Mom, Wife, Daughter, Friend, Cousin, Granddaughter, Re-Married Widow, PR Counselor, Writer, Volunteer, Scrapbooker, Reader. Lucky.

Three Months Post-Op Check-In

Oh, hi! Here’s the check-in for three months post-op after having Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG or a sleeve). I still feel really good! My energy level is good, I’m able to get in all my hydration and supplements, and I’m hitting my protein goals. My weight loss is slowing down a little, but I didn’t exercise much in March, so I suspect that is part of the slow down.

Here are things that I’ve noticed or new things I’m doing this month:

  • I’ve added fruit and veggies back to my diet to help with the constipation;
  • I’ve started losing my hair (although this is normal and I know it will stop in a few months, it’s not my favorite);
  • I’ve begun feeling what I’ll call “hunger.” It’s not what I felt when I was hungry before the surgery, but I can identify that it’s when my stomach is empty. It’s an odd sensation that I can’t really describe, so I won’t try;
  • My skin looks really good (this has been true since the second I had the surgery, but I forgot to mention it earlier); and
  • I’m really jiggly.  It might sound funny, but when you’re fat, you’re often really solid feeling, so when the fat goes away, you can feel how little muscle tone you have. I need to get swole, y’all (is that right? Is that how you use “swole”?)

I know everyone wants stats, so here they are:

  • Before VSG, I was 300 pounds and my measurements totaled 361.75 inches.
  • My 1-month post-op numbers were: 266 pounds and 330 inches.
  • My 2-month post-op numbers are: 250 pounds and  316.5 inches.
  • My 3-month post-op numbers are: 237 pounds and 289 inches.
  • So, I’m down 63 pounds and 72.75 inches!

This is what a typical day looks like for me:

  • 2 Premier Protein drinks,
  • 3 small meals,
  • 64 oz. of liquid (this includes the two protein drinks),
  • B-12, calcium, multivitamin, biotin, a prescription antacid (I’ll only take this for another month as my surgeon likes to have patients take it during the first few months of healing), and a stool softener
  • 60-80 grams of protein

Some non-scale victories this month include getting to buy a pair of size 18 pants (I was in a 26 at Christmas), wearing an XL t-shirt instead of a 3XL, sitting with my legs crossed, and having room left over on the seat of a conference room chair. I have a check-up with my surgeon and I’m getting blood work done at the end of the month, so I’m excited to see how things inside my body have changed.

My goal for April is to increase my exercise. I can’t believe how soft I’ve gotten over the years.

Let me know if you have any questions! I won’t give you medical advice, but I can share my experience.

Here is this month’s comparison picture:

Getting my shrink on!

Getting my shrink on!

Two-month check-in if you want to see how last month went!

Crafts: Chalk (Paint) It Up

Hey there! Let’s talk about paint, yes? We moved into a new house in February and I wanted to update some of our old furniture to go in the new space. In addition to the couple of pieces of furniture, the cabinets are old-school 1980’s and I knew I’d want to redo some of those. But I have zero painting skills. Zero. I also wanted to get all the projects done before we moved into the new house so my time frame was super tight. I had a desk, a bed I bought for Tesla off of Facebook, and the cabinets in the communal bathroom that I wanted painted.

I knew that I didn’t want to do any prep (remember, zero skill), so I opted for chalk paint. Because all I had to do was wipe the pieces down to make sure they were clean and get to painting. I’m sure there was more I could have done, but I didn’t want to. Seriously, I’m a very lazy painter. Although I wanted the ease of chalk paint and I generally like the look of projects done with chalk paint, I didn’t want my pieces to have the antique look and I knew that they’d need more than just the wax coating on the top because they’d have some hard wear and tear.

