Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rewind 2011

In 2011 we: turned 36, 36, 5, and 1. moved into a new space that fits our family perfectly and made someone 1st time home buyers, met up with old high school and college friends for reunion weekends (Heather), started kindergarten and daycare successfully even after a rocky start (Ben), decided uttering some first words and walking rocked (Ian), read 21 books, wrote 134 blog posts, (re)started a Freeze Ahead Blog then ignored it (again), enjoyed the beach twice, dressed up as Captain America (Ben) and a Monkey (Ian) for Halloween, ran a 5k race + a Warrior Dash (Heather), a half-marathon (Bill), cleared over 1000 miles together in a fitness competition, maintained a healthy lifestyle, and took a giant Mondo step with a planned surgery.

When I looked back at my 2011 goals, I shockingly had met almost all the major 2011 contenders. Wow.

I feel like I have shortchanged some end of year posts in the last week of laying low online. I am total sucker for Year in Wrap Up editions. I think I may have collected almost every Year in Pictures when I was a kid. Opiate-infused post surgery blogging seems to be a plethora of misspellings and grammar errors waiting to happen folks so its been a quiet week.

Back next week with some thoughts about 2012.

2011 Best in Show time....

Best Books- The Kissing Hand (Ben), Little Bee, The Immortal Life of Henrita Lacks, The Theory of Light and Matter.

Currently reading Divergent and Zeitoun. Both are some of the best books I've read this year. Major 2012 resolution to beef up my bedside reading list on Goodreads.

Biggest Guilty pleasure/Time Sucker- Logging into Pinterest. Spent a good evening here the other night repining Christmas ideas as setting up a new board: #1 80s Superfan. You know I am totally on some Hypercolor shirts and Sassy Magazine homage.

Best Movies- Bridesmaids for bringing the funny. Runner-up for Super 8, The Help, Black Swan, Blue Valentine (Warning: the WORST date night movie)

Best TV- Hard as I didn't watch a ton of TV this year. Modern Family, True Blood, and most recently Weeds are marathon worthy. Mad Men... you better be on in 2012. I need a Don Draper fix stat.

New Restaurant Tried- Anywhere we can pack it up in 5 mins and exit with a shrieking toddler.

New Family Outing Location- The ongoing new places we've tried for Ben date nights, some repeats, some new places but always worth the time and energy for one on one time.

Best Children's Toy/Book Purchase- Hexbugs, Legos, Legos, Legos and oh yeah we are a a duel parent/child ipad family. Did I just say that outloud? What a 1st world statement.

Biggest Surprise- Finding a church I want to return and be part of. Six Flags over Jesus? Not here. Seriously I am on time for nothing but will fight you if you make me late. I'm committing to 9 days in Kenya next summer as part of a team of building a clean water project with this church, that's how much this means to me.

Moment of total sobbing like a baby in public- I hate crying. Public crying is even worse but sitting in the Messiah earlier in the month I missed my mom more than at any other moment of the year.

Moment of total lack of parenting skills- Being paged in the grocery to claim Ben in the manager's office.

Moment most proud of: buying and selling a house in this economy, finally being content with both boys schools, giving up my other job, actually asking for help repeatedly in 2011. Not easy, still a massive-ass character flaw but getting there

Most memorable moment of 2011: around 10:30 am on August 8th. I have worked hard these last 5 months to not disappear post being on the other side of my mom's death. I'm hoping the woulda, shoulda, coulda feelings about this one single calendar day in August doesn't have to mean my arrested development as we move into a new year.

Even though I know I was put forth the effort to approach every trip down in the last years with a good attitude and patience, in the end I only continued to see her through one lens. A do-over magnified as a litany of conversations that now only exist in my head.

Best decisions of 2011: the extra time to be a SAHM leading to the decision to go back full time, moving ahead with surgery, kept going back (to church), posting entries I sat on and really debated putting out wound up being the ones that really defined my year.

Lesson I'm taking forward into 2012- Just your gut, you know the answer already.

