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Confession: I’m Fat.

12 May

Pre-Madilyn. Approximately 170lbs.

I’ve never been happy with the way that my body looks and I know for a fact that my friends, from Middle School to current, can attest to the fact that I put myself down way too much.  Now that I look at pictures of myself from pre-Madilyn, I am disgusted that I ever thought I was fat.  I’m not a small person.  I’m normally very muscular and athletic looking, but not fat.  There IS a difference.   I am super curvy and will never be “skinny” but I have some pretty awesome child bearing hips, so NAH!

Approximately 24 weeks pregnant with Grady

Upon being put on bed rest for 3 months with Madilyn, I gained 80lbs.  I kept my bad eating habits once she was born and then got pregnant with Grady 9 months later.  I lost 16lbs during my first trimester with Grady and then gained a total of 25 more pounds during the rest of my pregnancy, putting me at only 9lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight.  When I went for my first prenatal visit, I had lost 20lbs since having Grady but I’m still HUGE.  For me at least.

I just started watching “Biggest Loser” and I weigh as much as most of the women on the show but don’t feel as though I LOOK that big.  It’s pretty disgusting to me that I’ve gained so much weight and I promise that I’ll never complain about my curvy girl figure again if I can just get back down to a size 12.  I’ve come to realize that the number on a scale means nothing.  It’s all about how  my clothing fits and how I feel.  170lbs might look like a lot of weight on some women, but it looks GOOD on me.  249, however; does not.

I just joined forces with The Sparkle Mama on a Weight Loss Challenge where the grand prize is a stash of brand new Cloth Diapers.  I don’t know about you, but I need some accountability or else I will never, EVER be healthy again.  (I’m staying away from the “thin” moniker because “thin” is not my goal.  Healthy is.)   That said, even the challenge was not enough to scare me into eating healthy.  So I’m confessing my weight and pictures of myself in the most disgusting outfit known to man.  Because I want to be able to post on June 6, having lost at least 10 lbs and looking a little better, and a lot closer to my goal of being healthy again.

Salad with feta, almonds, Kashi Sesame crackers, and raspberry viniagrette

I am currently breastfeeding so being on a “diet” is not really in the cards for me.  My plan of attack is to stop eating processed sugar.  No more processed sugar for the next month.  I will also stay away from “whites” and eat only whole grains.  When I crave something savory to eat, I will allow myself some ranch dressing and raw broccoli.  When I crave sugar, I will allow myself fruit.  I will eat yummy lunches like this salad.  And I will exercise at least 3 times per week.  By exercise, I mean walking brusquely with my stroller.  I’d like to go to the gym but Madilyn will have NONE of that so walking it is.

So PLEASE subscribe and hold me accountable.  Cheer me along.  I’ll be posting my weight and pictures weekly and giving a synopsis about what I’ve been eating, if I’ve “cheated”, and how much exercise I’ve managed to squeeze in.  And if you feel so inclined, join me.

So here’s my confession:  

Front view

Side View

Yes, that says 249Lbs.

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How Does Racial Sensitivity Affect Equality?

1 May

This blog post from The Stir has me REALLY stirred up.  It is entitled “Racial Sensitivity Courses Should be Mandatory for Adoptive Parents”.  Um…WHA?  The article asserts that adoptive parents should have to learn about the culture and community that corresponds with whatever race of child they choose to adopt.  The writer says that by the parents not knowing about the culture from which these adopted children come from, makes them less “who they are” and that they won’t know their “personal history”.   The author also goes on to say that no matter how badly we all want an “ethically ambiguous utopia where we are all raceless faces appreciating one another for the people we are inside”, that it’s not going to happen.

Courtesy Dreamstime.com

This makes me incredibly hot because in this country we are bombarded by people screaming for equality.  I personally don’t see color.  A person’s skin tone means less to me than the color of their hair.  Saying that White America (let’s be honest; that’s who this article was written about), will never not see race is like saying that blondes and brunettes in Germany would never live in harmony after the Holocaust, which certainly isn’t the case.

