A More Effective Quitter

Oh hey… Guess what!

I’m not dead.

Honestly guys, I don’t know what happened. One minute I was stuffing jalepenos in my pants and the next thing I know it’s been nearly two months since my last blog post.

Some of you may not know but I’m a teacher and this year I’m teaching a new grade… again.

So mid-summer I started getting back to work. Since then it has been a juggling balance between spending time with my kids (because the working mommy guilt has set back in) and getting my job done. So the last two months have looked like this…

11057469_10207170439600161_7941454622914821049_o    11886115_10207302515701981_1768371084773196339_o

11412073_10207158195694071_1292021926278951034_o     11922848_10207344881481099_7775735379792353800_o

11047948_10207439032794823_6987793855745773180_o    11928731_10207439011714296_6030130372903754077_o

11907221_10207309687961283_3832305099751851056_o    11754579_10207140340407700_9032130001555525694_o

11891468_10207439031314786_7110993273669644280_o    11792075_10207160158943151_1691003545501977464_o

11838637_10207302499781583_3356490902482131821_o    11144924_10207344403669154_570113761250143951_o

11845222_10207352410389317_7425316388058683808_o    11896358_10207393591178811_3496606252932578138_o

There were several times within the past few weeks that I felt compelled to write a blog post. Every time I sat down to write one something else came up. My life has been absolute madness lately. Wildfire season kicked in right about the time that I started working again. Brent has had to work a ton of overtime to cover the guys who have headed out all over the country to fight the wild fires. This week alone he’s on a four day bender.

This blog is a pretty good measure of how much time I’m getting to myself. When I make my health (both mental and physical) a priority I write often. If I’m struggling with making myself a priority the blog suffers.

So… that’s what happened.

In the latter half of the summer I spent a lot of my “time off” moving into another classroom and planning my lessons. I felt guilty when I wasn’t out living it up dog days style, but then I would feel anxious and irresponsible for not preparing for the school year. After spending an afternoon in the classroom I just couldn’t bare to come home and sit in front of the computer to write a blog post while Penelope was begging for me to pay attention to her.

It just felt wrong.

Then school started and the madness really began because Brent was working and I was working…

I’ve been doing a fairly good job of cooking healthy food ahead of time so that I could have healthy lunches. I also rode my bike to school when I could and went for a few sunrise walks with my friend.

One time I actually took the initiative to wake up early and go to a spin class at 5 o’clock in the morning. That didn’t turn out so great…

I came to class pumped up and proud of myself for actually getting my ass out of bed. I positioned myself in the middle of the class where I could see the instructor but wasn’t up front and center. Five minutes into class a lady walked in and hopped on the bike in front of me. Apparently she was meeting a friend. The ladies chatted a bit while we did our warm ups and then they chatted a little louder when the music got louder and then even louder as they really got into what “Pissed them off!” The whole time peddling casually while I tried to listen to the instructor who was telling me to pump up the resistance. Every time the music got loud they got louder. Every time the instructor tried to tell us a witty story during the “down hill” portion they talked over her…

I looked around to see if I was the only one who was irritated by it. By the looks on the faces of the people around me I wasn’t. The instructor was looking at them and I was looking at her urging her to say something… but she didn’t.

Finally after 40 minutes of enduring it I snapped…

“EXCUSE ME!” I blurted out before I actually knew what was coming out of my mouth“Will you please stop talking?” I added in a calmer tone trying to makeup for the bitch that suddenly erupted from my body.

Both women looked back at me and then at each other like I was completely out of line.

“It’s annoying,” I added with finality.

They stopped talking for a while and the other spin class patrons gave me secret smiles glad that someone finally said something. I tried to ignore that it actually happened and get back to my work out but the ladies kept looking back at me and talking about me so that I would hear them in mean girl fashion.

I just stared at them every time they looked around at me all the while thinking, I’m a middle school teacher you can’t intimidate me, I confront assholes on a daily basis.

