Amber Waves of Quinoa

Yesterday I had a grownup moment. Like the first time you turned around and realized that a productive weekend was Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond vs. a tipsy brunch and whatever followed. Follow up realization – when did you decide weekends were for productivity anyway?

But anyway, my grownup moment.

Sure, you could consider getting married one. Or having a child. Or that day when you thought to yourself – hey, I’m craving pimiento cheese, fiber cereal and Wheel of Fortune. But it wasn’t until I put the baby down, put on my workout pants for the actual purpose of working out, actually left the house still with that intention (baby in Husband Dearest’s capable hands), got to the gym, stayed there, worked out (stairmaster!), noticed my proximity to Whole Foods, realized I could go there sans baby, and was calmly ignoring the Back to School chaos as I drifted through the aisles feeling like I was on some sort of vacation.

Grown up moment: when you don’t need Maui, you are straight up tripping on a grocery store run at a store where there are more people per square foot on the weekends than China during a karaoke festival.

And I’m not saying this could happen at any store. We’re talking Whole Foods (imagine magic confetti and listen for fairy sprinkles). The holy grail for the holistic, a paleo paradise, a wheat-free wonderland and kingdom where Kale rules supreme.

You feel healthier just breathing the air. Suddenly the 12 Oreos you ate for breakfast become a distant memory and thoughts of wheatgrass dance through your mind – surely a macrobiotic colon cleanse is the cure for everything. The place is worse than Target. It’s impossible to get out of there spending less than a hundred bucks. It’s the only publicly sanctioned cult I’ve run across, and I think they vaporize their Kool-Aid into the HVAC system.

Anyway. I don’t know what it was – my once in a blue moon workout, the ability to make an impromptu decision without considering Jack’s nap or feeding schedule, or the basil infused ambiance and freakin’ cool cart escalators at Whole Foods – but my happy rear rode that wave all the way to 2:30 a.m. when I was finally able to sleep. Now I need a vacation from my staycation.

Or maybe a shot of wheatgrass.

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Letter | The Second

Dear Little One,

It’s been four months since you were born, and I just now feel like the whirlwind is calming. And that’s kind of not fair because I feel like I blinked my eyes and my fragile, five pound, six week early little boy is suddenly a filled-out, healthy Gerber baby who bears strikingly little resemblance to the tiny person I met on October 24th. The thing of it is, as grateful and proud as your Papa and I are that you are as healthy and hearty as you are, a small part of me misses the early days of constant cuddling.

Your Papa and I like to call you Monkey. This is evolved from “Buddy” which got tossed because it’s the name we sometimes call the dog, and “Bunny” which was jokingly vetoed by your father as “not manly enough for my son.”

I do my best, but sometimes Bunny still comes out, and no matter what we call you, we can’t seem to avoid calling Scout by the same thing. I hope one day I don’t find you both eating out of the same (or different…) dog dish and running toward me when I get the leashes out.

While I loved the Littlest of People you were when you were born, I’m so glad to have you home from the hospital – something that takes a few days in the best of cases, but took a month in yours. You’ll never remember the 37 days you spent in the NICU, but your Papa and I will never forget it. The days we spent at your side, looking when we couldn’t touch, talking to you when we were told you could be awake, helping purple-gloved nurses give you your first baths, take your temperature and change tiny diapers…eating too many meals in the hospital cafeteria – they will be with us for the rest of our lives.

You were loved from the beginning – your Grandmas spent nights with you so you didn’t have to be alone. Your Grandpas, Aunts and Uncle, Great Grandparents visited as often as they could, and the rest of your family and friends held their breaths every day for news of your health.

Try to remember this when you’re five and Mama holds on a little too long before letting you go into your kindergarten class.

But, despite a less than smooth start into the world, you have shown us all how tough and special you are. Someday I hope you read this, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about who you are now:

Lovely Locks. You were born with a full head of dark, movie star hair. Until this last week or two, you managed to keep most of it. What’s left is getting lighter and looking more…middle aged. You have a nice combination of male pattern balding meets Mohawk meets Mullet – and you’re still so handsome strangers ask me for your autograph.

