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  • Behold the turtle.
    He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
  • May I?


    When Chickeymonkey hollered at me while I was mowing yesterday and held this note up for me to read, I couldn’t quite make out what she was trying to ask me.
    “You want to plant??” I yelled. “Sure! You can plant!”

    “No!! PAINT!!!” she yelled back.

    “Paint??” (squints at note and makes puzzled face) “That says PAINT?”

    “YES!!! Can I paint???” she asked.

    “Of course!” I said. “Just clean off the table first!”

    And off she went. And I thought, I feel like I’ve been asking myself the same question. And it’s finally dawned on me, I’m the only one who can answer it.

    My Kids


    Sunday was a busy day. After Church, we organized and packed the girls for camp. We ran errands, picked up the last of the items on their lists, and then I got busy on Chickeymonkey’s head.

    The last thing I wanted to subject someone to at camp was having to wash her hair. She hasn’t quite learned how to do it herself yet, so I decided to (hopefully) make it easier on everyone and put tiny braids all over her head.

    How I love this child of mine – she sat patiently (watching the clock and updating me every 4-7 minutes) for an hour and a half while I put about 30 braids in her hair. She only whimpered a couple of times as single hairs kept finding their way into the braids halfway across her head. What I thought would turn out to be a giant headache, turned out to be a very cool head of hair.

    I love this photo of her. LOVE. This is my Chickeymonkey.
    This is Catybugs 3rd year at camp. Chickeymonkey? Well, this is her first year. We spent 2 weeks with the “I don’t wanna go’s” and the last two days with the “can I go the full week?” And me? I’m trying to pretend they’re just at school all day long, and sleeping over at a friends house at night. Because I’m a sap, that’s why.

    * * * * *

    Catybug: “Mom you should be excited that we’re going to camp! Now you can do all the stuff you wanted to do without us around!”
    Me: “Yeah, okay, Catie, do you know what’s on that list?”
    Catybug: “No, what?”
    Me: “Nothing. There’s NOthing I want to do without you around. I had kids because I want kids. I WANT you around.”

    * * * * *
    And this is how my week is going to go. I’m working, yes, but there’s seriously nothing on my list of things to do that I wouldn’t rather do with my family in tow. That time together doesn’t last very long, before stuff like this happens – and they’re going off to camp, going off to a friends house – going off to school, then going off to get married. I’d rather soak up every moment I’ve got before those moments are farther and fewer between.

    Sigh. Back to work. *misses my kiddos*

    Mothering Moments


    kids on swingset
    The weekend was filled with those moments in motherhood you never forget. Friday afternoon Catybug “sprung” at me after school in excitement that she wanted two friends to come over. With a sigh and an eyeroll, I agreed. The inconvenienced, hates last minute plans mother in me was thinking “that new Wii ought to entertain everyone” (I really do try to avoid Drama! wherever possible.) Deep down, though, what I was really thinking was “I never got to do this when I was a kid. Say yes.” And I loaded up the car with children and we headed home.

    There was giggling and talking and more talking, as you can imagine. They played the Wii, and I escaped out the back door to get up close and personal with far too many dandelions. Of course it didn’t take long before Chickeymonkey came outside to me crying that they weren’t taking turns, so I enlisted her eagle eyes for dandelion detection and she was a happy girl.

    Just as I finished placing the pizza order (because that’s what you do, when you’re a cool mom), another of Catybug’s girlfriends stopped over on her bike. I went into “holy crap that’s a lot of kids” mode again, but it quickly dissipated and I welcomed her in. They decided to play outside, together. I sat down at the dining room table and began cutting lily pads (placemats for our Church’s mother daughter banquet) and waiting for the pizza to arrive. It was quiet in the house, and I could hear the girls all giggling and talking outside, and I watched them playing in the yard from the dining room.

    The mommy moment kicked in when they all moved to the playset. Two on the swing, two on the glider rocker, and one in the clubhouse. All of them smiling and carrying on. A sweet smile evolved on my face and tears welled up in my eyes. This is it, I thought. This is what it’s all about. I wish I had this when I was a kid, all of my friends over playing on the swingset.

