The announcement...

Tomorrow, my divorce announcement runs in the paper. Yes, divorce announcement... I'm still technically married. In fact, we might not even be officially divorced before our 3rd wedding anniversary, even though we started our separation process before our 2nd. Due to finances and enormous changes within both of our lives, we've had to delay the most basic part of this whole process... the paperwork. We're both looking forward to having everything official, even though realistically, its been that way for a very long time.

Its been bittersweet, and we did things very differently than any other couple I've ever met... but really how haven't we been different? From beginning to end, we set our own course.

When Bean-girl came along, I'd been working from home for a few months. I enjoyed my work tremendously and worked very hard, even with an infant attached to my breast all day. When Marshall and I split I faced the sad realization that I couldn't support myself and Bean-girl as a single mom work-at-home freelance graphic designer who blogs on the side. (Phew, I'm tired just typing that.) I've had to work very hard to grow my business while still being a really stellar mama, and he has sacrificed his wants for our needs. I pride myself in sleeping little, accomplishing much, and not giving up despite no real sense of financial security. Its gotten me far, but I could never have done it without Marshall. He's made it possible for me to continue staying home with our daughter and doing what I love, despite the end of our marriage. I am so very lucky, and so very grateful.

Marshall, you're one of my closest friends and forever will be such an important part of my life. We obviously weren't meant to be together, but you gave me a gift I never expected to have... one that has turned my life so very upside down, and I love you for it. From the day we found out Miss Marti Pearl was on her way, I knew I'd found my purpose in this life, and I could never thank you enough. I know you'll accomplish the things you've always wanted, and I'm glad that even though we won't be standing side-by-side, I get to watch your life unfold and witness all of the great things you're destined to accomplish.

Its hard not to write all of this with tears in my eyes because of the finality of it all. We made a hell of a team, but we were just too damn young for all of the pressure of being real married adults with a child. We grew up so fast, but we grew into different people than we ever expected to be. With my growing came dreams of bigger things, of independence and self-motivated success. With his, a yearning for a life we didn't have... security, simplicity, and iced tea on the front porch. Even through the toughest times we both realized that we really liked the other person, we just weren't on the same page anymore.

So we've all moved on. This is such an amazing time, a new life complete with a sense of personal success and accomplishment for being able to provide for my daughter and I. We'll be moving into our new house soon, just the two of us. I'm finally making it doing what I love... the independence I've been longing for. My baby has grown into a beautiful girl who sings me songs and kisses me on the cheek just to see me smile. All of this made sweeter with friends that I can't imagine my life without, a new love, and a newfound self-confidence. I am looking so forward to where this interesting road is taking me. I absolutely love my life right now, and while I feel anxious about the emotional complexities of what's to come, its not as if I'm facing this divorce as a new thing. I've grieved the ending of this relationship privately and openly for over a year now.

My entire "divorce diary" was full as of May. I wrote it in hopes that I'd be able to share it someday, in the form of a book... catty and unemotional at times, overcome with fear and mourning at others. I started it not to chronicle my separation and divorce, but to begin confronting the issues that led to the end of my marriage. As I finished it I realized it would never be something I could show to anyone... its the most deeply private thing I've ever written, embarrassing and therapeutic at the same time. In June I tossed it into the Arkansas River... seemed the only fitting place for all of those secrets to lie.

Marti Pearl will never know of a messy fight over possessions or tight-lipped every-other-weekend hand offs. Her father and I have a fantastic relationship which despite its immeasurable changes, has proven to be stronger than we ever realized. Withstanding this divorce and committing ourselves to a close friendship is more than many couples twice our age can accomplish, and we owe it all to the one with his cheeks and my sassy disposition. Thank you, Marti Pearl... you are truly more powerful than you could possibly realize.

Happy divorce announcement day, Marshall. May the next time I see your name in print be for a happier reason. <3

Weight loss & Swimsuit Success!

I'm finally at a size I'm happy with. Its such a strange feeling, and I love it so much. I recently wrote about my weight loss struggles in my advice column, Cattywampus. Updating my before/after pictures was a really awesome experience this time around.

When I went shopping for my birthday dress I honestly had no idea what size I was. I kept grabbing dresses in Large & Medium and they were too big! All of this just weeks after I went out in public in a swimsuit for the first time in years...

I was invited to go to the lake with some friends and I gladly accepted, excited about spending time with some new people and having lots of fun on a boat! The night before, I panicked- wtf had I gotten myself into? Debuting this new thinner body, in a swimsuit, with 3 gay guys and a girl I'd never met!? Oh my. Oh my oh my.

I mean, I liked my swimsuit... well, the top half of it anyhow. I'd bought it when shopping with my grandmother back in June, a gold crochet-style top on a clearance rack at TJ Maxx. No bottoms in sight, but for the first time I really enjoyed the way the top looked on me. I shelled out the $5 and paired it with some bottoms I had, but as I lost weight this summer they started drooping more and more... and what's attractive about droopy swimsuit bottoms? Not a damn thing. I rushed around town looking for a suit that covered more or some bottoms that matched and didn't show too much of my rear end... but no luck at all.