For all of the times sadness for my family, for dear friends, for our country that feels like faltering hope is the last man standing among economic negativity I'm ready for a fresh start tomorrow.

There were also so many moments of unbridled joy with the kids, standing on the porch for the 1st time of our dream home, a strong year in our marriage as we celebrated 15 years of mutual support. For these I have no regrets that we have weathered the hard among the happiness.

2012-so much hope, so much promise, so much ahead that we have no idea what is to unfold in the 52 weeks ahead.

While I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I wanted in 2011, I love these that I captured of the boys. I look at my mini-Bill x2 and part of me wants to to freeze every moment of sweet loving goodness before another year slips by into growing boyhoods.

Happy New Year, New Dreams, New Adventures in 2012

Final thought- Tonight marks 10 years since my dad's passing from this life to another. With sadness I morn grandchildren he never knew and a life cut short due to illness. I know that so many decisions made in the last decade I have wished to honor his short 55 years by living on what he couldn't.

Jack Bennett Hendricks 12/9/46-12/31/01

I hope you are eating Skins Hot dogs while listening to a never-ending Earth, Wind, and Fire concert with mom.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Post Surgery (Not Large) Livin'

Been on the lam or more like laying on anything horizontal for most of the last 1 1/2 weeks. Finally. I mean FINALLY on DAY 10 folks got my two drains out. I'll spare you the nasty but I've had two drains post surgery to help cut down on infection. Going into the surgery it was expected to get them out around day 5.



Un-showered nastiness

Let's not go there

Ask me if you want to watch me sob like a baby to the point I could (aka laughing, coughing, crying all still hurt like a Mofo) upon hearing I was not getting them out on Days 5, 6, 7, 8, 9....

Ok so what do you really want to know? What do I look like? How much did they take off? Are you in unbearable pain? Was this a major mistake? Are on you on the Joan Rivers Plastic surgery train to stack the next two procedures for 2012.

No pics yet but I have been living in the only three pairs of pjs that I can cinch up for the last 10 days. My surgeon took 20 lbs. Yes 20 lbs of my body. Even he commented that he was thinking a lot was going to be pushing 10 lbs. I will take some pride that he also commented that it's because of all the exercise that I'm lean muscle under all that skin.

Thanks and you bet my butt is back to whatever I can once cleared to exercise.

Looking at my elliptical and my shower from the vantage point of my bed has made me so, so, so sad this last week.

I seriously need to make a Target run for something to wear in a smaller size from what I'm measuring somewhere around an 8/10 so I can leave the house in something other than pjs. I'm a little hesitant to buy much until my swelling goes down and I regain some feeling as my stomach is still almost completely numb.

Pain. Yes like nothing I could have imagined and I lived in a mega opiate haze for most of these last days. The first days I thought I was doing ok, was even moving more and more each day. I even made it to Christmas eve service. But moving down to the lower level pain meds and still moving around lead to some real pain for most of the early part of the week.

I stayed put, have not left the house and taken it really easy. My MIL as well as Bill have been amazing in taking care of the boys, the house, and me. I've been watching lots of tv, reading a couple of good books, getting caught up on several small house paperwork related projects. I promise I'm not painting, raking the leaves, or doing anything remotely effort exerting. The extent of my energies are spent on the boys playing and spending some extra time with them while they are both home.

I'm down to Extra Strength Tylenol during the day with pain meds at night to sleep through. I also think I may have caught up on my eternal sleep deficit to the point that I've taken more naps and gotten more double digit hours at night than I can ever remember.

So where am I at now? I'm still really, really sore and while I have abandoned my walker I'm still housebound, not driving, and borderline feeling like my house may be a stand-in for the Overlook hotel in the Shining. I'm still planning on taking the additional week off to ensure when I do go back I don't have a relapse. I cannot even imagine all the walking and moving I need to be able to do to be back full time. I may go back next Friday so that I have the weekend to recover for making the full 5 day workweek dive in on Jan 9th. Online teaching starts back Monday, which I can do from home.

