That La Kid

wishin' an' hopin'!


Look, I’m not saying that I’m so gaunt that my bones are protruding…  I’m just saying yesterday I noticed my cheek bones for the first time.  Were they there all along and I just couldn’t feel them through my pudgy fingers and palms?  Possibly.  But for whatever reason, I felt them yesterday like I’ve never felt them before.

Oh, and today I wore a pair of skin tight 16 jeans to Bruce’s 12 month check-up.  I don’t know whether they are becoming more comfortable or if I am just getting used to the feeling of that button holding on to the the button hole for dear life as either sides of the zipper desperately try to cling together.  Jury’s still out.

My sister lost 16 lbs. in 6 weeks.  In that time, I have lost 5.  WTF.

The cheekbones thing is a good sign though, right?  That has to mean something.  Right?  RIGHT?!

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it’s not that tough.

Ya’ know, if you stumble on something at Goodwill, like, a $10 American Girl doll in like-new condition, or a similar hidden treasure, and you know that I’ll love it, I don’t see any fault with wrapping it up and giving it to me as a gift. Actually, Haley and I were with my cousins when we found American Girls’ Felicity and Kaya. We couldn’t leave them.

It makes sense. I love my AG Samantha. (Actually, she dates back to Pleasant Company.) I’m a collector. A psychology student that I had to go see at AIW (As part of my psychology class, we had to go. I’m crazy, but that’s not why I went, I went for the grade.) gave me a Mickey Mouse beer stein and it’s prominently displayed on a shelf in my living room. I forget where she found it. Maybe she just had it forever, she might have said yard sale. I forget, but I love it. I love that she thought of me. It’s such a rare, unique, and special thing. I’ve never seen another one like it.

But I don’t know, you guys. Don’t just go to Goodwill to find something for the sake of finding anything. If you are there and see Bruce-sized pajamas for, like, $2. That’s cool. You were thinking of me, and I appreciate that. Give it to me the next time we see each other. But don’t wrap it up and present it as a gift for him. You have created work for me. “Happy Birthday, wash these clothes.”

It’s slightly alarming that the need exists for this post.

Maybe there is no need for a post. Do people do this, or is one person just doing it to me? Maybe the need is for a note to the individual… but, okay, you tell me how to broach that subject.

I take a lot of stuff to Goodwill and consignment shops. Do you know why? They have no value to me. They’re not special. They’re the throwaways. It’s not about money, I don’t care what you spend, it’s about value. Like I said, we didn’t bat an eye at buying AG dolls for $10 because they are valuable to us, if nothing else. (But they actually are valuable to everyone else as well.)

Rather than continue harping on why it’s in relatively poor taste to gift someone used articles of clothing, I will instead point out several options for super-cheap or easily made gifts. I get it if you’re broke. I get it. Your life’s not about making money, you’re a do-gooder. You want to make a difference. I get it.

Check ebay. For example, I searched “Disney.” Then arranged the results according to price + shipping, lowest first. I immediately found a Walt Disney 6 cent stamp for $ .99 shipped. Buy a mini-frame. You know, they often use them for place settings at weddings? (I think I actually have TWO of those laying around my house, if you don’t, they’re like $1.) Cut a piece of acid-free paper to fit the frame and mount the stamp to it. Boom. Nice, sweet, thoughful… $2. (Unless you’ve been to a wedding in the past 5 years, then it’s only $ .99!) The same price as a shirt at Goodwill that was somebody’s throwaway. I love it. I’ll sit it on my mantle or desk. Super cute. Crafty. Thoughtful. I appreciate you.

Check Amazon. I have a Kindle. Did you know that? Maybe we should talk. Maybe if you had a conversation with me you’d know that I hate folding clothes but love playing “TripleTown” and “Candy Crush” and “Where’s My Water” and “Monsters, Run.” Are there any other Kindle apps that I might enjoy? You can save 80% on, like, 350 different Kindle books. Buy me a book! Again, I looked for about 30 seconds and found something that I’d enjoy. You can choose the delivery date and everything. (FYI, fiction isn’t my thing, but I love art, history, humor, and religious works.)