Furthermore, the children being adopted from other countries by parents of different races are being given a new “personal history”.  When a child moves here with an American family, no matter what their race is, they are now AMERICAN.  Their personal history, despite the color of their skin, involves the landing of The Mayflower, the pillaging of Indians, the purchase of slaves from Africa, the use of indentured servants from Europe, the Civil War, Prohibition, the industrial age, the segregation and then desegregation of schools, the KKK, the landing on the moon, and everything else that involves US History.  These children’s new personal histories include Baseball games, Basketball, American Football, 4th of July Celebrations, Memorial Day, Labor Day and all of the other US holidays in between.  Their personal history means that they are now American, no matter the shape of their eyes, the color of their skin, or the coarseness of their hair.  These children do not have to live in bondage to their original places of birth, their original financial situation, or their original demographic.  These children are given new beginnings to their lives and I don’t see what a racial sensitivity course would do for these children and their parents but help to divide the races even further.

Why can’t we live in a world where skin color is just as insignificant as the color of someone’s eyes or hair?  Why does the fact that my great-great grandparents owned black slaves or the fact that my great-great-great-great grandparents were indentured servants have to mold who I am today?  Why does the fact that my mom went to a segregated school have to have ANYTHING to do with me?

I’m not at all saying that we should ignore history.  Many horrible things have happened in this world that are noteworthy, but we are where we are today because of the strength of a few people including but not limited to: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Booker T. Nelson, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  These people suffered, pressed on, and stood up for their personal beliefs bringing forth the life of a new country, the death of slavery, the beginning of desegregation, the birth of racial equality, and the commencement of women’s rights.  These people endured hateful oppression and stood up to their oppressors so that we wouldn’t have to have ‘Racial Sensitivity Courses’ when we adopted children from different countries or ethnicities.  Correct me if I’m wrong but Martin Luther King Junior’s dream was that his “four children would be able to live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  And that one day “on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”  How does requiring a white adoptive parent to take “Racial Sensitivity Courses” do anything to further this dream?  Are we supposed to teach Japanese American adoptees that their Grandparents bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and that they will be looked at differently than white or black people whose grandparents helped to initiate revenge?  Do we need to teach American Indian adoptees to hate white people because they raped their grandparents’ way of life and pillaged their land?

Courtesy of DoSomething.org

It is my experience as a white woman who was raised in southeastern Alaska that my history involves American Indians as much as it involves European settlers as much as it involves African American slaves.  The color of my skin should not dictate the way that I speak, dress, or eat.  It should not affect the way I view my place in society, my education, or the success of my career.  As a northern-raised woman who went to college in the South, I can also attest to my experiences with racism.  I’ve been called horrible names by African-American women because I was hanging out with “their men”.  I’ve heard Caucasian men kick a beautiful half African-American woman out of a party because of the pigment of her skin.  Racism is not unilateral.  Where does it end and how can it end if you, yourself, aren’t willing to part with the past? (And by you, I mean YOU reading this, whatever your heritage may be).

I believe that until we, as individuals view ourselves as equal, our world will continue to be a place filled with bigotry and ignorance.  You are no different than me due to the amount of melanin in your skin, the shape of your eyes, or the language spoken by your birth parents.  We are equal in my eyes and it saddens me to think that you, whomever you may be, may feel differently.

I have a dream that my three little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes, but by the content of character.  And it is my job as their mother, to help mold their characters to be worthy of judgement.

-Written while my eldest “little child” plays outside with two little Asian boys, one African American boy, and one Caucasian boy in complete harmony, no one aware of the fact that they all have very different skin tones.

Why My Son (Still) has a Birthmark…on His Face.

26 Feb

He's Handsome! 'Nuff said

I want this post to be my longest yet because there is SO much history and science behind Styles’ birthmark but I want to keep this more about my emotions and less about history or science so I’ll do my best to do just that.

Styles was born after 3 hours and 6 minutes of labor.  From first contraction to finish.  No lie.  Nobody expected him to be born so quickly; I was young, he was my first child, yadda yadda yadda.  That said, everyone and their mother was in the room when he was delivered because the nurses didn’t have time to kick ANYONE out.  And the entire thing is documented in photographs.  I’ll gladly send you a picture if you’d like to see.  Or not.

