Like trying a swimsuit on, only in front of your realtor and your mortgage broker

split level homeYou’ve probably heard that there’s a housing slump. But I’m not buying it. Unless by “slump” you mean that paying 229,000 for a screwy multi-level, 1600-square-foot house in an okay neighborhood is a steal. (Just nod, you New Yorkers; I know, life isn’t fair).

Most of the time I feel really grateful for the money Dick brings home. He also doesn’t complain about his job like he did when he was teaching, which is good because then I don’t feel like telling him to shut up at dinner because AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO LOOK FOR KID SHOES TODAY. SEVEN TIMES.

But house-hunting, even in a housing “slump,” is stealthily depressing. It’s like how I usually feel pretty good about my body, just glad I have shoulders and knees and elbows, but then I try on clothes, or get my picture taken with anomalously skinny people, and suddenly I am plunged into a real slump.

Here’s a great cure for the money-grubbies: Global Rich List (via FMH). Someone asked me tonight how the BlogHer Ads thing is working for me, and I was embarrassed to say that I still have not remembered my password, so, beyond meeting some great other bloggers (like Marianne and Beth) in my “circle,” I don’t really know how it’s going. I’m sure millions of dollars are waiting for me to claim.

I started with BlogHer after talking to a bloggy friend of mine who joked about how she would be retiring soon on her $28/month ad income. So I thought it would be instructive to see how an income of $336 a year (28 x 12) stacks up:

Since I know my bloggy friend has a couple other sources of income, it’s probably only of interest to me that if one were to make just 336 dollars per year from one’s blog, one would be richer than quite a few people in the world. One would also be annoying for saying “one” all the time.

For those who don’t measure everything in terms of blogs(!?!), Wikipedia says that the median household income in the U.S. is $46,326, which stacks up like so:

I just have two words to say about that: Ho-ly Cow.

If only there were a website that could make me feel this positive about my body. It would tell me that, compared to most mammals, like whales and elephants, say, I really look like this:

 

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I have fought the Finance Frump before, and probably will again, but I hope this helps in the war against all manner of frumpiness!

Going under the knife

I read an article in the New York Times six months ago that changed the way I view cosmetic surgery. I don’t say “plastic” surgery, because it was a plastic surgeon who sewed up my 4-year-old brother’s eyelids after a car accident left him full of broken glass. Plastic surgeons fix cleft palates and enable mastectomy victims to feel themselves again. But no matter how much I guiltily longed for rhinoplasty in moments of teenage angst, boob jobs and tummy tucks still seemed, well, sort of shallow.

THEN I had three kids, and stretch marks from my breasts to my calves, and a creepy mommy-pouch, which might work quite nicely if we were marsupials. Only another mother can truly appreciate how disheartening it is to look like an old bag (literally) at thirty. At least, I thought only another mother could, but it turns out that cosmetic surgeons are both deeply empathetic, and eager to fix the problem. As the great Dr. Stoker says in the Times article,

The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures . . .

Twenty years ago, a woman did not think she could do something about it and she covered up with discreet clothing . . . But now women don’t have to go on feeling self-conscious or resentful about their appearance.

Ah! Ah! That’s me. Severe physical trauma, lost figure, self-conscious and resentful. All I need is a breast-lift (implants optional), tummy tuck and some discreet full-body liposuction, or, in other words, The Mommy Makeover, and I could be better than new.

I could go from this:

To this:

Who wouldn’t want to go back to their 11-year-old self, strange costumes and big hair and all? And for only $15k – $30k? I don’t have anything better to do with that kind of money. It’s not like children are starving in Africa. Or, if there were, it’s not like American Idol and tons of celebrities aren’t doing EVERYTHING they can to solve that problem.

I’m tired of Fighting the Frump with baby steps. Exercise and drinking water and avoiding unflattering clothes and taking a ding-dang shower and having a positive outlook: great ideas, but do they get rid of my marsupial pouch? Are they as easy and convenient as one-time surgery? Will they make me look like Katie Holmes? I don’t think so.

After months of deliberation, I went under the knife last week. I wasn’t prepared for the pain. Or the brain fog. Or the constipation. Turns out it’s serious business, that general anesthesia. As they strapped me to the table (I had to be sitting upright for the surgeon to have access) and put the oxygen on me, I had second thoughts. What if something happened and I never woke up? Would my kids be glad I looked AWESOME in my coffin?