    I wondered if the girls knew how precious that moment was, if they knew that they’ll be glad to have that memory when they’re adults, or when they’re lonely, missing their friends, feeling like they don’t have any, or are just having a sad day.

    At that moment, I grabbed my camera and opted to capture that moment for them and for me. I admit, I felt accomplished. I felt like I had succeeded in Motherhood and I may have even put on a little awards ceremony in my head, just for me. (And I was also in the audience, cheering myself on.)

    pizza night
    The pizza arrived and the girls all clamored into the family room around the super cool Ikea kids’ table to eat and watch TV. They gobbled up a full pizza in a matter of minutes, and of course no girly gathering would be complete without some soda spillage. I went from cool mom to maid in a matter of seconds as I went over the floor half a dozen times to get rid of the “sticky” (hate soda. HATE.)

    Within a few hours (and a lot of yawning on my part, since last week was not a good week for sleeping through the night at my house), the girls parents had arrived, they departed and my girls were left with sad faces because their friends were gone. It was a late night for them, and we had an early morning ahead of us as our Church’s mother daughter banquet was scheduled for 10am Saturday and being on the committee meant I had lots of stuff to do to prepare, and had to arrive early.

    There were over 100 women in attendance. 100 place settings at 15 tables. The theme was “puddles of fun” and the tables were set up like a pond, with lily pads under each place setting of food, that consisted of a cored and sliced apple opened for the lotus, a scoop of either chicken or tuna salad in the center with a gummy frog on top, all surrounded by fruit and set on a large lettuce leaf. Dessert was blue pudding with smashed nilla wafers and a frog – and the centerpiece (my Saturday morning task) was 2 fish in a fishbowl on top of a lotus and lily pad. Some of the place mats were froggy tic-tac-toe pads, and all the kids had fun and stayed entertained with those.

    One lucky person had a fish drawn (by me) on their cup, indicating the winner of the centerpiece fishies. Everyone had a fun time and only one fish bowl was left unclaimed – they now reside here with our bird, guinea pig, rabbit and dog. I don’t expect their lifespan will be a long one, I tend to kill goldfish pretty quickly. I’ll keep you updated and you’ll all be invited to the stool-side ceremonies when the time comes.

    The speaker talked about women. The changes in what society thinks “beautiful” looks like over the course of centuries. How sloped foreheads were “in”, corsets, shaved eyebrows, boyish rectangular figures, and long necks. How today, we feel the pressure to be beautiful in the way society has deemed what beautiful is for this period. She said we need to remember that we are all beautiful, because we look like what we look like. And that we are God’s perfect creation. It’s so true, and so easy to forget, isn’t it? We were all made exactly how we were meant to be, and I don’t know many people who are happy about that when they look in the mirror. We do need to remember that we are what we are, and honor that.

    She went on to talk about the passage to womanhood. She told a story about how when she was young, she heard her mothers razor calling out to her from the shower – and went in and proceeded to shave her legs for the first time. If she had only known that she would have to continue to do that for the rest of her life, maybe she would have waited!

    She talked about her first purse, and other “firsts” that made her feel that she was earning her way to womanhood. Catybug and I giggled over many of her stories, because she has already come into some of those things – particularly the shaving – and the blood and skin loss – and she could really relate. Chickeymonkey, the lucky one, is still little. If I could just *keep* her little … I imagine that three hormonally challenged girls in one 1400 square foot space isn’t always going to be pleasant.

    Thinking back to when you were a young girl – when did you feel like you were more of a “grown up”? What moment did you think “NOW I’m a big, like mom.”

    And also? You are beautiful. You. ARE. Beautiful.

    4 out of 28 days, I suck.


    Today is day #2 of the suckage. I’m looking forward to menopause, maybe then I won’t want to stick a fork in everything I do for a week out of every month, and sit in a pile of used kleenex with a large fork and half eaten pan of fudge brownies in my lap.

    On the upside, I lost another inch in my hips and 1.8 lbs. last week. (That’s 2 inches total in my hips, 1 in my waist and 4.6 lbs. in 3 weeks.)

    All that, and I’m retaining water. And chocolate.

    That is all.



