 to help him figure it out. Then he smiles from ear to ear and announces that this is great and he loves me.

So now we are having our third child. I visit my OB and he notices that I am very quiet. I say that I don’t know if I can be like the other pregnant moms that I see and I am having a hard time reconciling this because I am older and I know who I am. He takes a minute and he understands exactly where I am mentally because the next words from him are said softly with his hands on my cheeks….”So don’t. Be you.” Just like that every reservation about having a baby 7 years after my last is gone. I am going to rock this! I rarely ever wear maternity clothes, I wear stilettos with baby doll dresses, great jeans with fitted tops and all the things I was too afraid to wear the first 2 times and while it seems like a superficial thing, it is exactly the opposite. It is permission for me to be the mom that doesn’t do nannies, night nurses, day nurses, flip flops or maternity jean shorts which while there is nothing wrong with any of these things, they are not me. In fact this baby would be 5 before I spent a night away from her.

The months tick by and I look amazing. Truly, I know it sounds obnoxious but my hair is long, thick and shiny, my skin literally glows and I am all belly. I feel delicious and ripe and magnificently feminine. I drive the old ladies at my club crazy with my pregnant belly exposed in my bikini. This is my best pregnancy yet. I eat when I want and roll into the hospital for my induction with only a 21 pound weight gain.

I check into the hospital to start the induction and my first full shift nurse is amazing. I love her. I start labor immediately and she comes right in with something to help me sleep because she thinks I will go during the night and wants me to rest as much as possible. Unfortunately, there is this beeping that keeps waking me…. In she comes to keep checking my monitors and fix my IV. She tells me that my blood pressure is low and they are increasing my fluids to help. Fabulous, I say with a slurred smile. Except increasing fluids means I am up going to the potty every 30 minutes, the contractions now hurt and I can’t believe my husband is just going to sleep like that. I make it a point to graze (read “slam”) the IV pole into his shin on the way into the bathroom each time and when he wakes to ask how I am feeling, I apologize and ask if I hit his leg.

A few hours later dawn is breaking and speaking of breaking, my OB is here to break my water and get my epidural ordered. Holy hell! I am immediately in strong labor, where the hell is the anesthesiologist? My new nurse comes in and there is no love…. She hates me. It’s my worst nightmare. I need her compassion, I need her love. I do not need her attitude. The anesthesiologist comes to the door, at least he loves me. That is my husbands cue to scoot until it’s over. He is way too squeamish for this.
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Anesthesiologist gets to work and that folks is where my labor takes a very unexpected turn. In he goes with the numbing shots and then as he tries to insert the catheter, alarms go off everywhere. Apparently, my blood pressure has dropped to 54/32 and this they say is a problem…. But I feel fine I say. They tell me that they are afraid I may have a stroke. AGH! That’s not good. Nope, not good at all. He tries to quickly get the catheter in but goes too far and I immediately have the mother of all headaches. He says he will have to try again… Try what again? OMG, the whole thing? This one goes in easily but the alarms are going crazy. They disconnect the happy juice and begin multiple injections of epinephrine. After 30 minutes I am stable and my husband finally finds his way back to my room after the last doctor leaves. He is pale and sweating. Poor thing, they must have told him what happened here.

“You have no idea what I have just been through, what I have just seen.”, he says as he flops himself down in a chair. I have one eyebrow raised to the nape of my neck. Apparently, a woman came in on a stretcher after having the baby in the car and she was a bloody mess, as was the husband helping her and the nurse who was carrying the baby up the hall. The woman still had the placenta and this is where he tells me that it was too much and he threw up in the hall way. I stare at him and wonder so many things….. image

“You poor thing”, I say as I try to muster up some sympathy but these contractions are terrible. I push the button for the epidural repeatedly and nothing is happening. I feel like I am in the game show Jeopardy and Alex Trebek refuses to call on me. I get the nurse but she rolls her eyes at me and says that the anesthesiologist is busy in a c-section but will come check on me in a bit.