When he was born, he was pink and beautiful and had a very prominent purple stain on his face.  I was in shock that I had just squirted out a baby so I didn’t notice it at first but everyone around me seemed to see nothing else.  They didn’t care that he had perfect Agpar scores, or that he was breathing, or that he had 10 toes, 10 fingers, and a penis.  They were more concerned about this “thing” on his face.  Questions swirled around us, “Would it fade?”  “Would it grow?”  “What will you do?”  “People are going to stare…what will you say?”  “Maybe the OB rubbed his face like that as he massaged your perineum during delivery?” “Will you sue?”  I could go on for another thousand words but I’ll stop now.  His pediatrician came in the next morning with the news. There were two “Worst Case Scenarios”.  One was that it was a “Strawberry Hemangioma” where it would grow in size and become raised, possibly blocking his vision due to its placement on his face.  Treatment for this would include shots of steroids in the hemangioma, causing it to shrink so that it wouldn’t hinder his eye sight.  The second scenario was that it was just a port wine stain.  That in and of itself is not so bad.  What he was concerned about was that because of its placement, it could very well be associated with Sturge-Weber Syndrome.  SWS is not life-threatening and many kids with it have relatively normal lives.  It can cause calcification in the brain leading to some learning difficulties, delayed or difficult speech, seizures, and possible paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.  We would have to wait with both diagnosis to see if either presented itself.  This was all VERY overwhelming for me.  I was young, this was my first baby, and I just didn’t know how to handle the news.  I still didn’t really “see” the birthmark.  He was my beautiful baby no matter what.  I was aware of the stares in public and I couldn’t close my ears to judgmental remarks from my family.  But our pediatrician was certain that it would fade after puberty, and urged me to let it be.

After a few MRIs and CT scans, Sturge-Weber was ruled out and Styles’ birthmark never did grow in size.  It has actually faded quite a bit from its original magenta, but still covers the same percentage of his face as it always has.  It has been determined that it is a simple port wine stain, strategically placed like a slap across the face, absolutely cosmetic in nature.  I decided when he was very young that I didn’t want to put him through the surgery necessary to have it removed.  It involves pulse-dye lasers and many, many treatments.  Because of its proximity to his eye and his age, they would have had to put him under general anesthesia for treatment.  Yes, the younger the skin, the better the healing but I couldn’t risk putting my child under general anesthesia for a cosmetic “flaw”.  To me it felt like giving a 2 year old breast implants or liposuction.  Was it really necessary?

I fretted over what people would think as he grew up.  Kids can be cruel.  I was laughed at because of my name.  When I moved to Alaska when I was 9, people teased me because of my southern accent.  My last name rhymed with “butt” so I often heard, “Summer Northcutt has a big butt” (which is/was TRUE – can you blame them?)  I was also called “Winter” and endured endless snickers as we learned about the seasons.  There is always something to tease a kid about.  But was I setting my son up for failure by allowing this birthmark to remain on his face?  I decided no.  His name is “Styles”.  He has WHITE hair and a birthmark on his face.  He’s going to be teased about SOMETHING at some point in his life.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I still wasn’t convinced but I waited.  People came up to us in public and often asked nicely what was on his face.  But sometimes we’d encounter some rude, uneducated jerk who would ask us “what happened to his face” to which I would reply, “It is a capillary hemangioma.”  I never explained to those people that it was simply a birthmark.  Using the scientific term with idiots was much more satisfying to me since I couldn’t way what I really wanted to say:

“What happened to YOUR face?”

As Styles grew and learned to talk, I taught him that it was a birthmark.  I never made a big deal about his stain because I didn’t feel that it needed to be a big deal.  If I made it a big deal, then it would be a big deal to him and I didn’t want to be the cause for any self-esteem issues that he would suffer as a result of having a birthmark on his face.  Styles learned that when people asked him what it was to simply respond with, “It’s a birthmark” and then be on his merry way.  As a result of his flip nature about it, he has not endured any teasing or name calling, which surprises me as he gets older and is now in the 4th grade.  I firmly believe that because he is so nonchalant about it, kids move on to something else because they see that it doesn’t bother him.

When Styles was 4 I sat him down and had a serious talk with him about having it removed.  I told him that the decision was his and that I would support him no matter what he decided to to.  His response to me was, “But Mom, if we get it taken off, I won’t be Styles anymore!” I choked back the tears as I laughed and gave him a huge hug.  OK, baby, whatever you want.

5-yr old Styles (oh so long ago)

I’ve received a lot of flack from family and friends of family whose opinions matter very little to me.  They all say that I am doing him a disservice by not taking the initiative as his parent to have it removed.  But as you can recall from the beginning of this post, it is simply cosmetic.  My mom never got me a nose job when someone told me in the 6th grade that if I ever wanted to be french kissed that I’d have to break my nose. (Thanks a lot, Zach Brown).  My mom has a LONG list in her head of the names that people are going to call him.  I won’t even bother listing them, it’s quite ridiculous to pretend she can see into the future and know that he’s going to be called “this thing” or “that”.  If you’d like to know what Styles is going to be called in the future by some jerky little kid, feel free to contact her and she’ll regale you with at least 649 different names.

