Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nifty Thrifty - May 20, 2015

Lately my kid has been exhibiting some behavior that just isn't in any of the blogs/books about CP. I don't want to get into it too deeply (yet?) but I will say that when I tell people "She has an unusual form of cerebral palsy, and you can't assume that all people with CP are the same," I am not kidding. So she's been driving me pretty much up the wall and I desperately needed a break. Enter Amy and a short thrifty day (I took the subway in both directions so we had less time than when I subway it up and get a ride home).

We went to two stores. The infamous favorite doggie-kitty-prices-are-so-low store and a Value Village. As ALWAYS AND FOREVER, Value Village continues to destroy clothing by stabbing price tags on plastic cords into the worst spots and making holes. But on the other hand, as I've noted, VV doesn't have consistent "all of these things are the same price" pricing, so the treasure hunt aspect is fun.

Not shown: I was actually mainly shopping for my husband (HA, SURE) but I'm not posting pictures of what he kept. Men are hard to buy for and of course it's hard to buy clothing for someone who isn't present - fit and style are so personal. But I took some risks. I bought him three shirts and a pair of shorts. One shirt he rejected from the picture I sent him after I'd already bought it. I lied - I'll show you that one:

OK, to be fair, I knew it was silly and I knew it wasn't entirely his style but I had hoped....  And then his emailed reply came too late for me to do anything about my purchase. So Amy bought it from me to gift to a more suitable recipient.

(I also did not buy him this one:

...which was an 80s Esprit shirt that was adorable....but I knew he'd never actually wear it. But SUMO WRESTLERS PLAYING TENNIS OR SOMETHING WHAT?)

Of the two shirts and the pair of shorts that I brought home, he only rejected one shirt and that is because *sigh sigh sigh* it had a tiny hole on the neck, just below the collar in the back. It looked like....a Value Village hole! I don't blame him for rejecting it, I'm just pissed that I didn't notice before I bought it - and the shirt itself was otherwise perfect. But for $4, he kept a pair of Eddie Bauer shorts and an Izod shirt. Not too shabby.

Here's what I got for me...

THE COAT OF MY DREAMS. There is a story about this and the story is that THIS is the coat that I wrote about in the previous post. I never forgot about it and I actually found it on ebay in a better size, but the price just wasn't right for something that was more of a novelty to me. When I walked into the store this time around, I went over to the coat rack to see and.....IT WAS STILL THERE. And it fits...enough. And it was $2.50 (it was in a section where prices are a bit confusing and subjective, so I asked and that's what I was told by the woman who sort of runs the place and I said "OH!" and she said, "Oh, wait....yeah, $2.50" and I said HOORAY). I have already twirled around the house in it many times. It's by True Meaning, which apparently is a schmancy brand to start with. I may someday splurge on the proper size but for now, this is happymaking. 

Amy found this for me and it's a smiiiiidge too small but you can't actually tell when it's on, I swear (it's very stretchy). It's BCBG/Max Azria, which, again, is apparently schmancy. It has the dry cleaner's tag in it and the care tag says "Dry Clean Only" but it's polyester. I'm washing it on delicate. Or maybe doing Dryel or something similar. $2. 
Ann Taylor Loft foofy skirt. The waistband is actually very cute but I couldn't be bothered to fix it for the picture. $2. 

Tommy Hilfiger jean shorts. $2.

J Crew "Boy Shirt" that I think will be very cute over a tank top. I think this might have been $1.50.

Love love love this yoga shirt but, well, I don't know what it says on the side. But it's from a high-end brand (it's part bamboo!) and it's so soft and comfy and fits so perfectly. Can you translate it? $1.50.
And then this is from Value Village. It was 20 cents and I bought it because those are my initials. HA. Turns out it's the logo of a Chicago bank, of all things. There were about 10 of these mugs in pristine condition but I don't really even need one mug...
Lastly, and not the best picture - sorry not sorry - an H&M shirt that was 75 cents because it was the half-price color of the day. It's purple and basic so even though you can't try things on at VV, I took a chance. (I haven't yet tried it on but it's probably fine.)

And for the kid....

Value Village! $2.50. Children's Place shirt.

$1.50. Evy of California shirt which apparently is also higher-end children's clothing. I didn't care about that, I just loved the skull.

