Monday, June 29, 2009

Sometimes I Miss My Parents . . .

Sometimes I miss my parents a great deal and sometimes I miss them in nearly immeasurable ways.

I don't mean to sound dramatic about it but it is hard for me to go four or five months at a time without seeing my parents and a year or more without seeing my brothers.

I know we made the decision to move to Kansas and so I should not complain but somedays . . . when I'm feeling sad about whatever . . . I just want my mommy and my daddy. I'm 33. And - yes - I still call them "mommy" and "daddy" when I am needy.

I love and miss you guys and can't wait to see you this fall! Sorry our July visit didn't work out!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Early Dieting Fads, Explained . . .

I just finished listening to one of my favorite podcasts (I listen to about 15 of them in any given week so it is not too exclusive of a list, frankly) - the GQ Podcast and this "episode" is all about a new book written about this guy, Bernarr McFadden, who was born Bernard McFadden but changed it to Bernarr because it sounded more dynamic and later went on to call himself Mr. America.

Mr. America was quite the character, clearly. In his life McFadden . . .

- was America's original health guru (he cured his own tuberculosis)
- founded America's first health magazine (Physical Culture)
- opened the first national chain of health food stores (eat THIS, Whole Foods) with Teddy Roosevelt (yes, THE Teddy Roosevelt)
- he put the US Army on a "raw foods" diet
- founded the "body building" competition movement
- established a health/nudism "utopia" in New Jersey
- had his wife followed by a private investigator for almost their entire marriage
- founded a gossip newspaper that gave rise to future Mayor LaGuardia
- declared war on the "medicine monopoly" and the "barbaric" practices of mainstream medicine (like shots and surgery)
- trained 40 of Mussolini's (yes, THE Mussolini) cadets at his wellness camp pre-WWII
- helped, as a PR guru, to overcome reports of FDR's polio and what impact it might have had on his presidency (perhaps ensuring America its greatest president (please don't even bother to dispute my subjective opinion on this one (smile)) in the process) and hired Eleanor as the editor of one of the first parenting magazines in the US
- was the father of the 60s/70s "fitness" movement

While some of his "wisdom" was clearly okay and has stood the test of time (he was sure that Americans were too fat and just needed to cut back on their eating and they would be okay) but he took it a bit far, I think.

For instance he thought that less calories could/would cure ANY ill that possibly plagued us and he would REGULARLY walk to and from work in the morning. I know you're thinking that is not that nuts but - did I mention he lived TWENTY MILES from his office? Yep. He'd walk 40 miles in one day. Sorta' nuts, right? RIGHT!

It seems like McFadden was sooooo obsessed with fitness that he couldn't really concentrate on the rest of life. The stuff that really matters. Like managing money. Like trusting and loving your wife. Like having true, honest relationships with those around you. Like not working 40 miles a day to get to and from work. Like eating your cake, sometimes, and not just hating it. Like the joys of just being lazy when the mood strikes you.

Anywho - it was an interesting podcast and my initial research in to the guy (how have I NOT heard of this guy before today?) sort of suggests that he's straight up fascinating and I will likely have to get and read this new biography of him and his life.

A few things sort of sticks with me about him and his thoughts . . .

1 - Fitness advocates are always sort of nutty.
2 - Brilliance is not far from insanity.
3 - Very little has really changed about how we (as a people) think about, value and challenge our own bodies and our nutrition and health and approach to both despite great advances in just about every other aspect of our lives.
4 - A good book makes summer heat more tolerable.
5 - I can try to be healthy and I can work on my diet and I can exercise and I can strive for great physical health but I might never really get there because I'm just not truly passionate about it at this point. And that is okay (see point 1 above (smile)).

Check out the podcast (you can listen to it without subscribing) and feel free to learn more about Mr. America (you won't regret it if your brain works like mine) and please take your fitness and health and diet seriously . . . but not too seriously (smile)!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Laughing With . . .

Regina Spektor is back!

Grey's Anatomy's musical producers are breathing a sigh of relief and so are all the "manly-men", like me, that just love a Russian pianist who sings about the randomest things in the world and makes every song somehow catchy.

I downloaded her new CD last night. It's great.

My favorite song of the moment is Laughing With.

The song - to me - sort of explains, much more eloquently than I ever could, how I feel about God and faith (not RELIGION but God and "faith") for those who don't really believe but don't have the heart to admit it and just how unfair it is to the "big guy" (if you believe God has a gender and it is a masculine one at that) that so many people only talk to or about him when they need something.

Best that we leave him (and his attention) to those that truly believe, that give him "mad ups" (what ever happened to that expression?) in good times and in bad and that need him in good times and in bad, I suppose.

I, as is well documented in this blog (and much to my parents utter dismay) try not to look at or to him for too much either way in hopes of not coming across as needy . . . I read a book one time (it was called the Old Testament - you would love it) that seems to imply he can be a bit vengeful, rathful and spitish to those that flip-flop on him and his ways (and/or worship gold bulls).

I'll have a good laugh with you anytime, God. Thanks for the great life in the meantime! And thanks for giving me and my iTunes library Regina Spektor!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

500 Posts Later . . .

Holy crap!

