Friday, June 28, 2013

Bariatric Betty's Summertime, and the living is sometimes too easy

Ahhhh, summer.  I'm off work (since I work at an elementary school), and my boys are home.  No homework or tests to deal with - just daily reading to keep them from regressing over the summer.  Only thing is, they think that I should be providing FUN!!!! all day every day.  Um, no, that's what summer CAMP is for, which both of you declined to attend repeatedly.  So now you have be bored at home with me! 

My day starts making breakfast for everyone, unless it's one of the days my 12 year old has gotten up early and hungry and has made his own.  I don't eat for about an hour after I wake up so I have time to drink my first 24 ounces of liquid for the day.  I see my husband off to work with the lunch I've packed and eat my breakfast.  Then the kids and I go over the plans for the day.  That starts out with a reminder that they each need to read 1/2 hour.  The complaints start then, and sometimes last for hours. I walk/ jog the dog, do a load of dishes and remind my 12 year old he needs to run a load of laundry.  I get in my second 24 ounces before lunch, and another 24 before dinner.  We usually go somewhere in the afternoon, and eat early.  Since the boys are both playing baseball this summer, we often have 3-4 hours of overlapping baseball games in the evening.  My sweet husband eats a dinner I bring at the community park where the games are being played at least once a week because the games start before he can even get home from work.  Sometimes the games go until after 10pm!

I spend at least a chunk of time every couple days cooking large amounts of my staple foods so that they are ready for daily consumption.  I scramble 6 days of egg beaters at a time - that doesn't take that long.  When I sauté my 5-6 days of onions and julienned zucchini (think non-noodle spaghetti) it takes a bit longer.  When I make up a pot of my lentils with carmelized onions it's over an hour, but that will last me for a couple of weeks.  I am also cooking for a family of friends once a week who have a mom recovering from a serious illness.  It's been fun finding things that are vegetarian that her family enjoys - my family has had such a predictable diet for years that it's taken me out of my comfort zone a bit - but it has also increased the quality of meals my own family is getting.  Eggplant parmesean has entered our regular rotation, as has fried tofu.  The other night I made fried rice with broccoli, pea pods, carrots, peas, water chestnuts, asparagus, and eggs that was a hit.  It's weird that I can't enjoy most of these things myself - they don't have enough protein or sit well in my pouch (with the exception of un-fried tofu) but it does feel good to see everybody eating well.

I do try to plan at least one fun thing a day for the kids, whether it's going to our local rec center/ pool, going to a movie, going to the local waterpark where we have season passes, etc.  We won't do anything like that until they have done their reading, however, and on some days that means it's afternoon before we get to go.  Like today.  It was 2pm before my 10 year old finally finished his reading.  He spent all morning complaining about how he didn't want to read, and he wanted to go do SOMETHING.  No matter how many times I explained "You do your reading, and I will take you somewhere, you get to decide how soon that happens..." the whining WOULDN'T stop.  Augh.  I took my dog for a longer walk just for the peace and quiet. 

Speaking of walking the dog, that's my only predictable exercise right now.  I miss my job!  It's nice to be able to have other options during the middle of the day during break, but I miss working with the kids, talking with other grownups, and most of all the 5000 steps I would walk while I was working. 

Thank goodness for my fitbit pedometer.  If I didn't wear it every day then my exercise would be pitiful right now.  It's a great motivator - because I HATE not hitting at least 10,000 steps a day.  During the school year I average about 15,000.  But now I average around 11,000.  I actually have to work for those, too.  When we go to the park I walk circles around the playground.  When my kids have a baseball game I pace back and forth for the second half of the game.  When we're camping out at the rec for a long time, I walk a couple miles on the track. 

I don't enjoy running in real heat, so I'm not jogging much right now.  I have decreased my food intake a bit to take into account that I'm not burning as many calories right now, and that seems to be working well because I'm staying at goal.  The daily struggles with making good food choices is harder some days than others - although I haven't had a crazy obsession (like the pie crust) for a while, thank goodness.  I usually stay away from white carbs because I find they trigger cravings for me and I don't need the extra stress. 

My house continues to be a disaster zone, but most days I feel like I am getting the level of cleanliness incrementally better.  My focus has been on getting the boys to help clean up their own messes (definitely works in progress) and keeping counter-tops and kitchen/ dining room tables at least partially clear.  At the moment my 12 year old has his basketball shoes on top of my papers on the kitchen table, and my 10 year old feels that since he has set up his lego building area on half of the dining room table for the last 6 months, I am being unreasonable to think that should change.  Baby steps.  This last week I tackled the outside mess - pulling up 7 bags of thistle and other assorted weeds that had started looking like trees. 

Speaking of trees, the other night a severe thunderstorm took down half of a 30 foot tree in our front yard.  Besides being stunned, everybody is fine.  Mostly I am overwhelmed with gratitude that the tree didn't fall on the house and that we weren't home when it happened - because my car is usually parked right where it fell.  It didn't even knock over our basketball hoop!  It was definitely one of those moments that I felt someone was watching over us. 

I am so grateful for the every-day blessings my family enjoys.  Our health and our home top amongst them.  But it's up to us to maintain both of those things if we want to keep them as blessings.  My sons arguing for more snacks and less work can be tiring, but I try to remind myself that I am teaching them life lessons - and that if I want them to value those things as highly as I do, they need to see our commitment to them every day.  It's easier to think of it that way when the whining isn't happening.  There will definitely be times when the overwhelming thought in my head is "Do it because I SAID SO!" although I try to be calmer in explain the importance of the issue at hand.  And there are times that I tell them "You've worn me down.  I am taking a break.  Be nice to each other and work on xyz while I go lay down for a bit/ take a walk/ run to the store."  It's lovely that they are old enough that I can do that now. 

I remain incredibly thankful for not only the support of my family on this journey, but my local support group.  The other night we had a meeting, and as I was walking out the door to attend we discovered that while my 10 year old had been "bored" he had used scissors to scratch and poke on our black leather couch.  Augh!  I went on to the meeting and vented, and we all agreed that the "old" us would have then eaten a large amount of junk food to handle the frustration.  Now my son is responsible for cleaning off said couch and his own favorite chair every night to help him learn to respect our things more.  His response "For how long?"  Our answer "Until we decide to ADD more chores.  This will be your responsibility, period." 

I am also thankful for all of the health professionals that have helped me get to where I am, and where our family is going.  I found out a couple of weeks ago that my surgeon and his team are leaving St. Vincent and it really feels like a loss.  I will have to work with new people for my follow-up.  But, they gave me my pouch/ tool and a good foundation to work with.  I will miss you Drs. Ben-Meir and Salomone!  I am also so glad we found a great family psychologist to work through issues with our sons, and have found a wonderful rheumatologist for my husband.  Never underestimate what have access to good healthcare can mean for your family.  I wish everyone had it this good!