    Leanne Belrichard Wildermuth April 2008 portrait' class=
    My dear friend Taba (gardeners : visit her site.) asked me to take a pic of my new not-gray haircolor. I colored it Saturday morning with some Ion colors from Sally Beauty Supply– mixing 3 parts of their liquid Color Brilliance golden brown with 1 part darkest brown. I honestly didn’t care what color it turned out to be, as long as it was not-gray. It is definitely not-gray, and I actually dig it. I am sure I’ll be coming back to search my own dang archives to figure out what I used and what it looked like!

    So, since she asked, and if I told ANYone else that I know that I took a new pic of myself they’d all be like “ooh lemme see, I wanna see!” here it is, and there you go. (And if you want to see what I looked like when I was a youngin’, click here.)

    I did measure and weigh in this morning, my measurements are all the same except for my thighs, which went down 1/2-inch (YAY for vanishing thunder thighs!) and my weight, which is down 1.7lbs from last Monday. Progress, sweet progress. So, to reward myself for such good results, I walked for 30 minutes at 3.5mph at an incline today. Yeowch. LOL

    Time to dig back into the design queue – so much to get done this week so I can get back out into the studio next week!

    Four Score, or Several Years Ago


    The other night, Paige (my BFFL) and I were reminiscing about the good old days, how old we are, and the creepy part? Who has died from our two classes. She graduated a year ahead of me, so I don’t remember some of the folks in her class – in fact, I don’t remember a lot of the folks in my own class, either!

    I told her about a dream I had not too long ago that included this super sweet guy, Ken Carpenter. I remember Ken. He was a jock, he was good looking, above all else, he was cool. He was a sweetheart. Nice to everyone, smiling, laughing. He was just like that in my dream, too. I don’t know what he was doing there, but there he was – and I waved and greeted him like we were going to have coffee and catch up on years gone by.

    I Googled him the next morning, and was so sad when I found out that he’s passed away. Hodgkin’s disease took him when he was just 29. I about cried, honestly. Obviously he didn’t change, as the community revered him so much they named a park after him in the little town I grew up in. I intend to take the girls to that park when we get back up there in June.

    Paige and I talked about that, and a few others who are doing well – and more who had passed away. Seems cancer is the devil, and it’s snatching up more and more people than I realized.

    By the way – did you know that you can request your annual mammograms to start any time? You don’t have to wait until your 45. I’ve been having them done since I was around 27, when my sister-in-law passed away from what started out as breast cancer, and ended up ravaging her entire body. It’s never too soon to start checking.

    Well then I got to thinking about more people, people I lost touch with or just haven’t heard from in years. A couple of my best friends in high school drifted away, we kinda-sorta kept in touch but after I while I felt like I was more interested in maintaining a friendship than they were, so I took the hint and just stopped trying. Shalise, Jen, Erin, Tracy – they’ve all just disappeared.

    This morning I woke up thinking about Shalise. She went off to college, met a guy, fell in love, got married and had a baby. That’s about when we lost touch, so I thought I’d give her a Google. (hah! It’s better than getting hung up on, right? WHO? Who is this? Leanne? Leanne who?) I found something REALLY recent, like she’s doing this RIGHT NOW and dang if she still doesn’t have the biggest heart ever, she’s joined the 2008 MS Walk on May 4th. So of course I dropped a donation into her virtual bucket, and I think it would be really so cool if you did, too. Kinda sorta to say “hey” for me, more to support the cause, and applaud her for still being a sweetie-head. I think she has the most compassionate family I’ve ever met.

    Okay so while we were talking, I also had a movie flashback. It was Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats. She was the prom queen, yadda yadda and goes back to her home town and needs to get a job. She walks into an employment agency and a girl from high school runs the place, and finds it the perfect opportunity to tell her she doubt she can find an opening for a prom queen. Sandra admits that she has no idea how she treated this woman in high school, but she’s sure it couldn’t have been very nice since she’s hell-bent on putting her in her place. She asks if she could also put her in a job, too.

    MAN I could totally relate to that. I don’t remember people, I don’t know how I treated people, and though I definitely wasn’t a prom queen, I sure do wonder sometimes if I was a real foot-in-mouth kinda gal back then, too.