I was just cleaning out my blog drafts folder (does any one really care, on June 23, 2009 what was on my mind on September 19, 2008 (yeah . . . me neither)) and I realized that I have posted to this blog 500 times. Five, HUNDRED, times. 5-0-0. D (for you Romans amongst us). 500 posts in 1 year, 10 months and 22 days . . . 692 days . . . 16,600 hours.

That's a lot of time spent at this keyboard talking about my dreams, goals, frustrations, sworn enemies, taste in music, movie and TV selections, childhood and adult memories, obesity thoughts, self loathings and my beautiful wife and daughter (not always in that order).

And at least a few of you claim to have read all 500 of them.

My apologies to each of you, the english language that I torture, twist and destroy with each post, to the kind folks at Blogger who were stupid enough to give me (and the other blogging idiots I call "peers") some free server space to spout of on and to the kind, kind folks at Danbury Hospital who asked me to do this blog hoping I might actually inspire, educate, entertain and engage my fellow patients.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dem Bones, Dem Bones. Dem Frail Bones . . .

I just read this article looking at the connection between bariatric surgery and weakened/thinned bones. Yep. You read it here first . . . gastric bypass might have some negative impact on your body over the long haul. What? That's not NEWS to you? Yeah. Me neither.

Here's the thing. And I won't get my soap box out here - don't fret - but any one who is really ready to enter in to this surgery and this life should be educated enough to enter in. How many times did I hear the lectures about hair falling out and bones suffering and blood clots on the table and after surgery and the need to get moving right after surgery and the potential for long term damages and suffering inside the body based on things the medical community did not yet know about the surgery and its long term impact (we don't know the 50 year implications of a surgery that is not yet that old).

Here's what we're all doing . . . trying to get healthy. We're willing to admit defeat against our bodies and our food impulses. We're willing to accept that the 50 - 84 diets we've all tried in our lifetimes have failed us. We're open to understanding that we need help in a drastic and extreme way. We are all willing to accept the RISKS that go with the surgery positive that the rewards, over the long haul, will outweigh (pun intended, suckahs) the certain struggles and strains and shortened life and crappy quality of life that would come with doing nothing.

My bones might thin out? Okay. No problem there. I'll take my calcium supplements. I'll drink my daily milk. I'll make sure that my protein bars have protein added. I'll get some calcium in any way I can (even though there is plenty of scientific evidence to support that - by 33 - my body has already taken in all the calcium it is willing to take in for bone development). I'll do the proper thing and maintain post-surgery care (physicals, blood screenings, general assessments) every year for the rest of my life. I'll risk my hair falling out (thanks to genetics it is doing that anyway) and I'll risk that my bones might - 50 or 60 years from now - become frail and weak.

Why? I would have had the joint and back pain every day for the rest of my life (just as I did at 530 pounds). and I lived in constant fear of falling down and breaking every bone in my body as a 500 pound man (just ask Wifey about how much of a mess I became one day when I tripped while looking at a house in Maryland). Because, frankly, without this surgery I would not have been alive for those bones to fail me 50 years from now.

The facts and statistics might be compelling (lots of evidence of reduced hip density, broken bones seem to be common, etc.) but I want to know how faithful those people are to their supplements and diets and I want to know what these people were doing that might have risked broken bones (a sidebar - we are a LOT more likely to run, jump, slide, skip, wrestle, sky dive, run, walk or do errands (smile) following our surgery and "stuff" happens when you are suddenly active after years of being sedentary) and I want to know what any of those statistics has to do with the price of tea in China.

I'm not scared. I'm not going to sit down with Wifey this evening and discuss how we'll put MedicAlert in to our monthly budget and I'm not even going to take it easy on the treadmill tonight (God willing I'll run even harder).

If my bones eventually become frail and weak . . . it is the cost of doing business in the GB world. It is the risk for the reward. The yin for the yang. The quid pro the quo. I'll be just fine. And you can sign "I told you so" on my cast(s) if you think I'm a fool for taking this attitude towards the article and the findings!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day . . .

We have had quite the Father's Day here at Casa Amore.

I slept for TWELVE hours over night (I passed out watching Meet the Robinsons (the ulimate animated movie for adoptive parents (second only to Annie for all time movies about adoption (smile)) at about 8:00 and the next thing I knew it was 4:10 AM and Ava was waking me up to ask me to come sleep on the couch in our bedroom with her where we slept until 8:12) and then Joy made us breakfast in bed (Huevos Rancheros) and then we went out to see Imagine That (which was actually really, really good (imagine THAT from an Eddie Murphy movie (smile))) and then we came home to start laundry, lawn mowing, grocery shopping, house cleaning and errand running.

Yep. Even Father's Day has to be met with the reality of an OCD-suffering father and his need for Sunday normalcy!

Anywho - Ava did so well at lunch we let her strip down to next-to-nothing and enjoy a little ice cream cone before nap time and, before long, the Flip was out and we were playing the "Can You Repeat This Phrase Bank In An Endearing Tone" (our favorite Flip camera game). 20 minutes of attempts later (Ava is going through a, uh, phase right now that makes the game less than, uh, fun for her) we had THIS to share with her Grandfathers.

video

video

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the dads out there especially my father, Dad Terry, Uncle Patrick and Uncle DJ!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Too Cool for the Pool . . .

Ava and I went swimming Wednesday night and then again last night.