As far as moving forward with the other two surgeries? I am almost for sure planning to stack into another (and final) surgery. I'm weighing the possibility of looking at spring break giving me time to heal up before summer. I want to investigate one of the procedures further as far as recovery time and the potential for what to expect for return to work.

After this first round I want to take the next month to two make sure I want to move ahead, continue healing up, and make sure this is a good decision for both me and our family.

Good decision. Yes!!! After the shower I get to finally take tomorrow I will be ready to tackle whatever 2012 has waiting. At this point it may just be putting up decorations or maybe just moving a little easier in a new body.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

Yes, it's late but like sleep was going to happen. WAAAY nervous to sleep. My house is quiet, the boys and Bill have long gone to bed and I am about to finish up my Christmas cards.

After all I am going to be napping the day away tomorrow and likely the rest of the week in a drug induced haze in traction.

When I wrote about a state of liminality earlier in the year, I can tell you that the past 7 years have felt as if I've been suspended between physically loosing weight but yet in my head not feeling like I look different.

It's not like after tomorrow I'll never have to diet, or exercise, or keep choosing a healthier lifestyle, but after 7 years of making what was a life changing and extending decision getting to this day feels unbelievably cathartic.

Whether you have 10 pounds or need to loose 1/2 your body weigh, the struggle is the same. The feeling that others only see your weight and not you becomes your constant. You judge yourself as you think everyone else sees you. Your weight becomes your worth.

While I can show you a picture of me at my heaviest, words cannot even begin to describe the shell of life that I led. If you ask why today I'm intense often to an extreme, driven, and have boundless energy (most of the time), it's because for years I literally lived hoping to fade into the background.

For all the reasons I moved forward to change my life, to give myself time with Bill and later our boys I have not one single regret. I don't think I will after tomorrow either, even knowing the physically painful recovery ahead.

I happen to find all my old work IDs during the house move. Evidence of a really long road behind me, more still ahead, but never a day I want to re-live a former life.


2 months out

1 year out

Today 7 1/2 years later. By far my favorite pic. I look as happy as I feel day after day to be at 1/2 my original weight.

Back maybe next week with some end of the year wrap up posts. Thanks for good thoughts, prayers, anything you got and want to send my way today.

A big thanks already to Bill and his sense of calm these past days and for his caretaking in the days ahead.

See you on the other side of 7 hours of surgery and a celebration of being on the other side of the looking glass.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Old School Panic

Another post when I should be attacking the mound of stuff still left to do for work. I will be at school over the weekend, making copies, leaving lesson plans, basically thinking of any "govern-menty" movie out there to show while out.

Think John Q about teaching healthcare reform-showing it, The Patriot- yes, please. I may even pull out Pauly Shore in Jury Duty if I'm desperate. Not really as I do (or should) have standards.

Friday is my last day at either job for the next 3 weeks. As God as my witness, no work email will be checked, anything graded, even thoughts about work. Totally honoring that I need to focus all attention on recovery. Seriously on the pain meds I'm about to be on I don't need to be trying to be all professional or writing anything high as a kite. Bad, bad plan.

A common question asked has been, why not just wait until summer break?

1. Post surgery limitations on being in a pool due to infection/sun exposure on scaring = 2 boys needing daily pool time
2. Post surgery abdominal garment wearing mega hot/no showering
2. Plans for the Aug 2012 Kenya trip
3. My own personal goal that once down to my pre-pregnancy weight, surgery a go

So what is going on this weekend:

trade time for Bill since he's about to be solo parentin' it all next week until his mom gets here on the 24th.
taking Ben to see the Nutcracker at my school (10 bucks says we go a bit early and he runs the halls, literally, while I prep sub plans)
birthday party for a friend's kid
Catching up with Eileen for a pre-surgery taco party
Pick up library books before they are re-shelved.. hello Divergent is up....
At least one more Target and Grocery run, get Christmas food ordered, last minute prep to get the house in livable order for the week

Not loose my cool about being seriously stressed that something is going to go wrong

Bill and I were talking over logistics plans again yesterday and this is the part that I'm panicking about outside of the whole 7 hours of surgery and going home same day part. Yes, I'm really going home the same day, hopefully very medicated up the stairs to my bed for the next week. For someone who cannot be idle this is going to be really hard. My guess is my pain level is going to force me to rest.

