Down By The Schoolyard

Yesterday as I ran errands, everywhere I went there were signs of the upcoming back to school frenzy. From garish colored dorm coordinates (because everyone wants their bathroom trashcan to match their comforter) to backpacks idolizing the latest anime characters to the good old fashioned school supplies like glue sticks, markers, and crayons, the front of every store is ready and waiting for Tax Free weekend and the descending horde of shoppers. I eyed the few early birds with motherly disgust, as I never managed to have school supplies bought until sometime around the second week of school. Pros? Amateurs! Real moms know better than to buy folders without their screaming child grabbing their leg, demanding the cute kittens with pockets and no brads, in spite of teachers requiring plain colored red, blue, green, with pockets and brads. Real moms also know that lunch boxes are not cool, nor are reuseable sandwich holders and refillable juice containers. Only environmentally unfriendly plastic bags, non-decomposing juice boxes, and zippered sandwich bags will do. Don’t even think about getting your junior schooler the printed paper lunch bags, or worse, plain brown bags decorated with love notes from mom, unless you want to be cleaning up bloody noses and reattaching torn buttons after bouts of “baby” bullying.

I have to admit, more than anything else, I felt jealous. My kids are so far past those days, and both have already experienced the outfitting of a first apartment (for Matt) and dorm room (for Aubrey). Aubrey honestly has everything she needs for her first apartment, other than a microwave…and an apartment. Office and craft supplies are overly abundant in our house, although Aub’s not taking any classes at the moment, and Matt doesn’t use such things. All he requires is a laptop and a flash drive, both of which he already has. Aubrey is rarely home as she picks up every extra shift she can squeeze out of both jobs, pulling doubles at her day job when it’s her night off at the other one. Working six days a week, she doesn’t have time to write a postcard, let alone a research paper.

As I longingly felt up the Trapper binders and sniffed the scented markers, I pined for the days when they were small and August meant all new clothes, unsharpened pencils, and wide-ruled loose-leaf notebook paper. I flipped through paper class schedulers (as if any kid would ever use an organizer app on their phone, let alone one made from trees), rustled the tacky neon bedding, and zipped pencil bags back and forth. Just as I sighed and blinked back a tiny tear from my mind’s eye, a commercial played over the intercom for the Stuff the Bus campaign. What? I could buy school supplies for kids who need them? Score!!

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While the economy is recovering (for the upper middle class), money is always exceedingly tight in lower income brackets. It’s tough to buy supplies for one kid, let alone more than one, and many parents need all the help they can get. The Stuff the Bus project is becoming a nationwide campaign, although some communities have similar programs under different names. No matter what it’s called, providing kids with necessary supplies takes a huge financial burden off parents that can’t afford the crazy amount of stuff that teachers require. In many ways, it’s as important to and for kids as programs that give gifts at Christmas. All those fresh supplies in a clean backpack can feel just like Christmas morning. Even though I’m 44 and have more crayons than I know what to do with, I still get an excited little rush when I get my hands on a box that has that brand new waxy smell.

So if navigating through the aisles of your local grocery or big box store makes you wax nostalgic about your kids’ back to school days, give in to that urge to buy a few folders, a notebook, a backpack, and a box or two of crayons. No matter how small your town, there is someone who will surely appreciate your generosity.


Raspberry Beret

Monday, July 15, Day 7

Now down a total of 13 lbs in the last six days. While I’m still in my fat clothes, they fit a lot better, as I was starting to strain at the seams of some, and no longer fit into more than a few. I’m looking forward to wearing jeans again! I have about ten pair that no longer fit, but I love them so much that I can’t bear to part with them. By the time it’s cool enough to wear them again, they will fit perfectly!

Last night, I fell asleep without taking my meds. That normally means that I sleep horribly, wake up sore and achy, and I’m totally miserable the entire day. Nope. I did take 150mg of Lyrica and my 1mg of clonazepam, because missing a dose of either of those can be really bad. Other than a bit of a runny nose from not taking my hydroxyzine, I feel fabulous.