Was it worth weaning Spot? I know it’s not too early to wean her; she’s 18 months and happy as a clam on 2% milk, but when she climbed on my bed and tugged on my shirt a couple days before the surgery, I cried. Sometimes I think she’ll be my last baby, but those are usually the days when I’m not even remotely sad about no longer breastfeeding — no longer being the human pacifier, the body that has grown saggy and baggy and old with the business of bringing three babies into the world.

Then I woke up and Dick was there, and I felt so sad. I thought my heart would break. Is sadness a side effect of anesthesia? Shouldn’t I be feeling sassy and fresh?

Dick held my hand (tighter!) and asked why the doctor had written Y-E-R on my right arm? And I realized there had been a big mistake. Instead of a boob job and tummy tuck and full-body liposuction, I’d gotten surgery on my shoulder, which had been marked YES. I just hope my surgeon’s hand is steadier on a scalpel than on a marker.

Because I can’t imagine going under the knife for anything less than a seriously better body.

Hide the Hunchback

First, another confession, and then, an honest-to-appearance tip.

I ran (in the minivan) to Walmart right after walking with Shalece today. While I didn’t shower or anything, I did change out of my exercise clothes.

But if the same kind of people shop at your Walmart as do at mine (people like me), then you know that I was NOT the most frumpy person there.

That didn’t stop Susan from saying to the (surprisingly well-styled) cashier “You have pink lips.”

WHOSE MOTHER NEEDS LIPSTICK?

This is what I looked like (Susan wondered why I was taking a picture of the mirror. Finally got her to be quiet by working her into the shot).

I wanted to get a picture of my back because that’s the subject of my Fight the Frump tip today: Hide the hunchback.

Now, I don’t know if this is a common woman problem, or if it is specific to my family, but I have to say that I think I get it from my mom. We just have a bit of a hump at the top of our spines. So I feel weird wearing shirts cut low, even a little bit, in the back.

It’s for sure not a calcium deficiency, ’cause we drink enough chocolate milk (Nesquik with added Calcium: we’re healthy like that) to float your boat (literally).

So when I went shopping with Tara for spring dresses, I kept my hunchback in mind. I picked her out a cute pink-y Easter dress and found a rather Autumnal (flattering darker colors) ensemble for myself for $15.50 at Ross. I love making Dick guess how much I paid for clothes. Perhaps he’s humoring me after ten years of this game, but he always guesses outrageous amounts ($35? $25?) and then acts all relieved when I say “$15.50” “for both the skirt AND shirt.”

Notice how the Mandarin-ish collar hides the hunchback, but it vees in front so I don’t feel choked to death. My breasts look kinda saggy (who’s still nursing?), but I promise I am wearing a bra in this picture, one of two I own; maybe I shouldn’t have thrown them in the dryer.

Speaking of bras, and nursing (anytime, anywhere), I loved Fussy’s post this week on Nursing with STYLE. The only thing I’d add is that great longer-length camisoles can be found at ‘modesty’ stores like Shade and Down East Basics. They’re sometimes a bit shrink-wrapped for this body, but that’s not necessarily a drawback for an underlayer.

Can’t wait to see what the other Frump-Fighters tackle this week, though I am trying to keep my participation secret from Dick. Don’t want to raise any unrealistic expectations.

Tickle-Me Tuesday: Random bits of absurdity

Thanks for reducing the pressure, Marie: ‘absurd’ seems more easily attainable than ‘humorous.’ And I love the new logo.

So, what strikes me as absurd today is the warning on the exercise bike at our apartment complex. It says to stop immediately if you feel pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, faint or ANY DISCOMFORT. Well, and I thought that was the whole point of exercise.

I’m training so hard lately because I want to hone my ping-pong game ’till I’m as good as these guys:

NOT because I want to get skinnier (well, you know, maybe a tiny bit). In case you had no idea that a size 2 is probably an unrealistic goal/ideal/image for most women, here’s a great picture I’m hanging on our fridge of the ‘ideal’ male body (from the New York Times):skinny-male-models.jpg

Hubba-hubba, huh?