Off the wagon

Just over a week ago, during a time of high stress and constant chaos everything that I was responsible for in my life became overwhelming. I was pretty sure I couldn't keep going the way I was. Everything was too much. In one of my "make change to make it better" modes I started to look for ways I could make things easier. Something had to give.

Since selling the children to the circus wasn't a viable option, and Steve wasn't willing to quit his job and become my full time nanny/chef/handyman I started to look within.

I am all about simplifying. I love letting go of the things that don't serve me/us.

And after much thought and looking for an "out", I decided it was time for me to hang up the gloves on Weight Watchers.

I had lots of reasons for ending my subscription - some of them valid like the cost of the monthly pass, the fact that I only lost 10lbs in 3 months (which is both disheartening and NOT cost effective), the fact that I'm sick of the mental game that I play with myself.  Some reasons were less valid - like beer, nachos and chicken wings.  Enough said.

I knew that I would likely not keep losing weight but I told myself that I look ok now and if I had to stay at this weight from now on, then I would be ok with that.  I figured I would save money, be less bitchy hungry and therefore able to handle the kids better in the crazy time between daycare pickup and bedtime.  In my head I was going to still keep track of everything I ate and also keep up my running. 

And while I did ok with the running, I wrote down what I ate for about 3/4 of a day - and then went out for cocktails and appies and never looked back.

Although I didn't blow the whole thing out of the water, it didn't turn out how I had envisioned.

I realized a few things...

I'm an emotional eater and that hasn't been cured by the fact that I've lost 30lbs.  So during times of high stress (in other words, my regular life), I found myself grabbing a handful of almonds here and a cheeseburger there...  *ahem*  Without the structure of Weight Watchers, I struggled with keeping the stress eating in line.

I'm actually not satisfied with where I'm at right now in regards to weight loss.  I mean, I look ok.  No, I look good. I do.  But... I could look better. And I want to look better.  I also want to feel even better, be more fit and to wear smaller clothes.  Also I'm pretty sure that the day I cancelled my Weight Watchers subscription that my belly flab grew at least a couple of inches around my middle.

I also realized that I kinda like doing Weight Watchers after all. It gives me structure and a base for eating and exercise. I always know where I stand in regards to what I'm eating and how much I'm exercising.  The online portion of the plan is a fantastic tool for tracking. I like tracking. 

I like tracking? 

I didn't think I liked that part but I guess I do.

And in the end, going off Weight Watchers didn't magically take the stress and chaos out of my life.  I'd even go so far to say that it actually made things worse. 

And so... as of this past Friday, I'm back on the wagon.  I know, who in their right mind signs up for a diet plan on a Friday, much less the Friday of a long weekend?  Actually that didn't really matter to me. I was ready on Friday.  The only change I made was to sign up for the online portion of the plan only instead of the full meal deal which included meetings that I never attended.  The cost difference was considerable and I should have probably done that a lot sooner. 

Its been a couple of days and I already feel so much better.  I'm back to taking good care of myself and that feels good, makes me happier, which makes the chaos easier for me to deal with - and that is good for everyone.  The break was good because it brought me around to where I needed to be.

57

eric's 57 chevy - rebuilt during his high school years, made me nostalgic over my lost 55 ford. he asked me to photograph it if i had the chance. here's a little fun for you, mickey to share with him. ohhhh the ideas i have for you and the kids and a future shoot. more for you to download at www.zenfolio.com/fuloflyfe (better colors there than blogger provides)

We Love You, Kirk Cousins

OK, so we don't think that Kirk Cousins is God. Sure, he helped Michigan State pull of an awesome victory against Notre Dame last season (that's always a good thing), but he also helped to beat Penn State at the end of last season.

But today, Kirk Cousins got cool. At the Big Ten conference, he got an ovation for basically being a good guy.

Suddenly, he represents what's good about college football. We wish there were more people like him.


