Looking Good

Aside from whining about not being able to enjoy the summer and sun as much as I use to, I actually am being proactive and getting out with the kids when I can. I happen to have this week off from work which coincided with summer actually making an appearance (heat index today of 105-110 F). That means trips to the local city pool or even hitting the road for an hour’s drive to a water park.

This spring I bought a new swimsuit. I’ve worn it now a couple of times to the pool and to say I feel conspicuous is an understatement. The other day I sat at the edge of the baby pool while Aitch played and another mom sat down not far from me. She had on a cute bikini and I thought how lucky she was to not only have a svelte post-baby body but to let the sun’s rays soak into her skin for that healthy looking tan. Then there I was with my swim skirt, rash guard top and large-brimmed hat. I wondered briefly if I could pull off the celebrity-in-disguise bit, but realized pretty quickly no celebrity would be at the delapidated city pool.

Yesterday I took the kids to the water park. Aitch wanted to wear her “princess” swimsuit, a Target purchase quickly made so she’d have something to wear for swimming lessons at the Y a couple months ago. I hate it because Ariel is emblazoned on the front, but it was cheap, she liked it and it would never see the light of day. I had already ordered a swimsuit to wear outside, which she did at the water park. I told her that I had already packed her swimsuit and we couldn’t wear “Mermaid” anymore (time to hide that sucker!).

I’m glad she’s too little to have noticed all the little girls (and babies!) dressed in tiny little swimsuits. Even bikinis on the infants! Really?? Here she was in a long-sleeved rash guard and the only girl wearing one. My son has a rash guard as well, but it’s not unusual to see boys wearing them. I had one parent ask me where I found the girl’s rashguard as she had a niece who easily burned and I gladly shared that I had ordered it from Land’s End.

When we got home after spending a few hours at the park and took our baths/showers, I was actually happy to see that neither child showed signs of having been in the sun and water for the afternoon. While I do miss getting a tan, even I was just as pale as I was when we left the house…except for one area: my upper chest. My swimsuit covers me to my neck and I had a hat on, but the shallow scoop-neck left uncovered an area that I never thought to add sunscreen to. It’s not burnt, but there’s color. And that color is a reminder that I wasn’t as deligent as I should have been, but now I will know for next time.

I ordered my swim top from Girls4Sport (G4S). While they have swim tops that are traditional in coverage, they also carry short-, three-quarter and long-sleeves. I bought the three-quarter ringer style and am very happy with how it looks and performs. It took an extensive search to find rash guards that weren’t plain looking AND that had a built in shelf bra. How awesome are these UPF50 fabrics?!

(This is the style I got)

 

(This was my 2nd choice)

Here’s how my kids looked at the water park:

As I mentioned, I bought Aitch’s suit from Land’s End. Of course, they are marked way down now, but this is her top in green batik. Her skirt in tide green, while the pattern was not marketed as “coordinating”, I purchased because the colors were similar and I liked more of a quirky look.

The swim trunks on Doodicus were from Target. I think the rash guard was from Old Navy. I got these last year before I understood the importance of the UPF so I have no idea if his shirt is rated. I will be ordering him something I know has proper protection for next year.

I’m Tired of Being “One out of X”

My sister, who I haven’t seen for about six years, is visiting this summer with her kids from overseas. They live in the Middle East and her oldest daughter is in her tweens. My sister asked that I order a swimsuit that they picked out on-line that consisted of a rash guard and board shorts. Conservative, but not nearly as conservative as the one she packed with her.

I ordered the suit and then in a bone-head move that could only be contributed to being the daughter of a woman who is slipping swiftly and surely into senility, I’ve lost the shopping bag with the suit in it.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!!

I offered to take her shopping so we could find something else, but I was reminded it had to go to “here and here!” or else she’d have to wear the traditional swimsuit. My niece was rolling her eyes and giving me the neck-slashing signal behind her mother’s back, a “no way in hell am I wearing that!” move. I told her that she won’t feel too out-of-place. My swimsuit also went to “here and here!” on me, “because I can no longer be in the sun,” and Sparring Partner, hitch-hiking on the conversation corrected, “no, you don’t want to be in the sun.”

With guests in the house, I could only change the subject. But now I’m rerunning what he said in my mind and getting angry. Does he not realize I had skin cancer? Does he not realize that I will probably get it again, only sooner with sun exposure?? Does he not realize that after 40 years of exposing myself to the sun’s rays, I have to hope that I can spend the next 40 avoiding them?!

For the past several years, I’ve been dealing with shit statistics: “Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples,” and now I have this to contend with, “Malignant Melanoma kills 1 in 7 diagnosed with the cancer.” It was hard enough explaining to him how I felt being part of the first group. Am I going to be beating my head against a brick wall on the second one?

How to Talk Around Little Girls

Many of you may have already seen the article in the Huffington Post, “How to Talk to Little Girls” by Lisa Bloom who also wrote the book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.