Last surgery there were no kids involved, I like told less than 5 people, not even my family about a 90 min laproscopic procedure. This seems so much more on are you nuts scale, no one can possibly get it.

Monday I'm totally taking off to do things I want to do: early am mother of all last chance workouts with the trainer, volunteer in Ben's class followed by lunch (ok for him, not me as I'm doing the icky day before surgery diet.. this could be a good thing NOT to eat school lunch) then doing a spa for some last minute stress reduction for the old school panic that is seriously settling in.

I'm jumpy, not focused, and am likely to punch you if you piss me off. Note that I have been boxing weekly for the last 3 months.

The thing that I can't seem to get my head around is how much of whole piece of my identity is about to change. For all the planning and prepping I think this is truly a part that is super scary. How do you see yourself moving forward when for so, so, so long you only had one perception?

This is old school panic that needs to find resolution. Before Tuesday, not likely, but a major goal for the new year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making a List and Checking it over and over and over

Another short post. Nice weekend filled time with the boys, anniversary dinner, lots of holiday themed fun, as well as a chance to get caught up on lots of household chores.

On the holiday front we attended a holiday party and we went Pullen Park Holiday Express. Pullen is hands down one of favorite parks in the area for the train, boats, boxcar, and oh yeah.. a super updated playground. We were bummed last year when they were remodeling. The changes were awesome and we can't wait to be back on a warmer day to play.

On the list making front over our anniversary dinner when we had more than 5 child-free mins when one of us was not working we drafted a master to-do lists (actually for me there are three more each for one of my jobs and a general house chore list.)

I'm in the process of putting everything in a Google Doc as a calendar with tabs for each of the relevant needs of the next few weeks: kids, house, food/groceries, and one for just Christmas related. Bill and I have a bad miscommunication issue of phones being off or being unreachable.

Attempting to control the uncontrollable brings some measure of what over the weekend is some nervousness about recovery as well as feeling like everything needs to be in some semblance of order.

Sadly getting as much sleep and rest and trying to stay well even made it on the list.

Down to a single digit countdown.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Vinson Family Tackified Tradition

Growing up Christmas in my house meant a couple of long standing traditions.

1. Eating a pre-dinner before going to my grandmothers where you would wonder just who would put raisins in that dish? Is she secretly Lane's mother from Better Off Dead? Thank God Christmas doesn't have a french theme.

2. Holiday tacky light competition. Ground rules: pit the worst house you can find in our neighborhood against any other found during the holiday season. Commense with a battle of all out tacky tackiness.

Winner got bragging rights for the whole next year plus first dibs at not having to help my dad put up the lights in the attic.

We had favorite neighborhoods, the trailer park near Tiny Town (which got it's own award being a entire yard covered in miniatures vignettes like baby dolls dressed like cow girls standing next to Baby Jesus. Bizarre? Yes-o-Yes.

In our own neighborhood, we lived across the street from a church (not one I attended may I add). The parsonage looked like a scene from the Crucifixion, with a cross outlined onerously in bright red lights next a teddy bear jumping out of a present.

Also bizarre and a mixed message on the meaning of Christmas.

But hands down the best and almost the winner year after year was a neighborhood on the way to Pelzer and Belton-Honea Path, SC that my dad frequented as a Bellsouth lineman.

The neighborhood was near a family favorite place to eat, Black's fish camp if that tells you the calibre of addresses. The neighborhood hosted a street in which the homeowners blocked off the entrance with their cars and then walked up and down the street covered in those big, nasty bright colored bulb lights. Yes, not only were the houses covered, the people were too. I still to the day wondered how they kept the lights lit? I'm thinking this had to be the catalyst for Corey Hart's "I wear my sunglasses at night."