Today, I noticed how soft and smooth my skin has become. My arms have always suffered from “chicken skin;” little white bumps that just make them feel all goosebumpy. I’m able to scrub them off, but they are back again the next day. This morning in the shower, I realized that my arms were completely free of any bumps.

My skin, my hair, my joints, and my energy are all improving. I feel like I’m almost out of the flare from hell, but I’m not calling it quite yet. However, I do think that by the end of my ten days, I will definitely be flare free.

With all this energy, I’m ready to get into a pool. I’m DYING to get into a pool. However, all the local natatoriums are closed for upgrades!! Why the heck do they decide to close the good pools in the middle of summer??? So now I have to wait until August 1 to get into the really good pool. They don’t prorate memberships, so even joining in the middle of the month costs a full month. I’ll wait.

Both Matt and I have noticed the huge difference in our hair. Since he was in his teens, his hair has been thick and wiry, and really dry. Now it’s soft and fuller, and he’s got hair coming in where it was once going out. He’s down about 15 lbs so far. I thought for sure he’d be further along than me, since most of my meals are mainly fruit, while he’s doing lots of greens. I was surprised to find that we’re pretty much even. Proof that even sticking with plain fruit is better than not juicing at all.

Meanwhile, Aubrey looks awful. Working five days a week at both jobs is starting to really get to her. She’s been skipping meals because she’s either too tired, or just doesn’t have time. She’s off today, so she’s spending the day playing Guitar Hero. She took some of her hard earned money a few days ago and bought a PS2 that I found on craigslist for $100. It came with all kinds of games, three guitars, an Eye Toy, a steering wheel and pedals, and a golf sensor. Today’s the first day she’s had time to touch it, other than setting it up for me on Thursday morning. We did have to institute a “no being in the office after 10pm” or else she’d be up all night and REALLY not get any sleep. She was too tired to even fix herself real food this morning, so when we got home from shopping, I scrubbed an apple, sliced it up, and gave her a 3-slice grilled cheese sandwich to go with it. She scarfed it down, and seems a little better.

So far, I cannot say enough good things about juicing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’ll be forever grateful that Matt talked me into it. Joe Cross and the film Fat Sick And Nearly Dead have changed the way I think about food, my body, and how what I eat really affects the way I feel. I wish everyone could try it, even for just ten days.



Strawberry Fields Forever

For anyone just joining us, I am now halfway through my 10 day juicing journey. I have severe fibromyalgia and I am at an unhealthy weight. I also have a very unhealthy lifestyle, as well as a ridiculously unhealthy regular diet. After watching Fat Sick And Nearly Dead, my son talked me into giving juicing a try, as he didn’t want to do it by himself. I agreed, he bought a juicer, and we started filling Ball Jar after Ball Jar.

Sunday, July 14, Day 6

WHOO HOO!!! I am down 11 pounds in five days! I am past the magical 10 pound water weight mark, and I am now into true weight loss territory. I am excited that for the first time in quite a while, my breasts stick out further than my stomach. This is a big deal, because I have small breasts. My stomach skin has lost its full, stretched feeling. It is now loose and saggy, so if nothing else, I am more comfortable.

Once again, I woke up early this morning, around 6am. I laid in bed and listened to music until my husband got up at 7am. I was sort of dreading breakfast, as all that was left in the fridge was a 32 oz bottle of Beet Berry and 8 oz of Rainbow Bright. The beets are making me gag, so I knew I had to dilute them somehow. Ron suggested juicing an extra orange, or mixing the leftovers together. Brilliant! I poured the Beet Berry and Rainbow Bright from jar to jar, stirring it all up between pourings. Once I was satisfied that it was as mixed as it was going to get, I poured a glass and took a huge chug. MUCH better!

I did attempt to drink it with a straw, with the idea that then my nose wouldn’t be so close to the glass. Bad idea. It spends too much time on the taste buds. The way to drink this stuff is in as few gulps as possible, while keeping your tongue pressed down on the floor of your mouth and your throat wide open. It’s like chugging beer…I literally just pour it down my throat. There are only a few swallows involved. My taste buds are mostly spared the horror of beet juice.