Another near-perfect Children's Place shirt for $2.50. I asked my daughter what the design was. "Dragon!" she said. Close enough.

And from the doggie-kitty store, shorts for 75 cents.

It's such a rush going thrifting, isn't it?

Friday, April 17, 2015

First Thrifting Post of 2015 - April 17, 2015

How can this even BE? Have I really not had a good, intense, thrilling thrifting adventure at all this calendar year?

Truth be told, I know I have popped in and out of a few small thrift stores since January, but I bought so few things that I didn't take pictures or post or anything. Don't cry, it will be OK. (Actually I'm sorry I didn't purely because I use my blog as my own personal catalog of when/where/why I bought my wardrobe for reasons ranging from "Hey, I haven't worn that in a while and nearly forgot about it" to "I want to resell this piece - how much did I pay for it?" to "WHY ON EARTH did I buy this?")

In any case, yesterday I did escape to thriftland and managed to hit two stores on my quest to fill in my daughter's summer wardrobe a bit. I actually also went into a Goodwill with high hopes. Hopes that were dashed by the absurd management of the children's clothing section - two racks against a wall, with the one holding girl clothing so high that I (I am on the taller side) had to stretch to reach it, and no rhyme or reason for the order of the clothing on the rack. I'm not asking GW to arrange by size (though other stores manage it, but whatever), but perhaps by season? By pants vs. shirts? It was just a giant mess, with tiny onesies next to skirts for teenagers. I bought nothing.

But I did buy things at the two independent stores I love and adore. Things for her and things for me. Let's look at the things for me first, shall we?

Hard-to-photograph Merona (Target) dress that actually fits beautifully. Looks like it's made from a higher-end fabric than it is. $2 I think.

Fanciest purchase of the day! Lucky cropped jeans. Specially priced at $5. Fit adorably. Can't wait to wear these when this rain moves out.

Abercrombie jeans because I have another pair and I love how they fit. They're too long but have that frayed/cut edge that I actually find very charming. $2.

Tommy Hilfiger shirt for breaking out of my t-shirt rut. $2.

I was worried this Apt. 9 shirt would be too old-ladyish because it looks that way on the hanger (and in this picture) but I swear, it's not. It's great. Very flowy and cute and again, NOT A T-SHIRT! $2. 

But, I mean, I need T-shirts. Forever 21 (just like me!). $2.

And Target sometimes does clothing so well. I liked the flowers. The shirt is more gray than brown, trust me. $2.

So hard to photograph, so nice in person. Nine West black tank-top-swingy-shirt-thing. $2.

And then the things for my daughter:

Levis that I think might fit her now. Old Navy shorts that...I think might fit her now. (She's tricky.) 75 cents each.

These will probably fit her in the fall. Old Navy, Crazy 8s. 75 cents each, I think? (All kid clothes at one store were 75 cents, at the other they were 85 cents because $1 plus random daily 15% discount, and I can't remember which I bought where.)

I mean....I couldn't leave this there even if it's too big. 75 or 85 cents.

Super soft and nice Gymboree sweater for the fall. 85 cents, pretty sure.

Children's Place t-shirt that will fit her now. For some reason this was marked up to $2, which is fine just confusing. 

Cupcakes! OshKosh. 85 cents, I think.

These were 75 cents each and might be too small for her, maybe, but seriously. SERIOUSLY. 

Gymboree shirt in perfect condition. 85 cents, I think.

And finally, the non-clothing items. $1 for Liz Phair, $2 for the Wii game (still shrinkwrapped). Notice that I didn't buy any books! Ah, how much I've changed....

Also, I tried on, swooned over, sighed about, and then put back a super-cute green blazer/jacket that was just the tiniest bit too small in a way that would've been problematic. I've found it online though and might splurge on it....

Monday, April 13, 2015

Still here

Just thinking and trying to decide what I want to say here right now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Update: February 10, 2015

For now, things are fine. This time around, I'm going to come back in 6 months for another ultrasound. If warranted (likely), then I'll have a biopsy, but a far less invasive one than the one I went through last time around.

Basically, this one was very different from the second (and the first) and I greatly appreciated the surgeon's far more laid back, more hands off, more "wait and see" approach.