I really enjoy swimming (always have, probably always will) and it seems like my little Bidders loves the pool even more than I do.

She starts jumping around with excitement to go swimming at around 11:15 when Joy picks her up from "school" and tells her that she and Daddy are going swimming that evening and - by the time I get home at 5:15/5:30 she's taken a half-hearted nap and is in her swimsuit, sunscreened, flip flopped and holding my trunks in my hand as she greets me at the door (note to wifey - stop telling Ava six hours ahead of time if you want to get a good nap out of her in the meantime (smile)).

Her excitement only grows as we make our way to the YMCA and she asks about every 1/4 mile if we are "there yet" and by the time we find a parking spot and key our code in at the gate, she has her cover up off, her flip flops in her hand and is b-lining for the "ship wreck" slide.

I find the pool to be fascinating on several levels. First - no one really "swims" in this particular pool (more of a water park, I guess). It is only about five feet deep, max and it is a wave pool so everyone just sort of floats and splashes around like so many hippos in Madagascar 2. Second - it is a great mix of teenagers hanging out, families trying to beat the heat and proud parents trying to introduce their children to the thrills of slides shaped like shipwreck and seashells. Third - the place is fenced off chaos . . . in all the best ways.

You can't go more than about two seconds without hearing the half-hearted whistles of the teenaged, apathetic, sunburned lifeguards. You never know who they are blowing at and you don't really get the impression they do either. I'm sure if there was ever a crisis they would spring to action but - in the short term - oh my!

More importantly the pool is the weirdest mix of people I've probably ever been around. Some are beautiful. Some are not. Some are skinny. Some are not. Some are capable of swimming. Some are not. Some are there to just have fun. Some are not. Some are looking to check out the fellas. Some are there to check out the ladies. Some are there to make awkward comments to the mother's in the toddler section of the pool (another story for another blog, no doubt). Some are there to get some sun. Some are there to get a sno-cone and read a book. Some are there to enjoy themselves. Some are there to start some trouble. Regardless of the person or their "motives" at the pool, I can't go more than about three seconds without wondering how EVERY person at the pool can be so confident in their bodies while I am just hoping to blend in to the water and the scenery of the water park without any one noticing me at all (wifey insisted I get a bright, patterned pair of "fun" swim trunks last year (I've been too lazy to go get new ones that actually fit me this year - I won't do that until the current ones actually fall off me and expose me to the YMCA community) and I wear a red t-shirt with those trunks so I'm not exactly in water-camo (do they make water camo?) but you know what I mean).

I'm talking men in Speedos. Moderately overweight men in Speedos (Wichita is the Italian Riviera of the midwest United States, I guess). Mid-30s mothers are keeping up with the hottest trends in teenaged swimwear. Short-shorts double as swim trunks on men in their 40s. The palest people I've seen since Twilight just laying on the lounge chairs praying a little color will fall on and stick to their chests. Kids coming off the slide with wedgies that look painful . . . and then digging them out - with both hands - for all to see. Hair that is damp enough to remind you of a soggy dog but not wet enough to lay flat against the head. Boobs everywhere (on the men and the women) and people just screaming and yelping and having a grand old time for all to observe (last night's highlight was a man screaming, from 40 feet away, at his wife that she would have to watch the kids because he had to "clear his nose and didn't want to do it in the pool . . . again")!

Don't get me wrong - I admire the heck out of these people. I slip through the gate, walk along the building to the lockers, put our oversized "Mommy and Ava" LL Bean tote bag in the first one I can find and then I try to get in to at least knee-deep water before anyone can notice my grotesque left calf but not in to deep enough water that my oversized t-shirt clings to my moobs and my hair looks as bald as it really is. I just don't like my body. I don't like taking it out in public. I don't like showing it off to people. I never have (I had the same body issues as a 10 year old kid at the pool) and I probably never will. Wifey has been trying to convince me that when/if I get my body lift I might feel differently but as long as I can hear my body excess skin slapping against itself on the treadmill I don't believe I have anything fleshly to show the world!

Keep doing your thing, Wichitans. If you are happy with your body when it is covered in spandex, nylon, polyester and spandex . . . be happy! If you want to wear a Speedo . . . put your banana in a hammock and hit the water slide! If you are okay with being ghostly white, having damp hair and letting the world see those probably-were-meant-to-be-private-and-intimate tattoos . . . ink it up! If you are just trying to beat the heat and feel like I'm over thinking it . . . ignore me!

No, really, please - ignore me - I don't have the confidence or the body to just let myself "be" at the pool. But I admire you for being able to (or for being able to hide your insecurities so well).

Monday, June 15, 2009

3 Down, 497 To Go . . .

I finally got my sweet, sweet running shoes (thanks to a very kind birthday gift from Mom and Dad Terry) this evening.

I was going to get them on Saturday when I got my card from Mom and Dad Terry but we had company and I figured that was rude.

The store is closed on Sundays.

Monday was the best I can do (and who doesn't want something to be excited about on a Monday) so I went through my day and then stopped by the running store today on my way home from work. I could not wait, literally, to get home and to strap them on. Joy joked that she was surprised I didn't leave my car at the store and run home but, all kidding aside, I haven't been this giddy to get home and check something out since a friend told me how to unscramble pay-per-view porn as a high school student - but that's a very different story for a very different time so . . . back to the running shoes.

