Confessionals and Hail Mary Poppins

Forgive me followers, for I have sinned. It has been two months of summer fun since my last confession. In that time, I have…

  1. Abused alcohol while travelling through Ireland with my husband, such that the contents of my sweat and tears is STILL roughly 37% Guinness.
  2. Used sex within marriage, but with absolutely, positively, holy-shit, OMG NO intent of procreating life.
  3. Deliberately ingested impure foods such as pasta, cake, s’mores, and soda bread.
  4. Permitted a couple of impure thoughts about Chris Pratt, but only after they announced their separation – so at the very least, it wasn’t completely adulterous…right?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Now that school is back in session, vacation time is over, and summer will soon start to fade into fall, I am happily returning to the comfort and structure of routine. While I remained committed to my health goals throughout the summer, and even managed to drop a couple of pounds, I was more prone to gluttony and indulgence than usual. I consumed more alcohol, swapped spin class for floating around my best friends pool, let go of any pressure I felt to publish any blog entries, and generally stuck to spending quality time with family and friends. It was a fun and memorable summer, and now it is time to get back to work.

Even though I am looking good and feeling even better, I need to keep reminding myself that I still have a long journey ahead of me. I have to pause and work up the courage to type this, but I still have almost 100lbs to lose before I can afford to kick back and thoroughly enjoy my success. As the milestones of success pile up, and I start to feel better and better about myself and how I look, it only gets more challenging to buckle down. Not that I have been going off the rails. I am absolutely confident that my old lifestyle will remain just that…my old lifestyle. It isn’t difficult for me to maintain my weight now, but it IS difficult to keep dropping. I really have to work for each and every pound – which is a big change from the initial 40lbs that came off so easily. The last 10lbs have been much slower, and much harder fought for.

Fighting for those pounds is easier when I’m back in my regular routine. I’m highly susceptible, it turns out, to the lure of a warm summer evening cocktail on the patio, or three, or eight. And most of my exercise comes in the form of floating around weightless in a pool…with more cocktails. In hindsight, I’m not entirely sure how I managed to maintain my weight this summer, let alone drop a couple of pounds. Miracle pounds is what they were – and all the more reason to get slightly uncomfortable again, push harder, and work for the gift of better health.

Although the summer was definitely more relaxed, it wasn’t without some significant wins. For example, I flew overseas in economy, and it didn’t even occur to me to be nervous about the seat-belt because those days are solidly behind me. I also buckled down and pushed myself to a record 130,000 steps Monday through Friday for one week in July (although I was proud of myself, I would not recommend this goal to other working moms with challenging commutes – while doable, there is precious little time for anything BUT walking). I had a few other small but significant wins while shopping in my own closet. Like my favorite white linen pants, I have always kept my absolute favorite items. I have packed them and unpacked them from place to place, which always made me a little sad – but it also must mean that I was holding onto hope that they would one day fit again. I am so glad that I did.  Here are some highlights…


On the left: a size 22/24 bathing suit | On the right: a size 16 bathing suit


dresses 2

Both dresses that I haven’t been able to even get over my hips in 9 years, let alone zip up!

In addition to the highlights above, I also lost another couple of pounds and a few more inches, which was great but difficult to put into context. Or, difficult until my health coach helped put it into perspective for me.  Jennifer sent me txt that read, “23.5 inches total, from when you started tracking.” The “from when you started tracking part” was because, unfortunately, I didn’t measure myself at the beginning – even though Jennifer explicitly told me to. I must not have truly believed this lifestyle would work, or that I would be able to find success  Anyway, while it’s too bad that I didn’t believe in myself enough to grab the exact metrics, it absolutely guarantees that since January 2017, I have lost over two feet of inches from my body. I did that. Me and my roadmap from Jennifer did THAT! I just high-fived myself!  It’s 7am on Saturday morning, and I am alone in my living-room, and I looked a little unstable doing it, but I high-fived the S out of myself.