Today, the big news is that my feet don’t hurt, and my hands are less achy. Lately my feet have been painfully stiff and arthritic. To wake up and stretch and find that I can wiggle my toes was a lovely surprise. Stretching wasn’t as painful, either. Since my main goal is to get out of this fibromyalgia flare, this is all good.

Last night, however, was not so good. Lately (before I started juicing), everything has tasted salty and gross, and there is blood in my saliva. My tongue hurts, but I attributed the pain to eating the majority of a box of Spree in one sitting; in other words, an acid burn. Usually acid burns heal within a few days, so I figured something else was up. When I went to brush my teeth, I checked my tongue expecting to see a red spot. Instead, it was white and furry looking. I googled “white furry tongue” and the most likely culprit is Thrush, which is a yeast infection in the mouth. Sugar makes it worse, and unfortunately, my juices have tons of sugar. I’m not about to stop juicing, so I may be stuck with this for another week or so. I am calling my doctor on Tuesday morning to see if I can get a script for Diflucan. I know she’s going to tell me to eat yogurt, which I will happily do as soon as my ten days are up. In the meantime, I am going to pick up some acidophilus from the health food store and add that in with my other supplements.

The hardest thing so far was that I couldn’t make breakfast with my husband this morning. I bought red, gold, and orange bell peppers the other day, and I’m dying for an omelete. No ham or bacon. I want tomatoes, peppers, green onion chives, and cheese. I love our Sunday morning breakfasts. Actually, I enjoy cooking with my husband, period. We always chat and laugh; it’s our quality time. At least I will appreciate next weekend even more, after being deprived this weekend.


I Found My Thrill On Blueberry Hill

A couple of weeks ago, while I was painting at Matt’s house, he had me watch Fat Sick And Nearly Dead. He was considering juicing, and wanted to know what I thought about the documentary and the idea of juicing. I said it sounded like it couldn’t hurt as the start of a weight loss plan, and we agreed that we’d do it together. He bought a juicer from Kohls, and we decided to start last Tuesday, the 9th. The plan is to juice for ten days and see where we are, and then decide if we should keep strictly juicing, juice some meals but eat one or two regular meals a day, or just go back to eating regular meals and just change our eating habits. I’m now on day five, and I want to share my experience for anyone who is considering juicing.

With my recent cancer scare, I read over and over that obese women are more likely to get inflammatory breast cancer than women who are not obese. When they weighed me at the oncologist’s office, I was an even 200 lbs. Fear is a great motivator, as this finally was the kick in the ass that I needed to get healthy. Not healthier. Healthy. My diet mainly consisted of chicken flautas from a local restaurant paired with their chips and queso (which I’m pretty sure is a petroleum byproduct); french fries from various restaurants; Sonic milk shakes; ice cream, cookies, cake, cupcakes, muffins, pancakes, spaghetti (gluten free)…the list goes on. Notice there are no veggies mentioned. I guess I could include the guacamole that comes with the flautas, but it’s not really a full serving of avocado.

On top of the cancer scare, I’ve been in a fibromyalgia flare for a few months now; no energy, everything hurts, and all I want to do is sleep. I’m hoping that juicing will help get me out of this flare.

Tuesday, July 9, Day 1

I picked Matt up early in the morning so we could go to a local farmer’s market. Normally, our routine is for me to pick him up and then head to a local Mexican food place that has 3 tacos for $2.50 until 11am. I usually have bean, cheese, and bacon on corn tortillas, and Matt gets bacon and egg on flour. Obviously, this is a meal full of fat.

Instead, Matt wanted me to check out a local juice bar called Urth. We could “eat out” but still juice at the same time. I wanted to try some food combinations so I’d know what fruits and veggies to get. The staff at Urth totally rock. They let me try different juice mixtures, which helped me figure out that I would skip the greens (don’t freak out yet, more is coming) and stick with fruits, carrots, and beets, which was the mixture I chose for my meal. Matt got a carrot/ginger/citrus and then one with kale and other greens. We both really like the “Twang,” as the carrot/ginger/citrus is called, and Matt learned that he could gag down kale.

