Part Three: The Tips!

... Because I do enjoy a good picture of an apple.

So here we are at the last, but maybe most important, installment of my "Before and After" post (find part one here, and part two here). This is the post that aims to answer the question I get most often, which is, "Rita, how the heck did you get so awesome?"*

*Okay, so maybe that's not the exact question, but whatever.

Anyway, it's long, but here it is - bullet-pointed for your reading pleasure. (You're welcome.) First, we'll start out with my dietary changes.
  • I started out small. Like, really small. Like when we'd go out to dinner: I'd order my usual meal but with water instead of soda. Or I'd drink unsweetened tea instead of my favorite Southern-sweet style. Or I'd opt for the lunch portion instead of the double-sized dinner portion. At home, I would eat my toast without butter, for example - or if I thought I'd feel deprived not having butter, then I'd just spread on a little less than usual.
  • I didn't give myself a strict timeline. There's nothing wrong with setting a goal, if you feel like it'll help motivate you - but make it, if anything, overly attainable. (Not impossible like, "I will lose forty pounds by the end of this month by eating only Advil and grapefruit juice.") I never labored under a deadline, instead choosing to make changes that were manageable to me. I'd love to say there's some magical quick fix, but substantial and lasting weight loss takes time and patience (neither of which I possess in spades). Like the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race.  
  • I admitted that it really was a "lifestyle change." I was always annoyed when people said, "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change" - but as much as I hate to admit it, that's exactly what it is. I mean, you can't be on a diet forever (I'm pretty sure that's what happens if you go to hell). A lifestyle change just means things you can live with, not a total deprivation of your favorite foods.
  • I drink a lot of water. I hated water a couple of years ago. As in, if I were out of milk or sweet tea or juice, I would rather sit there parched with thirst than drink a glass of H20. ("Put a slice of lemon in it!" well-meaning water-lovers would suggest, but ... yuck. Lemon-flavored water? Only if it's sugared up and called "lemonade.") But I made myself drink water because I know it's good for me and good for weight loss, and now it's rare that I drink anything else.
  • I ingest a lot of fiber. Yes, it makes me farty - or it did at first. Now my insides are pretty used to it unless I reeeeeally overdo it. But I once heard a dietician on TV say that if you eat tons of fiber, your body doesn't absorb fat as readily. Do I know if this is true? No. But I get a lot of fiber anyway, because it's healthy, even if the fat-absorption theory is wrong.
  • I try to watch my sugar/processed carb intake. I'm not - by ANY means - one of those people who is all, "Oh I never eat white bread. I never eat sugar. I never drink soda." Because hello, those things are delicious (I never met a carb I didn't like). But I do try to keep my carb consumption in check. If I know I'm going to have some mashed potatoes or something like that later, I "save up" my carbs by going heavy on the protein for the first part of the day. And I trim the carbs in small ways, too. Like, I buy the Misson brand Carb Balance tortillas instead of the regular ones when I make fajitas. Or if I'm eating a hamburger, I'll get rid of half the bun and eat it like an open-faced sandwich. Little changes truly do add up.  
  • I try not to eat after 7 pm. Key word here: "try." I am a huge bedtime-snack fanatic (remember the cartoon I drew to illustrate my pre-bed cereal consumption?). I do not always succeed at keeping this policy, because I love me some munchies while watching some evening TV in those two or three quiet hours between the boys' bedtime and my own. But as a general rule, I try to steer clear of eating within a couple hours of calling it a night.
  • I don't let myself get ravenously hungry. Namely because if I do, I tend to shovel in food like a stoned Sumo wrestler. I would rather "graze" on a light snack every couple of hours and keep my stomach from growling. Plus, if you eat regularly, you keep your metabolism stoked. Think of your metabolism as a fire: when you try to burn one huge log (i.e., a big meal), it doesn't work as well. But if you start the fire with a few twigs, and then keep consistently adding twigs, the fire burns much more effectively.   
  • I try to practice portion control. Again, this doesn't always work, but I do give it an admirable effort most of the time. This is probably the hardest for me (I even wrote this post about it) because, y'all? Mama can eat. The quantities of food I can put away would probably make an elephant jealous. But just because I can, definitely does not mean I should - so I try to watch how much of anything I'm eating. I don't go so far as to measure it or anything like that, but I'd like to think I have enough common sense to know what's a reasonable portion and what isn't. I tell myself it's either eat a little bit of something, or none at all ... and you know what I choose, every time!    
  • I never deprive myself of anything. If I want to bake cookies, I'll bake cookies - but then instead of eating the whole half the batch myself, I'll save a few back and send the rest to work with Curtis. I don't miss out on birthday cakes, or barbecues, or Halloween candy ... I just try to eat less of it. To be honest, though, it doesn't always work - sometimes I totally go on a junk food binge - but I forgive myself and get back on track. Which leads me to my next point ...
  • I look at the "big picture." You know that old saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees?" I think that's much of the reason why dieting fails. We start counting calories, we're a slave to the scale, we overanalyze every little food choice, we obsess about what we're putting in our mouths. And we become miserable. You may have lost twenty pounds overall, but you beat yourself up over the two or three or five pounds you gained back - not congratulate yourself for the fifteen you're still down. Yes, it's frustrating to have a setback, but it happens. I keep my eye on the grand scheme of things rather than the small details. If I pat myself on the back for staying on track 80% of the time, then I don't berate myself for the 20% of the time when I don't do so well.
And now for the exercise portion ...