I was greeted by Ava and Joy (who were somehow excited for me to show off my ASICS Gel Cumulus 10s and actually wanted a fashion show "I like-yuh running shoes, Daddy," prodded Ava.) and I started planning my first real run in these bad boys. I had to put them away, literally, to focus on dinner and playtime and bath time and all that. And I pulled it off.

The MINUTE Ava got in bed though (or the minute Wifey started book and rocking time, more accurately) I strapped them on and headed for the basement (I had intended to run outside but we had a thunderstorm roll on through last evening). I set up an episode of Harper's Island on the DVR. I double checked my shoe laces. I cued the treadmill for 4.7 MPH. I set the timer for 45 minutes. I stepped on. I hit start. I jogged for the next 20 straight minutes (no more of my five-minute run, five-minute walk interval training for me on this fine evening - it is time to RUN), walked (at 4.4 MPH) for five minutes and then jogged 20 more minutes at 4.8 MPH. All told I covered about 3.42 miles and likely jogged three full miles. That is the most I've ever ran or jogged in my entire life. It felt GREAT to be that sweaty, out of breathed and otherwise euphoric.

I was so elated that I had to take pictures of my own shoes (see above) to mark this momentus occasion and I started an "odometer" to track my shoe usage (you are supposed to replace your running shoes every 500 miles, I have read).

Three down. 497 to go. That's 165 days of running three miles per day. Is it weird for me to be excited for the day that I have to retire my first-ever pair of running shoes? Probably. But I'd be willing to bet it is NO more odd than the fact that I was so excited to get these shoes home tonight or that I'm already excited to run tomorrow night.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Look Back on the Year That Was . . .

I turn 33 today. Yep. It is my birthday. Cue the balloons, the sugar free cake, the sing-a-longs, the huge pile of gifts, the rented ponies, the inevitable breakdown, the ginger ale-sherbet punch and, of course, the self reflection about being "another year older, another year wiser."

Or - cue NONE of it. Here's the thing . . . I'm not a "birthday person" and I do not mean that in a "me thinks thou doest protest too much" way either - I mean I do not get birthdays. Don't care about them. Barely understand why any one cares about them and am very slow to even grumble a "happy birthday" to other people on their "special days" accordingly.

Nope. They're overrated EXCEPT that one fleeting moment every June 12th when I realize that I have lived another year. It usually happens while brushing my teeth (I also remark that I've lived another year with all of my teeth (long story)) and it usually sort of plays out in a "mental montage" of moments that would make any film an Oscar winner, if I had my say.

Here - for your review (and likely disposal) are my Ten Top and Ten Bottom moments of my 33rd year of life (techincally today starts my 34th year of life - I crunched the numbers so trust me). I ONLY included MY moments here (no mention of Ava or Joy here (lest anyone think neither of them are crucial to my every moment)).

Top Ten . . .

1 - Hanging Out with Vinu, in Wichita and Tom Kelly in Kansas City - Proof that moving here does not mean never seeing my "people" again. The visits were short but they were important to me. I hope to repeat that time with the guys again (and more friends) very soon.

2 - Getting Below 250 Pounds and then to 225 Pounds - I am getting skinnier. I am 300 pounds lighter than I was just a few short years ago. This year has seen my weight loss slow, greatly, and my perspective on my weight grow, greatly. I can and will do this. I'm going to be fine. I'll get to my goal weight, eventually, I promise.

3 - Exercising 13 Out of 14 Days - It might not seem like that big of a deal to all of you but I did it. I actually made a commitment to work out and I kept it. I am KEEPING it (four days a week is about my average) and I've had a few days where I've done double workouts. That is nuts. Who'd have thunk it?! Not me. I'm proud of myself though.

4 - Christmas with My Family - I got home. For a week. Sure we came home with a kid that looked and acted like an extra from The Exorcist but it was TOTALLY worth it for the seven days we had with my parents, five days with Ryan and the two glorious days I had with both of my brothers and with Joyell. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I'll skip church the next time though. No offense but that was AWKWARD!

5 - Getting a New President - I still think about what "coulda-been" with Hillary but I have come to really appreciate Obama and I've had a sip of the Kool-Aid. It wouldn't matter though. Bush is gone. We're better off. In the next four years there will be NO mistaking or disputing that. Sorry, Scooter, Rove and Cheney. It's just true.

6 - Getting the 18-Month "Journey" Over With - I'll admit it, now. I hated being under the microscope of my surgery. SURE - I had some great results and I worked very, very hard but it was something I got tired of talking about and being so "important" all the time. Life is better now. We eat where Joy and Ava want to eat. We buy groceries for the whole family. I don't feel like people are looking at me as a shrinking man any more. Life is just better now. I'm 27 months out. That's like an eternity. An eternity I'm happy to spend.

7 - Finding Out I'm Going to Become an Uncle Again - I miss my brothers and their ladies ALL THE TIME. It makes me sad that we live so far away from them and that we have their niece and that Ava is without her uncles (I didn't know my aunts, uncles and cousins and I worry about Ava feeling the same way about Patrick, Ryan, Joyell and Erin (if thinks go the way the are heading for her and Ryan, at least) that I feel about my extended family). That Patrick and Joyell are having a kid thrills me and it motivates me, like we used to fly in for Lexy, to be a better family member and to be a GREAT uncle to that little baby. Even if all I can do is spoil them from afar.