What does that mean? How long is a bit? I am coming unglued here… Give me the drugs, now! Please. I will be your best friend! The labor gets worse and worse and I just don’t understand why I am getting no relief. A janitor comes in to mop this green liquid up from the floor. I am locked out of my pain med button and crying. My husband gets up to see if he can help when he finds the problem. He picks up catheter coming from my back and trails along and ta-da, instead of being hooked up to the machine with the meds which has been leaking all over the floor, it is hanging loose with my last syringe of epinephrine hanging from it. Well that explains a lot. We call the devil nurse and she comes in and says, “I can see you are going to be one of those patients.”

That’s not nice! That’s not nice at all!

I don’t even get a chance to reply because my husband picks up the catheter to show her the problem and gives her such a dressing down that I wince and she scurries from the room to find someone else. She brings her nice attitude the next time with some meds and another anesthesiologist but it’s too late, I hate her with the fury of 1000 burning suns. I will be polite but I am NOT sending her a gift.

It’s pushing time in no time flat and I am finally comfortable. My husband is situated behind my head with my cool towel and words of encouragement. He is so good at this, he has finally gotten the hang of it, third baby in…. CRASH! I glance over my shoulder to see the bottoms of his shoes….. Really?…..Again?… The nurses are checking his head and he is apologizing to me and telling them that he will be fine…. Unbelievable! He sucks at this.
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OB- “Push harder. You aren’t pushing hard enough!!!”
Me- “I am f’ing pushing, you jackass.”
OB- “Maybe if you quit bitching so much you could actually deliver this baby.”
Me- “F*** off. I am sick of your shit.”

This goes on every time I deliver a baby. My husband is mortified and says he cannot stand the way we talk to each other. He doesn’t get it. It’s ok, I love him anyways. My OB and I stare at each other for a beat and then we look at him.

OB- “Bear down like you are trying to take a……”
Me- “Oh Please! Just shut the hell up…”

And then a little cry from the third party as she makes her way into the room and into the world. My beautiful Evangeline Anne, so tiny but feisty. I hold her to me, staring in awe. She is perfect, tinier than any of my other children and I know instantaneously without a single tidbit of doubt that we were never complete without her. She is a tremendous blessing and I am so very humbled by this gift. My husband hugs us both crying and as they take her away to clean her up, he can’t keep his eyes off of her. He is instantly smitten and a goner for life.
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Happy birthday Evangeline! You have tremendous spirit and so much zest for life. You are unswayed by obstacles and you find the light and love in every corner of life. I pray you never lose that or your spirit. I pray that life gives you all that you desire but I know that it can’t help but give it to one so filled with love. You are my sunshine, my joy and my every rainbowed sky. I love you more than you will ever know and I am so grateful to be your mother. To the moon and back…..
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I hope that….

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Bright and early this morning, I put my 12, almost 13 year old, on a bus today with his entire 6th grade class for a 3 day/ 2 night camping trip to the Everglades. He was so excited, he insisted packing himself and when the head of middle school corralled the kids for a meeting and to prepare them to load the bus, he jumped right to the front of assembly line to load everyone’s luggage on the bus. I stood back and watched him with a crooked smile as he was working to lift each of his classmate’s bags over his shoulder onto the back of the bus in his neon yellow and black Puma outfit and teal blue sneakers. I was filled with so much love for this kid that I missed him already.

I hope that while he is away:

1. He doesn’t get eaten by an alligator.
2. He doesn’t get bitten by a poisonous snake or spider.
3. He uses bug repellant so he doesn’t come home with dengue fever.
4. He uses sunscreen so he doesn’t get melanoma when he is 50.
5. Most importantly, I hope he remembers to shower every day and use a lot of soap.

14th Anniversary of my first Labor Day

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You are probably wondering what country I could be living in if today is the anniversary of my Labor Day. It’s the good ole USA! I have 4 Labor Days. There is the one in September that is celebrated by all and the there are three more which are on the days that I labored to bring each of my children into this world.

So today is the 14th anniversary of my first labor or my oldest daughters 14th birthday if you want to get technical. She is beautiful, bright and has my sense of humor. She is going to kick ass. I did really well but let’s get back to the day of her birth and the struggles I surmounted to bring her here because honey, they don’t call it labor for nothing!