  • Again: I started small. My Wii Fit was the best investment ever. I used their cute little games and broke a tiny sweat a few times a week. Then I got a step platform-riser thingy for it (like this one) and upped my intensity a little bit. While my kids were napping, I'd turn on some trashy reality show and step up and down for half an hour. Outside of my Wii workouts, I took baby steps to be more active around the house ... like squatting to pick up toys instead of bending over, to give my legs a workout. Or playing tag with my kids (so what if I could only last two minutes before becoming all wheezy and winded?).
  • I kept moving. I am not exaggerating one teeny iota when I tell you that at the beginning of all this, at my heaviest, even thinking about exercise made me so tired I couldn't get up. Seriously. I'd think about being sweaty and I'd be all, "Ugh!" But it's one of those things that I had to force myself to do. And once I had been making myself exercise for about a week or two, I found that it was becoming less of a hassle. Movement begets movement: just get up and move, no matter how little you start out, and you'll gain the momentum to do it more often.  
  • I found something I liked to do. Though the elliptical machine, exercise bike, treadmill etc. are great cardio workouts, I find them to be a total snooze-fest. Even when I'm thumbing through a magazine and pretending to be interested, my eyes keep sneaking glances at the clock, which never seems to move fast enough. For me, the only thing that keeps me motivated is group fitness. I joined the YMCA (which is a GREAT organization, by the way) and have really enjoyed the exercise classes there - especially Zumba. There are a variety of different classes available every day of the week, and not only do I get a good workout, but I've made a lot of good friends ... which is one of the most valuable benefits! My advice is to find something you like, even if it isn't a traditional workout. As long as you're moving and getting your heart rate up, it doesn't matter if you're breakdancing in your living room or playing bongos naked a la Matthew McConaughey.
  • I have workout buddies. Never underestimate the value of having someone to work out with. After all, it was my neighbor Nicki who first convinced me to go to a Zumba class. She and I have been working out together a couple of times a week ever since then. One of my Zumba instructors, Lindsey, has helped me to branch out into other classes (like BodyPump ... you'll read about that next!) - and has become a good friend of mine in the process. When you work out with friends, you can help motivate one another, and it always makes it more fun. 
  • I added weight training. This is a relatively new development, but one that I think is pretty important. One of the classes I take at the Y is BodyPump, which is basically light weightlifting. It's just for toning purposes, and I noticed a difference in my arms almost immediately after starting. I'm not in there hefting 100-pound barbells, y'all, but you'd be surprised what even little five-pound weights can do for your physique if you hoist 'em up on the regular. Plus, bigger muscles mean more calorie burn. WIN.
  • I listen to my body. Now that I work out regularly, believe it or not, it's rare that I don't feel like doing it. But on the occasion when I do feel like I'm dragging, I ask myself why. If it's because I'm just feeling lazy, that "I'd-rather-be-on-the-couch-in-a-Snuggie-eating-ice-cream-and-watching-reruns-of-Teen-Mom" feeling, I make myself anyway (and am always glad I did). But if it's because I feel ill, or am extra tired due to a lack of sleep, I don't force myself. Or I do something short, or really low-impact. 
  • I make working out a priority. I had soooo many excuses for not working out. Not enough time, it takes time away from my kids, blah blah blah blah. But going to the gym for an hour is not a selfish pursuit; it's an investment in my own wellbeing, and consequently, the wellbeing of my family (because if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy). It helps to have a supportive spouse, or someone else who doesn't mind staying with the kids - but even if you don't, most gyms have a daycare.  
And finally, the icing on the cake: de-frumping. When you look the best you can, you feel a lot better.
  • I invest in my looks, even if it's not much. I'm not saying I buy a new wardrobe each season; hell, I buy about one new item of clothing every three months, and always at Target or TJMaxx or some similarly cheap store. But the point is, I don't entirely forego buying things for myself just because the kids need stuff (I used to do that, terribly). And I've realized that little things go a long way. Like, a while ago when I saw in a magazine that "Greige" was the new hot trend in nail color, I went out and spent like four bucks on a bottle of nail polish - and was actually amazed at how "trendy" I felt. 
  • I make an effort to beautify. I try to keep my hands and feet manicured and pedicured - or at the very least, groomed and filed. I keep my eyebrows waxed. I keep my beard plucked (I'm totally serious ... hehe). I exfoliate regularly and use my very favorite beauty tip of all, the aspirin mask. As much as I wish I could afford to get all this shiz done at a salon, I do it all myself because I have three money-sucking children and am a freelance writer with a (very) sporadic income. But it's fun, and even though at first it felt useless and futile (again: polishing a turd), it has become a time I look forward to. In fact, I often replace my evening snack with a beauty treatment while I'm watching TV. See my post about DIY de-frumping for some fun tips.
  • I get dressed. Seriously, this may sound like a no-brainer to some of you, but stay-at-home and work-at-home moms, I know you feel me on this one. When you're at home for most of the day, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of hanging out braless in your loungy pants. But don't. Get yourself dressed. Nobody's saying you've gotta wear slacks and a blouse, but a bra and jeans would be nice. Even if it is going to be spit up on or smeared with snot or poop or peanut butter within an hour of putting it on. The effort makes all the difference, I swear.
So that's it, y'all. The helpful tips I've gleaned from the past two years' experience of struggling to rescue myself from "hot mess" status. My biggest advice is just to love yourself more. Don't be so hard on yourself; you wouldn't be that hard on anyone else, especially not someone you care for. Cut yourself some slack, give yourself some TIME, and see it as a challenge to be a better person - not a competition to look like whatever skinny trains-for-six-hours-a-day celebrity your significant other thinks is hot.