You can either take my word on the article or go read it at the link above first, but the gist is how we as a society should talk to little girls less about how pretty and sweet they look and more about intellectually stimulating topics like politics and social disparities.

This is why I said to read the link first as I may have taken some liberties there.

Lisa Bloom includes in her book this statistic:

“I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly…”

And goes to mention in the article,

“Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23.”

While I don’t know where her stats are coming from, I’m sure that on the whole and in regards to the US population it’s likely true to a large extent. However, I can’t help but play Devil’s Advocate and dispute that why these stats are even in existence is the belief that because we tell little girls how cute they are in their pretty dress or how sweet they look with their hair in curls. People have been participating in the stereotypical “oohing” and “aaahing” of baby girls long before the 21st Century, but it wasn’t until this single past generation (maybe two) that girls were found to be struggling with eating and body dysmorphic issues on the grand scale we see today.

Without risking turning this into another of my long, rambling posts that don’t have a point, I’m going to go against what may be the popular opinion and say that it’s not the way we talk to our little girls that makes them think they are not good enough physically; it’s the way we talk to each other – AND ABOUT each other – as adults. Just look at our newly crowned Miss USA.

THIS is the image we present to our children that can make a self-conscious girl think she’s not good enough, whether physically or intellectually. I can’t believe that by telling my daughter she looks pretty in the her tutu and a glitter-covered crown that I am setting her up for a low self-esteem. I also make sure to temper the compliments with equal opportunities with how funny and clever she is. My son is not left out either. I acknowledge when he looks nice dressed for church, especially now that he chooses what he wants to wear. When I compliment him on how nice his hair looks it would be silly for me to worry that he may be hit the Rogaine at 16.

Lisa Bloom’s advice seems sound at first, but it misses the mark as to why our children are obsessing over looks at younger and younger ages.While we always need to be aware of what we say to our children, we need to be much more conscious of what we say around them when we talk about our own peers, family and especially the strangers walking by.

The First Step

I finally made an appointment to see someone about my mind-numbing exhaustion and what seems to be my endless weight-gain (but I really don’t know about that last part since I refuse to step on our scale for fear the sight of the resulting combination of numbers will send me back to my bed clutching a handful of tissues).

Random note: scheduling an appointment with a PA is so much easier and quicker than trying to get in to see an M.D. I called at 12:30 and had the appointment scheduled for 2:30 – the same afternoon.

When one of the reasons to schedule an appointment to see a professional includes “unexplained weight gain”, the last thing I wanted to do was step on the scale. Unfortunately it was the first thing the nurse had me do. I almost asked if I could turn around so I wouldn’t see the final results, but I sucked it up. I was in the middle of telling her that she’ll need to move the big scale over one more notch as she slid the little one quickly to the far right…and stopped just shy of the end.

Good thing I hadn’t yet eaten lunch.

My PA came in and I told him that I wanted to have my thyroid checked as well as general blood work-up (cholesterol, lipids, iron, etc., etc.,) since I was already there. In addition to asking about symptoms, he asked if I still had my menses. For a split second I wasn’t sure what he even had said but was able to respond without preceding it with, “Uh, wha….? OH! You mean my period!”

Before he left the exam room to get the order for the lab, he informed me that fatigue is usually caused by one of two things, thyroid disease or depression.

I responded deadpan, “I know. I’m here to rule out the thyroid.”

Unhealthy Thoughts

Upon seeing a new post from me today you might assume it’s one about Father’s Day or our 14th wedding anniversary (which will be tomorrow). Maybe an addendum to multi-installment posts from last year at this time, which were about my solo trip to Boston to meet up with several bloggers?

But it’s none of those. What else could I possible add to what I’ve said in the past about Father’s Day or our anniversary? And my East Coast trip will always be a wonderful adventure.

Instead, I need to talk about how this summer has started off as a rather rude slap to the face. I’ve always looked forward to this time of the year as a vacation, regardless of how much I was working. Evenings were spent on the deck sipping lemonade (which may or may not have been infused with vodka) and I would spend the weekdays hoping the weekends were going to be sunny and hot so I could go to the pool, water park or the lake.

Last year, after years of putting it on my wish list for the family, we finally bought an annual membership to one of the small private lakes nearby. We spent several evenings last year on the sandy shores…actually more often in the shallows of the lake trying to keep Aitch from walking in over head with fearless abandon; and I remember thinking how this year it would be even more relaxing with the kids just a little older. I could sit in a chair and soak up the sun’s rays, acquiring a healthy, golden glow that had come so easily in the past. I loved seeing the tan lines of flip-flops on my feet symbolizing freedom, vacation, warmth, and care-free days.