Your recipient doesn’t have a Kindle? Do they have a Smartphone? Do they have a computer? It’s 2013. You can’t dance around this technology issue.

I sent my sister a $10 Starbucks gift card on her birthday that I got for free by signing up for a Starbucks account or some crap. $10! That’s at least two tall white-chocolate mochas. I know she’ll like that. It cost me nothing.

Still evasive about the recipient having or not having technology, huh? That’s okay. If you’re reading this, you can find things.

Screen shot 2013-10-16 at 5.07.39 PM

Make me a cake. Just the fact that you mixed, and baked, and decorated, I mean — that takes me all day. Make me a mix CD. There’s thought in that. Did you know if you draw on a plain ceramic mug with a Sharpe and then bake it you will heat-set it? Yeah. Custom mugs anyone? Cut out a little heart on cardboard, trace that heart onto a map, cut out that map and Modpodge it to the cardboard, put a ribbon on it, boom: sentimental ornament that will recall that trip we took that one time. (“I’ll put that flea in a box…”) Do the same thing with a bunch of Disney characters from a book that you found at, oh, I don’t know, Goodwill? You could make a whole set: Snow White and all seven dwarfs.

Me. Me. Me. “That’s fine,” you say, “for you. Bruce has no desire for a $ .65 octopus necklace!” Learn something. Google “blanket stitch,” and design a t-shirt using a fabric remnant.


It’s painstakingly custom-made by hand! That’s valuable! I’ll keep that forever!

It is ridiculous how cheaply inexpensively you can put together a present. Go look at Pinterest. People on Pinterest are so much smarter and more thoughtful than I will ever be. Google “Free DIY Printable.”

You don’t have to do this big thing. Just a little token, a little gesture, is sufficient. And let’s face it, a shirt that’s been caressing someone else’s stinky pits or a sleeper that some other baby pooped in is no big thing anyway. I’d like to research the History of a Gift in modern times. Specifically, I want to know how we got to this point. When we were kids, anything was okay. “Look, I drew this for you.” That’s pretty neat, you did that by hand. You put yourself into it. I guess we got older and started making our own disposable income and wanted to do more, which evolved into making money, albeit never enough, and having bills, feeling obligated to buy presents. We can go back to the drawings. What did I do to make you think, “okay, I have to get her a shirt,” or, worse yet, a skirt and a pair of pants. Not a SHIRT and pants, a skirt, a bottom, and pants, another bottom.

What woman buys another woman a pair of pants?!


Pajamas are the exception. But one doesn’t just gift a pair of pajama bottoms.

It’s so… ugh… I just have run out of words to describe how I feel smiling as I open something that perhaps someone else opened once upon a time. You know how re-gifting is tacky? You’ve heard that, right? This is like re-gifting, except worse. We can assume a re-gift is something new that you don’t like so you don’t use it and instead you gift it to someone else, in the same new gift condition in which it was received. This is kind of like that, except someone else didn’t like/want/need this so much that they gave it away. It was a little bit nicer than trash, so they didn’t want to throw it away completely, but they really can’t have it in their house anymore.

And now it’s in mine.


(OMG… side note, I just did this and it took me 20 minutes: Bruce pulled up the < key. Holy crap.)

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one year!

No one reads this. So for the handful that do, I’m posting a special treat.

I really wanted to put together a line of pictures taken with Bruce’s favorite stuffed animal each month for his first year. I did take all the pictures. I think. They were generally 2-4 weeks late though. #MommyFail. I didn’t know what stuffed animal to use because I don’t know which one will become the most important, so I did it with 4 different ones. Two of them were Mickeys.

Anyway, the whole thing has been a disaster and I feel a lot of guilt over it. So, I was relieved at the 6 month mark when we went to a professional.

And relieved again when we went WITHIN A WEEK of his first birthday!

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this weight loss shit just got real


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I haven’t been 226 since November 26, 2008.  And that’s from a graph where the numbers were sneaking back up.  By May 2009 I was 233 and by August 2010 I was 252.

My lowest weight in the past 5 years was 215 (Sept. 2008), and I thought I was hot shiiiiit.


That’s me on the right.