It's exhaaaausting. But now I can move on to the eleventy million other things on my to-do list, like filling out the application for my kid's summer camp (in February? yes.) and figuring out Adult Money Things, as adults do.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Of Screening Tests and Inconclusive Results - February 9, 2015

In December 2013, I went for my first official "I'm 40, time to have regular screenings" mammogram. I had had a series of mammograms when I was in my early 30s, though. This wasn't my first.

Back then, I found an odd (smooth, moveable) lump under my arm. I went for a consultation with a nurse practitioner who said "Well, it might be cancer!" I cried and also yelled. "Obviously I know that. That's why I'm worried!" She sent me for that first mammogram. The order of all the things blurs a bit because this was a few months before I got pregnant and, of course, my entire life changed after my kid was born, but there was a mammogram, an ultrasound, a meeting with a GP I'd only seen one other time (and I don't even remember why) who blanched at the results and told me "They have wonderful treatments for these things now" followed by a surgical consult and surgery (during which I was awake - by design, not by accident - it was done with local anesthesia). It was benign, a fibroadenoma. I moved on. My scar is nearly invisible now, all these years later.

Then December 2013. My supposed standard, run of the mill, get a new baseline mammogram? It came back with an abnormality. I got the call while my cat was having an EKG (he's an older cat and he has a heart murmur we now are monitoring closely). I was worried about him that day - a skittish cat with a heart murmur at the vet. I was afraid he'd have a heart attack over it. So when I remember that phone call, it's like it was underwater. I remember someone telling me they'd seen something on my mammogram, and I think I remember someone telling me to come back for more tests, but it's all with this layer of fuzzy disbelief coating it. I remember thinking "Oh, you're not the vet. You're not calling me to tell me how my cat is doing. You're...telling me something"

The timing for such things is never good, but the timing for this was particularly poor. Everything happened swiftly, without much time to plan, right around the December holidays, including while my kid was off of school, including while various doctors and specialists and pathologists were on break, and so on. The radiologist had seen calcifications, which can be normal, but they were clustered in an abnormal manner. I had a second mammogram. Then I had a surgical consult with a new surgeon (I had run from that first surgeon after he was overly alarmist about something unrelated that I got both second, third, and fourth opinions about - and it is a non issue that I have checked yearly by my GP, but I digress).

An attempt at a needle biopsy failed because of the placement of the calcifications. Lucky me - I had to schedule an actual surgical procedure. Full on (outpatient) surgery with anesthesia - and I had to be put under more fully during the procedure itself, I found out afterwards, because I had a reaction to the "twilight sleep" they tried at first. (I wish I knew more about my reaction - I had similar anesthesia during my wisdom tooth removal without issue, but I also wasn't worried that my wisdom tooth was cancer.) I was alone because my husband was home with the kid. I was left, at one point, by myself in a small back area so that someone could pick me up in a wheelchair to take me from the first part of the procedure to the second - luckily a nurse wandered by randomly and I begged her for at least a magazine I could stare at to pass the time. (If I have to do this again, I'm bringing my own damn magazines, even if I have to leave them behind as I move from place to place.)

After my surgery, I was brought back to the wrong room and for a minute the orderly couldn't find my glasses nor my clothes before they were tracked down in my original room. Also I had to leave my phone at home. The horror! It was like 1999 all over again! Also it was boring and lonely and depressing. (Also it was the right thing to do - see: they lost my clothes and glasses briefly.) (I also had to leave my wedding and engagement bands at home, which felt so naked and terrible.)

A week later (A WEEK - I took anti-anxiety meds specifically to get through it) I had to battle an ice storm and my kid being home from school because of it and finding someone to watch her to go for the results with my husband (I really didn't want to face this alone), and the results were...benign. Another fibroadenoma. It had calcifications in it. I was left with pain, a scar, huge medical bills, and relief -- but also anger and frustration and sadness and confusion and a whole host of emotions. Was I thrilled it was benign? Of course. It just was a long road to get to that point.

I was supposed to go back in a certain number of months (I think three?) for a new baseline mammogram and a visit with the surgeon. Unfortunately, though I was told that someone would call me to make the appointment, that never happened. I saw my GP instead several months later to confirm that things had healed up properly and then I kept an eye on it. As 2014 came to a close, I made my appointment for my next yearly mammogram, then thought better of its original timing (December again) and moved it to February, thinking it would give me some flexibility and time to deal with whatever the results would be (but surely they'd be unremarkable!). I healed, emotionally and physically. I finally got on top of everything. The credit card debt, unfortunately, remains.

