Thursday, October 20, 2011

Madonna & Child and a Covered Belly

     I was in Costco this morning having my groceries rung up for me when the man standing in line behind me says, in a thick foreign-born accent, "You look like a madonna." I looked at him and said, "Well, I do have six kids."
     Shocked, he replied, "Madonna has six kids?!"
     "No," I replied, "I have six kids. You know, like a 'Madonna and Child'"?" He looked at me, puzzled. I went on to explain, "You kow the portraits from centuries ago with the mother figure holding a baby? She was called a 'madonna with child.'" Both he and register clerk looked confused and puzzled. I dropped the issue, mumbling, "I was trying to deflect the compliment."
     Not that looking like Madonna is a compliment. I don't even think it's true, except that I do have a hair color and style that is similar to some pictures I've seen of her. That woman changes her hair style and color so frequently that I have no idea what she currently looks like. She also, at least in the past, would frequently bare her belly. I DO NOT bare my belly. It isn't attractive to view stretch marks, cellulite, fat, and extra flabby skin on a 41 year old woman who's had six big babies.. That is the view you'd have of me if I pulled a classic Madonna wardrobe attempt. Even if it wasn't immodest (which it most definitely is), it would be gross.
     In fact, I had to tell a disappointed Tim that, despite all my weight loss, the belly flab is here to stay, short of liposuction. Part genetic inheritance from my mom and grandma, bearing lots of big babies, and too much weight gained over the years and you have my unsightly belly. Oh well. I don't really care. I have shrunk it with MUFA's (mono-unsaturated fatty acids) foods described in the Flat Belly Diet and I certainly do care about the health risks of belly fat. I do abdominal exercises everyday. There's nothing more I can do. So, it is what it is.
     It triggered a weird memory, though. While waiting for my doctor during my 38th week pregnancy appointment, I got up to pick up a magazine. While reaching for it, I heard his "tap, tap" at the door. I put the magazine down. As my doctor entered, he picked up the magazine and said, "Do you want to read about Madonna?" On the cover of Vanity Fair that month was, you guessed it, Madonna. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "No." Because really, I didn't. He tossed the magazine on top of the others and said, 'Yeah, who cares." Oddly enough, she was an OB patient of his for both of her pregnancies! I suspect she returned from London just to see him again for her prenatal care with her second baby. What's ironic about that scenario is that he is one of the few non-family people that she should have bared her belly to! Anyway, I am positive that he cared about Madonna Ciccone, the patient, but not really Madonna the celebrity. And I certainly did not look like her then, nor have I ever tried.
     Weird. Really weird.
Madonna - the real one

Me, the real me (Yeah, I didn't think so. Perhaps the guy was new to the LA area and was on hyper-alert for celebrity look-alikes.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Smoothing Out A Rough Start

     On the last day of August school began with a bang for all of us, except Tim who started at his new school several weeks earlier. Among the eight people in our family, five of us started at new schools. Being math minded these days, I calculated that that is over 60% of us making adjustments that have been, well, rather rough at spots. Daisy, new to kindergarten, has fared well. Camille, surprisingly at Pasadena High School this year, has also adjusted remarkably well, too. She has new friends, is doing well in her studies, and has said, "I'm so glad I was home schooled for as long as I was, but I'm glad to be in school now." However, the rough spots for her were managing a sticky locker, a really crowded school with long distances between classes, and figuring out that she can't eat small snacks throughout the day like she used to at home. Having an ornery, mean English teacher who scolds students for sneezing too loudly has been an interesting adjustment as well. Her Spanish teacher is an absolute blast, however, and her stories of his off-the-wall ways have me in stitches. (I think I might need to bring him home - or ban him.) All in all, she loves school and I'm pleased with how diligently and responsibly she has approached her school work. She's also made some really nice friends which has been a source of comfort and encouragement to her as well as relief for me.
     Tim has had some rough times with his new job location, although he did pick up an extra hour of teaching and extra pay. Thank you, Lord! He's had an adjustment to his classes, too, which has proven to be better overall. I am at Los Angeles Trade Techincal College in downtown Los Angeles just blocks from Staples Center. I think I've had the roughest adjustment in figuring out traffic patterns, length of commute, parking, location of my classes, and pick-up and drop-off arrangements for my girls, childcare for Julia, and overall time management regarding when I can carve out time for studying. I've struggled with anger and resentment at how hard it's been to adjust to all the changes and the tremendous stress and pessure I have felt. I had to acknowledge that my bitterness was towards God and that I somehow blamed him for these difficuluties. As much as I felt he directed me into my current season, I also made these choices. All that being said, I'm confident I'm where God wants me.
     For starters, I love being away from home for a couple of hours a week and away from dishes, laundry, errands, and monotony. I cherish the academic learning environment because for so many years that intellectual part of my brain was on a bit of a break. I also feel envisioned with specific, measurable goals and a loose time frame that brings comfort, anticipation, and ambition. I have lacked a clear vision for so long that part of me struggled with depression and discouragement. And yet, being home and having babies for the last 16 years has brought me to the place I am and has made me the woman I've become. Those precious, challenging, beautiful and trying babies have been the change agents God has used to refine me and mold me and bring about the vision I feel he's given me. Those years and my precious daughters, along with my hardworking husband, are undeniably the most important people in my life and will always hold front and center in my heart. Most of my ambition comes from a desire to serve them, provide for them ,and be an example for them.
    Lastly, Julia has started pre-school two mornings a week last week. She loves it and is so excited to go. This pre-school class is taught by a wonderful, experienced pre-school taecher in an affordable co-op  situation. Two mornings a week I have almost three hours to myself to do...what else? Study at the library. (Although I must confess, I have gone on a couple of shopping trips, too.) Julia needs an environment with her same-age peers for her speech therapy and I need a block of undistracted time to study. It is nice to know, though, that I can run errands, clean house, go out to lunch with a friend, go to a doctor's appointment, or do "whatever" without Julia while giving Elena plenty of time to study.
     Regarding Elena, her physics class is very rigorous. She also had intense lifeguard training the first few weeks of school which resulted in her certification as a lifeguard. I was so proud of her! She will be applying for a position at the Rose Bowl in the next few weeks.  Also in the next few weeks she will be starting her driver's license classes and training. It is a very full season for her as well. She remains a tremendous helper to me.
     And....drum roll please...I finally have Julia's speech therapy sessions scheduled at the girls' elementary school which coincides perfectly with me being able to help out in each of my three girls' classes. Amazing! Astonishing! Everything has fallen into place so beautifully! Yay!  
      Now that I've been in school for over a month and slugging my way through Chemistry and Statistics, I've felt more settled with my school routine. Now I just have to persevere through the semester and finish well. So, at this point I'm ready for a nap!