Thursday, June 28, 2012

Oxbow Park: The Third Time Around

This was our first trip to Oxbow Park when the sun was shining. (Previous trips can be seen here and here.)
The landscape of the park has changed a lot since we were there last. All of the rain we get here in Oregon caused many of the park's campsites to go floating down the Sandy River. The difference was definitely a noticeable one.

So many ankle breaking rocks where there had once been water:






A few random thoughts about this day:

*What the girl is wearing looks great because, in her words "MOM! Stripes go with stripes." Awesome.

*This family sucks at skipping stones. We all tried a lot. Not a single stone was skipped.

*The song of the day was this one. Not because it's good, but because it's awful, simple, and can be memorized after one listen by even the youngest of ears. Driving to the park, all of us singing that  dumb song....it felt good. I love it when it's just the four of us.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Fat Girl


Judith Moore had an incredibly sad childhood. Her parents divorced when she was 6 and she didn't see her father again until she was well into adulthood. Her abusive mother resented her and her grandmother couldn't stand the sight of her.  She rarely had friends and was often picked on because of her size.

At an early age Judith turned to food for solace and comfort and Fat Girl is not only about her tormented childhood but it offers some glimpses into how her love of food effected her adult life as well.

It's taken me a few weeks to put into words how I actually feel about this book. On the one hand, it is a brutally honest account of an obese person. I appreciated the fact that Judith doesn't make excuses and she doesn't sugarcoat her descriptions of the type of person she is. For example, near the end of the book, Judith talks about how when she was eleven she used to break into the home of the Reverend of her church. For an entire month, she broke into their house almost daily, eating their food and digging through their things. About this Judith writes:

You who are reading here may have an idea about why I broke into the Fisher's ranch-style house and rather dangerously hung around and made afternoon snacks. I was hungry for love. I know that. But so are many sad hungry children and they don't rummage people's living quarters and eat their food.

I liked how she blamed no one but herself for her actions.

On the other hand, this book got really old, really quickly. It was just one sad story after another. I felt a lot of sympathy for the young Judith because she was definitely dealt a really cruddy hand and, as a child, had very little control over her own life. But Judith as an adult, was (at least in this book) insufferable. She blames just about every bad thing that happens in her life on the fact that she's fat. She writes:

I hate myself. I have almost always hated myself. I have good reasons for hating myself, but it's not for bad things I've done. I do not hate myself for betrayals, for going behind the back of someone who trusted me. I hate myself because I am not beautiful. I hate myself because I am fat.

I think what I disliked most about this book was that Judith was shallow. When thinking of shallow people the mind often goes to someone who is classically beautiful, in shape, and maybe spends a lot of money on their appearance. But I think anyone who devotes an unhealthy amount of time to outward appearances can be shallow, and that's how I would describe Judith. Her attitude about the way she looked overshadowed every conversation she had and every relationship she was in. It became so boring.

In trying to get more insight into what Judith Moore was thinking, I did some internet research and found this article that came out in 2006, right after Moore died of colon cancer. The article states that "though Ms. Moore wrote in tones of self-loathing about being fat, and was at times overweight, she was not morbidly obese. Sometimes her weight was within normal range." Her daughter says that Moore portrayed herself as this huge, hideous woman because that's essentially what was beaten into her. 

No matter what her weight was, she was always going to be the fat girl.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Missing

I couldn't find my daughter today.

She was playing outside with friends, supposedly in the areas in which she usually plays-the field directly across from our apartment, or a little off to the side where a cluster of girls her age lives. When she's playing outside I can almost always see or hear her from my bedroom window.

A few minutes had passed and I hadn't seen her. At this point I wasn't worried. The school year had officially ended only hours ago and the neighborhood was filled with kids playing and running around, I just knew she was one of them. I leashed up the dog and headed outside.

We crossed the street into the field where we ran into half a dozen of Lucy's playmates. When I asked them if they had seen her lately, they all pointed in different directions. We walked a bit, the dog did her business, and I headed back home to see if Lucy had returned while I was gone.

She hadn't. I dropped the dog off and went back out to search.

I walked through the neighborhood screaming her name at the top of my lungs. I asked everyone I saw if they had seen my little girl. She's wearing dark blue jeans and a pink tee shirt. If you see her, please tell her to go home and stay home until I get there.

About ten minutes had passed and I was quickly approaching the fine line that separates being mildly irritated at my kid who wandered off and scared for my child's life.

I ran to the pool and to the park. She's not allowed to go to either of these places by herself and I didn't expect to find her there, which filled me with fear. She wasn't at the places I expected to find her.

I called Jay. I don't know why. He was at work and could do nothing to help and my call only worried him.