16th birthday surprise

she didn't see it coming. and once she knew something was up, she nearly refused to participate. which is funny, really, the irony. but she doesn't like trickery, or having zero advance notice. she prefers being prepared, and truly dislikes being center of attention. i know, i know.
finally convinced that it would be good, she allowed me and her brother to walk her from the car, eyes closed, to a little gathering of girlfriends where, "surprise!" from behind the menus in the back booths sprung up a 16th birthday celebration.


every one of them a dancer, we have known these girls for years, from homeschooling co-ops to scottish dance and livermore school of dance. a few were missing but they live in santa rosa and pennsylvania, and another had a previous commitment. each and every one is unique, talented, and lovely in her own way. 

happy early birthday sarah. i love you. and i know they do too.

Butch Davis: Fired at North Carolina - Leach next?

Butch Davis is out of a job.

That's right - you heard it. The man who re-ignited the University of North Carolina with great recruiting class after great recruiting class has been run out of town because UNC was simply fed to the teeth with the bad headlines, in which his team was .

And by headlines, we mean the wrong headlines.

Last year, when we were all talking about Davis' North Carolina team taking over the ACC with a strong team, suddenly all hell broke loose.

Three of their big-time stars, Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn were thrown off campus for accepting monies from agents. 14 of his players missed at least one game last year. If you want to talk about a team completely gutted by its own actions, then this one is it. 

The University's Chancellor Holden Thorp (what a name!!) said in a statement: "To restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program, it's time to make a change," said Thorp. "What started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this University's reputation. I have been deliberate in my approach to understanding this situation fully, and I have worked to be fair to everyone involved. However, I have lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution. Our academic integrity is paramount and we must work diligently to protect it. The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change."

According to ESPN, Davis will walk out a rich man. If UNC don't find 'cause', according to ESPN News Services, then Butch could pocket a fat $3-4m, ESPN has said.

What it interesting is who could come in. There's a voice that's been repeated on Twitter, and that's a guy called Mike Leach.

Regardless of you think of his little tête à tête with ESPN and Texas Tech (and let's be honest, no-one knows what happened apart from Adam James and Leach himself), Leach is a damned fine recruiter and one of the best offensive coaches in the land. If you don't ask me, then talk to the Texas team that was on the end of THAT offense in 2008.

Anyway, it all could be pretty exciting.

Seeking Balance

Since returning to work just over a month ago, I’ve found myself constantly tweaking and adjusting and changing things in an effort to try to get things to run more smoothly and to try to make everyone happy. Or happier I should say – since making everyone happy all the time is pretty much unattainable.


I’m trying to be the woman who rolls with the punches, adjusts easily, yet who isn’t afraid of a little hard work or tough sledding in hopes of a happy outcome.

I feel fairly confident in saying that my kids are now fully adjusted to daycare and actually look forward to going there. It’s a huge relief and I feel accomplished that we’ve managed to get to where we are from where we started (which was a lot of crying and anxiety and mommy guilt).

Another HUGE accomplishment on my part is having ended Ruby’s lifelong affair with her soother. Jesus, I’m humiliated to admit that she’s had it to this point. I’d like to give a good reason that I’ve allowed her obsession with it to go on this long but the bottom line is that I didn’t want to deal with the fallout of getting rid of it. That was until every day I was dealing with fallout and tantrums anyways and figured things couldn’t get much worse. So the soother is gone and remarkably, we are all ok.

As I just alluded to, we have however been dealing with Ruby being extremely moody, difficult and ever so unruly. Also Lincoln is currently cutting every single one of his molars all at once. Evenings and particularly bedtimes have been an absolute fucking nightmare.

Other issues include: What the kids will and won’t eat, and when. What they will or will not wear. Assaulting one another. Screaming contests. Throwing things. And Ruby’s favorite word… NO!!!!

To make matters worse, Steve and I have two very different styles of parenting. I’m more of the school that we do what is best for our children even if it’s by not giving them everything they demand (chocolate, pop, chips, soother, late bedtime, etc, etc...). Steve is more of the school of giving in to their every single whim (chocolate, pop, chips, soother, late bedtime, etc, etc...) because he “loves them so much” and he “just wants them to be happy”. This gives Ruby free rein to play him like a fiddle and to refuse to listen/talk/behave with me. Which in turn causes Steve and I to do battle, sometimes fiercely.

