Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lost and Found

So here's the thing about blogging. People find you. sometimes they feel weird about it, and sometimes they rejoice that you haven't fallen off of the ends of the Earth. 

This month "Looseyfur's Midwest Adventures" was found by two old friends. One in town who is interested in getting out and walking with me every week (hooray!). And one who shares a particular passion of mine -- Quebecois movies. Viv is the lady to talk to when it comes to things all Roy Dupuis. And since I will admit that my love for Montreal stems from my introduction to Roy Dupuis through La Femme Nikita and then it continued to his films before it branched into my obsession with Quebecois history and culture, it was nice to Google "Looseyfur" and see that she had posted a link to my blog to all of my old friends at "Roy Dupuis Online."

Now, what I'm guessing is that my new friends are sitting at their computers with coffee mugs in hand going -- "What? Who is this Looseyfur?"

I will have to admit that since X-man was born, my eager fandom has been reduced to affectionate memory. Because once I held my son, I only had eyes for him. But in a way MacTroll, Quebec, Montreal, KTDID, X-man, Robin, Ian, Andre, Roy, Viv, MaryM, Karen K and all of my other friends at RD-online are linked into my current life through the history of one vacation.

The vacation where 2 weeks after her wedding, KTDID climbed in my VW and sped off to Canada with me, where she sat patiently next to me as I sat at a table with 6 other women waiting to meet a French Canadian TV and film star at a fundraiser for MIRA. (Quigs, if you could pay a couple hundred bucks to a non-profit to sit at a small table with Tim McGraw and catmiller 40 for 35 minutes talking directly with him, you'd do it, right?)

Anyway, I did it. And then KTDID and I got back into our car and drove back to Riley at the cottage near Lac Brome. The next day we drove up to the cottage in Mont Tremblant. We had some fun canoeing and swimming and napping and cooking.

Then I drove her to the airport and picked up MacTroll. MacTroll and I had lunch with our friend Andre and then drove back to the cottage to meet my friends Ian and Robin from Halifax. 

Four weeks later my pregnancy test was positive. And I like to joke that I only spent time with four men that week (All of them with killer genes, I might add)... :-)

So yes, I went on a road trip to Montreal to meet a movie star (and so much more) and came back pregnant with my awesome dancing dude .

And so everyone at RD-O knows how far behind I am. I just rented The Rocket two weeks ago. :-) During it, X-man learned how to say hockey, puck and check. 

Friday, May 30, 2008

Naturally occurring phenomenon = vocab lesson

Xander saw his first real rainbow tonight between storm clouds right before bed.

I was supposed to be at Sex in the City with CARE, but at 6:45 p.m. we had a tornado between Savoy and Tolono that extended our tornado warning until 7:45 p.m. So, X-man, Riley and Mactroll and I stayed in the basement with our storm warning.

I owe a big apology if anyone stood waiting for me. I just didn't feel safe going out when bad weather is that close.

Supreme Guilt Factor

Once upon a time I was the chief financial earner in my relationship. Seriously. I was either ahead or even with MacTroll — until we moved here and I agreed to stay home while he took a job at Apple and traveled like crazy.

Since I had the 60-hour work week in D.C., going from the fast lane to "Yawn, what do I want to do today?" was actually more mentally difficult than I thought. When I went to the grocery store I'd think about how I was spending "his" money. I'd come back and tell him how much I saved with coupons or deals or how I adjusted recipes to avoid the expensive costs of various produce. 

I needed a project. So I dove into the weight loss. It was my top priority. And I was good at it, until I accomplished that and came to bed one night and said, "I need a part-time job." Joel wasn't sold since we had recently decided to have a baby. 

So we had a baby. And at 3 months post partum, my old professor from Millikin called and offered me a 2-year teaching contract in Decatur. It was uber daycare friendly (no really strange hours). And since I love my undergraduate institution like mad, I jumped at the chance. It didn't pay much, but it did cover X-man's tuition at Next Generation (which he LOVES attending thanks to Ms. Melissa, Ms. Natalie and Ms Sonya -- soon to be Ms. Chrissy and Ms. Holly in the Turtle Room).

My last day of teaching was May 12. On May 20, I applied for a part-time job as a volunteer coordinator/mentor coordinator with Unit 4 schools.  It was the only job I was remotely interested in.

Today I got invited to interview for the job next week.

I'll let you know how it goes. The job listing was more of a list of minimum requirements rather than a job description. So at this point, I feel like I'm just exploring. But MacTroll is still laughing that I couldn't put up with being unemployed for longer than two weeks. 

If I was home with X-man I'd feel differently about it. But he's in school, and I like that he's in school and he likes he's in school. And since I'm looking down the line thinking I'd like a job in education, this might be a good step given my past employment and volunteer experiences. 

I guess we'll find out on Thursday.

I blog...

when I should be mowing my lawn. :-)

Update: Okay, so after I typed the sentence I went outside and mowed the backyard, which hadn't been done in two weeks. I'm allergic to grass, so this is kind of a pain in the ass for me. I'm all good until it starts seeding and then itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. 

I pushed the mower for 30 minutes and finished the backyard, which in this heat is great exercise. My mower isn't self-propelled, so I'm bent at funny angles at turns. I was so lazy I stepped around the dog poop. (I'll get that later tonight when X-man is in his sandbox after dinner.)

But the real news is this morning: At 10 a.m. I went back to Weight Watchers for the first time since 2003. From 2002-2003 I lost 27 lbs on WW. When I quit, I did it by myself and really kicked up the exercising. I went to Curves 4 times a week and walked 45-90 minutes EVERY DAY. My weight went from 251 lbs to 200.5 lbs over 4 years of effort at an average of 12 lbs a year. I went from a size 22 jeans and size 18 shirt to a size 16 (nearly a 14) jeans and size 12 shirt. It was the first time since my freshman year of college where I was the same size as most of my friends.

And as every weight loss person will show you here are my obligatory photos.

Before (July 8, 2000)

After (December 2004)

Now, those of you who've always had an easy time with your body will say. Well, of course, you started eating right and exercising -- duh.

But it's more than that for me. There's this scene in "The West Wing" when Leo McGarry talks about his alcoholism that really hit it home for me. It was, don't laugh too hard, the reason I went to Weight Watchers in the first place. Leo was talking about drinking. About how he doesn't understand people who can have just one drink. How alcohol makes you feel great and why wouldn't you always want to feel like this.

I feel that way about food. I don't understand people who have cookies in their house and can eat only one. I have to purchase "snacks" at the gas station to limit myself to a small sample serving. 

I'm also an emotional eater. I get happy, I eat. I get bored, I eat. I get sad, I take myself for ice cream. I eat out way too much. I eat too much. I eat at bad times (like eating a healthy breakfast and lunch and then consuming a whole whole wheat veggie pizza for dinner). But it's also about fitting in to a certain degree. In the midwest there's not a whole lot to do to socialize with people that doesn't take place around food. I'm 1/4 Italian, so I get that from my family too. It's how you bond, where good connections take place. It's fulfilling and it's fun. And it tastes damn good too. 

Now, here's the deal. Outside of the occasional (and I mean 1 a month) pint of ice cream that walks into my house (okay, well, at least I carry it in myself) I don't usually eat crap. There are no Oreos in my house. No sugared pop. The meat we eat is all high-end, lean as can be. I cook primarily from a WW cookbook, or from Cooking Light or Mayo Clinic. 

I didn't eat fast food more than once every six months when I weighed in at 251. I walked a 60-mile walk in 3 days. I trained and ran a marathon -- yes, at 251 lbs. I worked 12-hour days. And every moment I wasn't at work, I volunteered with animal rescue and tried to squeeze as much quality time with my husband in as possible.

My cholesterol is 150-170 on average. My glucose levels have always been normal. And my blood pressure is usually 103/65. 

So when it was repeatedly communicated to me by strangers on the street, my father and other people I know that they equate my obesity (and others') to laziness. I get pissed. 

Want some examples? 