I called Monty. He was at the store with friends. (I later found out that he had just purchased an energy drink and when he received my frantic call, he set it down on the curb, yelled, "I gotta go" and sprinted home.)

I was circling back around to my building, holding back tears and screaming Lucy's name when I hear, "I'm here Mom. I'm coming." She came running around from the back of the building where she had been playing with friends the whole time. (It hadn't even occurred to me to look there because it's not a normal place for her to play. I have no idea why she hadn't heard me yelling. She just said she was "busy playing.")

I grabbed her up and ran inside. As soon as the front door was shut, I lost it. I was bawling, my body was shaking, and I could feel my heart beating so hard I thought that it would burst through my chest. I collapsed to the floor, clutching my (now very confused) seven year old close to me.

It's taken me all afternoon to get over this and I'm still quite shaken. The space of time that my daughter was "missing" was only about fifteen minutes, but each minute that I couldn't find her felt like an eternity.

Just about every parent has one of these moments at one time or another. A child wanders off or they momentarily lose sight of them at a busy park or shopping mall. I had never, personally, had one of these moments. I had never experienced the gut wrenching pain and aching body that goes hand in hand with the knowledge that you have no idea where your kid is or if they are okay.

I achieved a new level of empathy today.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Related Random Thoughts

*Fifty Shades of Grey. So, despite hearing a lot of negative reviews about this book, I've decided to read it. I've requested it from the library but it might be a while since I'm number 686 of 706. Have any of you read this book?  Is it worth buying or would it just be a waste of money?

*The Hunger Games Trilogy. I read all three and liked them all well enough. The third one was probably my favorite. It felt like more of an adult read than the first two. I'm not going to review them here because everyone on the planet probably already knows about them and has formed their own opinions. (As a side note: At work we sell a fake bow and arrow that's just flying off the shelves lately. I was discussing this with a customer who informed me that toy bows and arrows are 'the thing' right now because all the kids are playing Hunger Games. I'm really not sure how I feel about that.)

*The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. This was our most recent book club selection and we'll be discussing it at our meeting this Sunday. (A meeting that I hope does not go into overtime because the new season of True Blood begins Sunday. Woot! Woot!) I enjoyed this book and hope to review it here soon, but I'm still processing it all. The reviews for the books that I love are always the hardest ones to write.

*The Abstinence Teacher.  I just started reading this book about a sex-ed teacher who, due to pressure from the evangelicals in her town, is now forced to revamp her lesson plans to be more abstinence driven. I've read a lot of Tom Perrotta's books and he has never disappointed.

*I found this summer reading list (via Lecia) and I immediately went to the library's website to begin making requests. Do check the list out, there are some fantastic authors on it.

*I've already read twenty three books this year. If I keep going at this pace, I'll definitely surpass last years paltry 28 books. Also, Jay read more books than I did last year and I cannot let that happen two years in a row!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Because the World Doesn't Read Enough Good Things About Teenage Boys

At some point in the last six months, something happened in my son's brain. I can't pinpoint the precise moment or what exactly happened to make him change. I have a couple of theories, but mainly it all boils down to the fact that he's growing up and maturing.

He's nicer and more patient with his little sister, even to the point of going outside to stick up for her when other kids are being mean. He's fallen into the routine of completing (and, most importantly, turning in) all of his homework. And he has a sweet girlfriend whom he dotes on and treats with so much respect.

Today is that girl's birthday. He saved more than a months allowance in order to buy her a bouquet of flowers and a large box filled with all of her favorite things. I helped him wrap it and then he walked the mile and a half to her house to give it to her. It was drizzling and I offered him a ride but he wanted to do it all himself.

A few hours later, he returned him, beaming with pride because his gift was a success.

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This afternoon I was sitting on the living room floor, working my through folding the five loads of laundry I had washed earlier in the day. The boy sat at the dinner table doing Algebra.

The laundry piles grew higher and higher. I called for my son to grab his laundry stack and put it away.  He looked up at me with a sly, mischievous grin and said, "No way! I'm not putting laundry away. That's woman's work. Woman."

I knew he was joking so I quickly came back with, "Fine then. I'll throw your laundry outside and when you want something, you can just go pick it out of the yard." I snatched up a pair of his underwear and quickly tossed it outside, over the balcony, and into the communal backyard we share with our neighbors.

He stared at me, mouth open wide in shock at what I had done. But he wasn't mad or embarrassed. Instead, he fell to the floor laughing. And then so did I, and we laughed until our sides hurt.

It's moments like these that I realize my son is becoming exactly who I want to him to be.

And I find myself beaming with pride.