The frustration that I’ve felt has added to my already fragile nerves and I’m not all that proud to admit that I’ve lost my temper more times than a rational, responsible parent should. I have yelled and slammed and kicked things (thankfully not my children). I’ve thrown things and stomped my feet. After working all day I’m tired and haggard and worn and having someone screeeeeam for the full 20 minute car ride to go pick Steve up from work, in ridiculous traffic because she wanted to strap her SELLLLLF!!! into her carseat is sometimes more than my frazzled set of nerves can handle.

Just sayin'.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s right or that it feels good or that it’s productive for me to lose my cool. It’s not. And on those particularly bad days, I go to bed feeling depressed and defeated and absolutely shitty. Sleep is not restful – even though I’m bloody well exhausted.

So last week my effort continued in my quest to make us happier by adjusting things that weren’t working. I started bringing juice boxes on our ride to pick up Steve from work so they had something to shove in their little mouths to shut them up. Steve and I discussed trying to mesh our parenting styles (For the love of god, stop giving them everything they want!!!) And as mentioned we got rid of Ruby’s soother.

I also thought (however foolishly) that if I loosened up my exercise regime and didn’t worry so obsessively over Weight Watchers my nerves might be a little less frayed at the end of the day. And that worked. With a little more food in my belly and not obsessing about when I can fit in my next 5km run, I was able to be a little bit calmer and more chill.

That is until it was Friday and I hadn’t exercised since Monday and the kids went to Grandma’s overnight and I had too much to drink and then woke up Saturday morning with a hangover but absolutely needed to catch up on my running. So I went out in the warm sun and ran 5km with a hangover.

I don’t recommend it.

While I was all full of myself and admired my own determination at the time, it actually eventually exaggerated my dehydration, causing a terrible headache and later in the day my exhaustion was nearly unbearable except I then had to parent my maniac kids after they had a free-for-all overnighter at Grandma’s house, rendering me a nerve shattered freak, and feeling like shit for the rest of the weekend.

Here we are now, on Monday morning and I’m still smarting a little from the weekend. So once again I am in full on adjustment mode. Because last week just didn’t work for me – even if everyone else got what they needed, I’m going back on some of the adjustments I made and I’m taking back my exercise routine and healthy eating habits. I’ve cut out and given up a lot of things but as it turns out, certain things just can not be negotiable. 

I bought myself a pretty agenda this weekend in which I hope to keep track of our lives so I'm not trying to remember when Steve is going golfing for the day or when he's on early shift or when Lincoln has his shots or when Ruby has a birthday party or even, EVEN when I go on local mini wine tour.

Please let the agenda be the answer. Or part of the answer.

Even a teensy bit of the answer???


Balancing life has never been so hard for me - nor have I ever wanted balance so badly.

Uncle Badass

As wild, carefree, crazy, badass and sometimes troubled as my brother is, he's fantastic with kids.  My kids love him.



And if he ever stops chasing around dating... *ahem*... "questionable" women, and someday settles down with a family - he's going to be a great dad.

I just hope he hurries up. Contrary to what he apparently believes, he's not getting any younger.

SEC Media Week: Winners and Also-Rans

The SEC Media was its usual fun self this week, and there were some great things about it that we can gather from the amassed reports (we didn't attend, so we had to go with third party and some fantastic Twitter commentary from 'Every Day Should Be Saturday)

In this speech, the Commish sounded sensible. He put forward a proposal that will lift the academic requirement to be a SEC Footballer from 2.0 to 2.5 (gloriously opined by Every Day Should Be Saturday, who opined: "Slive wants to raise GPA requirement to 2.5. The Sun Belt is going to have some AWESOME defensive tackles in 2016." He also wanted to change the way things are recruited to include social media, and continue to help enforce the NCAA's, er enforcement (which is nice, because things don't exactly look good in that department for SEC schools, which seem to be in the middle of violations every year).

2) Hot Seat? What hot seat?


Georgia coach Mark Richt managed to defend himself nicely in the face of questions around the hot seat known as his job. According to EDSBS, he looked "completely at ease" with questions being fired at him. He's using words like "clean slate". People still remember the losses to UCF and Colorado, Mark. But if this kid Isaiah Crowell lives up to the hype, we can see the tan removed from Richt's behind...