Any tips you wanna share? I'm all ears!

Let's do this!!!

Fighting off Frumpy: AFTER

Welcome back, y'all. I know you were just dying for me to post the "after" part of my story. You probably couldn't even sleep last night, huh? You were biting your nails with nervous anticipation, weren't you?


*cricket cricket*

Well. Anyway. If you've not been around for a few days, or if you just need a refresher, or if you just like to click on text-embedded links (click! click! click!) you can check out the "Before" post here. Now where were we? ... Oh yes.

To summarize: after three kids in five years, I was within spitting distance of 300 pounds - my heaviest weight ever. I was depressed, despondant, desperate and any number of other unpleasant d-words (like, uh, dumpy?).

I knew something had to be done. But nobody could do anything but me - and that was a hard pill to swallow. The journey seemed nearly impossible, the task insurmountable. I mean, I was having a hard time summoning the energy to even get dressed each day. And I literally felt drained at even the mere thought of diet and exercise. I can't even get started, I would think. I can't do this.

But from somewhere deep inside, the girl I used to be screamed, "Oh yes you can!"

So how do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

Initially, I got a gym membership, which I vowed to use and then hardly ever did. Truth is, I felt too fat to be at the gym. I'd go and trudge along on one of the machines, rolls bouncing everywhere, inevitably ending up next to some hard-bodied, never-had-kids twenty-year-old, and I'd feel horrible (and then go home to drown my sorrows in sugary carbohydrates). So to lose the first few pounds at home, I started using my Wii Fit. It never failed to chirp, "That's obese!" when I weighed in (thanks a lot, a-hole. I hadn't noticed).

As my weight started to drop, my depression began to lift; I was veeeeeeerry slooooooowly crawling out of my black hole. Bit by bit, I started forcing myself to pay attention to the little things again - like painting my toenails, brushing my hair, dressing in something other than pajamas (even though spending money on size 22 jeans - when there were size nines and tens gathering cobwebs in my closet - was painful). There were times when I felt like just giving up and letting the misery engulf me again. It seemed easier than working my ass off only to lose a couple of pounds a month. But I kept dutifully chipping away at the fat-girl cocoon I had built around myself, even when it felt like I was just treading water.

And it all got easier. I'm not going to tell you it's ever been a piece of cake (mmmm ... caaaaake), but it's always the hardest right at the beginning, when you've got the farthest to go. Once you start seeing results, once you've got a momentum going, it really does become tolerable ... if not enjoyable (at least sometimes). I had my fair share - okay, probably more than my fair share, since I'm being honest - of slipups. Times when I didn't even bother to watch what I ate, like during my phase of making desserts with an uncanny resemblance to poo. I even gained back twenty of the lost pounds at one point. But when you fall off the wagon, no matter how hard, you've just got to dust yourself off and crawl right back on. And so I did.

This past December, I finally felt confident enough to go to the gym, so I got a membership to the YMCA. I was just going to use the machines, but my neighbor, Nicki, convinced me to try a Zumba class with her. And from that first class - even though I felt like an uncoordinated goober - I was hooked. I've been going ever since.

It was two years ago next month that I realized I had to reclaim my life. Two years of slow progress and setbacks, hard work and moderation. These days, when my Wii Fit tells me my BMI? It says, "That's normal!" instead of calling me obese. That's music to my ears, y'all. I'm down approximately 112 pounds. I wear makeup every day again. I go for less than six months between visits to the salon for a trim. I change out of my pajamas (...usually). I shave (...most of the time.) I feel better. I know I look better. And my husband can't keep his hands off me. (Wink wink!)

Here's a current picture of me, taken just a couple of weeks ago. This is the way I usually look now: all dressed and stuff!

To me, the most exciting thing to come out of all this is my discovery of Zumba. I love it! And as of this Saturday, August 27th - three days shy of my 31st birthday - I will offically be a licensed Zumba instructor. I went from straight-up dreading removal of my ass from my couch, to looking forward to teaching an exercise class. Oh, how much things can change if we're just willing to allow it!

Recently, the Mutual of Omaha insurance peeps contacted me via the Frump and asked if I'd be willing to film an "Aha! Moment" for them. So I did. I was extremely kinda terrible on camera (that's what I was talking about when I wrote this post) but luckily, they have some talented people who edited the bejesus out of my bumbling diatribe until it resembled something well put-together. Anyway, I'll share it with you.