My saving grace turned out to be some words of encouragement from the boyfriend and a lucky find- the bottoms that matched the top at the very same TJ Maxx, for $4. They fit perfectly and looked great... I threw on my floppy hat & my secondhand Banana Republic terry coverup that I just adore, and headed out for a day full of fun.

I didn't anticipate, however, the differences between bottoms that I'd previously worn, and string bikini bottoms. I was quite shocked to find that a good jump off the side of a boat results in a quick and rather embarrassing untying of said bottoms, and baring of one's entire backside. The boys got quite a chuckle out of it.

Got 'em back on now!

The day was wonderful. For the first time in so very long, I relaxed all day long. I sat on the boat and drank beer, got a little bit of a tan, and I got my ass kicked by the lake while inner tubing. I enjoyed myself so much and I felt so comfortable! In a swimsuit! I didn't even freak out when I realized the pictures had been posted on Facebook. All good things.

Now I have to be honest, and I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit that I haven't lost all of this weight without help. And I don't mean that I have an amazing support system, because really I do... but I've been on Phentermine since April. I started taking it in order to lose the last 20-30 lbs I'd had a hard time getting rid of, something I told myself I would do a year ago if I wasn't able to lose it on my own. Losing over 100 lbs is hard, and diet & exercise count for SO much, but I felt comfortable saying "if I hit a plateau and I really give it a shot and can't lose it, I'll try other options" and so I did.

I met with a doctor who worked with weight loss patients, and I asked her if she felt like it was a good choice for me. Usually only prescribed when a patient needs to lose a large amount of weight, Phentermine is an appetite suppressant used ALONG WITH modified diet & exercise. She felt that with my previous success I'd be a good candidate for it, so I started it in April. I've had monthly weight checks and I've been overwhelmingly pleased with my success. At my first appointment in April, I weighed in at 161... I'd gained nearly 20 lbs since my initial drop, and I wasn't pleased at all. My target weight was 130, and last week... a day before my 25th birthday, I weighed in at under 140 lbs for the first time in my adult life.

Hells to the yes.

I'm not saying what I've done is for everyone, in fact, the friend who introduced me to Phentermine and suggested I try it hasn't had as much luck with it as I have. It affects everyone differently, and its no quick fix. The only way to lose weight successfully and keep it off is by a healthy diet & regular exercise. I've never said any of this has been easy, but being here is really a good feeling and its worth every single bit of the work I've put into it. I'm on my last prescription of Phentermine this month, and in a size 6-8. Even now, typing that seems strange... but I'm getting used to it. After battling my weight all my life, I feel like I'm finally where I need to be, and I'll be damned if I let myself go back from here.

If you'd like my tips on weight loss, you can read them here: Cattywampus

For more information, or if you'd like to tell me your story: Email me!

Birthday Surprise Party!

My 24th year has come and gone.

I've somehow surrounded myself with Leos, including one of my very best friends, Jacey. When she asked if I wanted to take a day trip to Eureka Springs for our birthdays, I immediately made arrangements for a babysitter. I knew I was in for an excellent trip when all of the planning revolved around food.

Unfortunately, Marshall hurt his back the day before so I was on ex-husband-nurse-duty and unsure of whether or not I'd be able to go as planned. Luckily for everyone, my ex and I are on great terms... we spend time together often and we have a great friendship as well as a fantastic parenting relationship. With some good pain meds and a little tough love, he was up walking by bedtime, and when he woke up feeling alright the next morning I decided to go on my trip as planned, just with a toddler companion!

Marti Pearl and I took a fabulous trip to Eureka Springs with Jacey, her sisters, and her friend Ashley. Marti Pearl took quite a liking to "the sisters" as she called everyone, and had a blast exploring the cute little shops. We even got a photo made, which for MP was just an epic game of dress up. What toddler doesn't love crazy dresses, feather boas, and high heels!?

A blurry yet fabulous picture of the saloon girls

For my actual birthday I had plans to eat dinner with my whole family. The boyfriend picked me up beforehand saying he had a surprise for me, and as I was asking him where we were going he quickly turned into our friend's neighborhood... I had no idea what was going on, and was thrilled to walk in and find so many of my friends. Jessica & Anna had planned me a fantastic 25th birthday surprise party!! They invited a bunch of my friends, decorated Anna's house beautifully, got me a wonderful cake, and loads of champagne! It was hands down the best birthday surprise ever.

They'd invited my friends from Twitter! Soon my dad & sister showed up, then Marshall, his sister, and Marti Pearl... who was thrilled that mommy was having a "princess party"

From there, we had family dinner & drinks with friends... a wonderful night overall. My 25th birthday was the best yet, I've got high hopes for this year...