Tesla’s Bed

I didn’t have any other furniture in mind for her room (she’s only ever been in a room with William and me and in her crib), so I wanted the color to be a little more neutral. However, I also wanted some color. I decided to do a yellow base with a silver-gray topcoat. The bed was the first piece of furniture I painted,  I did it in the garage just after I’d had surgery, and I had really bad paint brushes. Basically, perfect painting conditions. I even ran out of the yellow and had to get a different paint for the foot board. My point is, chalk paint is easy, y’all. I did a single layer of the yellow first, let that dry for a couple of hours, did a layer of the silver-gray, let that dry for a couple of hours and then did the three layers of the varnish (I used Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane). I wanted the yellow to peek thorough the gray, so the gray wasn’t a very thick layer. With the yellow peeking through, there is some brightness on the bed. The varnish dried a few hours between the layers. I’m happy with how it turned out, but didn’t love the stink of the varnish.  I am calling it a success.

Trust me, it has hints of yellow too.

Trust me, it has hints of yellow too.


I have had this desk for more than decade. It’s a good size for me, but haven’t liked how it looks for a long time. A friend had some Annie Sloan chalk paint in Graphite left from a project, and she shared it with me. Lucky! I did get a better brush for this job, but that is the only concession I made to pretending like I knew what I was doing. I still used the stinky varnish on it though. I did two coats of the paint, but noticed that there are some spots I missed. Unfortunately I noticed after I had moved it into our new place. I will get back to it eventually. I am still counting this as a success.

Pretend you don't see any spots that need touched up.

Pretend you don’t see any spots that need touched up.

Bathroom Cabinets

There was nothing wrong with the bathroom cabinets before except that they are a standard 1980’s brown wooden cabinet that I don’t love the look of. However, it’s not in our budget to replace them right now, so paint it was! Because I was going to paint these cabinets inside I looked for non-stinky varnish and found a water-based top coat from General Finishes and I got it in a Satin finish. I also used a different brand of chalk paint called Amy Howard at Home One Step Paint in American Dream. These cabinets also took two coats of paint and three coats of varnish. I used foam brushes this time and found it substantially easier than bristled brushes. I love how these cabinets turned out you guys! The color makes me happy. Of course there are some touch ups needed, but I am calling it a win.

Blue is better than 1984 brown!

Blue is better than 1984 brown!

More Projects

I have a couple of additional pieces I think I’ll paint (including our front door), but I’m going to live in the house a little while and see how things look and how we use the furniture before I do.

Have you used chalk paint? What’s your favorite way to use it?

*None of this is sponsored content, I’m just sharing my wisdom with you all :)

Two Months Post-Op Check-In

It’s two months after my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG or the Sleeve) and I thought I’d share how I’m doing. I feel great, which is the best part of this update! I hit my 50 pound loss goal (10 of which happened during the liquid diet portion the two weeks before the surgery). Can I get a Woot? Woot!

Since having the procedure, I’ve got a lot more energy, I’m able to move a lot more easily, and I’m not as tired.

So, this is what a typical day looks like for me:

  • 2 premier protein drinks,
  • 30 minutes of exercise,
  • 2 small meals,
  • 64 oz. of liquid (this includes the two protein drinks),
  • Calcium, multivitamin, biotin, a prescription antacid (I’ll only take this for another month as my surgeon likes to have patients take it during the first few months of healing), and a stool softener
  • 60-80 grams of protein


My small meals are usually things like a half a hamburger patty and a couple of bites of a vegetable, or some cheese and lunch meat. I haven’t had any sweets, soda, or caffeine (or carbonation at all) since Christmas Eve when my liquid diet started.

The biggest change is that I’m not craving anything and I am not hungry. I understand that those things come back for a lot of people after a while, but I’m loving the feeling right now.

I feel very fortunate that I’m not having some of the side effects that a lot of patients have so far. However, I can tell you that the ton of protein I’m having with very little fiber in the way of fruits or veggies can really stop you up. Like, sit on the toilet crying stopping you up. Like way worse than pooping after having a baby pain. So my surgeon had me start taking a stool softener every day and it’s been significantly better.

I know everyone wants stats, so here they are:

  • Before VSG, I was 300 pounds and my measurements totaled 361.75 inches.
  • My 1-month post-op numbers were: 266 pounds and 330 inches.
  • My 2-month post-op numbers are: 250 pounds and  316.5 inches.
  • So, I’m down 50 pounds and 45.25 inches! Can I get another Woot?