Considering I was sweating buckets and my mouth was dry enough to make a cotton ball jealous, I'd say it turned out all right. Bonus points if you recognize the shirt from the photo above ... I may be getting dressed these days, but I still have to maximize my wardrobe dollar. (Fourteen bucks at Forever 21, y'all.)

Anyway, that's it. The story of how I really did "fight off frumpy." And though I don't think the battle will ever be completely over, and I'll have to keep on fighting ... I think it's safe to say I've won this round.

Tomorrow, for the last part of the story (yeah, I decided to post a Part Three) I'll post my top tips - the things that worked best for me along the way. See you then!

Fighting off Frumpy: BEFORE

I'm a sharer. An over-sharer, probably.*

*Except for like food, because I will literally hide in a closet to avoid my kids asking me for a bite of something.

When it comes to letting people into my personal life, I don't have much of a problem with it. I mean, duh, I have a blog. On the Internet. If I were a private person, I wouldn't let anyone know that I have a weird condition that made breastfeeding horrible. Or that I once got stuck in a booth at a restaurant. Or that I was ridiculously clueless when it came to my oldest son starting Kindergarten. I'd write it all in a diary or something, and my quirks and misadventures would never see the light of day. But instead, I put it out there for millions of people to see.

Anyway, do you know why I share? Because even if it's embarrassing - which, oh my Lord, it can most definitely be - I love to know that I'm not alone ("You have a beard? OMG, so do I!!"). Because it makes me feel just a little less odd, a little less isolated in my predicaments. Not to mention the amount of wonderful advice and encouragement I get from people who have been there ... or who just care enough to send some kind words my way. You've kept me afloat more than once, y'all, and that's real.

But there's one thing I haven't completely shared - and ironically, it's the one thing that inspired this blog. The very thing that this blog is named for: my fight with the demonic possession of complete and total frumpy housewife-y-ness. I've disclosed bits and pieces here and there, usually disguised as something funny, but I've never been ready to tell you the whole story.

Until now.

So I'm going to do it in two parts: fittingly named "Before" and "After." (I'm so original, eh?) Because this is probably gonna be long.


Before my kids, I was always girly and pulled-together. Hair done, nails done, makeup on, everything shaved ... always. As ashamed as I am to say it now, I was one of those chicks who looked with contempt (secretly, of course) upon the frumpy moms I saw at the post office and the grocery store. What is wrong with those women? I'd think to myself. How could they let themselves go like that?

Then I got my answer (or, more likely, my karmic come-uppance). With my first pregnancy, I gained an astonishing ninety pounds. I lost some of it, but then got pregnant with Cameron, and packed on eighty more. Again, between pregnancies I managed to shed a few pounds, but never got completely back to my pre-pregnancy weight. In my mind, I couldn't seem to match this new post-baby body up with the relatively jiggle-free girl I had so recently been.

I despised the way I looked. Multiple pregnancies, especially when coupled with such massive weight gain, can wreak havoc on the body; my once-tight abs had dissolved into a wobbly, stretchmarked mass of skin, and my boobs were hanging, flattened, raisin-esque shadows of their former perky selves. But it wasn't just the physical transformation that bothered me; it was the resulting catastrophic slide into a depression so deep that I literally couldn't even muster up the will to take care of myself. Even my most basic needs - like personal hygeine, y'all - fell by the wayside.

My self-esteem suffered. A lot. My husband, bless his heart, was always sweet and supportive ... but though he never would have said anything, I could just tell he was no longer attracted to me - like, in the "bow chicka wow wow" way. How could he be, when I had such a low opinion of myself? I lived in a constant state of frumpitude, and my motto was "why bother?" Why shower when I'd just be spit up or snotted on within a matter of minutes? Why brush my hair when no one was going to see me? Why try on jeans when my pajama pants were so much more comfy? Why wear anything cute when I would only feel fat and ugly? For lack of a better explanation, you can't polish a turd ... and that's exactly what I felt like I was doing every time I tried to put on makeup or wear a decent outfit. Like I was making an effort for absolutely no reason. Trying to be someone that I no longer was.

Desperate, I started this blog when I was just a few months pregnant with Coby, hoping that someone out there in the far reaches of the world would be able to commiserate. It felt like one tiny step in the right direction. I hoped it would help keep me accountable.

In this post in honor of my 29th birthday - just two weeks before giving birth for the third time - I wrote the following:

So as soon as I pop this baby boy out (send labor vibes!), I'm on a mission to fulfill the name of my blog once and for all and stop the terrifying descent into full-time frumpiness. I'm bringing sexy back, for real. Just you watch. You need inspiration? Allow me. I promise.

I sounded much more confident than I felt ... trust me.

When I stepped onto the scale a few days after having Coby - the middle of September, 2009 - it read 273 pounds (I'm 5'8", for reference). And I cried ... bitterly. You know how you hear about people hitting rock bottom? That was it for me. Seeing the number, my unhappiness and unhealthiness quantified right before my very eyes, was the catalyst.

And right now, I'm going to share with you a picture that I loathe. Honestly, it's not even as bad as I actually looked, but I couldn't find a full-body shot (because if anyone had dared to snap a full-body photo of me at that weight I'd have gone all Godzilla and ripped the camera right from their trembling hands). Anyway, here I am at my heaviest ...