But far and away the very best part of the summer was my trip to Ireland. And I don’t mean the actual trip, which was absolutely wonderful; I mean the prep and packing of outfits! While I love a good wedding, or gala, or 3 Michelin star dinner, these types of events are also a great source of anxiety for me. I really care about what I look like. I love clothing and fashion and design – but I have never felt comfortable in my own body and have had serious limitations on where I can shop for clothing, so have never truly felt beautiful at an event, or at work, or on a date night. Ugh…that makes me so sad to think about how much time I have spent over the years worrying about how I am going to look, or what I am going to wear to a friends wedding, or my own wedding, or the holiday party, or a birthday party, or to target, or the bank, or the kitchen for a glass of water. When I was single, it was arguably worse.  At least now I’ve snared a man, I would think. When an event, like a wedding, was months away, I would start planning on how much weight I would lose beforehand, and how great I would look and feel if I could buckle down and just DO IT! Inevitably, though, the stress and pressure of trying to drop dress sizes before an event would only lead to gaining wait instead of losing it – followed by feelings of shame and self-loathing – and then finally ending up sweating over some outfit that wasn’t up to my expectations, shoes that I would have to take off 1/2 way through the event, and generally feeling uncomfortable in my own skin until I was sauced enough to leave it all on the dance floor and have a great time. What a waste! How I wish that I could have seen myself as the world sees me, and loved myself enough to take better care of the one vessel and one life that I’ve been gifted. At the same time, I am so grateful for Jennifer and the path that she has helped put me on.  A path that ensures that I will never ever go back to my old life again.

This time, it was different. While I was still a little anxious about what I would wear to my cousins wedding in Ireland, I was grounded in the fact that I had finally achieved what I could never manage before. I wasn’t just a couple of pounds down before this event, I was 24+ inches and 50 pounds down.  And more importantly, my insides were matching my outsides. It makes me tear up just typing that. Out of all of the wins that I have enjoyed this year, this was by far the best. My insides matched my outsides, and both were beautiful.

The wins started with the typically painful process of finding a dress to wear to the wedding. I have never been able to wear my best friends clothing. Like, not even once. So when we were at her pool one afternoon and she suggested that I go surfing through her closet to find something, I was immediately resigned to the fact that nothing would fit. We selected three dresses to try – none of which were particularly A-line, which is the only shape that has ever worked for me. Even as I was slipping each dress over my body, I was sure they wouldn’t zip up in the back. But not only did they zip up, they each looked great! So great that I couldn’t decide and took them all home to play fashion show for Craig. I ended up settling on a black wool (summer in Ireland is still Ireland) Calvin Klein dress in a fit and flare shape. You read that correctly – fit and FLARE!  The last thing I usually want my ass to do is flare! Fit and camouflage is more my speed. Anyway, the dress looked great, and I was happy.  And because I borrowed a dress, I figured that gave me license to procure a new pair of shoes – so off to Nordstrom I went.

Historically, shoes are the next hurdle, after the dress is found. I used to wear heels and wedges all the time. Then something happened post children where I gave up on them all together. Probably because I felt frumpy, and probably because wobbling around on anything but flats when you’re 300 pounds kinda frigging hurts! The last wedges I purchased were some kind of ‘high-comfort’ line, which….dear god….can someone make those cuter? They are the Nissan Leaf of the womens shoe industry. Sure, they’re practical – but they look like a nightmare! So when I walked into Nordstrom, and worked up the courage to tip toe into the designer shoe section, it was a big deal. I was fresh off of my dress win, but still fairly certain that the back patent Gucci loafers would be a bust. Even though the look I told Craig I was going for was naughty Irish nanny / Mischievous Mary Poppins, I was scared the loafers would make my feet look wide and my legs look to fat. Plus, I still wasn’t sure how to break it to Craig that I was hoping to spend THAT much on a pair of shoes. People…it was just like final scene in Cinderella – only my prince charming was a salesman, and my glass slipper was Gucci, yo! Like a glove, I tell ya! I brought them home and prepared a powerpoint presentation for Craig proving why these shoes were more important than the girls chances at a post secondary education. I put the entire outfit on and walked past my husband, who immediately agreed I should keep them. Not only did he agree that they were the naughty nanniest, when I asked for his opinion on black patent vs red patent, he told me that he couldn’t decide and that I should go back and get both. Lordy, did I burst into tears. I have longed for that feeling for tens of years, and it was even better than I thought it would be.

Of course, I did take Craig up on his offer and went back to Nordstrom the very next day. I didn’t end up buying the red ones, though. The red was too dark for me, and I didn’t want to completely overdo it and end up with buyers remorse – or worse, homeless. Instead, I decided to head upstairs to find the perfect super opaque black tights to go with my nanny costume. Now, it has been about 8 years since I last shopped for clothing in the normal section of Nordstrom.  I am usually a third floor shame section only kind of girl. You may or may not be familiar. If you are, then you know that flitty dance that you do, like you’re just there to look at kids shoes…and then you ghost yourself across the walkway into the “Encore” section – where the last thing the women shopping there are hoping for is an encore performance in the encore section. Believe me, we would much rather the Encore section be a one hit wonder section. But before I made it to the escalator, a top in the normal womens section caught my eye. Maybe it was because I was on such a roll that I decided to detour and sift through the pretty merch.  And I am SO glad that I did. Not only did I walk out with that pretty top, but three tank tops, one sweater, one suit jacket, a pair of boyfriend jeans, two adorable baby-doll tops, a pair of skinny jeans, and a FREE PEOPLE top! Their slogan should be “for free people; not fat people.”