8 - Hearing Air and Simple Gifts - If I was still in DC I would have ditched work for the day and gone to the inauguration. I don't and I didn't. I DID catch a little bit of it on television and through Internet streaming though. I happened to click on to a live stream just as Yo-Yo Ma and company were sitting down to mimmic a live performance of some of the greatest music I've ever heard. Stressed out? Feeling annoyed? Need to get to rest your mind? Plunk down $0.99 for this on iTunes and just assume that you are welcome for the tip. Beautiful. Brilliant.
9 - Seeing The Soloist and Up - We saw a lot of movies this year. Some good, some bad. These two were my absolute favorites (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a close third). Both movies inspired me in their own special way.

10 - Embracing my Kansanhood - It took me a while but, this is home. I'm here. I'm going to be here. I'll probably get my gold watch here and I might even have my ashes scattered here. It's a great state and the conservative viewpoints are so entertaining I should have never bristled at them. Trust me on this. Life in Kansas is outstanding!

Bottom Ten . . .

1 - Crushing My Finger In a Storm Window - This one just happened so it might not be that big of a deal but I literally CRUSHED three of my fingertips (nails, bones, nerves, etc.) in a storm window two weeks ago. Try having a desk job where you type for a living when you can barely move three of your ten digits without wincing. I like when God tries to make me humble. Keep trying, big guy!

2 - Having the Economy Hit Home - Half of Joy's cousins are out of work. Her father and uncle are going on furlough. Joy can't find a job in her profession. My friend Shelton, a very smart man, just found work after seven months of searching. I don't know anyone in this town that doesn't at least think about their job being secure from time to time. I don't like it. At all. I want everyone gainfully employed, happy, going on vacation and getting fat with joy. In the meantime there is always the reminder that life is precious, beautiful and rare and a job is not your life - it is a job and money is not all important. That being said - I LOVE my job. I WANT my job. I NEED my job. Enough already. Let's turn this economy around, smart people!

3 - Plateauing - I know I said I'm glad that my 18-months is over. I am. That being said, I don't like the plateau. I don't like that I have only gone down one pant size in the last six months. I was dropping two inches a MONTH there for a while. The weirdest part is that if your body is not getting smaller you feel like it is getting bigger and that makes me miserable. I'm on the way down again. Slowly. Surely. No more plateaus for me, please. Until I am at that 200 mark and stay there until the day I die (smile)!

4 - Nearly Dumping - I came very, very close to dumping this year. Twice, technically. Neither time was on purpose (I was not testing the limits of my sugar consumption - I was ignorantly taking on sugar assuming there was none in the food I was eating) and I didn't fully dump either time. There is nothing more scary to me - in this post-GB life - than sugar and dumping. I will never not be fearful of sugar. Never. I'm sweating right now just thinking about it.

5 - The Roosevelts - The cats, not the real FDR and his lovely wife, Eleanor. As you may remember, we adopted two cats last fall. I was trying, very hard to become a "cat person" and I proudly went on about that and then you never heard me mention the cats again. Here is why . . . as much as I was ready to love the cats, the cats HATED me, my family and our home. They peed and pooped everywhere. They were tearing apart the furniture. They were trying to eat the computer. They were making prank phone calls at 3:00 AM. They were hatin' on us on their Facebook page. They were Tweeting about what tools we were. We tried to let them adjust to the house (we gave them five days) and in that time we called several vets and the Kansas Humane Society and all the professionals agreed the cats had to go. We returned them. They both got adopted again almost immediately (fret not, animal lovers) but it was, as an insecure person that just wants to be loved by everyone (smile), a crushing blow. Be well, Franklin and Eleanor. We have Lily now. We're happy with her. She is happy with us. We'll alllll be fine.

6 - Realized How Destructive Social Media Can Be - Between the Franklin/Eleanor Facebook/Twitter debacle and my own realization that people read this stupid blog and check my Facebook page to "know" me and to "learn things" about me and to look for me to say and think stupid things . . . I realized that these "new" ways to communicate are really no different than passing notes in high school or talking trash over e-mail. We're all just 15 year old kids with bad skin and racing hormones. Best to stick with phone calls, in-person chats and the occasional telegraph to communicate. I've stepped back. I've set new rules for what I will and won't say and do through my online "persona" and I'm happier for it. My family is happier for it.

7 - Seeing Not One but TWO "Jennifer Aniston" Movies This Year - I love my wife. I want to see her happy. To that end I do stupid and regretful things like seeing "He's Just Not That in to You" and "Marley and Me". Yep. I went. I supported Jennifer Aniston. The WORST part? I didn't HATE either movie (didn't LOVE them but didn't hate them). Curse you, Rachel!

8 - The Closing of Harold's - When we used to just visit Wichita we'd frequently go to lunch at Bradley Fair which is this sort of "outdoor" shopping mall full of a mix of national and local stores and restaurants and open spaces (and Ava's favorite duck pond in the whole wide world). One store always stuck out to me. I had heard of Williams & Sonoma and Gap. I knew Banana Republic. I understood Brick's but - there in the corner - was Harold's. I never went in. Until we moved here. Oh my. I LOVED Harold's - specifically the tie table. I've dropped more coin on neckwear from Harold's than I have probably ever spent in any given store on any give item of clothing. Then - as soon as my love affair became full blown and my body got small enough to really take advantage of the store - the place closed. Went out of business. The clearance sale was a beautiful send off to my favorite store but now I'm left with only the "hit and miss" world of JCPenney and my unaffordable wish list at Ben Silver for my tie shopping needs. I miss you, Harold.