Which brings us to now. To today. Because I had that screening mammogram early last week and assumed it would show everything healed up and fine and dandy and I'd be good to go. Nope. The next day, I yet again got a call. The radiologist saw something different from last year. Come back. I went back for another mammogram (one that hurt, I cannot lie - but they usually don't hurt at all) and an ultrasound. (Oh boy, more bills.) Something's there. It's probably nothing, it's "low suspicion of malignancy," it could just be a slightly unusual fibroadenoma - and hey, I've had two. But low suspicion isn't no suspicion. There's a concern. There's a worry. I'm off to see the surgeon tomorrow for what was supposed to be a yearly follow up to the last surgery but now is going to be a discussion, a review, and a lot of unknowns.

Life doesn't stop when you get bad test results. My kid threw up all weekend and came home early from school. I've had a sore throat. I haven't had a minute to process, really. I mostly just put my head down and move through things like this. I'll be glad when I know something. It's the not knowing that is the worst. Then you know. Then you make a plan.

To be continued.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weight Watchers Update - Three Years at Goal....Sort Of - January 23, 2015

I had this post planned in my head for a few days, and then when I checked my blog archives I saw that it actually is perfect timing. I first reached my WW goal in January 2012 (I lost a bit more weight over the next few months before settling into a comfortable zone, but January 2012 is when I first hit a very specific number). Then I updated at a year, but it looks like I then let the second year go by without noting it.

For the first half of 2014, I still managed to stay at my goal. And then, well, I finally started to lose interest in the program. (If you know me at all, you probably know that I get VERY VERY EXCITED about things and then at some point later, I tend to taper off - not with everything but with some things. So sticking with WW like I did for nearly three years from the first day I walked into a meeting, well, I think that's pretty good.) I got sick of tracking (and I honestly hadn't been tracking for the past year anyway, but I got good at estimating and keeping things in my head). And then I started going to meetings just once a month instead of every week - or just popping in and weighing in once a month (that keeps your membership active) and not staying at all. (The support of the people at the meetings with whom I'd become friendly - and my amazing leader, always - was an invaluable part of my journey - without it...I got lost.)

And then my old habits crept in.

For me, the reason that Weight Watchers worked so well was that I was not eating mindfully until I joined the program. I would eat at a restaurant, feel stuffed, and still order dessert. Just because. I also would finish everything on my plate, or everything in the box/container/whatever from the grocery store because I didn't want to waste it. Or because, as I justified it in my head, if I eat it now, it will be gone, and I can stop thinking about it. And I'd eat an entire pint of ice cream, all at once. Every weekend. I've told this story before. You know how it goes. Off the program? Off being mindful.

I also stopped avoiding the purchase of certain trigger foods, like chocolate chips and M&Ms. I literally cannot stop eating those things (and a few others) if they are in the house. I can portion them out and put the rest in a sealed bag and then hide that bag, and I will still go back, find that bag, open it, and eat the rest. And feel gross. (but not GUILTY. Food shame is absurd. Associating the word "guilt" with food just doesn't work for me at all. I just felt physically bloated, ill, and overfull.)

And suddenly the scale was not my friend. I was at the top of my goal weight, when I'd hovered a pound or two below it. Then I was one pound above. Then I was at two - and that's what's "allowed" if you want to be an active Lifetime member and continue to go to meetings for free. I know that for some people this doesn't work. I know that for some people, this is shaming or problematic. That's fine. For me, the entire program worked, including this part of the journey.

I skipped a month of meetings, feeling embarrassed. I'd been such a vocal cheerleader at the meetings - and now I'd have to go back and admit I'd faltered? I hid. Then I ran into two women I know from WW - they were heading home from a meeting while I was walking home from Starbucks and taking the long way so I wouldn't have to walk by that very same meeting. They were so kind and friendly and sweet - asking how I'd been and being all around supportive and positive. I realized that I really shouldn't hide anymore.

So I went back to a meeting the next week and I faced what was going on. I weighed in and, as I already knew, I was more than two pounds over my goal weight. And because of that, I had to hand over the weekly fee after being a solid Lifetime member for over two years and, therefore, not needing to pay. Ouch. But I did it. I paid, and I stayed for the meeting, and I recommitted to the program and yes this sounds sooooo culty. I laugh every time I talk about it in these terms. I hear it. I get it.