My husband and I decide that we are ready to have a baby and I swear that I am part cat or peasant or something but the fact that we just agree on this decision literally is enough to conceive a child. In fact, we have bad chicken wings in Atlantic City during a weekend getaway when I ovulate so when I go to dinner with a friend a week later and we meet up with our husbands after that for a drink, I can’t understand why I feel so terrible and why for days later it won’t go away. I take the afternoon off from work and I tell my housekeeper that I am going into the guest bedroom that is as dark as a crypt. She asks if I am pregnant and I tell her not that I know of but my period is 5 days away. I lay in the dark and wonder could it be? Off to Walgreens to get a test…. Or 6. I run home and quickly pee on the stick…. Nothing. Hmmm, revenge of the chicken wings I think as I throw it in the trash can. I fix my makeup and lean to toss out my trash when I see it….. The freaking stick turned positive in the trash! Holy sperm, Batman! How did that happen?

So now we are pregnant….. Actually I hate that statement. Only one of us is pregnant. Only one of us falls asleep every afternoon and drools on her desk, only one of us who wants an egg sandwich everyday but the minute anyone gets one within 10ft of her she runs to put her head in the toilet, only one of us pees like a racehorse. There is only one pregnant person and my husband ain’t it!

At 10 weeks, I begin spotting and I am traumatized. I call the doctor and they say to rest but there is nothing to be done to save the baby if I miscarry. I call my husband sobbing. He can’t stand it when I cry and he immediately tries to say anything to make me feel better… Are you ready? Here it comes…. “Please don’t cry. If you lose this one, we will make another one tonight.” He is drop dead serious. My husband who holds 2 degrees and is a successful businessman must have slept through every freaking biology class. I tell him that it doesn’t work like that and didn’t he pay attention to the teacher in health class. He is thoroughly confused…. Thankfully I do not lose the baby and this passes.

As I grow and grow, my husband waits on me hand and foot and I am a princess. Speaking of growing, my nose begins to do this thing where it spreads from ear to ear and I hold every molecule of water found on planet earth in my hands and feet. Pretty! This is the happiest time in my life. One day I am at work and he delivers a brand new Mercedes to me because I should be safe when driving around town. He rubs my feet and takes me to my favorite restaurants. I feel fantastic, I love being pregnant and decide right there that I will have 5 more of his children.

I hit an icy patch with a bit of preterm labor but then progress on to the night of April 7th right after we are seated at a new restaurant. I notice that my Braxton Hicks are actually very regular, like every 9 minutes….. Hmmmm. I quietly time them all through dinner and they stay regular and then get a bit closer. We get home and I make my husband hang all the pictures in the nursery and still don’t mention the contractions. Except that they aren’t pain free anymore…. Hmmmm. Now I tell him that I have been in labor for about 4 hrs now. We go to the hospital and the nurse says it’s very early, why don’t you go back home to rest and come back in a few hours.

What a terrible idea! There are no drugs at my house. I can’t rest or find a comfortable position, I shower every hour and use up all the hot water. This sucks. And it hurts! A lot!
I decide that I don’t want to have this baby and I am not sure how I feel about my husband. This goes on for hours and hours, for 12 hours I stay at home and suffer, bounce on a birth ball, walk with my doula, shoot dirty looks at my husband, cry, shower and basically try not to lose my shit before I head back to the hospital. I don’t care if my water breaks in my husbands Benz, it will serve him right. I hope they can’t get it out of the seats, I hope it stains, I hope it stinks. It never breaks and I walk with my doula into the birthing center while my husband parks when the mother of all contractions hits and my knees buckle as I cling to a railing in the hallway. At just that minute, a door opens and 3 prospective couples who are touring the center enter the hallway and stop and gape at me. I am ugly with pain all the way to my soul and I say, “This is exactly what you are in for.” I tell myself it’s a public service message but really I want to kill them for looking happy when my inside are being torn out.

They settle me in to a room and I start shouting for an anesthesiologist. Epidural, now!

“Did you watch the video?”

Really? That’s what we are going to talk about, the freaking video. Yes, I watched the damn video! Now. Give. Me. The. Drugs.

