Wednesday, December 21, 2011

La Familia y Comida

Well, time to play catch up! A lot has happened since my last post, mainly in the form of a surprise trip to Cincinnati! Woohoo! Most people are probably wondering why Cincinnati of all places would elicit a "woohoo!" from anyone, especially a city girl like me, but I have family there that I really enjoy and I haven't been back to Cinci in 8 years! That is almost a decade!!!!!

My mom's sister and her hubby started their family in Mexico (she was teaching abroad and met this suave Meixcan named Poncho... they got married and she stayed in Mexico with him, had 3 kids, etc.). Well he worked for Proctor & Gamble and eventually the company wanted him to head up an enterprise in Cincinnati, their US headquarters. And so, the family moved there back in the late 80's and has been in the same house ever since! We used to visit for Thanksgiving back when my Grandma was mobile, and I would stay for a few weeks to a month in the summertime. Needless to say, Cincinnati, or more likely the cousins and aunt and uncle I have there, all hold a special place in my heart.

Well, those 2 crazy Mexican love birds celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this past monday! Imagine that?! 40 years. WOW! My cousin Tanya had the idea to throw them a surprise party to celebrate... afterall, nowadays how many people make it to their 40th anniversary? Slim to none, right? So she sent everyone save the dates and hoped for a good turnout.... and she sure got one!!!!

People traveled from California, Georgia, all over Ohio... and even Mexico City! And let me tell you, "the Mexicans" (my uncle's sister, brother & kids) are an absolute BLAST! I had spent time with them as a kid because 1 summer we all ended up staying with my aunt & uncle at the same time, and I also got to party with them at both my cousins' weddings back in 2003. But again, it's been 8 years and I tell ya, not much has changed! They are still as fun loving and warm and kind as ever! I kinda wish I was related to them also! haha.

Since there were so many out of town guests, the "grown ups" stayed at a hotel, but the "cousins" stayed with my cousin Tanya. She lives about a mile from my Aunt & Uncle and I LOVE LOVE LOVE her house! It feels like a cabin in the woods, decorated with Crate & Barrel stuff....and lots of nice linens and toiletries to enjoy. Oh and yes, it is in the woods (a deer family walked right by the bedroom window while I was there!), but yet the main road with Wendy's & McDonald's was within walking distance.... quite a paradox! I had to take a picture of her house to commemorate my trip of course....

Tanya and I have had a special relationship since I was a kid. She is 8 years older than me but has always treated me like a friend more than a "little kid". I was always invited to tag along with her and her friends, we like the same things in general (except she doesn't like shopping... blashphemy!), and back in the good old days our family called us the "Bobsey Twins". It kind of stinks that we live a nation away from each other, but the good part is that when we DO get to spend time together it's as though no time has passed at all. I love her! Oh and her hubby Aaron and kids are all adorable as well... just a really nice family :)

Ok so back to the title of this entire post.... "La familia y comida" means "the family and food" because Tanya's mom, my aunt Marilyn loves to cook more than anyone I have ever seen, met, dreamt of, etc. This lady would cook in her sleep if she could! And nothing gives her more joy than seeing others enjoy her cooking! So Tanya had to somehow convince her that despite her son Ian (my cousin) and his wife Krista and their kids being in town from Switzerland for the holidays...s he was NOT allowed to cook her own anniversary dinner! She just told her to dress nicely and that Ian, Krista, Aaron (her hubby) and all of their kids were going out to a nice dinner for the evening.

Little did she know, 45 of her nearest and dearest were eagerly awaiting her arrival at a local restaurant! Here is what she looked like when she figured out that people had actually traveled in an airplane to celebrate with them....

I was the first person that she saw and kind of looked at in recognition like "hey what are you doing here?!". I went forward and gave her a hug and she went "OH MY GOSH! Alexis?!!!" She later confessed that she was thinking that I was a woman who LOOKED like me, but she wasn't sure it was me because she hadn't seen me since I had started losing all my weight! In fact last time she saw me was the day before my surgery! That part was kind of fun :) In fact, the Mexicans were SHOCKED when they saw me! I was at a peak weight in 2003 when they saw me (around 220lbs) so the wives had to tell their husbands that I was in fact "me". That was fun too!