Even though I’ve had nine months to get use to the idea that my summers will never be the same, it’s been a harder-than-expected adjustment now that the temperature has finally warmed up. I almost can forget the seriousness of being diagnosed with malignant melanoma until someone asks about my scar. When I tell them what it’s from, they get a pitying look on their face and almost always have a story about how their neighbor, uncle, co-worker, or cousin died from it. It’s then that I’m reminded with a thud that I can’t just walk out into the yard to pull weeds or water my new trees or mow the grass without hesitation, without preparation, without protection.

We installed an umbrella on the riding mower and I bought a full-coverage, long-sleeved swim top. Cans of sunscreen are tucked away by the exterior doors, garage, and in my van, just an arm’s-length away when I need them. I’ve bought a few hats for those times I expect to be in the sun for an extended period of time: parades, picnics, farmers market, antique fairs… and of course, the lake.

Even though I feel I’m pretty prepared, I’m not enjoying the first summer-like days of the season very much. When I got back from a late afternoon trip to the lake with the kids, I noticed faint lines on my feet from my flip-flops. What made me feel so happy before, now makes me nervous. I wore sunscreen and stood in the shade as much as I could while staying within close range of Aitch who still is fearless in the water, and we were out there for less than an hour. And last night, Sparring Partner and I set up the pool, and each time I wasn’t immediately needed to help SP with something, I stood in the shade of the house envious of my husband’s lack of stinky and sticky sunscreen and obvious sock tan-lines.

I hope that this first summer will be all I need to adjust to this lifestyle change. I also hope that I’ll get at least 40 more in case it isn’t.

Mind Over What Matters

My mother’s mental health continues to deteriorate with the momentum of a snowball on a mountainside. In short, if Aitch was still an infant instead of a fairly self-sufficient toddler, I would no longer let her stay alone with them once a week for a few hours. She was here today and as I sent her off, I realized it won’t be too far in the future before we’ll have to strip her of her driving license.

This past week, of the three part-time jobs she has in her hometown where she cleaned offices, she was fired from one. She had forgotten to lock the doors behind her. A small town of less than a 1,000 where people don’t lock their doors on their cars or homes, but when it comes to the town bank? Well, obviously they were justified. The other two businesses keep asking my brother to talk to her about quitting. We are of the opinion that if she isn’t doing the job, then they should also fire her. And that’s what my brother tells them. He’s not going to make her quit. They need to grow some balls. She’s 80 ferchrisakes!

The “new” car she bought a year ago has been scraped up from her poor parking skills. I am only hoping that another vehicle hasn’t been involved, but I’m not optimistic. I can’t ask her because she won’t know. She asked me if I can get out of my car when the engine is running. I’m going to let you contemplate that question for a moment…

I was able to quickly deduce that she’s been trying to open the door to her car when it’s still in drive (or reverse – whatever) and of course, as a fairly modern safety feature in every car, the doors aren’t going to unlock unless she puts it in park. Clearly she’s not even remembering to put the car in park before trying to exit it! She can’t figure out how to work the A/C so my dad, who won’t bother even looking at the car, told her to take it to the shop to have A/C put in it. It’s a Cadillac (albeit an older model). That’s pretty much standard. When I looked at it, the message on the read-out says, “Coolant low – A/C not on”. Right there in front of her nose! She would have taken the car to some garage and they would have fucked her right over, crazy-old-lady needing air-conditioning installed on her 2001 Caddy.

The icing on the crazy-cake is her desire to fold my laundry when she’s here. I try to get as much done over the weekend just so I don’t have the extra work that she actually creates in trying to help me, but this weekend was consumed by a sleepover, zoo trip two hours away, and a single-parenting stint. Right before leaving to run some errands, I told her not to put the clothes that were in the washer into the dryer. It was filled with clothes that can’t be dried on high and that’s the only setting she knows how to work. When I got home, she had forgotten my request and my low-heat-to-dry clothes were a wrinkled pile of fabric and I was pissed. She just shrugged and said I hadn’t told her not to dry them.

Here’s my bedroom floor after she folded some clothes.

The many piles are because she doesn’t remember already starting a pile of one kind of thing, say kitchen linens, so she starts another, and then another. I know it sounds petty and maybe even heartless, but these were not issues only a couple years ago, which was why she was able to watch Aitch once a week when she was just a three month old.

My parents are now both in their 80s. My dad’s health is crap. After fracturing his back this winter (and fracturing his hip the winter before) he had for a short time quit drinking, but now he’s back to saucing it up. He’ll be found impaled on a piece of tractor machinery or hell, quite possibly a pitchfork, one of these days. He’ll go out the way he wants: on the farm. It’ll be easier to put mom in a home if he goes first.

One of my sisters and I were talking about which way we’ll end up when we’re that age. Will it be our health or our minds that go first? It’s a 50/50 shot either way. I’m hoping it’s my health, but with the way I’ve been feeling lately, it’ll be the latter.