    I wonder, do you wonder? Do you find yourself surprised when you find out what someone’s doing now, what they look like? Do you attend your reunions? I haven’t, and don’t intend to… see above for my reasons. And just for fun, if you’re married and you want to show up in Google when someone’s lookin’ and they might not know your married name, add it to your blog somewhere. If you want to be found, that is.

    Here’s me:
    Leanne Belrichard, Harry D. Jacobs Class of 1989
    I totally botched the link to donate to MS Walk 2008 – Please go here if you’d like to donate!

    Sweat Equity


    sweat equity workout sweaty' class=

    Whew – it’s been quite a week, and I’m happy to be on the upswing of dealing with some very deep and emotional personal struggles with my health and fitness. Fortunately, we all have the power to change the things about ourselves that aren’t what they should be. We just need to reach down deep and find that place that’s broken, and start working a little bit every day toward fixing it.

    Funny, I would love nothing more than to keep the last couple of posts up on top, because the moment it drops down out of sight I worry that it will also drop out of mind. This struggle is my own – and for anyone who thinks I’m blaming someone else for “how I turned out”, I am not. The way I deal with food is my reaction to circumstances that I had no control over as a child. Being teased, going through a divorce, struggling with family issues that were no one’s fault, but everyone’s undoing. It seems this is a common situation, and many of you have shared your own struggles and I can’t thank you enough for making me feel “normal”. I am not the only one, YOU are not the only one.

    I began my week last week with a couple of goals. First, to get to 2 miles on my treadmill within 20 minutes. I’m not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, and I know it’s going to take time to get there. That’s ok – it’s a goal. I’ll get there eventually. If I increase my distance even by 1/10th of a mile each day, or each week – I will be 1/10th of a mile closer to that goal. Always move forward, that’s my only guideline. My other goal was to track my exercise and food again and track my measurements and weight weekly (though I also check my weight daily since I have a 1/10th scale and it helps me stay on track through the week). I would just like to show a decrease – no matter how slight – every week. No big goal there, just down from previous week.

    A little sweat equity will keep me going, I think.

    So for this week, I’m on the right track. I’m up to 1.24mi in 20 minutes and down everywhere else…

    Weight: -1.1 lbs.
    Chest: n/c
    Waist: -1 inch
    Hips: -1 inch

    I took my thigh measurement this week, so I’ll start tracking it as well (Yo, thunder thigh’s the name, remember).

    Now I’ve gotta get to work – I have 10 more blog designs to whip up before the 14th, when I’ll get back out to the studio for a couple of weeks of intense painting sessions!

    The Struggle of a Lifetime


    diet progress overlay' class= As a young girl, she always felt fat. She was teased in grade school on the playground by the boys, and none of the cool girls would play with her. She internalized her rejection and over many years, it became self-hatred. “Thunder thighs” were disgusting. Fat was something you didn’t want to be. Unfortunately, she learned very early on that what people see on the outside is how you’re categorized as a person, but there wasn’t much she could do about it. The school didn’t teach anyone how to eat healthy, her parents didn’t take issue with what was going to become the biggest battle she’d ever fight. A fight for fitness.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The all to common “love a person for who they are” phrase is beaten into everyone’s minds now more than ever. It is now used as an excuse, that it’s okay to be fat. What you are on the outside does not make who you are on the inside, but I’m here to tell you – it absolutely does. If you can’t look in the mirror without disgust, then there’s a problem. If your spouse keeps telling you they love you exactly as you are and your lifespan is very obviously going to be cut short by at least 20 years since you can’t walk across a room without catching your breath – then there’s a problem. There’s a problem with the perception that being overweight is okay – and there’s a problem with conveying that you’re okay with seeing someone you love dearly so desperately unfit and unhealthy.