Overall the party turned out great, and Tanya was grateful to have my party planning "expertise" in a few set up details, requests, etc. Hey.. it's what I do ; ) My aunt and uncle could not stop saying how surprised they were and how no one had ever thrown a party for them in the past 40 years, ESPECIALLY not a suprise party! They truly had no idea. And my aunt started crying (and I think my uncle shed a few tears too) when they saw how many people had made the effort to be there to celebrate with them! Well done T on planning an awesome surprise party!

Well, as predicted by all of us, the minute the party was over my aunt was planning our next feast at her house. We followed up the late night after party with a traditional Mexican breakfast....aka heaven on a plate! She made moilletes (pronounced Moy-yet-tays...not sure if I spelled it right) but basically it is rolls browned on a griddle, slathered with refried beans, monterey jack cheese, and broiled until the cheese is all melty. OMG DELICIOUS!!!! I hadn't had those in again, 8 years, and they tasted as good if not better than I remembered. And additionally she made chilaquiles.... torn tortillas lightly fried, smothered in fresh warm salsa verde, and topped with chopped onions and crema. No folks, those items are NOT on my diet!!! But darn they were amazing!

We also ended up at her house for dinner (think 20 people each meal) and there were just too many dishes to list on here, but all of them were outstanding and delicious. The cool thing about having a family that loves to eat is the comraderie around the table. Meals with all of my cousins and family and aunt and uncles... they are just awesome. We can sit forever just talking, laughing, reminiscing. It really is special. That's the one thing about this surgery that kind of blows.... I can only eat so much so while everyone else is still enjoying, I am cut off. (the trade is COMPLETELY worth it, so don't think I am truly complaining) But here I am , hanging with the ladies (Tanya, me, & my cousin Ian's wife, Krista)..... as I mentioned before, the table was about 20ppl deep at one point!

The other really awesome thing is that the three of us have all been pregnant around the same times, twice for all of us, girl first boy second for ALL OF US!!! How cool is that?! I loved seeing and playing with all of my cousins who all happened to be around my same age, so I am thrilled that my kids will get the same experience... not only from the Cincinnati peeps, but also from my Bay Area peeps as well.... us cousins are apparently good breeders! haha And we all had kids around the same time making for good times in the future.

So I have to credit my ability to attend this fine function to my mama. She bought my ticket with her credit card miles because apparently CVG is an expensive airport.... cheapest tickets were close to $400... OUCH. So Thank you MOM!!!! You are awesome! And also thanks to Roger who not only watched the the kiddos all weekend but also took care of Pearl, my parent's beloved weiner dog. She is like kid #3... even has to sleep in a people bed! haha. My mom was glad to get a picture of her entire family at the restaurant where the party was held... very festive as you can see! My "little" brothers are growing into men very quickly!

My flight home was purposely scheduled so that I could enjoy Monday in Cinci before going home.... I knew I got in late, but I wasn't prepared to be sitting on the tarmac for over an hour due to some mechanical glitch that had to be cleared. But alas, I made it home safely and was so glad to see my little monkeys and snuggle with them. They really are amazing kids and Aidan, in her sleepy haze, was coherent enough to sit up and say "MAMA!!!" and give me a big hug, before laying back down and passing out. I love that girl :)

Not much rest to be had before our Blue Water work party the following evening. I love these girls too! Kelly & Jennifer are the front lines at work and they are really great. We have a wonderful time discussing world issues like shopping at Goodwill & Target, calling each other fake names (I'm Charlene, in case you were wondering), and enjoying all of the great treats that come through our front door! I am lucky to have such great coworkers (even Dave, who took me to the airport on my way to Cinci!). Oh and might I add that we also like to get the party started early....

Merry Christmas Friends and Fam! I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and enjoy "la familia" "la comida" and all of the blessings that Christmas brings!