3) Starkville, Mississippi: The No.1 destination in College Football 

OK, it's a little bit of an over-exaggeration, but Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State coach, thought it right to take it to The Grove: "When you come to Starkville on a Saturday, it's an event. It's the place to be in Mississippi." No mention of The Grove, then.... Although having said that, the Nick Bell tribute still has us in tears....

4) Big XII barges in 

Sounds crazy, but they started kicking up a fuss about the Longhorn Network, which will show high school games from all over the country - not just Texas - which will help recruiting of their hated rival, the Texas Longhorns. The kicking up of fuss - which included a threat to go to the SEC (but seriously - how many teams would really want to travel to College Station, which a long way away for most of the teams?) - forced the Big XII to force the Longhorn Network not to show ANY high school games. For us, the biggest thing in this wasn't the Big XII or the Longhorn Network, it was the simple threat/rumor (which we still believe came out of the two schools) of going to the country's most powerful conference.

5) Les Miles loves his videos.


According to his video speech he made in Atlanta, he's already looking forward to Oregon. According to a Boston Herald article, he's not going to provide any more information than that, sadly, because LSU is currently under investigation by the NCAA about discussions with one of the most infamous video artists since the Paris Hilton videotape guy. And the team members say that they are all brothers, too....

6) Steve Still Loves Stephen!


Steve Spurrier still likes embattled quarterback Stephen Garcia. If you count the line: "Well I guess we don't wanna kick him out for stupidity". But you nearly did Steve, didn't you? How about recommending he hits up an AA meeting or two, Steve?

7) And speaking of Mississippi State...

We still can't get over the Nick Bell tribute...






SEC Media Week: Some quick points

The SEC Media was its usual fun self this week, and there were some great things about it that we can gather from the amassed reports (we didn't attend, so we had to go with third party and some fantastic Twitter commentary from 'Every Day Should Be Saturday)

In this speech, the Commish sounded sensible. He put forward a proposal that will lift the academic requirement to be a SEC Footballer from 2.0 to 2.5 (gloriously opined by Every Day Should Be Saturday, who opined: "Slive wants to raise GPA requirement to 2.5. The Sun Belt is going to have some AWESOME defensive tackles in 2016." He also wanted to change the way things are recruited to include social media, and continue to help enforce the NCAA's, er enforcement (which is nice, because things don't exactly look good in that department for SEC schools, which seem to be in the middle of violations every year).

2) Hot Seat? What hot seat?


Georgia coach Mark Richt managed to defend himself nicely in the face of questions around the hot seat known as his job. According to EDSBS, he looked "completely at ease" with questions being fired at him. He's using words like "clean slate". People still remember the losses to UCF and Colorado, Mark. But if this kid Isaiah Crowell lives up to the hype, we can see the tan removed from Richt's behind...

3) Starkville, Mississippi: The No.1 destination in College Football 

OK, it's a little bit of an over-exaggeration, but Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State coach, thought it right to take it to The Grove: "When you come to Starkville on a Saturday, it's an event. It's the place to be in Mississippi." No mention of The Grove, then.... Although having said that, the Nick Bell tribute still has us in tears....

4) Big XII barges in 

Sounds crazy, but they started kicking up a fuss about the Longhorn Network, which will show high school games from all over the country - not just Texas - which will help recruiting of their hated rival, the Texas Longhorns. The kicking up of fuss - which included a threat to go to the SEC (but seriously - how many teams would really want to travel to College Station, which a long way away for most of the teams?) - forced the Big XII to force the Longhorn Network not to show ANY high school games. For us, the biggest thing in this wasn't the Big XII or the Longhorn Network, it was the simple threat/rumor (which we still believe came out of the two schools) of going to the country's most powerful conference.

5) Les Miles loves his videos.


According to his video speech he made in Atlanta, he's already looking forward to Oregon. According to a Boston Herald article, he's not going to provide any more information than that, sadly, because LSU is currently under investigation by the NCAA about discussions with one of the most infamous video artists since the Paris Hilton videotape guy. And the team members say that they are all brothers, too....

6) Steve Still Loves Stephen!


Steve Spurrier still likes embattled quarterback Stephen Garcia. If you count the line: "Well I guess we don't wanna kick him out for stupidity". But you nearly did Steve, didn't you? How about recommending he hits up an AA meeting or two, Steve?