Do you have any questions for me? I’m happy to answer them. I won’t give you medical advice (I only play a doctor on TV), but I can tell you my experience.

Oh, and here’s a comparison picture! The picture on the far left is from last year, but I was at the same weight that I started at on Christmas Eve, so it’s pretty accurate.

Getting My Shrink On

Getting My Shrink On

Weight Loss Surgery or Why I Had My Stomach Cut Out

I’ve talked about it a little bit over the last couple of months, but in January I had weight loss surgery. I asked a surgeon to cut 80 percent of my stomach out and I am so glad I did.

I have been fighting my weight for more than half my life. I was lucky to be a physically active kid and teen or I would have been fighting it even longer than that. Thinking I was fat when I wasn’t is a whole other conversation. I’ve never done any real fad diets, I’ve always done medically monitored sanctioned by my physician “changes of lifestyle”. I’ve gained and lost hundreds of pounds over the years. I was tired.

Over the last five years or so (just after I had Tobin), I began researching my weight loss surgery options. I read, I talked to physicians, I watched videos. Two things happened that made me finally decide to have the surgery. I was done having babies after Tesla (you can have a perfectly healthy pregnancy after having WLS, but it wasn’t something I wanted to deal with) and I noticed that in the last year or so my self talk has become much kinder. In other words, I wasn’t a jerk to myself any more. I didn’t look at myself and think how gross I was. Because the brain part of this process is so important I felt like that was a good sign that I was ready for it.

After researching the different options, my surgeon and I decided that Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) was the right way for me to go. I went through the prescribed education for the bariatric program and continued reading (and watching videos) of people who had had the surgery. I began the process in August and had the surgery in January.

Things are going great so far! I began feeling better immediately, and my doctor and I are happy with my results.

I’m happy to share my experiences as I have them and answer any questions you may have. I know I had/have tons myself and it’s great to be able to get the feedback of people who have had the procedure.

In future posts I’ll share some specifics about how things are going. Until then, let me know if you have any questions!




Ten (10)


I can’t believe you have been gone 10 years. How has an entire decade passed? You didn’t get to experience much of it, but I firmly believe the second you become a parent you hit a time warp. It’s the only way to explain how fast the time has gone.

Mark, you would be so proud of Nicholas. He’s so beautiful, smart, empathetic and funny. He’s trying to figure out sarcasm, but is so upset when he accidentally hurts someone’s feelings. He’s so very smart, smart enough that people tell me all the time. But, he thinks he knows everything, so we’re working on thinking before he speaks. He loves all things science, is becoming really good at sketching, and is such an amazing big brother. He looks so much like you that when I’m not paying attention it sometimes takes my breath away. You would be so very proud of the boy he is and the young man he is becoming.

He’s starting to ask hard questions about you. We talk about you all the time, he knows that you loved Pink Floyd and Skinny Puppy and INXS. He knows that you loved to cook and read. He knows how proud you were of being an Eagle Scout. And he knows that you were an alcoholic who fought your addiction for most of your short life. I will do everything I can to help him understand the disease so that he doesn’t fall prey to it but understands what happened to you.

I can think of you now without only seeing you in the hospital wasting away. It’s taken me this long for the first image that comes to me not to be you in the hospital bed. But I can’t remember how you sounded or the way you smelled. That’s okay though, those memories fade. I’ll always be able to tell Nicholas how much you laughed even if I can’t remember how it sounded.

I’m sorry you’re not seeing N grow up. When I get sad about you, that’s the main reason. I’m glad, because for many years I was just super pissed at you for how hard our lives were and how badly you treated your body. I could only remember the bad parts. But you’ve taught me not to take things for granted. I tell people that they are nice, that they are being mean, that I love them. I squeeze my kids all the time and tell them how precious they are. And I don’t let the little things that you and I fought about turn into issues for William and me. As hard as our life together was, I remember the fun too. You taught me so much and helped me become the person I am.