Oh and my next check in about eating right and weight... eeks... Cincinnati was a land of Skyline chili 3 ways, diet Pepsi galore, chocolate opera cake, and Outback.... yeah.... I need to work on my restraint! The good news is that I can only eat so much : X Still holding strong at a size 4/6 and 138/9 lbs though!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Uptown Girl, living in a Crafty world

The title today was pretty snazzy huh?? Uptown girl... I'd say downtown world, but in reality, around these parts, downtown is uptown.... but the point is that I am a city girl through and through. San Francisco, born and raised, 4th generation BABY!!! Woohoo!

Well, now that I got my city pride outta the way, perhaps I should get down to the point of this post! You see, I have noticed that in the past 2 years or so "handmade" goods are all the rage. I fall into the raging category, yet I have never been Susie Homemaker and I am 10x more likely to order out or in than cook a meal. Not so much since surgery, but that's just cause I am poor at the moment :) Either way, my domestic skills have been lacking, and I recently decided that it is high time I do something about it!!!

Enter my magical website called Pinterest.... land of the crafty, resourceful, mother, teacher, or creative someone or other. I freaking LOVE this website. The main reason is that some of the ideas or crafts seem so darn easy I think to myself "I can TOTALLY make that!". One catch: items you sew. Or embroider. Or really anything involving a sewing machine.

I grew up with a Grandma who could sew anything... she used to make my mom's clothes (stylish ones I may add!) when she was growing up/a teen, she used to make my Halloween costumes, she would even sew my teddy bears outfits to match mine! Her sewing machine was put to good use. And in the same way, my mom is a great seamstress... she definitely knows her way around a sewing machine, and has made me Halloween costumes, etc. Yeah that's pretty much where the sewing bloodline ends.

The cool thing is that I just so happen to work for a boss that has an embroidery machine and was completely willing to let me bring it home to make some holiday gifts. SCORE!!! Those things are like $500! I figured I would bring it home, read the manual, and get to work. Ummm the manual is like 200 pages full of crazy diagrams with letters and arrows, and the LCD screen on the machine is awesome and everything but I could barely figure out how to turn the darn thing on. Martha Stewart: 1. Alexis: 0. Roger had a good laugh at me trying to figure out what everything was and he told me sewing takes a lot more than just a lesson.

He did prove to be right (hmph) BUT my boss Karen was kind enough to start my lessons yesterday!!! Lesson 1: threading the bobbin, and threading the needle. Here I am.... I made my coworker Dave take a picture of this momentous occasion!

My desk is behind the bookcase thing, and I swear it is not normally full of crap... those are all really cool sewing CDs and tutorials that were in my boss' sewing SUITCASE... yes that's right her machine travels in style.

Anyway, my lesson lasted about 15 minutes because I had to go get my babies but I *think I just might be able to accomplish the 2 tasks I learned yesterday, by myself. We shall see when I attempt lesson #2... learning wtf the LCD screen does.

On to something a little more my style.... life downtown! Growing up in San Francisco, the downtown area, namely Union Square, is all abuzz with holiday fun! It just so happens that I have a meeting downtown tonight for my Catering association and one of our board members works at the Westin St. Francis.... SCORE!!!! I cannot tell you how excited I am because I have yet to feel the joy of the season in downtown SF. I love the lights, the tree, the energy... yup. I'm a city girl!

Now the thing about going downtown is that everyone is so spiffy down there! I couldn't go to my meeting looking like a schlub.... so I figured, LBD (little black dress), tights, boots.... AND MY NEW AWESOME RED PURSE! Love the color pop, right?!!! So fun! So Holiday! And SO CHEAP!!!!

Those who know me know that purses are not really my "thing". I don't have a Louis. I do have a Gucci (and as I am writing this I am realizing that it is actually red... and super cute... perhaps I should have worn it today....) but the Gooch is from Florence and I got it half off which was the equivalent of $250 which in the grand scheme is nothing for a Gucci bag..... but anyway I digress..... My normal every day purse was a Target steal that cost me $6.24 and I find it very hard to pull all of my crap out to change purses for a day. So generally, I don't.