When class slowed down we were supposed to do stretches. They ignored the stretches the instructor prompted us to do and instead opted for stretches that gave them the opportunity to give me more dirty looks. Finally I had enough and said, “You know, I’m sorry if I came across as a bitch. It’s obvious that I’m not a hardcore athlete, but I woke up at 4:30 this morning to get my vagina murdered by this hard ass seat. And I didn’t do it so that I could hear you bitch about your ex husband.”

They turned around and left me alone the remainder of the time. And I came to the conclusion that it might be best if I didn’t do early morning group fitness…

Despite these efforts over the past few weeks, my pants are still tighter from being in survival mode last year. And they were tight the year prior to that from being in survival mode while I finished my master’s degree and did my student teaching.

I can’t spend my entire teaching career in survival mode while my pant sizes slowly creep up.

Since I’ve started working, my morning runs had slowly been replaced with morning lattes. And when I got home from work my workout clothes were replaced with pajama pants. The weight started to creep up five pounds at first, then ten, then… well, I don’t even know really.

At some point I’m going to have to start from scratch and post my weight with a picture. I haven’t done that yet for three reasons…

1. I’m pretty sure it’s going to hurt my feelings and I will ultimately punish myself for my slip in the health department by gaining another ten pounds.

2. Bridget used to be my before and after photographer. But I don’t feel like it’s a good idea to have her do that anymore since she’s gotten older. Girls are sensitive to these matters and I’m not sure I’m sending her a positive message by obsessing over my weight and then having her take pictures of it.

3. I’m afraid some weirdo is going to steal my before and after pictures again. In fact, I’m pretty sure my face is still lingering out there in google land pushing some weird diet pill. (Still creeped out by that by the way.)

In fact, I was tempted to stop blogging because of it.

BUT I can’t quit writing this blog. I haven’t finished what I’ve started…

I’m one of those people that always wants to quit when the going gets tough, but then I’ll change my mind and decide not to quit.

You could define this as tenacity, but I’m actually more sure that this is just another case of me not being able to follow through properly.

“I quit!… Ugh, nevermind.”

1aa4ff6ef589f07148911195f3c650e756fde0e94e4d5102bd18e4b4cb244d6f

I don’t know what it is, I just can’t stop trying even if I’m really bad at something.

For Example:

I’m horrible at spelling, yet I’ve earned the right as a Language Arts teacher to issue out spelling tests.

I was a terrible student growing up. In fact, I hated school. I quit college twice, once because I didn’t know what I wanted to be and another time to move to Colorado and get married… only to end up going a third time and finishing with a Master’s Degree.

I was a slow reader as a kid and had a hard time getting into books. My eyes used to twitch when I read. Now I’m known by name at all of the local bookstores within a 15 mile radius of my house because I’m obsessed with reading and known by many as a book nerd.

I’m a “weight loss blogger” whose pants are probably two sizes too tight…

Yeah…. we’ve gotta keep working on that one.

You know, life would be so much easier if I was a more effective quitter. OR maybe I’m just really attracted to contradictions.

So, what are we gonna do about it? I’ve seriously got to figure out the balance between life and work. (If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve tried this several times.) I’m not just talking about balancing time between my students and my kids. That’s important but I’ve also got to throw in focusing on time with my husband, and focusing on myself and developing who I want to be. That’s four things that need to be up in the air at all times and I won’t rest until I learn how to balance them all.

My plan is to write a blog post at least once a week because this is how I check in with myself mentally. In fact, I kind of forget you guys are there sometimes. Hence, some of the awkward blog posts. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Actually losing weight takes focus and I’ve got to actually focus on it… even if I am SOOOOO tired of talking about it. Honestly, I would really like to quit writing this blog, but I can’t until I figure out how to not gain five pounds every time I’ve had a stressful day.

Until then, I guess you’re just kind of stuck listening to me describe the effort it takes to keep my thighs from eating my shorts. Good luck with that.

That One Dimple

Insecurity… it’s a weird thing.