Drugs come and I am happy for 3 hours.
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I have now been in labor for 25 hours. My water has been broken and life is good! But what is that? Ow! Why is it hurting again? What do you mean the baby is posterior? What does that have to do with anything!? Omg! Back labor? What do you mean epidural so don’t always work with back labor? You know what!? The freaking video did not say anything about this. Fix it now!!!!! You wanna know what the fix is? Getting the baby out! So we are going to do this the hard way!

Here is the ugly part. I make big, beautiful babies but I am a little girl on the inside. 3 hours of pushing and sobbing make me insane with pain and when they ask me to try to get on all fours to help deliver this baby, I do it. I will do anything! Just get it out now! I don’t know who is President, I don’t know what day or year it is. I do know that I am going to die. There is no way I will survive this and when death comes, I will welcome it. Crack goes my coccyx breaking from the pressure. They let my mother in law in to see me. I am naked and on my hands and knees with my butt facing the door. We don’t speak about this ever but we will never recover from this place.

On and on it goes and then I hear a loud crash behind me. My husband has gone down. Seriously? I repeat it again. Seriously? Get up and get my cool washcloth. He says he needs a minute and they are checking his head. Fabulous, I will just get back to dying here.

And then it happens, after 28 hours of labor, I have given birth to this beautiful almond eyed, perfect head and skin, healthy and beautiful baby girl. She barely makes a sound after her first squawk and just looks around and takes the world in. She is captivating and just like that I am in love.
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Happy 14th birthday to my sweet Reese Nicole. May you never lose your desire to understand the world and all it’s moving parts. May you find love in the hearts of all that know you. May you find joy in all that life brings. May you always remember that you are fiercely loved and one of my greatest gifts.

Happy birthday! I will always love you beyond words and measure.

Happy birthday! I will always love you beyond words and measure.

How did it end?

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Well, I worked my butt off…. Ok well not completely because there is still much work to do there…. But I did manage to work diligently all month on eating healthier and working out all in an effort to look good in a dress. Really sort of vain but the writing was on the wall.

Here is the part that you don’t know. Remember back when I wrote about the return of the bush and I had asked my gynecologist about how many women had given up on the landscaping? Well, let me just tell you, my doctor has said what my husband refers to as the most ridiculous and inappropriate things to me and I fire back comments that make my husband blush and run for cover. Aside our crazy verbal sparring, lies the heart of a very dedicated doctor who takes care of me like I was his own daughter. Anyway, back to that last appointment he notes that I have gained a few pounds since my last visit. And yes, Virginia, he calls me on every single one of them. He asks me what I have been doing for exercise and I tell him I have been doing nothing. He tells me to at least walk. I say that I will get back in the swing of things and then he is quiet for a bit and says, “I know you will when you are ready because you are too vain to let yourself go.”
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Agh! That doesn’t sound so nice. Not very nice at all… So now I am shamed for the weight gain and vain? I say thanks sarcastically and he replies that he means it in a good way.

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Hmmmmm…. It sticks with me and strikes me that he is right. They say women dress for other women. Not me. I dress for my husband, for that single minute when I come downstairs to leave for an event or meet him for a bite of lunch and he looks at me like I am the only thing he can see and will never get tired of looking at. Even after 20 years together and three growing children with a just a little bit of effort I can still capture his attention. It makes me feel powerful, feminine and desirable. Ironically, I don’t want a single other man to make a comment or send an appraising look my way. It makes me a bit unsettled and not in a good way. So it is for one man alone that I remain vain and for that one addicting reason, I will always try not to let myself go.

Faced with the gala, I don’t want to squeeze myself into an uncomfortable dress so I workout at least 5 times a week and I watch what I eat and for the first time, I stay off the scale. This is what happened…..

I notice that my favorite jeans button just a bit easier. I sleep better than I had in quite some time. My migraines virtually disappear. I do a whole lot less emotional eating. I feel stronger than I have in a long time.

And then I am climbing in the tub and my husband walks in the bathroom and said, “Your butt looks SOOOOOOO much better!” For a split second I am so appreciative of the compliment and then I think for a minute and yeah… Not so much. It is back-handed but not meant with malice, the poor guy just sucks with his delivery.