Because I have interstitial cystitis, I have to watch my potassium intake. Too much potassium and I’ll be doubled over in excruciating pain. That means I can’t juice kale, chard, or spinach because I’d be getting a concentrated amount. No, thank you!

While we explored the different juices, the co-owner answered a lot of questions that I had. Most importantly, I wanted to know what to use to wash the fruits and veggies. I was worried about also getting a concentrated amount of pesticide and food grade wax. She said they use apple cider vinegar; one cup of ACV to one gallon of water. Good to know, even when we’re not juicing.

At the farmers market, there were only five vendors, and they all had pretty much the same thing. Lots of zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers, but no fruits. We bought a couple of things there, then headed to Sprouts to really stock up.

Matt is following the recommended recipes from Fat Sick And Nearly Dead, while I am pretty much making mine up as I go along. I did find some recipes that gave me ideas for what to use, though. I started piling in oranges, limes, nectarines, green apples, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, and beets. Matt hit up the leafy greens, with lots of kale, chard, and spinach. He also got fruits and carrots. His total was $82 and some change, and mine was about $40. We calculated how many meals we’d get out of what we’d bought, and our meals average $2 each. WAY cheaper than even a single large serving of McD’s fries.

When we got home, we piled everything on the counters, and there was still more, so Matt grabbed a large Sterilite tub and put the rest of the bags in there. I took the juicer out of the box and started to assemble it (it was a pain in the ass! So many parts!) when I realized that the latches that hold down the hopper were broken. We put it all back in the box and headed to Kohls for an exchange. We ended up with a Bella, which I’ve since read tends to break after a month or two, but for the moment, it works well.

By the time we finished up at Kohl’s, we were both starving. Fortunately, we were less than a mile from Smoothie King. While it’s technically not juicing, it’s pretty close, and nothing is processed except for the sugar, which we asked them to leave out. We had a Groupon, too; $10 for $20 worth of smoothie. Excellent!

We didn’t get started on our juice until almost 5pm. I spent the next two hours scrubbing down fruits and vegetables for four days’ worth of meals (two days for each of us). It is a LOT of scrubbing. My back and feet were already killing me, and I was shoveling tramadol in my mouth like M&Ms. Then came the actual making of the juice.

It is so cool! Carrots contain an unbelievable amount of juice, as do beets. The chard and kale stems are also very juicy. Matt followed the tip of lining the expulsion container with a plastic bag for easier cleanup. It is definitely easy to just switch out bags. One less thing to clean.

By the time we were finished, it was almost 10:30pm. Fortunately, Matt’s friend that’s a girl came and picked him up, so I didn’t have to drive him home. Hooray for not crashing and dying in flaming death!

We decided we would not taste as we went along, because we didn’t want to discover something tasted awful, because then we’d be dreading having to drink that one. I figured it’s better to be surprised and Matt agreed. As he said, “It may taste like shit, but it’s only ten minutes of drinking shit per day. I think it’s worth it.”

Thursday, July 11, Day 3

Here’s the morning breakdown: I’ve lost three pounds in the last two days (yes, I know it’s water weight, but after the first ten pounds, it’s actually “weight” weight). I’ve only felt hungry once, and that was at 1am, because I hadn’t had anything since 6pm. I made a cup of tea, and cheated with cream and splenda, but I don’t think a single cup will kill me, and it’s better than a giant bowl of cookies and ice cream.

On day two, my breakfast juice consisted of orange, nectarine, lime, apple, and kiwi. I call it “Citrus Surprise.” Lunch was a pint of strawberries, a pint of blueberries, 6oz raspberries, a carrot, and a beet. This one is “Beet Berry.” Dinner was nectarine, carrot, kiwi, plum, apple, and orange, otherwise known as “Rainbow Bright” because of the different colors going into it. I was amazed that everything was absolutely delicious! Citrus Surprise is my favorite, followed by Rainbow Bright. Beet Berry is okay, but it’s thick and smells weird, because beets stink.