11666048_10206937656980741_9012440730536805953_n    11665363_10206937659620807_1959529724050452171_n

The other day I was at the pool with Penelope in all of my glory eating Cheetos. Yes, Cheetos. (Lack of weight loss Mystery solved.) It was rest period and I was sitting on my damp towel in a less than flattering position crunching on my snack when I decided to take the opportunity to people watch.

Watching half-naked people in a public setting could very well be one of the most interesting social experiments you can conduct. You can tell a lot about a person by how they behave in their bathing suit… the way they pull at their suits, the positions they insist on lounging in, the way they hunch their shoulders or arch their backs… very telling indeed.

But the thing that stood out to me the most was the universal fact that nobody really cares how YOU look in your bathing suit. Pool patrons are mostly just concerned about how THEY look. Nobody is looking at you and judging you. In fact, people probably appreciate you more if they look better than you do. Because let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit self-centered like that.

Later the whistle was blown and it was time to get back into the pool. I sat in the shallow end with Penelope within earshot of a gaggle of women, all of whom looked fantastic in their bikinis. I was wearing my sunglasses and was secretly scoping them out. Divying up which of their body parts I wish I had… I’ll take her boobs, her butt, and her flat abs. As I was admiring these women I could hear them talking among themselves. The conversation turned to insecurities. “Ugh I hate the cellulite on my butt. I have this ONE dimple that doesn’t go away no matter how many squats I do.”

I decided to check it out. Sure enough she had a dimple. I hadn’t noticed because I was too busy admiring her stomach from where I was sitting. Then I thought about it some more and it dawned on me that we all have insecurities because we are all imperfect. It’s how we approach those imperfections that determines how insecure you are.

It was a shame that lady had such a rocking body but she couldn’t enjoy it because she couldn’t see past that one flaw. Then I looked at myself and all of the things that bother me about myself and I decided that the same rules applied to me as well. Later that day I decided to go shopping for some summer clothes. I’ve been avoiding it because I’ve gained a little weight since last summer.

 

So far, for the majority of the summer I’ve been feeling pretty good in my skin. Then I went shopping and couldn’t find anything that fit right and BAM! I turned into an epic asshole to myself. I talked myself down and convinced myself that there was no use in trying to shop anymore because nothing would fit. (Apparently I wasn’t only an asshole but the middle school bully version of myself as well because I was pretty dramatic about it.)

This only lasted for a day because realized I was being stupid. So I went back to doing my summer thang…

Gardening…

10985040_10206937639300299_4084399832964287408_n (1)    10177900_10206862093411699_4304261419442520945_n

11219324_10206938030470078_831598492218107956_n

Bike Riding…

11659473_10206933763923417_2891956161444561576_n

Having picnics at the park…

11705152_10206937556898239_6163286537895417075_n

11709577_10206937923987416_6287647576233303134_n    11707625_10206937911787111_7146438393252872527_n

Writing…

11402275_10206796594614270_3360193022058078948_o    11136295_10206937834145170_7087213092434726986_o (1)

Waking up early to go running…

11403390_10206937921027342_7505575374655192730_n

Picking flowers…

11709217_10206903659930836_4933328699108694780_n

and eating yummy food…

11182765_10206950317617249_4704245222358931311_o    11709240_10206951168638524_1292988234063913346_n

11722578_10206951187638999_39158318991605645_o    11665607_10206897883026417_6119760947420138216_n

It didn’t take long to feel better about myself.

Insecurity ebbs and flows. Somedays I could give a shit what people think of me because I think I’m pretty great. Then I’ll be a complete asshole to myself and talk myself down.

Throughout writing this blog I have discovered that there is something empowering about not giving in to the urge of talking down to yourself. I find that time is much better spent simply enjoying where you are in the moment… flaws and all.

I Don’t Know What Happened…

Hi guys. I don’t know what happened…

11415490_10206862187014039_5107027451256163238_o

One day I’m at IKEA and the next thing I know… it’s a week later, my legs are speckled in paint and I have a deep desire to hunt down the previous owners of our house and give them a good talking to about their poor choice of paint colors. (Black trim and brown paint- it took me two solid days to paint over the black.)