Squeaker. When you were born, we joked that you didn’t cry, you squeaked. It wasn’t until you were probably two months old before we heard sounds of discontent that resembled crying versus that noise that happens when you step on a dog toy. It was the cutest thing, and I could always pick you out of the NICU crowd as soon as I walked in the door.

Peepers. You have your Papa’s blue eyes and have from day one. Babies’ eyes tend to change colors, but most of us are pretty sure you get to keep these Baby Blues. I have been looking into extra-long fly swatters to keep the women away, but I fear it’s a lost cause – especially when you smile.

Smiles and giggles. As soon as you figured this one out, we were goners. You find joy in the smallest of things – at this point mostly when we stick our tongues out at you or open our mouths really big. I don’t know what you see in there that is so hysterical, but Monkey, let me tell you, we are slaves to that giggle. I didn’t realize how people became those parents that embarrass themselves to no end to entertain their children – that is until I regularly find myself sticking my tongue out and showing you my tonsils in public just to see a smile on your face. As you grow, I wouldn’t mind it if you found less…embarrassing things to be funny. People tend to stare at you when you stick your tongue out at infants.

Llamas. It’s been a week since I started writing this letter. Now you think it’s funny when we tell you “L is for Llama,” and make a spitting noise. I have a feeling fart jokes are in your future.

Leaps and Bounds. You take a nap and I think sometimes you wake up an inch longer than when you went down. You’re four and a half months old and I am scrambling to find you clothes in the 6-9 month range. If there are pictures of you at five months wearing a bed sheet – we’ve finally run out of clothes and/or the money to buy them, and we’ve given up.

Bilingual. You roll your r’s like a pro and now that you’ve discovered this – we hear one long trill after another, all day long. You, dear son, are fluent in Chewbacca.

I could keep going, but I am going to leave a little mystery out there for you.  Just know that every day we learn something new about you, and it’s just about the most fun your Papa and I have ever had.

Thank you for being you.

Love,
Mama

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In Times of Loss

Husband Dearest was my very first date. We went to our High School Junior Homecoming dance together and we both seemed to like how that went – put him in the basket, please, I’ll take him – and what the heck, let’s giftwrap.

Husband Dearest’s immediate and extended family welcomed me from the get go; they welcomed me even more so once they figured out I wasn’t going anywhere. Holidays, Birthday cards (even the kind with money from the grandparents), family events, his parents, sister, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins. Husband Dearest has an amazing wealth of family on both sides. They all inspire the love and loyalty of those around them, and they have definitively held mine for many years.

I’ve been with Husband Dearest almost as long as I’ve been without him, and he’s seen me through a series of familial losses that seemed unending. When we heard that Husband Dearest’s cousin, 22, passed away tragically and unexpectedly last week, it was like a rug slipped out from under us, but there wasn’t any ground underneath it.

The call came, the news delivered and unreality set in. You mourn his loss somewhat at a distance – understanding logically that he was gone, but again not understanding because the news is too big and almost like a warped practical joke. It’s not real – right?

Our cousin’s viewing and funeral were unlike any other I have ever seen. It was awe-inspiring the number of people who came to pay their respects to the family. The line of people attending the viewing almost circled the building and stayed that way for hours. I have never seen flowers like the ones in that room, neither in number, nor size nor thoughtfulness. We all read each card, thankful for its message. The graveside service and following celebration of life was similarly attended and extremely poignant.

Slideshows recapped our cousin’s life and my heart hurt so badly for the family, in the old way. I was not expecting how it would again affect me as someone soon to be a mother herself. I reel from the loss I can only imagine his parents must feel. His grandparents, his sisters – I want to hold them all in my lap, wrap them in my arms, and rock until the hurt goes away. I want to keep away the well-wishers that may accidently say something hurtful. Keep them safe from the supporters bearing germs – a cold on top of it all could just be the final straw.

I want to do something for them now. Now that the painful but busy part of losing someone is winding down. When the others go home, back to work – away. It’s a painful silence. You find yourself feeling like the old man on the mountain, sitting mutely and looking down at the activity around you. It takes a lot of effort for people to climb the peak and part the clouds enough to reach you in your thoughts. Even more effort sometimes for you to desire to reach beyond the cloud layer yourself to seek interaction.