Notice that the baby is laying flat ... on my stomach. And that no makeup/glasses/pajamas look I was sporting? That wasn't because I'd just given birth, or because it was time for bed or something. That was just my typical daily garb at that point. All day, erry day.

I may have been smiling in this picture, but I was truly miserable. Nobody I knew in real life, except for my closest friends and family, ever saw me like this - because I hid from the world. I turned down invitations and missed get-togethers for fear that someone would see me and think, "Damn, she's gained a lot of weight!" Should that have mattered? No, probably not. Maybe if my self-worth wasn't directly tied to the number on my scale, I'd have been happier. But it was.

I wasn't doing myself, my husband, or my kids any favors by being fat and joyless. And even though at that point my blog had just a handful of readers, I had promised to be an inspiration.

And so, one baby step at a time, I began fighting off frumpy.

(Part Two coming soon!)

A Roar of a Snore

Photo credit: Maja Lampe

Zzzzz-xnnxkxxghhn-zzzzzzzz ...

My husband snores, y'all. Big time. And when my eyes snapped open at 3:30-ish this morning in response to the sound, I was irritated. I tried to go back to sleep, but -

Zzzzz-xnnxkxxghhn-zzzzzzzz ...

This particular snore was a little on the weird-sounding side, but seriously, the dude snores so often that I've heard nearly every variety. The heavy-breathing-with-a-clicking. The light-wheezing whistle. The sounds-oddly-like-someone-eating-a-crunchy-apple. The oh-dear-Lord-is-that-a-freight-train rumble.

To remedy the situation, I always tell him to turn over on his side. Sometimes this simply involves a whispered, "Honey, turn over, you're snoring." Other times, depending on how heavily he's sleeping, it involves a well-placed finger jab to the ribs or a hearty shove (and, usually, a few expletives thrown in for good measure).

Anyway, last night something else struck me as odd - the fact that he was already on his side. But he was facing me, and maybe facing me meant I could just hear him more clearly, and maybe by facing away at least the snore would be muffled.

"You're snoring," I hissed. "Turn over."

So he did, right away, flipping to his other side. Ahhhh, I thought, settling into my pillow. Much bet-

Zzzzz-xnnxkxxggghhn-zzzzzzzz ...

"Curtis!!" I snapped, exasperated. "You. Are. SNORING!"

"Huh?" my husband mumbled sleepily. "I'm not sn-"

Zzzzz-xnnxkxxggghhn-zzzzzzzz ...

What the eff?

If Curtis wasn't snoring, and I wasn't snoring, then who the .........??

I felt around blindly in the darkness between us, and got my answer.

It was Destiny!

Apparently pugs snore, too.

... Great.

Hey! I've been nominated over at Parents Magazine's Best Blog Awards! If you'd like to vote (pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?) you can do it from this link - or just click on the pink "Parents" button in the right-hand sidebar!! Thanks y'all!! :)

Holding it In

I was always told that there are certain things a lady shouldn't discuss ... but as you well know if you've read my blog for any amount of time, there's pretty much nothing taboo here at The Frump. On any given day, I might discuss pooping during childbirth, my battle with the beard, that "not-so-fresh" feeling, or whether or not ordinary household objects look like male genitalia. Some call it "candid," some call it "TMI" - but potato, potah-to. I call it "keepin' it real," y'all. That's why you love me, anyway, right?

... RIGHT??

*cricket, cricket*

Anyway, if you haven't read the aforementioned posts, and you're under the impression that I'm a polite, appropriate, bodily function-less lady, then perhaps you should click on over to something else in order to preserve your (totally wrong, but very sweet) opinion of me. Because today's blog topic could be considered a little on the raunchy side.

I'm talking about gas, people. And I don't mean the kind that costs an arm and a leg (and your firstborn) at the pump.

Now don't be acting like you're all self-righteous and never fart. I don't care who you are ... you slip one out occasionally. It's just what we humans are designed to do. However, our society is not designed to be all that accepting of it, which is why we hold it in at all costs.

I feel the need to admit that I eat a lot of fiber. (Seriously, if you've never had a Fiber One chewy bar? You are missing. The eff. Out.) I also usually stir a dissolvable, grit-free fiber powder into my water. Why? I'm not exactly sure, but it makes me feel healthier. The only bad thing is, it tends to make me kinda farty. That's not a bad thing when I'm wearing my "mommy-of-three-boys-who-think-farts-are-funny" hat, but when I'm playing most of other roles in my life, it's not exactly a welcome trait. Like when I'm trying to be sexy: that's not exactly the kind of "perfume" that makes your man wanna lean in closer, you know?

But my worst struggle with fiber-induced flatulence, by far, comes from Zumba class. And much like I feel I'm the only one in class who gets pit stains, I feel sadly isolated in my attempt to fight the fart. Sometimes I'll be Zumba-ing right along and bam!, there it is ... the dreaded bubble. I don't know what it is - all the hip-shaking, perhaps? - but Zumba really kicks the gas into gear.

I know what you're thinking. If you're going to get struck with the urge to fart, an aerobics class is probably the best place to do it. Right? I mean, the music is loud, and you're moving around anyway so you don't have to worry about doing one of those "inconspicuous lean" maneuvers. And even if there's a smell, no one could ever pinpoint you directly, given that you're in a group.