I could not, would not stop until this project was finished!

It was an obsession really, but the results paid off. By the time Brent came home from work his man(ish) cave was ready after he put the furniture together himself. He finally had a nice place to sit back and watch his Cardinal’s baseball games. And then during commercials he could admire the Cardinal’s memorabilia he’s been waiting to hang up.

11222050_10206862246335522_1028541473063960251_o 11312668_10206862246295521_3635939737380460173_o

You can take the boy out of St. Louis but you can’t take the St. Louis out of the boy, I guess.

I owed it to him after all because 1.) Father’s Day was coming up and 2.) He has stayed at home with the kids to let me hang out with my friends a lot lately.

Like that one time I got to go see Wicked!

10363657_10206827515827281_3430744236501960281_n

(I’m really just telling you about Wicked so that I can post this picture of me wearing lipstick.)

It’s a new discovery, lipstick. I never wear it, but Penelope got into my makeup bag and found the obnoxious lipstick I bought a few years back to compensate for my shortcomings as a woman. I never wore it because it was a bit over kill, but on this particular day when I had nowhere to go I decided to give it a whirl. (After I wiped it off of Penelope’s forehead, of course.)

1476571_10206771774113773_6801129144950671144_n

And I liked it… kind of.

Maybe I just needed the color after having chosen not to wear makeup for three days in a row. Having gone for so long without makeup meant that there was no mascara residue left over to indicate that my blonde eyelashes actually existed. One swipe of lipstick and a pair of sunglasses made it look like I had actually taken the time to fix up my face. I was impressed.

So I did what anyone does when they are overcome with vanity. I took a selfie. (And then kind of regretted it because it was so… well, vain.)

I was scheduled to see Wicked the next day but didn’t have anything fancy enough to wear to the event. I decided to overcompensate for this fact by accessorizing with a huge necklace and bright lips. It worked and I ended up having a blast that night!

1896832_10206862384898986_3576022248891597084_n

The day after Wicked was the IKEA day and then all time was lost. Three days and three buckets of paint later I was free to meet Brent in the mountains for the Frisco BBQ Festival.

11377362_10206862432100166_4272905270205325659_n

Brent’s fire department was participating in a cooking competition to raise funds for our friend, Jason, who just found out that he has cancer.

11401143_10152804867882553_3409101308248053717_n

Cancer is common among firefighters due to all of the toxins they encounter in fires, so a Presumptive Cancer Act has been passed to make sure the financial burden does not lie on the fire fighter. Jason, however, has a rare form of cancer that does not respond to chemo or radiation, nor does it fit into the CPFF Presumptive Cancer list. Therefore,  treatments aren’t covered and his family will ultimately have to cover the costs out of pocket.

11406379_10206864249785607_5598116295411161714_o

Jason is the shirtless guy…

(From a far it looks like he’s taking donations to fund his protein shake habit.)

He’s shirtless because a few ladies kindly offered to make a sizeable donation if he took his shirt off. Plus, he looks good without a shirt sooo he’s just doing us all a good favor. Brent is the union president for the fire department and has been racking his brain trying to come up with ways to raise funds for Jason and this cook off is just one of them.

11248342_1068080713219668_136630947442951731_n

11246860_10206864251065639_4192336672024036220_o    11061724_10206864249825608_3432264164149104746_o

Plus, Brent’s super competitive and really just wanted to win.

11111069_10206864249745606_7805898526643986015_o

 (They got 2nd place. He doesn’t want to talk about it…)

11402527_10206864249865609_96417833052215336_o

I jumped on board because this Texas girl will find any reason to head for the mountains. It’s always so beautiful!

10449517_10206835906237036_8371372077537143221_n

Besides, the girls love participating in the festivities.