BUUUUUUUUT.... for this occasion, I decided, what the heck. My new purse is snazzy, right?!! Well yeah snazzy and a steal at $12. I was thrilled. Thrilled UNTIL my coworker Kelly pointed out that perhaps it was a steal because it is BROKEN! (insert huge GASP!). Say what?! How the heck did I miss that?!!!! Well the ends are bound with these weird door hinge mechanisms so the bag flexes open to hold your stuff. On one side the pins that go through the mechanism were missing. Oh geez.....

I guess I better pull a MacGuyver on this puppy!!!!!!!
If you were not laughing before, you are definitely laughing now. This is my magican MacGuyver creation with paperclips!!! LOL. Hey, I may not be able to sew, but I do know how to make it work. I'm like Tim Gunn on Project Runway... Make it work!!!!

In all honesty I do not think that you can see the paperclips from afar, and I definitely wouldn't be walking around with this purse every day (just for tonight's festivities it seems), so the paperclips were a GENIUS idea! Go me!!!

And go me on my hair. I am slowly learning to manage it with no product and a little creativity. My cousin wanted to know if I still like it and if my face looks fat with it short. My response to her: see below

I don't think my face looks fat at all. But I also don't think that I am fat anymore. If I was 40lbs heavier like I was for about 7 years, then this style would have definite potential to bring out the butterball in my face. The weird thing is that I kinda feel like my jaw is almost angular now. I had always believed I had a really round face. Perhaps it was just pudge?? The more I see this picture the more it looks like I have a really big head. I don't have a big head, I swear... Kelly my professional blog photographer is 6 feet tall so she has a weird angle..... thanks Kelly!

And so my friends, this uptown/downtown/all around girl is about to enjoy a night in the city with some colleagues who rock.... off to enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Glass Gingerbread House

Where do I even begin with this blog?? There is so much to say but the main point is that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Let me also start with WHY I write my blog. I heard that some people believe that only egotistical people write blogs. Well, I have one thing to say about this... well no, I have 2. The first thing is that if I am blogging and egotistical, Why are you reading my blog???? The second is that the reasons I write are: a) it is a journal for me to remember my journey. I recently reread all of my entries, and I have changed so much since day 1 of writing. b) it is a chance for strangers who have had, or are thinking about having weightloss surgery to understand my journey, to compare their experiences, or to be empowered to start their journey. I have gotten numerous emails of random people thanking me for writing.

And the biggest "thank you" starts with "THANK YOU FOR YOUR HONESTY". And this comment is probably the nicest one that I could ever ask for. You see, I have absolutely no hesitation in being an open book. This blog is public for a reason. I am not ashamed of any decision I have made with or in my life. And despite the positive responses, I have also been hearing some "gossip" that is going on behind my back about my life and my blog. So I am going to pointedly address these issues in order to clarify.

Let's start with family ties. You see, blood is supposed to be thicker than water. I grew up in a very nice family. I would say my childhood was far happier than a lot of people's. My mother was a single mother until I was around 8 and we lived with my grandparents which was probably one of her best decisions because we lived in a very warm and cozy home (that very same house where all holidays and birthdays are spent : )). And when she married my stepdad I was again so blessed to be given a stepdad who I don't consider a "step", just a dad. He is an amazing man. I also was fortunate to grow up with plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins and just generally.... I have a great family!