I was over the moon. I have never been more excited for a trip! I folded and unfolded my new clothing. I paired things with stack-able bracelets, statement necklaces, and cocktail rings. I practiced rolling the sleeves of my suit jacket, and pairing it with a crisp white tank top, rolled up boyfriend jeans, and about a bajillion jewels (and, of course, my multi-purpose Gucci loafers). I didn’t dare take the tag off and wear anything before our trip. I wanted to unpack a fresh and fabulous outfit for every day I was travelling. And that’s exactly what I did. Starting with the big event. The wedding.

For me, the final woeful moments of any event has got to be the primping stage. I usually spend the day hoping, wishing, and praying that whatever mumu I brought will fit. I try in earnest to at least make my hair look great, in hopes that it will distract from what lies beneath my neck. I blow dry, and then I sweat from the heat, which frizzes up my hair.  And then I pull and wiggle and jump up and down to get my dress on, which makes me sweat again, and further frizzes up my hair. Then I tell whomever is within whining distance that I don’t even want to go to the ____ anyway. And then someone hands me a “dresser” martini, which is enough liquid courage to get me out the door and on my way to dancing queen-level intoxication.

I have never been so calm, so dry, and so blissful before an event. Not even 20mins under a blow-drier could shake my zen. My makeup was flawless. My hair conservative AF! My dress floated over my body. And my shoes. My god, my shoes. I pranced across cobble stones, gave a damned fine reading, glided across the dance floor, and generally stood in absolute merriment from 1:00pm-11:00pm.  An Irish wedding that ended at 11pm, you croon??? We are nothing, if not professional boozers. Gurl, pleaze, we ditched the car and the parents back at our vacation rental and hit the pubs until 4am. ireland

The rest of the trip was a repeat of new locations, new outfits, and completely doing my hair and makeup every single day. I felt proud to be on Craig’s arm everywhere we went. And I felt like Craig was proud, too. I felt so good that I even ditched the Lululemon for the 10 hour flight home, and instead opted for skinny jeans and my free people top. It didn’t stop there, either. Since being back, I have quaffed, rolled, jujed, painted, and bedazzled my way into each day (except for today, when we had two soccer games in a 100 degree field). And not in a fake-it till you make-it kind of way. I am making it, and it feels fabulous!


Theme: My Summer Vacation

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes

Robert Louis Stevenson

Ahhh, summer. There is something about the extended sunlight, the extra outdoors time, and the smell of chlorine mixed with vodka that brings out the very best in us. We stay up a little later, we get out of town for a while, and we get a welcome influx of Canadian visitors popping in for a night or two on their way to Disneyland. We are sun kissed, well rested, slightly tipsy, and ready for F.U.N.

That’s how I remember it, anyway. For me, family vacations are a little like giving birth. The moments of physical pain, screaming, and crying seem to magically disappear – and all that is left are the warm memories of love and togetherness. I am sure we had to football carry one or both children out of a fancy restaurant at some point.  I am also fairly certain that a complete stranger approached our table to shame me because the kids were giggling too loudly in a lobby bathroom.  It is entirely possible that we sent the kids to bed early (and without dinner) for fighting the very same night we returned home. And I know for certain that I spent an uncomfortable 24hrs working through a stomach bug when we returned. But even that memory is lined with silver, because who wouldn’t enjoy, at least at some level, some effortless post-vacation weightloss (or, five the hard way, as it’s known under my roof)!

carmelWhat I do remember from our family trip to Carmel was our after-dinner walks to the 18th green, where we would let the dog and the children off their leashes to chase the wild turkeys across the fairway.  I remember the daily 1:00-5:00pm time at the adults-only pool with Craig, while the kids were at the resort “camp”. I remember the sticky sweetness of s’more’s around the fire pit at night, and I remember two young ladies approaching us at breakfast one morning to tell us that a) we were the most loving and adorable couple at the pool the day before, b) that we were their relationship goals, c) did Craig have any single brothers, and d) that they thought we were even more adorable, when they saw us with Walter and the kids at dinner.  I will never forget it; I felt so proud.