The next day was Father’s Day and we surprised Brent with photos of the girls for his locker at work…

11391480_10206864447510550_5686387909979021530_n

And then I made him some of his favorite St. Louis style foods…

10475594_10206864490911635_7804802762536574297_n

Gooey Butter Cake, Rich and Charlie’s Salad and Toasted Ravioli

Luckily our air conditioner wasn’t working properly and I was too hot to eat too much of it. However, I did suck down the iced tea with a vengeance. After partaking in BBQ festivities and Gooey Butter Cake I decided to set my alarm on Monday morning to ensure I woke up for an early morning run.  It was time to get back on track!

It was then that I rediscovered why I love  early summer mornings so much…

995059_10206864731917660_3846689849235052731_n    11403204_10206864729197592_4081303225084607794_n

Hotair Balloons! (Ugh and black trim paired with brown paint…)

Summer Snackin’…

FYI: The title to this post is supposed to be sung to the following song…

Because it’s summer and lets face it… snacking is the same as loving, healthy or not.

Since school has let out I have relished in my freedom via making all of the home-made concoctions I didn’t have time to make during the school year. But once I actually made some of these things I realized that it didn’t really take any time at all and I hope to continue the trend throughout the school year. Because there is something just so satisfying about making home-made products that are healthier, cleaner and not to mention… cheaper.

(Take that you unseen corporate force… damn the man!)

Ahem…

Take for instance this easy home-made hummus

11535860_10206762475441312_295105855949634340_n

(My husband is a die-hard Cardinals fan as you can see by the cutting board my sister made him. Therefore, it was only appropriate to serve this hummus with red bell peppers. GO CARDS!)

I had put off making hummus for a long time because I didn’t want to have to buy a ten dollar jar of tahini for something I wasn’t so sure would turn out. Then I stumbled upon a tahini free recipe (link above) and I fell in love. Ingredients include canned chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, olive oil and salt.

That’s it. So Good!

I served this when we had an impromptu deck party with some of my fellow teachers and once again when I rode my bike over to my friend’s house for an Outlander watching marathon… (You know, that one time I got called a goddess. No big deal.)

11401346_10206762549083153_7043985342568452203_n

Being the super host that she is my friend KJ was already prepared with snacks, so we had a feast that night. She even made a strawberry lemonade cocktail that went down like kool-aide. (Needless to say, the bike ride home was a bit interesting. But I digress…)

11407062_10206762566483588_2741290380940578299_n

In preparation for our festivities I had also managed to sneak over some of my home-made jalapeno yogurt ranch made from herbs in my garden. (Yay me!)

11401239_10206762584644042_3607518447835035912_n11391321_10206762606924599_3333307555409890961_n

I wasn’t able to bring much because Brent (the guy who can’t eat anything without a condiment) didn’t want to share. We actually served it with Avocado chicken burgers for dinner one night and it was seriously the yummiest meal. Ever. Brent has taken it a step further and has put it on everything… including eggs.

11390505_10206762692446737_2238675164481736345_n

(Don’t make fun of my scratched up plates.)

Things kind of turned for the worst nutrition wise the next night we went to one of Brent’s beloved baseball games. We managed to mow through nachos, beer, popcorn and even the saltiest pretzel known to man. But I didn’t let myself feel too bad, because well… when in Rome.

10408611_10206742043050515_2883028749711304634_n11401474_10206742034810309_2644090589692658755_n

I did however feel a little hung over the next morning when I woke at five to meet my friend Andrea for one of our morning walks. I don’t know what made be feel worse… the salt or the beer. (Or maybe even the fact that I had partaken in drinking shenanigans two nights in a row. But who’s counting?)

11391386_10206762728407636_2713220818107966141_n

By the end of the walk I felt so much better, even if I did get rained on and my hands were swollen.

When I got home I tried to sneak in through the back door so that I wouldn’t wake anyone up. On my way in, I passed the strawberry patch and noticed that a lot of my strawberries were already over due for picking, even though Penelope goes through the patch nearly every night.

10409653_10206726087891646_6327695701555332723_n

When all was said and done I had more strawberries than I knew what to do with so I decided to make jam.