9 - Chips - No. Not the TV show. The snack. The potato-, corn- or rice-based, often fried, salty goodness that plagued my life before surgery and screws with me after. I easily shed sweet junk food (the occasional sugar free pudding, jello, cookie or ice cream is my only real indulgence there) but I have struggled with the chips. My "needs" are manageable - don't get me wrong (I'm not going to get back to 530 pounds any time soon because of my occasional chip indulgence, God willing) but I don't like that I even crave the damned things. I just wish that GB made your body physically reject sugar AND chips.

10 - Teaching My Kid the "F" Word - I have a filthy mouth. I'm 33. It's not okay. It doesn't make me look "intelligent" and it is not "endearing." I don't have any friends nor have I ever landed a client or furthered my life (personally or professionally) BECAUSE of my four letter word obsession and, frankly, I don't feel any better when I use the words. I actually swore off swearing the day Ava was born (ask my sister-in-law . . . Stephanie laughed and laughed and laughed). I was going to be a father that kept his wits and proper language about him when his daughter was around (if not all the time). But . . . here it is. Ava has used the "F" word (properly, I might add) in my presence. Several times. And I can't blame this on Joy (Ava's need to accessorize, have pretty nails and to be sweet, charming and beautiful are ALL Wifey's fault, clearly) so I have to blame myself. My new commitment? Swear LESS in front of her. And get more strict when she uses the filthy stuff (while not being a hypocrite in that authority).

Anywho - let's hope my 34th year of life is a great one. And that I get to keep all my teeth for another full year (and then some).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pretty Pictures, Sorta-Pretty People . . .

We (Stephanie, DJ, Joy and I) gave Mom and Dad Terry family portraits as a Christmas gift.

Well, to be clear, we technically promised to suck it up, put on some nice clothes and go have family portraits taken once the warm weather hit town, if our schedules all permitted on the same evening and if the general quality of our collective skin (zits seem to run in this family) and our general zeal for life was in the right direction.  Nothing says "family" or "Merry Christmas" like a gift with four or more disclaimers. 

Long story long, we made good on that promise a few weeks ago when we spent an evening with Tim Davis who is clearly a GENIUS with a camera because he got seven people who don't like to have their pictures taken (as illustrated by the body language and sneers in every picture I have of any of us) and Ava Grace (the "Why are you putting that camera away after only 1,000 clicks?" light of our lives) to look HAPPY in every picture.  

Tim owns a property here in Wichita that he just uses for photography.  He has a studio inside and a great property of lawn, trees, a quiet street and a stick collection that allows people to just sort of enjoy themselves while he snaps away.  

I had stolen and posted a bunch of my favorite proofs (with captions) but Wifey is afraid that we will all go to jail for this so - for now - you just get to "enjoy" the captions.  If you read this blog more obsessively, you would have seen the photos.  That's on YOU (smile)!  

"You want to get down this street?  Don't let the smiles fool you.  This is OUR street.  You'll need to get through me, the 2 year old, the guy with the hulking shoulders, our very tall father-in-law, the stronger-than-you-might-think nine year old and three of the most attractive butt-kickin' women you've ever met.  Good luck, bub!  Yeah.  I called you BUB!"


"And if I tilt my chin just 1/8 of an inch more, it gets even cuter.  And another 1/8 inch . . . "


"We don't do cute.  We're MEN!  What's that?  Lean on the other elbow?  Oh sure.  Does my butt look big in this shot?  Do I look even remotely skinny?  Yep.  Yep.  We're MEN!"


"I've got a stick.  I'm not afraid to use it.  Come back here.  I want to stab you with my stick.  Seriously.  Come back."


"No.  This doesn't feel like a 'posed' portrait.  We go in our back lawn and sit against our tree, tightly packaged, and just stare at our daughter almost every evening.  And most Sunday mornings.  And I wear jeans allllll the time.  No.  Not 'posed' at all."


"I guess I'm happy to see you because a banana in my pocket?  No.  Why the hell would I put a banana in my pocket?  Oh?  Ha!  I get it.  Banana in my pocket.  No.  Still just, uh, 'happy to see you'!"


"We've been married for 35ish years.  We have two grown daughters, two son-in-laws, two amazing granddaughters and . . . even after all of it I still crack up laughing every time you fart in public, Anita.  You're just an amazing wife and I love you!"


I had no words for this picture.  Only tears.  Beautiful women.  Beautiful life.

We were HOPING to do a family portrait session when the entire Amore clan was here for Ava's birthday this summer but, because of various other obligations, I don't think we'll have a full-family to shoot (likely just Ryan and Erin at this point).  

The GOOD news is that the next time we all get together on my side of the family, we'll have another child with us.  Totally worth the wait, I suppose! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Uncle Sean . . .

I am thrilled to share that Patrick and Joyell are pregnant and their first child is due on December 19th-ish. 