I would also like to add that my Grandma (the one who is in the hospital) is an amazing woman. She was my second mom. I love her. And I am really blessed to have a mother who would a) not only do anything for me as her daughter, but has truly devoted her life to caring for my grandma for the past 15+ years (she has been wheelchair bound since her stroke that long ago). She has 3 siblings, some that live far away, and another who lives close by, but none do a milimeter as much as my mom does. And I think that deep down they know that. Some try their best to help and others choose to be so self absorbed that they don't visit in nearly a year or have the decency to call her on Thanksgiving (while in the hospital mind you). But yet all seem to have a whole lot to say about my grandma's care. I would honestly love for them to spend just a week in my mother's shoes. Caring for my grandma is a ton of work, so although my mom may not get to work until 11am, she certainly isn't lounging in bed until then. Instead she is going to the pharmacy, answering the 45th phone call because my grandma is INSISTING that she MUST get orange juice for breakfast, visitng the hospital, shuttling my brothers to school, packing lunches, doing laundry, etc etc etc. Oh, did I mention she runs her own business on top of all of that. Again.... those in glass houses, whose houses are a helluva lot smaller, shouldn't throw stones.....

But as time has gone by (and the tone of this blog unfortunately), I feel like our family has splintered. Divisions have formed, and in my opinion some family members have become overcome with bitterness and contempt. Well folks, I have one thing to say: If you are over the age of 18, that makes you an adult. It makes you liable for your own actions. You cannot live life BLAMING others. You cannot accuse others of "destroying" your life. Your life is the way it is because of your own choices, and if you are in a space in life that you don't like, change it. I hated being 245lbs. Yeah I complained a lot... and then I realized that I was that way because of my own issues and choices in life. And then I CHOSE to CHANGE.

That change has made me a better person, I believe. I spend a lot less time worrying about others' faults, and what I am not getting from them. I spend more time worrying about myself and what I can do to help others. I spend more time worrying about my healthy. I am doing better at work. Sadly, my marriage failed, but you know what.... no relationship is perfect. No one can sit there and say that their marriage is 100% hunky dory. Even if your marriage has lasted for 40 years, I am sure that there have been bumps in the road.

Someone said that I must've married Roger for a father figure. Ummm no. Or ummm Maybe? I don't really know. But if marrying someone simply to satisy a "weakness" or "emotional issue" is the answer does that mean that someone who is REALLY jacked up marries a therapist for free sessions??? Or should my next husband be a personal trainer because now that's what I really need??? I think not. We SHOULD be marrying for love (at least in Western belief) and I knwo that my relationship was and is very difficult to understand for friends and family but often times relationships are only decipherable by those who are living them. As the saying goes, you don't know what goes on behind closed doors. And I could spend days talking bad about Roger, and at times have, but there are also 100 wonderful things I could say about him as a father, as a husband and as a person. We don't hate each other, we are just not meant to be married.

Also on that note, I want to say something about family in general. If you want to BE part of a family, you have to participate. You have to make an effort. Any relationship works that way. The friends I see most or am closest to.... we are that way because we both make an effort to be a part of each others lives. We both help each other in times of need. We both offer a shoulder to cry on or to lean on. We also offer encouragement. We don't sit there and criticize each other or others and we enjoy each other's company. Sure, I have friends whose decisions I don't agree with, but I like them as a person. And I respect them enough to tell them to their face that I don't agree with their choices, but just because of that, it doesn't mean we can't be friends. In fact, in a lot of ways, being friends with people who have different views than my own enlightens me and broadens my own horizons, even if my choices are different.

You see, I don't live in a "dream world". I didn't get married "for a dream wedding" (trust me, a dream wedding would have been free!). I also didn't get married for a father figure. I love my family and my children. I write my blog not for my ego, but to share and record. I also write it with transparency... I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. And if people reading this are too ashamed to a) admit they read this or b) confront me about issues in my life that they feel the need to gossip about, then I truly feel sorry for them. I hope that one day they will find peace in their own relationships, both marriages and family ones to be honest with themselves and realize that their own houses are glass, and there is plenty that I could say to hurt them or criticize, but I won't.

Life is about love, it is about learning, it is about forgiviness. And it is about being the best YOU (or me in this case) that you can be. I wish people would remember this instead of spending their lives doing the opposite. I realize that this post was somewhat negative which was not my intention but just know that in Roger's words "Just realize that if you are talking about someone behind their back, they are talking about you just the same".... and in my own words: The truth shall be revealed.