11062935_10206762761928474_649349068093755249_n

I don’t know what possessed me. It’s not like I had ever made jam before. But I had remembered stumbling upon a strawberry jam recipe that included chia seeds during the winter months when strawberries were super expensive to buy. I dug through my Pinterest account, passed all of the pins that I had never put to use, and finally found it…

Strawberry Chia Jam

10151197_10206762779248907_3313320733463706711_n    10501983_10206762780648942_8182776903647295238_n

11391486_10206762782048977_8921264199790391050_n    11392838_10206762783289008_1368325325509062026_n

It turned out awesome! The smell of the simmering strawberries wafted up to Bridget’s room and woke her up from her slumber. She thought it smelled like cotton candy. Then later Brent came home from his walk with the dog and thought I had been toasting marshmallows over the stove again. (What can I say? It happens…)

Later that day, Brent had plans to watch the Cardinals game again, this time with some of his firefighter buddies, and Bridget had an important rendezvous at the pool. That left Penelope and I alone for lunch. I felt like it was only appropriate that we eat Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches…

11057777_10206762816569840_1887775377573060944_n

… and s’mores

11147137_10206762823330009_3729195055216815585_n

Because now that you mention it, toasted marshmallows do smell pretty tasty.

11425233_10206759598129381_7092389911806825407_n

It’s a work in progress, a little yin for the yang. As long as we keep moving this summer there’s nothing wrong with a little summer snackin’. Amiright?

(Don’t answer that…)

I Wanna Live In My Bathing Suit… Half Wedgie And All

Hi friends!

Sorry I haven’t written in a while… I just didn’t feel like it. Well, that isn’t true. I felt like writing, I just didn’t feel like writing about weight loss and the insecurities of a grown woman who struggles on a daily basis to keep her shit together.

Somewhere in between Saturday and Monday I lost the motivation… to do anything. I blame it on the rainy weather we had. Basically, I was just feeling a little burned out.  On Sunday, which would have been my selected blog posting day, I opted to watch Mary Poppins and drink red wine with my friend while she watched me do my laundry and potty train my child. That’s a good friend, you know 🙂 I did all of this for the sake of doing things the happy way.

I thought by the time Monday rolled around my motivation would return.

It didn’t.

I did what I had to do but I wasn’t really feeling it. It wasn’t until I saw the sun peek around the clouds that I pepped up again. On one particularly beautiful run I stumbled upon a gaggle of girls giggling and doing an impromptu dance in the middle of the park. So like any other creeper I took a picture because I secretly wanted to join them.

10632842_10206418940413151_6903427839387269398_n   10403572_10206418926412801_4809224187473952813_n

(You always have to appreciate impromptu dancing when you see it.)

I didn’t really feel like running on that particular day, but the weather called for it so I felt obligated. But by Tuesday Stella Nina got her groove back one step at a time. It started with the running and then it escalated with sucking down my new favorite water concoction (frozen strawberries and half a lemon) and got even better when I started chowing down on this awesome  Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad.

11201622_10206418957853587_4662262570025703740_n

I’ve seriously eaten this four times in the past week. I also ate a handful of chocolate chips every night because… well, I needed wanted that too.

When I wasn’t busy fulfilling my familial obligations and job deadlines I was busy sniffing the lilac bushes and pining for the day that it would be appropriate for me to wear my bathing suit all day long and finish the book I’ve been writing.

11182319_10206419006214796_3768834948829513317_n

It’s a little juvenile fiction I’ve been working on for a while. It’s very Gidget meets Judy Blume.  It’s about a girl named Micah navigating her way through the summer between 6th grade and 7th grade.

Here is a little sampler-  (FYI Wichita Falls peeps, the pool scene takes place at Sea Blue.)

…I hurried and squeezed into my one-piece bathing suit because I couldn’t stand to see myself naked anymore. It was tight. I was definitely going to need to get a new one. It dug into my shoulders and gave me a perpetual wedgie. But I was dying to go swimming so I pulled on some shorts, grabbed a towel and headed out the door.