I personally think that it will make him a stronger person.  I want to use his birthmark to teach him that we all have differences.  Sometimes, those differences are obvious and other times they’re not, but they’re there.  I want him to know that beauty lies on the inside not on the outside.  Not based on the color of someone’s skin, or because they have a birthmark, or other physical or mental handicap.  I don’t want him to date girls who only want him because he’s attractive (another argument my mom has for getting it removed – God forbid Styles not some day have a hot girlfriend).  I wouldn’t want him dating superficial girls like that anyways.  I want him to marry a woman who loves him for his outstanding personality, intelligence, and wit.  Not because *GASP* he has a birthmark on his otherwise very handsome face.

I love him. AND his birthmark.

I know that it frustrates him sometimes when the same people ask time and time again, like the answer is going to change.  For instance, we were in the grocery store this week and this annoying little twit saw Styles in an aisle.  Apparently he knew who Styles was from school but is in a younger grade.  He asked Styles “what happened to your face?” and Styles told him that it was a birthmark.  The kid kept asking.  It was SUPER frustrating for me as a parent but I stood back and watched to see what Styles would do.  He completely ignored this little turd-hole after he answered him the second time and kept talking to me like he couldn’t hear him.  I was very proud.  Because I don’t want to make a big deal about it, I didn’t ask him how it made him feel.  He knows that he can come to me when and if he wants it removed.  So we went to check out and this same little nit-wit leaves the aisle his mom is in and runs over to our aisle to ask Styles AGAIN what happened to his face.  After the FIFTH time, I bent down and said loudly, “IT’S A BIRTHMARK”.  He said, “what happened to your face?” (for the sixth time) and I again said loudly, “IT’S A BIRTHMARK AND IT’S BEEN THERE SINCE HE WAS BORN.”

The little ish kept asking and I finally said, “OK the truth is, he was annoying me, kind of like you are right now, and I slapped him.  You want one too?”

He ran back to his mommy and I have NO clue whether or not he told her what I had said and quite frankly, I really don’t care.  OK so I shouldn’t have handled it that way, but this kid was SERIOUSLY irritating me.  I finally talked to Styles when we got to the car (cough…van) about this kid and how he (Styles) had reacted.  I told him that I was super proud of him for being calm about it.  But I also gave him full-on permission to make up some sort of radical story about his birth mark.  I told him that if someone keeps persisting, that it’s completely OK to tell them that he was burned on his last safari through Africa and that it will never go away.  Or that he was licked by a tiger in Nepal and that tigers tongues are SO rough that it left a scar.  Or to simply say, “What happened to your face?”  He laughed at me and told me that he was afraid he’d get in trouble at school for saying those things but I told him I had his back.  I reiterated the fact that he should always start by simply saying, “It’s a birthmark” but on the rare occasion where someone won’t back down and take that truthful answer for what it’s worth, to go ahead and tell a little lie.  I also reminded him that when and if he ever wants it removed, that we’ll do it in a heartbeat.  I’ve told him that it won’t hurt my feelings and that I just want him to be happy and make the decision for himself.  He says it doesn’t bother him and that he wants to keep it.  And he can keep it, for as long as he wants.  It’s his to do with as he pleases.

I’m proud of the decision I’ve made.  It wasn’t an easy decision and it certainly is not a decision that I made lightly.  It was not made due to finances or selfish ambitions.  It was made the same way I make all decisions regarding my children:  after lots of research and soul searching.  It is a decision made by me (his parent and loving mother), in a step to do what I believe is best for him.  It might not be the same decision you would make for your child and that’s OK.  I don’t judge you for your decision, just please try to understand mine.  We all want the same thing: the very best lives for our children and this is what I’ve chosen for my super-smart, outstandingly witty, sweet, loving, accepting little boy.

She’s Beautiful, So Why Aren’t I?

20 Feb

Having a daughter scares me.

I grew up with a mother who struggled with body image. She was anorexic/bulimic and I had to call 911 multiple times for her passing out after not eating for weeks. I’ll never forget when she weighed 88 lbs at 5’7″ and would suck her stomach in until you could see her rib cage. It always terrified me. I was 7 and I probably weighed not much less than her. She would look in the mirror and call herself “fat” and “hideous” and “ugly”. She started complaining about wrinkles before one ever resided on her face. She still does it and I don’t know that she’ll ever know how beautiful she really is.