7) And speaking of Mississippi State...

We still can't get over the Nick Bell tribute...






We. Are. Douches....According to GQ


We. Are. Douches.

And it’s true – according to GQ Magazine. According to the great magazine (which actually celebrates that type of behaviour in almost every issue), The Pennsylvania State University is the second douchiest school in the land.

Penn State came second behind Cornell, while Yale, Stanford, and Pepperdine (We’re still spitting bullets after driving there the last time we were in LA, and realising that they had ocean-side views and year-round sun to ‘compete with) rounded out the Top 5.

The last time the VFA visited Penn State, we saw a Wisconsin fan getting told that the 'W' on his shirt stood for the night activities of his mother, and a woman getting doused in beer. Seriously. We don't know Cornell kids to say something nasty about - but if you do, then please let us know.

But anyway, back to Penn State. According to GQ, Penn State’s on the list because of the fact that the students can’t wear anything more imaginative than Joe Paterno outfits during Hallow’een (factually incorrect), and can’t stop talking about getting wasted on a Saturday (factually correct). They also live and die college football (factually correct), which is why State College is home of the "All I've got is college football; seriously, don't laugh, all I've got is college football" douche.

It’s funny that Penn State should be this high, because we’ve been to State College a number of times and we’ve never seen people relentlessly talk about college football. If they do, it’s because yours truly has engaged them in conversation. Apologies for getting you on the list guys.

Anyway, the Top 10 – with reasons are (the VFA added a little):



1)    Cornell -Chip On Their Shoulder Because They Aren’t Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or MIT
2)    Penn State - Too. Much. Joe. Paterno.)
3)    Yale - Home Of The ‘Skull And Bones’ Fraternity. And CIA. And super-douchey ex-presidents
4)    Stanford - Home of 150,000 Facebook geeks (The VFA would also like to add: Also home of Andrew ‘Incredible Arm’ Luck)
5)    Pepperdine - Too. Much. Jesus
6)    BYU - Too. Much. Joseph (Smith).
7)    Bennington – Stupid Liberal Hippies
8)    Delaware - Member of the Large College with Mediocre Sports Program Conference
9)    MIT - “The Deepest Possible Relief For Being Out of High School”)
10) Florida - Home of the Cult That Is Tim Tebow

Struggle

Sometimes, no matter how hard I try - I just don't seem good enough.

When things aren't working and the going is tough - I recognize it and I do my best to restore peace and happiness.  I make changes. Make more sacrifices. Give things up. Give in. I try to be extra kind. I talk. I make my feelings known. I try to be understanding of others living in my house and their feelings. I read books and websites and seek advice on how I can make things better for my family and how I can resolve our issues in a way that makes us all happy in the end. 

I try very hard. I just want happiness.

Sometimes though, it seems all for naught. 

I'm ignored. I'm yelled at. I'm walked on.

I try to remind myself that it's not (always) me. I'm truly doing my best.  People have inner struggles of their own and it can manifest as anger and cruelty to the nearest and easiest target...

I will keep doing what I do. I will keep trying. I will do my best to keep the peace.

But sometimes, as tough and resilient as I seem on the outside - I really hurt on the inside.

Tintern Abbey: a value-for-money coupling

David MacTavish, Don Smith, John Dalton, Stuart Mackay
Few bands can claim immortality on the strength of just one 45, but the short-lived Tintern Abbey certainly qualify. The masterful Beeside / Vacuum Cleaner appeared in November 1967, but sold poorly. Its reputation has never stopped growing, however, and in recent years copies have changed hands on eBay for over £1000. The flippantly-named A-side is a woozy Mellotron-dipped ballad, while the real B-side is a stupendous psychedelic rock song, with one of the greatest distorted guitar solos of all time, courtesy of Don Smith. Though more press appeared about the band than most one-single-shots of the era, not much is known about them. Here's what I've found.