As soon as I stepped out of my air conditioned house I started to sweat. I had forgotten to put on deodorant that morning and instantly regretted it. I decided to go ahead and ride my bike because it was too late not to look like a dork in front of the kids in the neighborhood. I had two huge bandages on my elbows now and there was no turning back. Hey, at least I have high school to not be the ugly duckling anymore. I’ll just make my transformation then.

As I rode down the street the sounds of kids screaming, whistles blowing and music playing got louder. When I finally turned the corner I saw the pool overflowing with people. I started to get nervous about my bathing suit. I’d just have to stay in the water as much as possible to keep people from seeing me pick my constant wedgie. After riding my bike my bathing suit had now earned its way to thong status and I was glad that I was wearing shorts.

I walked up to the gated entrance and showed my card to the lifeguard sitting at the gate. There were a lot of kids there my age and I instantly felt self-conscious. I wanted to draw as little attention to myself as possible, so I chose to lay my towel down by the baby pool.

I quickly pulled my swimsuit out of my butt and took off my shorts. I was headed toward the big pool when I heard someone shout my name.

I looked and saw that girl, Megan, who had bandaged my arm earlier waving me over. She was sitting with two other girls who were wearing bikinis. They were sunbathing on their towels and were slathered with suntan oil.

“Come lay over here!” she yelled across the screaming toddlers bobbing around in the baby pool.

Great, I thought, just what I needed, to lie on my dirty towel next to girls who looked like they belonged in Cosmo Girl.

“Okay,” I said trying to smile but it turned out to be more of a grimace. I was pretty sure I looked more constipated than confident.

As I walked up the other two girls were looking at me a lot like Marissa Pete would look at me, like I was disgusting. I put my towel down next to Megan and sat down, which was a big mistake because I could feel my bathing suit shift in a half-wedge, revealing my right butt cheek. Luckily, I was sitting on it.

“Micah, this is my friend Ava,” she said pointing to a tan redhead wearing a pink bikini that tied at the sides. I didn’t even know you could be tan and redheaded at the same time.

“And this is Trish”, she said pointing to the other girl who had long light brown hair and wore lots of eye makeup. She gave a half smile and then turned toward Ava to show her a text message that she had received.

“So, how do your elbows feel?” Megan asked as she lounged gracefully on her towel.

“Oh, they’re fine,” I said, not wanting to talk about it.

“My mom got so mad at Keaton when she got back from the store and found out he nearly killed you. She’s decided to make your family dinner sometime as a welcome to the neighborhood type of thing. She said she’d like to meet your mom.”

“Oh,” I said, not wanting to mention the fact that I didn’t really have one.

“Hey Megan look at this?” Trish said as she handed Megan her cell phone.

Megan scrunched up her nose like she smelled something bad as she read the message. For a minute I thought it might be me, so I took a stealthy whiff of my armpit as I rested my arms on my knees.

“He wants to know if I’ll be in town on the fourth to watch the fireworks from the soccer field!”  Trish squeeled.

“You know what that means!” Ava screamed as she wrapped her arm around Trish’s head covering her mouth with her hand and pretending to make out with it.

“Seriously Trish, if you kiss my brother I’m going to puke.”

I felt my heart skip a beat.

“But he’s so hot!” Ava and Trish said in unison.

 Since I was a girl of few words who was sitting on an exposed butt cheek, I spent the next few minutes listening to Megan and her friends talk about their Fourth of July plans. It sounded like they were going to go to the carnival by the high school football stadium and then they were going to watch the fireworks on the soccer field. Apparently, the soccer field was the “make out spot” for middle school. That was, if you hung out there at night. The other two girls acted like they were professionals at kissing by the way they were talking about it.