This isn't actually where things got better, either. Because I had the confirmation that I was above goal on the official WW scales (which I've always suspected are calibrated to account for clothing weight), I skipped another month while I brooded. The last time this had happened, years ago, I started a bad pattern of "well, as long as i don't get to long as clothing item Y still long as I'm not at Z...." I could easily have thrown up my hands and said, "Fine, I did it for two years, that's great, I'm done, pass the pint of ice cream." Instead, this time, I had the tools to catch myself before I went there thanks to all I'd learned while going through the WW program. While I wrapped my head around the idea of needing to track/be mindful all over again, I changed up my routine and my home to shake things up by doing the following:

  • For Black Friday I bought a FitBit One, which gave me the shiny-new-toy motivation to start moving again after months on the couch. I regularly get 10,000 steps, and I make sure I get at least 5,000, even if that means jogging in place while watching TV or walking around the kitchen table a few times. In short: I love love LOVE my FitBit One. (that is my referral link, OK?)
  • I also bought a Paderno spiralizer (that is ALSO my referral link, OK?), and now I eat spiralized zucchini, daikon radish, carrot, cucumber, sweet name it. I also eat pasta - yummy, yummy pasta - but this is such a great way to get extra vegetables into my diet and it's SO FUN TO USE too. I use it at least once a week.
  • And I also bought a Tim3 Machin3 through Kickstarter. (That is not a referral link.) It's a rice/quinoa/slow cooker/steamer/yogurt maker. I love it. It makes the best quinoa I have ever had as well as the best brown rice, the most amazing sticky rice, and on and on. I haven't yet tried the yogurt function but I will sooooon. New kitchen toys (those two things plus a new coffee maker and a new eco-friendly nonstick pan) helped me get excited about healthy eating again.
  • I opened the WW website and started tracking my food again. (Ugh.)
  • I installed the app on my phone (by the way? the app is terrible) and tracked that too.
  • And I stopped buying trigger food. I didn't stock up after Christmas on candy (I did that in 2013, after stopping).

I did not - and I will not - stop eating things I enjoy. I go to Jeni's Ice Cream quite often, thank you very much, and I get a trio, and it is amazing. I had a big plate of hand-cut french fries just last night. But I went back to mindfulness. Am I hungry? Am I bored? Am I full? Do I really want that? I ate half of that plate of fries and then offered them to friends and then put them aside, realizing that I was full, had enjoyed the fries very much (OH THEY WERE GOOD), and was only eating them because they were there.

Then this month, I went back to a meeting (and had to pay again because I skipped a month - ouch again!) and stepped on the scale, and found myself back at goal. No wonder those jeans finally fit again...

So that's my update. This is, as always, about me and not you. About how this particular program - all of its moving parts, including an amazing leader, interesting meetings, a financial obligation, the "points" vs. calories concept, the "free fruit and vegetables" angle - all of this came together to work for me to make me feel good, strong, and healthy again. I don't know if it will work for you and I don't know what will work for you. I have no answers, explanations, or advice. I'm also lacto-ovo vegetarian, and I don't know whether that's going to work for you either. I am only chronicling my personal journey and that's it.

Here's hoping I can stay on track this time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Accountability List aka Not New Year's Resolutions But They Are - January 6, 2015

2015! Is! Here!
  • At least a post a month here. 
    • Possibly including some of the stacked up posts in the queue. Trying to be brave.
  • 5,000 steps minimum/day. 7,500 would be ideal. (I have almost finished Serial, which was my carrot. I have a few other podcasts to check out, or I may start to delve into audio books.) (I currently love my FitBit, so perhaps I can KEEP LOVING MY FITBIT for more than a few months....)
  • A recommitment to (sigh) tracking via Weight Watchers. I'm the tiniest bit off track but I learned through WW that this is when it's time to get back ON track.
  • I've set a challenge of reading 30 books this year, which feels reasonable. You can see how I'm doing on my Goodreads page. I've finished one book so far - plus a cookbook, but I'm not counting that. 
  • Keeping track privately of things going on in my life so at the end of the year I'm not scrambling to remember January-September.
  • And a new job (in a pear tree).