I want them all to know that Husband Dearest and I are here for what’s needed, whether that’s to be a distraction or to sit together in silence. When Baby Boy’s here, I’m sure that will help, but to think of Baby Boy and the new start he represents, in the same breath as we mourn this loss, seems a cosmic injustice.

Lady Justice, the scales shouldn’t work this way.

I want our family to know that all they’re going through is ok. I remember feeling terrible guilt during the times I would forget – forget that someone is gone, or to laugh. Laughing felt sacrilegious and wrong, and it took a long while to realize it shouldn’t be cause for guilt.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

It’s nature’s way of leading you through. It’s ok to reach out to someone and say – I need to get out and do – anything. It’s ok to trust your doctor’s advice and keep your body and mind well as the journey continues. It’s ok to be angry at the person who left, at the situation you’re in. This is normal.

It’s normal and it sucks.

Family, we love you and we’re here.

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This Past Wednesday, a Billion Years Ago

Internet – This week, approximately one billion years ago, Husband Dearest was born, thus changing the trajectory of my life not quite yet but forever.

I say not quite yet, because I wasn’t born yet.

Because I am much, much younger than he is.

Like at least seven months younger.

So, while I get to be Mrs. Robinson’s pool boy for a little longer, Husband Dearest gets to enjoy the blessings of being 30 years old. Presents are great and everything, but hooking up with a 20-something – priceless! At least I would imagine it’s priceless. I mean it would probably be more priceless if I was like 20, but hey, next time you’ll be more specific with the whispers you make when wishing on star, now won’t you!

For this milestone birthday, I got him his dream gift – a water bottle and a picture of me (well, us, at our wedding, but he’s facing away, so it’s pretty much a picture of me). I also tried to make him his favorite dessert – the Ice Box Pie from Hibiscus in Dallas, a delicious concoction consisting of vanilla ice cream, Butterfinger candy bar, touches of caramel, and an Oreo cookie crust. I go to the effort of secret grocery shopping, patting my basketball belly in mute explanation under the slack-jawed gaze of the checkout clerk as they put 8 candy bars into my reusable bag. I wait until Husband Dearest is out of the house and use my culinary skills to whip up this masterpiece and place it in the freezer, hiding it under piles of frozen spinach until I can take it to his birthday dinner and share with Husband Dearest and his family. I imagine his smile as he sees the effort I have gone to in order to bring him this, his favorite dessert, and while my purchased presents were small, this homemade, heartfelt gift would make up for it.

So image my excitement when, as the waiter cleared the table, I bring in my ice-packed surprise from the car.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts and a well-meaning ice chest, Husband Dearest got not the birthday ice cream cake that he was expecting, but a pie plate of Butterfinger soup. Literal soup.

Every single ice-cube in that chest is perfectly, frozenly formed, and my surprise cake-pie is a mess of melted ice cream, which in its meltiness has bled the color from the Butterfinger and now is a puddle of orange diabetes.

Not to mention, as we’re preparing for this grand dessert, I tried to shake up the ice cream caramel topping – you know – to drizzle cutely on top of each, ahem, slice of the pie, and what do you know? The seal that you’re supposed to remove before you drizzle isn’t quite as sealed as advertised. Caramel’s in my hair, on my face, on Husband Dearest’s shirt.

I am a sticky, horrified, pregnant mess sitting next to the sweetest man trying valiantly to spoon liquid pie onto a plate and eat it.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, I should be glad I didn’t compound the issue by trying to put a candle in it or something, but this totally did not go as planned. Poor 30-year-old Husband Dearest. Guess this year I’ll make it up to him by letting him get to fourth base.

Happy Birthday Babe!

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Letter | The First

Dear Baby Boy,

It’s already a pleasure to know you. We have been getting to know one another for about 6 months at this point, and I can tell you’re going to be like your Papa was when he was a little boy – energy in motion. I’m sure your grandparents, my parents, would  have a few stories to tell you, but I always remember myself as quiet and calm – reading or thinking about stories more than acting them out. Meanwhile, your Papa’s parents would blink and he would be hanging from the kitchen light fixture… but don’t get any ideas.

