Photo: Japanese Magnolia

My Neighbor's Japanese Magnolia

I’m weird about trees. There are several stories I could tell of emotional attachments I’ve gotten to trees. Sometimes it’s one specific tree (The 100+ year old dogwood at the botanical gardens) and sometimes it’s a certain type of tree as a group. In this case? Japanese Magnolia.

One of my favorite professors in college got very upset when the school decided to cut down one of the Japanese Magnolias we had on campus, in order to make room for a bigger Lion habitat. (What?) He was tenured AND about to retire so he just confronted the Vice President of the University about it when we passed him one day on the sidewalk. It was a great show of principle as my professor voiced his opinions about this tree and how ridiculous it was the university was just going to destroy it without even trying to move it. Since then, I think of him every spring when they bloom.

They’re fragile trees, so often you’ll only see their blooms for a few days before a storm or a cold spell gets them. But they bloom first in our part of the country…bringing in Spring with a crazy burst of gorgeous pink. I love them, even if they don’t last long.

This one is in my neighbor’s yard and I snuck over there today to photograph it before a storm hits. You can see the series here.

Chasing The Sister Who Is Also The Krazee

Enjoying the Weather

Nikki and Wes are so close. They just love each other and like being together. And Wes looks up to her with the admiration of a busload of Beiber fans. He follows her around at the playground trying to do everything she does. It’s especially funny because she’s a daredevil, he’s not. Neither of my boys are…but Nikki? Knows NO fear whatsoever. But oh – he tries. And her actions can inspire bravery in him much more than my own encouragement does. But it’s always a battle for him. You can see it as he is deciding not to go down the slide she just did. The internal war between BE LIKE HER and OH MY GOD, SO SCARY is always going strong. At our most recent playground trip, I saw victory on both sides.

Enjoying the Weather

But man…it is so hard on him. You can see him really wishing she would STOP CLIMBING ALREADY. Because he knows he has to try to do what she’s doing…even if he has NO DESIRE. It’s like an involuntary reaction.

Enjoying the Weather

When Wes sees Nikki move on to something like that picture above, you can see him sigh. Like: Great. She’s doing something death-defying again. Why can’t she swing with me? Like a normal child? And he’ll muster up his courage and walk often slowly to where she is. You can tell he’s always hoping she’ll switch to a safer activity before he actually makes it to her. And considering how fast and easily bored she is? This is a good strategy.

Enjoying the Weather

But regardless, she always moves on to something just as insane. She knows NO FEAR. Never has. But, without her daredevil actions, I think sometimes he wouldn’t do half of what he does. He would stay on the swings the entire time we were at the park, without her inspiration to do other things. So, while I see it tears him up inside to battle his instincts for safety with his desire to impress his sister, I’m so glad he can be influenced like that. It allows him to experience things he otherwise wouldn’t. Even if it scares him to death.

Enjoying the Weather

Tornado Warnings Kinda Piss Me Off When They’re Not Saving My Life


With this schedule that combines work and boot camp and…well…life – I find myself very tired by Thursday. Zapped. It took everything out of me to stay awake until Donnie and E got home from Beauty and the Beast work last night. (Donnie is helping work on sets several nights a week.) As soon as they got home? I was in bed 9:15 – sleeping soundly.

THEN…we had our first tornado warning of these season. The sirens went off around midnight or so. I got up, went to turn on the TV – no cable. We get these sirens whenever there’s a threat for a tornado anywhere in our county. When I first liven in Alabama, I hid with every warning. But since then, I’ve learned how large a county is. There could be the threat of a tornado in part of a county, but the rest of us don’t need to worry. But…the siren goes off for the whole county. AND IT IS DAMN LOUD.

I tried the internet, hoping that somehow the TV was not related to the internet. (Yes. Things like that make sense when you’re woken up from a heavy sleep with an obnoxiously loud siren.) No internet. BAH. I didn’t really want to wake up the entire family to run to the garage unless we had to. So, I grabbed my phone. Checked the local news Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. Nowhere near us. THANK GOD.