It sucked sitting there listening to them. I wondered if I would be invited to come along. I was also a little nervous that they would ask me to come along. I didn’t know anything about kissing and I wasn’t so sure how I felt about it. Soon the conversation switched to face wash and lip gloss. It was at that point that I had had enough of the girl talk. It was scorching hot and I could feel the sweat drip down my back. I would have been in the pool first thing if I wasn’t sitting on a problem. I kept wondering how I could stand up without mooning the little kids behind me?

While the girls talked I nonchalantly tried to scoot my butt on my towel thinking the friction would shift my bathing suit back over where it belonged, but it had the opposite effect. Instead, I felt the left side slowly shifted over, exposing both cheeks. Ava looked over at me and I stopped, realizing I probably looked like a dog scratching his butt on the carpet.

Finally, I was so hot and sweaty and tired of listening to girls talk about girl stuff that I decided that I would rather show my butt to the world than to have to sit there for one more second. I stood up abruptly, and was aware that they all had stopped talking and were looking at me. Ignoring them I picked my wedgie, walked over to the edge of the pool and dove in.

I spent the next hour staying underwater for as long as I could. It made me think of all of the times I played Mermaid with my old best friend back when it was cool to act like a kid. I had stayed down there for so long that when my head popped through the water the lifeguard was staring at me. Maybe he thought I was drowning.

When I rubbed the water out of my eyes he smiled at me and said, “Hey that’s pretty good. How long do you think you can stay under?”

“I don’t know I’ve never counted.”

“Well, try to do it again and I’ll time you.”

“Okay,” I said, not really caring if he timed me or not.

So I went under again and let my hair swirl around my head listening to the muffled sounds of people talking over head and the gurgles of the bubbles as they slipped from my nostrils. Finally, when I came up I realized I had a small audience watching to see how long I had stayed under.

“She did it boys,” he said as he grinned down at me. “She broke the record.”

Some of the boys moaned and some of them cheered, but the only boy I was looking at was looking right back at me with sea green eyes and a slight smile on his face.

“You broke my record.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know it was a contest.”

“No it’s cool. I’ll just have to beat your record,” he said showing off his crooked grin with a smug look on his face.

“Yeah? And what makes you think you could do that?” I asked. Not knowing why I was running my mouth.

“Because you’re a girl and I can’t just sit here and let a girl beat me.”

“Aw yeah! That’s what I’m talking about buddy,” Josh said as he bumped his fat fist against Luke’s.

That did it. I just glared at him. Yeah, Luke was cute and he made my heart flutter but he was really getting on my nerves.

“Let’s do it now.” I said, feeling the determination to beat him bubbling over. I looked over at the life guard and asked, “Can you time us?”

“Sure,” he said with a smile, “Good luck buddy, she’s good.”

Luke jumped in the water and then splashed me in the face. On the count of three we both went under to see who could hold their breath the longest. Staying underwater with him there with me wasn’t as comfortable as it was before when I was by myself. I was having a hard time breathing above water when he was around, so holding my breath underwater felt almost impossible.

I opened my eyes underwater feeling the burn of the chlorine as it clouded my vision. I wanted to see if he was still there. He was and I was surprised to see that he was staring at me through the water. I didn’t know how much longer I could stay under but I couldn’t let him win. He was starting to wiggle when finally he broke the water and I came up right after him.

“Oh, she beat you!” I could hear the other boys say.

Without looking at me Luke hoisted himself up over the edge of the pool.

A kid wearing goggles that pushed his nose up to look like a pig snout pointed his finger in Luke’s face. “Ha! Ha! You got beat by a girl!”

“Shut up Keaton,” Luke said as he shoved his little brother into the water. Then he looked down at me and smirked.

“I think you lost something,” he said pointing to the water.

I looked down to see one of my bloody bandages floating in front of me.

“Oh sick! It’s probably her pad!” laughed Josh.

I grabbed it as fast as I could and started to swim to the shallow end before my face turned red. I tried not to look up at them but I couldn’t help it and I looked up just in time to see Luke turn his head and wink at me.

“We’ll see you tomorrow Micah,” he grinned, “same time, same place.” And then he strutted off with his friends while I watched him walk away.