Basically, this means I only have 11 lbs. to lose before I start feeling human again, feeling pretty.

I am continuing my C25K, which is a training program for running a 5k, and last night I was really running for a little bit.  Not just jogging, but really running.  It’s crazy, after not doing it for a couple few weeks, I was able to get right back into it.  I just picked right up where I left off.  Music helps a lot.  Not having Tom with me actually helps a lot, too, because I race home as fast as I can to be with him.


I’ve been 228-229 for so long, since September 24!  I’m so excited to see a new number on the scale!  Woo hoo!

That’s 9.36% of my total body weight GONE.

In one of my favorite movies, “Hungry for Change,” they say, “you can get 10 lbs. off your body with sheer force, but you’re going to have to pay it back with interest.”  I’m sure the running helps, but I hope changing to a healthy diet will make most of the difference in the long run.  Diets don’t work.  Revolutionizing my life is working.  Getting mad as hell and deciding that I’m not going to take it anymore has made the difference.  Yesterday I had 3 smoothies which consist of kale, berries and pineapple.  I also had couscous, which is basically pasta, tomatoes with basil and feta cheese, a couple of handfuls of peanut M&Ms, a Taco Bell burrito and a slice of chocolate cake.  I’m not depriving myself, but I’m adding so much healthy living that it’s starting to crowd out the crap.

The goal is under 200 lbs. by Christmas.  I wanted to be 215 by Halloween, and 205 by Thanksgiving.  It’s going to be super tough.  I’d be pretty content at less than 200 by Christmas.  The broader goal is 164 by next July.  And since I’ve gone this far in spelling out my goals, if I am still 164 or less by July 2015, then I get the most elaborate Disney World vacation that money can buy, possibly with a vow renewal ceremony so that I can have pictures in a wedding dress without looking like I ate the entire wedding cake by myself.

Our Wedding 2006

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a change in me

A weird thing happened yesterday while I was singing in the shower.

Well wait, let me back up a bit.  When I got pregnant, my nose became very swollen and my voice got real deep.  I did a little research and tried to mention it to Dr. Wolanski.  This article describes my symptoms exactly and is what I believe that I had.  It’s all over my head, but, as the article mentions, once Bruce came into the world, the symptoms began to subside.

Fast-forward to present day.  My voice never did fully recover from pregnancy.  I can’t tell you how disheartening that has been.  I miss singing with the Disney Princesses.  I look at Bruce and just think, “well, I guess my new Gaston voice was worth it.”  I have always had pretty severe symptoms of what I believe is undiagnosed PCOS: facial hair, abnormal cycles, acne.  I’m 30, why do I still have acne?  I had even felt similar pain to that which I encountered that fateful Black Friday in 2011, but much less severe.  We were at Disney World in 2003.  I just could not get the crampiness to go away and was uncomfortable in every position.  In hindsight, I was playing with fire and should have gone to see a doctor.

Tom and I have taken a whole-body approach to health.  Maybe I could take a hormone to combat what I assume is high levels of testosterone that are producing many of these symptoms.  Or!  Maybe I could feed my body a diet of living, healthy, leafy deep green vegetables.  Maybe I can shrink the fat cells that (I assume) are producing some of the excess hormones that are doing this to me.  I believe Coca-Cola fed Mr. Nasty.  (You know, like the way Hexxus feeds on toxins and poisons in “Ferngully.”)  I believe my body wants to heal itself.  I believe my cells are slowly becoming more alive as I embrace the food that God gave us.


While I was in the shower yesterday, I got a little frog in my throat while I was singing (badly).  I couldn’t seem to clear it.  I just kept singing (badly).  It felt different.  It sounded different.  Hmm, I wondered…  I tried an oldie but a goodie and suddenly I was singing (badly) along with songs that I haven’t been able to sing (at all) for a couple of years.

I may not know what I’m talking about, but I’m going to pretend that the amount of weight I’ve lost so far is already affecting me in positive ways.  I’m just going to assume this whole thing is slowly but surely beginning to impact my health.

I used to belt this out in the car, and Tom would say, “Dang! You sang the ass off that song!”  I’m not back to that level, but it’s really nice to be able to sing it, period:

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so glad that you asked!