Of course – still in our county. Which, to those of you not hounded by the ubiquity of these warnings, would still be too close for comfort. But we hear these things several times a Spring storm season. I’ve only hid my family 3 times or so since Nikki was born. You learn to filter. Not that it’s not hugely disconcerting to hear those sirens…it is…but you just learn no to panic every time.

But…last night? When I really needed to catch up on sleep? MAN…did it piss me off. I wanted to be call the National Weather Service and DEMAND they not turn on those damn sirens unless the tornado was at LEAST coming to my side of Huntsville. I was LIVID. And more importantly? I was AWAKE. Not ASLEEP like I wanted. And the anger was keeping me wired.

Did the siren wake up anyone else in the family? No. Of course not. No one else wanted to make sure the tornado wasn’t coming to our house. They were all sleeping PEACEFULLY. And I kinda wanted to wake them all up just to yell at them about it.

Alas, I didn’t. I just got back into bed and grumbled frustratingly until I dozed back off around 1am. Just to wake up at 4am for boot camp.

In other words? I need a nap. And maybe a weather radio.

New Anatomy of a Binge

My First Auction

Last week I wrote about my addiction to eating. This is the first week I’ve ever approached my eating habits as that…an addiction. Dealing with it the same way I did when I quit smoking. Facing every meal, every snack, every bit of food near my body – as part of my addiction. I’m trying to separate food from crutch. Which – surprisingly – has been quite easy. I guess, when it comes down to it, I can look at food and say, “This is a healthy meal.” And, “this is something that will just feed my addiction to emotional eating.” The trick is to not even take a BITE of ANYTHING in that latter category.

And I’ve done okay. I lost 5lbs. I’ve stayed under my calorie limit every day. For a week. Longer than I’ve ever gone. But it’s been very hard. Like when I quit smoking, without my emotional crutch of food? I’ve been a wreck. I’m depressed and anxious and stressed and tired ALL THE TIME. I’ve cried over the stupidest stuff. (As I write this? Tears on my cheeks from something that would have never made me cry before.) I’m an emotional WRECK. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m BOTH at the SAME TIME all day long. And because I’m not going to bed after eating non-stop for 2 hours, I’m not sleeping well. Evidently my brain thinks I need to be gorged to sleep. Have I mentioned I’m crying a lot? IN FRONT OF PEOPLE?

My point? Those 5lbs have come at a cost. A HUGE COST. But this is part of breaking an addiction. I know that. I’ve been through it with smoking and I’ve supported family and friends who have been through it with more severe addictions. Whether it’s alcohol, or bowls of cereal – if you depend on something to quell your anxiety or depression – giving it up MAKES YOU INSANE.

But…my point? (Evidently giving up up food as an emotional crutch also makes me very distracted and I lose my train of thought.) I survived the week. And I lost 5lbs. And then…TODAY HAPPENED.

There are several types of mistakes. And they all have a wide range of after-effect on your life. There are the mistakes that you don’t even fret about after they happen. You just chalk it up and move on. There are the ones you remember and fret about FOREVER. Then? There are a million types of mistakes in between. All ranging in longevity in haunt-time. How long will that mistake haunt me? 10 minutes? 10 days? 10 years? Well…I made mistakes from ALL THREE CATEGORIES today. And that kind of stress on top of an already fragile Kim? Was the perfect storm for a Binge Day.

It started with ONE 3 Musketeers bar. I knew I shouldn’t eat it. But I got to work and one of my early mistakes was lingering and I couldn’t quit stressing about it so I turned to the vending machine for solace. When I eat a 3 Musketeers it’s like a religious experience. I break off a chunk at a time, peel off the chocolate coating and eat that, then eat the mushy middle. Then I move on to the next chunk. I savored every bite and told myself it would be okay, it was my splurge but it wouldn’t get me off track for the day.

Then, after lunch, I still had to process some stress. So I got another 3 Musketeers bar. And then? 10 minutes later? I GOT ANOTHER ONE. Why do I bring money to work? WHY?