Ron is of course horrified at the idea of juicing (it’s unhealthy, you won’t lose weight, it’s too much sugar, there’s no protein). It’s not unhealthy, since I’m only doing it for ten days. I am losing weight, so it’s a great kickstart and motivation to continue. Although it’s high in sugar, I haven’t had a single issue with my blood sugar dropping. As for protein, if I want, I can add chia seeds or hemp seeds. The point is to stay away from any fiber, dairy, meat, nuts…nothing but fruits and vegetables, so for this round, I’m skipping the protein. I’m not super active at the moment, so 10 days without protein won’t kill me.

I feel really good today, considering how I felt when I went to bed last night. I’ve had more energy today and my brain is less foggy. We’ll see how it goes by the 10th day. Here’s the BEST surprise side effect… when I washed my hair this morning, exactly ONE hair came out. Even with taking glutathione, I still lose at least a dozen, and I lose fistfuls if I don’t take it. To only lose ONE is pretty miraculous. I wish I could figure out which nutrient I’m getting that I’m so deficient in.

I’m still waiting for the nasty side effects to kick in. It’s supposed to clean out your gut, but nothing so far. I am definitely peeing a lot, though and it is almost clear. My hands still ache, but not as badly as they have been.

I do keep thinking about food, but I think that’s more about habit, not hunger. This is definitely going to affect my eating habits from here on out, though. No more late night snacking with Aubrey, no milkshakes with Ron, lots of leafy greens (romaine and spinach) and veggies, less meat, more beans, nuts, lentils, and I’m going to make Ron eat fish at least once a week.

Friday, July 12, Day 4

I’ve lost a total of 6.5 lbs (I bought a digital scale, and I’m using the weight I was at the oncologist’s office on July 1st, which was 200 even). I’ve gotten much faster at washing my fruit and veggies and getting everything juiced. Last night, it only took me two hours to make two days worth of meals. I started with my most basic juice (Citrus Surprise), then for the second one (Caribbean Cooler), I added a few things, and then finally made my Beet Berry. It saves washing down all the parts between juices. I do have to clear out the extra pulp from the machine, though.

Yesterday I bought fresh pineapple and peeled it all by myself. I had no idea how damn easy it is! All my life I thought you practically need a machete to cut through pineapple skin. It’s actually pretty soft. I also added mangos, which smell awful, but taste really good. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they reek. Ugh, and beets smell even worse. They smell like wet dirt. I think I added too much beet last night, because today I had to drink it really slowly so I wouldn’t retch. The citrus ones are really good, though.

Ron is still being super negative, and I have finally employed the same tactic I used with my first husband; I agree with everything he says. When he tells me it’s not going to work, I say, “You’re absolutely right, it’s not going to work.” When he says I won’t wash the veggies, make my drinks, and drink them, I say, “You’re absolutely right. I won’t drink them.” When he says that it isn’t healthy, I say, “You’re absolutely right. It’s not healthy.” It drives him freakin’ crazy, because then he can’t keep arguing with me, since I refuse to argue. Finally, last night he came into the office and asked if I was feeling any different, if I’d lost any weight, was it helping? Arguments only happen if you allow them to escalate, and agreeing with everything stops it in its tracks.

I forgot to mention that I am supplementing with Chromium Polynicotinate, Vit D, Calcium, and Evening Primrose Oil. I hate that stuff (the EPO). It makes me break out like a teenager. It’s what the oncologist prescribed, so I have to take it, but I hate having pimples at my age. It’s ridiculous. I’ve still got lots of energy, and last night, I slept like a log, in spite of not taking any melatonin because I couldn’t find it.

Saturday, July 13, Day 5

Today I am down 9 lbs! Only one more pound and I am in actual weight territory, as I will have lost the requisite 10 lbs of water that is normal with “crash” diets. While some people consider it to be a one, it most definitely is not. For one thing, I’m not hungry in between my meals. If I were suffering from some kind of deficiency, I would notice the effect by now. I feel healthier than I have in a long time. I’m able to stay awake from 7:30 am to 11:00 pm, and I’m sleeping better and deeper. I’m fortunate that I don’t suffer from sleep apnea, but I do have a serious sleep disorder.