You like to wake up and tumble about usually around the nines – 9 AM and 9 PM, with a few play dates in between. I don’t know what you’re doing in there, maybe bowling, but its one of the strangest feelings. Someday, I’m sure you’ll swallow a bug or goldfish or something and have only a small inkling of how it feels to have you in my tummy. I suppose it’s Nature’s way of keeping babies close to their Mama’s hearts until they’re ready to venture outside into the comparably colder world and meet the rest of their families. Regardless, you’re getting bigger and bigger every day – a fact documented by my quickly disappearing feet and a belly button that grows shallower every day.

You’ve been pretty kind to your old Mom this whole time – you didn’t make me nauseous for long and even then, it was never so bad as to actually become sick. For a while, you did enjoy naptimes so much so that you couldn’t help but share them with me, and I would fall asleep mid-sentence and at all times of the day. Beyond that though, I feel that you and my bladder are playing a really lopsided game of Rock/Paper/Scissors. Guess what, the bladder is taking a beating.

The only truly uncomfortable side effect of your tenancy is a constant feeling of being full – really, really, Thanksgiving-esque full. Perhaps you’re already saving me from what damage the combination of pregnancy cravings and a love of doughnuts could do. When people ask me how I’m doing, sometimes the feeling that my tummy is full like a beach ball filled to the brim with sand can override all else. However, what I mean to tell them is that you are a sweet boy who isn’t giving me too much trouble, and I’m thankful. According to my sources, as a growing boy you won’t understand the concept of “full” for a while. Most people start a college fund for their children, but I’m convinced a grocery store fund isn’t out of the question.

I read that, at this point, your little face looks pretty much how it will look when we meet you in December. I can’t help but hope that you have your Papa’s chin dimple and his happy, intelligent, blue eyes. While we’ll get to wait a bit longer to see what color your eyes will be – I have to admit the little kid in me who shakes the presents at Christmastime will probably go get one of those cool 3D ultrasounds so your Papa and I can put a face to your name.

And now, since it’s late and you are rolling around again enough to make me realize a bathroom trip is in order, I’ll say good night and sleep tight.

Love,
Mama

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A Plan With Good Intentions

I can imagine how having this little one is going to be for me, an inkling anyway. I know its going to be fluffy clouds, naps all day, a cooing, smiling, blue baby boy daydream. Mark my words.

I can even imagine how its going to be for Husband Dearest – just one more face to kiss before heading merrily off to golf, right?

But in thinking about how this will work for our furry children, I imagine it from their view and see this Braveheart-esque charge down the hill that is our front lawn. In comes 7lbs (hopefully) of noisy smell and the 500lbs of “necessities” that come with it. They haven’t seen much of their parents in the last few days, and can’t quite put their finger on why this isn’t like the other trips they remember from the past. Once their people come home, at least one is too tired to properly accept the usually-proclaimed upon greeting and the other is lugging the “necessities,” and everyone is yelling for the dogs to stop jumping around.

So, in my blog-grazing adventures, I came across the idea of getting a real-looking baby doll to get the dogs accustomed to sharing my lap and not jumping, etc. You know, just kind of easing the transition. Amazon Prime to the rescue! Now, as my purpose for this purchase was dog training, I was all for the economical approach to fake baby brothers…which meant getting the less expensive girl baby – a choice which, when photographed, got Facebook all atwitter. Regardless, today marks day one of carrying this tiny, plastic, baby-smelling thing around, calling it “The Baby,” encouraging easy sniffing and less jumping. It seemed to go fairly well for the dogs.

The thing is, it totally backfired – for me.

In the course of carrying it around, trying to put clothes on it, holding it awkwardly as I watch television, I realized that this tool I have acquired to calmly introduce my dogs to a baby had made me come to grips with the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. None.

I had that baby’s arm almost off before I was able to put that tiny onsie on. While the fur babies settled on the floor and next to me on the couch, I sat there staring at this plastic, powder-scented girl-boy baby and thought, well now what? I hope feeding really does take the time everyone says it does because I was totally at a loss as to what to do with him-her otherwise. I was on my 12th trip to the bathroom when I realized I was no longer holding the baby and it was about 3 minutes later before I realized it was because I had left it on top of the toilet tank. I’m fairly sure that is not a good plan moving forward.