Okay, here’s my essay, I’ve been looking for an excuse to post this for a long time, anyway:

Sorry the pictures are so crappy.  I was too excited to wait and take them in better lighting.

I am decorating my house as much like an Imagineer as I can.  As it turns out, it’s kind of like a muggle attempting wizardry, but anyway…. I looooove Disney.  Odds are you already know that.  So, without offending the Mickey fanatic decorators in the audience, red, black and yellow and Mickey silhouettes don’t do anything for me.  It’s kind of too obvious.  Where’s the subtlety in that?  The art?  The true fandom?  I love Mickey, don’t get me wrong.  But that’s so one-dimensional.

You know what I love?  Fort Wilderness.   Tom and I went right after we got pregnant and it was magical.

My dining room is probably my favorite room in the house, themed around Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  The previous owners of our house used sticks from their yard as curtain rods in the dining room, with burlap draperies.  We didn’t notice until the day that we got the keys.  We both looked at it, and at each other and thought, “Gee, what can we do with that?”  Fort Wilderness.  It was difficult to not include Frontierland, or even Wilderness Lodge, but to limit the room specifically to Fort Wilderness.  I’m a stickler for authenticity.  Fort Wilderness, to me, is Daniel Boone, and early east coast forts built around the Revolutionary War, just as we new Americans began to venture westward.  Frontierland conveys more of a Wild Wild West theme to me, a post-Civil War/Gold Rush era, and Wilderness Lodge pays homage to the great lodges of the Northwest and in my opinion brings us basically into the 20th century.  I could have done a lot with geysers, National Parks and totem poles, but I decided to stay true to Fort Wilderness, specifically.

There’s not much to go on in the world of Imagineering Fort Wilderness.  So my design is based primarily on personal experience.  For the record, I don’t have enough horse stuff.  Let me just clear the air and get that out of the way right now.  The Tri-Circle-D Ranch is a big part of the Fort.  I need to incorporate the horses in some capacity at some point.

But for now…

The first installation in the Fort Wilderness dining room was the black Mickey icon chandelier.  Didn’t I say I wasn’t into mouse-ear silhouettes everywhere?  I did say that, didn’t I?  Well, I’ve made and exception in the form of Mickey’s head over my dining room table.  I bought the chandelier at a Disney Character Outlet (in Woodbridge, VA I think) before I even had a house because I knew I had to have it.  It’s very versatile.  It went with the house in Virginia, and it works here in the Fort.  I want to get a Mickey Mouse cast iron trivet to go with it, but we’re still a work in progress.

Mickey Chandelier


The centerpiece of the room is the table.  We found a gorgeous table at Nadeau.  It’s huge!  It seats at least 8.

Nadeau table


We knew we wanted a bar to store wine and a buffet to store entertainment ware (punch bowl, chip/dip plates, etc.).  I happened upon the Verona Bar and Verona Buffet at World Market.  I did some research and discovered their annual dining room sale, so we waited several weeks and bought them at a discount.  On top of that, we caught a store Grand Opening not too far from us for even deeper savings.

World Market Verona Buffet

The table, bar and buffet were easy.  We met and fell in love immediately.  Seating has been difficult.  We knew we wanted benches.  Where do you eat when you’re camping?  At a picnic table.  We bought benches to match the bar and buffet, and would you believe it, they are exactly ONE INCH too long to fit under the table.  We went ahead and set them up so we’d have something for Bruce’s party, but the search continues.

But I digress.  I’m getting away from what I wanted to be the meat and potatoes here, Fort Wilderness.

It’s nice to be an artist.  It’s not necessary to pull off a decently designed space, but it helps.  I wanted something that deliberately brought my campsite into the dining room, so I created a casual charcoal sketch on newsprint and framed it in a rich wooden frame that I found at Michael’s.

Fort Wilderness Campsite Sketch


Did you know in “The American Adventure” at Epcot, they only use the technology of the time to display various periods throughout American history?  For example, we don’t see photographs until the Civil War era.  Prior to that the story is told via paintings.  (I guess Audio-Animatronics count as real people.)  I tried to adhere to this rule in my post-Revolutionary War fort, but I broke my own rule with a photo that I took of Reception Outpost.