The day of the gala I primp and put my act together. I love my dress, and in just a week there was even a bit of extra room that I could have even had taken in. I don’t know what the scale says and I don’t care because what it has taken me most of my 40 years to figure out is that what makes a woman most attractive is her confidence. So it doesn’t matter the size of the dress or the numbers on a scale, I own it from my sexy 6inch stilettos to the finger waves in my hair. I am not nor will I ever be the most beautiful woman in the room, but as my husband walks into our room he actually gives a little gasp, stops in his tracks and says, “You are stunning!”, and then every single minute of torture in every class and passing up pizza for a salad was so worth it. He stands up a bit straighter, takes my arm with a smile and off we go.
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Christian Grey definitely does not live here

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I trudge up the stairs still sore from Mondays P90x and Tuesdays Barre class. Up another 2 flights to a dark room with this contraption that looks like a huge trestle with straps and handles hanging from the top. I stare at it in fascination.

“You will be suspended from there.”

Who me? Oh. My. God! This is it. The famous Red Room of Pain. Christian Grey is going to walk through those doors any second with a flogger in hand. This is great! Why haven’t I signed up for this before?

*Martha, my dear friend and sometimes workout partner, says that it will be a great workout. I am so excited and now I find out it’s just her and me and the instructor, Sasha.

Martha has not read 50 Shades of Anything so she simply cannot appreciate our good luck. Luckily for us, I have read the trilogy…. Twice. Don’t get all judgey…. How else would I get the playlist down pat?

Anyway, Katy Perry starts singing about a dark horse and I am getting in the groove. Naked Me sarcastically suggest that I skip TRX and try pole dancing class. Really, do I have to put up with this from her? Back to class…We start by using the straps while we squat and do sumo kicks…. This was definitely not in the book….

Moving onto some very complicated rows, I begin to realize that this hurts, a lot, and an hour is a really long time. Somewhere in the middle of the set my body just says no and it refuses to do one more rep. Sasha says, “You are not going to quit on me now are you?” Ummm I don’t have a choice. I told my arms 3 times to bend and they told me to go f*** off. Hmmmm, that’s a first.

Sasha allows me get a quick break and moves onto chest presses while hanging from the damn straps. WTF? If I had known that this whole class was about me using my body weight as measure of resistance, I would have fasted…. for a month! Naked Me hangs out in the corner eating a cheesecake lollipop and drinking a French Martini with one eyebrow raised at the prospect of me actually fasting. She suggests that I start off slow and go for more than 2 waking hours between meals. I don’t need her attitude. Mind over matter, I decide to ignore her and I try to do the damn presses… Really I do but…

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This is going to be a hard limit for me.

Let’s move on to another sequence she says….. Ya, wanna know what this is code for? It means, “I will just sneak another exercise in that does the same thing and when her muscles are shaking and she looks like Michael J Fox she won’t be any wiser!”

Wrongo sister girl! This is the exact shit my hairdresser says when she says, “Just a half inch.” And then makes 4 sweeps over the same area like I can’t add or notice there is 2 inches of hair on the floor.

“Will you text me and tell me how you feel tomorrow?” What? I will save myself the data… I am already crying and ready to safe word.

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Onward we go… I am convinced that Sasha isn’t even a real human. In fact, I am fairly certain that she is a Terminator. She may even be a direct descendant of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I have sworn so many times this class that I have lost count. I beg her to shut the door so that the Pilates women are not offended…. Nope, she won’t. I am just going to show up to next month’s grievance committee hearing and save them the stamp.

Martha has found a great stalling technique. Ask detailed questions about your form to save yourself the million reps. Of course she utilizes that when I am working my triceps and now Sasha loses track of time and of my pain. Nice try but the next time I tell her I will help with her form. Martha tells me that it’s ok and Sasha can help her. I whisper furiously with her to just go with it for crying out loud and that she owes me for leaving me hanging during arms. Martha laughs… We laugh a lot… And try not to pee. It’s a good pattern for us…

Class ends and I ask for a piece of cardboard so I can slide down the stairs. Sasha tries to tell me we are fresh out.

I have 3 days to the event and P90x in the morning. I don’t care what the Non Disclosure Agreement says. I don’t care what it looks like. I am telling you right now…..

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Christian Grey does not live here!