My father was chubby as a child but had a family who was very conscious of their health. They ate healthy, they exercised, and they urged their family to be thin. As long as I’ve known him he’s been thin. Chicken legs, flat butt, healthy physique. When my sister and I visited him for the summer, we were fed healthy food, made to exercise, and our weight was always an issue. My pants were always “too tight”. When I developed breasts and was unaware of them, I was made to feel disgusting when I accidentally brushed up against my dad with them. I’ll never forget being told that I “looked good now that I had lost weight” and that “135 had been too much weight for me”. The thing is that I weighed 135 when I was told that and had been taking laxatives to lose weight. I was a size 5, the smallest I’ve ever been, I looked sick and I felt sick.

I’m not knocking being healthy, eating right, or exercising.

I’m saying that having a daughter terrifies me.

I’m not tall and thin like either of my parents, I never have been. I’m 5’6″ and I look GOOD when I’m a size 10 or 12.

With some friends in Alaska, Size 12. 158lbs.

150 – 160 is a great weight for me. I’m athletically built and curvy no matter how I eat or exercise. I have a big, bubbly butt and a teenie, tiny waist. I have small boobs and chiseled arms. My thighs and calves are muscular and large and they rub together when I walk, even at my most “healthy”. I despise my knees; they look like elephant seals.

Yep, that's what my knees look like. Image Courtesy perlgurl.org

I’ve always said that if I could have ANY plastic surgery, that it wouldn’t be a nose job to correct my long, straight nose. It wouldn’t be a boob job because I LOVE my “B’s”. It wouldn’t be liposuction to correct my butt, hips, or thighs. It would be liposuction in my KNEES.

My curves have never been appreciated by my parents or by me. I’ve spent countless hours crying in front of mirrors, oogling myself in every window I pass, but never because I thought I looked good. Always to size myself up and complain about each curve, the bounciness of my bottom, the forward “bump” on my thigh. I never noticed the flat stomach, graceful curve of my waist, or strength of my athletic body.

I started dancing when I was 7 after years of gymnastics, but I’m not built like a dancer. I’m built like a softball player.

I always compared myself to the lithe dancers around me. I was always the most muscular and most developed, even from that young age. I grew up comparing myself to girls who had bodies that are completely different than mine, and instead of telling me that I was beautiful as I was, my family encouraged me to look like them. I was never good enough.

When I found out I was having a daughter, I freaked out internally. I didn’t share my anxiety with anyone because I didn’t want people to know how I felt about ME. But the truth is that I prayed daily for her to be tall and thin like her dad’s side of the family. I wanted her to never have to compare her body to a spoon. A pencil-thin body is what I wanted for her. I didn’t want her to ever stand in front of a mirror and size herself up, crying inside about her 24.5″ waist and 41″ hips. I didn’t want her to ever walk into the GAP to try on jeans and have an impossible time finding something that fit not only her waist, but her ample bottom and “thunder thighs”. I didn’t want her to compare herself to the thin girl next to her on the barre with thighs that don’t touch when she stands in 1st position. I never wanted her to hear me say to myself, “God I’m fat” when the truth is “God, I’m curvy”…and she shares my body.

But it didn’t happen that way. She has my figure. She is 18 months old and she has my figure. Short, muscular legs, a bubble butt that wraps around to cute little hips. Elephant seal knees. It’s undeniable and I’m not the only one who notices it. I just hope that everyone else who notices it doesn’t say “Summer, she has your figure” with pity in their voices, but with envy. Envy because she will grow up with natural curves and super athletic abilities. Her bottom and thighs will be round, not straight; she will love them. And she is beautiful. I need to stop talking badly about her figure too. When people say something about it, I’ve said, “I know, poor girl.” NO, not “poor girl”. “Beautiful girl”. She doesn’t have to be thin and curveless to be beautiful or to love her body.

She Got it From Her Mama Courtesy: Thirteenth Moon Photography

I just have to learn that it starts with me. It starts at home with us telling her that she’s beautiful and teaching her to love her butt and muscular physique. And if you don’t like it, keep your mouth closed. The last thing she needs is someone telling her that she could lose a little here or there, or that her butt is “too big”. Because we’re doing what we can to feed her a well-balanced diet and teach her the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. If she’s never long and lean despite her best efforts, I want her to rejoice in her hard-worked curves because they’re beautiful. She’s beautiful. And so am I.

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