We’ll be celebrating your Dad’s 80th birthday next week and your remaining siblings will be together. There are only two of the five left. But we’ll make your Dad’s birthday special and give him so much love.

I’ll give N extra squeezes tonight after I’ve picked him up from school. He asked that we do something for you tonight, I don’t know what it will be, but I love that he wants to.

You are not forgotten, even 10 years later.

Every Day Gratitude

The past few weeks have been challenging. W working a ton of late nights, my regular anxious time of the year, sassy little boys who make mornings more difficult than they need to be, and the time change wreaking havoc on the kids’ sleep.

But, I’m finding myself more grateful than I’ve been in a really long time. Every day gratitude. Gratitude for W’s job which he worked so hard to get, my anxiety not overwhelming me, sassy little boys who still want to snuggle, and the kids falling asleep eventually. I’m also thankful for noticing the glitter all over my chest this morning because it’s evidence of Tesla snuggling with me and her shirt transferring all that sparkle to me…even after a shower.

I have so many things to be grateful for, and I hope that I’m taking note of most of them. What every-day thing are you grateful for?

Awkward People Are My Favorite

This is a total cop-out you guys, but I haven’t stopped laugh crying reading these tweets inspired by Jennifer Lawson’s awkward confession. I’m not writing anything else because this is magic.

The Bloggess’ Awkward People.

I scared the toddler and the dog while reading this because of the insane laughter it caused.

November, Again.

Hey! Did you know I have a blog? One where I used to write at least once a week? I know, I’d forgotten too. I blame the baby. I mean, not in a bad way, just in the holy-moly-it-takes-a-lot-to-take-care-of-a-family-of-five kind of way. I’ve been lucky to write once a month in the past couple of years, and then only if something big-ish happened.

But, it’s November! November means that it’s time for writing, either working on a novel or posting to your blog every day. I’ve never participated, but I miss writing and I feel like this may help encourage me to do it.

So, here we go! I wonder if I will have anything to write about…

Conversation With N & T: Every Day Racism

My friend, Issa posted a video on Facebook this summer that showed middle-school-aged children talking about the every day racism they encounter in their lives. I had the boys watch it with me one day and then we talked about it. This is part of our conversation…

Me: What do you think about what those kids were saying?

Nicholas: I don’t get it? Why do the workers in the restaurant think the families are going to steal?

Me: Because they are not White.

N: No, I know that’s what they said, but I don’t get why someone thinks someone else is going to be a thief just because of their skin color.

Me: Well, that’s the thing about racism, there is absolutely no logic to it. It makes zero sense. Even if the person has experience with someone who has stolen from them in the past, and that person happened to be someone who was Brown or Black, that shouldn’t make them believe that all people of color will steal, right?

N: I just don’t get it.

Me: Tobin, if you had a friend who was being told mean stuff by another kid, what would you do?

Tobin: Maybe we should leave?

Me: Leaving is a good choice sometimes, especially if either of you are scared that you’re in danger. But, if you try to be brave, you could tell the other kid that the things he or she is saying are wrong and hurtful and they should stop.

N: Yeah, that would be hard, but it would be the right thing to do.

T: I think, I would tell them to stop and then I would kick them in the face.

Me: Well, you should definitely start with the words first…

Here is the video. I would love to hear what your kids think about it.

My Father

I haven’t seen my father since 1986. I was 11 when he left. Even before that, I wasn’t around him much. He worked offshore when my parents were married, so there were long stretches when he wasn’t home. When I was 8 my parents divorced and I rarely saw him for the next year or so. My mother moved when I was 10, so I moved in with my father, stepmother, and baby sister to start school in a new place. My father and I lived there for 6 weeks when my stepmother kicked us out (which happened to be the night my wonderful grandfather died).