Yep.  I'm going to get another niece or my first nephew for Christmas.  

We're thrilled for them, obviously.  It just makes me sad that they are so far away so we can't really be more of a part of their pregnancy.  The good news is that technology will help us stay sort of involved (Patrick called to proudly report on heart rate and all that good stuff after their doctor's appointment and we will have web cams to look at big baby bellies and cute babies (as appropriate).  

I can't believe it has taken this long for the stork to stop by and start their family (they've been together for 10 years) because they are both such amazing people and they are going to make AMAZING parents!  I guess good things come to those that wait.  

Congrats, kids.  We love you! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Walk-a-Thon. Again . . .

I marked my birthday last year by crossing off a goal of mine and doing a three mile walk around Wichita State University's beautiful campus (a very speedy walk too, if I do say so myself).  

I'm doing it again this year.  Saturday morning, June 13th.  The weather is supposed to be spotty here in the Wichi-Wichi all this week but I'm doing the walk no matter what (I'll just wear some of my old sneakers and embrace my inner "Flashdance" to let my moobs be, uh, "accentuated" by the downpour.  You've been warned, fellow people who walk for heart health!

Not that I've suddenly become the "picture of fitness and health" (more of a rough, crayon sketch) but - interestingly enough - a three-mile walk last year seemed like SO much walking and it was almost scary to think about. 

Now I'm walking/running three to four miles per day (most days (smile)) and am planning to run three miles a day by November.  Instead of being anxious I am thinking this is just one less day I have to walk on my stinking treadmill in our dark, semi-dank basement.  

Time to charge up the iPod and make a new mix!  Suggestions?  

Sunday, June 7, 2009

So(y) What ? . . .

I have started reading very different magazines lately.  I still get my Esquire and GQ issues monthly and Fast Company, Money and Fortune keep me fresh on the business and financial news-du-jour too.  I still thumb through Joy's O, InStyle (how do you think I chose my sunless tanner?) and Midwest Living magazines, too.

Lately I'm thumbing through Men's Health as much as I am Entertainment Weekly and I am learning all sorts of stuff from it and actually find it to be motivating (great article in this issue with Ewan McGregor talking about how to live a full and honest life) and interesting.  

Anywho - check out this article on my beloved soy!  

It is very interesting read about a food that, if you are like me, has become a pretty major part of your diet post surgery.  It seems that soy (the source of most proteins in shakes, bars, powders and other supplements) is not all sunshine and happiness - for all consumers.

Let's be clear.  There is no perfect food and nothing is for everyone (there are people in this world that literally can not breathe the air around them, for example) and there is plenty of research to show that soy is bad and an equal amount that say soy is good.

The same could go for red meats.  White meats.  The other white meat.  Hot dogs.  Booze.  Chocolate.  Silicon implants.  Lead paint chips.  Cigarettes.  You name it and the opinions widely vary and you can make or break your case.

No disrespect to those that don't like soy and what it has or might do to them but I'm going to keep on eating soy.  And red meat.  And white meat (both types).  Until my moobs and other, uh, "appendages" are altered in some way I'm going to assume I can only continue to benefit from having the food in my life.

Cheers, soy eaters!  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Wifey . . .

Four years ago today Joy, myself and 125 family and friends met up in Lodi, New York to see the greatest wedding in the history of men named Sean getting married to women named Joy in the town of Lodi, New York followed by a reception at the Ginny Lee at Wagner Vineyards down the street.  

Here, for those who were not (and those who WERE) with us, are my 10 favorite moments of my wedding day (in no particular and order) . . . 

10 - Stopping to get gas after our reception and having the guy in the convenience store (Joy and I were both thirsty) ask me why I was so "dressed up" and, upon me telling him I had JUST gotten married he looked at me and said, simply "Sorry to hear that, guy."  

9 - Seeing Joy show up in the back of the church and knowing that I was about to become a married man and having this wave of emotion come over me that did not go away until shortly after the ceremony ended (those who witnessed our nuptials could clarify that I cried the ENTIRE time).

8 - Being thankful that we hired two buses to drive our wedding guests to and from our "official" hotel so I could demand that one of the buses turn around to return to the hotel and get the CD of the music Joy's friend Juli Buli (spelled incorrectly on purpose) was going to sing to during the ceremony.  

7 - Watching almost all of Joy's male friends fawn over my then-boss Richard's date to the wedding.  And hearing the stories of her general lunacy later on that same evening.  She might have been my favorite wedding guest.  No offense to the 124 of you who I enjoyed the company of for the RIGHT reasons.

6 - Shopping for drinks for the buses the morning of my wedding, bumping in to my mother's cousin, Aunt Vie/Elvira, and having her ask me why I was "alone" on my wedding day and realizing that - a few hours from that moment - I would always have to, at least internally, justify being "alone" if I ever bumped in to friends and family again.  It was a reassuring rush of panic.

5 - Hearing that Heidi Corcoran was so drunk she got hauled home from the reception early and being proud that at least ONE person at our wedding had that much fun.  It is the "party guy" in me.  That sick sense of "pride" will never leave me.  Sorry, adult sensibilities.

4 - Eating McDonald's with Joy at 2:00 AM the morning of our wedding (we technically ate the food the night/morning going in and the night/morning after our reception so "morning of" can go either way).  Simple pleasures, simple minds.