Again. bizarre.

As for our own house, while we didn't decorate the outside, but my mom had tons of Christmas decorations, usually with some stuffed animal decked out in some Dickensian outfit standing among a sea of fake plastic greenery. Brian and I almost destroyed her Nativity scene making the wise men square off with Mary in a fight to the death over who was going home with the myrrh. Every singe piece was chipped or broken, including a one-armed Baby Jesus

We would cut down our own tree each year at a nearby tree farm and every single year my dad would then have to tie the tree to the wall to keep it upright due to a crooked stump. The best year was when we unwittingly picked a tree with a live nest of hornets.

So it is with great joy that on the way home each night we take an extra bit of time looking at lights, driving around judging the best. We have a tie in the annual tackiest neighborhood light competition. This year's neighborhood winner is the tie between the battling homes with 17 inflatables including Santa in an outhouse vs the house with the schizophrenic lights covering every square inch timed to music. Ben has already asked to move to their street.

As I write this I am smiling remembering how much my Dad would have loved to know that Ben and Ian are carrying on his tradition. My dad would have been 65 today and I can't help but think that he will somehow lead us to the craziest house yet in the Triangle area before the season is over smiling the whole way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Keeping it short thursday

Keeping it short (as possible) and sweet today. The mound of work is growing, and growing and growing. Someone asked me yesterday if I was mentally ready for this surgery and I had to honestly respond, "uh, no... I can't even focus on getting to the end of this week, all I can see is a massive to-do list."

I haven't mentioned to many people at work or really publically about this surgery. I really don't know how to expalin what/why without some longer way too personal story. I'm leaving it "I'm having surgery and will be out for a couple of weeks, thanks for your good thoughts."

Given in this crappy economy that I am selfishly spending money out of pocket for plastic surgery just seems un justified to mention around to anyone who doesn't really know me or what taking this step means to a life-long struggle with weight.

I'm hoping this weekend or maybe over our anniversary dinner Friday night (as unappealing of a time it is) that Bill and I can get our game face on about what needs to get done pre surgery for meal prep/groceries, child arrangements/transportation since both boys are home before and after my MIL arrives on the 24th, get all the meds/supplies/even some crappy Wal Mart old lady gowns to wear around the house for my week of un-showered nastiness.

I'm excited but after the pre op visit on Tuesday, the reality that this is about to happen is settling in. Good thoughts needed to keep my eyes on the prize and put the next month of ick recovery behind me.

Before my appointment I was able to volunteer in Ben's classroom for holiday workshop. It sounds like most kindergartens are doing a version of elves working on holiday crafts. Ben had to make a bank as homework and after each craft they earn money to spend on the final day to buy items. His teacher mentioned that he has really focused this week and seemed enthralled with everything and anything holiday related.

Sound like any other five year olds?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Difference between 1st Child and 2nd Child- Christmas Ornament Edition

While unpacking the tree ornaments I found no less than 10 "Baby 1st Christmas" ornaments for Ben.

Ian's total- 2 One of while still has the stock photo the other looks to be written on with a sharpie likely at a craft fair as an impulse buy.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Wanna See It or Do It (Holiday 2011 Edition)

I'm finally getting our holiday fun list off my phone into a post. I cannot echo enough that this month is CRAZ-EE between normal life and standing commitments like getting Ben on the bus on time.

I'm also getting both myself as well as our family ready for mom to be out of commission for a good 2-3 weeks post surgery. Throw in Christmas and this has the potential to be a December endurance test.

Not my plan for Holiday 2011.

Back in November, Bill and I did a date night where the sole focus was planning our December calendar (that and me dropping the whole, Hey what do you think about me going to Africa conversation on him). I figured if we were in a public place the cursing would be minimal.

We started by making 3 columns: Must do, Want to do if time (doubtful), and Drop it like it's not gonna happen in '11.