But I have compassion for my fellow exercisers, and I've got two words for you: mouth breathing. I typically breathe hard when I'm working out, through my mouth. And the last thing I wanna do while I'm sucking wind is inhale more than regular air, if you catch my drift. I'm pretty sure I can speak for everyone else when I say that the only gas I want entering my airways is oxygen, thankyouverymuch. 

So I try my hardest to hold it in, for the sake of those around me. And 99.9% of the time I succeed. But it takes a lot of complicated clenching, which inhibits my movements. This isn't good for several reasons, but the biggest one is that I'm usually up in front of the class right alongside my Zumba instructor. That's right: I'm practicing. Because at the end of this month - two more weeks, y'all -  I will be all licensed and official and able to teach my own Zumba classes!

But you can't teach people how to properly do the movements when you're all clenched up trying to spare everyone an explosion of hydrogen sulfide. So maybe, as a favor to future attendees of my Zumba classes, I ought to just lay off the fiber for a while.

Now, this could be especially awkward for those of you who know me in person. I mean, you're probably never going to be able to speak to me again without thinking, "OMG, I hope she's not going to fart close to me." But at least now you know I'm trying to hold it in. I mean, you could be talking to someone like my husband, who just lets one rip whenever the urge hits him, without regard for the people in his immediate vicinity.

Even if I do slip up from time to time in Zumba - which is probably inevitable - those around me are lucky I'm female. Because while the size of an average fart is 119 ml. for men, it's only 88 ml. for women.

The more you know ....... 

PS - Don't forget to check out the exclusive coupon code for $20 off some SUPER-CUTE clothes at! Click on over to my Giveaways page ... you've got a few more weeks left to use it!

Hot Mama!

The weather has been getting a little bit cooler lately - I no longer step out my front door and wonder if I've inadvertantly stumbled upon the portal to hell. My face doesn't melt off within six seconds of being outside. And my hair, at least for a few extra minutes, stays relatively frizz-free. It's an awesome feeling.

(And as an aside, cooler weather means it's almost time to put soup back on the menu! Awww yeah!)

Anyway, my perpetually-naked kids have recently been complaining of being cold when they get out of bed in the morning. (Yes, they sleep in the buff ... are you at all surprised?) I have suggested ways to remedy this - such as, I don't know, pajamas? - to no avail. And this morning was no exception as Cameron came up to me, whining. "Mommy, I'm cooooold," he whimpered. "Will you hold me?"

Obligingly, I picked him up and wrapped him in a hug.

"Ahhhh, you're hot," he sighed, content. "My hot mama."

YES. I got called a hot mama. And I'm totally taking it as a compliment.

... Even if it did come from a three-year-old.

PS - Speaking of hot, I have a HOT promo code if you're looking to do some online shopping ... for cute and CUSTOMIZABLE clothing! Check out my Giveaways and Rewards page for details! :)

A Date with Destiny

My doorbell rang unexpectedly at like ten o'clock yesterday morning. Which was weird because hardly anybody ever drops by unannounced - because people who know me know that my kids are generally naked, and they really need to call first lest they be subjected to a naked schlong (or three). And it was especially unusual because it was a Sunday. Random doorbell-rings almost never happen on a Sunday.

When I went to the door, there stood a guy. With a bike. And a baby. And a very little girl. And a pug.

"Sorry to bother you," he said apologetically, "but we were just out on a bike ride and found this dog. I think it's lost. May I use your phone to call the number on its tag?"

He didn't look like a murderer, and he had the little kids with him, and he was holding a dog, so my brain registered the threat level as low. (Although, I don't know, that's probably how people like me get killed.) Anyway, I dialed the number as he read it off the dog's tag, then handed him the phone.

After a few seconds, he frowned. "Hmm," he said. "It says the voice mailbox is full. I can't leave a message."

I squatted down and read all the info on the little pug's tags. Her name was Destiny. And her address was ... somewhere in Idaho? Wow. That could be a problem, since we live in Iowa.

"I'm not sure what to do," the guy said. "I can't really take her with me." He gestured to the bike and the two kids in tow, and I agreed; there was no way he could really transport the dog too. So I did what any other sucker animal lover would do.

"I'll take her," I said. "It shouldn't be too hard to find her owners."

I brought her in the house, and first things first, gave her a bath. I don't know how long she'd been roaming the 'hood, but she was wet and muddy. Then I set about the bidness of trying to find her people. Since the number on her tag was no good, I called the office of the vet where her rabies vaccination tag originated. No answer. So I Googled the address on her ID tag, which brought up one result with a different phone number. But when I called that number, it had been disconnected - go figure. I searched for the owner's name and found nothing meaningful (except for like 1700 people with the same generic first and last name on Facebook). I called the local Humane Society to see if she'd been reported missing; she hadn't, but the lady I spoke to suggested that I email them a detailed description and photo of her. So I did that.

It seemed like I was running into dead end after dead end. In the meantime, Destiny was making her puggy little self right at home. She instantly developed a rapport with Josie, our chocolate lab, and bonded with the boys - who fell totally in love with her.