So, while I know women have been doing this for centuries, fairly successfully, I can only hope that, come December, maternal instincts kick in. Failing that, I hope the real baby’s arms move a little easier for putting clothes on.

Oh, and if anyone knows how to attach a crib to the back of the toilet, you know my digits.

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Passing First Base

Dear Internet,

I now realize why, when asked how far along they are, pregnant ladies always answer in weeks. As a non-pregnant person in the past, I was always a little confused by their answers – smiling, nodding, walking away trying to divide in my head. Now I realize pregnant ladies answer that way because they have no idea how many months they are either! Truly, the whole date of conception, date of implantation, due date, you’re this far along, but the baby is technically a week behind you thing is danged confusing!

So, don’t be surprised if, when you ask me, I will answer you with “I am 17.5 weeks today.” What that means, dear Internet, is that the Second Trimester is firmly under way – goodbye to all of those charming First Trimester symptoms and hello to, well, the calm before the storm. And also the period where you are no longer terrified you are going to look pregnant – you’re begging for it, because at this point you still look like you had too good a time at the Gattitown pizza buffet.

It’s also a fantastic time to notice things. Like, hey, we should probably think about buying this kid some furniture. Or, man, I hope this kid does not inherit my flying squirrel arms. Most recently, I have noticed that having dogs is probably great training for having kids. And here’s why:

Why Dogs are Excellent Training for Having Kids:

  1. You Must Feed Them – an easy one, I grant you that. But how many times have you looked your dog in the eye at 2:30 p.m. and realized they aren’t following you around all day because they love you – they’re doing it because you forgot to feed them breakfast, and they have no thumbs to do it themselves?
  2. You Must Potty Them – sure, the methods may differ, but the truth of the matter is if you don’t let the dog out, or change the baby’s diaper, there will be a mess in your house. Likely on you, your clothes, your carpet, you name it. I swear to the heavens above, though, that if I ever have to pull a 14-ft long piece of grass from my kiddo’s hindquarters, I am saving it in his baby book to show him and his date on prom night.
  3. You Freak Out When They’re Sick – they can’t talk to you and tell you what hurts. They just lay down a lot, looking pitiful and fevery-hot, not wanting to eat or play, and you’re willing to plop down your mortgage to fix it. Luckily so far, this usually resolves itself with a delayed bowel movement containing at least one stuffed animal ear or tennis ball parts. Let’s hope kids are this easy too – “Look Husband Dearest, I found your headphones!”
  4. You will never go to the bathroom alone again – I know about doors, and their purpose in keeping others out while you attend to some thangs. However, I also realize it is almost worthless to try at my house, because it is a heck of a lot easier yelling at Husband Dearest to get the bejeezus out of here than it is to keep little doggie noses from battle-ramming their way in. Sometimes I give up and the little one sits on my lap. I am pretty sure that’s why, of the two of us, he likes me more than Husband Dearest – and I’m not afraid to exploit that.

Now that your mind is sufficiently blown, I will leave you with this amazingly brilliant and artistic cartoon and the happy dance that is sure to follow:

Baby Comic Gender Reveal

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Prunes, Stretch Pants and Doggie Eye Conversations

Well, I started this blog as the tales of a childless mommy blogger, and have since found myself with child – thanks a lot, Husband Dearest! Not that I’m not excited. I am. And terrified, in denial, in expectation – wait. What was I saying again?

Which brings me to my main point today. The joys of the first trimester. Allow me to list them: Nausea, forgetfulness, impromptu nap-taking in public places, number one-ing all the time (and wanting to even when there’s nothing there) and not going that other number all the time, without help.

I knew about morning sickness, which has mostly passed. I could guess that you may be tired, you know, growing a person and all that. However, being stopped up in the (eyebrow raise – eyebrow raise) region is a pregnancy side effect not as highly publicized. Maybe because people don’t like to say words like “constipated.” However, if the World Wide Web is any indication, words like “placenta,” “womb” and “birth” are just fine to say. Anyone else think these words are grosser than Rush Limbaugh’s sex tape? Ugh.

Now, pregnancy brain is something I have seen first hand and believe in. I just can’t believe it starts this early. It does, Internet, it does. I cannot count the times I have walked into the room knowing I had a mission, doing an eye-lock with the dog – willing the beast to tell me just what I was doing in this room.