This is the day I moved in with my Grandmother. Her husband had just died after a quick, but terrible, fight with cancer but she didn’t even take time to mourn, she just started taking care of me. My Grandma’s property has two homes on it, so my father moved into one home with his brother and I moved in to the other with Grandma. Except for one other time, this was also the last time I saw my sisters until we were all adults (because their mother wouldn’t allow our family to see them).

We had been living with Grandma for several months when my father won a lawsuit against a former employer (for a legitimate claim). He won a substantial amount of money. Grandma had him put $10,000 in a savings account for my sisters and me to have to use toward college. Then she took me to the orthodontist, had them do a work up, and estimate what every single procedure and appliance would cost for my teeth to be straightened. Grandma went to my father and told him the total and made him give her the entire amount, despite his protests that he would just make payments. A few days later, after my uncle had taken out another trash bag full of my father’s empty beer cans, Grandma told him that if he had money to blow on alcohol, he could help her pay for clothes for me. He, and the $10,000 he’d put in the bank for his daughters’ educations, were gone that night.

About 11 years ago, when I was trying to have my first child, I asked a friend to help track down my father. My friend was a private investigator and looked for my father pro bono. I wanted to know if he was still alive and if I had any more siblings. I also really wanted to be able to tell Grandma something about her son. My friend found my father living in Alabama with a wife, but no more children. I thought for a little while of getting in touch with him, but decided against it.

Over the last 29 years, I’ve had every emotion possible in relation to my father. I’ve been furious, I’ve been sad, I’ve been eager to find him, and I’ve been resigned. I knew, even if I found him, that it wouldn’t really matter. He wouldn’t have any answers that would change anything and nothing that wouldn’t just be an excuse. I’ve always felt badly for Grandma who adored my father, her first born, until he proved that he couldn’t be an adult who cared for his own family or overcome his alcohol addiction. She still loved him, but she was beyond disappointed in his choices. Still, I knew she worried about him, because how could you not be worried?

When my older baby sister turned 18, I tracked down her mother and asked to get in touch with the girls. So we started talking on the phone and getting to know each other. We’re more connected now than when we were growing up, and I have two sweet nephews and a sweet niece because of them. We’ve all gotten married, but E (the younger of the two) is the only one who didn’t change her name when she married. Because of that, she’s the one the law firm’s investigator was able to track down most easily. E called me this past Friday after the investigator called her, and told me that our father had died. E had to get to work, so I called the investigator to make sure everything was legit and see what was going on.

Our father’s widow has a lawsuit because he died from an asbestos-related illness. He died from lung cancer, but I don’t have the details because the investigator was only calling us to get our contact information, she didn’t know she was calling to inform us that our father was dead. Basically, his widow was obligated by law to contact us because we are his heirs. She didn’t contact us to tell us our father had died. Almost 3 years ago. In October 2012.

After I talked with the investigator and established that it was my father we were talking about (he had a fairly common name, so I wanted to be sure), I called Grandma. I told her that her son had died nearly three years before from lung cancer. She thought it was ironic that “that woman” could find us when money depended on it, but not for common decency to tell us my father was dead. Grandma and I talked for a little while, but there weren’t many details to share. We have to depend on my father’s widow to call me if we want to know more. I’m not expecting to hear from her. Not when she didn’t call three years ago.

Then I called my mother because the law firm needs to know information about my father from the 10 years they were married. My mother and I thought it was ironic that she would be helping with a lawsuit that would get my father’s widow money when he never paid a dime of child support for me. Yes, we know the money would come to my sister and me too, but the irony is still there.

So much irony, y’all.

I have the same level of general sadness that I’ve always had about my father. He made choices that kept him from watching his daughters become adults, he will never know his grandchildren, and he drilled a hole in his mother’s heart that will never heal. It’s a strange thing to hear that your father is dead and then to be told that it happened almost three years before. You start to think of what was happening at that time, and wondering if you had any kind of “feeling.” Nicholas was 7, Tobin was 2, and of course Tesla hadn’t been born. And, no, I didn’t have any kind of feeling that my father had died. I had no idea.

I do know, however, that if I get any financial gain from the lawsuit, I will buy Grandma something lovely and wonderful.