While I was using my mad detective skillz to track down Destiny's owner, Curtis left the house to go to the store. He returned within five minutes. "I've found Destiny's family!" he said triumphantly. Apparently he'd been driving through the neighborhood and spotted someone outside with two pugs and a "Pug Rescue" t-shirt on, and figured he should stop to ask them if they were missing one. And turns out, they were. I couldn't help but feel a little pang of sadness when he ushered the dog into the car, but I knew someone would be very happy to have their sweet pug back home.

Imagine my surprise when my phone rang a few minutes later.

"So here's the story," Curtis said from the other end. "Destiny's a rescue. Her previous owners weren't very nice to her, so these people took her and two other pugs in. They're looking for new homes for them all."

I don't even know why he called to ask. I mean, seriously? He knows that if it were up to me, we'd house every needy animal between here and Mexico. So that's how we ended up with this ...

 Isn't she so ugly - er, pugly - she's cute?

I didn't wake up yesterday morning expecting to have a new dog by the end of the day - it was like that show I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, canine companion style - but I'm pretty glad it worked out that way. She's friendly, patient, well-mannered, and 100% potty trained (yay!). And it's seriously weird how quickly she's assimilated to our loud, crazy family - it's like she's been gone and is just now coming home. She fits right in.

I guess it's destiny. Literally.

Saturday Night ... Live!

So it's Saturday night and I'm just sitting here (completely sober, unfortunately) and I'm all, "OMG! I could use this awesome webcam to experiment with vlogging!" And because I am really ridiculously stupid at computers sometimes I wasn't even sure if the camera was on. But it was ... fortunately (or unfortunately? You decide). And here's the finished product, y'all. Hope you like mindless blathering!


PS - For some reason, on my computer, this video is looking like an old-school Kung Fu movie ... like you hear the talking and then five seconds later my mouth moves. Weird! I don't know what to do about it (again: computer stoopid) but I hope you don't find it so annoying that you, like, don't ever come back.

Lights, Camera, Humilitation!

One year when Curtis was in the Air Force, and we were stationed far from our family during Christmas, a camera crew came to videotape short messages for our families to be aired on our local channels back home. I don't know why I was nervous, because it was literally just Curtis, myself, and the dude behind the camera - but the way my stomach felt, you'd have thought I was about to take the stage on American Idol or something.

Of course Curtis was his usual, disgustingly confident self. "I'm A1C Curtis Templeton, and this is my wife Rita, and we'd like to wish our family and friends in Missouri a very happy holiday season," he breezed effortlessly, like he'd had a camera pointed at him since the minute he popped out of the womb.

But me? Not so much. "Merry Christmas!" I squeaked, smiling so hard that my lips were trembling. A deer in the headlights would've envied my huge eyes and startled expression. And when Curtis introduced me in his little message? I waved. Waved. That's just painfully dorky.

That was approximately nine years ago. And I haven't been in front of a professional video camera since then - until yesterday, that is.

I'm not even going to elaborate why I was being filmed. I may show it on here, when it's finished, IF it's not too humiliating ... but judging from how it went down, it's gonna be humiliating. Because y'all? I'm not what you'd call a "natural."

I tried not to be nervous. I mean, seriously tried. My logical mind told me, "There's nothing to worry about; this isn't even a big deal." But my irrational mind (the part that takes over most of the time) was shrieking, "OMG, you're going to look like a FOOL!" So of course, I was feeling shaky inside. My mouth was so dry that my lips were sticking to my gums, and my tongue was sticking to my lips, and I was making gross little smacking sounds as I talked, and I was so preoccupied with all that, that I could barely concentrate on what I was saying. I asked if we could start over, and the lady with the camera was like, "Oh, we can edit it, so just keep going." Gah!!

To make matters worse, this chick was trying overly hard to make me feel comfortable, which made me feel even more uncomfortable. I know she was trying to help a sista out, but damn. She used my name in almost every sentence: "Rita, why don't you make yourself comfortable on this stool. Now Rita, can you tell us your story?" She said, "Cute shoes!" ... even though I was wearing plain black flip-flops. And the whole time I was talking, she was nodding and smiling, wide-eyed, trying to feign interest - but it was in an "I-look-this-interested-in-everyone-I-film" way. You know?

I guess it was better than her acting bored and disengaged. But still. It didn't exactly help my nervousness. And you know what else didn't help? The lights. The LIGHTS. Big bright columns of light directed right into my face. And the fact that it was so hot that I may as well have set my little stool right on the edge of a volcano; sweat was trickling down the sides of my face and down my back. I had powdered my face so I wouldn't be shiny, but I hadn't taken into account the fact that I might be sweaty instead. I don't think they can edit that out.

I talked. Nervously. Stammer-y. I sounded nothing like I sound in real life. I ended every other sentence with ".... soooooo ...." because when I'd finished, the lady would just look at me like she was expecting more. I tried to think of things to say. My well of wittiness had run dry.

Kinda like my well of spit.

All in all, I felt like a giant, bumbling moron by the time I finished. Not a good way to feel. Before the shoot, I had briefly fantasized about someone spotting my video and being like, "Wow, she's awesome! Let's pay her large sums of money to make vlogs or something!"