Sometimes they answer. Don’t judge me.

I think they’re just going off of a bank of sure-fire answers in the hopes they’re right:

  1. “Well, Mama, you are here to get me a treat. It’s right there in that cabinet next to where you’re standing. I am also standing right here, and it would be incredibly efficient if you were to just go ahead and give it to me now.”
  2. “Well, Mama, you are here to pee. I don’t know how in the life of me you manage to balance yourself up there and do that, but I have resigned myself to the fact that I can’t explain why you do the voodoo that you do. Just don’t forget to flush.”
  3. “Well, Mama, you are here to eat something. Probably something sweet with extra fiber added to it, because of the you know what. Try prunes. I don’t like them, but the old folks swear they’re like magic. You aren’t fooling anyone with those Fiber One bars – you know they’re practically cookies.”

Baby Comic 2.jpg

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Answer? Nixon.

Question: Who is current the president?

No? Not right? How long was I held hostage in there anyway?

Regardless, I’m back Internet, recently freed from the prison that was my shirt. Or I suppose shirts. In an effort to keep warm while attending an Anytime Fitness training conference today, I wore three layers – built-in-bra-tank, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt. Yesterday, it was so cold I was beginning to wonder if we were the subjects of a new bio-experiment on how frostbite effects resting metabolic rate…

Anywho. If you ever start to feel like you’re losing touch with the little people, try taking off a built-in-bra-tank, long sleeve shirt and t-shirt like you would a normal top. That is, all at once.

While many of you may find disrobing layer by layer a walk in the park (be careful, it can get chilly when topless), the bulk of you (aka: Yours Truly) will find taking all layers off at once the garment equivalent of a Chinese finger trap.

Pair that with a husband who is conveniently AWOL at yet another bachelor party, and a recorded episode of NCIS beginning a commercial break, and you can imagine my dilemma. This brings up another fantastic point – where have all the good valets gone?

And no, my Dallas friends. I’m not talking about those people who take your car so you don’t have to park then walk 15 blocks to make your dinner reservation. I mean those smartly-garbed assistants whose sole purpose was to assist you with your daily needs, including dressing (and undressing).

“But, but!,” my valet stammered, making even these dull noises fanciful in his British accent.

“Never mind that valet’s typically assist gentlemen, Jeeves,” says I. “You can press my cravat any day.”

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Because Fat Looks Better When It’s Neon and Comes with a Soundtrack.

Hi Internet,

It’s me, Guilty Pete. The holiday season got the best of me, and like any Santa-drunk lover of Christmas, I ignored all else until now. I call this period the Christmas Blues Hangover, where you realize that the world didn’t actually stop turning because it was the week of Christmas…okay, for me, month of Christmas.

I hope Santa was good to you all this year. There were many events in our country around the holidays that were cause for moments of silence. My heart goes out to everyone who had reason to mourn this season.

As for myself, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop too. The Thanksgiving to Christmas span has historically been not so great for our family – car accidents, illness, funerals. As a lover of Christmas, it was especially irritating to feel my anxiety level spike as we neared the one day I look forward to all year. Thank goodness this year we were spared. My dad did get a cold, but that was our only casualty of the season.

This year, I felt like I had more Christmases than I have ever had before. Husband Dearest is still lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents, which means a grand total of FIVE Christmases – Husband Dearest’s Mom’s Family, Husband Dearest’s Dad’s Family, My Immediate Family, My Extended Family and last but not least, Husband Dearest’s Immediate Family.

I completely came back to our apartment having put the jolly back in the holidays – most of it traveling back home in and over my jeans. Ugh. At any moment, I expect Jack Hannah to show up with a video camera and crew to film me as I go into hibernation. Husband Dearest ran into a sale at the J. Crew outlet stores near us when shopping for my Christmas gift this year and decided that the sale was so good, I couldn’t miss stocking up on essentials.

So what does this Jolly, Chunky, Christmas Treat Junkie do?
She goes to the J. Crew store with him yesterday and buys turquoise corduroy pants…because fat looks better when its neon and comes with a soundtrack.
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