I'm 21 years old. A size 18/20. I walk up the stairs at the metro in D.C. at Metro Centre on my first day of work at my internship. And some middle-aged guy stops me at the top (he had come up behind me on the stairs) and said, "It's so refreshing to see someone of your size take the stairs." I walked to work the rest of the summer to avoid such issues again.

I go home for a visit 2 years later. And my dad asks me what I want to drink with dinner. I ask him what kind of milk he has. He says 2 percent. I ask for water instead. "You know if you exercised more you could drink the 2 percent, and it wouldn't matter."

I'm in Wal-mart standing in an aisle. I'm 8 month's pregnant and my entire stomach has become one big striped wall of stretchmarks. I'm miserable, suffering from depression and staring at the selection of baby crap in front of me as I mentally prepare to give birth (sans epidural -- cause I'm a moron -- to a 10 lbs 2 oz baby). A woman walks up to me with her cart and a toddler in the seat and says, "Congratulations! When are you due? You're so huge! When I had my first I swear I looked like one of those models in the pregnancy catalogs, but you, you look more like I did after my fifth when I had trouble fitting in my SUV."

Yeah, no lie. Jacked up. 

So, now I'm back at it after finally working through my depression to get back on track. I can't eat like my friends. I have to limit what I eat with my friends. And don't think that things just change for me. Nope, they change for the family, too. If I'm going down this road, they're going with me. But mostly what I hate is that it shows another way in which I feel I'm deficient to everyone else. My husband, he eliminates regular soda from his diet and he loses 10 lbs in a month. My friend's mother-in-law freaks out if she gains two pounds. 

I gain 5-12 lbs with each period in water weight. I gained 75 lbs with my pregnancy. No small accomplishment for someone who threw up three times a day for weeks 3-28.  I lost 44 of it in the first 4 weeks. My nurse practitioner said, "That's a lot of water weight!" 

But perhaps like before it will take me 4 years to get back down to my "smaller me" size (200.5 lbs. still seems mega for most people, but seems good to me). Right now I'm at 241. And I'm about to go into battle with myself — one part of my brain against the other. 

I'm committed. I'm vested. I'm a control freak. I have to take this whole thing seriously as if I have some kind of terminal disease. It's very somber, but I also know it's got to be done. I have a kid at home I have to keep up with. I've got exactly zero attraction points that aren't about my witty sense of humor going for me. 

So here I go counting my points and drinking my fluids and walking my ass off. So if you see me around town be sure to give me a honk or a shout! 

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

1. Today began implementation of "If you're violent, you'll sit and be silent" (Thank you, Freak for the rhyme.)
2. Tomorrow I will begin 10 weeks of Weight Watchers. I have an emotional attachment to food. I'm like an alcoholic or a diabetic. I don't get to drink/eat like everyone else does. My body has no real forward moving metabolism, and I have water retention issues. So since I can't not eat... I'm going to have to get real focused on being healthy. I've always known this, but I've spent the last two years in denial. 
3. Today I started writing fiction again. It's the first time in months, and it was just writing down a dream I had last night, but it still counts.
4. I will stain the fence before July 4 weekend pretty much by myself.
5. I had to cut some items off my CARE calendar due to Xander's swim lessons at school. I had to pick, and I picked swimming because he LOVES it, and it's free... 

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Annoying Habits

As a human I have a lot of annoying habits. Some I am completely aware of. For example, I notice errors in everyone's grammar, except my own. Did you see Grey's Anatomy last week? The file drawer in the Chief's office said "Resident's files." As if he only had one resident! Sigh. It's annoying. But I don't say things out loud to people. I don't edit blogs or correct people when they say, "I feel badly" rather than "I feel bad." (Seriously, look it up if you don't believe me.) It's my own private, dirty problem -- so I keep it to myself.

But today at dinner with 3/4 of the Freak family, I noticed a really annoying habit that I was completely unaware of. FF would be parenting her children, asking them to sit still or eat a piece of chicken and I would repeat it as if I was Sigourney Weaver's character on Galaxy Quest (if you haven't seen it, the running gag is that her whole job on the space ship is to repeat what the computer says to the captain). 

It's not like I thought they'd listen to me or that I was helping. I wasn't really thinking when I was doing it. I think it was some sort of automatic pilot to back up the other mother at the table, which clearly isn't needed.

I'm pretty sure that you could put a blindfold on FF and tie her hands behind her back and she could completely bend her children to her will by using some kind of magical Jedi-like Force. Seriously, I have that much confidence in her as a woman and as a mother. But I'm going to try to jumpstart my brain and put an end to the annoying habit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Loosey-only vacation has been booked!

I took into consideration the polling, so thank you to my 11 readers who voted. :-)

The people's choice was Halifax. It's an alluring trip. I'd get to see my friend Healyium, if he wasn't planning a long, long trip to his beloved Estonia. Plus, there'd be nachos at the Shoe Shop, beach time and a trip to the scary bar... with me being 25 lbs heavier than I was the last time was there. Mmm, maybe the extra weight would stop the vultures, though. 

Apparently being single in Halifax is kind of a crime... when you go out to a bar and everyone is over the age of 25 and divorced. The problem with the trip is that there was no availability on American Airlines that didn't have at least two connections. And yes, I like free, but I hate flying long distances with lots of connections. One connection, no problem. Flying Champaign to Chicago, Chicago to Boston, Boston to Halifax and having it take 10 hours sounded like hell. 

So I went with my safety. My beloved Montreal. Where I learned that Mitra and JF will be home the entire summer except for that weekend. And AndrĂ©'s been promising me my first motorcycle ride on his bike for over 4 years, but something has always come up (damn rain), so we'll see about that lively bit of entertainment. 

But there was another huge appeal to going. Not only is the flight "free" with my miles (small fees for all that 9/11 safety crap). But I got 3 nights at the W in Vieux Montreal for "free". And if there's one thing Looseyfur likes -- it's staying in ultra modern boutique hotels and not having to pay for them. 

Seriously. It's like taking me into a stationery store and watching me drool over the vellum. It's addictive. These suckers weren't made for traveling, old white men. The last time I stayed in a W (also on MacTroll's super points) there was a sweet, same-sex couple next door with their tiny dog, "Prince Albert." But I think what I love most is that while I'm there for free, other people are paying like $200-$600 a night. And that's another reason why it's a little rock star for me. Well, that and the bathroom was clearly made for voyeurism. :-)

Without the magic of MacTroll's super points... such a weekend in Montreal adventure would have cost $730 (Geezus! This is coach people!) for the flight and $600 for the hotel room (U.S. $). I don't know about the rest of you, but that's like gas for a year for my VW.

But since MacTroll gifted the trip to me for being a single parent 1/2 of the year thanks to his employer Apple, the trip is a personal cost to us of $67.50. I'd beat me over the head with a stick for not taking that deal. I could pack power bars to eat the whole weekend, but um... why skip out on my chance to eat Pho (I don't care that it's July! Hey, Champaign Taste, gotta any Pho recipes up your sleeves?) or a smoked meat sandwich medium fat with extra mustard? And what about going to Souris Mini? Or people watching from the window of the Chapters on Catherine Street while sipping on my Frappucino? And even though I might get sneered at... I'm so raiding the area for the raisin butter tarts of my youth!

And really, I do love that after a weekend, I can at least get my french up to snuff long enough to eavesdrop on street corners, order food and give the time to people on the metro. 

Now, one day before I'm dead, I want to see if I can go here with MacTroll... Too bad corporate points don't work at island villas!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ask A Toddler - Special Delivery#1:

OMG. This made me laugh.


When I was between 12 and 15, I experienced a steep learning curve on the realities of relationships with humans. My first boyfriend, as sweet as he was when he was quoting me lines from John Cusack movies, dumped me six months down the line for another woman. I was never quite sure why. All I knew was that I went away to California for spring break and came back to find that my poetry writing boyfriend was suddenly with some other girl and had morphed into one of my high school, hippie, wanna-be-Jim-Morrison, theatre friends. It sucked. It hurt. I was annoyed because up until that point I still had the Disney Princess Goggles. You know the goggles... the happily ever after goggles? The one where as soon as you find true love you'll never question your life again Disney goggles.  This was my first lesson in love going wrong.

But I wasn't a complete sucker. That whole believe in your heart, and you'll be okay thing can only go so far. Mostly the day that I found out that one of the friends I had spent a lot of time with in middle school, had come to high school only to denounce my relationship with my first boyfriend to her entire girls' swim team. I'm not sure what she found so offensive about the relationship. Was it that he was bi-racial? Was it that he wasn't in our "gifted" education program? Whatever it was, she decided to tell the swim team that I was letting James pull my tampons out of me with his teeth. First lesson in friends going EVIL -- and even more embarrassing about what 14 year olds will believe.

Between 12 and 14, I had watched my parents end their 20-year marriage. And what I couldn't quite get my brain wrapped around at 12, I understand more at 32, but it still sucked. The eve of starting seventh grade was when my Dad announced he was moving out. That night we all, strangely, went to my seventh grade orientation, where I told my best friend Laura about my newly broken home. I was hoping for some kind of condolences or at least an invitation for some free nights away from the mental anguish my mother was clearly going through as she cried herself to sleep, ate nothing and hurled every demeaning word she could find at herself. Instead, Laura's face turned cold.  "You're making this up," she said. "You just want attention."

It was a double slap. 1) Because a person I considered a part of my core support group had just called me a liar, and 2) because she somehow thought that me seeking attention was kind of a norm for me. I was shocked. So on top of the anger at my parents, I suddenly got to add one of my best friends to the pile.

The let down of people I considered close to me just kind of kept happening. Each time there was a lot of heartbreak and confusion. I kept trying to figure out what I had done to make them so angry to say or do things that were so offensive to me. But in my early teen years, I hadn't quite worked up the balls to walk up and ask people what the hell was going on. That would have to wait until much, much later... after I knew myself a bit better, after I ran out of patience with what I consider other people's crazy.

I choose to look at these long-ago episodes as lessons in human frailty in myself and in others. At the time, I thought each loved one was just another example of how I was unlovable -- or more exactly unworthy of love of any kind. I decided that there was something just plain wrong with me. And it also taught me not to have a lot of faith or demands on the people I cherished.

I want to say that at some point I learned differently, but I never have. I keep most people, even MacTroll, at an arm's distance. I don't expect people to be around forever. I don't expect them to have the same interest in a relationship with me as I have with them. It's easier that way when people move away and you learn that your relationship was really one of proximity rather than of the soul. It's easier when you have a major life event, like a baby, and people stop calling or don't even make arrangements to meet your child until he can walk and talk and feed himself. It's just easier to cope with disappointments when you're not holding "high" expectations of them, and I put "high" in quotes because a lot of times, my expectations seem like the bare minimum to me, but my bare minimum is apparently a pretty tall order for most.

I guess what I'm learning now though. Is that by being the person that's "easy" and "low maintenance" it gives an aura that I don't care if people are cruel or flaky or inconsiderate. And what being "easy" does do is make it easier for people to step on you, ignore you and just assume because you're standing you weren't at all tarnished by the harm that was inflicted on you. But you keep standing because if you show that you care, you'll let them know you were really never very "easy" to begin with. 

Maybe then they'll know that they never really knew you at all. 

The worst part of this being, of course, that if they were too selfish not to notice -- they really didn't give a rat's ass about really knowing you in the first place. 

And trust me, when I've got my shit together, I'm so worth knowing. :-P  

"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." — Carrie Fisher

Sunday, May 25, 2008

X-man's Travels

X-man has been to 10 states and one district so far. We are still slow in getting him a passport, but we'll figure that out at some point. :-)

Wanna check out his travels?

There's no place like home, kind of

MacTroll drove X-man and I up to Davenport this weekend to watch one of my cousins get married. It was all good until we pulled up to the church where there was a very large playground. Since X-man had pretty much been either in the car or a hotel room all day, he wasn't interested in going into a building with a bunch of people he knew... but felt weird about them being out of place. 

So we missed the entire ceremony so he could play on the swings. An ambulance went by at one point and he took off toward the road and ended up sitting on the top of the hill with his dad, overlooking the road and pointing at cars telling him what colors they were. I just watched the two of them together. I took some photos but they are very far away. I figured after having X-man to myself last week, MacTroll might be looking for some quality time with him. And let's face it, watching traffic is one of X-man's favorite things next to watching trains.

We were informed as the folks spilled out of the church that the reception wasn't really starting for another two hours. That worked out okay, because X-man needed dinner. So we went to the Granite City Brewery. Somehow my dad, MacTroll and brother-in-law managed to all order various kinds of waffle fries. We got X-man fed and headed to the reception. Dinner was served at 7:15 p.m. X-man was ready to go at 7:20 p.m. No dinner for Dad and Mom. He fell asleep in the car on the way back from the reception. 

He woke up when we got back. I had forgotten his sleeping bag, sigh. So we had asked for a rollaway. Unfortunately, they were out so they brought us a "kid bed," which is a portacrib. X-man took one look at it and said, "No Baby Bed! Big Bed! Big Bed, Mama!"

So... he slept with us in the king-size bed, which at the rate he moves around in circles and kicks and elbows wasn't really restful for anyone. 

We hung out for a bit post breakfast with the fam. Then we headed out before some storms moved into the area. 

We stopped for lunch in Peoria at MacTroll's parents for about an hour or so. X-man was falling apart because he needed to nap, but didn't want to get back in the car. He napped for about an hour and 15 minutes on the way home. 

And then after dinner tonight became an absolute beast of a kid. Tantrums, biting me, biting MacTroll, pulling my hair, throwing my glasses on the street, poking me in the eye... it made me never want to take a walk around the block with him again. That's right. That's all we were doing. But he kept trying to eat rocks, or throw things into puddles or other stuff that was just to stall the fact that he knew it was getting close to bath and bed time. 

Sigh. He cried through bath. And was so tired, he couldn't even get into his bed. MacTroll had to lift him there. And he fell asleep immediately. 

I'm hoping tomorrow is a sweet X-man day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Glass is half full post

Good things that happened today.

1. X-man hugged me for 2 minutes straight as we walked from the Turtle Room (he's been visiting) to the car.
2. While Ms. Thang and I walked back from throwing some stuff in the compost piles at the organic garden she said. "I'm close to you." And then held my hand... She also wanted to sit with me at dinner. I was flattered.
3. I got to do a 2-mile walk this morning with one of my neighbors, who is also a new CARE member. It was nice to have someone to talk to besides my sweet dog.
4. I had mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert (1/2 the fat Edy's is very good).
5. I still hold the highest possible score out of my group of friends on the Ladder section of Word Twist (for the Facebook people).

Ahhh, so this is why he doesn't sleep with us

X-man wandered into my room last night a bit past midnight. Usually when this happens I let him lie down with me until he's just about asleep and then I put him back in his bed. But last night I was too tired and he was too stubborn.

So he spent the night with me in the middle of the bed being a bed hog (much like his father). 

But the beauty is how I was woken up this morning.

SLAP! (Yes, across my face.) 


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Looseyfur likes the drama-free zone

I am guilty. I admit it. And I'm not proud of it. I'm guilty of passing judgment on fellow parents, when I have no right too. Because I've made assumptions that other parents' lives are better than mine, that because their body or their faces are a certain way they must be having a better time of it out in the world... and I know this is bullshit. 

But I also know where it comes from -- my own insecurities created by a long history of fucked up cultural assumptions and being told over and over (by the people who are supposed to support you the most) that I can't do something because of A, B or C. 

I look too much into people's comments. I think too much. I create drama where there wasn't drama before, when I know for a fact that I don't have time for drama. Life gives me enough without me needing to make shit up on my own.

(Ah, clarity after two beers at bookclub.) 

This isn't to say that I'm not allowed my opinions. I'm just saying I want to keep my laid back, low maintenance ways. This all comes up because I was reading a message board for my other online group for Organizers of parent groups from around the world before going to bookclub.  It's got a message board FILLED with membership drama. And I'm scared to death that at some point down the road the crazy stuff I've been reading about will happen in my cozy little CARE group. Who knows? Maybe it already has. Maybe there are people otu there seething and I don't know it. But for right now... 

I am so happy. I  had a fabulous time tonight at book club. I enjoyed my old and my new friends. It was perfect for me. 

I want to continue to enjoy everyone as much as I did tonight talking about our crazy fat girl, postpartum depression suffering, hanging with the stars, entertainment columnist heroine... until the evening descended into a variety of side discussions about toddler eating issues, getting rid of the pacifier, work schedules and my favorite, planning a meet up of "adult items."

(How that one got started, I'm not sure. I just know that somehow I was confused (thinking maybe someone was talking about having a bachelorette party or something like that where those things sometimes happen.) Then I realized it was something being advocated on the calendar and, yeah, I blushed. 

I had a great night out. I really needed it. It's getting me so much closer to Friday when Joel comes home. Thank you friends for all the drama-free fun tonight. 

See I thought he was being cute...

but really he was warning me of impending toddler tantrums after naptime.

Wacky Wednesday

Today at 10 a.m., X-man and I are going to Curious J's 2nd birthday party over at the Rec Center. And for some reason I'm really nervous. I kept X-man home from school today, given the time of the party (since he naps at noon, no real reason to drop him off from 8:30 until 9:45 a.m.).

But the party has the potential to be a large group activity with tons of people I don't know. And you'd think that me being the organizer of a 70+ family organization would be used to that. But when we get new members they're usually one or two at a time, which works out pretty well for both parental and kid bonding. 

Curious J plays in two different playgroups, and I've only attended one of their playtimes at Rogers'. The folks were very nice. But they're all invited, which could mean like 25 kids and parents, which just overwhelms me on my introverted level. 

And I really hope X-man doesn't get frustrated and tackle some kid for taking a toy he wants. Cause that seems to be his new reaction to all people his age or older doing something he doesn't like. 

In other news, I took my jeans out of the dryer and put them on. They weren't first day tight. In fact, they were fitting exactly right, which means by the end of 2 days they're hanging off my body in strange ways. Perhaps this means my body is changing shape? I try to look for good things in the mirror when I work up enough courage to check it out. 

X-man wants me to come play trains. Later.

Edit: We just got back from Curious J's party. X-man had a blast running around the gym with all the toys, playing ring-around-the-rosie, and he ate all of his bananas and strawberries and cheese, but apparently has decided that this month he won't eat Triscuits, but last month he was in love with them... so yeah, toddler fickleness. There were a lot of new kids there that he'd never met before, but it felt just like going to a Tag-a-long at the Rec Center (but with snacks!). So, we did okay. Plus it was nice to see Rogers' parents and sister, Michelle.

We walked over to the rec center and had to leave the party a little early as the pre-nap mania started setting in (falling over, pushing a girl out of the way for cake, running with no directional purpose and tripping). So we left around 11:35 a.m. to get home at noon. He was exhausted. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I took Riley on a walk at Meadowbrook this morning after dropping X-man off in the Panda Room. What I found reassuring was just as I was confused about what to dress X-man in for school this morning, others found just as confusing when getting themselves dressed.

I wore my usual walking pants, t-shirt and light fleece jacket. Sleeves are sometimes needed depending on the wind situation. Plus it was only 50 degrees when I dropped X-man off. 

But when I got out there and started moving, the jacket came off. I was warm. I was even sweating as I cruised through the park. Others biked or jogged past. One woman had long running pants, a long sleeve turtleneck and earmuffs. A couple had on heavy wool jackets with those wool caps that have the fleece ear warmers built in. A "professional runner" was in his leave nothing to the imagination running shorts and a tank top. It seemed everyone either thought it was freezing when they left the house that morning or was in denial that it had cooled off again. 

Either way, we got our (hope to be daily) walk in. Riley is currently passed out on the floor. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Thousand Hours

Nearly every year since 2004, I have made an annual "pilgrimage" to Montreal.

The first year, I was there in May with Joel, but Joel and I have two different ideas about exploring new cities. I tend to be quiet, stick to my feet and wander just watching. Joel likes a point to the travels. In other words he'd like to get out of the hotel and take a cab to point A, enjoy himself and then take a cab back to the hotel. Minimal walking around point A is okay, but he's not a wanderer. He likes direction. 

My problem with this method of vacationing is that it's how I live my life. I don't see the forest through the trees as I'm whizzing from one place to another. 

So later that summer I declared a Dana-only 10-day vacation. I drove from Champaign to Montreal and back by myself. I visited friends in Toronto, Ann Arbor and Montreal. I went to festivals, the Toronto Islands, saw Rod Stewart on the street with his new wife (who doesn't look that much different from Rachel Hunter) giggled at hundreds of people camped out chanting outside of Madonna's hotel and I chilled out. 

When I came back, I felt fresh. I had perspective. I had time with myself in a different place. I'd stayed at an awesome hotel (go Hotel St. Paul!)

I went back again in January 2005 after I decided to quit my full-time job at the health insurance company. I even rented a lovely apartment on St. Louis Square. Who goes to Quebec in the winter? Me. Everyone looked at me funny when the only solid reason to my calling to go up north was, "I'm going to see a Roy Dupuis movie." :-)

I went on another pilgrimage, this time with my best friend KTDID in June 2005. We spent a lot of time in the Eastern Townships and then up near Mont Tremblant at a cabin on a lake, where we canoed and grilled out. We headed into town just one day. In the middle Kate flew home and Joel flew up and drove back down to Champaign with me. 

In August 2005, our friends Mitra and JF got married in Vieux Montreal. We went up for the wedding. I was around 8 weeks pregnant at the time and pretty miserable. 

I didn't get back up to Montreal until X-man was 17 months old. I had four days alone to sleep, read, wander... and so many things that I loved the several times I had been there before, I grew to appreciate even more after a long absence.

Now I'm looking at July with wonder. Do I keep going back to spend my Loosey-only 3-4 days in a place I'm comfortable, but still a place that never fails to show me something new? Or do I look past my comfort to a whole new adventure... one that is only limited by points with Hilton and frequent flier miles on American? :-)


This morning we dropped MacTroll off at the airport at 8 a.m. He is visiting three cities in five days (D.C., Cupertino and Seattle). X-man was very upset and sad as soon as I told him our morning plans. He suddenly went from a kid who didn't care that I was putting his pants and socks on to a kid who refused to have anything to do with a clean shirt.

MacTroll hugged and kissed him in the car seat and then I took X-man to school. But he didn't want to get out of the car. He wanted me to keep reading him books. I read one, told him that was all I was going to do, then we walked to the building. He stalled a bit, so I had to pick him up. Then he hugged me all the way to his room and didn't want to let go. 

All of this didn't help that he woke us up at 3 a.m. wanting to sleep in our bed. Then he started coughing a lot (weird late night-only coughing) that MacTroll took him into the bathroom and steamed it up. Twenty minutes later the cough was gone and X-man was back in his bed.  But at 5:30 a.m. he was wide awake and demanding Elmo. 

So I'm guessing by the time we were at school he was starting to get tired again. Poor dude, he's got a while until nap (noon). 

I didn't want to hand him to Ms. Natalie from my arms because I could see him having a complete blow out and grabbing onto me shrieking. But I knew I had to go, so I put him on the floor and he just laid there. Then Ms. Natalie scooped him up, and I felt better.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Working for the Weekend

Mactroll, X-man and I had a superb weekend. 

Friday kicked off with a baseball game. It's not that we're huge Illini fans (we're not at all), but I do appreciate going to sporting events and watching the games regardless of who is playing, and X-man has been showing some interest in sports. 

The whole way to the game he kept saying, "bazz-ball." It was a long walk with me carrying him from the parking lot at Assembly Hall to the Stadium (would have been fine if he would have walked) but I think he was a little apprehensive being in a new place. Plus, MacTroll was on his iPhone doing whatever it is he does when he is able to save the technical world from home the whole way, so I was on my own. 

Libbygirl and Lightning McColin had beaten us there, but had chosen awesome seats on the third base line right behind home plate. So we could see each of the Illini players come out of the dugout and warm up before they went to bat.

X-man LOVED the music. And out of every "batter theme song" he apparently was most happy to hear Ludacris.

There were pretzels, a very messy hot dog, popcorn, drinks and good friends. All the stuff that baseball should be made of. Plus, families were free on Friday! Woot. I think we'll see about scheduling another game like that next year.

Then on Saturday, we got up and went to check out the garden. X-man got to watch his friend The Boy and his Mom, Fearless Freak, do some Tae Kwon Do at Meadowbrook. We also discovered the CARE garden is actually growing something besides weeds. Hooray for beans, basil, sweet corn, sunflowers and peppers. 

After nap, we went to Prairie Fields park and met new friends Susan and Haley, who were having a good time going up and down the play equipment and chatting about the Wiggles, big girl beds, tantrums, adapting toddler scheduling, etc. 

That evening while MacTroll went off with Radioactive Freak and friends to see the movie Iron Man. I stayed home with X-man and we watched Cars. Then he got carried up to bed at 7:20 p.m. and was completely asleep by 7:40 p.m. It was a nice quiet, early to bed night.

Today we slept in until 7 a.m. We went grocery shopping, looked around Target for a replacement patio table and went home to play in the sandbox. I went out on the hunt for a table during nap and found one at the Ace Hardware at Windsor at the Crossing. I tried Wal-mart first, since Target had been a bust that morning, but apparently normal people have large 6-10 person tables outside. I don't have that kind of room on my patio. I have room for a four person circular table... and it can't be glass. Why you ask? Because once upon a time Rogers' poor glass patio table got lifted up in a strong Savoy gust and was thrown into my fence at the old house. MacTroll and I only had to replace a 74 cent piece of wood in the fence. Rogers had to buy a whole new table and pick shattered glass out of her lawn for a long time. 

I settled on black metal with holes in it to let the wind pass through. And, of course, now MacTroll and I are thinking, "Maybe our four okay chairs could be replaced with four new nice chairs..." Sigh. I hate money. 

Anyway, we washed my car today, and X-man's car. We took a walk around the duck pond. We had grilled Italian sausage with bell peppers and onions and tomatoes on top of whole wheat penne for supper. And X-man got his bath and I curled up in my bed. 

Productive, filled with group family time and I'm happy to report absolutely no Hellish tantrums. An occasional normal protest. But no hitting or screaming or biting. Hooray!

MacTroll's Dedication

I have this up on my Facebook page, but as nothing exciting is going on today (except we did run into Fearless Freak's parents at Meijer this morning and MacTroll's friend Vonda from the News-Gazette)... I thought I'd repost old excitement here. 

MacTroll's friend Jef Mallett does the cartoon strip Frazz. And soon after X-man was born, he decided to drop MacTroll a little honor by using his name in his strip. So, in the land of Frazz there is now a Rennich Middle School.

A few weeks ago, Jef mentioned MacTroll again... using his name and nickname as the name of a popular television show the fictional kids in the strip watch.

Now all the boys are napping. 

My main mission this week is to find a new outdoor patio table. Ours has bitten the dust!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


My mom sent this to me. I find it amusing, and I'm jealous that someone has some serious time on his/her hands. :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

An average summer day

Sure it only got in the low 70's today, but it finally felt like summer. MacTroll took X-man today with his Doc and Lightning McQueen in the cacti to school(it was show and tell.) 

While they were gone, I picked up a few things and checked my mail. A few minutes later, Rogers called to ask if I wanted to go to a garage sale and help her out today. 

So, one garage sale ended up turning into three in Prairie Fields, but sadly we bought nothing. And then we packed her car full of stuff to take to the University's YMCA dump and run collection.

I could hardly believe it was almost noon when I left to go home. I got home, had some lunch and then went out and mowed the backyard, planted the happy tree (finally!) and started the trimming in the backyard around the hot tub, garden, sandbox and fence. MacTroll finished the job later.

At 2:30 p.m. I came in and took a shower and got ready to go see the Illini Baseball team take on Purdue in the first game of a doubleheader. 

We met some of our CARE friends there and had a blast. First of all, it was for some reason free tonight -- hooray! There's a new Dana in the group, who I think is just awesome, so we jabbered most of the night. She and I have a lot of similar viewing and reading habits. Plus, Lightning McColin was there, which always makes X-man happy. 

The scariest part of the whole game was when a foul ball came over the backstop and fell within a few feet of Colin's head. Next time I'm taking my glove, just in case. That scared me, Heidi and Colin a bit. I'm not sure why I didn't have the sense to shield him since I was the closest. It just kind of happened so fast. I couldn't take my eye off the ball.

Now I'm pooped. MacTroll passed out playing a computer game about 15 minutes ago. X-man was in bed and passed out around 7:30 p.m. I'm not quite sure why I'm up... just that, I think maybe something interesting in the world is happening right now and I'm missing it. :-P

Who knew?

I might actually want to go see the new Batman movie

Crazy. :-) 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From a Panda to a Turtle

On May 26th last year, X-man started school at Next Generation in the Panda room. He could barely walk when we went to visit on May 9 after getting the call that they had a place for him (he was on the wait list for a year). When we visited, he noticed all the kids were walking all over the place and decided that he better start working out. By the 26th, he was walking enough to hold onto a teacher's hand at the back of the rope line. 
Now, he's prepping to go to a two-year-old room to be a Turtle. 

Part of me is super excited for him. He loves to learn, and a 2-year room offers all kinds of new challenges. It's easy to see that he's the big boy in his classroom these days. 

The other part of me hates that he's moving up because we really love Ms. Natalie, Ms. Melissa and Ms. Sonya. They've helped us with so much, and X-man adores his teachers (if adoration is measured by the number of mornings he runs in the room and hugs one of them). I appreciate the hard work they do with the kids every day encouraging them to learn. It inspired me to want to be a early ed teacher too. 

But on June 2, he'll be called up to the big leagues. 

So, here's a photo of X-man at 15 months...

And here's one of him at 26 months: 

It's the end of the Panda era.

Body Talk

My body doesn't usually draw attention to itself. It usually likes the idea that it can actually camouflage me by, ironically, being overweight. It's like a natural defense mechanism brought on by lack of formal exercise and failing to cook every night from home so that crap food runs are made every now and again, which would be okay if every time I ate out, I didn't think of it as a reward system. But I don't feel like blogging about my emotional dependence on frozen custard, pasta and Pirate Booty right now...

Instead I want to talk about the breakdown... the fact that after spending a harrowing 2 months as a working single mother while MacTroll saved the technical world from peril, my body has heaved around a squirrelly, fighting 35 lb toddler who is as stubborn as his mother (and has a right hook slap that brings us both to tears as we struggle to do something as mundane as put shoes on in the morning). Usually I just ignore the aches and pains and continue with my overwhelmingly over-planned days. But woo doggie is my body talking this week... it's been fighting me to go to sleep every chance I get. Kind of like that first trimester of pregnancy where you find yourself never getting out of bed or showering or even caring about food. 

Today MacTroll took X-man to school. So after they were out the door at 8:30 a.m. I came upstairs and put my head down. The next thing I know the phone is ringing and it's MacTroll. I bark, "What are you doing? The point of sleeping in is not to be interrupted."

There's silence at the other end. "It's noon."

"Holy shit."

I got up, had left over tacos for lunch stepped outside to see if I could bring myself to mow the backyard. Too cold. Too wet. Too -- unmotivated. So I headed back up to bed, where I planned some meet ups, am writing this blog entry and am seriously thinking about napping before we celebrate Miss Thang's 3rd b-day over at FCC this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Got a friend/loved one who plays too much World of Warcraft... need to find them a Father's Day or birthday gift...

You could get them something normal or you could send them to Monster Camp the movie... or maybe even the real thing? 

MacTroll never got into WOW... He likes his Civilization 4. I'm not sure what that says.

Toys, Toys, Toys

We're on a little bit of a budget crunch due to everything in the world being due in may (property taxes, car insurance bill, blah, blah, blah), so it's so nice that The Full Mommy would put up a contest to win a couple of $25 gift certificates to for just looking the site over and telling Kangarooboo what we like. (A tip of the hat to Lavender Lemonade for letting me know about it!).

Kangarooboo carries a lot of eco friendly toys. We already have a set of the Plan City vegetable dye car and trains and the garage that X-man got from Santa, so I went in search of something extra special... and I found this:

The Plan City Sports Car. It's red. It's convertible. It's hot. X-man is big into cars. I can see him pushing this one around everywhere.  :-) 

My second favorite is this little dude:
Petite Collin Bahamas. He's very hip. And let's face it -- he's cool in the photo with his hand shoved in his pocket and his baggie shorts and smart hat. Plus, when you see him next to the Panama or the Mariner doll, he looks sooo laid back. (Go Caribbean!) X-man has a baby of his own around the same size that he takes in the bathtub occasionally to wash while I'm washing him. Maybe when the budget crunch is over (my guess is it will be around holiday time) I'll have Petite Collin Bahamas as a crib buddy with X-man's "Baby." But we'll have to find cooler names for them because this doll doesn't look like he needs a pram! He's a big boy doll, which is good because I have a big boy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Floss This!

I am 32 years old, and today I sat in a chair at the dentist's office and was told no less than 7 times to floss every day by the dental hygienist. That occasional flossing is not enough, and that even though I'm busy and have a little one, I should consider daily flossing a priority.

Yeah, I'm still picking my chin up from the floor.

Things I currently put as priorities that I need to do. All of them are in front of flossing...These are numbered, but they're not in any particular order.

1.) Sleeping
2.) Showering
3.) Working out at least 60 minutes five days a week. (Believe it or not, I did do this.)
4.) Cooking meals that don't come out of a box or can.
5.) Finding a new part-time, temporary job.
6.) Going to school to move onto an actual career in what I want to do.
7.) Paying my bills and refinancing my house.
8.) Using the topical acne cream I pay $35 every 8 weeks for.
9.) Actually spending time with my husband that isn't centered around a meal (although I'll take it if it's all I can get.)
10.) Wrestling my 2 year old so I can care for HIS teeth.
11.) Vaccuming and cleaning up after a messy kid, husband, five cats and my dog.
12.) Changing Gordy the Goldfish II's fish water
13.) Cleaning out my car. 
14.) Staying on top of my elderly cats 4 pills a day and fluid treatment while monitoring her weight.
15.) Mowing
16.) Planting the happy tree (see above).
17.) Having groceries in the fridge.
18.) Having clean underwear.
19.) Getting out of the house.
20.) Taking a multivitamin and calcium to make up for the fact that periodically my life consists of fast food (something I had given up completely for three years before X-man). 
21.) Having a mental reprieve and hanging with my friends.
22.) Organizing CARE.
23.) My blog.
24.) Eating at least 2 meals a day.
25.) BRUSHING my teeth.

Somewhere after all this comes flossing. And though I know it's her job, saying it once is enough to fulfill the requirement. I heard you. I understand. But you saying it isn't going to change my behavior. Trust me, if things were that instantaneous, I'd be a size 8 with perfect Title IX catalog body tone, done hair, wearing my contacts every day and living in a Martha Stewart-esque clean house while cooking for my boys like I was Rachel Ray and working on my career where I helped little kids learn basic reading and math skills and encouraging them to love science, games, history, technology and learning... But unfortunately, there's a little bit of time crunch.

On a good healthcare note, I have a doctor who doesn't tell me every time I'm in her office that I need to lose weight. She seems to understand that I live in my body, and I know what I need to do (mostly because I did it before). But that it takes a lot of hard work. And she knows that I'm not dumb, which is what it feels like when someone tells you something seven times.

I'm staring at my happy tree. And then I'm going walking with libbygirl and Lightning McColin.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grand Finale

I got up at an ungodly hour. I took a shower, got dressed, fed the cats, let out the dog and now I'm driving over to Millikin to give my final exam (it starts at 8 a.m.).

It's my last drive to Decatur for work. 

EDIT: I just read my Millikin e-mail and was told there was something I may or may not want to read in one of the student editor blogs.  All I can say is, today, is the happy shiny day for many reasons. It's nice to be appreciated. Who am I kidding -- it's awesome to be adored, particularly from someone as dedicated, honorable and smart as Galen Broaddus.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mommy's Morning

In order to keep from being climbed on this morning, I locked the guest bedroom door last night. An act I feel is both acceptable and deplorable. Why wouldn't I want my son to run into the room and dive on me and hug me and demand Elmo and spend time enjoying things he enjoys? At the same time, maybe Mama can do with a morning where she gets to sleep until she wants to get up.

MacTroll says that X-man ran into our room at 6:30 a.m., saw I wasn't there and then ran to the guest room (MacTroll's snoring went on all night long again, so I was temporarily displaced). I woke to hear X-man trying to turn the handle on the door, and then Joel came and distracted him with a diaper change and reading in the big bed before they went downstairs.

Around 7:30 a.m. I heard "Bob the Builder" on the computer, so I got up and took a shower and got dressed in clean clothes. I wandered downstairs to find X-man playing with his Matchbox cars. I got a big hug, and then I suggested going out to breakfast before the 9 a.m. Sunday/Mom's Day Rush. 

MacTroll instantly gave me my Mother's Day gifts. An empty magnetic frame, a night-time mask for when I get migraines and a paper mobile. MacTroll got dressed and I struggled to get X-man into his pants. Then I tried to hold him still while MacTroll put on X-man's socks and shoes to shouts of "No!"

We drove to Le Peep and parked in front of the door. There didn't seem to be people waiting outside, which was always a good sign. We wandered in and gave our name and was told there was a 15-minute wait. X-man upon smelling the food went nuts, grabbed my hand and started pulling me across the restaurant. I tried to kneel down and explain we didn't have a table yet and would have to wait. He started to cry.

So I took him outside. He cried harder. I tried to explain that I understood he was hungry and frustrated. MacTroll had given him juice and goldfish crackers early in the a.m. because when he asked X-man if he wanted a full breakfast, the answer had been no. The problem being he doesn't really listen when you ask him. He just says no to get you to stop trying to make him listen to you when he's watching "Bob the Builder."

I tried to entice him to walk down to the bakery with me for a snack. But he just screamed and pointed at Le Peep (a sign he knows and fully appreciates their pancakes as much as his mother). I tried to explain again that we would be eating in a few minutes, but that we need to wait. He threw himself down on the wet pavement and cried and cried and cried. MacTroll tried to pick him up and talk to him. X-man threw his head back and out came the temper tantrum uncontrollable sobs shouting for me. 

The trick is that when he gets like this he doesn't want me either. Because in my arms, he screams and sobs and hits and struggles the same way as he does in MacTroll's. Except it doesn't kill MacTroll's back, legs and sides to try and control him. But I still respond to my baby calling my name and take him from his father. Since X-man wouldn't calm down, I told Joel to unlock the car and that we needed to go home. I hauled X-man into his car seat and buckled him in as he reached for the restaurant screaming and yanking on my hair.

Then I got into the front passenger's seat and started crying, with about five people standing outside the restaurant staring at me. 

Instead of going home, we ended up at Cafe K on Kirby Avenue. Mostly because I am so sick of being in my house I didn't want to go back. X-man cried all the way there. When we parked he shouted to get out of the car. When he saw we weren't at Le Peep he wanted to get back into the car. He cried in the restaurant (which only had two people in it). He threw his apple juice on the floor. When the food came, I told him it was hot, but he touched it anyway, and then screamed that it hurt.

I broke up the croissant in little pieces and blew on them until he could eat them. Once the food started going in, the crying stopped. Except when he decided to reach for more egg sandwich, which was still hot, and then it would start up for a few seconds. His belly full, he was suddenly happy again. He went and washed his hands with MacTroll and came back and wanted me to read him all of the signage on the front window. I called my mother and wished her a Happy Mother's Day. She's hanging out with my sister today and hoping Melissa will help her grade papers. (My mom teaches high school English up in Rockford.)

Then we went to Target to look for a birthday gift for X-man's friend Curious J. Hoping Target would cure all. It was empty. It was quiet. These are both good things. X-man ran away from me in the toilet paper aisle and headed toward the TV screens in electronics. Where he busted a move to Madonna and JT on the big screen and then was annoyed to find out that there would be no more music videos, only Target commercials for for the next five minutes.

X-man was great until it was time to leave the store. Then the temper tantrum came out again. I had forgotten my wallet, so MacTroll was paying while I chased X-man down in the boys clothing area and picked him up to take him out to the car. He struggled and screamed and pushed his hands against my face and his feet against my chest trying to get free. I put him down to walk. He cried harder and wanted a "Hug" (i.e. to be carried). So I picked him up and gave him a hug, and he immediately pushed me away and screamed, "Nooo!"

I needed some stuff for the CARE garden, so we went to Lowe's. MacTroll stayed in the car with X-man while I went in for the stuff. I ran around the rainy garden center looking for wooden stakes and plastic netting for the garden. On my way out I saw this bright green tree. It looked like Christmas. It looked happy. 

I was at the end of my special mother's day morning, where I "slept in" until 7:30 a.m; I wasn't going to get my family walk due to insane weather; I barely ate anything at the special breakfast; and I realized I was heading home from errand running to complete my final mother's day request to "get things done" i.e. clean my master bedroom and bathroom... Suddenly, I had a realization that I really fucking needed that damn happy tree. 

I grabbed it, ran it out to the car with my other purchases, stuffed stakes and rolls of plastic in the trunk and then very carefully seat belted my tree in the backseat next to X-man's car seat. 

A dwarf Alberta Spruce that only grows to be 5' tall and 5' wide. I bought it myself. I'll plant it myself. In the sea of things that weren't pleasant. It was the bright part of my day.

The Willie Letdown

It's after 1 a.m. and I'm lying in bed completely awake. I have no good reason for not wanting to close the computer and get some sleep. All of my friends packed it in hours ago, as we're all getting old and gray and have trouble staying up past 11 p.m. 

But here I sit anyway. I'm not motivated to read a book or get up and get things done. My eyes and head feel completely wiped out, but my body is buzzing. I just keep listening to the wind and the rain outside.

It's Mother's Day. And I'm not quite sure what that means yet, even though this is technically my third one since X-man was born in early 2006. 

The first Mother's Day was hard. I found a lump in my breast. My 2-month-old son refused to breastfeed due to several muscular genetic conditions, and I was feeling like a huge failure. I had started physical therapy with him. Something we'd do every week together with a PT and every day at home until he was 12 months old. Everything was spinning out of control, and I had big hopes for my first special day. I hoped that something would happen that would tell me that the last two months of fear and failure and freakishly strange coincidences would somehow brighten the very dark tunnel of postpartum depression that was descending. 

Instead, I got a book written by Willie Nelson. MacTroll swears it was worth reading and a very appropriate Mother's Day gift. But I didn't think a book written by Willie Nelson said, "Thanks for going through 24 hours of labor with our son who weighed over 10 lbs, giving up your body for it, putting in the late nights and the hours at the breast pump, holding our son still on a table as he screams bloody murder to get scans done of his head to make sure his sutures weren't prematurely closing, doing daily PT exercises and we love you and will hold your hand no matter what the ultrasound of your breast says."

I don't think I ever got over the disappointment of Willie Nelson. And so I fastforward to last year's mother's day. Of which, I believe, although for some reason the memory is foggy, that there were several gifts purchased off of an wish list in order to be safe from the same crying wreck of a mother I was from the year before. 

And now we have the third Mother's Day. Where MacTroll diligently started asking me what I wanted to do five days prior. (That's a big step for him. I was thinking he wouldn't even remember given all the travel that's been happening. But apparently he roamed NYC in the rain the day before coming home on Friday to look for a suitable gift, now that the ugly secret is out that I'm not a fan of cut flowers.) 

The only answers I could think of were sleep, time to get stuff done, a family walk and breakfast. I know, he asked and I came up with lame, lame, lame.

I have a friend who tells me that fantasy is always better than the reality. I had a therapist who told me that my expectations of myself as a mother were way too high. I have a spouse, who is kind and smart and funny, who also feels like I keep raising a bar that is too high when it comes to our marriage. I have another friend who is constantly wondering why she ever bothered to get married, and another one who thinks his life would be perfect if could find a good woman. 

I'd really like it if for a short time, I could just stop thinking about the things I don't have and just appreciate the abundance I do have. And although the postpartum depression is gone (there's no more crazy lady in my head telling me the world would be better off if I slunk into isolation), I still think I could do a better job. I still want better for my family and for myself. But what happens when what Looseyfur needs/wants doesn't benefit the family? 

What happens when it's in direct opposition to what the family needs? Because up until recently it's felt like there's been no outlet for Looseyfur, the woman, to exist. It goes kid, MacTroll's job, house stuff, marriage, friends, etc. I'm not even in the top 5. 

And maybe that's okay, because if you were to ask me what I want and where I see myself in the next five years, for the first time ever -- in grown life -- I'd have no answer. 

There's this quote I identify with right now from "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin (Yes, I'm pre-reading book club books for CARE). 

"She slept but a few hours. They were troubled and feverish hours, disturbed with dreams that were intangible, that eluded her, leaving only an impression upon her half-awakened senses of something unattainable. She was up and dressed in the cool of the early morning. The air was invigorating and steadied somewhat her faculties. However, she was not seeking refreshment or help from any source, either external or from within. She was blindly following whatever impulse moved her, as if she had placed herself in alien hands for direction, and freed her soul of responsibility."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sure, now the sun comes out

I'm looking out my bedroom window to the south, and there's this pretty strip of sunset shining on the soon to be ampitheater. 

Anyway, MacTroll's flight back from NYC got canceled this morning. He got rebooked on one leaving at 6:25 p.m. ET. And, of course, he called at 7 p.m. before we headed up to bathtime to announce that it looks like he'll make it to Chicago (plane is gonna be late taking off due to mechanical issues) but that he'll have to spend the night in Chicago. 

So, my single parenthood has an extension. 

Big SWAT team presence down on campus today due to an armed robbery. I was at McDo's with Quigs and Mom when Mom got the call. Today was the first day that X-man and I have socialized in 60 hours. And I think it wore him out. He was in bed at 7:30 p.m. with no struggles. While we were looking at his baby books (his current favorite bedtime stories) he had his head resting on my leg. Nothing like a little time at the play area with Speed Racer cars and good friends. 

We also went to the library today and we stayed too long. They were having the last of Baby Fest, which I knew in the back of my head was going on because, well, because I'm the scheduling lady at CARE, but I had forgotten. When I see baby, I don't generally think of X-man any more. But he got invited in by my friend Ms. Ginny who I used to work with at the Douglass Branch Library. And truthfully, once they opened the little person's door, I don't think there was anything anyone could have done to keep him out. 

We did see his friends Xavier and Ezekiel. They're getting ready to move to Europe for a while, and I think D is a bit annoyed that things are taking so slow to get them there. But she's doing a great job living in transition. Speaking of transition experts, big hugs to Quigs for enduring the real estate market from hell. 

Okay, I think I'm going to see if my Ugly Betty is available... I watched my Grey's, and I don't care what people say. I love Meredith, because I identify with her whole set of neuroses... I know. It's sad. Mock away.

Nighttime Wanderings

At 3:45 a.m. I heard X-man open the door. He rushed into my room and scrambled onto my bed. I said one sentence (as there's this burning grossness in the way deep down back of my throat), "It's still night night." I pulled the covers up to his chin (something he hates, preferring to sleep on top of his covers like some kind of open faced sandwich). He put his head on my chest and in a few seconds was back to sleep.

X-man doesn't like to sleep with us. He never has. From the moment (3 months) his feet extended past my waistline while sleeping on my chest, he's preferred his own bed. 

So, I was selfish and kept him with me for a while. Then, I stood up and carried him back to bed. 

The strange thing I noticed as his eyes opened long enough to register that it was me carrying him, and he was going back to his beloved blankie and baba (pacifier) was that it was the same face and movements as when he was a newborn. His eyes registered on my face, but couldn't fight the sleepiness. It was like a flashback for just a few seconds to remind me that the giant that I held in my arms so gently had spent an enormous amount of time there. I am safety. I am comfort. I am warmth. I am Mama.

And I wonder if it will happen again? Will I see that infant-like look when he's five? How about when he's 25?

I spent a lot of time staring at my baby. I remember all of the moments he can't. And suddenly, the difficult passage of the last two days seems trivial. 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Teaming up: Parents of kids with pink eye unite

So, my kid was restless after only 24 hours of staying at home. He can't help it. He's very social. He likes to get out and about. He likes to go to the park. He likes playdates and roaming and walks with the dog... so the fact that he has a contagious virus and that it's been cold and rainy for two days straight does nothing for him.

At 9 a.m. this morning, I came to my wits' end and called in the reinforcements. My good friend Rogers lives just a few blocks away, and by some kind of miracle both of our kids have the exact same contagious virus... so we decided to start a pink eye colony of warmth and acceptance. I went over to her pad and the boys played and played and played for two hours (with awesome non-sick mommy assistance by Rogers' mom Mimi). There was sharing and hugging and all kinds of good stuff going on between the X-man and his buddy Curious J. I was very proud of them both.

Afterward X-man ate his grilled cheese, drank his milk and took a nice 2-hour nap. 

In 24 hours, my single parenthood is supposed to come to an end for the weekend. I think I'm going to try and spend it sleeping to get rid of my cold and my sore throat. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Beat up, knocked out and drown

X-man and I spend a lot of time together, but usually he's not sick and usually I'm not sick. But today we were sick at the same time AND it was raining all day.

We colored (I can send every person I know his/her own X-man artwork, if you want). We played music. We watched "Curious George." We had snack. We got out the cars and the trucks. We tickled. We played at the train table. We played store. We played with the Fisher Price farm. We wrapped cousin Mikayla's 2nd birthday present. We scooped the cat boxes. We talked to MacTroll on the phone. We talked to Nay-Nay over iChat. We had a 3-hour nap. We watched the "Cars" movie. We read about two dozen books, including "Senses at the Seashore" at least five times. We had pizza and jello for dinner. We took a bath in mama's bathtub and got water all over the floor. X-man learned how to turn on the radio on my alarm clock and demanded his favorite song, "Ho, Ho, Ho" (oka: "Up on the Housetop" by Gene Autry). How you explain to a two-year-old kid that Christmas tunes aren't likely to be on the radio in May is kind of rough.

So this is all the stuff we did. And during the course of all of it I took a beating. I got a broom handle dropped on my toe. I got my hair pulled. I got whacked in the finger with a metal spoon. I got a wooden toy steak thrown at me. I got a hardback book in the nose. I got a bathtoy jammed in my ear. I got head butted. I got pinched. 

Was it intentional? No. 

Did we talk about gentle touches all day? Yes. 

Would it have been easier if we could have at least gone outside for some gross motor time? Yes.

Was it a restful sick day? Not at all. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


X-man has the evil pink eye again. Last time it took us two weeks to get rid of it. Sigh. I guess it's a good thing that today was my last day of class at Millikin

But I've just had to reschedule/cancel the rest of the week.


For those of you who don't know, this is Riley, my 7-year-old brown dog. MacTroll and I adopted him from the D.C. shelter when he was 6 months old. His prior owners had been arrested and incarcerated on drug charges. 

We're guessing Riley spent most of his puppy days tied up somewhere, because to this day, you can't put a leash on him and attach him to something, other than your hand, without a manic freak out. 

Riley is an awesome dog. He's good with kids, cats and adults. He listens pretty well and loves to take long walks. And he's very protective of X-man, who he usually treats as an annoyance (Riley is the typical first child), but he guards the kid from possible harm with great tenacity and loyalty. He seems to understand even annoying "puppies" are part of the pack.

Riley loves to swim, take walks, chew on sticks, wrestle and cuddle. He likes to sleep curled up to the back of my legs or get spooned by the MacTroll. He has his own chair in MacTroll's office and his own couch in the living room. He even has his own seat in my car. 

I always loved dogs. I come from a family of dog people. But Riley is full of all kinds of extra bonuses that I wouldn't normally think of when I think of pet ownership. Riley scares away annoying sales people when they ring the doorbell. Riley herds the cats when they're allowed in the backyard while I'm gardening, so none of them slip outside the fence. And best of all, Riley doubles as a vacuum for days (like today) when the box of Cheerios falls over and I lose a bunch on the floor. 

Seriously, crackers, cheese, carrot sticks, almost anything (he doesn't like bananas or Jello) that X-man, MacTroll or I lose to the floor, Riley is there to scoop up. He doesn't beg for it either. He just sits quietly next to the table, and after all of the dishes are gone, he does a quick sniff and then eats his regular dog food. I'm not kidding... he doesn't fill up on his own food until he's sure his vacuum duty is done. 

Sure, he doesn't like to fetch. He's suspicious of other younger, larger, male dogs. He has an addiction to countersurfing when he's angry at us for taking X-man to school without letting him tag along, and he does get overexcited for company and bark them into the house.

But man, I wouldn't trade him for anything. He's awesome. 

The Late, Late Show

Normally getting up at 1:45 a.m. with your child is not a lot of fun. Usually it indicates that there's some mess of bodily fluids (or non-fluids) to pick up. Plus, if MacTroll were home, I probably wouldn't have gone to bed until 11:30 p.m., which makes late night duty much more annoying. But on a night where my head hit the pillow at 9 p.m., I was much more rested for the near 2 a.m. bedtime comforting.

Tonight was the best kind of late night party. I could hear the X-man talking in his bed. Not sleepy babbling, but talking. I got up and went to check on him. He saw me and flew into my arms. I carried him to the diaper changer and exchanged his heavy diaper for a clean one. When we were done, I picked him up. 

As we were walking back to his toddler bed, he protested. He didn't want to go back to bed. We sat on his window bench and cuddled and rocked for 15 minutes. His head resting on my chest on the soft, fluffy fabric of my robe. His hair still smelled of clean, mild shampoo from bath time shenanigans at 7 p.m. 

We said nothing, until I whispered that I loved him, and he reached up and gave me a full on hug, with his little head resting on my shoulder. Then his breathing slowed to a calm sleepiness. I put him in his bed with his blankie. He curled into it and drifted back into sleep.

Sometimes this parenting thing is just so tremendously wonderful, I have to stay up and write a little snippet before I head back to bed. 

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Things to be thankful for/proud of this weekend.

1. X-man was a perfect traveler on the way to Rockford and back.
2. We were not swept away by evil thunderstorms with 70mph winds and hail like south of us.
3. I spent $250 at Ikea (on budget), and it was not crowded at all at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.
4. It looks like work is going to dwindle down quietly, and hopefully without a court case, if the editors are lucky and administrators are forgiving. 
5. My sister and X-man had a good time with stickers of vehicles on Saturday.
6. My dad took X-man to see some trains, and X-man got to hop around inside the car, pushing buttons.
7. The new sandbox is put together in the backyard. I just need sand.
8. The CARE garden is planted. We'll put up the fence on Thursday.
9. MacTroll was home for 36 hours this weekend to spend some quality time with X-man.
10. Gordy Goldfish the II is still alive. 

I'll try to be back with something of more substance tomorrow. :-P

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Creepy and unoriginal

For those of you who are Batman fans... has just posted a horizontal scene by scene comparison of the 1989 trailer for the original Batman and the trailer for the Dark Knight.

They are almost exactly the same scene for scene. And that's just crazy! So my theory is that some internet flunky pieced the images together to mirror... and what it reveals is really the formula behind an action/adventure piece.

Well, that and that someone has wayyyyyy too much extra free time.