Reception Outpost


On the other side of my charcoal sketch is another work of art that I created.  I thought pioneers venturing out into the wilderness might return with sketches and descriptions of newly discovered flora and fauna (and Merriweather! Wait…).  Bearing that in mind, I drew a picture of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow.  This tragic character is extinct as of 1987, and the last known living Dusky resided at Discovery Island on Bay Lake.  His legacy lives on in my dining room.

Dusky Seaside Sparrow


When I was researching Fort Wilderness, I found one image.

Fort Wilderness Train


So I was tickled to have received this for my birthday:

Train Print


I’m sure it’s actually Frontierland, and I’m aware that rail travel came much later than my assumed Fort era,  but I’m willing to let that slide because it’s so similar to the image of the Fort Wilderness train (which was decommissioned and turned into ticket booths at Pleasure Island).  The lush greens could really go either way.  It’s not like it’s a Big Thunder print.

Here are some other little touches from around the room:

Fort Wilderness Dining Room


I’m still on the hunt for a hand-woven Native American table runner, so if you know anybody…

And here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the whole shebang, my pretty subtle Disney Dining Room:

Fort Wilderness Dining Room

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Happy Birthday, Brucey Lee!


On Friday night, we picked up Uncle Glenn at the airport and went and had Pho at Doan’s.  Mommy and Daddy are really into Pho these days.  You ate several bean sprouts.  You tend to eat whatever we eat, but soup is tough.

Lindsay and her friend (who has been DYING to hang out with you) showed up first, around 9.  You cried when Lindsay tried to hold you, but got along just fine with Erica, a complete stranger.  For the entire weekend, Erica referred to herself as your wife.  Everybody loves you, son.  You’re just so sweet and funny and charming.  At one point, I walked into your room and you were sitting in the Lay-Z-Boy with Erica.  Just sitting there.  Cool as a cucumber.  I was jealous, because it seems like I always have to wrangle you to sit quietly with me.

Gran, Grandpa and Uncle Haley got in next.  I am not sure when, maybe 10:30?  Grandpa was hungry.  Daddy, Good Glenn and Uncle Haley ran to Wendy’s and Taco Bell.  They were all eating at our awesome new dining room table when Great Aunt Debby, Courtney, Kelly and Desteny arrived around midnight.


We didn’t hang out for very long.  It was late, so we set up the beds and went to sleep.  I feel like we put in a movie, but I don’t remember what it was.  Uncle Glenn slept in the airplane room, Gran and Grandpa slept in the guest room downstairs.  Debby, Kelly, Courtney and Desteny slept in the family room and Lindsay, Erica, and Uncle Haley slept in front of the tv in the Bonus Room.

On Saturday we woke up fairly early.  Daddy went and picked up your balloons.  We set out food.  We ordered 7 Pizza Hut pizzas for lunch.  We had 3 cheese, 2 thin crust pepperoni, 1 supreme and 1 veggie.  That accompanied pretzels, corn dogs, a veggie platter, chips, salsa, cheese, hummus, pesto dip, popcorn, cotton candy, circus peanuts, colorful lollipops direct from Walt Disney World, animal crackers, caramel apples, peanuts and M&Ms.  It was quite a spread.

One of the real hits of the party was a mini-fridge that we decorated to match our Storybook Circus theme.  Daddy brought home from work over a year ago.  The sides are covered with big NOS decals, so Mommy’s cousin Kelly and Desteny cut out white stars and glued them to red poster board, then we taped that to the side of the fridge to cover the NOS.  We also removed the backlit NOS title piece on the front and replaced it with a much cuter logo.  It was awesome!

Great, Great Aunt Sara Beth and Joyce came around 1.  Chris Mason from Daddy’s work brought his family.  Matt and Kim Cavanaugh, Daddy’s high school friends, came.  At about 1 o’clock, Grandpa and Uncle Glenn went to the airport to get Daddy’s cousin, Phillip.  The biggest and most awesome surprise was that Mommy’s cousin Erika and your Great Great Aunt Jean drove all the way from Maryland!  That’s an 8 hour trip!