    All my life, every single day, I’ve had this problem. I can recall from a young age hearing the words “if you don’t stop eating like that you’re going to look just like your Aunt …. ” the obese aunt. I remember going to bed at night and hearing the sounds of crinkling cookie wrappers – my parents downstairs having their nightly snack, which we didn’t get. That only made me want it more. I dove into buckets and packages and containers when my parents weren’t looking. I ate when I was frustrated, I ate because I was famished, I ate, and ate – and the one thing I did learn about food was that if it tastes good, eat it. If it’s really good, hide it and eat it in private – whatever you do, don’t share it.

    I was without a boyfriend, of course, since thunder thighs really weren’t cool. I compensated my insecurities in high school with humor. Sarcasm gave me the opportunity to put other people down lower than I felt myself. Of course I only did that in private, because I was only privately hating everyone who looked at me the wrong way.

    I grew to enjoy being on the outside, because the less involved I was with people, the less I hated them. I didn’t want to be angry all the time, especially since that just made me turn to food.

    When I met my husband while I was in high school, I weighed what I weigh today. Exactly, as a matter of fact.

    I wasn’t happy then, and I’m not happy now.

    It’s been 19 years now, full of ups and downs. I’ve tried every diet I could tolerate. I have taken pills and successfully lost weight – and successfully gained it back. I have purchased kits and subscriptions and my eyes still drool when I see instructions or magazines that claim to be able to help you drop 10 pounds in the next 2 days. My health has suffered, my bones have suffered, and my mind is in a haze. Not one single day has ever passed when I haven’t thought about my weight and wanted to see something better when I looked in the mirror. Not one single day has ever gone by without the thought “I am fat” entering my mind. I’ve felt good – and when I feel good I do feel a little success, and those words of encouragement make me soar inside. Still, though, I see fat – and I know I have a long way to go to achieve my goals.

    That photo above is an overlay of the past few years for me. When Mark left for Iraq in 2004 – I was at my absolute all time high, 233 pounds. I couldn’t walk from one side of my house to the other without panting. It took me weeks to get to the point where I could even go 2mph on my treadmill – let alone walk a full mile. The stress of his tour was a blessing and a curse – as I dropped weight like crazy, I was eating horribly and not learning a damn thing about health. All I wanted was for that fat to go away before he came home.

    Thankfully – it hasn’t returned. This past winter, though, has made me feel like if I don’t get serious – and stay serious, it is most definitely going to creep its way back on, and I will turn into a miserable, unhealthy and depressed person.

    I have the same problems that everyone else has.

    Motivation: Forcing myself to get on the treadmill and exercise.
    Time: Forcing myself to stay on for more than 10 minutes. Prepare meals from organic foods.
    Desire: I do not like pain or sweat. I have to learn to look at it differently.

    I also want what we all want – not to go it alone. To be one in a household of four who gives a crap about health and fitness isn’t good enough, and it is the primary reason for my bouts with failure as well as success. When other people care – I care. When they don’t, I don’t. Perhaps this is a hazard of being a woman and mother – we just want everyone else to be happy – and if that involved a giant pan of brownies with a side of ice cream, so be it.

    It’s not right. It’s not healthy, and that’s not what I want to teach my children. I feel like a health-nut/Nazi sometimes with my obsession to learn about foods and try to tell/teach people. I want everyone to want better for themselves, and it’s frustrating that people just, well, don’t care enough. I’m stuck in the mud, it seems, waiting for someone to pull me out and show me how to do it. How can I do what I need to do without allowing the negative influences and temptations to pull me off course? How can anyone?

    I want more. I want better. Better health than what I see and hear from my own parents and in-laws. I want longevity. Life. I am tired and frustrated when I hear that someone is sick and then seconds later how they’ve eaten a horrible meal that they perceive to be healthy. I want to know how to shut my mouth when I’m faced with that situation, and I want to know when it’s the right time to share my concerns with those people.

    Most of all, though, I want to set an example for my children. I want to teach them what the school system won’t about nutrition, and I want them to think about food as fuel – and choose their fuel wisely.

    It’s been a long haul. Where I am now is better than where I was, but where I want to go is still a ways off in the distance.

    Hopefully, with a little help, encouragement, motivation – and maybe even knowing some of you know what I mean and will stand beside me, I’ll fight this battle a little stronger than before, and close that gap a little bit more every day.

    Many thanks to Joey, for the poking and prodding.

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