What got dropped were activities that either: way too labor intensive i.e. big holiday trays of cookies for work, polishing silver, making door wreaths by hand, or anywhere we would need control Ian more than about 10 mins i.e a Christmas parade .

Lots of other items have made the if not in December then in during the doldrums of January or February list.

Proudly we managed to plan no more than 2 activities on any given weekend and have said no to any activity during the school week. So far we in for 5 of the following fun items below.

1. Pullen Park Santa Train!!! Finally open again!!!
2. Vinson Annual Craziest-Outside Light Competition
3. Make a Jesse Tree
4. Nighttime neighborhood walk looking at decorations (note no one in our neighborhood is a finish except the dueling inflatable display folks.
5. Make a single batch of Christmas cookies and deliver small bags to our neighbors
6. Read a Christmas book a night under the tree
7. Go to the Nutcracker (free at my school, so bolting early is no loss)
8. Picture with Santa
9. Buy items for our Durham Rescue Family
10. Pack 4 Operation Christmas Child Boxes
11. Make a package to mail of artwork and small presents for Uncle Brian
12. Decorate the house and put up all trees
13. Lego Star Wars Advent calendar
14. Cary Holiday Workshop for Kids and lunch at Ashworths soda fountain
15. Separate date nights with mom and dad to buy a parent,dog and Ian gifts.
16. Write a letter to Santa and mail.
17. Watch some classic old school holiday TV shows
18. Sing Silly Christmas songs in the car

I want the focus to be on the time together, not how much can we cram into our days/weekends. I want the kids (Ben especially) to recognize that our family values of kindness, friendship, and patience are carried out the other 11 months of the year, but especially during the holiday season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Totally (Un) Shower-Worthy: Kenya 2012

So publicly I am saying today that I am giving up my online 2nd job at the end of fall semester.

((((applause)))) from the masses.

Maybe a longer post at some point, maybe just that as I think about 2012 I've been re-evaluating where I want to spend my time, my energy, my heart.

Part of the reason I am giving it up was:
1. A spring semester move to a new platform to host the online school = more work than ever.
2. I have basic level classes of freshman next semester in my real world school. I will need to dedicate more time for parent contact/conferencing to help them pass
3. Potential for 2nd staged surgeries over spring break
4. Our other house is sold.
5. I am just plain tired and want my evenings back.

But one of the biggest reasons is this: I have committed to join a team of folks from my church for an 11 day mission trip to Kenya next summer. As part of the team the next 9 months will be filled with planning, fundraising, training. I want to put my whole self into what I know will be a life changing experience.

Last night I met our team 1/2 of which is made up of high school students and their parents. Come again Vinson, you WANT to go thousands of miles from home with teenagers you spend you entire day with? I'm saying yes to a trip to help build a clean water project in a small village 4 hours out of Nairobi. Since many on the team are also teachers we are also hoping to work with their local schools. Excited=you bet.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much this fills my heart. When I wrote back in Six Flags over Jesus, I talked about how much I had connected with a church near our new home. I like the fact that every week I have gone I find myself thinking about something in the message long after it's over. I like that on some random Friday night you will find me mopping my kitchen floor and listening to their online archives of past messages.

Yeah, I'm beyond surprised too.

To know that the universe has aligned the last months to invite me to be part of something so much bigger than myself, the timing of this trip to coincide with August 8th, 2012, the reality that instead of what I feared most processing my mom's death over the last months has been replaced with a sense of true optimism and the ability to move on is much in part to this church. Can we just say that even if I have to drag my 4 days out from surgery self wearing yoga pants I will be at Christmas eve services.

If there was ever a reason NOT to get up and live my 1st world luxury of daily showering before I do most anything,(seriously I don't do anything, including boot camp with my trainer tomorrow early am only after taking a shower) THIS is it.

This experience, this commitment of planning, this commitment to families/children/fellow teachers half a world away that I don't even know (yet).

2012 is going to be an awesome year for so many reasons, starting with a sense of gratitude for being part of something so amazing. I hope in this often personal space you will follow this transformative opportunity for all it holds.