Guess I won't be signing a contract for a reality show any time soon.

What's Chinese for "Chocolate Milk?"

Life Lesson #325: Asians Don't Drink Much Chocolate Milk*

*Which brings us to Life Lesson #326: That's Probably Why We're Fatter Than They Are

We went to an Asian buffet for supper last night and ran into a bit of a ... communication glitch. I shouldn't have been surprised - I mean, the sign above the macaroni and cheese said "Cheese Plane" - but it caught me a little off guard.

I've lived in a country where English isn't the primary language (Germany, if you were wondering) - so I know, at least somewhat, what it's like to be confused by things not said/sung/written in my native tongue. One time - in response to a German bartender's question of, "How are you?" - I accidentally answered "I'm horny." (How was I supposed to know that "Ich bin heiƟ" doesn't actually mean "I'm hot" as in, "I'm sweaty 'cause it feels like a sauna in here?") So don't get me wrong ... I'm not hatin'.

When my kids asked if they could order chocolate milk, the waiter answered with a rather emphatic yes. Almost like in an, "Oh yes, chocolate milk is our specialty" way. So that's what they ordered. While we were waiting on the drinks, I went ahead to the buffet to load up a plate for my dudes - because the longer their mouths are full, the less time they have to say embarrassing stuff.

I came back with the plates to find Curtis and Colin both scowling into Colin's styrofoam cup. "Look at this," Curtis said.

"What's the problem?" I asked, leaning over. "It's just chocolate --" I peered into the cup.

" --water," I finished. Because sure enough, Colin's drink made skim milk look like heavy cream. A few melting ice cubes floated on the top, making the brown liquid look even more watery.

"I wonder if they water it down to save money, because most kids don't notice?" Curtis murmured. "I'm sending it back."

He took one of the cups to the server's station where several of the waitstaff were hanging out. I saw him talking, and then they all looked at the chocolate "milk." Pretty soon, he was back at the table, sans cup. "She's bringing us more," he told the boys.

Before long, here came a waitress with three new cups. "Here you go! Sorry 'bout that!" she apologized. "All okay now?"

Curtis looked in the cup.

More chocolate water.

"But - this is ..." he gestured to the cup. "This is still watery."

"Noooo!" the waitress chirped cheerfully. "Seeeeee? I no put ice in this time."

We must have looked very confused (we were) because she elaborated in broken English. "I take little bit hot water, little bit cold water, still warm, so add ice last time, make it cold ..."

And it was like, *insert cricket chirps here* while Curtis and I just looked at each other, unsure as to what we should say.

Finally she said, "Here, I show you!" and scuttled away from the table. When she came back, she was holding ..............

......... an economy-sized canister of Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix. The flavor? Milk Chocolate. Which, I'd be willing to bet, they were mistaking for "chocolate milk." And then it all made sense: the talk of adding hot water, adding cold water, the reason for the melting ice, the mysterious floating lumps.

"Ohhh, you're supposed to use chocolate syrup," Colin piped up knowingly.

Yes. Chocolate syrup. And maybe even some milk next time.

We just nodded our understanding ... what could we say? They weren't trying to stiff us, they were just confused. So we accepted the not-so-hot chocolate, even though there was no way the kids were going to drink it.

Well, except for Cameron. But he eats toilet paper, so ...

Fair-ly Insane

So it's that time again. The fair is in town. And every year we're all excited, like, "Ooh! Let's take the kids to the fair!" ... Like it's our parental duty, like our children would be deprived and their childhood bleak if we didn't attend this annual festivity.

Honestly? I don't know why we even go. I mean, we schlep the kids out into the triple-digit heat index at one million percent humidity and pay exorbitant amounts of money just to get into the gates - then fork over even more scrilla so we can buy umpteen-thousand tickets for rides that go around and around for like two minutes while the kids sit on them looking bored and waving occasionally while we call their names and snap blurry pictures on their way by. Then we pay yet again (ka-ching! ka-ching!) for food that gives us a week's worth of calories in one sitting, which gets picked at and largely wasted by the boys, and then pay more for games like "pick a plastic duck out of a kiddie pool and win a cheap crappy prize," because heaven forbid the games take tickets like the rides do. And then we listen to the kids complain about his prize being bigger than miiiiiiiine and I wanted the bluuuuuuue one and threaten them that if they whine one more time we'll leave and then actually end up leaving because they whine again (usually about being thiiiiiiirsty and needing a driiiiiiiiink because it's hoooooottttt) and hello, we've got to make good on our threat. And as soon as we get in the car, the negotiations (okay, fighting) over the carnival prizes ensues, which doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things because twenty minutes after we get home the prizes will deflate/break/otherwise be rendered useless anyway.

And to add insult to injury? I've gotta give them a bath afterward. Not to mention ... my hair gets frizzy.

But oddly enough, every year Curtis and I think it's worth it to endure an hour or two of all this just for the ten minutes or so when the boys are actually enthusiastic and excited. It's like we get amnesia and forget how taxing the whole ordeal always seems to be.

I know. It makes virtually no sense.

I do sometimes get good pictures, though. Like the sign that I thought said "cooter."  And hey, if it's potential blog fodder, I'm all over it like dust on a carnival prize.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin