A few of my friends from way back when have asked me since I posted the two photos of myself in my recent posts, “Wow. Why the change?”

No, they’re not being rude. They know me, these guys. They know I’ve never been a vain person, because I believe that there’s only so much time and resources one has, and as such, image has never been one of my priorities. I prefer to go after other more, shall we say, meaningful pursuits, like how to enrich my mind or my writing, to be a better parent.

Don’t be mistaken. I like looking at beautiful people. Who doesn’t? I totally grasp the concept that appearances matter and the slightly narcissistic but totally primal desire to be admired, but I’ve been one of those fortunate ones who’ve always been able to slip through the cracks of this societal pressure, managing to get by without needing to constantly watch what I eat, spend a lot of money on product or fashion. An example of my good luck is that I married a man who was 150lbs overweight (“was” as in not anymore – no, I’m not divorced, he’s just lost over 130lbs so far). He fell in love with me even when I was a good 50lbs overweight.

So, I figured I could continue to get by.

And then I had a six-year old.

Living in a country where extremes like obesity and bulimia can co-exist so comfortably within a square mile of fast-food chains, yoga studios and everything in between telling you one moment to love the shape you’re in and the next that those 10lbs can come right off if you just drink some Oolong, is a little like being Alice. You don’t know the next moment if you should get bigger or smaller, or stay the same size. If it’s confusing for a grown-up, what more a child?

A month ago, Raeven told me she didn’t want to eat because she didn’t want to be as big as me. I know, brutal but cute at the same time. I told her that it was okay to eat, as long as we eat the right foods and exercise to keep us healthy.

“Do you exercise?” she’d asked.

“Of course,” I’d managed, without even blinking. The next day, I started walking three to four miles each day and went on the South Beach diet.

That was four weeks – and 6lbs – ago.

What I’m saying is that I am losing weight and trying to look good to set an example for my kids, because like it or not, we’re the sun and the moon to them. Like it or not, at this young age, they look to us for guidance and we’re the be all and end all of all standards in their world. If Daddy swears and hits, then it’s okay for me to swear and hit. If Mommy is fat and lazy, that’s good enough for me.

Those who’ve followed my weight-loss journeys (emphasis on the plural) have known that staying motivated is my biggest challenge. I’ve always told Lokes I fail because I just don’t care enough about how I look and put no stock into what total strangers think of me when they see me lumbering by, particularly when my health is still tip-top (I go for annuals and my doc reluctantly tells me it’s a miracle). So preaching to me that I have to be healthy for kids so I can get old enough to see them get married and give me grandkids, doesn’t really hack it either.

But what my children think of me, in the midst of all the noise about health and a healthy body image? Now that matters. It really does, because what they think of me shapes – pun intended – who they are.

That’s more power than I’m willing to screw with.

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Before The I’mPerfect Mom, there was the I’mPerfect Party Animal who had NO idea the life of servitude that awaited her.

If she’d known, she would’ve gotten naked and smoked a joint.

Don’t worry, Mom/Dad – that’s Photoshop smoke.

And Photoshop naked.

Which reminds me, textures from Resurgere and smoke effect from Talk Show on Mute from DA.

Also this week’s Self Portrait Challenge.

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Don’t ask me why they keep dropping the “Ling”.

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8am: Delivery of complimentary rich chocolate birthday cake to hotel room.

9am: Sumptuous Mediterranean breakfast buffet at hotel restaurant.

10am: Shuttle to Magic Kingdom for a fun-filled day.

11am: Discovers all spots at Bibbadi Bobbadi Boutique (don’t know how to spell the damn thing) @ Magic Kingdom booked for the day. Meltdown ensues.

11.10am: Daddy manages to get a 5.10pm slot @ Disneytown outlet right before evening dinner with Disney princesses. Meltdown ceases. Daddy looks to be missing an arm. And a leg.

2pm: Mommy totters on brink of exhaustion and heat stroke but stoicly soldiers on because strapless smock looks better upright.

3pm: Discovers all kids had for lunch were goldfish crackers. Not to worry, there is a parade. We’re not going anywhere even if it means standing around in full on 100F Florida weather.

3.40pm: Mommy thinks Magic Kingdom afternoon parade Prince Eric is kinda hot.

4pm: Rush back to hotel on shuttle for a quick shower before makeover at BBB. Discovered complimentary birthday balloons in room. Got two kids and two adults cleaned and ready in record time of 12 minutes. Don’t ask me how but it can be done. With enough screaming.

5.30pm: Birthday girl is happily made up and will not wipe grin off face all evening or go for a boat ride because she is afraid wind and water may ruin hair and makeup.

6.25pm: Dinner with Disney princesses @ Norway town @ Epcot went very well. Snow White is MIA.

8pm: Autographs with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale. Some were not very into character, Mommy notices. It’s friggin’ 8pm.

9pm: Manage to catch Epcot fireworks. Mommy and Daddy also perform human Tinkertoys feat with children on shoulders, Daddy trying to close Skyler’s (who was on Mommy’s shoulders) ears while Rae tries to use Daddy’s armpits to close hers. Mommy’s hands had to remain down due to strapless smock. You had to be there.

10pm: Driving around town trying to look for a coin-laundry because running out of undies. Mommy comes up with brilliant idea of buying more undies.

11pm: Kids crashed but Mommy insisted on brushing teeth and bathing. Sleepy, cranky children are wonderful to clean.

12.32am: Mommy says goodnite to blogosphere. More of the same tomorrow at Hollywood Studios!

This is one birthday we will never forget, that’s for sure.

Happy Birthday, my dear six-year-old. Evidently, we’re out of our minds with love for you.

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I didn’t expect the crowds on a weekday. I didn’t even expect the variety of world cuisine.

But what I really did not expect was that we young families would be a minority in Disney Town (not to be confused with Disneyworld or Disneyland).

Let’s just say Lokes had his fill of grown men being affectionate towards each other in public for a lifetime. Especially the full-on tongue action we caught heading back to the carpark and a mini Village People reunion just outside the west entrance. Puts the recent Safeco lesbian kissing incident to shame, I tell ya.

FYI, it’s not always like this. Gay Days is on. These are times I wish I was still childless. I am not kidding when I say those dudes look like they know how to have a good time!

Truly, all the hot ones are gay (except for you, babe).

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This was what Lokes said yesterday.

I had no idea it was THIS hot. And I can’t wear less clothes without causing a scene.

It’s been 2.5 years since I’ve felt this hot (and I don’t mean because I’ve-got-this-cute-new-bob hot).

And people here are too tanned and healthy-looking for my comfort. What the hell. I have been having salad two days straight.

But it feels good. I’ve lost about five pounds since starting the South Beach diet and two weeks of exercise. Best of all, I don’t even feel the munchies. Dr Agatston is a genius. I don’t even feel as though I’m on a diet as well, even on vacation. Although I did have a creme brulee yesterday at Maggiano’s. That was awesome.

Rae is turning six tomorrow.

“I can’t believe I’m gonna be six years old,” she quipped a moment ago.

Neither can I, sweetie.

Neither can I.

New hairstyle

Today is proof that you can cut your hair twice in a day, and the cheaper one will do a better job.

Summer is here! Rainier cherries are here!

Last summer, we discovered the wonder that is Rainier cherries. We already had our first two batches – and are still hankerin’ for more. They are plump, have that crunch on the skin and are sweet and juicy inside. Yum!

Be warned though. Over-indulgence yields unpleasant results down South…