You got SOOOOO many presents!  Everybody loves you so much.

I bought your shorts on Etsy.  They were custom made.  Although I ordered a size 12 months, I’m sure they’ll fit you well into your preschool days.  I asked the lady to send a scrap of fabric so that I could make you a bow-tie.  It all came together beautifully.  You wore a ring master’s top hat as well.

Mommy missed Uncle Haley’s birthday last week, so we gave her lots of presents as well.  You needed help opening your presents, but had no problem helping Uncle Haley unwrap hers.

Mommy wanted beautiful portraits of you smashing cake all over your face.  Unfortunately, you were only interested in picking the sprinkles off one by one.

On Saturday night, Daddy took Uncle Glenn and Phillip to Uptown Charlotte to walk around, then they went to Mac’s Speedshop for the best bbq in town.  Meanwhile, Gran, Grandpa, Mommy, Auntie Cray Kaye, Erica, and Uncle Haley stayed home with you and had Barnaby’s pizza (from our February trip to Chicago) for dinner.  We played Whonu for hours.  Your grandpa got really into it.

Sunday was a lazy day, but that’s okay because we were all together.  We did a lot of lounging around.  Mommy and Uncle Haley played Disney Infinity on the Wii.  Daddy did wushu with Uncle Glenn and Phillip.  Lindsay and Erica left pretty early, but Mommy and Gran caught up with them at WalMart.  We had dinner at Nothing But Noodles before Gran, Grandpa and Uncle Haley left for Charlottesville.

On Monday, Daddy took Phillip to the airport, then Daddy, Uncle Glenn and Mommy took you to Killington’s in Huntersville.  We stopped by Joe Gibbs racing on the way to the airport to pick up “Ahnay.”  The Las arrived at about 8, and we went and had Pho and Doan’s again.  “Ahdah” drove Jerry’s parents and Tony’s parents down from Maryland.  Uncle Saule and Aunt T came in on Tuesday.  Oh, Tuesday…

We started at Dim Sum.  We had picked Wan Fu for your birthday dinner, but Ahdah wanted to go to a place that served Dim Sum because they’re more Cantonese.  We made a reservation for Dim Sum on Tuesday night.  Ahdah also wanted Dim Sum for brunch, so we went there after your Great Uncle Larry got in from BWI.  You were super tired after brunch, so Mommy and Uncle Glenn took you home for a nap while Daddy showed your Great Aunts and Uncles around.  They went to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, then Joe Gibbs racing.  Jerry’s dad got hungry, so Daddy took them to Vietnam Grille where they got all buddy-buddy with the owner.  Throughout Daddy’s Charlotte Adventure, he was texting Mommy a changing agenda.  They decided not to go to Dim Sum for dinner.  First they were thinking Tin Tin Buffet, then finally they got around to Wan Fu, Mommy’s first and original choice.

Before dinner, we took lots of pictures at home with lucky money, or lai see.  We ate in the private back room at Wan Fu.  It was nice.  You ate long noodles for your birthday for a long life.  We had a whole fish, Mongolian beef, pineapple fried rice, shrimp and other good stuff.  Mommy say between you and Uncle Glenn.  At dinner, somebody said that it was good, but not as good as Mei Wah.  Ahdah said that’s because he makes the food at Mei Wah too good!  

We came after dinner and had cake at our house and you got more lai see.  You cut the cake with Ahdah.  It was pretty cute.  Actually, Tuesday morning Ahdah held you for what I think was the first time.  He seemed pretty comfortable picking you up and playing with you.  He did it a couple of times throughout the day.  Uncle Larry kept saying that you were “such a friendly guy!”  You get along well with almost everyone that you meet.  All your great aunts took turns holding you.  They all thought Jasmine was so good, too.  She didn’t bark unless we asked her to, and was very sweet to everyone.  I was impressed that they were impressed.

Well, that’s it.  Wow.  A whole year.  I can’t believe it.  We wanted you so bad for so long, and now, here you are.  Alive and well.  Alive and, well, pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

I love you, little baby boy.  Don’t grow up too fast.


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