In some ways, summer can be a little stressful. The kids are out of school, and we are off of our regular routine. Also, the girls spend a lot more time together, which creates room for a lot more squabbling (like, a lot more). A couple of months ago, I was excited for the upcoming McGreggor / Mayweather fight – now I find I need such a break from the constant bickering that I can’t even sit down to enjoy Bachelors in Paradise, let alone a boxing match. The trade-off for summer fun definitely comes at the expense of our routine and good behavior. Yet, it is familiar enough for me to dismiss it as a phase, or at least somewhat normal. For me, the equity struggle between my kids is my own childhood with my sister staring back at me.  For Craig, an only child who is prone to hyperbole, the sky is falling: we have failed as parents, and we are raising thankless, lawless brats! Only until fall, I assure him. And by then, the memories of scratched backs, slamming doors, and my own yelling will fade with the extra sunlight.

GuinnessMy selective memory, it seems, is not just relegated to time with the kids. Craig and I managed to squeeze in a week long trip to Ireland (without our little martial artists). It was an unforgettable adventure which included quality time with my extended family and friends, gorgeous countryside, and the friendliest most lovely people in the entire world. I remember my cousins beautiful fairytale wedding, complete with a castle. I remember the night we spent in Tipperary reconnecting with good friends. And I still tear up when I think about the quality time spent with my mum and dad, the carriage ride through the streets of Dublin with Craig, and the incredibly talented father/daughters band that we heard in a tiny pub in the tiny village of Kinnity.

Forgotten are the stressful moments driving 100km down sidewalk sized streets on the other side of the road, no less. Moments made worse by my gripping door handle, heavy breathing, and pumping the invisible passenger-side brakes. The stress that I endured during those car rides was nothing compared to the piled on anxiety felt by my husband, the driver. The distilled version of the trip, for him, was time spent in the car = divorce / time spent in the pub = marriage.  You may be wondering why, if I am such a controlling hag in the car, didn’t I just drive? Because my brain is so fantastical that I simply could not grasp the concept of staying to the left. Every single time we pulled up to a corner, or a roundabout, or a highway on-ramp, I would simulate driving and pick my next move – and EVERY SINGLE TIME I failed and killed us all. So, we opted to teeter on the edge of divorce between villages and then erase any leftover tension at the local pub.

We arrived home from Ireland certain that the kids squabbling would signal the first and last time that a grandparent agreed to look after our barbarous, feral kittens for an entire week. Not that I would blame them. Age 4 and 6 is easier than age 3 and 5, but it is still far from being civilized. Especially during the very last week of constant togetherness before school starts. It wasn’t exactly an ideal setup, to say the least. We are, however, eternally grateful for the time away and fully recognize how hard it can be – particularly when you aren’t used to it.

The fighting didn’t magically disappear when we got home, either. In fact, I started to question my own theory about siblings, squabbling, and school being out. Shit, I thought to myself. Maybe Craig is right. Maybe we are raising violent, lawless kids! Then last night, just two days before school started back for both of them, we had huge win. ButterflyQuinn was in line to get her face painted at her friends birthday party. The artist was legit, and creating the most beautiful unicorn and butterfly designs. So of course all of the children wanted one.  I noticed Quinn waiting in line on and off, but was busy socializing with friends and didn’t pay much attention. It was just about time for us to head home, when Craig noticed Quinn sitting with the makeup artist getting her butterfly.  He walked over to snap a photo of her, when the woman asked if Quinn was his daughter?  Yes, he replied. She told Craig that Quinn waited 45mins for her turn, and that when she was about to sit down, Wrenn walked up and said she also wanted to get her face painted. Without missing a beat, Quinn asked the lady if her little sister could go in front of her? Sure, she said – but you will have to to the back of the line and wait again, since there are so many kids who have been patiently waiting.  That’s fine, Quinn told her, and ushered Wrenn into the chair before heading to the back of the line. Quinn waited another 30mins before her turn. The artist told Craig that in 7 years of doing kids parties, she had never seen anything like it. We joked with the lady about how we were at our wits end with the sibling rivalry that has plagued our house over the last month, and how her story helped restore our faith in our ability to help guide our children, and our children’s ability to listen and act in ways that mirror our expectations of them.

This morning, I told Craig that sometimes my blog posts write themselves. Yesterday, I didn’t know how I was going to tie all of this together – then Quinn pulled the sister of the year card and I had my happy ending! In some ways, I wish I had pulled out my laptop last night to wrap this one up.  In other ways, the photo below is a much better representation of the yin and yang of the family Fange.  This is Quinn’s bedroom door, which Craig just unhinged after she slammed it 4 times in a row at the end of an argument….with her mortal enemy…her sister.

DoorTonight, I am raising my pint glass of fireball to both kids starting back up at school full time tomorrow. Who’s with me??