The latest surprise effect is that my rosacea is clearing up. I’ve been struggling for the last two years with a scaly, crusty buildup on my cheeks, nose, and in my eyebrows when I wake up in the morning. This morning, although my face is still outrageously oily, I don’t have any scaliness on my face at all. I’ve tried prescription products as well as over the counter remedies, but the only thing that has helped so far is Obey Your Body Dead Sea Facial Mud Scrub. Even so, it certainly didn’t help as much as five days of juicing has!

I figure that my current daily caloric intake is around 1000 calories, which is what the Mayo Clinic recommends for their obese patients. I am not having any meals after 7pm, and of course, there’s no snacking. As I mentioned before, my only “cheat” is having hot cinnamon tea with cream and splenda, which is around 60 calories. It does break the rules of no processed foods and no dairy, but if it’s between that and a giant bowl of ice cream, I think it’s the better choice.


Look Away! Look Away! Look Away! Dixie Land

At the moment, I’m wallowing somewhere between severe depression and even more severe disappointment. For a few days, I had the hope that we would be moving to Massachusetts. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed for at least another six to nine months. That means I’m stuck in this God-awful heat for the rest of this year. I can’t stand it. I feel trapped in the house, because it’s so hot and humid, I cannot breath when I’m outside. It’s like trying to breath with your face in a fire; it sucks the oxygen right out of your lungs. Our poor air conditioner can’t keep up with these temperatures and I live in fear of it going out.

However, the weather is nothing compared to living in the Perry totalitarian state. It does not matter that I not only had my tubes tied 20 years ago, and that I had a hysterectomy almost two years ago. It matters that I don’t have a penis. Most importantly, it matters because I have a daughter. In a state where rapists have more rights than their victims, where anyone can decide that filling your prescription for birth control pills is “against their beliefs,” and where women’s rights are being stripped away faster than I can peel the paint off Matt’s walls, it is not a safe place to be a woman. I am seriously considering sending my daughter away, to where she will be safe, respected, and treated like a human being.

It is terrifying to live 8 hours from the borders of any other states, and worse yet, to be surrounded by other states that are equally anti-women, although New Mexico is nowhere near as bad as Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. When a law can pass in spite of the majority of voters being against that law; when it temporarily passes because the legislators lie and illegally change the time stamp in the database; and when women are not allowed to speak out against the passing of such laws, it is obvious that there is an outright war on women.

It pisses me off no end that Perry would dare to use the excuse that they are closing women’s clinics (and keep in mind, these clinics that are closing offer other healthcare services besides abortion) because they are concerned with the safety and welfare of women and children (because obviously, women can’t think for themselves!). If he were truly concerned about the safety and welfare of women and children, why did his lackeys defund Planned Parenthood, refuse government funds for increased health care access for poor women and children, and cut welfare benefits for women and children? There is no joke about it; without those benefits, children will starve, go without checkups and vaccinations, and will not have access to dental care.

My daughter is fortunate. We are far from rich, but we have enough that she is covered by our health insurance. We can order her meds from online pharmacies. Sending her away is a real option, should things start to get worse (God, I can only imagine what “worse” could possibly mean). Not everyone has those options. In fact, most of the women in Texas don’t have those options.

I think the current political situation is more frightening for those of us who have read Margaret Atwoods’, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” We see the signs of what could be lurking around the corner…women being separated out as breeders, women not being allowed to read, women existing purely for the pleasure of men. Oh, but that’s science fiction! That could never happen! Let me remind you that “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” was also science fiction. In the fifties, Isaac Asimov wrote about a cylinder shaped device that could be run across a page and scanned into digital memory. Once upon a time, organ transplants, air travel, space flights…they were all science fiction, and now they are science fact.

I hate the possibility of my being lumped in with conspiracy theorists, but honestly, changing the time stamp on a bill? What is that if not a conspiracy? Does the fact that they were caught make it any less undemocratic?

So now we wait and we watch. What other laws will be passed that will strip away women’s rights? How long before we’re not allowed to have jobs? Before we’re not allowed to drive cars, or read books, or have access to the internet? Meanwhile, I will make sure that Aubrey has a current passport and enough to buy a plane ticket out of here when all hell breaks loose.