Tintern Abbey coalesced at the Overseas Visitors Club in Earl's Court, where singer / songwriter Dave MacTavish met guitarist Don Smith in late 1966. Smith brought in drummer John Dalton after meeting him at the Cromwellian Club in South Kensington, and the line-up was completed when MacTavish met bassist Stuart Mackay in a dole queue. They rehearsed at MacTavish's flat in World's End, and made demos of various songs in the spring of 1967, which can be heard here. These reached the ears of manager Nigel Samuel, who signed them up and despatched them to Cornwall to get their sound and act together, after which they signed to Decca and swiftly recorded a 45 with producer Jonathan Webber, probably in October. Here's the press release the label sent out to promote the 45:



And here are a couple of previously unseen promo shots (taken at the same session as the one at the top of this post):



And here's a super-rare picture of Don Smith onstage:


Here's an advance acetate of Beeside, named 'Busy Bee', on Larry Page's 'Page Full Of Hits' imprint, which would have been used for publishing purposes only:


And here's the actual disc, which appeared on November 24th 1967:





The band was fortunate to have a wealthy patron in the form of Nigel Samuel, a young publishing heir who was happy to splash his cash around the underground (he also supported International Times and The Deviants). As such, numerous adverts promoting the disc appeared in the music press - far more than most such 45s received. Here they are:






The ads did little good, though the band did creep into Record Mirror's 'Names & Faces' column at the time of Beeside's release:


Press reaction was favourable, though for some reason Melody Maker didn't run a review:

NME
Record Mirror
Disc & Music Echo
Samuel also appears to have paid the über-cool design team Hapshash & The Coloured Coat to design a promo poster, which exists in both colour and black & white versions. Here they are:



The band played a few shows to promote the 45, including one at the hip Happening 44 in Gerrard Street a month before its release:


The disc was officially launched at London's Arts Laboratory (at 182 Drury Lane) on November 27th. Melody Maker had only this to say, on December 9th:


 A further show followed at the equally hip Speakeasy on December 29th:


Oddly, despite these live ads, Don Smith has no recollection of the original quartet ever having played a concert in Britain. He does, however, recall them travelling to Amsterdam - a trip which this rare poster commemorates:


By the end of 1967 the band was being represented by the Ellis-Wright Agency (later to evolve into Chrysalis):


In November 1967 the band recorded further demos, but whatever momentum they had gathered was lost in January, when Smith was asked to leave (essentially because he was into uppers, and the others were more into pot). Dalton departed soon afterwards, and the duo were replaced by Colin Forster and John 'Willie' Wilson. Here's a rare signed picture of the new line-up:


And here they are in action:


You might have noticed that MacTavish has a honey buzzard (named Thor) perched on his shoulder. I asked his friend Tim Du Feu (bassist with fellow London hipsters The Open Mind) if he could shed any light on this, and he told me: "It was Dave's pet. The band lived in a mews cottage in Chelsea that was paid for by Nigel Samuel. It had a minstrel's gallery, and that bloody bird used to swoop down to catch ping-pong balls thrown by Dave. It was terrifying round there." Apparently Samuel used the band's house as a party venue, and expected the band to provide spontaneous live entertainment at all times of day and night (the lucky neighbours). Not many gigs seem to have been played beyond its walls, but Samuel continued to place ads (whose purpose is unclear) in International Times as 1968 wore on. Here's another:


and another:



and another:



In March, Forster was replaced by Paul Brett. Here's the final line up (clockwise from top left: MacTavish, Dalton, Brett and Mackay):


At much the same time their management was taken over by Spencer Davis, who was evidently looking to expand his interests (he also handled July). Here's the announcement:


Other such ads appeared in the first half of 1968 - here are a couple:



The new configuration taped some demos at Tony Pike's studio in Putney, four of which were released on this EP in 2006 (click on the back cover image for more info):



Do What You Must and How Do I Feel Today? are said to have been pencilled in for release as a 45 (IT announced that it was 'in production' in mid-March), but it never materialised. The songs are pretty good, but - in my opinion - not as inspired as the earlier 45. In its 'Pop Supplement' of March 8th-21st 1968 IT described Tintern Abbey as 'an emergent progressive pop group coming onto the club scene', but in the following issue John Peel criticised their inclusion:


Though they'd received relatively prominent promotion and had a well-received single behind them, work seems to have been intermittent, and an LP that was reportedly planned for August was never recorded. That autumn Melody Maker announced that:


By the late summer, however, things had more or less ground to a halt, and by the end of the year Tintern Abbey had petered out.