Let’s tally: Outside my breakfast and my lunch that were sensible and healthy, I had THREE 3-Musketeer bars by 3pm. THREE OF THEM. And were they snack size? NO. FULL SIZE. 840 calories of candy bars. IN ONE DAY. *sigh*

Now…I will say this. Before today, my typical binge would end in AT LEAST 2500 calories. AT LEAST. Most days it would be closer to 3500. Today the binge ended in a beer bringing the total to about 2000 calories. More than I would want to lose the weight I want…but less than a typical binge day. So, I’m trying my best to BE POSITIVE. Yes. I ate THREE candy bars today because I still don’t know how to process stress or sadness perfectly without food. I went straight for the candy today. And the beer tonight. BUT – I didn’t KEEP GOING FOR MORE. I stopped at the beer. Which isn’t really food, so I haven’t actually broken my rule about not eating at night.

My point? (SEE. LOSING TRAIN OF THOUGHT.) I had a binge today. I fell of the wagon. But I didn’t stay off. Which is a first. Used to be: When I screwed up the day with one step off the diet path, I threw the rest of the day away. I’d eat fast-food for dinner and milkshakes for a bedtime snack. But tonight? I had a healthy dinner and a beer before bed. THAT’S ALL.

I’m still a basket case. I’m crying at the drop of a hat…losing my patience with my kids…and letting my anxiety take me for a roller coaster ride. BUT – I’m slowly, but surely – learning how to cope emotionally without food. Slowly. One week in and I’m still functioning. I’m depressed and anxious without my edible crutches, but I’m still trying. I’m still facing this one bite at a time.

Will next week be easier? Probably not. The stress in my life will just keep escalating for the next few months. But this is the best time to do this. Baptize myself by fire. It’s the equivalent of quitting smoking cold turkey. I’m trying to quit dealing with my emotional issues with food: Cold Turkey. Am I quitting food? No. I am quitting using eating as a crutch. THAT I’m doing cold turkey.

I’m Kim, and I eat to ease my sadness/anger/anxiety. I’m been trying NOT to do this for 7 days now. And I’m only failing a little bit.

Just Call Me Mrs. Sillypants

Registration Day at the Ballpark

Sometimes being a Mom is simply about relishing The Silly. Wes’s favorite thing now is to make me create a new night-night song that goes along with whatever book we read each night. Last night? Moon song because we were reading Good Night Moon. Last night: Train Song because we read a Thomas book. He gets a kick out of them because I am so terribly bad at song writing.

Then he wants me to sing the Barney Song (I love YOU…YOU love ME) but he wants me to sing it with the word “Mommy” instead of “You” because he thinks it’s hysterical that I’m singing a song about myself. These are the simplest moments of parenting. Just doing something ridiculous that makes them laugh.

Lately, as I’ve started back to work and my stress levels have increased a bit, meaning my parenting is sometimes cramped. I’m more about getting stuff done: baths, dinner, bedtime in the little bit of time we have. BUT…no one wants to spend their limited time with their kid just completing a task list. So, you add a bit of silly. You deliver their dinner plates to the table like you would if you’re a waitress. “Excuse me, sir. Did you order the orange juice or the milk?” Or maybe everyone rides the Mommy Horse to the bathroom for bathtime. And of course – there’s always the random Silly Dance. You’re having a normal conversation, asking them about their day, and then you break out into a Carlton/Elaine combo dance. FOR NO REASON. This is the best parent move you can make because kids laughing hysterically? Automatic stress reliever. I guarantee it.

Silly – is basically my parenting technique. It’s my go-to in the arsenal of tools I use to raise my children. Especially when I have to do maximum amounts of parenting in a minimal amount of time. Throwing in a bit of silly with the tasks at the end of the night, makes those tasks go more smoothly and makes them more enjoyable for all of us. Meaning I don’t go to bed looking back on the small amount of time with my kids as BUSINESS. I hate just completely a task list, adding the Silly in the middle of those tasks? Makes it more like bonding time. Or play time.

How are you with the Silly? Is that in your arsenal? What types of Silly do you implement into your parenting? I could always use some new tools. The songwriting part of my brain needs a break.

Upside Down