3 - Sitting with Patrick, Joyell, Ryan, Theresa, Jess and Tim at the vineyard before the wedding and just having some wine and beer to relax.  It was the first and last time I just sat the entire day.  It was wonderful.  

2 - Dancing with my mother at the reception and then clearing the floor so my cousin, Nathan, could show it ALL how it is really "done."  I'm talking back flips and "the worm" in one, fluid, thrilling motion.  Go on with your bad self!

1 - Being greeted in the lobby of the hotel by a frantic Tom Kelly who insisted that my father's side of the family had stolen his case of wine he bought at the vineyard and him insisting that I help him hunt it down.  I dumped him off on my brothers.  Co-Best Men indeed!

I love you, Joy.  Thanks for being my wife and my everything!  I look forward to the next 444 years of our wedded bliss . . . and beyond! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How Did I Get Here? . . .

I'm on the treadmill.  It's 10:00 PM.  I've been walking/running (doing "intervals") for almost 40 minutes.  I'm at a 7% incline.  The speedometer is set for 5.3 MPH.  

I'm jogging, if you will.  My legs are annoyed with me.  I'm annoyed with my moobs.  My back is sweaty.  My right shoe is tied unevenly so one half of the lace keeps grazing the running surface of the treadmill.  I'm certain I will eventually trip, knock out a few teeth, destroy the treadmill and probably the wall behind me.  "Hey, no more running on the treadmill," I think to myself. 

I'm about 325 calories and about three-point-something miles in to the lunacy that has become my nightly routine.  Joy, Ava and Lily are all on the second floor of the house.  I'm willing to bet none of them are sleeping!

I'm flicking channels (well, scrolling through the cable guide on the digital cable not really "flicking channels" at all).  I loathe summer for two reasons - the heat and the lack of new television.  The DVR is full of Harper's Island but I'm waiting to watch those episodes with Wifey.  Don't know why she's not so much interested in watching TV while the treadmill whirls and I pant, sweat, moan and groan feet from her - occasionally spitting out a simple profanity to clear my head (it's like letting a little steam out of a soon-to-be-boiling tea pot for those who don't get my NEED to swear when I'm exercising).

Nope.  I'm all alone in the basement.  I have thumbed through three magazines (it forces me to NOT hold on to the treadmills handlebars while I'm walking and walking and walking and not going anywhere) an article I read has me pondering how different my life would have been if I would have stuck to a better diet in my teens and 20s.  I'm thinking about watching one of Joy's DVRed episodes The Bachelor(ette?) - a show I have not watched since Ryan first gave Trista (or however you spell it) a painting of a white snow leopard and I decided that love was really for the foolish.  I'm thinking about honors I will likely never receive and how flukish good luck and bad luck are in terms of the moments that make or break a life.

Then.  It happens.  My treadmill beeps.  5 minutes to go.  Time to lower the incline and put the pedal to the metal.  I flatten 'er out and open up the throttle to 6.2 MPH and I'm OFF!  I don't want to run this last almost-half-mile.  The key, I remind myself, to pushing through this and other misery in my life is to think about anything BUT the fact that I am miserable.  

So I think, immediately, of The Talking Heads.  

I should clarify something here . . . just about ANY time I want my mind to wander, I go to "Once in a Lifetime" by The Talking Heads.  I don't know how or why that started.  It was a LONG time ago, know that.  I was probably inspired by an 80s movie or a sitcom montage or something but it is almost automatic at this point.  

I don't even think about my glasses continually sliding down my sweaty nose.  I don't think about the lack of television options.  I don't waste another second thinking about our questionable hot water heater.  No-no.  I'm now pondering water flowing underground, my beautiful wife, how I got "here" and how I can carry the water from the bottom of the ocean.

Soon enough I'm thinking about how excited I am to see "The Hangover" this weekend and then I'm singing Rihanna (they play that "Live Your Life" song from her and T.I. in the trailer) and then I'm thinking about Mike Tyson (he's in the movie) and then how sad it is that his daughter died from some flukish treadmill accident and then I'm thinking there is now one more reason for me to hate this thing I'm dripping sweat on and my mind transitions to how much I like the shorts I'm wearing (they "wick" sweat) and then I'm thinking about the clothes I want to get for the summer (think golf shirts - LOTS of them) and then I'm remembering the time I went to the Reading Outlets with Chris Delenick when we were in college and then I am focused on the outlets up 95 in Connecticut that Bruce, the boys and I would drive to on a Saturday morning for him to pick up his latest New England Patriot's t-shirt, trash can or other trinket and my brain goes to Tom Brady (not in THAT way) and how he was an unheard of player until he became this phenom and how greatness comes out when it is ready to show itself and then I'm thinking about Heft on Wheels which reminds me that I still need to get the rear tire on my bike fixed so I can start riding my bike again and then I'm thinking, again, about exercise and how much I enjoy yoga lately and how much I don't want to run anymore tonight.  

BEEP.  Time's up.  The treadmill starts slowing itself down automatically.  My wish is granted . . . I can stop running for the evening.  I sucked it up and finished the entire trek.  I'm sweating.  I'm panting.  I'm ready to sit down - if not lay down - if not DIE.  And I step off the treadmill and I wonder "How did I get here?"